Like many writers, my first foray into the creative process was at an early age---the second grade, to be precise.
I don't recall what possessed me to do so, but I picked up a pencil one day and wrote an inventive story about the family dog. I still have that piece, written in my childish hand on those large, lined pages used in elementary school. I reference it occasionally when I need a pick-me-up or a quick trip down memory lane.
The list below is sparse... For now! I will be the first to admit that I am woefully behind on my efforts to compile all those stories written over the years into some sort of usable work. The pencil and elementary-school paper gave way to journals and notebooks a long time ago, followed by my Mom's old typewriter and, eventually, word processors and computers.
Satan and a Hair Net
This short piece was selected for The First Line Literary Journal, a monthly publication that provides writers with the first sentence to see where it leads. Below are the first few paragraphs of the published piece:
"The rules are clearly spelled out in the brochure. Everyone must follow them!"
My new manager yanked on my shoulder and shoved a hair net in my face. "Put this on, blondie --- we will have NO hair in our food. And get that gum out of your mouth right now unless you want your first day to be your last!"
Geez! This was supposed to be a part-time job, not a military training exercise! I cursed my mom for making me do this. No one else I knew had to get a job.
"For those of you who can't read," the manager continued, still eyeing me and holding up the brochure we had all received during orientation," the rules are as follows...
By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire.
Not actually on fire, of course. I hadn’t been close to a real fire since my early twenties, when the world last seemed exciting and not in the least bit scary.
This kind of fire was the orange, red and gold of late fall, yet I had been too shut up in my own house to notice the colors creeping into the trees. Like the dying leaves, my own life was slipping away, and it had been for years.
The toy was right there, sitting in the top rack of the old man’s shopping cart as he struggled to get his groceries into his car.
Thirty minutes earlier, the same man had been standing in the toy aisle, reaching for the last available action figure. He tossed it in his cart and made his way down the aisle, as I just missed the opportunity to get my 3-year-old the only item he wanted from Santa. I had waited weeks for that toy to go on sale, saving up my tips from the diner to be sure I had enough. Saddened by this unfortunate turn of events, I wandered through the other aisles, trying to find something—anything—I could get in its place. I found nothing even close to the toy he wanted, and I exited the store empty-handed that late winter afternoon.
As I walked through the crosswalk, taking care not to slip on any black ice, I noticed the old man in front of me. He stopped at a high-end vehicle and pressed auto-start on his remote. The engine fired quickly, sounding smoother than any engine I’d ever heard, certainly better than the 20-year-old clunker I had. This car was an older model but in excellent condition, like its owner. Dressed in a pressed button-down shirt and slacks, he was not hurting for cash. I wished I could say the same, my coat and leggings so thin my skin threatened to peek through a few places, and my boots sporting more scuffs than color.