[Insert apology for not having written in ages and ages here.]
Today, I started a creative writing class called "Brief Encounters." The class is taught by a very nice Columbia MFA student and focuses on short pieces known as Flash Fiction. As an introduction, the instructor told us about a challenge that was once posed to Ernest Hemingway. An adversary bet that Hemingway couldn't tell a story in six words. The toreador's response: For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. Her point in sharing this anecdote was simple -- stories come alive in the reader's imagination. A writer's job is to open the door.
We read three stories: "The School" by Donald Barthelme, "The Cage" by Heinrich Böll, and "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid. Barthelme led a trip into the absurd, Boll to hell, and Kincaid explored the unfathomable depths of a mother's love for her daughter.
As an exercise, my classmates and I were asked to rewrite Kincaid's piece from the maternal perspective. The text of "Girl" can be found here. Please see my response below. I'd appreciate any comments that you have. (Oh, and many thanks for all the support and love in response to my Metropolitan Diary submission. It really was a dream come true!)
Response to Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl"
I'm scared that if I tell her, I'll scare her. So I won't.
I'll teach her how to do the laundry. How to wash her hair. Bake a bundt cake. I'll yell when she stays out past her curfew with that boy who won't ever be good enough. Who won't ever love her like I love her. I'll walk into her room without knocking and criticize her outfits and how she bites her nails. I'll make sure she knows that red just isn't her color and that Floyd from the football team only wants one thing. I'll take away the car keys and make her clean the bathroom and call Cindy's mom because Cindy's being mean. I'll cheer at graduation while others clap politely and stay too long at Parents' Day. I'll chaperone her field trip and not let her go to parties -- even when she tells me "Everyone's gonna be there." I'll ruin her life a thousand times over and take her to buy lip gloss.
And hope that one day she figures it out.