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Writing the Future

I used to believe I could write the future. Twice in high school I wrote long stories, parts of which seemed to come true. Shortly after I returned from a trip to Mexico I wrote a story about some kind of federal agent — FBI maybe? I can’t remember — who dismantles a human trafficking ring. A few weeks after finishing the story I came across an article in the local paper about a well-known “coyote”, a smuggler who helps illegal immigrants get across the border, who had been nabbed by the feds. I shrugged this off as a coincidence. These articles probably appeared in the paper all the time; I was just noticing them for the first time because of my story.

The next story, written in late 1994, when I was 17, was built around a conspiracy theory that would fit in well in the era of 9/11 Truth Squads, birthers, and Glenn Beck. It was a suspense thriller set in Boston, about two teenagers (all my stories starred my friend Dave, renamed Eric Johnson, and Kelly, my girlfriend at the time) working on an article about abortion for their school paper. Dutiful reporters, they visit an abortion clinic, but just when they get out of their car, a bomb goes off inside the clinic. Radical anti-abortionists are almost certainly to blame for the deadly explosion. But our crackerjack investigative team isn’t willing to accept the party line. Sure enough, they discover that it was actually radical pro-abortionists who carried out the attack, in an attempt to ensure passage of an abortion-rights bill making its way through Congress.

Just days after finishing the story, I stopped at a gas station in Lincoln, Nebraska to see if they sold replacement bulbs for a burn-out headlight. On my way back out to the car, I happened to glance at a stack of USA Today’s. The lead article was about a shooting at an abortion clinic. A little map next to the article showed where the violence had taken place: Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. (Of course, the shooting wasn’t a pro-choicer’s attempt to influence legislation. It was, though, the fifth shooting at an abortion clinic between March 1993 and December 1994. John Salvi, a troubled young man, was arrested and convicted of murder. He died in prison in 1996, an apparent suicide.)

I’m honestly not sure why I was thinking about this tonight, except that I was also thinking about how writing is the way I make sense of the world and my place in it. I’m not sure why I wrote about it either — this isn’t the blog post I sat down to write. Maybe it will be mysteriously revealed to me later. In the meantime, maybe I’ll pull out the old notebooks tomorrow and post an excerpt or two.

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