Thursday, April 13, 2017

I imagined I was the woman in the photo

The summer before my senior year of high school, the first where I’d be alone, getting through each day became my secondary objective, my primary still hoping to work at the magazine someday. Part of making it a reality was giving the goal credence by sharing my hopes outside of the family. The situation sprung up out of nowhere, in yet another creative writing class. 
The first day of senior year began like any other, that is until it was time to leave for school. I woke up to a quiet house, the sounds of the last day of summer filtering in through my window. A neighbor’s dog barked, traffic picking up on Outer Drive, the echoes of a woodpecker going to town. The sound on the periphery of consciousness, I thought my mother was chopping vegetables for a breakfast omelet at first, but when the racket continued for some minutes I knew it was the bird. 
Soft foot steps coming up to my room, my mother opened the door a few inches and peeked in.
“Pipi, it’s a school day,” she whispered. 
“I know,” I moaned. “Thanks, Mom,” 
Although it was early September, I felt the chill of autumn. The temperature would rise later in the day, summer returning for a few, short weeks. I dressed and grabbed my book bag, taking one last look around my room. Leaving it was difficult. 
It had been a summer of peace, the last summer we would all live under the same roof, a slightly lonely summer with my sisters all dating, going steady or engaged. I was the only one of us who didn’t have a boyfriend, and the solitude was unusual, but not painful. What I’d missed most was the camaraderie, my sisters and I against the repressive tyranny of our mother, but not so that she’d ever find out. Over the summer, I was forced into cahoots with Mother, wondering what the others were up to.
I already knew what I really wanted in life; one, to get away from the boring, domestic grind of home, the footsteps of which my sisters appeared to be following, and two, to acquire a job at Mademoiselle Magazine. The creative writing class my senior year helped define my goal in words.
The way my exposure to the outside world came about was circuitous; the instructor gave us a writing prompt in the form of a photograph from the 1950’s of a stylish woman standing next to an expensive sports car, a bridge in the distance partially obscured by fog. The moon rose in the background, eerily beautiful. 
Closing my eyes, I imagined I was the woman in the photo, being lured over to the edge of a cliff by a handsome man. The bridge in the distance, the Golden Gate, drenched in fog, reminiscent of stories I’d heard about San Francisco. I admit, I was fully enraptured by the photograph, transported there in seconds. I could even smell the seaweed in San Francisco Bay.

Excerpt from Mademoiselle by Suzanne Jenkins
Included in Love in Times of War



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2 comments:

  1. Great images of a teenager and her dreams...šŸ‘šŸ‘

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    1. Written with such an honest voice... Thank you Sarah!

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