Below is my "fiction" entry for Scribbit's April Writing Contest. Check this out and more at
Pink Soap makes You Smell Good: A Story about Going Home
Many people have trouble retaining memories from their early childhood, but not me. Mine have been burned into my memory – leaving a scar that is forever vivid, forever burning. Returning home often resurrects melancholy memories of those who have passed while being warmly embraced by those who love you best. At eight-years-old I was being returned home for the fifth time and I felt none of that nostalgia for that place they called home.
The taxi sped me homeward as the snow swirled outside. Turning from my window, I looked at the driver who sat secure behind the taxi's Plexiglas shield. His hair, stringy and gray, hung to his shoulders and turned up at the ends. He drove as if he was alone, humming a gentle tune and chewing on his cigar.
Sliding my glance sideways, I took in the brown skirt and folded speckled hands of the social worker. I cannot recall her name, there had been so many, but I remember that her voice was kind, her eyes a dull brown. She had a certain smell that I couldn’t place, but now understand to be the smell of a longing for retirement. My gaze turned toward her window and I watched as white flakes whirled past, some splattering against the window in a suicidal race for the road below.
Home? What did that really mean? The social worker said that my home was with my Momma; a place so removed from any ideal of home that I nearly laughed out loud at the thought. I'd been in enough homes to know that the one bedroom apartment my Momma lived in with her fat, greasy boyfriend and four cats was anything but a home.
When I was younger, I had no idea that there were people who lived differently than we did. They didn't play in alley ways with forgotten syringes and bits of broken glass. Their neighbors weren't crack heads or prostitutes. They didn't have regular visits from the local police and children didn't race cockroaches on wilting summer days.
I suppose I should thank Momma for being an addict. If she hadn't been, I would never have known that there was life outside the projects. Because of her, I learned that mac and cheese didn't always come from a box, that pink soap made you smell good, and that hands were made for love, not for hitting. Without Momma's addiction, I'd never have owned a pair of black Mary Janes, worn a hat to the First Baptist Church on Easter, or slept, unafraid every night tucked between clean sheets.
Although they were making me return home, I knew it would only be for a short time. One way or the other I was getting out and the next time, I wouldn't be going home again.