Growing up in the 70s, with a recently-divorced mom trying to fend for four pre-teen kids (and adopted stray cats), we would come home from school, or not, and have the house to ourselves. Now they make movies about a child left in a house alone (Gasp!), as if it’s a thing. Somehow we survived. We didn’t burn down the place, or poison ourselves, or decapitate each other by accident, although I once put a rusty nail through my hand digging in someone’s back yard. Back when it was okay to be somewhere in the neighborhood playing until sunset, without a worry or a cellphone. At dinnertime, the sound of adult voices calling kids’ names echoing over the block. It makes you wonder what has happened to America that there are so many dangers we have to keep our kids safe from now. I wonder, is this called progress?
It had been three years since they heard from me, I had been so afraid to tell them I’d escaped the closet they had unknowingly locked me in. But here they were, searching for me, afraid for me, needing to know I was okay. I was better than okay, I told them. I was finally happy, living my life. When I reconnected with my family, I told them the truth, because that’s what you do for the people you love. They feigned acceptance at first, but then it became clear: their religion proclaimed that my death would have been better news. It’s ten years later: they search no longer, afraid of me, the deadly rainbow in their black and white world. I still love them, but they’re too busy mourning the death of someone who never existed, the shadow in a dark closet. Family unable to see the light.
The emperor looked on proudly as his daughter surveyed the massive fleet hangar, thousands of new star destroyers gleaming.
“Why do spaceships always look so phallic?” the princess finally said. “It’s space. Ships don’t need to be aerodynamic in space, just balanced around their center of gravity.”
The admirals looked uncomfortable under her gaze.
“Well, uhm,” a four-star attempted.
The princess waved his explanation away as she turned to leave. “If it wasn’t for testosterone, we wouldn’t need these damn things.”
One of the ironies of my life, living in the Pacific Northwest, where the water is iceberg-cold on the hottest days, are the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland, where I nearly met my premature end drowning at the impressionable age of four or five. Despite still harboring an irrational fear of swimming decades later from this unfortunate start, I still pine for the childhood days of half-buried siblings, silicon castles, creosote smelling boardwalks, splashing surf and heavenly cheeseburgers crunchy with windblown sand.
Life can be funny that way.
(A Six-Word Memoir and a poem of six-word lines).
Every year the bunnies come out.
Not the cute and fluffy ones.
I mean Easter–we’re talking chocolate.
Not that chocolate isn’t there regardless.
But Easter, it’s okay to binge!
Eating a whole basketful is legal,
If not encouraged, especially for kids.
I am a kid at heart.
And dark chocolate is my reward.
But the darker bunnies are rare,
Diligence is needed to find them.
But I have seen them before.
I know they are out there.
I’ll find my dark chocolate bunny.
And nibble its ear right off.
From memories as a kid, sitting in a small upper-story window overlooking the rougher side of Baltimore City at night, when the bullies and criminals who usually roam there are sleeping. This was an oasis of heaven in an otherwise hellish time of my life, fearing I was too small and sensitive to survive in such a place. I spent every night looking out over that city until I realized how beautiful it was at night, when the people no longer roamed its streets and the real magic of the place could come out and be appreciated. I have been a night owl since.
This is the first of my Six-Word Memoirs, which came from the longer story blogged earlier, “Windows Into the Night“.
This project came out of one of the more challenging prompts from my Advanced Dramatic Writing class at Portland State:
Put no more than four characters in one of the following settings (note the theme here: small spaces): a closet, restaurant booth, bathroom, cockpit, confessional, elevator, hunting blind, cave, submarine, office cubicle, ferris wheel, tunnel, jail cell, bed, … you get the idea. The scene must additionally contain the following ingredients: A blind date, 3 days without sleep, a phobia, and a man covered in tattoos.
The cool thing is: the more limiting a prompt is, the easier it seems to be to come up with ideas for it. I suppose this is because when you’re asked to “write something,” the entire universe of possibilities rushes in and you end up staring at a blank page too small to fit anything that comes to mind. But with limitation comes innovation!
For some reason this prompt wasn’t enough punishment, so I added a couple of limitations of my own:
- I would try to use most, if not all of the settings given, and
- I would do so without any narration–it would all be in the dialogue.
The class really rocked this prompt. The best part was the collaboration: the writers were teamed up with other students who would take on the roles of director and voice actors, so we could see and hear how the piece works for an audience. During rehearsals these collaborators helped workshop the piece from their perspective, as director, actors, as well as a volunteer dramaturge (someone who makes sure the piece holds together in its own universe).
This collaboration not only helped me craft the work so that the story in my head actually made it to the audience, but to find amazing connections, ideas and perspective from the mouths of my own characters, told through the people acting them out. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. I am humbled by how much this improved what I started with.
As a mid-term project, we had our scripts read on stage in front of an audience–and a video camera. Although it would have been awesome to see it acted out, there were too many constantly evolving scripts and too little time to block, act and memorize them all. But as voice actors, these performers made this silly story truly come to life for me.
It is still a work in progress, of course (especially the new ending), but we had a lot of fun getting it this far. I hope you enjoyed it.
Hopefully more soon!! ^_^