I’m experimenting with a new writing exercise: a journal in which I’ve pasted a picture on every page. When I sit down to write, I use the picture as my prompt. I ran out of glue before I could get very far, but my plan is not to ever “look ahead,” so that I can’t plan what to say to certain prompts in advance. In a way, playing with these pictures is my own special way of doing the Story-a-Day May challenge, I think. What story does this particular picture tell?
Last night’s picture was one I’d cut out of a newspaper ad for summer sales. It showed an adolescent girl lying in the grass, staring up at the sky. She wore blue cut-off jeans and a pink shirt. Her hair was brown. This is what I wrote:
She sees her life unfold like a story or a dream she doesn’t know she’s dreaming etched in the clouds above— fat babies who can make her feel like a child again— because she doesn’t feel like one now. When did summer become bittersweet? It will be years before she knows that word but she knows the feeling now. Something about the smell of wet grass and the bright blue sky and fat cherub baby, pirate ship clouds fill her with an aching sadness. She thinks that somewhere, somehow, this has to do with love. But she wears cut-off jeans, and the light hair on her legs is long and soft, for the last time. Come September, a disdainful glance from a long-haired girl will send her rummaging through Mom’s sock drawer for a razor. One summer past, she could lie down flat in this field, but her body will lay flat never again. She closes her eyes, dreams of babies, pirates, and angels Something about love, a twitching between her thighs. Above, the clouds go by.