Write your own Back to the Future moment: Describe how your parents met and how those tiny details set the stage for their relationship and your existence.
She’d picked the curtains herself. They didn’t have many fabrics to choose from, and she’d have liked something classy, something in a colour with an exciting name. Ecru. Fallow. Metallic Sunburst. I simply adore your curtains, her girlfriends from the hospital would exclaim the moment they’d walk in and she’d reply, a hint of a smile on her lips: Oh, those old things? Just some Fallow velvet I had lying around.
There was no velvet on stock anywhere. Nothing Ecru either. So she settled for four meters of light pink, white heart patterned cotton. More fit for a doll’s house, she thought, checking and rechecking the fabric parcel in her carrier bag after she’d left the shop, testing its softness with the tip of her index finger as she was waiting for the lights to turn green, picturing the folds she’d meticulously arrange every morning as she’d draw the curtains open, unwilling to settle for anything less than the perfect amount of sunlight, perfectly falling on her perfectly dusted new shelves.
She sew them and hung them up the same day. Hours later, nestled in her only armchair, a dusty flowered tapestry affair she’d inherited from her parents, she was sipping her afternoon coffee, a bullet sized orange crayon scratching away at the Microbiology course book in her lap. Every so often, her eyes would slip away from the page, only to rest on the pink curtains again. This was it. This was her home. She’d finally fled the nest and was really alone now, absolutely alone, but the world was brand new and shiny and she wasn’t afraid.
They met that very evening, the thump of his fist on her door frightening her to the bone. The world was a dangerous place really, and even more so for a young woman like herself hardly prepared for a life on her own, she thought, silently making her way down the corridor to spy through the peep-hole. A young man, his eyebrows plunged into a dreadful frown. Treacherous creatures, she reflected, determined to pretend she wasn’t in and get back to her reading.
For a moment there, it seemed like her life would go on along its safe, pink curtained path. She could almost see herself doing just fine, growing old there in her hand me down armchair, filtered rosy light digging wrinkles into the skin around her eyes.
Open up, I know you’re in there!
Now she was scared. He meant business, this man. He’d kick the door down and burst into her home, grab her by her shoulders and shake her. Her mind flashed back to course book anatomy prints. Everything meant to protect her seemed so uselessly fragile when up against this man’s fists and nails. What difference could a couple of ribs and layers of bloody tissue make in the face of a man’s wrath? He’d just reach inside her chest cavity and pull her heart out, there was nothing to it really.
I’ve got water pouring down my walls, do you hear? Open the hell up!
Water? What on earth was he talking about, this savage, violent killer of women, who’d picked her of all people to rip apart. And then she remembered. She’d planned a long, cinnamon scented bath in celebration of her new curtains. She’d even poured the salts in the tub, a pinch more than she normally allowed herself, but it was a special day, it really was. She’d turned the tap on and it was probably still running, a couple of hours later, dripping cinnamon scented bubbles down the walls of this dangerous man.
She opened the door, her heart thumping like a bird in a cage. The sudden draft made the curtains flutter, messing up their perfect folds. Steaming water was slowly flowing from under the bathroom door, spreading down the hall like a badly kept secret. Years later, I’d be cutting up the heart patterned fabric into a million Barbie doll summer dresses.
642 Things to Write About is a book of writing prompts lovely V got me a couple of years back.