Free Story: Imagination

One of the questions I’m most often asked about writing is from where I get my ideas for stories. My answer is usually some variation of “From everywhere.”

Some stories are loosely based on my personal experiences. Some are based on my observations of other people’s experiences. Other times I might be watching a television program or movie, or reading a book, and a scene or bit of dialog or written line might be the catalyst for an idea for an entirely new story. My mind never stops working; I can’t shut it off. Every waking moment, with everything I observe around me, somewhere in my brain I’m turning what I see or hear into a “what if?” Oftentimes that “what if” becomes a new story or novel.

This short story – Imagination – came about in a different way. I dreamed it. Literally.

One of my greatest loves in life is music. Especially what I consider the classics – stuff from the 1960s and 1970s. Well, back in 2001 I had this dream that I was hired to participate in a project to create music videos for great songs from back in the day – songs that were released before the age of music videos. The song for which I was tasked to direct a music video was Just My Imagination by The Temptations.

In my dream I saw the video played out by the actors – every scene acted out to accompany the lyrics in the song. When I woke up I could still see that “video” in my mind’s eye. So I decided to turn the “video” into a short story.

So Imagination was the product of that dream. It’s one of the first stories I posted online over a decade ago.



He sat at his breakfast table, finishing up his bacon, a couple of hard-boiled eggs, buttered dark toast and coffee while he scanned today’s Asbury Park Press. Time passed quickly as he read about his Nets losing yet another game, and he almost forgot to check the time. When he did, his watch read 7:48 a.m.

Oh shit…

He got up, grabbed his cup, and rushed through his townhouse into his living room, moving quickly but carefully so he wouldn’t spill his coffee on the carpet. At the front window, he eased the curtain aside and peeked out, then breathed a sigh of relief.

Her car was still there.


He sipped and waited. After about a minute she appeared, striding down the walkway of her townhouse two units down from his on those long, gorgeous legs and turning onto the sidewalk that ran past the front of his place.

For the hundredth time he silently thanked the poor planners who’d offset the parking lot of their development so that no one had a parking space directly in front of their home. She had to walk past his unit to get to her car.


Each day through my window

I watch her as she passes by


She really looked good this morning. Actually, she looked good all the time, but he really liked the way she looked when she went to work.

Today she wore a gray business suit, a matching jacket and a split skirt that stopped just above her knees – tasteful but still showing enough of those beautiful brown legs to make his heart race.  Under her jacket she wore a snow-white blouse. Gray pumps and sheer stockings completed her ensemble.

She moved quickly down the sidewalk with her purse slung over her shoulder and her expensive leather briefcase gripped in one hand. Her other hand clutched a half-eaten bagel.

Not every woman knew how to walk in heels. She moved like she was born in them. When she stepped just right that split in her skirt opened to reveal the side of one lovely thigh. A thin strand of gold fastened around one ankle caught the morning sun and flashed like lightning.


He wondered what it would be like to have a woman like that. A woman like her…


I say to myself

You are such a lucky guy


He imagined how nice it would be to wake up every morning with her in his arms, to good-naturedly battle with her over bathroom time as he tried to shave and she tried to put on her makeup (not that she needed any), and to share breakfast and the morning paper with her before they left for work.


To have a girl like her

Is truly a dream come true

Out of all the fellas in the world

She belongs to you


She held her bagel in her mouth as she fumbled with the keys to her Camry. She looked so damned beautiful. He was tempted to go out and help her, maybe hold her briefcase or take her key and open her car door for her, but of course he didn’t. If he did, she’d know he’d been watching her.

When she finally got in her car and backed out of her space he sighed, closed the curtain and went back to his kitchen.

Yeah, it sure would be nice.


But it was just my imagination

Running away with me


But it wasn’t going to happen.

She was a businesswoman – a white collar professional. He was just a welder – strictly blue collar, even though he figured with overtime he probably made as much as her.

He loaded his toolbox into the bed of his pickup truck and headed off to work, thinking about her all the way. He’d been hooked on her ever since the first time he’d seen her smile.

That was on a Saturday morning last summer. He was outside washing his truck when she came home carrying a bunch of shopping bags from Monmouth Mall. It was the first time he’d seen her up close, and her beauty made his heart clutch in his chest.

He had to say something, so he’d made himself say ‘Hello.’ She’d given him a warm, sunny smile that made the day a hundred times brighter and said ‘Hi,’ back to him.

From that moment on, he was lost.

He’d wanted to ask her over for a cup of coffee – or anything so that he could see her again – but he couldn’t work up the nerve. In fact, she’d seemed like she was in a hurry to get away from him.  Hell, he couldn’t blame her. He was standing there bare-chested and unshaven like some kind of savage. Why in the world would someone like her want to spend time with him?

So he had to settle for dreaming. On his way to work, he imagined what it might be like to have her as his wife, to have their own house…maybe some kids…


Soon we’ll be married

And raise a family

In a cozy little home out in the country

With two children, maybe three


He’d thought about it – dreamed about it so much that sometimes it almost seemed real. It was as if he had another life, a life that existed only in his imagination…a life that was perfect because it was with her…


I tell you I can visualize it all

This couldn’t be a dream

For too real it all seems


But it was just my imagination

Running away with me


As he parked his truck in back of the shop he pushed thoughts of her out of his head. Today was going to be a long day and he had lots of work to do. He had no time to be dreaming about what could never be…


Every night on my knees I pray

Dear Lord, hear my plea

Don’t ever let another take her love from me

Or I would surely die

Heavenly, when her arms enfold me

I hear a tender rhapsody

But in reality

She doesn’t even know me


Just my imagination

Running away with me



She sat at her townhouse window, sipping tea as she watched and waited until he finally came home. He must have worked late again today. He got out of his truck and grabbed his toolbox from the back, lifting that big thing like it weighed nothing at all.


Her heart did a little skip…

He was so handsome, so rugged – the kind of man who could make things and fix things without being afraid to get his hands dirty. He was the kind of man who when he held you in his arms made you feel that nothing in the universe could harm you.

He was nothing like the guys she worked with, guys who ran to the manicurist whenever they chipped a nail. No, he was just the kind of man she wanted: A strong man. A real man.

She didn’t even know his name.

She’d had her chance, however. He was outside washing his truck that day she’d come home from the mall. He’d said ‘Hello’ to her, and when she looked over and saw him standing there with no shirt on, all sweaty and unshaven and sexy, she’d almost fainted.

How she’d found the strength to say ‘Hi’ back to him she’d never know. She’d almost invited him over for dinner, but when she stole a glance at his stomach and saw a six-pack that looked like it was carved out of granite she forgot how to speak English. She’d hurried inside before she made a fool of herself.

She watched him go up his walk to his door, out of her line of sight. Oh well, he probably had dozens of women chasing after him anyway. Odds were he didn’t even remember her; probably didn’t even know she was alive.

She wondered what it would be like to be married to a man like him. The thought made her ache with longing…


 As he turned the key, he imagined that she was waiting for him on the other side of the door. His heart ached with longing…


I tell you it was just my imagination

Running away with me


I’ve never met her

But I can’t forget her…


© 2001

(***Interludes*** from “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations)

The Black’s Amazon Author Page

Posted on February 3, 2012, in Free Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. I think we have all been in this situation at least once or twice in our lives…I know I have.

  2. I’ll never forget my biggest high school crush…That song, your always on my mind by SWV would always play in my head every time I saw her.

    • When I saw my high school crush at the prom in that dress (whew!) I was too through. I made up my mind right then that I had to do something about it. I asked her out two days later, at our graduation.

      We lasted for about a month after that 🙂

  3. Yeah I never got up the nerve to ask her out….When I did speak to her, i’d loose all cohesive thought.

  4. lol I can dig it..she looked out on that one…

  5. I love this story! Like you, music is my first love and I really dig the way you constructed the story around the lyrics. I could see these two beautiful beings and feel their energy. Dope!

  6. This story was touching and its crazy how we sit around wondering what if instead of taking a chance and knowing. I need to be more courageous.

  7. Aw, darn it! Why didn’t they make a move?

  8. Because of her appearence, he placed her at a status he thought was out of his reach. She on the overhand at first glance just saw a man that took her breathe away. (mine Yet, neither one of them knew they had each other at hello!

    • I agree Debora. While appearance counts for something, it’s a small something. We can’t make assumptions about people based on who we think they might be, like assigning them a personality based on their job or the way they dress.

  9. They could make a move . . .in a sequel!

  10. Beautiful story!

  11. I’m loving this story Professor!

  12. Excellent story as always!

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