I wrote an entirely beautiful scene that was almost complete, and then my keyboard spazzed out and deleted it all. Does anyone else’s computer make them want to cry sometimes?
It’s been doing that recently. The cursor will place itself wherever it wants, usually three lines up and halfway back to the start. Sometimes it highlights all of the text and I’m typing so fast, before I even realize it, that it’s all gone. Of course, all of the other times I don’t want to save a post, it does. And this time, it doesn’t.
So believe that it was written and it was beautiful. It was all reminiscent and romantic, about first love, first kisses, and fall football nights. On the fifty yard line, she followed him down the bleachers and had been following him every since, even when he ran so far away he was out of sight and she had to follow blindly.
Day 7: FREE DAY! Write any scene you want.
The test came back positive and she was able to donate plasma. They paid her forty-two dollars for the component of her blood in which blood cells hang suspended. She took her money and didn’t go to the nearest Walgreens or make any lists. She walked purposefully back to her apartment, unlocked the door, went into her closet, and a found a shoe box in the back corner, buried under a pile of old summer quilts that still smelled like sunshine.
She took the bills, her blood money, out of the back pocket of her jeans and smoothed the creases out before adding it to an envelope full of cash. There wasn’t much in box besides an envelope full of cash. The envelope was kept tucked between pages 362 and 363 of her tattered, high school copy of The Count of Monte Cristo.
Also in the box was a lollipop, one of the giant, colorful ones that Adelaide’s mother had never let her have as a child because she said that each of the colors in the swirls of the lollipop would rot a tooth a piece. Next to the lollipop was a pair of a baby shoes, her father’s watch and her mother’s pearls, a dried bouquet of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, and yellow roses, and a picture frame decorated with beads and puff paint with a faded picture with creased edges underneath the glass.
Adelaide replaced the lid on the back, buried it back under the summer quilts, and laid down on her back on the floor of her closet, staring up at the ceiling.
Day 8: What about their earlier school days? Write a scene of your character in grade school or middle school.
Every second Saturday, Adelaide would go to the county jail to her mother’s sister, her Aunt Eileen. Adelaide didn’t understand how unusual this was until her tenth birthday when, instead of getting to have a dolphin-themed birthday party at the neighborhood swimming pool, she had to go visit Aunt Eileen.
“I made this for you,” Eileen said, tentatively pushing a sloppily wrapped package across the table. Adelaide slowly unwrapped it to find a framed, faded photo. The frame was decorated with beads and puff paint stars and hearts.
The picture was of a drastically younger and prettier version of Aunt Eileen, with her arms around a young man in his early twenties wearing scuffed up boots, Wranglers, a plain white t-shirt and a cowboy hat. He stood with his hands in his pockets and made a face at the camera that was somewhere between a smile and a contemplative frown while Eileen twined her arms around his stiff waist and curved her body against his. She stood barefooted in a long skirt and sleeveless top, her hair almost all the way down her back and a rich, auburn color.
“Well, thank you,” Adelaide said awkwardly, glancing nervously towards the door, wondering when her time with her aunt would be over so that she could get to her princess-themed birthday party at the pizza arcade across town. Adelaide had a princess party for her sixth birthday but her mother didn’t want to waste leftover decorations just because her daughter was a few years older with different tastes.
Aunt Eileen smiled so widely that her face stretched painfully and tears filled her eyes. Adelaide slid off the hard, plastic bench and headed for the door. A guard kindly walked Adelaide all the way out to her mother waiting in the car in the parking lot.
“What’d your aunt give you,” her mother asked kindly.
Adelaide shrugged and handed her the photo frame. Her mother’s face tightened and her hands started to shake. Suddenly, Adelaide’s interest in the photo piqued and she wanted it back. As she moved to take it from her mother’s hands, her mother shoved into her purse and moved her purse to the floorboard, under her legs.
“Why can’t I have my picture,” Adelaide demanded, less out of actual attachment to the photo and more out of dismay at being denied what had been given to her.
“Because your aunt had no right to give that to you,” her mother said sternly. “I hope you said goodbye. We’re not coming back.”
Adelaide was confused but didn’t spend too much time worrying over it; at age ten, she had better things to do with her Saturdays than drive out to the county jail.
Day 4: What world does your character exist in? Real or imagined? Scientific? Fantastical? Write a scene where your character is shown in their world.
After she left the doctor’s office, she walked down the street, around the corner, and underground to the subway. As her ticket was punched and slid out the top of the turnstile, Adelaide felt vague stirrings of resentment towards the technology of the metro system. She missed home and the wide open roads where you could drive for hours, letting your mind float whichever way as your foot laid heavy on the gas and kept a steady speed of 70 miles per hour.
When she had first moved to the city, her favorite thing was the subway, watching the people with all of their vagaries moving at a frenzied pace in different directions. But after long she resented the fact that to get where she needed to go, she spent most of her time underground. She had tried walking but the city was too big and her feet too small to get her anywhere on time.
And now there was this turnstile, beeping anxiously if she took too long, and the push of the people behind her, sending her forward. Didn’t anyone, even electronic turnstiles that punched her subway card, have patience anymore?
Day 5: Your character is getting ready in the morning. Write a scene of their morning (or even midday) routine.
After he left the apartment the scent of his distinctly male-flavored body wash remained, drifting out of the bathroom riding on the steam from his three-minute shower. Every morning after he left, she stayed in bed for another ten minutes, taking stock of her surroundings and the life choices that had got her here.
She was in a bed, how did she get here? Last night, after dinner and the ten o’clock news, they had laid down together, limbs intertwined. She was in her apartment, how did she land up here? After her shift ended at the twenty-four grocery store, she had taken the bus back home, climbed three flights of stairs, and fixed a dinner, mixed together a casserole, and put in the oven. Why was she there? This tiny one-bedroom was all they could afford. In the grand scheme of things: why? Because she had hated her life in high school, because she thought there was more to the world than a small town in Texas, because she thought that promises, when made, would be kept forever, because she had believed that love endured all things, because she thought she knew everything at age eighteen.
The person whose arms she had spent the night in, whose scent was now curling through her hair, whose stomach she had filled with dinner the night before: where did he come from? How did he fit into all of this? Because the person she had followed here had left her, dropping her almost immediately after getting off the Greyhound bus, and he was the only one who had bothered to pick her back up.
Adelaide had spent the entirety of her last fours years reviewing how her choices.
Day 6: How was your character’s childhood? Write a scene about them as a child. How was their home life? Their family? Their upbringing? Where did they grow up? What friends did they have?
There had been no abusive stepfathers or daily screaming matches with her mother. There had been no idyllic, farmhouse in the country, either. She had come from two normal parents in one normal house. She was an only child. She had gotten along with her parents tolerably well; they were nice people and they had raised her to be a nice daughter.
Only she wasn’t like them. At age seven, Adelaide had decided that she had been switched at birth: that was the only explanation. She felt this bursting impatience to constantly be going, to constantly be learning, and, sometimes, to be very not nice. Sometimes, she acted on this building pressure, asking too many questions and riding her bike too fast down the sidewalk and pinching the other girls in her class. But she had been with the nice parents too long and often times, their teachings of niceness left her with a sour, guilty suspicion that she was never going to be a good enough daughter.
She grew up in a small town, the kind of town where everybody knows everyone else’s business. This was how she found out, after her parents died, that she really had been switched at birth. Or, perhaps not switched, but adopted. This was why after the nice, normal parents in their nice, normal house died a not-so-nice death, unusually tragic for a small town way of life, Adelaide left.
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up” —Tupac Shakur (via isearchfor)
With tightly closed eyes, she gave everything over to hope. (10; I’ve always had a difficult time with numbers)
Closing her eyes, she gave everything over to hope. (9)
Blindly, she gave everything up to hope. (7)
Maybe that’s the way we’re supposed to live—hopefully—but in writing this, I got more of a sense of desperate helplessness. I believe in letting go but I also believe in working in the direction of your dreams. This is a person who has been beaten so many times that she can do nothing else but close her eyes and hope for the best.
The damp finally wiggled its way through the layers of thick blond hair piled on top of her head to form one large drop that rolled across her scalp, over her forehead, skirting the bridge of her nose before being attracted, almost magnetically, to her eyelashes. The drop weighed heavily and her eyelids closed. The water dove from the ends of her lashes and into the puddle, indigo ink from her mascara riding on ripples.
She watched the water swirl as a second drip followed the first, her brown eye barely an inch away from the water. Blue mascara was an incongruous choice. It was something a flighty eighteen year old, college co-ed would wear. She didn’t even own blue mascara; she had been getting ready at a friend’s apartment. “Try the blue one,” the friend had insisted. “Be spontaneous.”
When she had fixed her hair for the evening, she had plaited it into a thick braid that fell halfway down her back. Her hair was streaked with gold from summer sun and the braid was as thick as a rope. It had taken half a pack of bobby pins to secure the coil, spiraling outwards from the crown of her head. The end result was a solid cap of hair at least two inches thick.
Under her eyes, it looked like a ballpoint pen had exploded, the blue mascara smeared in wide circles. The bobby pins had disappeared; chunks of the braid come undone. At the back of her skull, where the braid had been the thickest, the gold streaks were dulled by blood the color of cherries.
The light drizzle had made a concerted effort to band together: previously insignificant droplets of water individually, they clung to strands of her hair, waiting for enough to gather before combining themselves into one ample, weighty, significant raindrop.
Adelaide felt her skin tighten as she stepped into the air-conditioned exam room. The golden hairs on her arm stood up as she shivered, the reaction a combination of nerves and the sudden change of temperature as the sheen of sweat coating her body reacted to the cool air. She sat primly on the edge of the table, taking care not to rip the paper, wincing as it crinkled and bent into irreparable creases. Her hands kneaded at her knees anxiously and she wished for the first time that she hadn’t come alone.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, imagining walking out of the room without even meeting with the doctor or hearing the test results. She would go to the nearest Walgreens and buy a notepad, a pack of fresh pens, and a pint of ice cream. She would make lists of things that she was thankful for, lists of dinners she would make this month, lists of things that made her feel better, lists of boys she had loved and lists of places she had never gone. Lists of regrets and lists of triumphs, lists of possible careers if she ever decided to make a change, lists of things she would do if the test came back positive, lists of things she would do if the test came back negative.
The door opened and she jumped, her eyes skittering open. There was a rip as the paper underneath her tore desperately.
She always wondered if passion was ever enough.
Eight words but thus far it’s the story of my life.
Being back home is a funny feeling. It’s not my life anymore and no visit ever feels long enough, as if I haven’t quite found what I came home for.
I’m laying in bed listening to Texas Country on 107.9. In this old room, it reminds me of being back in junior high, listening to an old boombox on low volume as a DJ counted down the top 40 country hits of the nation. I had to be quiet because it was always on a Sunday night—a school night—and past my bedtime, running until midnight. I had a folded piece of paper tucked underneath my pillow and a pencil so that I could write down my favorite songs.
Now my bedtime is whenever I want, even on a school night, and I don’t have to keep a list of my favorite songs. Growing up is all about redefining what ‘home’ means.