Welcome to Freewrite Fridays!
I’ve been considering some changes lately–blame turning 30, or the pandemic, or finally recovering from the exhaustion of undertaking two degrees, one right after the other–specifically about what I want to do with my life. Which is the same answer it’s always been: write.
And I’ve been coming to terms with the concept that I haven’t been prioritising that, or taking it as seriously as I should. It also occurred to me that I have the perfect platform to become more comfortable with doing it: right here! So I’m going to be posting things I’ve written twice every month: in Flashbacks–pieces I wrote a while ago, and am revisiting now (check out the first Flashback Friday here!)–and Freewrites.
The Freewrites are going to be short flash pieces from different perspectives of a family I’m writing. Their story (stories?) span several decades, so each Freewrite will be dated somewhere along the timeline–and I’ll be posting a family tree that’ll be updated with every Freewrite, to help situate the characters and timing. I’ll also be using one writing prompt from Jamie Cat Callan’s The Writer’s Toolbox, and one from the Storymatic, every time–just to make the Freewrites even freer!
Without further ado: first up, matriarch Dot, with the prompts ‘memory lane’ and ‘to be young again’!
A smile crowns Dot’s face when Roxie brings him in; and there’s a beam in Roxie’s voice as she holds him out and says, ‘Nanna, meet your second great-grandson, Charlie.’
Dot heaves him out of his mother’s arms and cradles him against her, nudging his fingers apart so they can hold hers—and for a moment, she’s thrown.
Her finger is too crooked, too wrinkled, too dotted with liver spots–and Charlie’s heavier than he should be, wreaking havoc on her back, making her feel all stooped over.
She realises, holding this latest new-born: she’s old.
It seems impossible.
She’s still 26, her own first born clutching her unwrinkled finger; 47, too young to be a grandmother, but rocking her first grandchild nonetheless; 67 and too young be a great-grandmother for the first time. All that time gone, in the click of a crooked finger.
She must be old. Only the old think of time in that way.
She shakes her head to shake it off, tears her eyes from her liver spots and beautiful Charlie to take in his mother, her granddaughter—exhausted, but still smiling, another human she watched grow from a new-born to a mother with one.
‘I said it about you—I said it about all my grandkids, and all my kids, for that matter—but he really is the most beautiful baby I ever laid eyes on,’ she tells Roxie.
Roxie’s beam grows even wider; then the warm June breeze blows the curtains, inches away from where they stand, and Dot watches as, startled, Charlie’s mouth begins to pucker.
After four kids, twelve grandkids, and now two great-grandkids, Dot is well-versed in that pucker. She pushes Charlie back onto his mother before the first wail has even let loose.
Roxie, just as startled, makes frantic shushing noises, clutches Charlie to her chest, pats his back and promises it’s okay. But it falls on deaf ears; and Dot is suddenly grateful for her bent and wrinkled fingers, her liver spots and crooked posture—her well-earned ability to be a grumpy old bag and walk away.
Who’d be mad enough to be young again?