Monday, April 07, 2008

Pink Soap makes You Smell Good

Below is my "fiction" entry for Scribbit's April Writing Contest. Check this out and more at

Scribbit: Motherhood in Alaska



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.

17 comments:

Scribbit said...

What a moving story--for real? Now I want to sit you down and hear much more!

What are you doing for lunch? :)

Thanks so much for entering this, I'm glad you were able to put it down and share it.

The Sweet Family said...

Annie, you are truly amazing! I can't see, touch or speak to you but I know so much about you by reading your blog.

God knew exactly what he was doing by bringing you into this world. I believe you are one of the few chosen ones!

Thanks for sharing such a touching story.

Hugs, Amy

Mrs. Annie said...

Um, hi...my little tale here, is fiction. Really. My mom is mean, but she's never been in addict. I grew up in a tidy suburb where I had a flare for the dramatic.

I am thinking, however, that the girl in this story has more to tell...hmm....

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

OMGosh......that was soooooooooooo good. Please don't leave me hanging. Write a book!! I love you and remember...."I'm out of estrogen and I have a gun!" I love that.

Kiva said...

Wow. Keep writing. I really enjoyed that.

Barrie said...

Great! And good luck!

(Did you write this with a cup of tea and a slice of banana bread at your side? :) )

Patti said...

one way or another...

powerful.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

This, THIS is why I want to be a foster parent when my children are older. I want kids to know that there is a better way of life, even if they can only get a glimpse for a short while.

I am loving reading your blog and getting this real life education.

Scribbit said...

Hey could you email me? I've lost your address.

Scribbit at gmail.com

Robin said...

I couldn't agree more - this girl has a LOT more to say. A wonderful piece, and wonderful writing.

Congratulations on a well-deserved win.

(Do you ever write for any of the weekly writing prompts out there? I'd love to see more of your work.)

Lori said...

Congrats on winning the Write Away Contest!

Alice Wills Gold said...

Sad Story!! I am glad it was fiction, but all too true in the many lives of so many...we want to be foster parents eventually...the part that keeps me though is thinking of sending these babies back home!!!

Alice Wills Gold said...

P.S. congrats on your win.

GreenishLady said...

A deserving winner. What a great piece of writing! I'm glad to hear it's fiction - it had such a ring of truth to it! Very well done.

Phyllis Sommer said...

beautiful! it gave me chills....what a wonderfully written story. congrats on your win!

ShackelMom said...

A very thoughtful look into what it would be like to be a foster child. I made me see again the potential foster parents have for giving a child hope and a chance to taste a different kind of life, even though they may never really know what part of what they give will make a difference.

laughingatchaos said...

Wow! A great piece! I can see how you won the Write-Away...and please, continue the girl's story!