Will You Tell Me A Story?

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I learned the. coolest. writing exercise tonight.  And I truly think if you take 10 or 15 minutes to do it, you will have an amazing piece of writing when you are done.

Really.

And then, you will {hopefully} feel so proud of it, you will write your story in the comment section below.  Or at least email it to me.  {please?}

Start by thinking of a memory.  Any memory.  It could be your wedding day, a trip to the grocery store, the first time you rode a bicycle, your uncle’s funeral, planting your garden.  Anything.  And then you just answer a series of questions about that memory.  It feels jumbled and disjointed, but when it’s done, and you read through it, you will feel so fulfilled.

Here’s what I came up with:

 

I remember letting go of my anxiety and fear when I sat by the bed of Isidro Fortuna, the man with leprosy.

His moaning in pain, my words being translated into smooth Spanish speech, the sniffles of the teenage girl I brought with me.

The Domincan Republic, a bunch of cement rooms surrounding a dry courtyard, Isidro’s thin thighs protruding from his over-sized underwear.

I’m sitting on the edge of an old, dirty wheelchair.  Beside me is a discarded mosquito net for him to sleep beneath.

I feel the thick, humid air.  Isidro’s knobby, fingerless hands in mine.

Hopeless.  Distress.  Surreal.  Humbling.  Despair.  Grief.

I remember letting go of my anxiety and fear when I sat by the bed of Isidro Fortuna, the man with leprosy.

I smell the odor of an unwashed body.  It is him.

I’m singing, “It is well with my soul,” because I have no idea what else to do.  I give him the cross around my neck, hoping no one takes offense at its feminine shape, its tiny crystals.

How can a human be in so much pain?  How can I be so obsessively and irrationally afraid of breaking a bone or of someday giving birth or of contracting a simple stomach virus?

“Isidro, do you have feeling in your hands?  We carry His death in our body so we can also carry His life.  When you feel death in your body, hold this cross and have hope.  I will remember you when I feel death.”

I look up, and the sun is incongruously shining through the space between the cement wall and the tin ceiling.

Pain, suffering, anguish.  Hopeless, helpless, broken.

I remember letting go of my anxiety and fear when I sat by the bed of Isidro Fortuna, the man with leprosy.

I wish he could feel peace and relief.  I wish I could spend my life here, singing, if that would soothe.

I wish when we all felt pain, we would pray for those in deeper pain.

I remember letting go of my anxiety and fear.

I remember Isidro Fortuna.

I remember the boundaries of my perspective exploding into the abyss.

I remember facing his tortuous reality.

I remember wanting to pour myself out if it would fill any part of him.

Oh Jesus. Come soon.

 

Remember, think of one memory, and write the following in relation to what you felt/saw/heard/smelled/thought during that memory.  Then (if you’re willing), post it in the comments below or email it to me (considergrace@gmail.com).

Write one sentence, summarizing the experience that begins with “I remember”.

What do you hear?  Not what words were spoken, but what other sounds did you hear?

Imagine a bird’s eye view of the situation and describe what you’d see.  Then “zoom in” a little closer, then closer, until you get to one small detail you can see.

What is below you and what is beside you?

What tangible things do you feel?  Not emotions…things you feel with your skin.

Write six words to describe the memory.

Re-write your first summary sentence that begins with “I remember”.

What do you smell and what is the source?

What are you doing in the memory?

What questions do you have in your mind during this memory?

What words do you hear spoken?

When you look up (again, still in your memory), what do you see?

Write six more words to describe the memory.

Re-write your first summary sentence that begins with “I remember”.

What do you wish for yourself and for the others in this memory?

What do you wish for the entire world?

Re-write the first part of your summary sentence that begins with “I remember”.

Write three more sentences about the memory that all begin with “I remember”.

Write three final words.

 

I can’t wait to read what you come up with!


Photo by the ever-talented Brian Wolfe(y).

 

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7 Comments

  • Reply Lauralee Redmond August 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I remember almost flying when I was just a little girl
    My mother and aunt were on the porch chatting about the good times and the birds chirped into the summer air
    I ran around the vast, green grass and the quiet breeze rustled my chestnut, brown hair
    With the crunching ground below me and two tall trees beside
    I felt the bite of wood as I strode too close to the fence
    Free. Naïve. Peaceful. Daring. Unbound.
    I remember almost flying when I was just a little girl
    The scent of tulips wrapped itself around me
    I kept running faster, faster
    Could I gain unnatural speed in order to lift my tiny frame off the ground?
    “Lauralee, it’s almost time for supper!” My mother called
    Her invitation broke my trance and I saw I was still chained to the earth
    Innocence. Youth. Boldness. Charm. Joy.
    I remember almost flying when I was just a little girl
    I wish I still possessed the beautiful belief that I could defy anything
    I wish my mother could have seen me fly
    I wish everyone, even those in forgotten villages, could someday learn to fly
    I remember almost flying
    I remember the smile on my mother’s face
    I remember, she told me I had angel wings
    I remember believing she was right
    Wings help you fly

    • Reply Anna Joy August 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Laura. Why are you SO GOOD at writing???? I LOVE this. Love it, love it.

  • Reply donna August 9, 2012 at 6:08 am

    i remember the day i told him to go.

    There is the chatter of other people arriving, greeting each other, unaware what was going on.

    Its just two people talking. Two people and desk. two people, a desk, and a set of keys. One key resting on top of the other.

    I am sitting in the big chair, legs folded, arms crossed, flanked by shelves of our history.

    The room is warm. stuffy. a layer of dust covers everything.

    Anger. Betrayal. Lies. Guilt. Manipulation. Strength.

    I remember the day i told him to go.

    It smells like fear. is it him or me? I think it’s him. He knows he’s been caught.

    I struggle to find the words and tears form in my eyes. I want to scream and swear and hurt him, but instead i do my best to remain calm and collected and remind myself that one of us has to be the reasonable adult. and it’s clearly me.

    How do i say things so he won’t lie to me again? how do i protect the other people involved? How can i get this over with and just get back to normal? Will things be normal again? How could i have let this happen?

    “I’m a good person. I did nothing wrong.”

    And then the doorway is empty and he is gone. no one else is around, they are all upstairs, waiting for me.

    Doubt. Worry. Anguish. Strength. Pride. Hope.

    I remember the day i told him to go.

    I wish I had listened to my instincts. I wish I could turn back time and tell him to go earlier before so many people were touched by him.

    I wish there was one solid label for what he was, so that others could know with just a single word.

    I remember the day i told him to go.

    I remember feeling so weak, but knowing i was being strong for others.

    I remember running late, more of my time that he had wasted.

    i remember wiping my tears and moving on with things.

    Always moving on.

    • Reply Anna Joy August 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Beautiful and so provoking. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Katy Mohr August 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I remember telling my dad about Isle Royale.
    I hear beeping in the background, the tv with it’s volume on low. I hear the nurse checking on the other patient in my dad’s hospital room.
    UofM hospital. I am sitting next to my daddy’s bed, leaning onto the bed with my computer showing him my pictures. He is smiling at me with joy and holding my hand.
    The cold hard floor, the warmth of my daddy’s hand in mine.
    Skin, a pulse, rough hands, chewed nails, computer keys, warm blanket.
    Sharing happiness and joy with daddy!
    I remember telling my dad about Isle Royale.
    I smell cleanliness & sterilization, the source is the hospital.
    We are looking at my Isle Royale pictures while I explain in detail my 9 day backpacking trip. I am laughing & smiling, while remembering it.
    I wonder what my dad saw on his trip to Isle Royale. Did he walk/hike the same path as I? When can I go back, so that I can tell my dad more stories?
    Daddy asked “Did you see my name carved into a picnic table?” He also told me “he was glad I was able to go & enjoy myself. That he was happy I could backpack the only place he had & be able to share my stories & pictures with him.” “I love you Katy!”
    Bright lights, sun shining through the window.
    Love. Joy. Peace. Happiness. Sad. Why?
    I remember telling my daddy about Isle Royale.
    I wish that I had a picture of the tow of us at Isle Royale. I wish that I didn’t have to stop telling my story because he was tired. I wish that my daddy could go back with me.
    I wish that pain didn’t hurt so badly. I wish for children to see their parents grow old and that parents didn’t have to bury their children.
    I remember telling my dad about Isle Royale.
    I remember the smile on his face.
    I remember the joy in his voice talking about his trip and asking about mine.
    I remember his hug!
    Miss you daddy!

  • Reply Charlie DeVos August 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I remember embracing my passion during my final performance with Nester Class 5. 

    Guitars blaring, drums pounding, a roomful of voices accompanying my amplified vocalizations. 

    Greenville College, the Blackroom, a dark little venue with gray foam glued like patchwork on the black walls.  

    This wooden stage is my launch pad. The four musicians surrounding me are fellow astronauts. 

    My sweat-drenched shirt clings to my skin. My tongue is thick and parched. 

    Igniting. Draining. Frenetic. Ferocious. Electric. Invincible. 

    I remember embracing my passion during my final performance with Nester Class 5. 

    The scent of kinetic humanity smothers the room. We started this. 

    I’m holding a microphone to my lips and rapping in forceful exhalations. My feet dodge floor monitors, band members, and a tangled web of cables. 

    How did it get so hot in here? How am I already this exhausted? Which lyrics can I sacrifice to steal my next breath? 

    “I don’t want no sympathy. I just want your attention and energy.”

    My eyes dilate beneath rows of spotlights hovering overhead like an armada of robotic spaceships. 

    Encouraging, affirming, humbling. Uniting, familial, bittersweet.  

    I remember embracing my passion during my final performance with Nester Class 5. 

    I wish I could build a house on this stage. I wish this wasn’t the end. 

    I wish this microphone could announce truth to a world of headphones. 

    I remember embracing my passion. 

    I remember Nester Class 5. 

    I remember an audience grafted into my family tree. 

    I remember not wanting to leave. 

    We were rockstars. 

    • Reply Anna Joy August 24, 2012 at 12:50 am

      I lu-huuuve this, Charlie. You are such a good writer. And I was there for that concert! Does NC5 have an album anywhere?

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