Three selections from a writing class in 2000 at Vigo County Public Library.
I backed up and headed out of the gravel parking area, the aroma of Gala apples filling the car with sweet hope. My stop at Ditzler’s Orchard was like a ‟welcome home” sign hung around my nervousness of fitting into this new community. Patricia had personally bagged choice apples, put them in my car, and invited me into her modest home. Her family room was furnished simply with a large stuffed couch and several dark chairs in front of a built-in bookcase with desk. An old grand-style piano took up the majority of space. She sat in a worn upholstered chair and I sank low into the couch while we talked of family and church. Only after I left did her easy welcome wrap me in warmth.
“A Hearing” (names are changed)
Unpolished dark wooden pews line each wall of the wide square second-floor hall circling round the stairwell of the County Courthouse. Uncomfortably I sit with Susie on one bench while her mother is opposite us. Susie, in a clean blue dress, waits for a hearing with her public defender. Suddenly she jumps up and announces she’s going to visit her uncle in an office on the lower level.
The seats are hard; lights are dim and high overhead. Muffled staccato voices reflect urgency and shame. I look across at this nervous mother who then quickly joins me. Sitting close she jabs at her absent daughter: “Always in trouble. What went wrong? What’s she done now?” Then questions me, “How did you get involved? And why would you want to?” I hesitate to answer and look away. I’m thinking of an earlier back-handed compliment she gave her daughter, “How did you get your hair to look so nice?”
Susie returns and soon an officer calls her name and makes another appointment. Taking Susie back home I try in vain to form an apology not mine to make.
Hugging my knees I sit on the steps. Red cedar banisters frame the concrete and brick porch. Fresh mulch, wet by an early shower, darkens the newly turned soil. The Hosta bed between two maple trees is readied, and I await a gift from my friend’s garden. We will plant one more page of our dream home.
Writing coach Brian O’Neill wrote this observation: “Your sense of an ending is almost always impressive — often a single line that brings the fact of the experience and the feeling beneath it together.”