Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22, 1963

Yom revi'i, 22 Heshvan 5777/ 22 November 2016

I love my writing class. I call it a "writing salon," because it makes me think of the old and decadent days of great writers who huddled together perfecting their craft around some wealthy patron's table.

We don't smoke and drink. (Well -- a little champagne on someone's birthday, which at nine-thirty in the morning feels like the height of decadence...) Our "wealthy patron" is wealthy only in her teaching ability, and in her magical gift of bringing out our best writing in a safe environment.

Today we were assigned to write something from the voice of childhood. Without realizing it, I wrote a story -- only somewhat fictionalized -- about this very date in history.

Please feel free to tell me what you think! Your opinion keeps me trying to get better at this thing I love.




It's colder that it should be. Everybody's walking out of school, and leaves are flying everywhere. I'm wearing the pink popcorn sweater my Mama made for me because I love her and I don't want to hurt her feelings. But it's really ugly and itchy and the kids always make fun of me and call me Judy Doodie and sing "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should..." and then somebody always says "Winston tastes bad like the one I just had. No filter, no flavor, it tastes like toilet paper." That makes them laugh. I always try not to cry. But that's usually.

Today, everyone is sad. We don't understand why they sent us home early. My Mama is waiting at the corner. Like other mothers, she's crying. I am wondering if the world is ending or something. Even Bobby Groom's mom is crying. Even Bobby Groom is nice to me, even though I accidentally flipped him in the gravel when he grabbed my arm yesterday. Everyone is nice to everyone, and everyone is sad, and the leaves are all swirly and lots of colors. Mama is saying "Oh, baby. What will we do now? What will the world do now?"

When we get home, everyone even our next door neighbors is crowding around our TV and watching about President Kennedy, and everyone is crying like little kids. I secretly take off my sweater and cuddle Debbie Lynn, because she is too little to know that the world is ending, and anyway, I don't like to hear her cry the way she does when the grown ups are too busy. She looks at me with her giant brown eyes that make you want to give her a present. She trusts me to fix things. We sit together and watch the grown ups watching the TV and hugging each other.

Outside the window, the red and brown and yellow leaves blow up to Heaven.

22 comments:

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    1. It's worth posting again just to hear from you, dear friend. :-) Thank you.

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  2. You captured the moment beautifully. I also remember getting off early from school and my mother lying on the couch, crying. It's so unsettling for children to see grown ups crying and out of their normal routine. Feels like the world is ending is right.

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    1. Thank you, my friend. Yes, it was quite a time, wasn't it? I have a new relative-by-marriage who is a child psychologist. She reminds people -- especially in the current political climate -- to teach their children how to cope effectively, rather than crying on their too-small shoulders.

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  3. Wow, great writing. You had me right there beside you...

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much! Such words are better and more craft-nurturing than a paycheck. ;-)

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  4. Beautiful remembrance from a child's viewpoint. I like all the sensory images you have provided -- colors, textures, action, spoken word -- all contribute to our seeing this is a rich, full way. And what hashgacha pratit. That experience was so traumatic, that even after 53 years, those feelings emerge and envelop us.

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    1. Beautifully said, my friend. You are right: some moments in history become stitched into us forever, and we also become an integral part of them. Thank you for your encouragement!

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  5. You're a genius. Straight up. Can't wait to read your first novel.

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    1. See? This is why we are friends. Like the good Lord, you overestimate me. Thank you, dear lady, for your encouragement. I will do my best to give you a novel one day to read, with God's help.

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  6. Very poignant memories. You are right there are certain times one never forgets. Keep up the beautiful writing.

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    1. Thank you, my friend. We are all linked by those memories. I appreciate your encouragement.

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  7. Loved it. Felt very naturally scene through a child's view

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    1. Thank you, Romi. That is special praise, as I know you are a very keen observer of the view through young eyes.

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  8. You paint with words like Rockwell expressed emotions with paint. Keep it up dear lady. Just a thought though, I wonder how many presidents since would have evoked this overwhelming grief?

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    1. It's true. We remember not just the loss of a President, but the violent wrenching loose of a more innocent time. I remember that there was a time when even the majority of bad guys would avoid hurting school children or a "person of the cloth." So times and leaders have changed. Thank you for your encouragement, and for painting your praise in the imagery of one of my personal favorite artists!

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  9. Always loved your writing. Keep sending more stuff.

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    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca! That's the fuel right there, that keeps us writing. Right? ;-)

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