Dead on Arrival

I feel dead on arrival with this writing project. I can’t keep from rereading and editing, as I go. I’m trying to follow the advice of the “morning pages” gurus. To just write and not look back. But looking back has been my ambition for so long, it’s hard to move forward.

I woke up this morning with the name, Irene, on my mind. Who are you, Irene? I know your full name now, but I never knew you. I have so much I want to tell you.

Dear Irene Langley Fields-

When I was about thirteen, I finally learned your full name and the full significance of your absence. I guess I knew you were gone when I was a little girl, but Daddy and my brothers never really made that big of a deal that it was just the four of us. I suppose I wondered why the other little girls came to the playground with mothers. I was content being raised by males, I didn’t need a female influence or companion. Even on the playground, I gravitated to the boys joining in their stick ball games or beating them at jacks under the pecan tree.

When I was about thirteen, I started my period at school. I needed something to absorb the blood flow, but you weren’t there to give me what I needed. I used some toilet paper, until I could get home. I asked Daddy to take me to the drug store. Daddy took me to the aisle in the drug store to buy sanitary pads. And I used my common sense to figure out their purpose. On the drive home, I asked a question that had been hanging between him and me for all those years.

Where is my mother?

A long silence from the driver’s seat. And then finally, with a grimace on his face, he told me that you died giving me birth. My head fell to my chin. I always thought you left us, or didn’t care. Looking back now, I don’t know how Daddy and my brothers kept me insulated from this tragic truth.

(Less than 500 words today. So be it.)


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