Weekly Writing Challenge: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Prove it! This week’s challenge couldn’t be simpler: tell a story based on this picture. You can take this in whatever direction you’d like. Write some fiction. Who are these people? What’s their backstory? What’s going on in this picture? What happens next? Construct a history for us. Write from your own experience. Do one of these people remind you of someone you know, or of something that’s happened to you? Connect the dots for us. Go on a flight of fancy. Who knows what pops into your head when you take a look? Grab the first thing and go with it! We’ll tell you the truth behind the photo in next week’s challenge post, but we’re sure it won’t be nearly as interesting as what you come up with!”

Greg, Dad and Me circa 1951

Yes, that’s our dad holding our hands. My mom took this photo. I’m three. My brother’s five. Greg. I’m Anne. My neck was sweating between the coat collar and the bonnet. Itchy, really. Greg’s cap is hiding a bad, homemade haircut that my mom gave him. What? Oh no, we weren’t angry, just serious. We were a loving serious family that day about to go to church. Mom’s wearing a lovely royal blue dress with light pink trim around the collar and long cuffs, a matching trapeze coat and low black heels. She was, as my dad used to say, “a real looker.” She had to put her pocketbook down because it was making her arm shake and interfering with the photograph she was trying to take. Then she and my dad switched places, and he took one of her, me and Greg. I don’t know what happened to it. Too bad. It pains me. I ought to have both photos.

If photographs reflected reality, not just as a snapshot of a moment, but as ongoing reality, I would be the only one in the photo. An absurd take on Dorian Gray.

What happened.

What happened?

Well… Continue reading

What and Where Is This Place Called Home? Part 1

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.  -– Maya Angelou

When I was twenty, I left my family home. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I fled. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I left so fast I nearly broke my damn neck.

Abstract red rose in a swirl of inky water

My immediate family consisted of two brothers and a sister, technically called half-siblings, my stepfather, and my mother, though “step-“ and half-“ were not descriptions we ever used. (I had an additional family member, my remarried father, with whom I maintained a wonderful relationship with until his death.) By the time I was ten, maybe eleven, my parents had saved enough money to move us from a primarily black three-story public housing complex in the famous Hill District (the “Hill” in “Hill Street Blues,” the birthplace of playwright August Wilson, and the musical playground of jazz artists Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey and  Billie Eckstine) to a three-story house with porch, front and back yard in an ethnically-diverse neighborhood in Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library and Museum, and Carnegie-Mellon University. Continue reading