When Characters Come to Life

I had a procedure done yesterday. I left the doctor’s office sore, a bit blue, and with bandages on my nose. From there I ran errands including a stop at a local butcher shop. There, a young man at the counter greeted me with ‘Cool! Did you get a tat?’

Immediately cheered up, I said no, that I’d had a biopsy. His response was ‘Dude! I’ll pray for you!’

When I got home and told my husband, his response was ‘Cell.’

My god. He’s right. Cell lives.

I can’t even say that I met this young man at the butcher’s before, and modeled the character based on him.

One of my characters, one that a lot of readers like, is living and breathing and working at a butcher shop. Pretty amazing.

Below is my favorite ‘Cell’ dialog. Florence is an elderly woman in the beginning stages of dementia. Rachel is her granddaughter, struggling with how to care for Florence. In this scene, Florence wandered away from home, which is a mountainous region of narrow winding roads and forest. Cody is the protagonist. This bit is from The Memory Keeper.

‘Cell leaned on the counter while Florence sat on it, swinging her slippered feet, drinking SoBe from the bottle and watching as Cell worked his faithful companion, the phone.

“But I don’t understand where the cord is, dear.”

“See, that’s the way cool thing,” Cell said, and jumped upright as he saw Rachel. “Hey! I was just calling you.”

“Granny, what are you doing?”

“She was hitchin’, dude,” Cell said.

“You promised you wouldn’t tell,” Florence said.

“Sorry, man. Forgot how much Rachel, like, scares me.” Cell moved back as Rachel reached the counter. “I just asked her if she needed a ride. Being neighborly, you know? I mean, she’s an old lady. Old ladies shouldn’t have to walk.”

“You were hitchhiking?” Rachel’s voice dropped, becoming quiet and almost calm.

“Well dear, technically, no. I wasn’t standing exposing an ankle or anything. I heard a car coming and I flagged it down. I was a tad scared to be honest. I don’t recall leaving the house. I’m afraid I wandered away in one of my less lucid moments. Did I frighten you badly?”

“Not at all,” Rachel said. “I’m used to having people I love just disappear.”

“Rachel,” Cody said, wanting to somehow thaw the ice in Rachel’s voice. But Rachel overrode her words, turning to Cell.

“And you didn’t think it was strange to find Granny in her nightgown? You didn’t consider taking her back home?”

“Is that what she’s wearing? I thought it was, like, some kind of old lady dress.” Cell pushed tendrils of black hair behind his heavily pierced ears.

“Oh my god!” Rachel pulled at her hair as if to keep her hands from reaching across the counter. “Where’s your brain?”

“Hey, chill! What’d you expect me to do? I mean, she’s an elder you know? You’re supposed to respect your elders!”’

And now I know what Cell’s next job is going to be. Though he’s vegetarian. This could be fun. He’ll lecture all the customers.

5 thoughts on “When Characters Come to Life

  1. Thats hilarious!!! I heard him right there with his first words to you… characters showing up in real life… so funny 😉 New inspiration!! I guess you have to go to the butcher shop more often now. 😉


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