The aim: to get writing again.
The method: using Free Writing Prompts from this list, over the next couple of weeks. Today’s prompt is in bold at the beginning of the piece.
The time limit: 15 minutes
Location: the communal cafe table at The Drugstore in Summer Hill.
Tracing the outline of her face from a photograph, she took her imagination back with her to the age she was then.
She’d been counselled to imagine what life might have been like if her Kindergarten teacher hadn’t selected her, the tallest girl, and him, the tallest boy and had them lay down on butcher’s paper – long lengths of butcher’s paper. They were tall, after all.
The other children, of more ordinary height, were then instructed to trace around these extraordinary specimens.
Perhaps the outlines were decorated by the class before the lengths of paper were pinned on the front wall of the classroom for the rest of the term? No, in her mind’s eye, she sees them clearly – black outlines on white paper.
Her life on a wall – an unremarkable outline of a remarkable height. Nothing of her inner life. No decoration. Nothing worth remarking on, nothing but her height.
They’d traced a path for her that day – a thick black outline before her – a shape that time would fill with expectations – mostly other people’s expectations.
What if the teacher had asked that girl and, let’s not forget, the boy, to take a day or two to fill their outline with shades of their heart, splashes of their dreams, spatters of their fears, brave stabs of the brush to mark the hurts – all covered with a wash of bright hope and dreams for the future?
Perhaps if that girl had been given a brush, way back then, something more than the restraints of an outline drawn by others would have appeared on that wall for all to see.
In its place, there might have been an announcement to the world of the whispers of her inner world. A beautifully coloured understanding of who she was – before others had a chance to colour it for her.
Could she? She would certainly need a little time. A pen in place of a brush. Beautiful writing paper in place of the butcher’s offering.
She’d begin by tracing again the lines of that girl’s face in the photograph. She’d note the subtle colours of her face and hair, the shy dimple on her cheek as she smiled. Then she’d look deep into those blue-grey eyes and find some truer colours there.