The Moment Home Readings Buy the Book About The Moments

The day my father started the blue Oldsmobile we called Orca, and didn't open the garage doors

Life becomes banal, predictable. Life becomes good.

I’m 11, trying to fall asleep in my new room, the pink room with the twin beds where my mom and her sister used ignore each other. We are inside the house that my grandma decorated, where everything is just so. Unfathomably, we are fitting in with the velvet wallpaper and alabaster sculptures. I take strawberry bubble baths. My grandma combs the tangles out of my hair with a special spray.

If there were a fire in the middle of the night, I’d grab the little white binder that sits on the bedside table, the one with the single drawer, where my mom’s Nancy Drew books sit abandoned with an old hair dryer. It’s my going away binder, filled with notes--in loopy, determined cursive--from all of my friends. I search it for their phone numbers, which I finger anxiously as I dial on the old rotary phone. My mother sets the timer for the allocated half hour.

We’ve been in NJ for just a few weeks. I have to wear two pairs of pants and three layers of shirts when I play outside in the snow, but it is unreal to me--all those sparkling white hills; the inches of white flakes frosting the wrought iron patio furniture. I suffer the numb extremities, whispering to them of the hot cocoa and fresh sugar cookies awaiting.

We play hide and go seek in the laundry chute; “time traveler” in the kitchen closet. Friday evenings we eat challah and roast chicken, wave our hands over the candles; drink grape juice. Life becomes banal, predictable. Life becomes good.

And then, I come home. My father is on the couch, underneath the black and white blanket my grandma knit into a chevron pattern. An empty brown grocery store bag sits next to him--a precaution. My mom is there, too, staring with determination at the television, at The Frugal Gourmet. “Is he sick?” I ask. My mom bores a hole into Jeff Smith’s head as he breaks down the carcass of a chicken. My grandma’s house is warm and lamplit; everything is wrong.


No comments yet, why not leave one of your own?

Leave a Comment or Share Your Story

Please Sign In. Only community members can comment.

The Moment Book

Moments from the SMITH Community

Tomorrowland "Daisy, F3," my son Archer says as we pull into our parking spot. Disneyland’s about to open and we've arrived, just the two of us, our last hoorah before school starts. *** The alarm goes off and I pull the pillow tightly over my head. My husband, Hal, offers to wake the kids so I roll over, fall back asleep until Archer's voice wakes me, this time for good. "Hi, Mommy. It's …
Line Break
With Both Hands Whenever I think of my mother, my mind flips to this story. Not to the whole story, but right to the middle of it, the worst moments of it. For me, that's where the story always starts. My mother was beating the hell out of me. The first few blows seemed to come from every direction as I grabbed my nightgown and pulled it over my head, not …
Line Break
Reasons to be Thankful By Robert Israel They scraped me off the street, my bicycle in a heap nearby, and ever so gingerly placed me on the gurney. A crowd of curious onlookers watched intently, thankful they were not being loaded onto the ambulance. The nurses at the hospital were calming as nurses are wont to be, and administered an intravenous tube of morphine, and soon everything around me became fuzzy and numb, and the …
Line Break
Read More Community Moments →
SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.