Saturday, February 7, 2009

Untitled, by Julie Finn

So you know that I write, and you know that I have written. And you know that I claim that what I write is much better than what I have written...

Well, another example couldn't hurt.

I have in my possession a childhood treasure that escaped childhood with me, a miracle that can't be said for the Daffy Duck comics, the Sweet Valley High books, or the majority of the Transformers or the Barbie accessories: I have a big, fat, yellow notebook, something that I carried around with me sometime in between the ages of seven and nine, something in which I used to write stories.

Not short stories. No, not short. The story I am going to share with you is nearly 30 painstakingly printed pages long, margins carefully aligned, parts of words occasionally re-written thanks to the miracle of Wite-Out (do you have a bottle of Wite-Out in your house right now? Two points if you do).

We'll do the first two pages tonight, and then see where we go from there. Remember, I was likely between the ages of seven and nine when I wrote this, so you're in, obviously, for a treat.

I present to you:
Untitled, by Julie Finn
One day my cat, Snowball, my dog, Bandit, and I were walking. We saw a dirty, stray dog on the road. She was sick and hungry. I carried her home. I put her on a bunch of pillows in my room and called her Belle. That gave me an idea. With Snowball, Bandit, and Belle's help, we would start a home for animals. Snowball went out to look for poor animals while Bandit helped me build a garden. He carried my hammer while I measured the ground. Then he held the poles with his teeth while I hammered them into the earth. I made a very large cage with wood, chicken wire, and an old door. Then Bandit went along rows digging holes while I followed planting seeds and filling the holes up. I planted carrots, corn, wheat, catnip, parsley, and a tree. Inside, Belle was getting ready for visitors. I had pillows in piles all over my room. Snowball and Bandit slept on my bed. It was a good thing nobody ever came in my room. I even had pillows in my closet. It wasn't long before Snowball came home. She was carrying a bruised kitten in her mouth. I suspected he had been beaten. Since he was so little, he got a baby blanket under my bed and was named Mickey. He got well quickly. After a few days, I started a baby nursery under my bed. There were puppies, kittens, mice, birds, snakes, and other things in cozy cages. In my closet were the very bad cases. Belle even brought home two chickens with broken wings. The snakes seemed to especially like scrambled eggs. All the animals I had I turned into vegetarians except for Mickey, Belle, Snowball, and Bandit. This was to save money. I always found two or three vegetables they really liked and soon I could hold a piece of meat under......their noses and they wouldn't care. But every animal got a piece of meat every other week for health reasons. But one day while Chow, an old poodle, was digging in the backyard he disappeared. I was watching from the window and thought I saw him fall in his hole. I ran to where he was. There was Chow barking. He had dug into some natural caverns and fell in. There were branches leading everywhere. I called Scraps, the bloodhound. He held a rope in his teeth while I climbed down it to get Chow. When I got back up, I screamed "Sooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy!!!!" This called every one of my animals within hearing to me. Soon there was a crowd around me. I set everyone in groups to explore the different branches of the caves. I was in a group with Choc, a St. Bernard whom I rode, Q, a one-eyed monkey, Snowball, Cree, a white mouse, and Lye, a carrier pigeon, who was almost extinct. Every group had a dog, cat, mouse, monkey, and bird in it. McKinley stayed to guard the hole outside since she was an old mouse with arthritis. Mickey was with her to protect her so I wasn't worried. We set off. It was dark so Lye flew ahead with a light flashlight. Soon, though, he turned it off and I saw why. The rocks were luminous. Cree crawled out and put a sample of them in his little mousepack. We walked along in the eerie glow. Then all of a sudden Snowball jumped back. The small passage had widened out into a large cavern. I told Snowball, "Scan!" which means go out and explore. I got off Choc and waited expectantly. Soon, Snow-...

A couple of things creep me out about my childhood prose: 1) I had a better understanding of comma usage than most of my students do, but I didn't know about paragraph breaks? 2) Exactly how much time did I spend alone in my childhood reading books that were too big for me, thinking eerily pretentious thoughts, and not getting any exercise or learning how to appropriately socialize with my peer group?

I'm thinking a lot of time.


Anonymous said...

I think you and I had a very similar childhood.

cake said...

i love that the animals became vegetarians, "But every animal got a piece of meat every other week for health reasons."

the attention to detail is fantastic.

though you may be creeped out by what this writing tells you about how you spent your childhood, you did develop some useful skills, and have become an incredibly creative adult, and a great mom. so, it wasn't all bad.

Abby said...

I was JUST getting ready to post the same quote as Cake!

"But every animal got a piece of meat every other week for health reasons." - I try to talk Scott into this sometimes!

Abby said...

oh...and I loved sweet valley high when I was a girl. AND I get 2 points for white out!

julie said...

It's so weird, because now that I'm an adult, I probably know more people who were like me as a kid than who had that perfect happy, Girl Scout-y, engaged parent childhood that I wish I'd had.

Where were you awesome ladies when I was a weird little lonely kid? Cause we could totally have been besties.

And Sweet Valley High? Off. The. Hook. I was twelve, and the people in these books were snorting coke! And killing people! And going to parties with alcohol!

Completely warped my perception of high school.


Related Posts with Thumbnails