Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'm taking a 10-week writing class, and I'm taking it with my friend, Deb. Just started today. I have been "creatively blocked" for so long it's beyond a block. Today the teacher gave a prompt that I was actually excited to get home and start working around.
Here's the prompt: Write a story about a child or very young adult's notion of the spiritual, the magical, or the religious. I encourage you to make the child the "I" in the story--but it can be fiction or memoir or a hybrid.
Include in your story a hot beverage, a specific kind of tree, and something that has or is believed by someone in the story to have some magical property.
Here's my first stab at it, which ended up being 90% memoir and 10% fiction, so I guess that qualifies it as my new favorite word, "hybrid."
I am going to be lifted right up off the ground and taken to heaven. That’s what Grandma says. She says the end of the world is coming, probably in her lifetime, but definitely in mine. Grandma should know because she was married to a Baptist minister before he died and went to heaven to be with God. Plus, she went to a special Bible college. She says all the good people are going to be just scooped right up from wherever they are standing, from whatever it is that they are doing, from whoever they are talking to. Boom. They are just going to get picked up and fly into the air up to heaven. Then something bad is going to happen to all the bad people left behind. People that haven’t accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ, as their personal Lord and savior. That’s who.
Mom and I are visiting Grandma. She lives in a special community full of old people that are all either retired Baptist ministers, or the wives of one. Pilgrim Haven. That’s the name of the place.
“Grandma?” I ask, shouldn’t it be Pilgrim HEAVEN, after the heaven?
Grandma picks up her special tea cup with matching saucer and sips her mostly tepid water with just one dunk of a used up tea bag in it. She’s saving. "Waste not, want not" is pretty much her favorite expression. That, and “Pretty is as pretty does.”
“Sweetheart,” Grandma answers me, “a haven is a place that’s peaceful and restful, and that’s what this place is. A peaceful and restful place for those of us that have been God’s pilgrims, until we can be with Him in heaven when He calls us.”
Whatever it’s called, haven or heaven, it is pretty here. There are palm trees all around. We don’t have that type of tree where I live, up in Oregon, but down here in California, they do. Lots of them. It’s a palm tree haven.
I love Grandma, but I don’t like to hug her that much. She has whiskers on her chin and her breath never smells good, no matter how many times she scrubs her dentures. Mom said the reason she had to get dentures when she was 39 years old was on account of the fact that she had eight kids and no prenatal vitamins. Those kids sucked all the calcium right out of her teeth. That’s what mom says.
Grandma takes another sip of her “tea,” puts the cup and saucer down on the cedar hope chest, and starts to unfasten her hair. I put a quick hand up to my own head, smoothing down my shoulder length dishwater blond hair, and wonder how much longer it would take to get it as long as Grandma’s, probably like ten more years. Grandma’s is all the way down to her butt, but it doesn’t go straight across in a line, like mine, it goes more in the shape of a V.
Grandma pulls tortoise shell pins from her hair, they’re in the shape of huge long U’s. I think they’re beautiful. In fact, I think they are magical. I think that having one of those hairpins in my hair would make me like Grandma. It would give me special powers, almost like magic, and for sure, for sure I’d be taken up with Jesus when he comes again, and not stuck down here with all the people that worship Satan and will probably just get burned to death in the pits of hell.
Mom comes walking in the door, back from running to the grocery store to get Noxema, queen-sized pantyhose, bananas and Tums for Grandma. “Hi, Mom,” my mom says to Grandma. “I got all the things on your list.” It’s weird to hear Mom call Grandma, Mom.
As Grandma looks up to see Mom, the real mom in the room, I quick, steal a hairpin off the cedar hope chest, and put it into the pocket of my jeans. I just hope that the magic of the hairpin will kill whatever work of the devil I just did by stealing.
* Photo from shirleysdelight.com