Last weekend we were in the Chicago area. Or kids love trains (especially our son), so we decided that Saturday morning we would catch a train as neither of our kids had been on a “real” train before. Consequently, if you were on the Metra inbound train that was scheduled to pass through Geneva, IL at 8:27 a.m., you might have seen us. We got on at Geneva and got off at Glen Ellyn, where we caught the outbound train a few minutes later to get back to our car. The train ride back is another story in itself that I won’t cover here.
Why am I sharing this? Because as I sat up on the second level of the train car and looked around, I found myself cataloging everyone there and imagining a story for them. The four teenagers on the upper level at the end of the car were kids headed to the city for an adventure. We were obviously the tourists, with our son trying to mimic the sound of the train horn every time it went off (to the amusement and/or dismay of our fellow passengers).
The man across from us is the one that got my imagination going. He seemed like your average, slightly past middle age white collar worker headed into the city for business or a meeting of some sort. I started trying to imagine the rest of the car from his perspective and suddenly he became the protagonist in a tragic (apocalyptic, even) tale about a scientist who developed and accidentally released an awful disease while researching the cure for a common one.
I spent a good four hours of our drive home coming up with a framework for a novel about this tale, and when I finish my current series, I may try to write this. All based on that one brief scene on a train, and what my imagination told me might be going on in everybody else’s head (and life) at that point in time.
Ever see an everyday scene and start turning it into a crazy “what if” story in your head?