Tuesday, August 31, 2010
CHRISTMAS IN SAVANNAH
It was Christmas 1983. I had cut my hair short for the first time ever and I hated it. I was in the seventh grade, which made my bad haircut that much more humiliating.
That day, me and Mama went into Savannah to see some sights and shop. She wanted to take me to Forsyth Park, she said. She pulled up past the corner of Drayton and Gaston Streets and pointed to a three story brownstone.
"See that house there? That was where we lived when I was in grade school. That basement apartment there, you see it?"
"I see it," I said, turning as we passed to get a better look at the bars on the windows.
"I used to go over to the Historical Society there and just read as many books as I could get my hands on. I'd stay in there for hours just reading," she said, as she pulled over to park.
I zipped up my down coat from Express. I had never been to Georgia in winter before. Usually it was summer when I came to see Mama but last summer I hadn't come. I was surprised at the cold. I should have bought gloves.
We walked across Drayton and into the Park. I drove my fists into my pockets as deep as they would go. I could feel my nose turning cold. Nobody else was out walking around in this weather. There was a eerie quiet there, like we were lost in a kind of time warp. Savannah didn't look like it had changed much since the fifties. Huge Oaks hung over us trailing Spanish Moss between them like spiderwebs keeping the rest of the world out.
"Lets walk around this way," She said. "I want to show you something."
"I'm cold Mom," I told her. And I'm bored and there are not going to be any cute boys in this park and I would rather be at the movies. "My hands are cold."
"It won't take long," she said, walking a little faster. "Here take my gloves," she said, and she pulled the brown gloves off her hands and thrust them in my direction without slowing her pace.
I pulled a face at the gloves, oh my god I thought, they are so old lady gloves, but I took them from her anyway. They were still warm when I put them on. I followed her up the sidewalk that was four squares deep. Weird, I thought, for a sidewalk. I was looking down at the cracks when she turned to back-track into the center of the park.
"Oh Duffi, look..."
At the center of a wide opening where the cement pathway spread out and cut through the grass was a fountain surrounded by Azelea bushes and a short wrought iron fence. As we stepped closer I saw the white marble merman--five of them--each spouting a stream of water frozen in an arc between their lips and the pool of water at their feet. The entire thing shimmered. It was so white. The fountain burst with light. For a moment neither of us spoke, mesmeriz
ed by the mermen, watching our breath turn to ice in the air.
EXERCISE: Write a flashback, a scene involving one of your characters that took place before the opening of the story. Your goal is to reveal who that character used to be. The flashback should help explain or illuminate the main story. You might want to base this flashback on something that actually happened to you, or to someone you know, in order to give the flashback an air of authority.