Week Four Writing Assignment

You have two assignments for this week.

Assignment One:

As you read the pages for the next week, keep a small sheet of paper in your book and jot down anything Apple reveals about Gootie. I loved seeing the long lists you are accumulating. Keep it up.

I’d like for you to categorize the characteristics, group them together based on the type. The number and names of the various categories do not matter. Make them useful to you. Some possible categories might be: physical/appearance, actions/gestures, religion/spirituality, profession/interests, speech, disposition, background info, life goals/values/beliefs, etc.

Also, don’t make this process too complicated. On your list, put the name or abbreviation of a category next to each characteristic. Some descriptions may fit into more than one category. That’s fine. Either put it in two categories or determine where it fits best. It’s up to you. The goal of this ongoing exercise is to make you aware of how authors characterize people throughout an extended work.

Assignment Two:

Last week your assignment was to decide if your story is focused enough. You made a list of all the people who appeared in your s-tory. You determined the time period of and considered whether or not your time period could be adequately covered. You also considered the locations in which your s-tory takes place.

Now, you are going to think of a story, scene, or snippet you want to write that contains emotion of any kind. Then follow these steps:

1. Close your eyes – Sit calmly and try to recreate scenes in your mind. Look at the person in your mind’s eye and see how he or she is displaying this emotion.

2. Define the emotion  – Give that emotion a name. Then make a list of the behaviors that show that emotion.

3. Write the scene – Using some of those behaviors, write the scene without stating the emotion directly. Use active verbs and specific details.

Please share your story on the assignments tab and see if your classmates can identify the emotion you are trying to convey.

Be sure to read your fellow class members assignments and comment. Let them know they’ve been heard.

Happy writing!

30 Responses to Week Four Writing Assignment

  1. Beverly Bailey
    Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    “Hey, NCIS Is on. Are you going to watch it with me?” Larry asked. We have enjoyed Jethro Gibbs’ adventures for years. His enigmatic smile and stubborn ways intrigue both of us. Plus, he always gets the bad guy.

     I sat down in the rocking chair, ready to be entertained and be with Larry. I thumbed through my latest copy of Southern Living on the end table next to me.

    It wasn’t long before a navy officer was found dead along a highway and Ducky, Jimmy, Gibbs, Tim, and DiNozzo were there taking pictures of the crime scene, and noting the clues in the area. I got up to get a drink of water. Did I put the towels I washed in the dryer? I set the glass down and walked out to the utility room. Yeah, I forgot. I’ll do it now.

    “What are you doing?” Larry asked. “I thought you wanted to see this guy Gibbs thinks killed the officer.”

    “Have they already arrested someone?” I asked as I got my water and slouched back down in the rocking chair. I wonder if Bailey is feeling better. That nasty ear infection should be better by now. Let me see if Susan has texted me. I retrieved my phone from its charging connection. A yawn escaped me.

    I looked up at the TV. Oh, my. There’s Abby, already analyzing fingerprints and she’s posted them on her database to find a match. Who’s that other character?

    “Larry, what’s going on?”

    “Well, you see Abby trying to find out who the fingerprints belong to. And Tim thinks they have a good lead on the navy guy’s wife. Seems she was having an affair with her husband’s best friend. Looks pretty suspicious,” Larry replied.

    I yawned again. Wonder what Rick Bragg said in his column this month. I turned to the back page of Southern Living. The words blurred. I put the magazine down and looked at the TV again. Another yawn. I haven’t made my mental to-do list for tomorrow. I leaned my head over on the palm of my hand.

    I got up to look in the refrigerator for something to eat and since I didn’t hear the dryer going, I closed the refrigerator door and went to the utility room to get the towels out. Spreading them on the bed, I folded them, and put them away in the closet.

    “Honey, the show’s almost over. You want to see the end?”

    “I’m coming.” I said. I sagged into the rocker, ready to see that justice again ruled. The credits came on and the ads multiplied.

    “I’m sorry, honey. I think I missed the whole adventure. Was it good?” I asked, still yawning.

    • Avatar
      Barbara Rawls November 8, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

      Oh, so true, or  I usually find myself nodding off when I sit down and relax.  Good story, Beverly.  Emotion: fidgeting? anxiety?

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 12:21 am #

      Good description of a tired woman with many responsibilities. The “sagging” and “slouching” show fatigue or getting to relax at last. But in your case not really. There are many things to take care of before day is done. There is an inability to focus on being with Larry and actually spending time on a t.v. program. It reminds me  of the squirrels in my yard gathering acorns -oh, here’s one, and hurry get that one over there, back up to harvest the large one. Yawning indicates fatigue as well. I do the same things, Bev. 

    • Amanda Benson
      Amanda Benson November 9, 2017 at 4:28 am #

      Beverly, this was such a believable and, for us ladies, relatable scene! Excellent job on the dialogue. I clearly detect an exhausted woman who is distracted with the never-done work of home and family. Love how you wove in details about NCIS as well. Really enjoyed this.

    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 24, 2018 at 10:12 pm #

      Your story is so believab le. Right on Beverly. So many women can relate to this night time episode. Enjoy Larry and what he enjoys. That is so important.

  2. Becky McGregor
    Becky McGregor November 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    I loved this.  Bruce and I watch NCSI and sometimes the exact same thing happens.  Why is it that I seem to remember all this stuff that was suppose to get done – while I’m watching TV?   Thanks for the story, it made me laugh!

  3. Becky McGregor
    Becky McGregor November 8, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    I planted my feet square to my body and my hands went to my hips. I take in a deep breathe, “I’m not moving.”

    “Yes we are, Your Dad was transferred and you know how this goes,” sighed my mom.

    “But we just finished my room. I have great friends and the band at school is the best.” Tears started to gather in my eyes, as I wrapped myself with my arms.

    “Becky, there is nothing we can do. Now head to your room and start …”

    “You don’t have to tell me. I know the drill. Throw everything away; I get two boxes for clothes and four boxes for anything I want to keep. Blah, Blah, Blah. I’m sick and tired of leaving and starting over.”

    “Well this time, were going to a place that has snow. You can ski all winter long.”

    “I looked up Ogden and it’s the pits of a place to live, you have to drive an hour to get to a mall. I Hate Moving and I hate you and I hate dad.” I stomped out of the kitchen through the family room, into my room where I slammed the door. Letting the tears fall, I flopped on my bed. I’ll teach them. I’m not throwing a thing away, I’m taking it all.

    • Avatar
      Barbara Rawls November 8, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

      Oh, Becky.  I know how you felt.  I changed schools eight times; fortunately, I attended the same high school for all four years.

      Emotion:  Anger?  Frustration?

    • Beverly Bailey
      Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 7:28 pm #

      Great story, Becky. I see frustration, anger, and a teenage determination to buck your mom and dad. Good!

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 12:27 am #

       Frustration, disappointment, anger at the parents, and powerless to change anything. Rebellion only available through the teenage mouth, tears, stomping, and packing everything in spite of the rules. Good, authentic scene with lots of feelings shown by actions, gestures and body language. I went to the same schools first grade through high school in Pompano Beach, FL. I have friends that I keep in touch with and have loved since we were 4 – that’s a lot of years. However, you were probably better adjusted as a child and certainly became an expert at moving. Good one.

    • Amanda Benson
      Amanda Benson November 9, 2017 at 4:35 am #

      I hear the anger and frustration in the dialogue, and see it in the body language and behavior. Excellent job capturing this moment. I can truly hear the teenaged voice in this story!

    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

      I am so late in posting, you may not get this. But here goes. I love this piece about your rebellion and refusal to throw your things away. I can’t imagine how this must have felt. I went to the same school for 12 years, but there were times I wished I could move. When you start school with 20 people and graduate with them in a class of 31 twelve years later, there isn’t a lot of room for expansion in thinking. HA! I could feel your anger and pain. Great piece.

  4. Avatar
    Barbara Rawls November 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    Bill rapped on the door; I drew in my breath as we waited for an answer. He gave me a reassuring smile and kissed my cheek. Bill’s sister, Sue, opened the door and gave us warm hugs. We had met a few days before. Well, maybe this won’t be so bad.

    I scanned  the room’s furnishings: sofa and wing chairs in a traditional style covered in a medium green fabric; matching mahogany coffee and end tables; brass table lamps topped with cream-colored silk shades; and white carpeting. Oh dear. What if I spill something on that carpet?  The room was quite a contrast to my bare bones apartment, consisting of my roommate’s black canvas butterfly chair, a gray area rug and her dining room set; our mattresses rested on the floor in the bedrooms. Neither of us had money to invest in unnecessary furniture. Oh, so chic! Bill is amused by my Bohemian life style.             Oh, I dread this evening.

    Bill’s mother came forward, arms extended in greeting.  I forced my arm up and shook her hand in response. “Have a seat, she said indicating the sofa. Let’s have a drink before dinner and get to know each other. Ice tinkled in glasses as she quickly mixed manhattans for the three of us.  Sue, being under-aged, poured herself a soft drink and dropped down beside me.

    I sat uneasily on the edge of the sofa and smiled at my future mother-in-law. A carefully groomed woman in her mid-fifties, she exhibited a take-charge demeanor. She wore eyeglasses with brown plastic frames; a mixture of brown and gray curls framed her small face.  “Tell me about yourself, Barbara,” she said.

    Bill put his arm around my shoulders in an effort to give me confidence. “Well, I moved from the Detroit area nine months ago to work as one of Uncle Sam’s many secretaries,” I began, attempting a little humor that fell flat. “I really enjoy the Washington, D.C. area and the culture,” I stammered.

    “I understand you met Bill at a party,” his mother said.

    “Yes, my roommate, Elaine, and I gave a New Year’s Day party, inviting some of the people we work with. Bill is one of Elaine’s coworkers,” I said, smiling at him. “It was a nice mix of people.” I felt Bill’s encouraging squeeze.

    “The party was a lot of fun,” Bill interjected. He leaned his head back comfortably against the green cushions, his stocky body perfectly relaxed. “We were attracted to each other right away,” he added with a big smile.

    I thought back about a comment from Bill’s friend, Ginny, when we announced

    our engagement. “Barb, have you met Bill’s mother yet?” Ginny inquired, with a

    wry smile.

                    Do I sense uneasiness in her voice? What’s ahead of me?

    Bill had shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “My mother will be glad

    she now has a chance to be a grandmother. That’s all she ever talks

    about. I’ve always told her I’ll be a perpetual bachelor” he chuckled.

    Trying to move the conversation away from me, I asked Sue about her job at the Department of Commerce. Sue, three years my junior, was an easy-going nineteen-year-old girl with pretty blue eyes.

    Pushing her dark blond hair back from her face, Sue responded, “I’ve been there about a year, and I enjoy my job a lot. My boss and coworkers are really nice.”

    I like this new sister, I thought.

    We chatted for an hour or so and I learned that Mrs. Rawls and her parents had moved from Germany to New York City in the 1920s.  Immigrants like my parents; a common thread to unite us. 

    “Well, let have dinner,” said Mrs. Rawls and she hurried to the kitchen. She and Sue brought out steaming plates of food. The enticing aroma of roast beef, browned potatoes, green beans and gravy propelled us to the table. The German style seasoning was a new and welcoming flavor.  A slice of chocolate cake and coffee completed a delicious meal.

    I got through dinner without ruining the white carpet!

    Finally, it was time to leave. As the elevator doors closed us inside, I heaved a sigh of relief; my shoulders dropped to their natural position. Did I pass inspection?

     

    • Beverly Bailey
      Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

      Barb, you told this story about meeting your future mother-in-law so well. The story reminded me of meeting Larry’s parents for the first time–totally unplanned because Larry brought me to his home and didn’t tell his mom and dad he was bringing me. I sense  your anxiety, your worry about messing up the carpet, and your uneasiness in trying to make conversation. I “drew in my breath” is what I would have done to ease my anxiety and prepare mentally for the “inspection.” Good details!

    • Beverly Bailey
      Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

      Barb, you told this story about meeting your future mother-in-law so well. The story reminded me of meeting Larry’s parents for the first time–totally unplanned because Larry brought me to his home and didn’t tell his mom and dad he was bringing me. I sense  your anxiety, your worry about messing up the carpet, and your uneasiness in trying to make conversation. I “drew in my breath” is what I would have done to ease my anxiety and prepare mentally for the “inspection.” Good details!

       

       

    • Amanda Benson
      Amanda Benson November 9, 2017 at 4:45 am #

      I really like the details in this story, the dialogue and interior thoughts. I can definitely feel the anxiety and nervousness of your meeting your future MIL! 

    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 24, 2018 at 10:16 pm #

      Hi Barbara. I heard about your story in class. Sorry I have been so bad about responding. I loved this meet the mother story, especiallyt the line: Immigrants like my parents; a common thread to unite us. You searched for a thread, a lifeline to hold on to. Smart girl. I love your writing style.

  5. Beverly Bailey
    Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    I don’t know why my post to Barb went up twice. Blame it on aliens!

  6. Beverly Bailey
    Beverly Bailey November 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    I don’t know why my post to Barb went up twice. Blame it on aliens!

  7. Diane Gosheff
    Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 1:18 am #

     Sitting uneasily on the sofa, forcing your hand up to shake hands, the sigh of relief when the dinner was over – all show anxiety over the first meeting with Bill’s mother. He is completely relaxed, jolly, and sure of himself in this situation. Bill knew you were the right one. Now how did he do when he met your parents? Still jolly and relaxed? Details in the furnishings, mother’s and Sue’s descriptions all work well in this scene. Nicely done.

  8. Diane Gosheff
    Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 1:43 am #

    TRUTH IN A BLUE ENVELOPE

    By Diane Gosheff

     

                I look at the aqua walls of the small ten-foot-square bedroom and think about the many times I have stood by the double bed packing my suitcase. I left this childhood refuge in 1964 when I married at the age of nineteen. The soft bedspread is cream with splashes of aqua, light green and pale peach. Open draw drapes are at the two windows facing east into the backyard. Morning sunlight filters through the dust-splattered jalousies. Tomorrow, February 15, 1984 I will drive the four hours from Pompano Beach in south Florida to my home in Longwood, Florida.

                My dad died twenty-two months ago. I visit Mom every few months while she grieves and adjusts to living alone after forty-six years of marriage. I feel sad at the thought of leaving her, but she will not move to Longwood away from her four sisters in Pompano Beach.

                Intent on these thoughts and folding clothes into the teal Samsonite case, I do not hear Mom until she clears her throat. Startled, I turn and see her standing by the small white dresser near the bedroom door.

                “Good morning, Mom, I didn’t hear you. How did you sleep”? She wears  wine colored slacks, a navy blue sleeveless top, and a short sleeve wine and blue paisley blouse. Mom looks down at her hands. They tremble and grip a long blue envelope.

                “I slept all right. Got up about 4:30 and had coffee. I was awake a lot last night thinking. Diane, it is way past time for you to have this.” She offers the envelope in her right hand to me and looks out the window.

                “What is it, Mom? You seem upset.” I gently take the envelope and try to get her to look at me. She bows her head. When she looks up at me, tears glisten in her gentle, blue gray eyes.

                “I have been afraid that you would find your birth mother and love her more than you love me. Sounds silly but it kept me from giving you the name when you asked if I knew about your mother. We did not receive any other information. This is the Adoption Decree from June of 1948 and it has your parents’ names in it.“ She wipes both eyes and ruffles her softly curled blonde hair.

                I pull her close and hug my wonderful mother and friend.

                “Oh, Mom, that would never happen. You are and always will be my one true mother. I’ve been curious my entire life, that’s all, about who she is and why she gave me up. You know how I love mysteries. Dad and you are the best parents. I will never love anyone more than I love you,” I said.

                She steps back and smiles into my eyes. The worried look on her face relaxes.

                “If you want to look for her now, I support you and want to know the answers too. I hope it’s not too late,” she says.

                I breathe in deeply, let the air out slowly, and open the envelope. I carefully unfold the legal-size onionskin pages attached with staples to a blue folder imprinted with PATTERSON & LLOYD, 801 Sweet Building, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    On the second page, paragraph 4, says “The minor child, Baby Smith, was born on November 16, 1944 as the legitimate issue of the marriage between Martha Wood Smith and William Wesley Smith. The natural mother of said minor child has consented to the adoption, and an order of publication has been published against the natural father whose residence is unknown.”

                I read it again, my eyes widen as it sinks in. The last name is Smith—Martha and Bill. Shaking the blue envelope, I rummage inside and hope for another page to appear with their birthdates or hometowns. The envelope is empty.

                Where do I go from here? To search America for my Mr. and Mrs. William Smith will be impossible. Without more identifying information, I will not live long enough to cover all of the states.

                “Mom, is there any more information? Do you know where Martha is from?” I ask.  

                “When I saw the attorney one time, a woman with dark hair left his office after I sat down in the waiting room. The attorney said something about ‘Missouri’ right after she left and it made me think she was from Missouri. I thought she was your mother but he did not mention the woman in our conversation. Maybe she was someone else,” Mom says.

                “It will be a huge job finding her without more information. I am overwhelmed at the thought of locating her. However, that will not ruin the happiness right now of finally knowing the names I have wanted for at least 35 years. Thank you so much for giving me this envelope today.”

    “Honey, please forgive me for keeping it a secret so long. It was unfair to you and I am sorry,” Mom says as the smile plays around her lips and lights up her face.

                “It’s all okay,” I assure her and kiss her soft cheek.

     

               

    TRUTH IN A BLUE ENVELOPE

    By Diane Gosheff

     

                I look at the aqua walls of the small ten-foot-square bedroom and think about the many times I have stood by the double bed packing my suitcase. I left this childhood refuge in 1964 when I married at the age of nineteen. The soft bedspread is cream with splashes of aqua, light green and pale peach. Open draw drapes are at the two windows facing east into the backyard. Morning sunlight filters through the dust-splattered jalousies. Tomorrow, February 15, 1984 I will drive the four hours from Pompano Beach in south Florida to my home in Longwood, Florida.

                My dad died twenty-two months ago. I visit Mom every few months while she grieves and adjusts to living alone after forty-six years of marriage. I feel sad at the thought of leaving her, but she will not move to Longwood away from her four sisters in Pompano Beach.

                Intent on these thoughts and folding clothes into the teal Samsonite case, I do not hear Mom until she clears her throat. Startled, I turn and see her standing by the small white dresser near the bedroom door.

                “Good morning, Mom, I didn’t hear you. How did you sleep”? She wears  wine colored slacks, a navy blue sleeveless top, and a short sleeve wine and blue paisley blouse. Mom looks down at her hands. They tremble and grip a long blue envelope.

                “I slept all right. Got up about 4:30 and had coffee. I was awake a lot last night thinking. Diane, it is way past time for you to have this.” She offers the envelope in her right hand to me and looks out the window.

                “What is it, Mom? You seem upset.” I gently take the envelope and try to get her to look at me. She bows her head. When she looks up at me, tears glisten in her gentle, blue gray eyes.

                “I have been afraid that you would find your birth mother and love her more than you love me. Sounds silly but it kept me from giving you the name when you asked if I knew about your mother. We did not receive any other information. This is the Adoption Decree from June of 1948 and it has your parents’ names in it.“ She wipes both eyes and ruffles her softly curled blonde hair.

                I pull her close and hug my wonderful mother and friend.

                “Oh, Mom, that would never happen. You are and always will be my one true mother. I’ve been curious my entire life, that’s all, about who she is and why she gave me up. You know how I love mysteries. Dad and you are the best parents. I will never love anyone more than I love you,” I said.

                She steps back and smiles into my eyes. The worried look on her face relaxes.

                “If you want to look for her now, I support you and want to know the answers too. I hope it’s not too late,” she says.

                I breathe in deeply, let the air out slowly, and open the envelope. I carefully unfold the legal-size onionskin pages attached with staples to a blue folder imprinted with PATTERSON & LLOYD, 801 Sweet Building, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    On the second page, paragraph 4, says “The minor child, Baby Smith, was born on November 16, 1944 as the legitimate issue of the marriage between Martha Wood Smith and William Wesley Smith. The natural mother of said minor child has consented to the adoption, and an order of publication has been published against the natural father whose residence is unknown.”

                I read it again, my eyes widen as it sinks in. The last name is Smith—Martha and Bill. Shaking the blue envelope, I rummage inside and hope for another page to appear with their birthdates or hometowns. The envelope is empty.

                Where do I go from here? To search America for my Mr. and Mrs. William Smith will be impossible. Without more identifying information, I will not live long enough to cover all of the states.

                “Mom, is there any more information? Do you know where Martha is from?” I ask.  

                “When I saw the attorney one time, a woman with dark hair left his office after I sat down in the waiting room. The attorney said something about ‘Missouri’ right after she left and it made me think she was from Missouri. I thought she was your mother but he did not mention the woman in our conversation. Maybe she was someone else,” Mom says.

                “It will be a huge job finding her without more information. I am overwhelmed at the thought of locating her. However, that will not ruin the happiness right now of finally knowing the names I have wanted for at least 35 years. Thank you so much for giving me this envelope today.”

    “Honey, please forgive me for keeping it a secret so long. It was unfair to you and I am sorry,” Mom says as the smile plays around her lips and lights up her face.

                “It’s all okay,” I assure her and kiss her soft cheek.

     

               

    TRUTH IN A BLUE ENVELOPE

    By Diane Gosheff

     

                I look at the aqua walls of the small ten-foot-square bedroom and think about the many times I have stood by the double bed packing my suitcase. I left this childhood refuge in 1964 when I married at the age of nineteen. The soft bedspread is cream with splashes of aqua, light green and pale peach. Open draw drapes are at the two windows facing east into the backyard. Morning sunlight filters through the dust-splattered jalousies. Tomorrow, February 15, 1984 I will drive the four hours from Pompano Beach in south Florida to my home in Longwood, Florida.

                My dad died twenty-two months ago. I visit Mom every few months while she grieves and adjusts to living alone after forty-six years of marriage. I feel sad at the thought of leaving her, but she will not move to Longwood away from her four sisters in Pompano Beach.

                Intent on these thoughts and folding clothes into the teal Samsonite case, I do not hear Mom until she clears her throat. Startled, I turn and see her standing by the small white dresser near the bedroom door.

                “Good morning, Mom, I didn’t hear you. How did you sleep”? She wears  wine colored slacks, a navy blue sleeveless top, and a short sleeve wine and blue paisley blouse. Mom looks down at her hands. They tremble and grip a long blue envelope.

                “I slept all right. Got up about 4:30 and had coffee. I was awake a lot last night thinking. Diane, it is way past time for you to have this.” She offers the envelope in her right hand to me and looks out the window.

                “What is it, Mom? You seem upset.” I gently take the envelope and try to get her to look at me. She bows her head. When she looks up at me, tears glisten in her gentle, blue gray eyes.

                “I have been afraid that you would find your birth mother and love her more than you love me. Sounds silly but it kept me from giving you the name when you asked if I knew about your mother. We did not receive any other information. This is the Adoption Decree from June of 1948 and it has your parents’ names in it.“ She wipes both eyes and ruffles her softly curled blonde hair.

                I pull her close and hug my wonderful mother and friend.

                “Oh, Mom, that would never happen. You are and always will be my one true mother. I’ve been curious my entire life, that’s all, about who she is and why she gave me up. You know how I love mysteries. Dad and you are the best parents. I will never love anyone more than I love you,” I said.

                She steps back and smiles into my eyes. The worried look on her face relaxes.

                “If you want to look for her now, I support you and want to know the answers too. I hope it’s not too late,” she says.

                I breathe in deeply, let the air out slowly, and open the envelope. I carefully unfold the legal-size onionskin pages attached with staples to a blue folder imprinted with PATTERSON & LLOYD, 801 Sweet Building, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    On the second page, paragraph 4, says “The minor child, Baby Smith, was born on November 16, 1944 as the legitimate issue of the marriage between Martha Wood Smith and William Wesley Smith. The natural mother of said minor child has consented to the adoption, and an order of publication has been published against the natural father whose residence is unknown.”

                I read it again, my eyes widen as it sinks in. The last name is Smith—Martha and Bill. Shaking the blue envelope, I rummage inside and hope for another page to appear with their birthdates or hometowns. The envelope is empty.

                Where do I go from here? To search America for my Mr. and Mrs. William Smith will be impossible. Without more identifying information, I will not live long enough to cover all of the states.

                “Mom, is there any more information? Do you know where Martha is from?” I ask.  

                “When I saw the attorney one time, a woman with dark hair left his office after I sat down in the waiting room. The attorney said something about ‘Missouri’ right after she left and it made me think she was from Missouri. I thought she was your mother but he did not mention the woman in our conversation. Maybe she was someone else,” Mom says.

                “It will be a huge job finding her without more information. I am overwhelmed at the thought of locating her. However, that will not ruin the happiness right now of finally knowing the names I have wanted for at least 35 years. Thank you so much for giving me this envelope today.”

    “Honey, please forgive me for keeping it a secret so long. It was unfair to you and I am sorry,” Mom says as the smile plays around her lips and lights up her face.

                “It’s all okay,” I assure her and kiss her soft cheek.

     

               

    TRUTH IN A BLUE ENVELOPE

    By Diane Gosheff

     

                I look at the aqua walls of the small ten-foot-square bedroom and think about the many times I have stood by the double bed packing my suitcase. I left this childhood refuge in 1964 when I married at the age of nineteen. The soft bedspread is cream with splashes of aqua, light green and pale peach. Open draw drapes are at the two windows facing east into the backyard. Morning sunlight filters through the dust-splattered jalousies. Tomorrow, February 15, 1984 I will drive the four hours from Pompano Beach in south Florida to my home in Longwood, Florida.

                My dad died twenty-two months ago. I visit Mom every few months while she grieves and adjusts to living alone after forty-six years of marriage. I feel sad at the thought of leaving her, but she will not move to Longwood away from her four sisters in Pompano Beach.

                Intent on these thoughts and folding clothes into the teal Samsonite case, I do not hear Mom until she clears her throat. Startled, I turn and see her standing by the small white dresser near the bedroom door.

                “Good morning, Mom, I didn’t hear you. How did you sleep”? She wears  wine colored slacks, a navy blue sleeveless top, and a short sleeve wine and blue paisley blouse. Mom looks down at her hands. They tremble and grip a long blue envelope.

                “I slept all right. Got up about 4:30 and had coffee. I was awake a lot last night thinking. Diane, it is way past time for you to have this.” She offers the envelope in her right hand to me and looks out the window.

                “What is it, Mom? You seem upset.” I gently take the envelope and try to get her to look at me. She bows her head. When she looks up at me, tears glisten in her gentle, blue gray eyes.

                “I have been afraid that you would find your birth mother and love her more than you love me. Sounds silly but it kept me from giving you the name when you asked if I knew about your mother. We did not receive any other information. This is the Adoption Decree from June of 1948 and it has your parents’ names in it.“ She wipes both eyes and ruffles her softly curled blonde hair.

                I pull her close and hug my wonderful mother and friend.

                “Oh, Mom, that would never happen. You are and always will be my one true mother. I’ve been curious my entire life, that’s all, about who she is and why she gave me up. You know how I love mysteries. Dad and you are the best parents. I will never love anyone more than I love you,” I said.

                She steps back and smiles into my eyes. The worried look on her face relaxes.

                “If you want to look for her now, I support you and want to know the answers too. I hope it’s not too late,” she says.

                I breathe in deeply, let the air out slowly, and open the envelope. I carefully unfold the legal-size onionskin pages attached with staples to a blue folder imprinted with PATTERSON & LLOYD, 801 Sweet Building, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    On the second page, paragraph 4, says “The minor child, Baby Smith, was born on November 16, 1944 as the legitimate issue of the marriage between Martha Wood Smith and William Wesley Smith. The natural mother of said minor child has consented to the adoption, and an order of publication has been published against the natural father whose residence is unknown.”

                I read it again, my eyes widen as it sinks in. The last name is Smith—Martha and Bill. Shaking the blue envelope, I rummage inside and hope for another page to appear with their birthdates or hometowns. The envelope is empty.

                Where do I go from here? To search America for my Mr. and Mrs. William Smith will be impossible. Without more identifying information, I will not live long enough to cover all of the states.

                “Mom, is there any more information? Do you know where Martha is from?” I ask.  

                “When I saw the attorney one time, a woman with dark hair left his office after I sat down in the waiting room. The attorney said something about ‘Missouri’ right after she left and it made me think she was from Missouri. I thought she was your mother but he did not mention the woman in our conversation. Maybe she was someone else,” Mom says.

                “It will be a huge job finding her without more information. I am overwhelmed at the thought of locating her. However, that will not ruin the happiness right now of finally knowing the names I have wanted for at least 35 years. Thank you so much for giving me this envelope today.”

    “Honey, please forgive me for keeping it a secret so long. It was unfair to you and I am sorry,” Mom says as the smile plays around her lips and lights up her face.

                “It’s all okay,” I assure her and kiss her soft cheek.

     

               

    TRUTH IN A BLUE ENVELOPE

    By Diane Gosheff

     

                I look at the aqua walls of the small ten-foot-square bedroom and think about the many times I have stood by the double bed packing my suitcase. I left this childhood refuge in 1964 when I married at the age of nineteen. The soft bedspread is cream with splashes of aqua, light green and pale peach. Open draw drapes are at the two windows facing east into the backyard. Morning sunlight filters through the dust-splattered jalousies. Tomorrow, February 15, 1984 I will drive the four hours from Pompano Beach in south Florida to my home in Longwood, Florida.

                My dad died twenty-two months ago. I visit Mom every few months while she grieves and adjusts to living alone after forty-six years of marriage. I feel sad at the thought of leaving her, but she will not move to Longwood away from her four sisters in Pompano Beach.

                Intent on these thoughts and folding clothes into the teal Samsonite case, I do not hear Mom until she clears her throat. Startled, I turn and see her standing by the small white dresser near the bedroom door.

                “Good morning, Mom, I didn’t hear you. How did you sleep”? She wears  wine colored slacks, a navy blue sleeveless top, and a short sleeve wine and blue paisley blouse. Mom looks down at her hands. They tremble and grip a long blue envelope.

                “I slept all right. Got up about 4:30 and had coffee. I was awake a lot last night thinking. Diane, it is way past time for you to have this.” She offers the envelope in her right hand to me and looks out the window.

                “What is it, Mom? You seem upset.” I gently take the envelope and try to get her to look at me. She bows her head. When she looks up at me, tears glisten in her gentle, blue gray eyes.

                “I have been afraid that you would find your birth mother and love her more than you love me. Sounds silly but it kept me from giving you the name when you asked if I knew about your mother. We did not receive any other information. This is the Adoption Decree from June of 1948 and it has your parents’ names in it.“ She wipes both eyes and ruffles her softly curled blonde hair.

                I pull her close and hug my wonderful mother and friend.

                “Oh, Mom, that would never happen. You are and always will be my one true mother. I’ve been curious my entire life, that’s all, about who she is and why she gave me up. You know how I love mysteries. Dad and you are the best parents. I will never love anyone more than I love you,” I said.

                She steps back and smiles into my eyes. The worried look on her face relaxes.

                “If you want to look for her now, I support you and want to know the answers too. I hope it’s not too late,” she says.

                I breathe in deeply, let the air out slowly, and open the envelope. I carefully unfold the legal-size onionskin pages attached with staples to a blue folder imprinted with PATTERSON & LLOYD, 801 Sweet Building, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    On the second page, paragraph 4, says “The minor child, Baby Smith, was born on November 16, 1944 as the legitimate issue of the marriage between Martha Wood Smith and William Wesley Smith. The natural mother of said minor child has consented to the adoption, and an order of publication has been published against the natural father whose residence is unknown.”

                I read it again, my eyes widen as it sinks in. The last name is Smith—Martha and Bill. Shaking the blue envelope, I rummage inside and hope for another page to appear with their birthdates or hometowns. The envelope is empty.

                Where do I go from here? To search America for my Mr. and Mrs. William Smith will be impossible. Without more identifying information, I will not live long enough to cover all of the states.

                “Mom, is there any more information? Do you know where Martha is from?” I ask.  

                “When I saw the attorney one time, a woman with dark hair left his office after I sat down in the waiting room. The attorney said something about ‘Missouri’ right after she left and it made me think she was from Missouri. I thought she was your mother but he did not mention the woman in our conversation. Maybe she was someone else,” Mom says.

                “It will be a huge job finding her without more information. I am overwhelmed at the thought of locating her. However, that will not ruin the happiness right now of finally knowing the names I have wanted for at least 35 years. Thank you so much for giving me this envelope today.”

    “Honey, please forgive me for keeping it a secret so long. It was unfair to you and I am sorry,” Mom says as the smile plays around her lips and lights up her face.

                “It’s all okay,” I assure her and kiss her soft cheek.

     

               

    • Amanda Benson
      Amanda Benson November 9, 2017 at 4:55 am #

      Diane, what a poignant and touching story. I loved the details and descriptions you included throughout. Your description of your mom was especially great. I can sense her anxiety and uncertainty as she gives you the envelope. Great job on the dialogue, too. Thanks for sharing such a tender moment with your mom.

    • Avatar
      Barbara Rawls November 13, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

      Diane, this is a well-told story of your search for identity.  You included great visual discriptions and inner thoughts.  Your gratefulness for finally learning your parents’ names and your determination in following the very slim clue is spelled out clearly.  I can feel your emotions as you face the task ahead.  

  9. Amanda Benson
    Amanda Benson November 9, 2017 at 4:28 am #

     

    Double Blue Lines

    By Amanda Benson

    I stepped back from the bathroom counter, my eyes wide. Two blue lines. My mind wouldn’t compute. As I stood there frozen, I heard Brad walk into the small white bathroom.

    “Well?” he asked, a smile on his lips, his eyes expectant.

    I couldn’t say a word. I picked up the white plastic stick with the undeniable double blue lines, and held it out for him to see.

    “Really? Are you serious?” he exclaimed, eyebrows arched. I smiled broadly at his enthusiasm. It was cute.

    He wrapped his arms around me and we both laughed. Brad pulled back and kissed me on the lips. “We’re having a baby! Oh my gosh, we have to call Shannon and Robby!”

    Shannon, Brad’s sister, and her husband Robby, had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years. We had just begun trying, and succeeded the first month. I felt kind of guilty about how easy it was for us compared to them. I was nervous about the phone call. I didn’t want our good news to upset them.

    “Hello?” Shannon answered the phone call.

    “Hey. What are you guys doing?” I asked, trying to be casual.

    “I’m pregnant!”

    “What?! For real?” My eyes were as wide as matching full moons. I looked at Brad sitting next to me and mouthed, “She’s pregnant!” He sprung up from the side of the bed, his jaw hanging open, hands spread wide.

    “Yes, I just took a test a few minutes ago. I just hung up talking to mom. We were about to call ya’ll.” She was talking a mile a minute, her excitement like caffeine.

    Suddenly Brad leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Wait.” I knew what he meant.

    Within a few minutes we made plans for Brad and I to head over to their place to celebrate. We packed cigars for the guys, sparkling apple cider for a toast, and one other important item: our pregnancy test in a ziplock bag. Our pregnancy news, in light of Shannon and Robby’s, would need some hard proof, so unbelievable was the timing. We giggled like little kids during our drive over, anticipating their reaction.

    We arrived, shared hugs of delight and had them regale their morning pregnancy test experience. Then we got out the celebratory items, clinking crystal champagne flutes in a toast to parenthood. Breaking into huge smiles, Brad and I couldn’t contain it any longer.

    “We have some news, too,” Brad announced, his grin wider than I’d ever seen.

    Shannon and Robby exchanged a suspicious look. Eyes narrowed, Shanon asked, “Are you pregnant?”

    I pulled out the ziplock and held it up for them to see the blue lines.

    Two sets of eyes flew open wide, jaws agape. “You’re pregnant! Oh my gosh!” Shannon hollered, then covered her mouth with her hand, jumping back from me. Her eyebrows arched, the horizontal lines of her forehead more pronounced.

    “Wow, guys! Congratulations!” said Robby, grinning, slapping Brad on the back. “That is unbelievable! Two babies! Your parents are never going to believe this.” And he was right. Brad’s mom and dad were convinced we were pulling their leg. If we had had a smart phone back then, we would have had to text a photo of the little double lines to convince them. Eventually, they caught on that it was indeed no joke. Their first grandchildren announced on the same day!

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

      A beautiful story filled with excitement. Good details on locations. Dialogue fits nicely with reality. Gestures, facial expressions, and body language “show” the emotions being experienced. Now think of this: in 1969 and before, ladies had a clue they might be pregnant but had to go to the doctor, give a urine specimen, and wait days for the results. The “frog” had to die or in some cases, it was the rabbit. Aren’t you lucky to have such a quick way of knowing. We would usually wait until at least one, preferably 2 periods were missed before going for the test. It did make the pregnancy seem shorter in some ways. Nice work, Amanda.

    • Cheryl Floyd
      Cheryl Floyd January 25, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

      Amanda, I hope you get this. Somehow I missed a week. Wonder why? I love this story of yours. Your writing put me right there in the time and place. Well Done. You captured the time and place with your words.

  10. Diane Gosheff
    Diane Gosheff November 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

    Something is wrong with Patricia’s system. I actually sent my post last night 11/8 and only one time, not multiple. Also, this post for Amanda’s story is happening now 11/9 at 2:13 p.m. not later tonight at 7:13 p.m.

  11. Avatar
    Barbara Rawls December 1, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Amanda, such a happy story. You showed your emotions and excitement so well with dialog and gestures. I like “…eyes were as wide…” Details such as the cigars and sparkling apple cider, and especially the zip lock bag expressed your joy so well.

    You are a terrific writer!

  12. Cheryl Floyd
    Cheryl Floyd January 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm #

    Not long after meeting Linda, I put the word out that I was creating a gathering of women for a book sharing. Linda was one of the first to contact me to reserve her seat.

    Linda, an experienced life coach, author, speaker and mentor wanted to attend my little gathering. I said, “Linda, why would you want to attend my group? You already know this material and teach it yourself.”

    Silence and then, “Cheryl, are you saying you don’t want me to attend?”  In that moment, I realized that the work had already begun. The right people were coming together for the group and who was I to judge who could or could not attend. Linda joining the circle was no accident. I needed to look at my own insecurities and bam; there she was the mirror I needed.  We explored, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book had been around for a time and several of us had read it before; but it’s one of those experiential books with processes that can be revisited for ever-new a-has and awakenings.

    • Diane Gosheff
      Diane Gosheff January 18, 2018 at 3:17 am #

      Another of your insightful offerings, Cheryl. We do have special people appear when we need them. The group and book you reviewed sounds like good places to spend your valuable time. I haven’t read The Artist’s Way. How did the new friendship with Linda impact you? You stir interest, please write more about the experience. Thank you for sharing with us.

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