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First Writing Exercise of the Year

I didn't want to start 2007 without writing.

But I couldn't settle down to a longer work, so I decided to do one of jbknowles's Monday Morning Writing Prompts. I pulled this one off her website:
Start with the line, "You don’t know me" and see what happens.




"You don’t know me."

She’s standing in line at Starbucks, wearing Nordstrom clothes and pointy black heels. Her hair is artfully streaked and her eyeliner is perfect. She’s thin – of course – and she orders a tall Americano – of course. There are no calories in an Americano, and she doesn’t add any cream. Wouldn’t want to gain a pound, would you, shallow yuppie?

You don’t see everything.

You don’t see the two little girls at home, the oldest one not yet three years old, who struggles to walk with braces on her legs. You don’t see the sweetest husband in the world caring for the girls, then spending long hours at his restaurant. She’s thin, yes. She can hardly eat, from stress.

"You don’t know me."

You see Boring Businessman in his three-piece suit. He’s got tassels on his shoes, for God’s sake! He’s average height, average weight, with salt and pepper hair. He’s wearing a little flag pin in his lapel. You’re so sick of those pins. Doesn’t he realize it’s like saying, “America is the best! We can do whatever we want!”

You don’t see everything.

You don’t see the retired veteran who flew helicopters in Vietnam, who saved lives while bullets flew around him. You don’t see the flowers he buys the receptionist, the money he gives to charity, or the love he lavishes on his family. He wears a flag pin, yes. He loves his country.

"You don’t know me."

You see the life of the party, a woman who hugs people and laughs a lot and tells stories using her hands. She’s petite and freckled, which just adds to her cuteness. She lives in a mansion! Well, that’s what it would look like, to 90% of the world. She’s surrounded by warmth and flowers and artwork. It’s not fair that some people have so much.

You don’t see everything.

You don’t see the little girl raised by alcoholic parents, who learned how to stay out of the way when the yelling started. She had a step-sister for a few months, but her mother couldn’t stand to have the other girl around, so she sent her away. College was never mentioned in her family, so the girl went to work at eighteen. She worked full-time for the next forty-four years, even while raising her own family. She has parties and flowers and artwork now, yes. She should have all of that, and more.

You don't know me.

And I don't know you.

Comments

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dampscribbler
Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)
Gorgeous! Bravo! Thanks for sharing.
lkmadigan
Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
Thank you.

I enjoyed writing it.

And it's a concept I think about all the time ... appearances.
dampscribbler
Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:59 am (UTC)
Me, too, although I often don't think about what's behind appearances until *after* I've judged.
literaticat
Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)
well, there are a few calories in an americano.

marybethkelsey
Jan. 2nd, 2007 11:09 am (UTC)
What a great observation of life!
mb
jbknowles
Jan. 2nd, 2007 11:27 am (UTC)
I'm so glad I know a bit of you. :-)
lkmadigan
Jan. 3rd, 2007 04:58 am (UTC)
Thank you.

*waves*

kellyrfineman
Jan. 2nd, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
Gotta love writing exercises!
lisa_schroeder
Jan. 2nd, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
oooh, very nice. Thanks for sharing.
lizjonesbooks
Jan. 2nd, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
Excellent!!!
You should do a bunch of those for reader's digest, or something. I feel quite sure you could find a paying home for them!
lkmadigan
Jan. 3rd, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
Thanks, Liz.
tamarak
Jan. 2nd, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
Wonderful!
fabulousfrock
Jan. 2nd, 2007 05:46 pm (UTC)
Very nice! I think about this sort of thing a lot, too...the perils...or unfortunate side...of making assumptions about people. And yet, making assumptions is just human nature...

I'm still sick of flag pins, though. ^_~
lkmadigan
Jan. 3rd, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
You know, I had a flag sticker on my car's back window for ages. I was fully aware of its conservative connotations. (I am a bleeding heart liberal.)

But I felt stubborn about it, like, "Hey! I love my country, too! I disagree intensely with the people running it ... but I don't want to live anywhere else. I should be able to fly my flag without being ashamed."

I eventually took it down to replace it with a sticker that says simply: "11/04/08."

de_scribes
Jan. 2nd, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
I truly enjoyed this piece of yours. Thanks so much for sharing it. The specifics really made it come alive for me.
(Happy New Year!)
lkmadigan
Jan. 3rd, 2007 05:00 am (UTC)
Thank you!
queen_of_ocd
Jan. 3rd, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
I love this - it's so haunting!
lkmadigan
Jan. 3rd, 2007 05:01 am (UTC)
Thank you - I love this: your sweet comment!
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