Has it really been a month since I’ve been here? Sorry about that.
I found a list of writing prompts a few weeks ago and I decided to use those to kind of jump-start the process. Because as much as I write in my head, once I sit at the keyboard, my brain blanks and then I think of thousands of things that need to be done right now – like cleaning the bathtub or organizing a closet or washing my hair.
The first prompt is to think of a book you loved as a child and then write everything you remember about it, how it made you feel, what about it inspired you, did you act out the voices, where you were … things like that. And as much as I love to read, as much as I have always loved to read, I couldn’t think of a book that stood out to me.
What did come back was a time when I was about 8 or 9 and my sister JR read “Under the Haystack” to me. I don’t know why she read it to me when I was perfectly capable of reading it myself; I don’t remember if I asked her to read it to me or if she offered. If I was 8 or 9, she was 12 or 13ish and at a time when she probably had lots of things to do that were more fun than reading to her little sister. But she did. And it was kind of magical.
I shared a room with both of my sisters. They had bunk beds and I slept on the trundle bed. So that summer (I remember it was summer), I would sprawl on the trundle and she would lie down on her bed, and she read to me. It was about a teenage girl and her two younger sisters. They lived on a farm and their mother left one day and didn’t come back. So the girls had to figure everything out for themselves. I don’t remember the details of that, but I remember they had a haystack with a space cleared out in it and they would play there. Later, I think they hid there when adults came to check on them.
I had to look up the story online because my memory of it is so faulty. I don’t remember if the mom ever came back although she probably did because it was a young adult book from the 70’s and they mostly had happy endings. What I remember is getting lost in the story and feeling happy and loved. I remember JR being patient when I asked her a question. I remember how she made it come alive for me and I remember how close I felt to her while she was reading. It was something that I shared with her that no one else had and it made me feel special. I’m not sure how long it took to read it … maybe a week? I don’t know. What I remember is the feeling of being in a special world with my sister.
When I was in the three-four-five year old range, JR used to play a game with me. We’d cup our hands around our faces and put our hands together to block out the light and we would say together in spooky voices “You and me, all alone in a dark, dark world.” It always made me laugh and it gave me that same feeling of being in a special world (a dark, dark world) with my sister.
She’s since handed the game down to her daughter and it makes me happy to know that, even as silly as it was, it didn’t get lost and it created even more fun memories for my niece.
It seems to me that maybe the joy of a good book isn’t always the story itself. Maybe sometimes it’s the story of reading the story to someone else – or listening as someone reads it to you.