I Am Isabel the Storyteller

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Tag: Isabel 13-year old storyteller

#12. A funny story that acts like that splash of cold water that primes the pump (metaphor alert)…

Every morning Pop says to the twins, Did you put on new underwear, boyos?  (He doesn’t call them dudes like Dad did.  That’s good. It would be confusing.)

The twins salute and say, Yes siree, Pop. Yes siree, Pop. (We think that because they’re twins they repeat their answers.)

But you know how little boys can be smelly? Well, Clyde and Sam REALLY smell on this one morning, so Pop brings them into the bathroom, thinking maybe that they didn’t wipe. Or something like that.

Mimi? he calls out. Come here a minute, would you, Dearie?  Mimi and I do question marks eyebrow wiggles at each other. I give her the I dunno shrug. (I am so not the expert on smelly 4-year olds. Geez.)

She goes down the hall to the bathroom. I hear lots of  Pop-Mimi-Murmur-Murmuring and Little-Boy-TalkTalkTalking. Mimi goes upstairs and comes down with two pairs of Elmo underpants.

After a while they march back to the kitchen.

Pop says, Now remember, Sam and Clyde. “New underpants” means that you take OFF the old ones. You don’t just add a new pair.

And we start to giggle.

Giggle! Gushing Giggles. Like that water that whooshed out of the well after we primed it. And we get active: The twins show me their new Elmos and drag me off to play Tonka Trucks and Matchbox cars with them. Mimi stuffs smelly underpants in the trash. (Guess she’s not going to try to recycle ’em which is very unusual for her.) Pop calls to her to come sit outside with him for a while.

It takes giant, big minutes for all the chuckles and activity to subside.

Neato. Or sort of neato anyway.

ISABEL

Isabelcurlyheadfrombackonchair-sketch by my friend Ryan

#5. Wherein I explain who the narrator of my own life is…

I, Isabel Scheherazade, am 13-years old. Still a kid, technically; but what I’m writing is not-just-for-kids. Parts of my story is “for mature audiences” as they say. In fact, the movie rating for this memoir of mine wouldn’t be “G” or even “PG.” The reviewers would say it’s “edgy” and maybe give it one of those “parental warnings” for violence and death.

(My old school once tried to ban “A Day No Pigs Will Die.” We protested to the school board; that’s how I know about this stuff.)

My dad was writing a memoir with his high school Freshmen. (He’ll never finish it, BTW.) I asked him, “How do you decide which stories?”

“I write the stories that will still ring a bell in my heart when I’m 99,” he says.

How’s that for a not-really-an-answer answer? But now that I’ll never see him again I get it. My mind and heart throb with my stories. They’re seared into me and making a sound in my heart and mind every minute.

This is what happened. I’m going to write it quick and then throw up.

Mom and Dad were killed.

A guy in a truck ran a stop light; my parents swerved to avoid him and rolled over and over down this steep hill.

They wouldn’t let us see Mom and Dad after the accident. This means that the last time I saw them was about 5 PM. Mimi and Pop (my grandparents) had come over to babysit for date night. I was on our front porch in my PJ’s, electric- tooth brushing while telling Dad that Pop and I were going to play Settlers of Catan.

So, I didn’t even give them a good night kiss.

Since that night, me, Clyde, Sam (they’re twins) and Mimi and Pop sip and gulp from this Huge Cup of Sorrow.

I notice, though, even on the worst days I see OVER the lip of the cup a tiny bit. It’s because I’m trying to write to understand what’s happening. I’m trying to hold myself together by grabbing at words.

Stories jump up and down to get my attention.

I’m like this lady Pop told me about. She thinks someone is trying to poison her, so pretty soon, since she expects it, all her food begins to taste funny. Because I’m on the look-out for stories that will shed light, I find them.  All around me.  Just waiting for me to pick them up.

My memories are organized like our minivan (the one that rolled down the embankment.) Before it got squashed, it had three rows of seats, but, we used this van differently from other families.

I’ve got stories about what’s happening Right This Minute: The front seat memories. They’re full of our life With Mimi and Pop, school, neighbors, every day kinds of stuff. Some big. Some little.

I’ve got stories of Mom and Dad’s car crash: That’s the middle row o seats. But most times it’s like that row is turned down for storage.  In our family we used that middle section for storage because the twins’ huge double stroller didn’t fit in the usual back door storage area.  So all  three of us kids sat in the third row of seats, me in between two car seats full of noisy boys. Tight and gooey.

Back to the middle row. You know how you can press a lever to fold and turn the seat cushions so they’re out of sight? That’s how it is with the crash day memories. Out of sight. Usually.

Then there’s our whole life with Mom and Dad.  Before. It’s like they’re just sitting in the way back seat of my memory, waiting for me to notice them.

So, here goes.  This is the story of our first few months–After.  You’ll see how memories and stories jump out of the way back and into the front.

And sometimes plunk right into the middle.

 

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