Thursday, April 23, 2009

From another creative writing prompt...

Because the smallest memory can be turned into a short story... I took a soft and sweet childhood memory (my older boy cousin giving me a pair of his old PJs) and turned it into a darker fragment of story. What do you think?

The prompt was to write about your earliest childhood memory:

First Memories:
Uncle J and Aunt M's house in Brooklyn (?). Pancakes for breakfast. Joe running down the stairs into the kitchen to give me his outgrown pajamas, which were covered in little pictures of sailboats: pants with an elastic waist and a short-sleeved shirt with a collar and little sailboat-shaped blue buttons.

Add learning-to-read angst and a hint of a controlling, scary parental figure, neither of which existed for me, and this is the result:

"No, you don't need to read her a bedtime story," Dad said. "She's old enough to be able to read on her own. She can read her own bedtime stories when she's ready." The way he looked at Jamie when he said this, obviously meant for her ears, was affectionate enough. Jamie felt hurt and embarrassed in front of her cousins, the familiar weight of being the black sheep of the family at seven. Tom seemed to feel sad for her too and patted her shoulder.

"Oh," Tom said, "I have a present for you. I outgrew my pajamas!"

"What are you talking about, Tom?" Aunt Tina asked.

"I outgrew my sailboat pajamas," he said. "I want to give them to cousin Jamie."

Aunt Tina and Dad shared a look, meant to be over the children's heads. Tom was already running from the living room though, to the two small bedrooms in the back of the house. He came back a minute later, clutching the sailboat pajamas that were, in fact, a little too small for him. He had worn them for almost two years now, steadily rejecting new blue-and-yellow striped pajamas, Superman pajamas, pajamas at Chrismas and pajamas at Birthdays and pajamas for just-because-he-really-needs-pajamas.

"Here, Jamie," Tom said. "You can wear these to bed tonight." He thrust them at her, obviously excited by his own generosity.

"It's okay," Aunt Tina said to Dad. "I'll be glad to get rid of them. And she is very small for her age."

"All right," Dad said. "What do you said, Jamie?"

"Thank you, Tom," Jamie said. she took the pajamas from Tom. There were pants with an elastic waistband and a short-sleeved top with a collar and little blue sailboat buttons down the front. They were colorfully splashed with red, yellow and blue sailboats, cars and airplanes.

"Go brush your teeth, both of you, and make sure you do a good job - use the timer, two minutes at least," Aunt Tina said, even though she must have known Dad would follow them into the bathroom to supervise. Jamie followed Tom to the bathroom, clutching in her arms her new pajamas, in their print of fly-away, sail-away dreams.

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