Eavesdropping Again


Writing Life


One of my birthday presents was an eavesdropping event on my way home from a walk. I had left the woods and heard voices amplified by the emptiness of a garage. One was a man’s voice and the other a woman’s. Their voices were like the day: sunny and warm, mellow and perfect. They spoke in Spanish, so I couldn’t understand the words, yet somehow I felt I was at a performance of the highest order. The woman’s language rang with rhythm, the man’s with resonance. Then he talked, then he sang,,, quietly, but like a mariachi. Then woman spoke. Then it was his turn: he whistled a song like “Amapola.” I wanted to hear them again. I walked to the end of the block, crossed the street, and went past the house on their side. I never saw the couple, and I hoped they wouldn’t see me. When a neighbor got in her car and drove past, I was standing and musing over a contrail in the blue sky. I did take time to wave at her. After I listened for a while, I walked slowly past the garage opening, trying to look as simple as possible so they wouldn’t suspect me of snooping.

I passed the young woman in the yard next door. She was talking on the phone. She must have been speaking to a teen-ager because I heard her say, “…honors band…” Her voice, which was a counter point to the garage man and woman, reminded me of a poem by T. S. Eliot about a group of people talking in a train station. If I remember rightly, it was during wartime. The voices spoke one after the other as into a rapidly moving microphone.

I turned and walked back once more. That was when I heard a gust of the whistling song as if the man couldn’t contain his joy another minute. I couldn’t justify another pas-by, so I hurried home to write this post for you.

What does all that have to do with writing? You tell me. I love to hear what you have to say.



  1. If I didn’t eavesdrop, what would I write about? Many times just a spoken sentence, out of context, is the basis for a short story of an idea that blossoms into a full-blown novel. I also enjoy people-watching, especially at a mall. Great post.

  2. Most of my best fodder is gotten from eavesdropping. We are kindred souls lady!

  3. Overhearing a conversation can spark a creative streak and produce some of the best writing! I love this! Thanks! Great post!

  4. Creativity and beauty can be found anywhere, love this!

  5. Oh, sometimes people’s voices move me so much, too! Especially when they sing and it’s just so beautiful. I think as writers everything around us helps us evoke emotion in our words. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

    • The best thing about comments such as yours is how much they make me feel understood and validated. I remembe hearing people practicing musical instuments and sneaking up to listen to them, as well. You’re right, writers listen. Thanks.

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