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I thought all men’s legs looked like that—harsh crevices outlining the muscles, puckering around the edges. Long gashes ran down his thighs, the shape of a huge eye to my youthful imagination.
I stared at them, not because they were unusual, but because they were at eye level.
Dad stood at the bathroom sink every morning, the scrape, scrape of his razor rasping away his overnight beard growth. Water trickled in the sink, swishing when he rinsed.
I sat on the floor or on the cool edge of the tub and watched the foamy white cream disappear behind each stroke.
His legs were not my focus, but children see what’s at eye level, soaking it in. I saw Dad’s legs.
Confirming my belief that Dad’s legs were normal was the balance between each limb. The symmetry of the scars gave them permanence.
I accepted those legs as sculpted and muscular. Not the ravaged remains of skin grafts after a bomb in France blew up beside a young soldier. War warranted a brief mention in my childhood years, the reason behind Dad’s missing finger. I imagined his finger shot off while he peered over the edge of a dirt embankment. I was much older before I learned the truth. That my father, six months into his stint in the war, experienced the unfortunate luck of escorting prisoners when a bomb exploded next to him. I can still see the look of wonder on his face when he told me that those same German prisoners carried him to safety after the explosion.
Dad was nineteen. He spent the rest of his life missing a finger, living with tinnitus, carrying shrapnel around in his shoulders, and standing on the most beautiful legs I ever knew a man to have.
Later, when I noticed other men’s legs, I knew the difference. I realized the beauty of the surgeon’s renderings saved my father’s life, grafting skin where he needed it more.
To me his legs represented what was normal and, with my growing awareness of their true meaning, beautiful. I don’t know if Dad ever realized how I saw his legs, but the daughter in me hopes that somehow he felt my innocent acceptance as a blessing.
In my last post, Character Development: the Johari Window , I introduced the Johari Window as a tool for developing your characters. It's important that your character not know everything about their situation. These unknowns can lead to an intriguing story and create possibilities for conflict within the story. How do you use the Johari Window? In this post, I thought I'd provide a simple example of the Johari Window with a character most people know: Harry Potter. Below, I have filled out the Johari Window as it might appear within the first few pages of book 1, Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone . The Johari Window based on Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone Three of the quadrants in this window reveal what Harry doesn't know about who he truly is and what happened to his parents. I could add a lot to the quadrants representing what he doesn't know, but I hope this gives you an idea on how a Johari Window might be used. What do you d
For those of you looking for my post on National Buy A Book Day, scroll down below this post (after you read it). In this post, I'm responding to the first challenge in the Platform Building Campaign. Here are the guidelines followed by my story: Write a short story/ flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count) Absence The door swung open, creaking on unused hinges. Rachel leaned forward and studied the man slumped in the chair across the room. “Sam?” Her voice croaked. She swallowed and tried again, a little louder. “Sam?” The balding, elderly man jerked awake, snorting. She giggled at the memory of the sound. H
Last week’s post celebrated several conflicting interpretations of a flash fiction piece I wrote. Unfortunately, we rarely experience miscommunication issues with joy. When I speak, I want synchronicity of understanding with my audience. Is that hard to achieve? Yep! An incorrect interpretation creates a miasma that fills in the lacuna in our words. Did you understand that sentence? You might try to interpret what I meant through context, or maybe your mouth oscitated in shock, while you thought, “Barbara's talking about communication issues, and she tosses difficult words in the mix?” A simpler version of my sentence above might be: An incorrect interpretation creates a stinky mess that fills in the gaps in our words. (FYI, oscitated means gaped .) Simpler words increase the chance you’ll mirror my meaning, but they don’t guarantee it. We bring our own experiences to the conversation, throwing everything off because the significance of a word for me is different