Nicole Zimmerman offered a session on May 24.
Nicole Zimmerman holds an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. She was a 2019 recipient of the Discovered Awards for Emerging Literary Artists, produced by Creative Sonoma and funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her writing has earned nominations for Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize, and appears in lit mags such as Sonora Review, The Rumpus, Hypertext Review, About Place, Ruminate, and Creative Nonfiction. An AWA Affiliate, Nicole lives with her wife on a farm in Northern California where she leads women’s writing workshops.
How Did I Come To Be Here?
by Karen FitzGerald
When Jack reached the bus stop he found himself sharing the bench with an elderly woman. She sat with a notebook in one hand and pen in the other. She was hunched over, diligently writing.
“Excuse me,” he said to her. “Do you know when the next bus comes?”
She looked at him for some time and he noted the look was one of serious preoccupation. She came out of her apparent stupor, smiled and said, “Another ten minutes or so,” and she turned back to her notebook.
Jack simply couldn’t resist. “Are you a writer by chance?”
“Why yes, I am,” she said graciously, with the slightest hint of surprise in her voice
“You certainly seem engrossed,” he said, thinking he was in the company of a sweet old lady who’d taken to writing poems in her waning years. Or, maybe the long-time dreamed of memoir.
“Well, I’m sort of stuck,” she sighed, shaking her head as she turned back to her notebook.
“I write you know,” he said. “Maybe I can help.”
“You’re a writer?” she asked, genuinely interested.
“Yes – a journalist. A newspaper guy. Columns, editorials, opinion pieces and such. Maybe you’ve heard of me?” and he handed her his card. She looked at it, her eyebrows rising over widening eyes. A look of recognition, he assumed. “What are you stuck on. Maybe I can help.”
The old woman showed Jack her paper. “Look at this,” she said, tapping her pen at a line item.
He did look. He could barely read her writing. “What is this? A novel? Essay? Looks like poetry.”
“It’s my shopping list. I can’t decide whether to get broccoli or broccolini. Do you know much about broccolini?”
She did not notice Jack roll his eyes, and stifle a knowing laugh. “Oh, well – broccolini. . .” he began.
The bus came and they shared a seat as well as some conversation, she asking him probing sorts of questions which he pride-fully answered, ever delighted to talk about himself. (One of his favorite subjects.)
The old woman pulled the cord signaling the upcoming stop. She thanked him kindly for his broccolini help and she disembarked.
Jack was a few blocks from his own stop when he noticed the woman left a book on her seat. He picked it up and instantly recognized a younger version of his bus companion on the jacket cover. She was the best selling author of the Pulitzer Prize winning -book, The Once and Final Story. He suddenly bumped into his own arrogance. So deep in some private meditations, Jack missed his stop altogether, and, having arrived at the end of the line, he wondered aloud, “How did I come to be here?”
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For the rest of the summer, watch our blog! We are sharing writing from AWA’s yearly marathon fundraiser, which happened this year all-online throughout the month of May.
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