Vision: A Resource for Writers
Holly Lisle's Vision
The Week of Two Thursdays,
OR THE MAGIC OF REALITY
By Caroline Allard
©2001, Caroline Allard
I dont know if God exists, but I
owe him one.
My grandmother died of a nasty cancer
in April 1995. The last two weeks were very difficult. She had received an
ill-adjusted treatment, and her skin was burnt on the right side of her body,
from her shoulder to her waist. While I had never witnessed such episodes, my
mother told me that she was beginning to forget things; sometimes, she
wouldnt recognize my grandfather. Because of her cancer and her medication,
she couldnt do anything alone. The nurses were doing the cleaning jobs and
the family was taking turns to help her eat.
The last week, I was scheduled to go
help her on the Thursday evening. She was sleeping when I arrived. When she woke
up, she looked at me, startled.
What are you doing here?
Coming for your supper,
Wasnt it supposed to be
Uncle Jacques was here yesterday,
Wednesday. Its Thursday today, so Im here!
Oh. I dont remember your uncle
coming here yesterday. I could have sworn we were Wednesday!
I was wishing I wouldnt see her
lose it, but here I was. I wasnt taken aback, though. I felt a rush of
tenderness for my grandmother. She smiled.
But Im so happy to see you here
We chit-chatted about my studies, the
family. I made her promise she would contact me from the other side to tell me
what God looked like, if he was a man or a woman. We laughed a lot.
Then my uncle Jacques arrived. It was
my turn to be startled.
What are you doing here?
Im coming to help your
grandmother for her supper. Its Wednesday.
And it was Wednesday! I had
been wrong all along! My grandmother had a good laugh at my expense on that one.
She was the one who was supposed to be losing it! But then she took my hand.
Im so happy you came today! I
wished so much to see you. God answered my prayers.
I stayed with her a couple of hours.
We didnt say anything important, but I held her hand, and it was a beautiful
When I came back the day after, the
real Thursday, she was unconscious. She never woke up, and she died during the
What is it to put some magic in
your writing? If youd asked me a year ago, I would have answered
sorceresses, dragons and magic sticks. But now I think that it cant be just
that. Reality can become magic just by itself.
Before last year, I didnt consider
what I just told you to be a story. I still dont, not quite. For me, it is an
event, and it feels strange to put it on paper. However, since I began to write,
I see this event differently. It is a story, and it has magic in it.
What was magic in the event I
recalled? Just a slight error. I was early. I thought it was Thursday. By
itself, its nothing. But what came out of this mistake? I didnt just put
the garbage out one day earlier. No, it made me talk to my grandmother for the
absolute last time. If I had waited until the right day, she would have been
Being in a place too early, or too
late: there can be magic in that. Something unexpected can happen. Something
dangerous, thrilling, moving. Taking the wrong door: What do you miss? And what
can you see? You could be in a place where just being there at this moment makes
a difference. And feelings: what about this guy that you should like; he brought
back your lost wallet, hes honest and easy going, he likes your cat. But you
dont like him. Why? What huge difference could it make if you had that
feeling, and not the good feeling?
Coincidences, errors, accidents,
feelings. Tiny pieces of reality that your subconscious picks up without any
obvious reason. These things happen in reality. Theyre often full of wonder,
they can make you cry, and they can make a hell of a nice anecdote. Why not
summon them into your writing, then? Why not use them in your fictional stories
to reach some great purpose, to reach another understanding of reality?
I told you that I was not with my
grandmother on the right day, that I was there because I made an error. It would
nonetheless seem that I was there on the right day, that I would have
made an error not to go this particular day. Is there such a thing as the
right day, then? Is the right day, the right door, the right person,
really the one we think it is? Playing with these ideas when we write is playing
with reality in a way that introduces magic into it: new layers of
understanding. Trying to see the hidden purpose of a mistake can make a good
short story with an unexpected twist.
I often think about my grandmother
since she died. Missing her now is bad enough; Im happy I didnt miss her
last moments of consciousness. She told me that she prayed to see me and
thats why, even if Im not sure that God exists, I consider that I owe him
one. And its true that I think a lot about her since I began to write. I
often hint at her in my stories. Now, it seems that shes also helping me in
my writing, to see things differently, to reach some magical layers of reality
disseminated here and there.
Somebody can consider that I owe Him