Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Quickwrite - My Kitchen Table Home

This week's quickwrite challenge was:
Think of the place that is home for you. It might be where you live today, or perhaps where you grew up. Wherever you choose, be sure to pick a place that you know well. Take one minute to write down every detail about this place that you can think of.

Done with the first part? Now we’re going to twist it around. Take the rest of your time to write about three changes that would make this place utterly altered for you–changes that would mean it was no longer home.

What sort of changes? That’s entirely up to you. Perhaps you’ll change how home looks, or smells, or  where it’s located. Or maybe it’s the people there who make it home.

This prompt aims to help you draw rich details from familiar settings into your fiction, and to also see how they can be altered to be something entirely different for your stories. Think of it as taking a favorite pair of pants to the tailor and coming home with a pencil skirt!

I chose to write about my best friend, Gayle's, kitchen table.  She's had it since she was a little kid.  It's been in whatever kitchen she had ever since we became friends, nearly twenty years ago.  I tried to imagine what it would feel like if she ever ditched that table for a newer model.

The new table was technically, almost coldly, beautiful - black painted faux-aged pine with a modern twist - a glass inset.  It could seat six in her small kitchen comfortably. There were a few touches that she had allowed to stay the same: the stone napkin holder with the metal boulder fit more nicely with this fashionable piece than it had the last table, and our two coffee mugs were the same. Still, it was an awkward attempt at change.  I removed my elbows from the table, not wanting to leave prints on the glass, and ran my hands along its edges.  It was too sharp.  The corners, the color, the glaring reflection from the overhead light on the glass inset.  It's very modernity had sharp, hurtful edges.

Our two mugs, hers big, mine little, hers Edward Hopper, mine Auguste Renoir, sat in our places at the ready.  But setting them down on the glass clanged rudely to our ears and we ended up cupping them in our hands instead.  Nothing like the formica-topped particle board of the Original Kitchen Table.  It had accepted all comers, making things easy to our ears, or just...easy.  Yes, it had looked cheap.  Yes, it had been forty years old, but I missed its rounded edges and shiny, everyday usefulness under my arms.  It had looked just right with a stack of interesting catalogs on it, waiting for us to sit and thumb through them.  It had never been hard on your elbows; it wanted us to lean forward and share secrets.  It had held our mugs so we could gesticulate wildly while telling our stories and lean back to laugh until our bellies hurt from it. 

Changing the kitchen table felt like she wanted to change our friendship to something more formal, less everyday.  Had that really happened?

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