Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stealin' Sunshine

Picture from freefoto.com

I thought I'd share some of my writing to give you a sense of my style and the type of stories I write. Also, I thought it would be interesting to find out how some of my stories germinate.


Up first is "Stealin' Sunshine," published by Juked two years ago. It was written in my literary fiction days and was part of a series of related flash fiction stories loosely based on my experiences growing up. I never completed the series.


The title was inspired by this song. Miss Nora's good attributes were inspired by my mother. Her last name was borrowed from the name of a middle school student I met while working as an Americorps VISTA in Montana: Patrick Makes Cold Weather. Put the title and that last name together, and this story was born. Let me know what you think. 


Stealin' Sunshine

Miss Nora is stealin' sunshine again. Big white marshmallow clouds push up into the all-blue sky over our heads and the sun goes behind one of the marshmallow clouds, so I look at Miss Nora Makes Cold Weather and Miss Nora Makes Cold Weather pops and snaps a long, thin green bean in three real quick pieces, drops them in the big beat-up tin tub sittin' on the porch between us, looks at me, then smiles and winks.

"It's too hot," Miss Nora says, so I tell her, "It's supposed to be hot because it's almost summertime and if it wasn't hot when it was almost summertime then it wouldn't almost be summertime. "Miss Nora just says, "It's a sin to be this hot this early in the morning. It's not even eight-thirty yet."

I don't say nothin' for a long while and neither does Miss Nora but I don't like when it's quiet for a long time, so I ask her, "Where do you put the sunshine when you steal it?" Miss Nora don't answer me right away which is okay with me because I just sit there on that old wooden stool on the porch and try to figure it out on my own before she tells me, but I can't because Miss Nora is real sneaky with the sunshine.

Miss Nora looks up at the sky and more puffy clouds push up over our heads and the blue-blue sky is not really all that blue anymore. Miss Nora pops and snaps a green bean into four quick pieces this time and still don't say nothin'.

My babysitter, the Scissors Lady, flew with me from Chicago to Montana and Miss Nora's house three days ago because Mama didn't want me to fly by myself. I'm glad the Scissors Lady flew with me and stayed at Miss Nora's house 'til yesterday because I was scairt to fly all by myself. The Scissors Lady wasn't scairt to fly but she wasn't happy about it either.

The people at the airport wouldn't let her take her scissors on the plane so she could cut her dress patterns while we flew because of 9/11. They told the Scissors Lady her scissors would be waitin' for her at Midway when she got back from Montana. The Scissors Lady just rolled her eyes at the airport people when she put her scissors in that little basket and mumbled somethin' about it bein' prom season and all them prom dresses she was gon have to make in the next two weeks.

I ask Miss Nora, "Are you gon steal sunshine all day?" and Miss Nora says, "Don't stop snapping those green beans, little boy. I want to have them in the crock pot soon so I can start glazing my ham."

So I start poppin' and snappin' green beans again but I'm not so good as Miss Nora is at poppin' and snappin' green beans and I can't pop and snap them as fast as she can, but Miss Nora told me yesterday I'll be poppin' and snappin' green beans even better than she can by the end of the summer.

Miss Nora looks up at the sky again and the clouds start movin' away from us 'cause a little breeze starts blowin'. "No, I won't steal sunshine all day," Miss Nora says, answering my question finally, after all that time. "Just a li'l bit this morning. I'll be cooking all day today and that stove will make my kitchen hot and unbearable, so I figure at least my morning should be cool." "I like cool mornings too,"I say, "'cause I can sleep better when it's nice and cool, and you don't have to keep Dani's secret about her bein' a lesbian 'cause I already know she's a lesbian."

Miss Nora only pops and snaps a green bean in half this time, throws one piece to her dog Brutus sleeping under a tree and drops the other piece in the tin tub. Brutus just lifts his head and sniffs at the green bean, then closes his eyes and goes back to sleep. 

Yesterday Miss Nora made a special dinner for the Scissors Lady because it was her last night visitin' Montana and the Big Sky country out here, but today Miss Nora is making a special dinner for me 'cause I'm her special little grandbaby boy sent out to Montana to stay with her for a little while 'til Mama can figure out why Dani is a lesbian.

"Who told you your sister is a lesbian?" Miss Nora asks, and I say, "Nobody. One day I saw her and Momoko kissin' in her room. They thought I was still outside playin'." Miss Nora says, "Girls kiss each other all the time. Just because a girl kisses another girl doesn't mean she's a lesbian."

So I say, "Dani and Momoko was kissin' and stuff like how boys and girls are 'posed to kiss and stuff." Miss Nora asks, "And stuff?" and I nod my head and repeat, "And stuff."

Mama don't think I know what a lesbian is but I do 'cause at my new school in Hyde Park there's a girl in my class named Clarisse who has two moms and I even seen her moms pick her up from school once.

But I knew what a lesbian was at my old school in Chatham, too. Jamie told me what a lesbian is after I asked him why he called that girl we didn't like named Shantay a lesbo. I don't know how Jamie found out what a lesbian is. Probably from his older brother.

I ask Miss Nora, "Is Mama mad at Dani for bein' a lesbian?" and Miss Nora answers, "That's what your mama is trying to decide. She needs some time alone with Danialyn to determine if Danialyn is going about finding out who she is and where she belongs in this world and on this earth the wrong way."

So I ask, "If Daddy was alive would he be mad at Dani for bein' a lesbian?" and Miss Nora answers in a quiet voice, "I raised your daddy better than that. If your Daddy was alive he wouldn't be mad at Danialyn for being a lesbian because Danialyn would not be a lesbian."

So I think real hard about what Miss Nora means by that, and I think so hard I look up at the sky. It's turnin' mostly blue again 'cause Miss Nora let the sky have a little bit of sun back.

I think for a long time but I can't figure out what Miss Nora means, just like I can't figure out where she puts the sunshine when she steals it. I don't ask Miss Nora what she means, though, 'cause I don't want her to think I'm too young to be told important stuff.

So I don't say nothin' at all and go back to poppin' and snappin' green beans some more 'cause Miss Nora got to glaze her ham. 

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