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Portfolio

This has been a really interesting semester for me, and I really enjoyed this class. I hope that I was able to make some improvement; I think I did, particularly with the creative nonfiction and the poetry sections of the course. I was sad on our last day…I felt like I still had a lot more to learn. Not that you needed to teach more, but that I needed to learn more. I found short story writing to be extremely difficult. I don’t like “Kayla’s Story” because I don’t really like the topic, don’t like how I’ve executed it, and just think it’s not that great. My short short story, however, was much easier for me to write, partly because I had already done it and partly because I loved writing it in a sensory way. I chose not to give it a name because I didn’t want to give away the location, but now I feel like I maybe should because no one will know where it is otherwise. I will put it in a comment if anyone actually wants to know.

I loved the readings that we had to do. I am a huge fan of twisted fairy tales and never thought that anything of merit, that people could study, was written along those lines. I don’t know if you remember, Professor, what you said to me on my first portfolio, but I will never forget it. It means a lot to me and I am truly going to save that and keep it with me. I thank you for this semester. I wish that there were more teachers, and people, like you because the world would be a much more interesting and better off place. Good luck in the Peace Corps and wherever you go afterwards.

 

Kayla’s Story

Kayla clambered up the steps of the stoop and began banging on the door. A stern looking old woman answered and looked severely at Kayla. “Kayla’s been so excited to see you all morning,” Emily said to the girl’s grandmother. The woman swung the screen door and allowed the three of them in. “How is everything, mom?” Kayla’s mother asked. “Oh, it’s fine,” the grandmother responded. Kayla ran to the den and looked at the shelf where a beautiful dollhouse stood. The dolls were delicate with sweet faces and all of the furniture was hand-painted. “Don’t touch it, Kayla,” the grandmother warned. Emily pulled the little girl away, inviting her to the table for lunch. Kayla began banging on the table and singing a song she’d created on the spot. “Little girls do not make such noise,” said the grandmother. Emily looks at Kayla’s mother, who winces and shrugs.

After eating, Emily took Kayla to play while the women spent time together. “You need to discipline her,” the older woman said. “Yes,” said Kayla’s mother. Emily knew Kayla’s grandmother had her own particular opinion on the proper way to raise children. She rolled her eyes and zoned out of the conversation. Not like she speaks to me anyway, I’m just “the nanny”. She smiled at the little girl playing quietly with her blocks. It seemed that no matter how she was behaving, her grandmother always found some fault. Too loud, too clumsy, too careless…what?!

Emily turned to grab Kayla’s juice from the diaper bag and a loud crash sounded behind her. “Oh, no,” Emily groaned. She turned to see Kayla, tears in her eyes, staring at the pieces of the broken dollhouse. “It’s broked,” she said, before her body started to heave from sobbing. “I told you to keep her away from that,” the old woman said deliberately. “I’m so sorry, mom”, Kayla’s mother said, “It was just an ac-” “No, it wasn’t an accident. She’s a terribly behaved child. Always getting into things she shouldn’t be!” The grandmother’s voice rose. Emily picked up the girl and attempted to calm her down. The crash had startled her, and the yelling was not making it any better. She brought Kayla into one of the bedrooms and sat with her on the bed, listening to the fight from the two women. Emily couldn’t make out all of it, but understood for the most part that Kayla’s grandmother had very strong opinions with how children were to be raised, and found Kayla’s mother’s techniques extremely lax. Sorry that she actually has a positive relationship with her kid. It was hard. Emily got that Kayla’s grandmother loved her, but how could that ever be perceived by someone so small. She heard the voices die down, and heard Kayla’s mother say goodbye. She came into the bedroom and asked Emily to bring Kayla, and that they were leaving. She looked to find the little girl had fallen asleep.

 

 

Short Short Story

The clean air fills my lungs and makes me feel refreshed. Not like back home, where breathing too deeply feels like some sort of contamination. Even though it’s clean and pure, it’s thick, and I can taste it. I can taste the salt from the river and the green from the trees. I like to close my eyes and imagine this air covering me like a blanket. I’m safe underneath it. I hear the rustling of the leaves and crackling of fallen branches. The dogs are running around crazy and reckless and wild. There aren’t any fences here. They could never do this at home. As long as they love you, you don’t really need a fence. They always come back. The sky is so bright, and the clouds are blinding. It’s painful to be out without sunglasses, but it’s so beautiful. It’s brilliant, actually. Beautifully brilliant. It’s warmth you can see. I smack my arm at the prick of a mosquito and immediately start to itch. The mugginess is the worst part of being down here. And the bugs. I don’t know how they manage to make their way inside, but they always do. I could never live here full time. They skeeve me too much, but for now it’s alright. I walk down to the dock; the sand and broken shells crunching and poking my bare feet. I always felt that the correct footwear was no footwear, and here that’s completely acceptable. Putting my toes in the water sends a shiver up my back, but the heat was draining and this brought me back to life. I listen to the dragonflies as they hover over the tall grass, and the tap-tap-tap of the woodpecker. A door swings open, I hear my name, and it slams shut, bouncing on the frame. Time to come in for dinner.

Thank you so much for your advice. I cut out the first part of the story and cut to the chase, I also added another paragraph. I think I might be getting it but it is still definitely not award worthy!

 

Kayla clambered up the steps of the stoop and began banging on the door. A stern looking old woman answered and looked severely at Kayla. “Kayla’s been so excited to see you all morning,” Emily said to the girl’s grandmother. The woman swung the screen door and allowed the three of them in. “How is everything, mom?” Kayla’s mother asked. “Oh, it’s fine,” the grandmother responded. Kayla ran to the den and looked at the shelf where a beautiful dollhouse stood. The dolls were delicate with sweet faces and all of the furniture was hand-painted. “Don’t touch it, Kayla,” the grandmother warned. Emily pulled the little girl away, inviting her to the table for lunch. Kayla began banging on the table and singing a song she’s created on the spot. “Little girls do not make such noise,” says the grandmother. Emily looks at Kayla’s mother, who winces and shrugs, unable to stand up to her mother.

After eating, Emily took Kayla to play while the women spent time together. “You need to discipline her,” the older woman said. “Yes,” said Kayla’s mother. Emily knew Kayla’s grandmother had her own particular, particularly strong, opinion on the proper way to raise children. She rolled her eyes and zoned out of the conversation. Not like she speaks to me anyway, I’m just “the nanny”. She smiled at the little girl playing quietly with her blocks. It seemed that no matter how she was behaving, her grandmother always found some fault. Too loud, too clumsy, too careless…what?!

A loud crash sounded behind her. “Oh, no,” Emily groaned. She turned to see Kayla, tears in her eyes, staring at the pieces of the broken dollhouse. “It’s broked,” she said, before her body started to heave from sobbing. “I told you to keep her away from that,” the old woman said deliberately. “I’m so sorry, mom”, Kayla’s mother said, “it was just an ac-” “No, it wasn’t an accident. She’s a terribly behaved child. Always getting into things she shouldn’t be!” The grandmother’s voice rose. Emily picked up the girl and attempted to calm her down. The crash had startled her, and the yelling was not making it any better. She brought Kayla into one of the bedrooms and sat with her on the bed, listening to the fight from the two women. Emily couldn’t make out all of it, but understood for the most part that Kayla’s grandmother had very strong opinions with how children were to be raised, and found Kayla’s mother’s techniques extremely lax. Sorry that she actually has a positive relationship with her kid. It was hard. Emily got that Kayla’s grandmother loved her, but how could that ever be perceived by someone so small. She heard the voices die down, and heard Kayla’s mother say goodbye. She came into the bedroom and asked Emily to bring Kayla, who had fallen asleep.

I am having a really difficult time writing this short story. It isn’t finished, but it will be by the end of this week and I hope it meets the criteria. Thank you for being patient. I think I have more to go with now than my first attempts. Here goes:

 

Kayla squealed with delight at the crisp, golden leaves crunching beneath her feet. Emily couldn’t help but chuckle at the little girl skipping across the sidewalk. “Not so fast,” yelled the mother, but Kayla simply giggled and bounded forward. “I’ll get her,” Emily said, bounding forward to catch her. The air smelled cool, clean and fresh. The humidity and heat of the summer had been blown away by the autumn winds. This season is always far too short, thought Emily. She rounded the corner and grabbed Kayla’s hand, slowing her to a walk, the girl shrieking with laughter at being caught. They arrived at a small brick house and made their way up the drive.

Kayla clambered up the steps of the stoop and began banging on the door. A stern looking old woman answered and looked severely at Kayla. “Kayla’s been so excited to see you all morning,” Emily said to the girl’s grandmother. The woman swung the screen door and allowed the three of them in. “How is everything, mom?” Kayla’s mother asked. “Oh, it’s fine,” the grandmother responded. Kayla ran to the den and looked at the shelf where a beautiful dollhouse stood. The dolls were delicate with sweet faces and all of the furniture was hand-painted. “Don’t touch it, Kayla,” the grandmother warned. Emily pulled the little girl away, inviting her to the table for lunch. Kayla began banging on the table and singing a song she’s created on the spot. “Little girls do not make such noise,” says the grandmother. Emily looks at Kayla’s mother, who winces and shrugs, unable to stand up to her mother.

After eating, Emily took Kayla to play while the women spent time together. “You need to discipline her,” the older woman said. “Yes,” said Kayla’s mother. Emily knew Kayla’s grandmother had her own particular, particularly strong, opinion on the proper way to raise children. She rolled her eyes and zoned out of the conversation. Not like she speaks to me anyway, I’m just “the nanny”. She smiled at the little girl playing quietly with her blocks. It seemed that no matter how she was behaving, her grandmother always found some fault. Too loud, too clumsy, too careless…what?!

Kayla is a precocious, impish and unbelievably charming little girl. Her blonde curls and large blue eyes make her look like a living doll. She can throw tantrums with the best of them, but they are never without cause, or directed towards someone who doesn’t deserve it, at least a little bit. Her elders call her bold, but I will be the first to defend her sass. She’s learning and growing and living and dancing her way into the world.

She gets up in the morning and scuffles into the kitchen, her once white bunny slippers now are scruffy and loved. I place her in her chair, blink, and her face is smeared with the jelly from her waffle. One thing that makes her furious is cleaning her up. Tears are inevitable. I throw out apologies, and let her pick out an outfit. She chooses a tutu and Mary-Janes. I’m sending her off to school, more nervous than she will ever be. I’m scared of a bad report. She’s been hitting in class. Of course she gets reprimanded. I am not an expert in child development, but telling a 2 year old to “read a book and relax” seems rather ineffective. She can’t even read yet. But she’s not my kid.

No Name for Now: Short Story

“Emwee, Emwee! I go to skoo today.” This kid is honestly the most adorable thing, Emily thinks. “Are you all ready?!” she asks the two-year-old. “Uh-huh! Wook,” the little girl holds out her pink backpack, with KAYLA written in bold, white letters. Emily laughs, and picks up her cousin to bring her to the kitchen. “What do you want for breakfast, lady?” “Waffas!” Kayla shrieks. “Coming right up,” Emily answers. “You stay wif baby Connah today?” Kayla asks. “Yes, we are going to nap until you come home from school, and then we can all play and go out for a walk. Sound good?” Emily knew that there was no way that kid would go out the door to school if anything remotely exciting was going on at home. “Uh…yes,” she said, the jelly from her waffle smeared all over her face. Emily smiled and cleaned up.

Connor napped for most of the morning, so Emily mostly cleaned up around the house and watched bad television, waiting for Kayla to come home. “Hi, Emwee!” Kayla pranced into the den and climbed up into Emily’s lap. “How was school?” “Is good,” Kayla said, “wook!” She held up a piece of white construction paper with strokes of red paint all over it. “That is so beautiful, Kayla, wanna hang it on the fridge and I will make you lunch?” They sat at the table and ate their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Emily had to put more jelly on Kayla’s sandwich after being scolded that there wasn’t enough. “Ready for your nap? When you wake up we’re gonna go play outside,” Emily led the little girl up to her room. “Yes, sweep. Wuv you,” Kayla said, laying down. “Love you too.” Emily went quietly down the stairs.

“Emwee?” Emily plucked Kayla up out of the crib. “We go aside?” The little girl was wiggling with excitement. “Yes, lady, we just have to get our shoes on, okay?” Once outside, Kayla stomped and crunched every leaf in sight. She looked to see Emily wearing her sunglasses. “My sunglasses!” she exclaimed. “Do you want yours?” Emily asked. “Yes, I need them,” the little girl insisted. She popped on her round, white, sparkle-covered sunglasses. “Wook, I need them,” she said again. “I know,” Emily said, “you’re wearing them silly.” “Oh. But I need them.” Emily sighed then smiled to herself. This kid was certainly something. They walked around the block, with Kayla stopping to examine every stick, pebble, and bug that crossed her path. “Oh, pwetzal!” Kayla said, pointing one on the ground. “Oh that’s yucky, right?” That was the last thing Emily wanted her to do. “We can have pretzals when we get home!” They walked down to the avenue to the bakery. “Oh! Cookie, Emwee?” Emily laughed, “Of course, Kay.” “My cookie! Baby Conna cookie?” “Nope, he isn’t big enough, right?” “Oh,” Kayla said knowingly. “They’re so sweet,” the woman behind them in line said. “Thank you,” Emily said. Kayla hid behind her. “She’s a little shy,” she told the woman. “Ready to go home to see mommy?” Emily asked the little girl. “Yes, Mommy! I bring cookie.” She marched towards the door.

“I’m going to run and do some errands,” the children’s mother said to Emily. “Ok, we’re just going to hang out,” she replied. Kayla plopped down on the couch and called Emily over. “We watch Do-Do?” Emily put on her favorite Dora episode. She thought about all of Kayla’s words for things, and wondered when the day would come that she wouldn’t say them those ways anymore. She found it endearing. Her grandmother however, would constantly correct the two-year-old, which usually ended with Kayla running away or shrieking, to which the elderly Irish woman would say, brogue strong, “You’re being bold!”

 

As far as this short story goes, I don’t know if it really is one… I struggled with a topic, and am hoping that this goes somewhere. I’m writing this in the third person, about a nanny’s time with her 2 year old cousin. It’s all dialogue, and I would not like the finished piece to be that way, so I definitely have my work cut out for me. I used real people as a model (at least for Kayla) because I find it nearly impossible to write about things I don’t know anything about, but I admire those who can! I am hoping to flesh it out more, maybe by being more sensory and descriptive, just because the little girl is so vocal, I think that there could be an interesting contrast to what is actually going on around her. One of the very first lines is one of Emily’s thoughts. I think that that is something I will try to put in throughout, as long as it doesn’t seem like it’s just there for the sake of being there. I am also debating on taking the baby’s name, or even character, completely out, because I want it to be focused on Kayla. I hope you like it! Thanks J

Flawed

Everyone knows about

the Man in the Moon.

As a child I would

think about him

when I looked up at the sky

on beautiful clear nights.

I wondered if he had

a Lover – someone to

stay beside on long, cold nights.

If not, was he alone?

Did he look down upon us

wishing he were here?

I used to feel sad for this man.

With no one, no thing,

to call his own or to

call him their own.

He is lucky though,

I now think. He is

untouchable.

He can have no flaws,

because there is no one there

to see them.

He can have no pain,

because there is no one there

to hurt him.

I wish to be the Man in the Moon.

Because I have flaws

that I wish for no one to see.

I’m terrible with goodbyes.

I didn’t say goodbye to you.

I figured you wouldn’t know either way, so I simply left.

I never really got to know you.

By the time I realized that, it was already too late.

Then it got worse, and I stayed home.

Not that I had a choice in the matter.

You were so far away.

I missed the wake, and the funeral.

I was here, in New York.

Months and months  later, I finally saw your grave.

Easter Sunday. I did cry.

I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye to you.

But I don’t want to say goodbye.