Monday, April 15, 2013

Prompt: childhood, snapshot

There are images we take from childhood, snapshots of ourselves as a fully formed character. Sometimes even at the smallest age, we knew we were destined to be ourselves. Share a story of the child you were, and where that child still resides in who you have become.

I found a white plastic pail nearly half my height and filled it with water made sudsy by pouring in lots and lots of gel green dish cleaning soap.  I needed to find a very, very  big rag as well because I had made a HUGE mistake. I wrote in bright pink colored sidewalk chalk on the street near the bus stop for us younger kids “Jill is a cripple”. I was so mad at her - the reason why is not in my memory at all; just the feeling that I was invisible and Jill was not. Always 1st in line. Always lifted on her brothers shoulders to get a better view. Always getting pretty dresses. I was the oldest child, she the youngest. I seemed to have so many more 'responsibilities'. A big word that adults used and one I had already learned to spell. She had a club foot. It was the excuse for being special or so I perceived. I suddenly knew the words in my head now carefully printed in chalk were wrong. Well right, in fact, but wrong in how I used them. The eraser I had in my jacket pocket to fix my printing if I made mistakes did not seem to work on the asphalt road. I could not let anyone see this and drawing flowers was not going to disguise my finely crafted boldly printed letters. 

I lived in the house farthest away. Jill's house was much closer though off into the woods. I needed to be fast to make the evidence of my anger go away before anyone else could see that it had emerged.

"What are you up to? You have enough soapy water to clean an army" said my mom.
I mumbled, “ I have lots to clean-up”  and I dragged my pail for what appeared to be an eternity to the pink words chalked on pavement. I was too late.  I could see her older brothers reading the road as I approached the scene of my crime.  My heart pounded out of my T-shirt.  I wanted to become smaller so they could not see me. Jill's brothers screamed cruel things at me. What they actually said is not in my memory at all; just the feeling that I wanted to be invisible and the even louder voice in my head  saying “you deserve this for your meanness”.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. My arms drenched with darkening water where my tears got lost.

The words faded in to the pavement but there was not enough water to cleanse away the pink truth of confusion, hurt and the anger within.

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