narrative + reflection

Mission: I wanted to be able to capture a lot more than what I would blatantly say – typical of a shorter narrative. I wrote it from my ten-year-old perspective, but with an undertone of self-deprecation to show how I’ve changed or how I see my younger self. In short, I wanted to strike a balance of legitimizing my feelings then, but also highlight my responses as ridiculous. I had a hint of ridiculousness as a kid.


In need of Guinness

It’s no Go-Pro. More than a few pounds, it’s the size of a standard toolbox. Dad lugs it everywhere. It’s as traveled as I am.  Across Cork County it sits in my lap while the rented Volvo steadily weaves through black and white stock. This was their road too. I think of them as my friends and if our eyes meet I keep theirs, not in competition but in effort to connect. I reach into the toolbox carrier to remember our friendship. No, no honey we need to save the battery for Uncle Seamus’s.

Ok. I roll my eyes in my head, which actually has been giving me a headache. I really should stop, giving myself a headache.  We arrive. Would’ve taken twenty minutes in America. Dad’s become glad his parents immigrated. I love everything about Ireland. I don’t pay attention to the house or adults. Seven cousins foreign to both Matthew and I stand in a misshapen line. They’re obviously excited. I am too, but I prefer to seem uninterested at risk of seeming silly. The oldest, Genevieve, reaches for Matthew and Carmel gives her hand to me. I want Genevieve’s, but I’ve learned from experience that Matthew’s toe head and bright blue eyes are hard to pass up. I’m having a hard time talking. I’m paralyzed with excitement. I’ve been a leprechaun for the past three Halloweens. This is the day I meet my Irish cousins. This is the moment.

Katherine can you get the camera from the car please? I sprint to get it. I never misbehave. Carmel is really nice. She’s pudgy, I note immediately, but it’s ok because I think it’s just a matter of time before I gain. My face looks like I’m supposed to be fuller; I must be about to grow into it.

The oldest boy, Connor, explains this game, it’s called Ball. Connor was beautiful in ten-year-old eyes, his eyes, his smile… were both glued to Matthew’s antics. Like clockwork I roll my eyes and the onset of a headache is immediate. Ow!

What? Carmel’s heard. I said I’m excited for Ball! Matthew is circling the yard with a scary fake grimace on his face. It’s classic Matthew, makes adults laugh every time. I unnecessarily check to make sure the camera’s catching it. Honey, Katherine, can you get him to do the face again? I run over, clap my hands, smile, Matthew, scary face scary face, come on Matthew. Ten seconds of fame. I cringe at the resurgence of my dormant voice, probably as shocking yet relieving as my first birthing cry. My attempt is successful and he’s at it again. I watch his reckless five-year-old body entirely ignorant of the seven pairs of attentive adult eyes, five of them foreign. I wish I hadn’t noticed them. I can’t watch one more orbit. I’m staring at the occupied audience. I don’t get it. Your kids have accents. Your kids say the craic is grand. Your kids are Irish. I lose my cool. Let’s play Ball!!!


Reflection: Secretly, I like to write. Whether it be about myself or not, I prefer writing from a character’s perspective because I feel you can give a lot more to a story through developing a personality. A story is more interesting with a little bias I think. Thus being assigned a narrative was kind of exciting because it’s not often you can get genuine feedback on biased/superimposed/creative nonfiction when you’re a science major. I would love to continue writing like this, as it’s a great exercise in expressing oneself quickly yet thoroughly and noticing context clues that may not have been realized until later reflection.


5 thoughts on “narrative + reflection

  1. Though the first sentence only consisted of three words, it really caught my attention because of the rhyme. I enjoyed reading this story from your ten-your-old perspective. It was a creative way to tell your story and clearly express how you felt at the time, and also integrate how you feel now in the present. My favorite line in your piece was “I love everything about Ireland. I don’t pay attention to the house or adults.” This line perfectly describes a sense of bliss and naiveté that is always so fond to look back on.

  2. On your narrative: As a fan of Irish novelists, playwrights, and bands/musicians I enjoyed your references to Cork and accents. But narrative-wise, I found it difficult to keep track of the many characters — a particular thorn in these short genres. With that said, writing from a ten-year-old’s perspective was a cool idea…it reminds me of that experience people have when they find something (a document of writing, a drawing, or just scribbles) created by their younger selves, and are joyfully horrified by the poor penmanship, inability to color within the lines, etc., that they once had. Likewise, I wish I had written something when I was younger that had the knowledge and articulation abilities that I now possess — and your piece sort of accomplishes this concept.

    On your reflection: I agree with you that stories with distinctive personalities are the most interesting…usually the more extreme the character the more intriguing they are (like Dr. House or the “It’s Always Sunny” gang). Don’t let being a science major hinder your desire to write creatively…And no need to write in secret.

  3. “Connor was beautiful in ten-year-old eyes, his eyes, his smile… were both glued to Matthew’s antics.” I love this sentence, because it succinctly conveys the message of the story, but with underlying emotion that communicates how those attention-grabbing antics caused distress far beyond this single afternoon. I think it is very innovative to explore several familial relationships simultaneously, and how they affect one another. p.s. Isn’t it marvelous to have a class in which you no longer have to write in secret?

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