Article of Clothing (100 words)

19 03 2008

Lime and mini with navy piping. For the junior-high dance, I set it off with gold fishnet tights, chunky heel shoes. I felt eighth-grade in even though I had skipped seventh and lived in England for sixth. My cool was more 1970 Brit than New Hampshire, but not tonight. I floated into the school auditorium, the big disco ball tossing its confetti colors, and eyes found me, me. All the girls, Jimmy MacDougall, Danny Cole, Nate Edgcomb. Peter Warren, who never looked at me, slid over, top dog, interested, and whispered, “Great dress. Too bad Polly Peasley isn’t wearing it.”





Smoke (100 words)

12 03 2008

march ice

I have gauzy memories of my very young mother smoking out on our back patio, with college friends, drinking wine, waxing on, I imagine, about literature and philosophy and love as colored candles dripped like hippie hair down the sides of a cheap chianti bottle. Twenty four with three children. College-after-kids. As we grew to adolescence, she gave up those languid evenings, and cigarettes bit by bit, pretending to quit so we wouldn’t start, backing into her bathroom finally to throw open the small, clouded window and perch on the windowsill, leaning out into the pale winter sky, sighing smoke.





Pitcher

9 03 2008

That year my mother collected awkward things as we crisscrossed Europe, kids in the back, father lodged at the wheel next to her and her romantic notions. From Amsterdam she lugged a wrought-iron candlebra, stuffed into the trunk in case my father, unnerved by German or Italian drivers, braked without warning. In Normandy it was cheese so appalling that we forced her to tie it to the side mirror to flap safely outside. In Siena it was a yellow pottery ewer for wine or flowers, a treasure she swaddled, cushioned from mishap by the soft stuff of a family adventure.





Creative Nonfiction Exercise

5 03 2008

“On Storms”

Driving across the flat bones of Saskatchewan, you knew you could make the Manitoba border before dark. The road was straight, the air clear, your energy in that soft limbo of cross-country travel. Easy with one another, ready to throw yourselves into the forge of marriage, yes–you thought you might even drive through the night, through several nights.

When the gaping sky suddenly shape-shifted, swiveled, exposing its insides, though, you, you lost your bearings. Yellow-green salting a purple rash, deepening, infecting the plains. And no sound at all except for the tires, the engine. Just freaked-out sky hunkering over the flat flat land.

He glinted. “A good summer storm! About freakin’ time!” You withdrew into a New Englander’s silent shelter. But the sky responded, shattering around you into slicing rain, lightning, thunder–a cacophony of sensation, chasing you onward onward, he, soon-to-be-husband leaning into the windshield, strange, a stranger.

Here are the rules:

1. Use a second-person narrator

2. Use 150 words.
3. Use the following words: bones, glint, forge, salt
4. Title it “On Storms”
5. Make it creative nonfiction
6. Go…





Public Bus (100 words)

3 03 2008

Growing up, I envied country kids, faces to the window, exploring the mysteries of school-bus culture. The year we lived in England, my brother and I took the bus to the city center; from there I walked through Cambridge’s ancient streets to my girls’ school. Claiming the front seat atop the double-decker, my brother banned me from the action. Or so he thought, for before me unfolded the real show starring conductors playing marvelous ticket machines strapped to their uniformed chests, spewing the language in hard-edged accents, hopping off and back onto the open landing as nimble as circus acrobats.





Marmalade (100 Words)

1 03 2008

Grapefruit, kumquat, orange, calamondin, lemon: I could mark my life in marmalades– my mother’s thick-cut magic mixed at the stove from fat Mamade cans; sticky ginger and lemon and coarse-cut varieties from the English year, their thick scents rolling in from the nearby Chivers factory as we headed to school; mild marmalade toasts my French mother served with tea Friday afternoons in some sad pantomime of aristocracy; undecipherable varieties more chutney than marmalade spread across my Asian and South American travels; and now the blood-orange jars that fill my cupboard, morning toast taking my tongue, my nose into bittersweet memory.





Stethoscopes (100 words Exercise)

29 02 2008

I’m okay about stethoscopes. Really. Our childhood doctor arrived with his breadbox of a black leather bag, fishing out concoctions at our bedsides: cherries gone strange or bubblegum fizz. Always, around his neck his stethoscope necklace. He was a kind but serious man. Tall. Old.

Thirty years later, when I’d rush one young daughter or the other to Doc Pete for a broken wrist or earache, he, wily magician, would nod a pursed “HmmMMMmmmm….” as he touched stethoscope to elbow, to nose, to pinkie toe. No matter how bad the pain, the sick one would giggle, fear effaced, healing begun.