Story A Day May #3: Charlie

She was awestruck the first time she saw Charlie, her dad’s cousin from New York City. When she squinted at him, she thought he could be Cab Calloway; tall, white suit, long cigar, fair-skinned, wavy hair. He was loud, his voice bouncing off every surface of the house like cymbals clashing. He smiled too much, she thought. Like a cat concerned about the safety of its tale in a room full of rocking chairs, she hid in quietly under the dining room table; from behind the sheer table cloth she was able to watch his legs stork through the house as his voice boomed overhead. He leaned down and pulled up the edge of the table cloth: “I see you, girl!” She shrieked, skittered out from beneath the table to the sound of his thunderous laugh, and ran out the back door to hide in the low brush next to the lawn. She became the earth in hopes of disappearing from his sight. After a while, she came out and joined the dog in digging a hole. A Charlie-shaped shadow blocked out the warmth and light of the sun that had been shining on her back as she and the dog had in carefree summer fashion, attempted to dig to the center of the earth; dismayed at having let down her guard, she cautiously turned to look up at the giant, nails caked with dark sand, face blotched with same. “Boy, you sure are a fat and ugly little girl,” Charlie surmised aloud. With the pronouncement, he took a puff of his still long cigar, stalked off to shake her father’s hand, jumped in a equally ostentatious white Cadillac, and sped off in a cloud of dust on his way back to New York City. She had been awestruck by Charlie at first, having carefully examined the photos of him over time. She now truly disliked Charlie, and thanks to him had begun to water the seed of dislike for herself that day also.

Our Story A Day prompt for today was about a character and boy, Charlie sure was one. The story is more non-fiction than anything else and the little girl was most certainly me… As an addendum, I can say that Charlie lived a rough life. As a small girl growing up in rural South Jersey (don’t think “Sopranos” but think beaches and “Garden State”–we had lots of farms and fishermen…) I was always fascinated with the city. He disappeared after that visit as I recall (if he did visit again I must have either blocked it from memory or made myself even more scarce when he showed up) and we didn’t hear from him again. I remember that incident more for my dad’s reaction than anything else; he laughed as I remember it (he might have just not said anything, which to a kid can be the same thing as collusion and in this case, laughing with the enemy) instead of standing up for the virtue of his one and only daughter. When my nana died, we went up to NYC once to visit him; his neighborhood was as loud as he was. My dad called him cousin, as if he was the child of one of my nana’s sisters but I was never sure. We never found him. In a way, I was glad.

Pop on over and add a character of your own.

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  1. As an adult, it’s all I can do to surmise: What is the thought process of the adults involved? I – in a million years- could not say these kind of things to my son- or any other child, ever. Somehow, though, some of us find ways to be okay -in our own minds, by reading, or writing-music, art. We soothe our own spirit if no one will do it for us-and in a weird way, we get a gift from that humiliation, something that no one can take away. If my life had been all rosy fields and sunshine, I never would have sought solace in books, and then writing….and now that is my soft place to fall! And it will serve me till the end!!

    1. Yay! And while I am not glad that our various circumstances have brought us to this space, it is great that we have found one another in this space. I so appreciate you and your writing *hugs*

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