Abandonement by Numbers (an exercise)



As some of you may know, I participated in the MOOC from Iowa Writer’s Workshop again this year. I actually wasn’t able to finish due to some demands on my time but I did wind up in an online writing group with my friends from last year. It has been wonderful to reconnect and be able to give each other feedback, suggestions, and support from the comfort of home. I wanted to share an exercise I completed in the group because I think the prompt is pretty challenging and I had a lot of fun writing this. Let me know if you attempt a numbered writing – I’d love to read it!

The prompt required each sentence to contain a number, 1-10. They are, of course, not in order.

I was nine when I watched the family station wagon lurch down the drive, spraying mud when it dipped in low. I wasn’t surprised; I’d seen it coming for six months or so but, from my mother’s hiccuping sobs I could tell it had broadsided her. My father had never really been in the picture, popping in for a birthday when I was three and popping back out for what felt like forever, always ready with an apology and a stick of gum; like that would make everything better. I felt bad for my mom; she always believed the best, even after two divorces and three kids. But the reality of our situation was that none of us would ever find a way to make him stay; though there were four of us to love him, it would never be enough. I remember standing under the light of the Christmas tree, begging for just ten minutes to talk with him, to make him understand how he made us feel, made my mom feel. But Santa or God or whoever was supposed to be up there never seemed to hear the prayers of an eight year old boy who needed a father, not just for himself, but for his brothers and his mom. Not one of my desperate kid prayers was answered. So I watched the lights wink, three, four, five times in the distance and then fade away to nothing. I slipped one arm around my mother’s waist and draped the other over my seven-year old brother’s shoulders; we would be fine, we would always be fine.

Copyright 2016 Katharine Brown