Day 22: Reading


One of my favorite pictures ever of Abigail

Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Twenty-Two.

I was seven years old. It was October, and the antique wooden spindles of my chair creaked with every tiny movement. It got dark so much earlier all of the sudden, and the antique lamp was on over my left shoulder, casting a golden glow in my corner of the room. My mom had fished this chair out of a rubbish pile at the high school, and had found the exact model in the vintage Sears & Roebuck catalogs to date it. It was beautiful golden oak, but she hadn’t yet gotten around to making or covering new cushions. Instead, it was draped with a granny-square afghan, the colorful kind edged in black, found somewhere in every great-Aunt’s house. I dont know who had crocheted ours, but it was always there.

We’d had chili for dinner, and my dad watching football on the rabbit-eared tv in the opposite corner. The pungent scent of beans and onions lingered in the cool air, and I wrinkled my nose absentmindedly. I was clutching my book, trying to keep my face averted, lest anyone notice my tears.

Charlotte A. Cavatica had just died, and the pages of my book were saturated with my grief. I kept quietly trying to wipe my face on the scratchy afghan, but the acrylic yarn, so good at repelling stains, was equally inept at absorbing little girls’ grief-stricken tears. My mom had teased me for reading that book again earlier, and I knew she would never understand how I could be crying over a spider. Again.

Twenty-six years later, I added my own words to the story, after reading my favorite book aloud to my first child…

“Charlotte A. Cavatica died last night, and there are new tear splotches mingled with the original drops spilled by me, 26 years ago, in my childhood copy of the book.

Sweet Jeffrey fell apart last night when Charlotte died, all alone, at the empty fairgrounds. He curled up in my lap and sobbed, through torrents of tears, how he didn’t WANT Charlotte to die.

And my teardrops fell into his soft red hair as he wept in my lap.”

And I cry again, tonight, remembering the sweet things brought to us by those beautiful stories of love and, and inevitable coupling of sorrow that always accompanies the risk of loving. Always. How beautiful to learn it’s first forms from a clever, kind spider and her fantastic pig.