Writing on the Wall

That was the summer I started writing.

I bought several steno pads from the Perry Drug Store around the corner.   My mother had a huge stash of ink pens in the kitchen, and I chose a bright red one for my first attempt at real writing.  My friend Dawn and I both were writing in those days, and we spent long hours that summer in companionable silence as our pens scratched longhand across the notebook pages.  We wrote so much that ink splatters started decorating my rainbow comforter and my right hand middle finger became grooved with a semi permanent dent from where I held the pen for hours and hours each day.

Other girls at school were getting attention from boys, going on summer vacations with their parents, heading to the mall to choose their going back to school clothes.  None of those things were happening with Dawn and I;  while my mother had finally gotten a job, her father’s construction work was become less and less regular.  Both of us turned to writing, I suppose, in order to create worlds where we were living different lives than the ones we currently were.

Dawn’s stories tended to be more towards the arena of doing something extraordinary; being a famous singer or researcher.  My stories always headed more towards the mundane; a father paying attention to his intact family or a girl finally landing the popular boy who saw past her ordinary exterior and appreciated the girl within.  I borrowed tons of language and hyperbole from my favorite series of books by V.C. Andrews, as well as from movies I was watching on cable.  Dawn, in turn, reached deep into her natural store of creativity and created worlds she knew nothing about but yet seemed credible.

I always felt a level of jealousy of Dawn’s natural talent for writing.  I was smart but always had to work hard at anything I wanted to excel at:  school, music, writing.  Dawn didn’t bother with what she wasn’t good at and just focused on what she was, which was writing.  It flowed naturally out of her and it won her accolades at school.  I couldn’t understand why writing wasn’t just like everything else, that if I put in the necessary hours of practice, why I wouldn’t start to excel at it.  But I never did, not in the way she did.  And so even though there was much that I should have been grateful for around me and in my abilities, I started to silently compete with Dawn in my head,

I still don’t know why I just couldn’t be happy for her and the amazing talent she had.

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