Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shirley Temples

www.trifectawritingchallenge.com








 This week's word is:

ALLEY (noun) 
1: a garden or park walk bordered by trees or bushes
2a (1) : a grassed enclosure for bowling or skittles
     (2) : a hardwood lane for bowling; also : a room or building housing a group of such lanes
  b : the space on each side of a tennis doubles court between the sideline and the service sideline
  c : an area in a baseball outfield between two outfielders when they are in normal positions
3: a narrow street; especially : a thoroughfare through the middle of a block giving access to the rear of lots or buildings

Please remember:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above. 
  • Your post must include a link back to Trifecta.
  • Please submit your post's permalink, not the main page of your blog. For example: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2012/03/trifextra-week-eight.html not http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/.
  • You may only submit one post per blog per challenge.


Shirley Temples


She was dropped off with the hostess again as her dad began his shift waiting tables at the Chinese restaurant.  The nice lady wearing the casual qi pao took her to the back of the restaurant that housed an unused corner bar area next to a back door that led to the alley.  The door was kept open for ventilation, and the screen door behind it intermittently invited in the stench of rotting foods souring in the dumpsters outside.

She liked to play behind the bar counter, on the floor.  The walls that surrounded her small body were not dirty, unkempt surfaces, but strong castle walls that sheltered the princess' body she was in.  She’d make up games to play in solitude to pass the time.  She’d trace with the tip of her fingers the visible lines on the walls made by accidental splashes and drips of beverages that were aged by time and neglect.  Her thin, straw-like fingers with a similar shade of grime under the nails sought to feel the uneven tracks made by the trails of those sticky streaks.  She pretended that her fingers were helping a little helpless bug find its way home.

She didn’t know that her father was too young to be a parent; she didn’t know that his mistakes included her, and that they weighed heavily like the trays of dishes that he palmed above his shoulder.  She just knew that she belonged to him, and she went wherever he went and ate whatever he ate.  

He’d bring her Shirley Temples.  That sweet, fizzy, liquid that made her feel even more princess-y.  The maraschino cherry on top was the best part.  And she could have as many glasses as she wanted, so long as she stayed behind her castle walls.  

She was no longer scared or lonely or hungry.  She just waited for her Shirley Temples.  



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To this day, every time I see a child behind the counter or in the kitchen of a restaurant, my heart aches a little, and then I taste the sweetness of a Shirley Temple on my tongue. 




26 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story! And now I will think of Shirley Temples when I see a child behind the counter. Thank you for allowing me to read it!

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    1. Thank you for coming by to read my entry, Tessa. It makes me happy that I have planted that Shirley Temple seed in your head!

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  2. This is so good. So, so good...So melancholy, so full of sadness and longing...Such great imagery and writing here! You immediately drew me in to the story of this little girl here...Wow. Is this autobiographical in any way? Inspired by your own experiences in some way perhaps? Or is this a purely fictional story? This is a great story, and I enjoyed reading it here today. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Scriptor, I am so grateful for your comments. Yes, this is based on actual events, and it is autobiographical. The circumstances were real, sprinkled with bits of fictionalized detail (namely the 2nd paragraph). This is a tiny snippet of my memory as a result of a broken family. I saw a little girl come in with her dad (who worked at the restaurant) and sat at the back table; I immediately thought of my Shirley Temples, and thus this story.

      Interestingly, as a grownup, I see this story as an outsider and I feel sad for the little girl, but my own memories contained no sadness or hurt. It just was. That is what I tried to convey.

      You know how people read and have different interpretations of the same piece? You definitely read this most accurately to my intentions. Thank you again for reading this and your kind comments. I really appreciate it!

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    2. I meant to say: *This past weekend at a restaurant,* I saw a little girl come in...

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  3. Hello Sandra. I feel that this might be autobiographical, the feeling and the melancholy is so real one can almost touch it.
    Thank you for sharing this story with us and thank you for visiting my blog and commenting on my story. It too had some autobiographical content. Saved again by my Dad. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, it is based on my own memories. I am so glad that the feelings came across for you. It has been interesting to dig deep into my thoughts and put them down in writing. I enjoyed your autobiographical piece as well, and it was also about a father and a daughter!

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  4. That's lovely. And although I have never been behind the scenes at a restaurant, I have similar memories of feeling like a princess when my parents let me have a Shirley Temple!

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    1. Thank you, Annabelle! I *still* associate Shirley Temples with being princess-y! It's such a girly drink, but I still enjoy one every now and then at my age! Ha!

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  5. Shirley Temples! That instantly brought me back to my childhood as well. I love those. Still order them from time to time. The sweet cherry was the best part. I can taste it now. Great story.

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    1. Same here! And that is perhaps why I love maraschino cherries. I used to eat them by the jars (shhh) when I didn't know any better. Thank you for reading and commenting, Swirls!

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  6. i can somewhat see the sense of sadness, but more for me was praise for making the best of a bad situation. Not ideal, but at least there was that feeling of belonging. A lot of kids in that situation never have that. A good write!

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    1. It has been enlightening to see different interpretations to this story in the comments. I really do appreciate yours, Mark, because you chose to see a positive light here. I have a tendency to do that when I read other people's work, so it's nice that someone can do that with mine, too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  7. My parents allowed us Shirley Temples as well. To keep us quiet? Touching and strong. Not the perfect situation by any stretch but he/they made it work. And to have your own castle...

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    1. 'Allowing' makes it such a treat, doesn't it? I ordered one for my daughter recently and she wasn't jumping up and down about it, but it's just as well, since it's all sugar anyway. But I still like it and it will always be special to me! Thanks, Gina!

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  8. Gorgeous imagery. I felt as if I was in every family owned Chinese restaurant I stepped foot in as a child, yet also one of your own creation. The screen door, the drips on the wall...so vivid.

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    1. Thank you, Kerry Ann. This was a combination of snapshots from memory and a little fictional icing on the cake. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

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  9. This makes me so sad for her and for her dad. I used to live in Tallahassee and their was a woman who worked the late night shift at a Waffle House and her sone (maybe 8) always helped her pour coffee. Made me sad that she didn't have some help. The little boy always played with the salt and pepper shakers on the bar and pretended to read newspapers with the regulars.

    The details are rich in this story. Great job.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jen. Your story reminds me of when I visited the countryside of Asia many years ago, I'd see infants and toddlers in carriers or walkers in their families' flea market or vegetable market, and just spend an entire day there. It really humbled me and reminded me not to take our good lives for granted.

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  10. I felt like I was sitting in that restaurant. I thought the line, "she didn’t know that his mistakes included her, and that they weighed heavily like the trays of dishes that he palmed above his shoulder" was especially sad.

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    1. I guess the entire mood was kinda heavy, wasn't it? But the Shirley Temples made it a little less sad, maybe? Thanks for reading, Janna!

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  11. Interesting memory to bring back to the taste of Shirley Temples. I enjoyed the read and your generous imagery.

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    1. Thank you, k~. For me, it's a mixed bag of sadness and excitement, that Shirley Temple drink!

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  12. Oh, how the innocence and simplicity of a child shelters her from pains.

    While the father considers the child a mistake - a sad thing - he seemed to do right by her, as well as he could.

    This is a poignant and nicely written story, Sandra. :-)

    p.s.

    My desktop is really wonky. No matter how many times I click on the subscribe button, I still do not get any. I wonder why it worked with the laptop and not the desktop. :-(

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    1. Thank you, Imelda, for your thoughtful comments! I agree =)

      Have you considered using a feed reader, such as Google Reader, to read blogs? This way, everything is all in one place, on one account, and you can take it anywhere (any device). It's very easy to keep up with all the blogs you subscribe to. If you're not familiar with it, you might give it a look!

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  13. Thanks for linking up with Trifecta this week. I really enjoyed this piece, and I think you were successful in conveying the memory without an overwhelming sense of sadness. It just is. I've known a lot of kids who grew up behind counters. I hope that they grew up with a sense of knowing how hard mom/dad was working for them. I also hope to see you back again soon.

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