I have been facilitating a stream of consciousness writing class through Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation at the Olympia Center.  Each class has two or three twenty minute writing exercises with time for the participants to read.  These exercises promote writing quickly without editing.

The following exercise was done from Image Map made from clip art images… a participant in class can select one or more or even all the images as triggers for their writing exercise.  In my exercise below I used all the images.

Image Map Exercise

Cute House

She grew up in a cute house. You could call it quaint. She felt out of place. Everything was too neat and tidy. The lawn and flower beds were brutally manicured. Everything was perfect.

Riding the school bus was a joy. It was loud, gross and raucous as the kids yelled over the noise and rumble cruising the side streets.

Ambulances and fire trucks roared past one morning. It seemed they were heading toward her street, toward her quaint house.  The sun disappeared behind clouds. The weatherman was correct. The rain was starting right on time – almost to the minute. The man was a wizard to be so on target. He father would be pleased with the preciseness not the rain.  Her parents were precise. Everything was done on time according to schedule. No one raised their voice in their neat tidy house.

Settling into the classroom, the air was heavy with moisture and damp clothing smell.  Raising her hands in the air, the teacher waited as the class stood at once.  Facing the flag, they recited the pledge of allegiance. No one noticed the principal slip quietly into the room.  Children stood warily watching the whispered conversation between teacher and principal. A chill seemed to dampen the room; everyone held their breath waiting.  Teacher looked a little pale in the fluorescent light.

Walking to Elise, she reached out her hand… “come with me, Elise. Bring your things.  Children… silent reading.”

Holding teacher’s hand, she knew perfection had been swept down the drain like glitter swept into a dust pan by a grumbling custodian. Medical emergency was all the principal would say.

The hospital was too bright and the antiseptic smell was cloying. Her grandparents looked out of balance. Grandfather was pacing the in the small waiting room; muttering almost mewing under his breath, a series of short staccato breaths puffed in and out matching his steps.

Grandmother remained seated. Her face creased with heavy lines seemed swollen. Patting the seat next to her, Elise sat leaning into grandmother’s shoulder. Grandma’s hand, soft and worn, held her strong and small one. No words were spoken for a time. Grandfather’s squeaking shoes and harried breathing rattled the simmering silence.

The outcome was dismal. There wasn’t a quaint and tidy home to return to… her belongings were lost in the fire.  After her father bludgeoned her mother with a monkey wrench, he had burnt down the house.  Failing to do away with himself, he was the perfect coward. The police stopped him at a rest stop; the car was weighed down with valuable too precious to waste in a fire.  There was also a key to a storage unit showing he had planned this for a long time.

The decision had to be made; there was no recovery from the head trauma. The Doctor brought them in for one last one way hug… one last one way kiss to say goodbye to her mother.

There was nothing to pack – Elise’s grandparents wouldn’t let her see the remains of the house.  The next few weeks were in slow motion. Time was distorted by emotions. The funeral was a blur. Leaving school… she never went back. Moving to her grandparent’s farm was actually better although nothing could heal a portion of her heart. She would always miss her mother. It was so different living with her grandparents.  Elise could help with chores; get messy, play with the barn cats… Life was full of compromise complicated with loss.

9/12/2013

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