Word Prompt: Notice | Story Prompt: from the book “We Were The Mulvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“”Never beg any child of yours, Corrine’s mother had warned her, long ago. Of all things, never that.

What a strange, unexpected remark for Ida Hausmann to have said, impulsively, to her own daughter.

As if she, Ida Hausmann, had ever begged any of her children – for anything.

Yet here Corrine was, confused, hopeful, pleading with her daughter whose vague eyes, grainy skin, windblown hair frightened her – “We’ll just go home, honey? Yes?”

Going home, to High Point Farm: Corrine’s remedy for any sorrow.

She was driving the Buick station wagon along streets she barely saw. Keeping up bright, nervous chatter. And the radio was on, to her favorite station – WYEW-FM out of Yewville. No point in upsetting Marianne, or herself, so she spoke gently, repeating her simple questions: What was it? Had something happened? Why wasn’t Marianne in school? What was wrong?

Stiff beside her in the passenger’s seat, like a stranger in dread of being touched, Marianne seemed scarcely to hear. Her lips were dry and chapped; her skin that was always so smooth and fresh looked shadowed, a sad-tinctured skin. Puffy eyes – she’d been crying. Of course, crying. And her hair, the child’s lovely wavy hair, matted, tangled, needing to be washed – how had she ever left the house that morning, without Corrine noticing? Was Corrine blind?

To her questions, Marianne murmured, near-inaudibly, what sounded like I don’t know, Mom.

Corrine asked, more daringly, “Is it about last weekend? — the prom? Did something happen at the prom — or after?””

***

Noticing, paying attention. I think this may be one of the “silver linings” that the pandemic has provided. We were forced to slow down, many (all) of our external activities were canceled, and there was more time to notice. We noticed the different birds coming to our birdfeeders. Maybe we noticed the way the light changes through different seasons, the way it slants through the window at particular times of day, to sometimes make the windows look so grimy you’d think they’d never been washed, but at other times seem like they weren’t even there, that the outside was coming in. Maybe we noticed how we felt about something we’d been trying hard not to think about. We had time to notice how we felt and maybe decide to do something about it – or maybe decide to accept it as it is. How about you, what are you noticing, what have you noticed? Share your thoughts below!

Leave a Reply