One of my fellow bloggers (Authorial Furies) put up some fun writing prompts in honor of spring’s arrival. One really nabbed me so I decided to have some fun with it. There aren’t any rules for writing prompts except that it has to be the first line of writing I produce. I’ve always liked writing prompts because it allows you to exercise your writing muscles in a new way. Sometimes we get so bogged down with our current projects that we forget to
have fun with writing. Who knows? Maybe a prompt will be the inspiration you need when you’re struggling through a block.
I have one piece of advice for prompt writing that I take from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: “You can’t make your mind do anything. Simply step out of the way and record your thoughts as they roll through you.”
My mom always said the robin was the first sign of spring, but I knew better. I didn’t recognize spring by the birds, the blossoms, or the rain that seemed to drizzle on for weeks once it started. No, I knew spring had come when the dampness began to settle in my bones. Winter brought its chills and summer its humidity, but spring brought a dingy overcast with it year after year that only time could push aside. Each time spring returned, my soggy spirit stuck to itself, refusing to budge. Like that uncomfortable feeling of walking in wet shoes and knowing blisters are coming, I knew that spring promised me a reopened wound.
I turned nineteen the spring she ate a gun. That was nearly a decade ago. It was a spring day much like this one where the sky grayed and the wind chilled without change. The light rain misted, hazing over the trees and road. I didn’t mind the rain back then. I liked wearing my olive rain boots and matching coat because I felt like some kind of fashionista, wearing a trench coat and designer boots that I had saved up months to purchase. It was the last day I wore the coat and boots.
It was two o’clock in the afternoon when I went to visit mom. It was our usual Tuesday lunch date. I’d show up with empty Tupperware from the week before she would always refill and hand me a gallon bag of cookies. We’d have a glass of wine. Well, I’d have one glass and she would have the rest of the bottle. For a few hours, I forgot about work and school and she forgot about whatever it was that was eating her and we’d laugh. Mom was always good at laughing. She giggled sweetly or blasted loudly, no in between. Either way, her laughter infected those around her into laughing along with her.
Walking in, I heard classic rock playing like it had every week, the sounds of her youth she had said. The sounds of her youth had bled into the sounds of mine because I didn’t grow up listening to the bands my friends did. I called out and asked about something I can’t recall now, but there was no answer. Stacked on the counter was my Tupperware for the week and a bag of cookies. An empty bottle of wine and an empty glass was on the table. She was slumped over the table, parts of her splattered backward. Everything had been left waiting for me to find.
It rained when the police came. It rained during her funeral. The wind howled the night I got drunk and angry thinking about what she had done and smashed her cookies and set fire to the Tupperware full of meatloaf, potatoes, and green beans. I don’t remember birds chirping that season or flowers blooming or trees budding. I have barely seen them in the seasons since. No, the robin does not signal spring. Memories of her do.
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