My children throw everything in the swimming pool.
I wish they wouldn’t, but it seems to be part of their play. Sometimes they’re out there for hours in the afternoons after school, talking to themselves, stripping bark off the old stumps in the backyard, peeling papayas and sweeping black dirt into the pool.
I knew Sierra was going to do this when I saw the broom, but I couldn’t bear to break the spell until the last minute, and then it was too late. Garden soil drifted through the chlorinated blue to the bottom, where it rested like spilled ink. She looked up, startled, when I called her (Sierra, dirt does not go in the pool! But why not? I’m making mud balls!) and then, finally, as if it were the only other option, she came inside to play a computer game.
Another day, a Sunday, I was drawn outside by a family of papayas huddled together on a boogie board, a scene that clearly needed to be Instagrammed. I was distracted by a sliced papaya floating in the pool and, deeper down, a shipwrecked lawn ornament in the shape of a hummingbird.
In my daughters’ minds, I know, each random piece had a story, a reason for being in the pool. What does it say about me that, instead of fishing them out like a responsible adult, I photographed them?
Miscellanea in the pool.
I can play this game too, I thought. But, since I don’t know their stories, I’ll make up my own.*
(*Note: Each story is exactly 50 words long. Because 1. I was never gonna get around to publishing this blog otherwise. Wish I had more time to write… and 2. Conveniently enough, they now fit pretty perfectly into this week’s WordPress creative writing challenge.)
The boy next door had a papaya tree. She sneaked over there sometimes. They’d shake the tree, cut the fruit, then– juice dripping, sticky hands–share it, sitting in the shade. They didn’t talk. Or mostly he talked. They’d sit side by side, then she’d come home. Momma never knew.
Aunt Sophie had a hummingbird hatpin. He found it in the room at the end of the hall with the junk boxes and that weird book about Münchausen syndrome by proxy.
“William! Where are you?”
He covered the book; clicked the light.
The hatpin he put in his pocket.
She walked along the perimeter of the pond, and the wind through the saw palmettos made a satisfying sound, like dried bones. The sun, trapped inside the water, was boiling. She’d left his body in a ditch up the road, and she wasn’t going back. Yeah, she felt lighter already…
And that, my friends, is how writers play. :)
How do you play?
© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2014