The Evidence of Things

A couple months ago, I confessed in my post “By All Appearances” that I’d never make a good detective. Sometimes, my conclusion-jumping has little foundation in sound logic and gets a bit too creative. However, that’s not to say that I don’t have an eye for evidence and an interest in it, particularly when it comes to the trail of things that my husband leaves behind. To me, the following clues scream that “Terry was here”…

Seriously, I did not alter their condition to take this photo. I found them this way… and there are more.

Exhibit A: Pens without caps – Until I lived with Terry, I assumed everyone found it comfortable and convenient to move the cap of the pen from the point to the end during use. Not Terry. He hugs the cap in his fist or puts it on the table as he writes. Needless to say, this habit has resulted in numerous capless pens floating around our house.

Exhibit B: Unfinished beverages – When I clear the table after a family dinner or scout the living room for dirty dishes, I can easily spot Terry’s leave-behinds. I can always expect to find about two-fingers worth of liquid still left in his drinking glass. Why? I’m not sure what’s so repulsive to him about those last couple swallows, but this aversion has become yet another one of his most common calling cards.

Exhibit C: Categorized hangers – Organization is not one of Terry’s strong suits, and I often find odd combinations of things together (e.g., there’s the box in the garage that contains one shoe, a golf ball and a John Grisham novel). But he’s obsessive about hangers! In Terry’s world, woe to those who jumble their pants hangers with their skirts hangers with their shirts hangers. He can’t stand the mayhem!

Exhibit D: The flat blue throw pillow – I think I bought it about twenty years ago, the royal blue throw pillow that matched my bedding at the time. Nowadays, it’s a common sight on our burgundy recliner, despite the clash it creates with the rest of our living room decor. Believe me, I’ve tried to sell Terry on more eye-catching replacements but, in his world, nothing compares to the perfect flatness and fit of that doggone pillow against his lower back.

Exhibit E: Vitamin and herbal supplements – I knew when we were dating that this guy valued better health through the proper cocktail of dietary supplements, but I had no idea until we shared a home what kind of stockpile he had amassed. That means my finding weird-shaped pills and capsules among our dirty laundry from time to time. Another mark of my Zorro!

How boring would it be if our writing only defined evidence in terms of fingerprints and DNA! Great characters–be them criminal, classy, or something altogether different–have tangible attachments that make them interesting and identifiable. What shreds of evidence will your characters present in your writing today?


WRITING PROMPT 1: Make a list of some of the people you know and the “evidence” that makes each of them unique.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Write about the physical evidence for which you think you are known.

WRITING PROMPT 3: Perhaps spin your personal story a different way… By what evidence do you want to be known? By what evidence do you not want to be known? Why?

WRITING PROMPT 4: Create a fictional character profile that considers the creative use of tangible evidence, and don’t be afraid to broach the outlandish. If you challenge yourself at this stage of the process, you’re certain to pique your readers’ interest later!

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