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red writing hood link-up — trading up

April 13, 2012

Today, I am linking up with the fine folks at Write on Edge.

My brief piece was inspired by this prompt:

This week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time one of your main characters finds himself or herself paying back a debt–financial or otherwise.
You have 500 words, so use them wisely, and we’ll see you this Friday to link up.

I’ve got so much more to write on this character, but tonight I am thoroughly exhausted.  Below is my piece.


Mary grew up alone in the nest of mom, of dad; her soft-sinking belly a target of classmates.  They’d circle up, round up, “Retard!” shrill ten year-old voices, Louis always the loudest, Louis who didn’t know any of his capitals or how to spell “genuine,” Louis with dirty hair longish that smelled like urine, like saltwater, his Toughskins jeans too small because his mother was six years dead and his father fused to a bottle.

But they’d kick her in the soft belly, Mary; toes in sneakers, in boots, in galoshes would rise to meet her gentle skin and she never wondered why – never – she just figured such it was, it was as it was, and so she would eventually, quietly, shuffle her way past the small park with its peeling sad not-fun playground equipment, past Josie’s Dry Cleaners where mama said they put too much starch in the shirts but she kept going back, past old Mr. Lester’s house on the corner with the chain-link fence and Bart, his underfed Rottweiler, snapping nastily over the edge, about to spill over.  The walk home from school was long and not as dangerous as the playground afterward.

Mary figured if she had two friends her life would be a little bit sweeter, though she never complained.  Two seemed the fattest, nicest number, because they could play jacks with each other and toss a ball (roundly, kindly) to each other while Mary watched.  Mary knew her dough hands were no good for jacks; she was slow as peanut butter and her sugar-smudged eyeglasses kept her from focusing. But if she had two friends, she could watch them play and imagine she was a sewn-in part of it, a seam.  She’d pay everything she had, she imagined, for two friends.


I hope you have friends who make your life just a little bit sweeter, and I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved rest this weekend.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2012 10:50 pm

    “Mary grew up alone in the nest of mom, of dad; her soft-sinking belly a target of classmates.”

    I think this is my favorite line, but I enjoyed the entire piece. Poor Mary.I felt like crying for her. Her desire to have just two friends is sweet and real. This piece was rich with detail. Forgive me if I should already know the answer to this question, but is there more to read about Mary?

    Great job!

    • April 14, 2012 7:31 am

      Thank you, Denise! I so appreciate your comment. At this point, there isn’t any more to read about Mary, but I plan to write more about her in the future.:) Thanks so much for stopping by, and I look forward to checking out your blog, as well.

  2. April 14, 2012 8:50 pm

    You have such a distinct rhythm to your words, a pacing. I really like it. This story made me so sad. I was expecting Mary to make them all “pay” but part of me is glad that isn’t the way you went, because it is more realistic.

  3. April 15, 2012 4:36 pm

    Very emotional imagery – especially with the dogs. That’s something kids always seem to have to look out for; like a bully popping out from nowhere. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending to be a great story. Thanks for sharing!

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