One page wonders

The one-page-wonder is a concept created by Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones). To cut a long story short you take a prompt and start writing until you get to the bottom of the page (twelve point arial if typing). There are no rules – you just see where your writing takes you.

An important note on all of my creative writing – It’s fiction! I made it all up! Any similarities to any people or real life situations are purely co-incidental because I MADE IT ALL UP.

Prompt – Your father’s ears

My father’s ears were small and neat, like mine.

“Small, neat ears run in the family” my grandmother would say, chest puffed out because as far as she was concerned, the family ears were a trait to be proud of – something to be handed down through the generations like silver spoons.

Cousin Christopher was practically disowned for the ears he was born with. They were huge, and they stuck out at right angles, and they very definitely didn’t come from our side of the family. For the first five years of his life, Cousin Christopher’s ears were a closely guarded secret, kept under wraps mostly by a variety of handmade hats. In the end he had his ears pinned back on the NHS, which sounded painful to me but apparently didn’t hurt a bit.

After the operation Cousin Christopher and his ears were welcomed back into the fold but thinking back, I don’t know if my grandmother ever really forgave him his original ears. For as long as she lived, for every Christmas and every birthday she gave him yet another hat capable of covering those artificially flattened ears of his. Maybe it was an innocent force of habit, but I don’t think Cousin Christopher ever saw it that way.

Years later when I was pregnant with my daughter, I worried endlessly about her ears. I knew that neither my father nor my grandmother would ever cast their eyes upon her, but still I wanted my daughter to have the family ears. I attached a lot of meaning to her ears because I missed my grandmother and I didn’t know where my father was. I suppose I wanted her to connect us to our family’s past, and carve out our family’s future all at the same time.

After Eve was born I held my breath and traced the outline of her brand-new ears, searching out the delicate shape of my father’s long-gone ears with my fingers. I pressed carefully against the tiny seahorses sitting perfectly on either side of her head and familiarity washed over me. My heart knew them instantly, those careful dainty ears – small and neat, like mine and like my father’s before mine: ears that my grandmother would have been proud of. Eve looked at up at me, beautiful, alert, and listening carefully. She was all ears and I had family stories to tell her.

© Gail Laughlan 2019. You may not copy, adapt, publish, or otherwise use this content – whether for financial gain, commercial purposes or not – without my express written permission. 

Prompt – A meal of crackers and jam

“If you’re hungry, there’s crackers, and there’s jam – that’s it. You can have just crackers, or you can have just jam, or you can have crackers and jam together”

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person in the room who knows that only an absolute maniac would eat just jam or just crackers but no-one else seems willing to point it out and so I keep my head down and my mouth shut. I decide that if I’m given the choice, I’m going for the crackers and jam together because I am not a maniac and because at times like this it’s important to keep your strength up and your options open.

Mrs Rickard asks what flavour the jam is and we all hold our breath for what seems like an eternity. I cross my fingers behind my back and hope for the king of all the jams: raspberry. When the word comes back that it’s blackcurrant Mrs Rickard starts sobbing gently. I know how she feels. Even under the circumstances, blackcurrant is a big disappointment.

Eventually, the crackers and jam are passed around unceremoniously and, as far as I can tell, everyone takes one cracker and one spoonful of the disappointing blackcurrant jam. I start to relax a little because no matter how bad things get at least now I know there are no just jam or just cracker maniacs among us. Crockery is not forthcoming so we each cup our hand under our cracker. I don’t know who started it but it’s a good move because it turns out that the crackers are more crumb than substance – if it hadn’t been for our makeshift hand-plates we’d have been knee deep in cracker crumbs on top of everything else.

The crackers crack loudly against our teeth as we bite into them – crackitty crack. If Brian were here he’d say ‘clue’s in the name kiddo’ and I’d laugh. Of course crackers crack! That’s what crackers were born to do: crackitty, crackitty crack. The jam is sweet and sticky and thick. It divorces itself from the cracker and travels towards my stomach belligerently in one gelatinous  mass. If Brian were here I’d tell him it had jammed my throat up and then I’d laugh and laugh and laugh. He’d shake his head and roll his eyes but he’d be smiling on the inside. It’s a funny joke.

© Gail Laughlan 2019. You may not copy, adapt, publish, or otherwise use this content – whether for financial gain, commercial purposes or not – without my express written permission.