Writing Prompt: Memory and Reflection
Our memories are powerful—whether they actually happened the way we remember them isn’t as important as what we remember and why. So something I would like you to try this week is to hone in on a memory and then interrogate it. One way to incorporate more reflection in your writing is to constantly be asking yourself questions.
This is a writing exercise in two parts:
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.)
Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)? (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.)
She stood and looked at the mark I just left on her as one thousand emotions scattered across her eyes. Her mouth worked itself into a scream and I knew I had crossed the line. My twin sister and I had been in more than a thousand fights by now, but this one had turned into something more serious. I can’t tell you how old we were at this point or what we were fighting about, although I am pretty sure that she remembers. After all, she’s the one that still bears the physical scar 20 plus years later.
I stood and held the hot curling iron still in my hand as the scorched smell of burnt skin filled the small bathroom upstairs at my Granny’s house. I can’t remember if I started apologizing or stood there defiant in my action. I do remember the sinking feel that I had just caused her an unjust amount of pain and I felt sick at what I had done. I was also very aware of not just the amount of pain she was in but the unique position of power she held over me. I had been warned and punished numerous times for my hot temper. I had been told that I took things too far, but in my defense I rarely started any of the fights we had. I did end them though, by whatever means necessary.
The moment was on top of us now. The moment that silent scream was going to find its voice and my Granny’s wrath and disappointment would color our short visit with her. My sister had to have known that the minute she screamed and pointed the finger at me I would be in a deeper trouble than I had ever seen. I looked at her and suddenly realized as our Granny loomed over us that she had been screaming. Somehow as fear had begun to run through my veins, I had become deaf to the cries that had already begun. Granny’s eyes flew wide as she examined the burn that was the same length of the curling iron and thankfully I had already put the weapon down so there was no immediate smoking gun to alert her of my guilty role. As she herded us up to take us down to the drugstore immediately for some salve, it began to soak in that my sister had said it was an accident. She never pointed the finger at me that I deserved.
One the car ride to the drugstore Granny worried and fretted over the injury, my sister cried with the pain and I sat in numbed silence.
Why had she not pointed me out?
Was she just waiting until my parents arrived to pick us up and then let the guillotine fall upon my shameful, guilty head?
What was her angle?
It was at that moment that she turned around and delivered a slight, sympathetic smile to me. We were never those types of twins that you hear about that share feelings or could read minds, but that whisper of a smile told me that she was not going to rat me out. She forgave me and was going to keep my evil deed a secret. She forgave me. I hadn’t asked for it and I didn’t deserve it.
20 something years later and we have since told my parents what really happened. They learned of the fight that caused the scar the way that adult children reveal truths to their parents in a laugh about it being the past. I’m sure my parents were horrified, but it is the past. We fought many times since that day and we still get into arguments, but that day I learned of a true sister’s love and forgiveness. She knew the “pain” that I would have received for such a horrendous action against her and she choose to shield me from it. She choose to carry the pain and suffering by herself.
I can’t tell you that moment changed our relationship forever, but every time we are together these days and I catch a glimpse of that scar I am reminded. I am reminded that sometimes no matter how bad it hurts that there are those people in our lives that we love so much that we are willing to suffer for them. We bear the burden of their pain and shield them. We discern that they deserve a touch that is severe and we muster up a small smile that tells them that they are forgiven based only on the love we share. My sister has a scar that was created from my anger, but is more of a symbol of a sister’s love.
Categories: forgiveness, love, sibling rivalry, siblings