A New Character Appears and Makes Demands

by Gita M. Smith

And who is this sudden Irishman filling my mouth with strange vowels and lilting? (Or is he from Newfoundland, smelling of ocean and laughing with self-deprecation?)

Wherever he's from, he's here now, dug in like a sand crab. I,  no doubt, will be spending my summer drinking Bushmill's and singing sea shanties.

They do that, these women and men who appear out of nowhere.  They fill up my head.

"Make me fully realized," they command. "Put flesh and colors on the idea of me. Write me."

Wait your turn, I tell them. Stay back in an orderly queue.

They do -- all but the Irishman-Newfie. He has something to say, and he'll say it,  "me b'y!"

When I try to write dialogue he becomes testy. "Yo're making me sound like a pirate. You have a tin ear!"

It is no easy task appeasing these ghosts who arrive, uninvited, with all their back stories and plans for a novel.

I drive them down to the coast by way of a treat and let them out of the car.

The stars are low and the surf is warm. They wander away down the beach, trousers rolled and skirts lifted.

I speed home alone, knowing they'll find their way  back, one at a time.