Personal Items

Sofia stood tip toed on the stool.  Her back cracked in protest as she stretched to her full height.  Her hand patted along the closet’s dusty shelf.

Where was it? She knew it was in there.

She almost toppled off the stool when the car horn sounded. She aimed her glare out the window. Impatient kid. Well, she could just wait a minute. No reason they had to be early. Her hand moved along the empty shelf. Now where was that damn thing?

She sighed and her body relaxed into its normal hunched posture. Her foot stuttered as it reached for the ground. Finding her balance, she shifted her weight and placed her other foot down, her breathing rapid from the exertion.

The car horn sounded again. She batted her hands at the window. Always in a hurry.

Faded floral wallpaper peeled from the walls. The wooden floor was a shade darker where the bed had protected it. Sunlight filtered in through the trees outside, highlighting the dust that swirled around. She had been married under those trees.

Sofia’s eyes fell to the window seat in front of the naked window. She had always loved the gauze like curtains  her mother had made.  The way they billowed in the summer breeze. She’d dart towards them then run away, playing tag with the gentle ghost.

She shuffled toward the seat and tapped along the wooden front panel.  Knock. Knock. Where was that spot? Knock. Knock. Thud.

Her mouth turned up. There. She knelt and curled her fingers under the panel. She tugged. The board gave and she plopped onto  her bottom.

She shifted onto her hands and knees. She leaned forward, her pendulous breasts grazing the floor.  Her arm reached into the dark hole.  There.

She pulled out the little box and sat on the floor, legs straight out in front. She brushed off a layer of sticky spider webs. The soft yellow fabric had faded to almost white.  She opened the box.  A little ballerina spun en pointe.  Time had turned the  music tinny, but Sofia heard only the same tinkling she had the first time she opened it.

Her father leaned over to kiss her forehead, testing her fever with his lips.  A flourish produced the tiny box from his coat pocket. She wondered what bauble he brought for her amusement. She opened the box and the ballerina danced for her. Never tiring. She wrapped her arms around his neck.

The car horn sounded. Two long bleats.

Sofia replaced the plank.  She clutched the music box in one hand and managed to get herself off the floor with the other. She shuffled out the door to the stairs. Holding the railing, she descended like one of her children when they were toddlers, both feet landing on each step.  She shielded her eyes from the bright sun as she exited the house.

Her granddaughter was at her side, holding her elbow down the sidewalk to the running car.

“You found it! I looked everywhere.  Where was it?”

Her granddaughter helped her into the car and closed the door for her before jogging over to the driver’s side.

“Ready, Grandma?”

A single suitcase her granddaughter packed for her filled with orthopedic shoes, thick socks, polyester pants, and underwear sat in the backseat. Her personal items, she said. Everything else was provided.

“You’re going to love it there, Grandma. Once you adjust. All those people for you to talk to. No more rattling around in this old place by yourself.”

The car pulled out of the driveway. Sofia ran her hands along the soft cloth sitting in her lap.


**ConCrit is welcomed and encouraged.  I realized late I didn’t quite follow the prompt. Kind of glazed over the clothing part. Ooops. Also, I’m messing around with the layout, so if anything’s wonky or hard to read, please let me know. Thanks!

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About Jessica Anne

32 Responses to “Personal Items”

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  1. Mandyland
    Twitter: in_mandyland

    I loved your take on this prompt. Her secret treasure, hidden from view: her memories.
    Mandyland´s last post ..The Blouse

  2. Miri
    Twitter: LifeAfterPush

    I love how you share the memories and meaning of everything as she goes on her search. It gives so much depth and understanding in just a few short minutes.
    Miri´s last post ..A Slip of a Dress

  3. Nancy C
    Twitter: AwayWeGoNancy

    Sigh,,,people will go to great lengths to preserve their memories. So nicely done.
    Lots of tasty lines and phrases here.

    I liked, ” The way they billowed in the summer breeze. She’d dart towards them then run away, playing tag with the gentle ghost.: —it so nicely captures a memory of childhood.
    Nancy C´s last post ..Fiction- A Step Forward

  4. Lydia says:

    This is fantastic, I love your ability to play switch a roo with what the reader thinks is happening to what is actually taking place. And you did a great job of pulling me into the scene.
    Lydia´s last post ..The Black Mini

  5. Theresa Sonoda
    Twitter: tsonoda

    Beautiful descriptive phrases throughout. Poignant and sad and very well written! Loved this story!

  6. Ratz says:

    I enjoyed this work of yours Jessica. I was imagining Sofia to be a young woman…. but I did not feel bad or disrupted at all when i found out that she was a grandmother… which is a compliment because your character was so flexible and yet so so strong… she could fit well into any set of years with ease and still keep us engaged and awed…

    As for the layout, I liked your previous one much better… I LOVED your header and secretly envied it too because it was so colorful and bright and brought out your life as a mother so beautifully… :-) just my opinion.

    Have a great weekend.
    Ratz´s last post ..A Break-Up

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Thanks, Ratz. I’m glad it wasn’t too jarring to find out her real age. Wasn’t sure if I should be very clear about it.

      There is a new header on the way, courtesy of the Drama Mama. :) So maybe then it will be more like me. :)

  7. Carrie
    Twitter: Miss_Scarlett99

    I was also expecting a much younger woman when this started. I like that she is an old woman. You evoked such strong emotions with her memories.

    I thought there were some changes on the blog! I liked your header BUT change is sometimes good. I think the header needs a bit more…could you perhaps work your old one in as a smaller image in the corner?
    Carrie´s last post ..Red Writing Hood- A Memory

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Thanks, Carrie!

      I’m in line for the Drama Mama to make me a new header. I liked the old one too, but I couldn’t change around the content at all, like add or remove things from the sidebars or navbars, without completely disrupting the overall layout. I like to mess around with those things sometimes. Hopefully the new header will spice things up a little. :)

  8. Valerie says:

    Beautiful piece-and so sad that Sofia’s lifetime of memories boiled down to one suitcase. How heart-wrenching-having to say goodbye to one’s home, but I’m so glad she found her special box. Well done!!
    Valerie´s last post ..New Day

  9. Karen Peterson
    Twitter: KarenMPeterson

    I really like the description of this woman as she tries to find a lost object.

    The only thing that stood out for me (from a ConCrit stand point) is that some of your sentences can be changed around or restructured just a little bit so that you rely a little less on the “she” and “her” statements. It will flow differently without breaking up the narrative.

    Really nice story.
    Karen Peterson´s last post ..The Picture

  10. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    Twitter: mommy_pants

    This is so, so sad. But it makes me happy she has that one small memory to hang onto.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I thought your descriptions of her physical body and her movements were so so strong, and I thought her voice was so consistent throughout the piece.
    Jennifer´s last post ..Black Magic

  12. Renee
    Twitter: 2old2tap

    Very good, I liked it!
    Memories intermingled with the now.

  13. Victoria KP says:

    A wonderfully descriptive piece. I had a music box with a ballerina when I was a child–I could picture it perfectly from your writing!
    Victoria KP´s last post ..Its Not that Far Away Really!

  14. The Drama Mama
    Twitter: poopscoopinmama

    I feel sad for her, all those memories wrapped up in the house, and she is leaving it. This story was craftily spun, and I love how simple yet picturesque your descriptions were. And the way you faded briefly with the music between past and present took my breath away.
    The Drama Mama´s last post ..Red Writing Hood- Cheated

  15. (Florida) Girl with a New Life
    Twitter: flgirlmidwest

    I liked it. What a poignant story and a bit of a twist at the end when the reader realizes she is an old woman going to the nursing home.

    You can vary your sentence structure to avoid the repetition of “she” at the beginning.

    A very touching post. Well done.
    (Florida) Girl with a New Life´s last post ..A Writing Challenge- Tough Love

  16. Ginny Marie
    Twitter: lemondroppie

    I like how you give away clues at the beginning of this piece…her back cracking, the impatient kid, her normal hunched figure…it really wasn’t a surprise to me that she was an older woman. What a great story about the transition so many older people have to make. I’m glad you read the prompt wrong…a music box fits into this story much more gracefully than a piece of clothing would have!
    Ginny Marie´s last post ..The Girdle

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Thanks! When I caught my mistake, I thought about switching it, it wouldn’t have taken much editing time, but I liked the music box. Glad you agreed. :)