To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.
– Word Press 101
Just write. Little moments come to mind, snippets and bits to ponder and wonder. In those moments I reach for my notes, entering the moment to memory. A precious bit, rough and tumble, waiting for the polish of words and thoughts to reveal the hidden gem beneath. Fleeting little transitory bits.
Scenes from a life, evoked from an image or sound. Perhaps it is a still photograph or charming words, a song to recall a memory, or the drumming of rain. These fragments seek connection; beg for meaning on the page.
On those days, the sparks of story seeds scatter, take root, and develop as nurtured. It is easy to write on these days. It is the writer’s zone. Fingers pull to the keyboard or pencil, the ideas flowing, words dancing across a white screen or paper, a writer enchanted.
Beautiful words. They come to life escaping the complex mind of a writer. Words that tell a story, taking flight. Just write.
Tumble Down Memory Lane
Write about the three* most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?* I chose only one song for this piece.
-word press 101 Assignment #3
It doesn’t play on the radio much anymore. You are more apt to find the words blocked on a poster or sweetly beckoning from the greeting card aisle. When I hear it on the radio, it takes me on a tumble down memory lane. Sometimes, the trip is difficult.
It is the end of the Kennedy era. The economy is still prospering, American made cars cruise the roadways. It is a time of change; society’s norms shaking. My father’s Eldorado waits in the driveway, the alluring shimmer gleaming off of the car’s tail fins. The car appears magical in the sun’s shine. It is Saturday. He will take us for a drive. My sister wakes early and gently pushes me. We make our beds, eat breakfast, and dress. We are particular, not just any outfit will do. Together we sit on the grass beside the driveway and wait for our father.
The front door opens and my father appears at the top of the steps. Handsome in a boyishly charming way, he smiles, speaks in that teasing tone,
“Ready to get out of town, girls?”
Wearing a crisp white dress shirt, his tanned arms visible, I think he looks like a Kennedy. Black slacks, straight cut, he never wore jeans until his later years. Polished brogues solidly tap as he hurries down the front steps. It is the twinkle in his green eyes that still makes me pause and smile. That and his gentle touch, a simple gesture, an after thought really. Yet, a gesture of memory that buoys me through the watery moments of doubt and despair. There was a connection once.
We climb into the car, take our usual positions. My sister slides along the bench seat, to situate herself directly behind him. She looks at me, smiles. I sit to the right, behind the passenger seat. My father says,
He puts the key into the ignition and the gear into reverse. The car slowly, smoothly backs out of the driveway. We are heading to the candy shop. Father turns the dial on the radio and the music lulls and charms. My sister and I are silent, always listening, watching, pleasing.
Then it begins. The song, You Are My Sunshine, the words teased forth, the simple lyrics beguiling, in a sad yet uplifting way. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear how much… My father starts to sing off key. My sister and I exchange looks. We smile. As the song plays from the car’s radio, he reaches an arm into the back seat and takes my hand in his. Briefly, our fingers lace together. The moment is fleeting, yet it remains burned in memory. I love you; please don’t take my sunshine away.
You Are My Sunshine- Jimmie Davis, Charles Rice
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.
The wind tossed the leaves, red, orange and yellow swirling and lifting them effortlessly into the air, suspending them long enough to catch my eye’s attention. Soon winter would arrive and for the longest while, its icy grip held my heart. I would need something to believe in, something to prove that once there was love and that perhaps, it never left.
It was a crisp, cool autumn afternoon when he arrived, on a whim.
“Come inside,” I said, “It’s so good to see you.”
Briefly his eyes met mine before he looked away.
We enter the kitchen and he sits in the familiar chair he always chooses. The press back from his aunt’s farm. Salvaged from the yard sale, once painted blue, now chippy. He keeps his jacket on; never really settles long in any space. The kettle hisses and bubbles upon the stove top. There would be just enough time for tea. We make small talk about our children, their busy lives, our families. We pretend that there wasn’t a sad past between us; we are polite and gracious. My words come rushing out.
“Why don’t you stay a bit?” I say.
Never speaking the truth: I’m so tired of the distance; I miss you so. The times I need to talk to someone, you. I need your presence in my life.
“I have to go, get back,” he says, straightening up, clearing his throat.
We walk to the door and at the threshold, he pauses, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a silver pocket watch attached to a golden chain. Placing the pocket watch into the palm of my hand, he stands silently, head bowed.
“I want you to have this,” he says.
We hug our familiar good-byes and he says the words so quietly,
“I love you.”
“I love you too, dad.”
Alone, sitting in the quiet of the living room, I study the silver pocket watch, my fingertip tracing the edge of the rim. Westclox, the simple black numerals stark against the white background. A golden chain attached to the watch’s silver clasp, an after thought? At the end of the chain is a golden locket, the initials CC inscribed upon the surface. My grandfather’s initials. Prying open the locket to show two photographs behind glass, my grandparents, my father. My grandmother’s shy, sweet smile, my grandfather’s gentle gaze meet my gaze. Alongside, their son, my father, smiling proudly into the camera’s lens.
Placing the pocket watch into a dish, I set it on a shelf where it would wait untouched for many years. As the minutes, days and months passed, I would occasionally glance at the pocket watch, knowing it was there, as if waiting for me to pause and place it gently into the palm of my hand; it’s meaning elusive.
When my father passed away, I would come to question his actions, doubt his words. I would find myself mining back through a life searching for evidence of love.
My attention now on the dish that holds the simple pocket watch. Holding it in my palm, I sense its power. The message clear. To uphold right, to stay loyal, to accept that soul’s lose their way and love is messy. Battle scars eventually fade; sometimes we have to cling to the bits of love we know. Familiar territory.
It is the pocket watch that steadies me when I am lost and full of doubt, when I need to feel a sense of belonging. The photographs of my grandparent’s remind me to focus on the traits that have passed down from the generations before. Carters and farmers, indebted servants, men and women who proudly toiled the land. Missionaries and writers, families that remained loyal and true to one another, ensuring no one is left behind. Whenever I pause to look into the faces behind the locket’s glass, I find them next to me.
A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.
Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.
The flash of red catches my attention. It seems out-of-place amidst the green of the woodland. An old woman sits on a wooden bench; her frail body nestled beneath a canopy of evergreen. The woman’s silver head nods, bent in concentration. A small shape lies upon her lap. The click of the knitting needles barely touching as they commit to dance, connecting for just a moment.
The small, forming shape suggests a covering of some sort, little rectangles jut out on either side. She is knitting a sweater for a small child. Briefly, the woman pauses, her fingertips gently caress the wool, an after thought.
I cannot walk away.
We are walking along the forested path. The smell of pine teases, boughs canopy us; velvety moss, snugs and clings to the rough bark. A nursing log lies upon the damp forested floor, nurturing miniature life. Ferns sprout, fungi and toadstools cluster. I imagine a fairy’s garden.
Little evergreens reach for the light. There is depth to the forested world. The textures and shades captivate. It is enchanting in this precious world; I wonder if he senses the magic, too.
This is a rare spring day on the west coast. I remind him,
“We live in a rain forest after all.”
Seated within the forest’s clearing, I see her, an elderly woman knitting a small red sweater fit for a fresh child.
I heard them approaching, the snapping of twigs, voices echoing from afar. The animals sensed their presence long before I did. The birds, their beguiling chirps and tweets announcing,
‘Hello, darlings,” I say.
My focus returns to the task in my hands. It is a gift for my son.
The story unfolded years ago; they felt it time to share the truth of my story. My mother, the daughter of a wealthy family, young, afraid, ashamed and alone, sent from town. People in the small mill town knew them both. My father worked on the floor, feeding the lumber to the saws. It was a mismatch, they claimed.
My birth mother passed me into the arms of my adoptive mother and stepped away. She could not look. As my adoptive mother turned to whisk me away, my birth mother quietly spoke,
“Wait, please. I have something else to give you.”
From a woven basket my mother took a tiny, red, hand knit sweater and placed it on top of my blanketed, swaddled body. She gently touched my cheek with her fingertip before reluctantly turning away.
We never met. There were no letters or calls. I still have the red sweater. It is wrapped in tissue, tucked safe in a bottom dresser drawer.
Tears fill my eyes as I recall the memory.
I look again at the elderly woman before me, I notice the woven basket placed at her feet. Inside, are small red sweaters, lovingly knit for a child, her son?