I wrote this for my Narrative Writing class, back when I was a writing major. The assignment was to write some childhood vignettes, done as though through a child’s eyes. The vignettes were based on real memories of my childhood, playing with my cousins Anthony, Beverly, and Cathy, and my sister BJ.
Anthony, Beverly, Cathy, and I scatter as Bj counts to thirty. Here and there from hidden corners of the house I hear the rummaging around as the ABC search for good hiding places. Me, I know where I’m going. I head straight for the guest bedroom, open up the closet, and climb up the drawers to perch myself on the top shelf. Then I close the closet door again and wait, grinning.
Jeez, but I’m good.
She’s looking, she’s looking. I can hear Bj already going through the rooms, searching each corner and every known hiding place. She shouts. Anthony laughs. Then he runs giggling to touch base. Ha! Too slow. She’s too slow for him, so she has to keep looking. Then—oh, God!—she comes into the guest bedroom. She looks under the desk, under the covers, behind the bed. Then—here it comes!—she opens the closet door.
I can see her, the top of her head. She’s looking into the closet, and I’m looking down at her, grinning. Look up! No, don’t look up! Look up! Don’t look up!
She doesn’t look up—stupid! She just keeps going on into the closet and out the other door. I’m dying trying not to laugh out loud. There’s running in the living room, and laughter. I climb down and stroll out, smiling, calm. Everyone’s breathless and grinning. Gigi! Beverly’s It! Where were you?
I’m feeling good about myself, so I tell them, and everyone’s impressed—Bj especially. Stupid! You didn’t even look up! Ah, well. What do I expect? She’s still a child—only four or five years old. She’s practically a baby.
Well, the baby always falls asleep during long drives, especially at night. She snores, and she sleeps with her mouth open. I have to keep pushing her off my shoulder every now and then, and it makes me mad. Mama and Papa don’t say anything. All they do is watch the road. Me, I watch the window.
We’re on the freeway, and it’s raining and dark. Everything looks black outside, and the drops on the window are migrating towards the back of the car. They look like stars, the way they’re reflecting what little light there is outside, and I imagine that we’re going into hyperspace—warp five.
Bj has fallen back onto my shoulder again. She’s drooling, and she’s snoring into my ear. Dummy.
I frown, and I push her back to her side again. You better stay there, I tell her, but she probably doesn’t hear me. She mumbles in her sleep.
They believe everything I tell them. See that big ugly plant by the front walk? Yeah, of course they see it. Well, it’s a man-eating plant. Really? Yes. Yes, it is. One time we ordered pizza, but the guy never came to the door to deliver it. When we went outside to wait for him, we saw the pizza box lying on the walk next to his hat, and we knew that he’d been eaten.
Everybody’s looking at me with wide eyes. They’re all so wonderfully scared. Except for Cathy, the real baby—she’s only three. She looks like she’s about to cry.
And remember that stray dog that used to walk around the neighborhood? Yeah, sure they do. Well, I saw him once go near the plant to take a piss, and I’ve never seen him since.
It’s true. And one night, I heard someone moving around outside—I think he might have been a burglar. Yeah? Well, I think he was going to climb through this window, near where the plant is, but he never came. And I think you know what happened.
Stop now, Gigi, Cathy cries. I’m getting scared.
I’m getting scared, too. I’m getting very scared. So I stop.
Anthony and I are playing with my Lego’s.
The bad guy has just kidnapped the daughter from the town house and is about to rip her clothes off. He laughs like all bad guys do, and she screams.
Then Anthony gets the good guy to save her.
I howl. Now wait a minute! He can’t just save her just like that! That’s too easy! The bad guy has to win some to make the story really good, and then the good guy can win. But he has to work at it—hard! Otherwise, it’s no fun at all.
Okay, fine. Anthony saves her the hard way.
I’m actually sitting quietly to watch a TV show with Mama. I’m not thinking up schemes, making up stories, getting into scrapes, or drawing pictures. I’m just sitting with all my attention focused on the screen.
Then we hear a huge crash from the guest bedroom and a muffled cry. We go to see what happened, and there, lying on the bed with the drawers on top of her, is Bj. After we free her from the mess, she tells us what happened.
She was trying to climb up onto the top shelf in the closet.
When Papa finally gets rid of the big ugly plant and uproots it from the earth, my sister and cousins and I see all sorts of playing balls where it used to be, balls that were left to lie in the plant’s clutches. Better them than us, we figure—especially me, the one who made up all the stories in the first place.
We’re all thinking about how we walked past that plant everyday, giving it a wide berth each time, and we’re all letting our breaths out in huge silent gusty sighs.
But we don’t say anything.Share this post: