Writing Prompt: Cuddly Toy

We’ve all had one. Growing up we all probably had a favourite teddy bear or doll we carried with us everywhere. Mine was Jerry, the teddy bear. He was pale brown with black eyes and dark brown feet and paws. Round ears that listened to my ramblings and rants as a child. To humiliate him, I sometimes put him in a doll’s dress and sat him on the edge of the bed while I made us make-believe tea.

One day, I learned the lesson of permanent damage. I got it into my head that I wanted to play barber and poor Jerry was my client. One clip from the kitchen scissors and a lump of his synthetic fur was gone. Oops , I thought. I don’t know what I thought would happen, but glue was not an option.

So, one of my first lessons in cause and effect…

Last time I visited home, there he was, casually sitting on the bed amongst my other stuffed animals, the same missing clump, the same slight smile on his light tan face. I picked him up, turned him around and spotted the wind-up mechanism in his back I forgot he had. When I turned the handle, the music box still worked and he played “Jack and Jill”. Suddenly I was five years old again, twisting and twisting the handle to let the music play as long as possible until I fell asleep.

I’ve had dozens of stuffed animals throughout my life. Some were gifts from boyfriends, others won at a fun faire, but Jerry was my first favourite.

So, think back to the cuddly toys you’ve had in your life. Write about your favourite. Think about the memories of your childhood associated with it.

Writing Prompt: Origins

I’ve moved around a lot over the years.  The cities I’ve lived in have helped form my impression of life, given me new friends and allowed me to see the world from different points of view.  However, as much as I rave about my favourite places, like San Francisco and London, I never talk about the place where I grew up.  Maybe it’s because I’ve spent most of my life trying to get away from it.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that I had a bad childhood, quite the contrary. It was just a claustrophobic place. The city itself is part of the largest county in the US, but everything from the shops, to the restaurants, malls and parks seemed so enclosed, as though there was everything and nothing beyond the city limits.  It was that desperate feeling of  drowning and living and dying in a place like that which prompted me to do everything I could to get away.

When I look back now, I suppose it wasn’t so bad. It was just like living in a sheep’s pen. The people in it where contented enough, living from day to day and very few of the people I knew then ever left. The sad thing is that I can remember small independently owned shops on the main street and big brightly painted schools with giant football pitches, but last time I drove through, my old school was fenced off and looked like a prison, complete with metal detectors. The little bakery, flower shop and furniture store I passed on my way to school each day are boarded up. The mall is a gang haven… Looks like I left just in time. When I drive through southern California, each town resembles the next, all blending into each other.

It’s important to look back on where we came from to try to understand who we are, why we think the way we do and to figure out where we’re going.

Describe where you grew up, for better or for worse. above all, be honest about how you feel about where you hail from and see where it takes you.

Writing Prompt: Origins

Writing Prompt: When the rose is dead

31 August 2008 – 3 years ago this day, Chris died. I have a dried rose taken from his funeral pressed in a book on my dresser. It was hard remembering the year the preceded that painful day, but then I thought of the wonderful years we all had with him before cancer took him from us. I thought about the day he tried to teach me the rules of cricket, the way he covered the back court as my badminton partner, his ability to out-climb people more than half his age up Mt. Kilimanjaro, a shared joke across the dinner-table, my first Arsenal game at Highbury when they beat his team Leicester 5-1. He sat with his arms folded in a huff every time they scored, but there was a sly smile on his face at my pleasure. He bought me a programme, which I keep in the top drawer of my dresser at home.

There are so many dried roses pressed and scattered around my house. Each of them is a memory. The one that sits in a box in my room was a momento of my grandfather. There is one in a wooden box, a gift from a friend on a rainy day through a rose garden. One is a memory of the first day of summer, another of the first day at Uni.

I’ve always loved roses, yellow ones are my favourites, but I only ever keep roses when there is something I want to remember. It’s not really the colour that matters, but the memory it represents.

Sometimes I open a book or a drawer and the memory comes back to me in a series of dried petals. Today, before I sat down to write I opened my filofax and found the yellow rose from the Princes Street gardens. I stole that one a couple of months ago wilst taking a stroll. It started to rain, warm, heavy drops. I was late for my train home after work, but I didn’t want to leave.  I sat on a low wall to the rear of the garden and sulked at the thought of heading home. I was happy and didn’t want to move.  As I forced myself up, I looked around and spotted a rose bush towards the exit. Wanting to preserve the memory of that perfect evening, I used my sharp little fingernails to cut through the stem. I twirled the flower in my hand, admiring its perfection and deposited it between the pages of my diary.

Flowers mean different things to different people. Most people have a favourite. What’s yours?

Use this prompt anyway you’d like. Right now, I’m back in the garden, feeling the rain.

Writing Prompt: When the rose is dead

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