Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freckles

by Andilyn Jenkins

One of our ANWA sisters, Allison Barton, has a blog, Ideas for Writing Your Personal History, and it's marvelous for writing prompts.  So tonight I went to Allison’s blog for some help. Today’s prompt, “Not Good Enough As You Are?”, launched me into a clear but distant (and terribly embarrassing) memory. In college, we called these kinds of memories River Teeth (a creative non-fiction, short-story book worth the read; disclaimer: adult content).

I’ll spare the boy in my memory by eliminating his name. Not that it should matter—we were six, people. We’ll rename him Scott. His dog’s name will be Scooter. And I don’t remember the other girl’s name, so let’s call her Raegan. I also wish to qualify, everything is true to the best of my twenty-year memory. Forgive my creative liberties.

FRECKLES

I was six nearing seven, and I had a boyfriend. I would chase him around the playground and try to kiss him on the cheek—kissing tag, we called it—our inventive abilities much keener than our relationship skills.

I would go to his house after school and play, and when I got to his house, I always took off my shoes. His mom would tell me I was such a sweet girl for removing my shoes. So, while I did it out of courtesy the first time, after that I did it because I had set a standard at my future in-laws’ house, and I wasn’t going to disappoint. As I sat to take off my laced-up sneakers, the dog Scooter would race to me and lick my face. I’d rub him down, covering myself in blonde dog hair. Scooter loved me.

Scott and I played Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo religiously. And he would show me his list of “favorite girls” that he kept hidden under his mattress. The paper was torn out of a notebook, folded and crumpled, and still had the spiral edges that my teacher loathed and called “paper hair.” My name was on the top with a star next to it, and I knew that meant we would always be together.

But my life was disrupted when our mutual but older friend broke the news. “Andi,” he said, “you’re not Scott’s girlfriend anymore.”

“Sure I am; I’m on the top of his list.”

“Do you know where his list is?”

“Yes. It’s under his mattress,” I countered, determined to be the one with the right information.

“Nope. His mom found it, now he keeps it in the couch cushion. He didn't want you to know he moved it. I’ll show you."

And there it was—under the couch cushion. A dark graphite “X” through my name and a new number 1 scribbled over the old number 2, next to “Raegan.” I felt jealousy’s hot pang in my lungs.  I knew Raegan. She had golden-blonde hair and pretty bangs that were always curled perfectly at her forehead. My dirty-blonde hair was often slicked back and braided, and I didn’t have bangs. But I was pretty sure I was the only girl in our grade that was a decent rival at Donkey Kong.

“Why did he cross out my name?”

“He wanted me to tell you that his mom says he’s too young to have a girlfriend. But he didn’t want me to tell you that really it’s because you have freckles.”

My face turned red. I remember that my face turned red because I was embarrassed that it magnified my ghastly freckles. At home, I went into the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror: two buck teeth, red face, slicked-back hair, and freckles. Everywhere, I saw freckles—on my nose, around my eyes, dusted on my cheeks. I thought back to the grocery store at the checkout with my mom. The cashier told me how he knew I must be wonderful because the angels loved me enough to give me so many kisses. It made me blush then, and I had to ask my mom how he knew the angels kissed me. When she explained, I felt so proud of my freckles, my angel kisses. But now, at almost-seven, staring at my red-faced reflection, I promised myself that as soon as I turned thirteen, when I was allowed to wear makeup, I would paint over my freckles and hide them forever.

I went to my bedroom and held my stuffed bear and pretended to cry. I gasped for air and sobbed like I had seen in movies when a girl’s heart was broken. I pressed my hand on my heart to hold it together, but it didn’t work. I was humiliated and alone—no longer someone’s favorite girl. I wrote in my diary, my purple, sparkly diary, with a lock on the outside, and I told my diary how sad I was and how mean Scott was, and I finished off the entry with a few forced tears making the ink smear and the paper bubble.

Life would go on. Scott would turn out to be a life-long friend, despite this inept six-year-old break-up (who says break-ups ruin friendships?). And I grew to really love my freckles. In fact, my acceptance and love of my freckles always finds its way back to this River Tooth. Because from this point on I understood that, for better or worse, my freckles mattered. So I made a choice. I, maybe even defiantly, always defended my freckles as angel kisses.

4 comments:

  1. Andilyn, I love, love, love this post. Thank you for sharing this adorable story.You are a gifted writer. Hugs~

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  2. I have a friend whose mother made her feel bad because she had freckles. She ended up having a red-headed daughter full of freckles, too, and she always made it known she loved her daughter's freckles. No lack of self-esteem for her daughter. I love freckles! Great story!

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  3. Thank you for your kind comments. My husband and I are both covered in freckles and we have two red-headed babies, so they're not getting out of it. My daughter found her first freckle on her leg the other day and did a happy dance.

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