I just signed up at http://www.sarahselecky.com for daily writing prompts. Here is today’s prompt: On a train for two hours. Start with a bottle of corn syrup. Write by hand for 10 minutes. If you are looking for a gentle push, check out Sarah’s site.
Here’s what I wrote this morning:
Karo. Kara looked at the bottle on the tray and thought “one letter and I’d be corn syrup.” The train rustled as it sped around the corner. She was on her way to her grandmother’s island in South Carolina. The funny thing was her grandmother did name her after corn syrup. When she filled out the birth certificate, her unsteady handwriting made the “o” look like an “a.”
It had been three years since she’d been back to Tola Island. The train would take her close to the ferry landing. She bet Mr. Fred would be waiting for her at her stop. He loved Kara’s grandmother and had been courting her for twenty-seven years since her grandfather died of complications from his diabetes. See, corn syrup, molasses, white sugar, brown sugar, they all had a special place in Grandmother’s kitchen. Kara grew up with red velvet pancakes for breakfast, cherry pie for lunch and brownie towers for dessert. For most kids, this would be a dream come true, but Kara longed for carrots, radishes, even pearl onions she used to pull from Mr. Fred’s garden.
Kara hadn’t visited since she left for Castleton College in Vermont. She loved the sunset leaves and the open sky that felt different from being surrounded by water. Her mother was supposed to have gone to Vermont for college but then she got pregnant the summer before her senior year in high school and died in childbirth. That’s how Kara came to be raised on desserts and her grandmother’s wisdoms. “Don’t leave the sheets drying in the wind too long or you’ll have flying dreams and wake up tired.” “Before you eat breakfast, turn your chair clockwise three times so the spirits work in your favor ‘til sundown.”
Some of Grandmother’s wisdoms were so ingrained that Kara just gave up resisting. Her freshman year she used to discreetly turn her chair in the cafeteria at breakfast by hanging her jacket on the back of the chair and fooling with it. Finally she gave up. Her friends didn’t care about her habits since a lot of them were kids that had been treated for things like OCD. The train was nearing her stop. As she descended to the platform, there he was, his gray handlebar mustache perfectly trimmed, his thick full mane glowing in the afternoon sun.
“Kara, my belle from the North. I can see the evergreens in your eyes. Come here child and give me a hug.” Kara smiled at this gentle soul who loved her with his whole heart.
“Mr. Fred, you look just like the day you took me to the train.”
“Come now child, there’s some surprises for you in the car.”
When Kara leaned into the passenger window, she saw the most beautiful basket of vegetables all washed and waiting for her: snowpeas, carrots, pearl onions, tomatoes and red peppers. Kara smiled and lifted the basket onto her lap. She couldn’t wait to bite into one of Mr. Fred’s pearl onions. They’d fortify her for the onslaught of desserts Grandmother Cully would have waiting. Mr. Fred even wove sprigs of fresh rosemary into the handle. Kara pulled off several leaves and rubbed them between her fingers inhaling their oily perfume. She bit into an onion, imagining roasted red potatoes doused in olive oil.