This week’s GBE writing prompt is, “Pick a line from a book and write from there.” I chose the book, The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. Not wanting to take forever to choose a beginning line, I grabbed a book from the shelf, opened it, and selected a sentence from the two resulting pages. Though my entry was written quickly during a lunch hour and had to settle for attention that was divided between it and an egg salad sandwich, I enjoyed this one a lot and hope to try something similar again soon.
She pulled at the front of her dress, opening an airway along her bosom, big and soft as couch pillows. Her baby drew in greedily and she settled back against the bench, wisps of her hair fluttering in the late afternoon breeze. She rested her palm on the infant’s cheek, traced his eyebrow with her index finger, and smiled.
This was her favorite part of the day. A precious respite nestled between the hours spent building a business that would never have her name on the door and the solitude that descended and itched like a woolen blanket after she turned her key in the door to what should have been her haven. Instead, the tiny bungalow squeezed her until she fought to breathe, its walls, floors, and furnishings reminders of all that she’d lost. All that they had lost, she and this boy, rosy-cheeked and unaware of the injustice that had come to him so early in his life.
She walked through the house most nights after her son was settled into his crib, chubby legs folded beneath his pajama clad rump, a plump thumb in his mouth. She’d run her fingers over photos of her husband, his broad face smiling and telling a lie of robust health and promised longevity. A face that was supposed to wrinkle beside hers after days and years and decades of working and playing together.
When morning came, she was often still awake, drunk with grief and exhaustion. She counted on the spray from the shower to buy her some hours of productivity, though its impact was progressively lessening. It was only her son’s laughter and tears that kept her going, his need so constant as to propel her forward, if sometimes blindly so.
It was on a Wednesday when she chose healing, just as it had been a Wednesday when she’d been thrust into the whirlwind that drew her deeper and deeper until she no longer recognized a way out. Her parents were waiting on her doorstep when she pulled into the driveway, her mother’s hand cupped inside her father’s. They’d offered a room and their help months earlier, after the last of the grief casseroles had been eaten and their dishes returned to neighbors and coworkers. It had felt like an intrusion when they proposed that she and the baby come home with them, and she’d been indignant at the notion that she was weak or incapable. They’d tried to explain, but she refused to listen, angry at them and the world. They still had each other. Both sets of grandparents were still alive and vibrant. They knew nothing of the pain she was in and she resented their assumption that they could help her to cope with what they couldn’t possibly understand. She’d sent them on their way and though she spoke to her mother by phone several times a week, she was careful to conceal her growing anxiety and depression.
Seeing them there, uninvited, she thought about putting the car in reverse and driving back to the park, to her favorite bench. Instead, she inhaled deeply and turned off the engine. By the time she’d removed her son from his carseat, her parents were beside her. She handed the baby to her father, who hoisted him onto his shoulder, wrapped his other arm around his daughter, and kissed her hair, resting his head atop hers for a moment. She felt her mother’s hand on her back and she turned. She looked at the older woman and saw herself, eyes moist and reflecting the same emotion she felt when her son was hungry or feverish, wanting only to make him better. She wrapped her arms around her mother’s neck and buried her face into the soft, familiar scent and just as her son did when she drew him close to provide comfort, she knew that somehow, she would be okay.
Written for this week’s GBE topic, “Pick a Line from a Book and Write from There.” If you’d like to blog with us, just clickety-click. All are welcome!
One more thing: You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Photo courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public use.