Yesterday I wrote these letters to my characters. Today they wrote back and boy did they surprise me!
Dear Curious Author
Here’s the important stuff you need to know about my dad.
#1 He died before I was born. Do I even have to tell you how much that stinks?
#2 According to Nan he was a cross between some kind of super hero and a movie star. "A perfect male specimen." That’s just the way she says it. Right after she tells me how wimpy and skinny and pathetic I am. She says she can’t even believe he could be my father because we’re nothing alike. Do I even have to tell you how crappy that makes me feel?
#3 According to my grandmother, he did everything perfectly right the first time. Never made any mistakes. Do I even have to tall you what kind of pressure that puts on me?
#4 It was an accident, the way he died. I’m not going into all the details right now but here’s the thing, he died right here, in the very house we still live in. Every time I walk past the place where it happened, I shiver. Not the kind of shiver because I feel like there’s a ghost nearby (boy wouldn’t that be cool?) But the creepy kind of shiver of not believing that there’s something broken that my grandmother doesn’t want to fix because it was the last thing my father touched. Do I even have to tell you weird that is?
#5 This last one is a secret so you can’t tell my grandmother or Nan. But I found something that belonged to my dad. It was out in the garage and hidden behind a bunch of junk my grandmother won’t touch. I knew it was his even before I saw his name on the inside cover. I never told anyone I found it before. Never. It’s all mine. Do I even have to tell you how great that feels?
Every day I had with my sister was a happy memory. The problem is there weren’t enough of them. But here’s my favorite.
The day my mom came home from the hospital with my baby sister it was raining. Pouring buckets. Mrs. Winslow from next door was taking care of me. Mom pushed open the front door, cursing about the rain and being all wet and stuff. She put the baby carrier down as soon as she walked in the door and said she needed a hot shower and dry clothes. She didn’t even care that my new sister was absolutely soaked. Just left her sitting there, crying, and walked away.
So me and Mrs. Winslow took her over to the sink and gave her a warm bath. Mrs. Winslow showed me how to use towels in the sink with a rolled up one for behind her neck. She showed me how to wash her, real gentle like, so it wouldn’t hurt. And then she showed me how dry her and put a diaper back on until she was all clean and warm and pink and dry.
Later, after Mrs. Winslow went home, I sat on the couch, holding my baby sister and watching her sleep. Every once in a while she would do a little hiccup in her breathing and then let out a sigh. I held her for a long time, even after I could feel my arm falling asleep, and I promised her I would always keep her safe.
Frankie, the kid who broke his promise
Sister #1 is like you in that she’s a goody-two-shoes, (well except for that one medical incident). At least that’s what she wants you to think. And she has hole in her heart that she thinks is going to be filled when she finds her dad. And she’s going to be disappointed.
Sister #2 is like you in that she is afraid for people to see who she really is. And so she’s pretty much an expert in the "fake it til you make it" way of thinking. And she really loves dogs. Great, big dogs.