The Stories We Tell, a Freewrite


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Dr. Hoffman had kept the cadaver in a polished wooden box, a kind of substitute coffin. The wooden box had been tucked into the corner of the way-back batroom since before anyone still living could remember. It had been there, making like Miss Haversham's wedding feast, for decades.

By now, all the adults had seen grown to believe that, on the day they finally opened the box, it would be full of priceless treasures - old fiesta ware pitchers and folk art or something. The stuff that would make them rich. They'd been waiting for the old geezer to die to open it. They thought that once he was good and gone, the house could be sold, and its spoils divided.

Then Little Ben got big enough to sneak in there.

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This was the reason we had lived here. My husband and I had moved from a very nice brownstone in Brooklyn, on a street that was called "The Doctor's Street," to this rickety, leaky, somehow still plumb, farmhouse, in the middle of Mennonite country. We wanted to give our son the gift of fresh air, free play, climbing of trees, and breaking of arms. We wanted him to be curious, to know failure was not a failing, and to learn what his inner self would teach him. To question what he was told until he was certain, for himself, that he could believe it.

Oh, we handed down the tales of the ghost in the way-back batroom. How the room got its name. How the young girl dropped through the floor to be trapped there till her death. But Little Ben wasn't like most little boys. No siree.

Little Ben didn't believe anything he was told, just like we taught him.

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a fish on the table is what gave it all away. Our anniversary ritual of deep fried branzini presented a challenge we hadn't anticipated when we moved to mennonite country - any branzini that we could buy in these parts, had been on sale for two weeks or more. As I placed the fish on the table, a distinctively noisome event occurred. Little Ben started up and said

I KNOW WHAT'S IN THAT BOX!

The next day, Dr. Hoffman, my great, great Uncle, died. On hearing the news, my husband and I went straight to the box. Little Ben was on hand, with a knowing smirk. We smashed the padlock with a sledge hammer, cracked the lid with a crowbar, and opened our treasure box with anticipation.

Inside was The Phantom Fish. The bass Dr Hoffman had claimed to catch long, long ago, The four foot 200 pounder he'd forgotten to take a picture of. And it smelled fishy.

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This is my entry to @mariannewest's daily freewrite challenge. On Saturdays, we have a choice to do a three part freewrite, 5 minutes per prompt. In my entry, the prompts are in bold italics. These three part freewrites are especially fun to write for me.

I set the timer for 4:30, then clean up typos and arrangement, without changing content for another few minutes.

Thanks for reading! Come give a freewrite a go!!

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