I write with Story Circle, always using the provided prompt. I love Flash writing. Write what comes. Clean it up. Submit it. Easy peasy most of the time. If the subject is unappealing, choose anything. I’m often surprised at what my inner self delivers. It comes all of a piece, needing very little, prompting me to wonder who is in the space I believe is my “self”. I write once a month, with several other women, and look forward to what their muse provides. “What’s in My Closet” was April’s prompt.
Writing memoir has encouraged me to look back at the effects of circumstance in my life and for some time I didn’t realize that a child from my era, with war history, orphanage history, and a rejecting mother experienced life differently from that of an intact family. Institutional living differs from what constitutes normal.
When my brother and I returned to our mother, the family unit was reconstituted, with a new Dad and an additional sibling. I was fascinated with the baby girl. Until then I had never seen an infant up close. The two of us had been institutionalized for some years. The concept of family was alien even though Mama was our natural mother, and not a stranger. Until she remarried and brought us home we had no memory of “family”. Our Dad had died before my little brother was born.
We were essentially strangers to Mama, who’d spent our confinement years working for the War, making ammunition. She married a soldier, an only child who thought a family with kids was a great idea. But we were outsiders looking in on a new family unit around which we orbited. My brother and I were leftovers from another time.
We left the orphanage for a small rural town in farm country, with Amish neighbors who tilled the fields all around us. We had free run of it all, in and out of neighbors’ homes, and through tall corn, the Amish treating us like their own in a time allowing freedom to grow without much supervision. But we were always aware that everyone in town knew the new kids, kept an eye on us and checked in with Mama when they felt she should have some idea what we were up to.
A mile behind the house a steam train plowed through the cut on its way to town, slowing as it approached. My little brother scooted down to the tracks when we heard it coming. He ran alongside and climbed the little ladder to the top of a box car. There he sat, riding into town. He did this countless times until someone told Mama. Then all hell broke loose. It deterred him for awhile, but boys being boys, he found his way to the box cars with notable frequency.
Ours were halcyon days of discovery unfettered and filled with sunshine and manure, arrowheads tossed up from the turned sod, and the simple joy of stalking brook trout, hoping to catch one with our bare hands.
That’s a peek into what’s in my closet.