Red Ball in the Road

My drive to work takes me thirty minutes on average. I drive against rush hour traffic. So no big deal, really. I turn on the radio or plug in an audiobook for the ride, and the next thing I know, I’m at work.

Today was a little bit different. The transfer from one freeway to the next went as normal. Turn signal. Merge. Next turn, seven miles.

Cue the red ball.

It dances around the white Ford Explorer in front of me, lightly bounces on the dotted white line and careens into the next lane as I fly by at seventy-plus miles an hour. My rearview mirror confirms that, indeed, I did see a red  bouncy ball playing with the cars in traffic on the west-bound 101. No one slowed for it, nor swerved. Though big, it was harmless, so no compensation was given.

For the rest of the drive, and morning, that red ball continued to bounce through my thoughts. Even while writing this post, I can see the shine of the rising sun glinting off its red surface. An oddity in an otherwise typical morning commute.

It made me happy.

Not happy in the sense of seeing your two-year old covered in a pile of puppies, saying I love you Daddy. Or a winning the lottery kind of happy. So maybe more of a contentment. A peace of mind that comes with knowing that strange things can happen and the world still moves on.

I guess it should come to no surprise that I like this same kind of element in the stories I write. That little bit of odd that even though it’s out of place, still fits. The offness is what lingers. The literary aftertaste that haunts well after the words are put down. The red ball in the road.

I’m curious to know. Have you had red ball in the road moments? Or, is there a certain something you crave find in your stories (outside the obvious, like good storytelling)? I’d like to hear them.


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