A change in plans leads to two surprise endings

For the first time in three weeks my writer friends and I had found a common time to meet. Then schedules collided. My husband had to work late and my teenage son wasn't able to baby sit his 9-year-old brother.

Why not take Evan with me? I thought. With a few toys tucked into his backpack, it just might work.

"Does anyone at your writing group write stories about World War II? Or stories about skateboarding and dirt biking?" asked Evan.

"I never know what everyone is bringing to read each week," I answered. "Maybe Anne or Brenda or Jessica or Pam will surprise us." I hoped that would be true.

Evan finds excitement in books when the story involves thrilling adventures on bikes, Humvees, or being in midair. My thrills revolve around reading, writing, and discovering something new my laptop can do - adventures with thoughts and words.

Evan often giggled when I described my passion for writing. Tonight he would see another perspective.

After I made introductions, Evan set up his toy soldiers and helped himself to the bowl of M&Ms. I unearthed my essay from its folder and began to listen and read.

Two hours passed quickly. I almost forgot Evan was there beside me. Then I noticed that the soldiers were in the same attack pose as when we began our group.

While we gathered up our stuff, Evan turned to me and said, "Do we have to go? That was more fun than I thought it would be. Can I come with you again?" He had a far-way look on his face, as if he were returning from a dream.

"Really? Why?" I asked.

"I liked the stories," he said.

Then he began to ask questions about all of the stories read in the writers' group that evening: "Why did Anne write about the mist in a dog's mouth? Why did Brenda make everyone laugh? Did Pam's mystery story really happen to her? Will you tell me what happens at the end of Jessica's story?"

The drive home was a quiet one. Evan stared out the window. Then he blurted out: "I started a story about Sept. 11. Listening to real writers read their stories made me want to write down my own stories."

"Would you like to read it to me?" I asked.

He pulled out the mini-notebook he always keeps in his backpack and opened to a four-page story that began with "I woke up early Tuesday, eyes still looking like asleep...."

I listened to my young son weave the details of his usual morning breakfast into the day we would never forget. I was astounded. He was a writer - an inspired writer. A writer who listened and followed his heart. My heart did flip-flops while I tried to keep the car in the right-hand lane.

The simple act of bringing Evan to my writing group had opened a door for him. He now perceived writing as something that was as alive as his World War II stories and the adventure stories of snowboarding and biking. He had always been a decent writer, able to write in school when he needed to. But tonight, he saw the possibilities he could create with his own words.

The best part of it all was being together to share something I loved so much with my son. Thank goodness for family schedules that go haywire.

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