Writing Boot Camp has become #FictionFriday! Each week I'll be picking a prompt and exercising my fiction muscles. This week's prompt is brought to you by 642 Things to Write About.
Today's prompt: A vivid childhood memory from the child's perspective.
Annie's mother was late.
Her middle school band practice had ended ages ago. Her friend's parents had all come and gone, and there she was--alone on a patch of grass in the carpool area.
"Annie, honey, do you want us to bring you home?" Her friend Stacy's mom had leaned out of the car window as her daughter climbed in next to her.
"Oh, it's fine!" Annie said breezily, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. She waved at Stacy as the car drove away. Now Annie was wishing she'd gone with Stacy and her mom--the sun was starting to dip lower in the sky, and she was getting hungry.
She wished again that her parents would let her have a cell phone. '11 is too young to be distracted by technology," she could hear her father saying in her head. 'Now go outside and play!" Go outside and play? What was she, 4? And even 4 year olds had access to smart phones. She saw them playing games at tables in restaurants while their parents enjoyed dinner. She wasn't even allowed to read a book at the table while her family ate. Dinner time is discussion time, her dad liked to say. Ugh.
If she had a phone she could call her mother and find out why she was--Annie checked her watch--45 minutes late. She tucked that tidbit away to add to her PowerPoint presentation entitled "Why tweens should have their own cell phone" as item #42.
She sighed and laid back in the grass. At least it was warm outside, and it wasn't raining. She played a game she often played, called "What Would Anne Shirley Do". She never told anyone she played a game where she compared her situations to a fictional character, but then again, she was the only person she knew to have been named after one. Anne of Green Gables had been her mother's favorite book and so she was named after the title redhead--only her father called her Annie from the get go, and it stuck.
Annie both loved and hated that she'd been named after Anne Shirley. She loved the books, but didn't think she was anything like her--her hair was plain and brown, not distinctive. Annie would have even chosen carrot-colored hair over her mousy locks. No boys teased her in school like Gilbert Blythe, which to her clearly stated that no boy even noticed she was there.
When Anne Shirley was 11, she was already taking care of triplets. Annie wasn't even allowed to babysit her younger brother. Not that she really wanted to--her 3 year old brother was a ball of energy and dirt, always poking things with sticks and finding bugs.
When Anne Shirley got left at a train station, she imagined herself spending the night in a tree, surrounded by blossoms. Annie looked around. The only trees she could see were spindly little things. Those would never work.
What if her mother didn't come? Where would she spend the night? She couldn't walk home--it was miles to her house, and there were no sidewalks on the road. She could break into the school and use the phone inside--but that might set off an alarm. What would she do if the police came? Would she get arrested? Could they put her in jail? She shivered, thinking of the bad guys that ended up in jail. She didn't want to be in a cell with someone with an eye patch and tattoos up and down his arm, so she quickly scratched that idea.
She could sleep in the doorway of the school, then when it was time to go to class she would already be there. Only she'd have to wear the same clothes...ew. There went that option.
She could walk to one of the houses that were close by to the school. She didn't know who lived there, but maybe they would let her in to use the phone. Maybe they would be nice and offer her a plateful of homemade cookies and cold lemonade. Or maybe they would be creepy, like the kind of people you saw on the news that stole kids and brainwashed them. Maybe they were watching her, right now, deciding on the best time to run out and snatch her.
She sat up, startled. Had she heard footsteps? Annie's eyes darted around, but she didn't see anyone. Where was her mother? She got up and flattened herself against the side of the building so no one could sneak up on her.
What if something happened to her mother? What if there had been a car accident? Or what if her mother had stopped at the bank, and there was a robbery? What if her mother was being held hostage right this very instant? Was her little brother with her? He'd be terrible in a hostage situation. He always made noise and he never sat still, which were two things that ticked bank robbers off.
Annie's heart started to beat fast. She wanted to go home! She wanted to see the light spilling in through the white curtains and see her brother's race cars all over the floor. What if she never saw her family again? She choked back tears.
And then--there was the familiar car pulling into the parking lot, and Annie threw herself in the front seat and into her mother's lap.
"Mommy!" She sobbed, even though she hadn't called her mother that in years, and would have been horrified with herself if she hadn't been so relieved that her mother wasn't being held hostage and she herself had barely avoided being kidnapped.
"Hey, it's okay!" Her mother said, clearly startled to find her daughter in such a state. "I'm sorry I was late, I got stuck in this check out line at the store and then hit afternoon traffic--" she stopped talking and smoothed Annie's hair back.
"Hey there, Annie," she said. "Are you alright?"
Annie sniffled, then hiccupped. "Yes," she said, turning a little pink. "I just let my imagination get a little carried away, that's all."
Maybe she was a little more like Anne Shirley than she thought.
A penny for your thoughts: what is a vivid memory from your childhood?