The hunger strike that wasn't

                When my sister was a little girl, she seemingly went on a hunger strike.

                She refused to eat her breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mom no longer allowed her to have snacks because she wouldn’t eat her meals. She didn’t care. Mom refused to let her leave the table until she ate at least some of her food. Later, Mom would find pieces spit into the bathroom trashcan.

                The doctor ran a battery of tests. Everything was normal. “When she gets hungry enough, she’ll eat,” he said.

                Mom and Dad couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They were terrified.

                It turned out, she just wasn’t hungry.

                See, my sister had a little secret.

                We lived in a small, peaceful little town, and this was back when kids left the house in the morning and came home when the sun went down. While the rest of us were at the playground, catching crayfish in the creek or climbing trees in the backyard, she was making her rounds. She knew which neighbors had cookies at the ready for any children who stopped by to visit, and visit she did. Every day.

                When Mom found out, the story changed. This wasn’t about a sad little girl protesting something at home. It wasn’t a mystery illness zapping her appetite. It was a clever kid working a pretty sweet system (pun intended).

                The writing I’m doing down is different from other pieces I’ve written—and much different than “Pack of Dorks”—in that I actually plotted this one. I even did a beat sheet. And I love what I had planned.

                But then one of the characters just went in a totally different direction. And it’s turning the whole plot upside down. It’s becoming a slightly different story than the one I planned, but it’s still a good story.