Skip to content Skip to footer

Group C Stories Fall 2020

Stories for the Fall 2020 Feedback Sessions

Group C

To avoid emailing stories back and forth, please upload on this page the story you wish to discuss this month.

Post your stories a minimum of one week in advance of the feedback session. Those seven days give you and your buddies time to read and provide helpful feedback on each others’ stories.


  1. Share your story in the comments section on this page. You can either copy and paste the text of your story in the comment box or click the paperclip icon to attach a PDF of your work. Note: it must be a PDF; Word documents are not accepted on the comment app.
  2. Print a copy of the Story Review Form (below) for each story your buddies share here.
  3. Read each story a couple of times.
  4. Complete the Story Review Form after your readings to organize your thoughts, suggestions, and questions.
  5. During the live Feedback meeting, you will share with your buddy what you wrote on the form, as well as anything new upon hearing their story read aloud.
  6. Email a copy of your completed Story Review Form to each buddy so they can keep a record of comments and suggestions related to their story.

If there are specific questions you’d like answered, or if you want your buddies to concentrate more heavily on a certain story device, e.g., dialogue, opening, title, etc., please include those requests in the comments when you attach your story. Ask for what you need to help you make your story the best it can be.

The Feedback Guidelines are available below to provide the framework of how Life Writers approaches giving and receiving feedback on written work, both via posts on the website and during feedback sessions.

Feedback Sessions

10/27 @ 6pm EDT

11/17 @ 6pm EDT

12/29 @ 6pm EDT

Need help with how to give and receive feedback?

If you’re new to giving and receiving feedback on written work, or you’d like a refresher, watch our video tutorial for a better understanding of the process.


  • Linda Goddard
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Hello Tanja and Jackie, I was about to post my piece of writing here tonight, but after reading the guidelines, I know I want to talk with both of you, if at all possible over the phone to explain a few things about the piece I want to post here before I post it. Live voice works so much better for me than posting. Let me know your thoughts when you can. My former writing buddies and I had each others’ phone numbers, and we had three way phone calls for weekly check ins. Our once a week phone conversations connected us on a more personal level than only posted comments and feedback, and we developed a deep heart connection to each other’s stories, which for me is important. I do look forward to hearing from you, and having at least an initial getting to know each other conversation. Here’s my phone number: 407-595-0616. Be well and stay safe

    • Amanda
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 10:52 am

      Hi, Linda. Did you receive a copy of the buddy list via email with your group’s emails and phone numbers? Let me know if you need it. Thanks.

      • Linda Goddard
        Posted October 22, 2020 at 7:55 pm

        Hi Amanda,
        I did receive this latest copy of the buddy list, but this list does not have phone numbers on it. I do have the buddies list from July 2020 with phone numbers and email addresses; however, I was with different buddies. As you probably saw, I posted a message above on Tuesday to Tanja and Jackie Trudeau, my buddies for Life Writers. Since I haven’t heard from them, I wonder if I should have contacted them somewhere else on our Life Writers site. I am a bit disappointed that we haven’t yet connected, and we haven’t posted our pieces for review yet. Patricia has encouraged all of us to post a piece of writing by Tuesday–a week before our Feedback session, which is next Tuesday. I’m going to call Tanja and Jackie tomorrow, Friday, and see how they’re doing. Let me know if you have thoughts for me ;-) Be well

  • Linda Goddard
    Posted October 24, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Again Tanja and Jackie, I’m posting a section/chapter here below of my memoir. I began this piece during our summer sessions with Patricia, but it’s still not finished. I’ll work more on this section this coming week.

    Here are some things I’d like you to know about my process of telling my story, which is evident in this piece:

    1. I’m writing this memoir in a kind of stream of consciousness process. For example, in the midst of writing about one focused story that “triggers” a memory of another experience, I shift to that other experience, describe it, then return to the present story.
    2. Each section of my memoir begins with a quote from a writer or poet, which I hope relates to the story section.

    What I’m posting here below is TWELVE PAGES LONG so far. So I’m breaking our rule of a max of four pages.

    And I DO NOT expect you to read and review all twelve pages. Just read the first four.

    I’d love some comments on whether you’re able to follow my shifts in the story. Also, I shift from past tense–time of the story–to the present–looking back on the experience. I’d like to know if these tense shifts confuse you as a reader.

    OKAY, HERE’S MY PIECE: I wish it were double spaced here, so that you can see and read it better.

    “ . . . if you can get to your loneliness and articulate it, you can begin to talk about community, and why it is needed in life, too.”
    Als, Hilton. “Homecoming.” The New Yorker, 29 June 2020, pp.18-23.

        I didn’t want Uncle Fran to load up those six packs of beer and bottles of liquor in the cooler he hauled up from the stone floor basement, out the bulkhead door, down the dock, and onto the boat. He drinks and puffs from a fat brown cigar, its stinking swirls of smoke always closing one of his eyes. He’ll drive the boat one-eyed and fast and drink. Aunt Mary will drink, too. So will mom, switching her brain into pretend gear that she’s not afraid on boats. I’ll have to erase myself, be my invisible self around Uncle Fran. If my mother does have a real self, I’d bargain with God and Jesus, and his Mother Mary, saying that if they’d show me the woman who my mother really is, show her who she is, and make her be her real self, I’d pray before and after meals every day, be a more devout Catholic girl, put half of my weekly allowance into the poor box in church, knowing as my guarantees crossed my lips that I’d never kept any promise, and chances were sound that I wouldn’t keep this God promise to pray, be devout, and give away half my allowance. 
        In conversations, my mother hurls out an idea, usually one she knows those she’s with will approve.

    At home in our living room on the phone, she listens to “stingy with money,” Mrs. Brown, who everyday wears an orange and yellow flowered cotton Woolworth house dress–which reaches her ankles– and too big for her flat feet, black sneakers, brag about her shiny-cheeked nieces, whose mother keeps the girls’ honey-color hair shampooed and combed in soft folds. Those girls, Mrs. Brown crows on in her surly voice loud enough for me to hear if I happen to be in our living room, take their bath every night, and go to bed in clean pajamas. Mom’s lie to Mrs. Brown in return, which she wished were true? She damn well makes Donald and me take a bath every night and put on clean pajamas.

    She works split shifts, part of them at night to avoid being home with dad and his flare ups. Besides, night work paid a little more, she once told me when I begged her to stay home and cook our dinner at night like all the other mothers on our street do. My mother was too tired when she got home to pay much attention to whether we’d ever put on clean pajamas. An exception was her attentive and calculated certainty filled with warnings and harms when it kicked in on our drive to Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran’s home on the Cape. She’d sit up a little straighter in her driver’s seat and look in her rear view mirror for Donald and Me: “Kevin washes up every night before bed and puts on clean pajamas without Aunt Mary telling him to,” she’d point out, then look straight at the road ahead, her pasty pale left hand holding firm at the top of her steering wheel, her right hand wagging over the back of the front seat at Donald and me.

     Those were moments when visions spit themselves into my brain of pitching my fist at the back of Kevin’s head or shoving him off the dock in water over his head. I’d take the beating I’d get for doing it, to spite my mother. Hurt Kevin because his parents cherish him. Hurt him because Nana loves him. But me? Not so much. She thought my mother ought to give me a good punch, shake me out of my unruly boldness. I’d hurt Kevin because my mother used him to shame me into doing what she didn’t have enough parental discipline or motherly energy for her children to do, put clean underwear and pajamas in the Salvation Army smelling dresser drawers I shared with my sister, in the bedroom I shared with my sister. Kevin lived in Cape Cod summer privilege. My springboard for pissed off punched down any thoughts of shame and guilt for my wish to hit Kevin. My foot kicked at the back of my mother’s driver’s seat, making her yell, “For Chriss Sakes, stop it, you!” 

        When we all climbed on the boat, Aunt Mary handed Kevin and me each a life jacket. I didn’t want to be left at the house with Nana, but on that boat headed out into those choppy waters, particularly the expanse of water where we were headed, terror began its rise inside me. As much as I tried to, I couldn’t throw myself into what innocent, wide-eyed children believed, what our Sisters of Charity at school believed about trusting God with our lives. Could God see our world, absent of care for any sorry ass human who believed in the mysteries and promises of God, their eyes glazed over, their minds duller than five and ten cent store window photos? The world I lived in kicked me out of God mysteries and promises, shoved me, at far too young an age, over the moral divides the sisters and priests put up in the lives of unsuspecting children, simple and safe moral divides that protected them from the world they’d some day have to enter, ready or not. 

    Buckling my life jacket, I reminded myself about the framed map on Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran’s living room wall of “Cape Cod Shipwrecks: The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” All those boats and ships—full with people, who assumed their assured hope, trusting those vessels to carry their unsuspecting sorry selves to safe, dry land—sunk in the waters somewhere near to where we were headed. Why’d God unleash Death among all those lives? Does God have trouble with people who live presumptuous lives, so lets them drown in waters so deep, so dark down under the surface? I couldn’t fold my unease inside myself, and I knew I did not have permission to say I was so frightened I might wet my pants. I wanted one of them to assure me that my little stupid ass, as well as my mother’s and theirs, wouldn’t be found all bloated and floating face down in Nantucket Sound, a news person on the 6 O’Clock Report yammering on about how some important politicians in Boston expressed their sadness over our boat sinking and all of us drowned.

        Behind my eyes, flashes of my father drunk, showing up on Bar Beach on one of those rare summer mornings for my mother when she packed a big basket full with lemonade and lunch, loaded a beach umbrella, blanket, and beach towels into her car trunk, shushing Pauline, Donald, and me out the back door and into her car before dad woke up. The news warned of a 95 degree heat wave. That day happened to be one that both parents didn’t work. True to her practice of never being home when dad was, she took herself and us to the beach for the day. Bar Beach wasn’t especially large, so later that morning, we saw Dad in his washed-out, frayed khaki pants, the top of his gray swim trunks visible above his sagging pants, hung at his sunken in waist. The site of him made me recoil, but I could never short circuit that usual swirl of guilt in me. He was bare-chested, a blue towel slung over his paste-white bony shoulder. He stood in the Beach pavilion doorway, banging against the door frames like a flight attendant walking the isle of a plane in turbulence, a couple of children hurrying in wide swathes around him.

         Opened or closed-eyed, I couldn’t stop that drunken daddy memory from flashing inside me, or the one when our whole family was at Bar Beach together. That day my father sniggered at my attempt to float. I sank and came up coughing, clawing at the air like a terrified cat, trying to take gulps of air. When I got out of the water to dry my eyes and face, I chose stubborn, blind, self-justified anger over my fear of his beating when I took his last beer out of the cooler and dumped it out in the sand. I hoped he wouldn’t suspect me when he got out of the water and looked in the cooler for his beer. He did and slapped me red-faced across our blanket. Then, he did what I hoped he’d do, leave the beach for the rest of the day. All I had was my stubborn little girl temper, which held me helpless to my trigger-flipped stupidity when someone’s thoughtless remark or cruelty set me off. 

        Despite knowing my aunt and uncle were strong, Red Cross trained swimmers, I knew once we got out into deep waters, I’d have little control over my brain kicking into hypervigilance or over my nervous uncontrolled need to pee. If the water’s rough, and waves roll up around the boat, splashing and spilling over the bow, and I wet my pants, it will be all over for me. I’ll either suffer my mother’s shame and useless guilt for the rest of that year or swallow terror and conjure up enough half-crazed courage to ease myself unnoticed in my peed-soaked bathing suit over the side and dip down to my waist in the water. When I felt desperate, I was fairly adept at convincing myself to do things I’d never do otherwise, but this courage called for more raw-boned guts than I’d ever develop. If I did get nervous and pee, would my mother act like I, all by myself, was responsible for the Crucifixion? No, not there. No scene in front of them. She’d mostly go bewildered and nervous at my inability to control my body, frown at me, hover and quietly ask what the hell was wrong with me. She’d save her full blown drama for at home trouble, such as the day at her wit’s end with my father’s drinking, and my losing my temper at Johnny Dellera, my best friend who lived next door, she let loose on me her God Almighty language. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!,” she yelled. “For Saints Peter and Paul! For Christ’s Sake! You should be ashamed of yourself, but knowing you, you’re probably not!” I wasn’t ashamed. I was irate that Johnny refused to kiss me, so I bit him and pushed him down on his gravel driveway, then ran scared around his house to the front of mine, and sat on my front stoop to cry and pout for the rest of that day, swearing never to talk to him for the rest of my life. His mother, who was kind, and often even motherly to me, saw what I did, took Johnny inside, examined the bite mark, cleaned his scrapped face and knees and called my mother to have a talk about me.  

        I should have listened to myself, stayed back at the house and not go on this boat ride over to Oak Bluffs with them. But Kevin decided to go, his decision got help from his father. If I hadn’t gone, I’d have been alone and lonely. And I didn’t want to stay with Nana. She doesn’t want children around to bother her. She’d make lunch kids don’t like, a tuna fish and tomato sandwich, a glass of milk.  She’d make me sit at the kitchen table until I ate every last bite. I’d refuse and sit there until supper time when they all came back from Oak Bluffs. That wouldn’t be any fun.

         Kevin got to uncurl the ropes from the pier and push their boat away from the dock. Fran shifted the engine to reverse and slow-glided their cabin cruiser, the “Redhead,” named for Aunt Mary’s strawberry red hair, out into the middle of Eel Pond, shifted the gears forward, and headed out toward Vineyard Sound. The sign on the water said, “10 mph. No Wake.” Aunt Mary handed Mom a beer and grabbed one for Uncle Fran and herself. I turned my head and looked back at the dock, fading from my vision, wished hard behind my squeezed closed eyes that we could keep that speed all the way to Martha’s Vineyard. I reminded myself that mom swam only side strokes, her face raised up. She was afraid of water, but wouldn’t admit it to them, and didn’t have on a life jacket.

         The summer before, Uncle Fran gaslit Kevin into learning to swim when he saw Kevin take gulps of air, edge backwards toward the shore, the water slapping against his thighs. Cigar hanging between his teeth and out the side of his mouth, Uncle Fran jumped down from the dock into the water, and waded up to Kevin, mouthing words barely audible. Kevin, head lowered, kept measuring his surreptitious escape, never daring to cross his father. I stood a little beyond the shore-break stabbing my feet into the wet sand, tugging my bathing suit bottom down over my sandy rear end.  My brain yelled inside my ear drums, Get some guts, stupid! Say something!  Silence filled my mouth. Approval wedged in my throat.  

        Later that day, in the kitchen, he got into Kevin’s space, and began his bully admonishments with something about a boy, who’s afraid of water. Kevin stared at the floor, shifting his pudgy sunburned feet side to side, his mouth trying to make words form. “What! Speak up like a man!” Kevin was six years old.  Aunt Mary shifted food in the refrigerator. My mother tip toed over to a kitchen chair, pretended to spot something unusual out the wide kitchen window, then gave me one of her side-glance warnings to shut my stupid mouth, just as I was about say something. Usually my something words met with my mother or father’s spit-tongued intolerance, reminding me I had a big mouth with nothing worth saying. I didn’t in that moment have a clue what I wanted to say. Maybe I wished I had courage to point out what should have been obvious to Uncle Fran: Kevin’s not a man. He’s just a little boy, so leave him alone. The tension hung, quivering the air. The rise and fall and swell in my throat of my words they might call brainless trapped me in silence where I stood by the window. “Are you gonna be a man!” “Answer me like a man!” “ For crips sake!” “You’re not afraid of water, are ya?” “Crips, what the hell for!

       The next day showed a kinder Uncle. Aunt Mary had a lot to do with Uncle Fran’s shift in attitude toward Kevin’s fear of water. What she said or did, I didn’t know. His large thick open-palmed hands held Kevin as he was learning to back-float. “Let the water carry you,” he kept yelling to Kevin. The conversation in the kitchen before dinner that night centered on Kevin. He’d get swimming lessons with the best swim coach on the Cape, a buddy of a buddy of Uncle Fran’s. Mom and Aunt Mary cooked fish, made salad and dumb jokes they laughed about, rare and cherished moments of mom and Aunt Mary laughing together, quickly ruined for me, listening to Mom make an officious fuss about Uncle Fran’s decision for Kevin’s swim lessons. That three minute moment of happy air got sucked out of my lungs and threw me into another one of my snits, my mother paying me no attention. All three sipped high balls. Uncle Fran stood in the middle of the kitchen singing Irish songs, watching out the window at a couple of ski boats skim and bounce the surface of Eel Pond.

    I sat in the corner at the kitchen table, looked out the window at the water, and banged my legs a little too loudly against the captain chair rungs. I bit my lower lip until I tasted blood. My jawbone and temples pulsed until I felt my mouth erupt: I want swim lessons, too! A half second of silence; then, my words fell among them like drops of water shaken off their hands onto the floor. My mother smiled a little sidewise smile, nodding a cheerful warning she might have copied from a happy, reassuring mother in a TV add for some brand-name food women should buy if they want their neighbors to believe they were good mothers. Her smile another cue for me to keep my nuisance mouth shut and stop asking for anything. What I wanted was to make Aunt Mary and my mother laugh together, have fun together. I wanted the sound of their voices to pull me safe and sure inside their circle, to have their facial expressions call out my all right, little girl self, and say I’d get swimming lessons with Kevin from the best swim coach on the Cape. An inner nettling left me bewildered about myself, and dislike welled up in my thoughts. What else nudged in me was a seed for a smoldering grudge against Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran’s life, a resentment planted in my brain that began to germinate a couple of summer vacations earlier. This jealousy that had its grip on me, whispered,You’ll never have a home on Cape Cod. You’re not good enough. You’ll never be loved the way they love Kevin; you’re not worthy of love, not worth the attention he gets. It bloomed into a toxic lie I let define me. All the time swallowing down guilt so strong and present but incalculable to prevent me from planning meanness on Kevin.  (THE HALF-LIVE CRAB THROWING SCENE MIGHT GO HERE.)

        Nothing that summer would make Kevin admit to his father that he was terrified of swimming with his face in the water. Nothing that summer or any other season could stop that deep hole boring an emptiness inside where that little girl self kicked and went silent, kicked and went silent for more years that I want to say.

        As soon as we got around the sandbar where the pond goes into the sound, Uncle Fran gunned the engine and headed the boat out into the wide deep waters of Vineyard Sound and on into Nantucket Sound toward Oak Bluffs. I fell silent for a few minutes. My nail-bit my nervous mouth quivered, my brain kicked into hypervigilant over-drive, watching my aunt and my mother sip beer. My mother caught that anxious expression on my face when the boat bumped and rocked, rose up at an oncoming wave, and slammed down on the water. Her arched eyebrows, stretched way too high on her forehead, like she stuck her finger in an electrical outlet, her signal for me to calm down, and not make a scene. She was afraid, too, and knew that I knew. But she sucked her lips inside her mouth, another clue for me to keep silent.

       God damn it! She’s doing that shoving herself behind her brain again to please them. I won’t do that to my self. I won’t. I will be me. My face, my words, my talk will be me. I won’t shove my self behind my brain! I won’t! I hate you, mom. I hate you when you do that!

        Why, for all the murdered saints now in heaven, where the sisters and priests told us they lived for eternity with God, was my mother so damned afraid to be herself, to let me be myself in the presence of my aunt and uncle, in the presence of anyone, who she thought worthy because they had privilege? My mother would rather drown herself than cause Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran any discomfort. Why? I didn’t have the clue of those Cod fish wriggling to get free from a hook on the end of Uncle Fran’s fish line. When had I gotten trapped into my own desperate bites, hooked to a bait line I’d let myself get dragged along on for years before I could get my life unhooked? My little girl life on that fish line took turns that led to pitiful and pitiless playacts, as if my happy life in a house that would gain me privilege were a certainty, a dusty rose-gray house with a magenta front door and shudders, spread wide and solid on a grassy-thick lawn, lilac bushes, blue hydrangea, and apple red rhododendron on a clean-trimmed, tree-lined street, where undrunk fathers, wise mothers, and their children live in safe homes and play unafraid. 

         A wave slapped hard against the side of the boat. Then, another. I grabbed hold of the rim, and blurted out to Aunt Mary, “Can waves break this boat?” “Will it sink?” How I wanted to scream, Don’t drink, damn you! You shit faces! The boat will crash! We’ll drown! How I wished we were on the ground. Aunt Mary tilted her head at me. Her smile and those crinkle laugh-lines at the corner of her blue eyes were signals that she knew my thoughts, and I knew my questions rubbed just a bit against her temperament. My mother tossed a look at me and turned to Aunt Mary, driving the boat while Uncle Fran went down into the cabin. “She’s the worry ward, not happy unless she got something to worry about.” Behind my eyes, inside my throat, I raged. 

    Aunt Mary glanced at my mother, gazed down at me, and let out another smile, then a gust of a laugh that spread wide her whole face in amusement. She said Cokes were in the cooler for Kevin and me. I should grab one for myself. I did, and sat back down at the back of the boat on the long navy blue seat cushions with white piping, curled into myself, sipped my coke and glanced out over the waters of Nantucket Sound. “Those cushions,” Aunt Mary called back to Kevin and me, “can hold you up in the water. They’re life-preservers.” Her ease wrapped around me an invisible gauze of relief. She knew the core spirit of my mother’s nature, and she understood why I shut myself down around my mother when she was being officious and hovered in tolerance over me, my first ever hint from Aunt Mary. My breath freed me to exhale. Still, all the way to Oak Bluffs Harbor, my eyes glanced level over the water and kept watch on each slow wave that curled around and under the sides of the boat.

        On these Cape vacations, my mother’s fussing and fawning over Kevin each morning hid that smudge of bitterness and resentment I’d heard in her voice when she and Nana talked about people who lived in the new homes across Nana’s driveway, on the land of the old Honnewell Estate in Wellesley/Natick. Nana’s jaw stiffened and her head shook when she spit-fired out her opinion of them to my mother, who always closed her eyes when Nana said these things about them. “They’re nosy,” Nana said. “They just want to know your business.” “They better stay off my driveway or get to hell.” My mother agreed. She held a caustic disliked for anyone who lived in comfort and spilled her into her own mind as an outcast. Mother’s cousins on Nana’s side, the Hennessey’s, lived in East Williston, but never once crossed the tracks to Williston Park to see her. “Too good for us, I guess,” she once told Mrs. Brown, a remark about Nana’s side of the family that my mother would never make to Nana.

        When my mother turned attention on me at the Cape, she flipped from permissive and tolerant when we were alone or just with Nana, to tight-jawed, teeth-clenched disapproval in the morning if I hadn’t picked up my pajamas from the bedroom floor or to, “I’ll knock you into tomorrow,” fist-raised threats if I’d spilled anything in the kitchen or didn’t wash my cereal bowl after breakfast or snuck the last few cookies or didn’t wipe sand off my feet before coming in the house. Except for stealing cookies, I hadn’t done, on purpose, any of what she was certain I had and needed her threats never to do again. Later, she’d say she was sorry she’d gotten harsh with me. She just needed me to be an extra good girl at Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran’s Cape home.

         It was a breathe easy day if I’d managed to get away from the adults and walk down to the beach at the “Broken Bridge,” which had once been a narrow-bridged causeway that must have connected this area to Washburn Island. Kevin showed me this Broken Bridge beach where he introduced me to his friends and other children around our age who lived at or near this beach. These new friends, Tommy and Janice, a few others, and this beach became my all to myself, private Cape Cod vacation. My new friends were from families who either owned or rented summer homes on this beach, and here, away from Boston and business and banks, spent mild days and cool nights all summer long, every summer. I didn’t get on anyone’s nerves or get in anyone’s way on their beach or at their homes. Some days I got lucky and ate lunch with my new friends at their homes. Their mothers didn’t treat children as though they were always on the look-out for trouble. I wanted to stay at their homes all day with them, eat dinner with them in their homes, stay and be my little girl self in their homes.

        To Uncle Fran, I was a child he ignored and tolerated in his Cape Cod home for a couple of weeks each summer. The ocean air there blew unsuitable around and through me. Uncle Fran’s blank-eyed glances disturbed and unnerved me, pierced my brain with more messages I took in as mean-spirited, and absence of any hope or care or regard for me and my life. None of this life is for you. You’re not worthy. Not smart. Not pretty enough. Never will be. You’ll never have a life like this. You’ll never have any of this.

        My stare shifted from the wide waters of Nantucket Sound as Uncle Fran turned the “Redhead” toward the narrow entrance of the harbor at Oak Bluffs, and once in, slowed the engine. Why couldn’t I own that sweet face of wholeness that I saw in the children standing on the moored yachts, cleaver names scrolled across the backs, and sail boats of all sizes, which Uncle Fran guided the “Redhead” passed in the harbor? From those boats, their parents gave us easy whole hand waves, welcomes, assumed assurances that they belonged in their skin and in their privileged lives. Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran waved back. From her seat my mother raised her hand, no higher than her tilted head, in a half wave motion. I waved, too, so aware that my wave held no power to belong among them. No one on those boats could ever have recognized in my wave the inner surge of anxiety, my useless wish for my spirit to dance light and ease into my being, touch me with the sweet face of freedom and release from the burden of being a girl of less than enough in my life, the daughter of a mother who believes she’s not enough, and that not enough permeated the psyches of her children, like water through a sieve, leaving behind its invisible broth of despair.

       Uncle Fran maneuvered the Redhead into its place along the dock, and cut the engine. Aunt Mary and Kevin tossed the boat’s ropes onto the pier and coiled them around the piles, then climbed up onto the dock. They grabbed the ropes to pull the boat close in so the rest of us could climb up out of the boat. My mother wrapped her windbreaker and purse over one arm, grabbed onto Aunt Mary’s hand, and climbed up onto the dock. She turned to reach out her hand for me to grab on and climb out. Instead, I grabbed one of the piles and got myself out. Uncle Fran had gone down into the cabin, came back up, hopped up onto the dock, and led the way off the pier, down Oak Bluffs Avenue toward Lake Avenue, where the chowder and fish places, and gift shops stood.

    When Aunt Mary and Uncle Fran found the place they said had the best chowder, clams and lobster tails, the three of them slide into the booth. They wanted to eat, drink beer and talk without children around. They didn’t say that, but I knew their plan. My mother pulled money from her purse, searched my face to make sure her overly sensitive and nervous child was all right with their plan for the afternoon. That look of hers always felt intrusive, as though my insides could be sucked out, leaving me hollow. I turned my face away from hers. She gave Kevin and me money for the Flying Horse. Uncle Fran told us to go ride the carousel at the Flying Horse, see who can grab the gold ring first. He told us to walk to the Ginger Bread Houses over on Trinity Park, and remember to come back in an hour and a half.
    Kevin and I, wending our way along the street headed for the Flying Horse. We were two bumbling red headed, freckled, sunburnt children, tripping each other’s footsteps, racing and running ahead of each other: Kevin, whose parents adore him. Me, whose father wouldn’t come home to take my mother to the hospital for my birth, my mother who does for me out of guilt for not wanting a third baby, and her shameful inadequacy over her own neediness.

  • Jacqueline Trudeau
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Good Afternoon! Sorry to be late in posting this story for you both, and I hope you can find it since it posted below. I look forward to discussing it with you next week. Also, I noticed your comments from a couple of weeks ago, but I hope you post your stories anyway, so we can talk about all of them next Tuesday. How about “Tres” as our group name since there are the third group. I think it is pronounced “trays.” Just a suggestion… Talk to you soon. Jackie

    • Linda Goddard
      Posted November 11, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Jackie!

      I just read your story, one so appropriate for today. I haven’t yet made comments but will do so within the next few days. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Norma Beasley
      Posted November 15, 2020 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for a well written story with wonderful details. Unfortunately, I am unable to understand the link between your story and the title. Patricia has told us that the most successful titles contain no more than 5 words and reveal a hint as to what the story is about.

      • Jacqueline Trudeau
        Posted November 16, 2020 at 8:55 pm

        There is a picture of a map at the end of the story that shows information from WWII about the Ferry Command. It was the organizational structure of the Army Air Corps to return all the airplanes from Europe to North America after the Axis surrender in May 1945. Thank you for your comment about my father’s journey to the Ferry Command.

    • Linda Goddard
      Posted November 16, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Jackie, I printed out your story, so I can read it as a hard copy, and make notes.

      I look forward to our Zoom conversation tomorrow morning at 11:00am.

  • Linda Goddard
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Jackie and Tanja,

    I’ve decided not to post another piece for next week’s session. I’ll keep the one here that I posted 18 days ago. By posting it, I mean that I pasted it into my second “COMMENT” to you below. I didn’t realize this space has an attachment option, which I’ll use for my next story.

    Have a good rest of Wednesday!

  • Jacqueline Trudeau
    Posted December 23, 2020 at 8:10 am

    Beloved Traditions

    (writing prompt from Writing Your Life)

    Quote from author Rita Barreto Craig, “Traditions touch us, connect us, and expand us.”

    As I thought what to write about holiday traditions, I sit in my partner’s home in Massachusetts while snow falls silently outside the office window. I remember Christmases long ago in New England when snow saucers and sleds were the best gifts ever and there was plenty of snow for sliding on the nearby sand pit that became ‘sliding heaven” with the winter snows. Christmases not-so-long-ago included gift exchanges and family dinners in Florida or Georgia or Rhode Island or Massachusetts; lasagne and sugar cookies on Christmas Eve and roast beef, green bean casseroles and scalloped potatoes with apple pie for dessert in the middle of Christmas Day. And New Year’s Eve, which looms large in a couple of weeks, offered parties or endless football games to welcome the new year!
    There is not ONE, not a single ONE, of those beloved traditions that survived in 2020, a year wreaked with COVID-19 illness and death across the world; warnings from health experts to stay away from all the people we love and to wear masks everywhere to protect others and ourselves; while a completely inept government response lied to us, refused to fund comprehensive testing, and insisted that it would all go away in the summer, in the fall or in the winter. IT DID NOT!
    Even though vaccines are coming online, it is too late for more than 300,000 fellow Americans who have died; and countless others remain hospitalized.  There is sadness everywhere as families do their best to mail packages that may not arrive in time or plan gatherings only with people in their immediate household. College students are urged to stay away from their families that may include older grandparents, and folks who live alone…well they are still alone when they SHOULD be with their families.
    It has been like this all year: no Easter dinners, no summer barbecues, missed First Communion celebrations, non-existent birthday parties. Weddings and vacations have been cancelled or postponed. Some events were moved outside, but harsh winter weather has removed even that option for many of us. 
    2020 is a lost cause. The author’s quote above includes “touch us, connect us, and expand us” but these traditions did not exist this year. Perhaps 2021 will restore faith in “beloved traditions.”

    • Linda Goddard
      Posted December 23, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      I’m going to print out your Christmas story and prepare my response for next Tuesday’s Life Writer’s session.


  • Linda Goddard
    Posted December 23, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Tanja and Jackie,

    This system won’t allow me to attach my story here. A message pops up that says, “Not Allowed File Type” Grrrrrrrr I did email my story to each of you, so, if you don’t mind using that attachment, I’ll be grateful.

    • Amanda
      Posted December 24, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Hi, Linda. We only have two options for sharing stories here: you can copy and paste your story into the comments box or you can attach a .PDF of your story. The plug-in we use to facilitate the comments feature on this website doesn’t allow for Word documents unfortunately. It’s annoying, I know. In case you need some guidance on the two methods I mentioned above, visit the Important Videos section on the Tools and Resources page.

  • Jacqueline Trudeau
    Posted January 16, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Linda and Tanja,
    Here is the story I promised to post earlier this week. Finally located it and converted it to PDF. I appreciate you feedback when we meet later this month. All the best, Jackie

Leave a comment