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It Should Be A Story About a Girl

About a Girl

It should be a story about a girl.

Girls are strong. They have so many layers, so much potential.

What age?

She should be ten.

Why ten? What happens at ten?

Nothing. That’s the problem. You’re about to start life. You’re about to be allowed to go out. To babysit. To be out later. To get a bigger allowance. But you can’t, yet. Definitely ten. Or eleven.

So she’s ten. Eager to start living freely, to be open and strong. And independent. But she’s not, yet. What does she do?

She goes to school.

No. Not school. What if it’s summer?­­

She stays home?

She goes to camp?

She goes to summer school?

She spends time with friends?

She spends time with her mom.

She spends time with her mom. Doing what? Does her mother teach her something? Put her to work? Help her, nurture her? What is the nature of their relationship?

She wouldn’t want to spend time with her mom at this age, not at ten. She’d want to be with friends. What would make her stay inside? Is she shy? Does she not have friends? Or is she in trouble?

Or at ten, perhaps she would want to spend time with mom. For the last time, perhaps. One of those rare moments of adulthood when they don’t mean to spend time together but find themselves stuck in this space.

Perhaps it’s raining. Perhaps her friends are gone. And she’s an only child. Either way, they are alone, maybe just for an hour or two, it doesn’t have to be long.

Her m­­­om is busy, preoccupied, rushed. Is that too cliché?

A busy mother? Isn’t that the nature of motherhood? Isn’t that what they do? Everything? No, it’s not cliché. But is it interesting? How do we show the layers of strength in the young girl, her character?

Conflict.

Conflict.

They can’t relate to one another. They love each other, but they don’t like each other.

That is cliché. The different ages, the lack of integration, understanding, that is cliché.

What if there is no conflict? What if there is just love? What if it’s a happy story? What if she nurtures her daughter, loves her, does everything right? And her daughter is happy, truly happy. Surely that happens? Of course, and perhaps the bridge between childhood and adulthood is crossing that boundary.

But the conflict? For the story, there must be conflict. What makes it interesting?

From the daughter’s perspective then, she loves her mother. But she’s starting to realize that, perhaps, she doesn’t want to be her mother. Or her mother disappoints her. Not her fault – or maybe it is her fault. Maybe there is a moment when the daughter knows something the mother doesn’t. Or can do something the mother cannot. That moment, the fall of Supermom.

Supermom?

This idea that our parents are heroes, super, ideals. And then that first time they let us down. No, she’s human. That is the struggle we all have with our parents as we pass into adulthood. We lower our parents from a pedestal. Or we elevate them from a lower ground, depending.

To just see them as humans, individuals. This is that moment?

No, because it isn’t a moment, it’s a progression. And perhaps this is the tip. She’s surging with needs and desires to be independent, strong. And she seizes this opportunity, it just clicks. Her view changes.

Death of Supermom. So the plot, what happens?

They go out to dinner, and the mother cannot calculate the tip without using a calculator. The daughter can.

Math. It’s a separation, conceivable. Math works. Or is that too cliché, a female who cannot do math?

It’s not that she cannot do math, it’s that she has too many other things going on in her head and just needs to get out her calculator. It’s what she’s always done. It’s never bothered anyone before. It’s not a big deal.

But it is to the daughter. The daughter is good at math. Calculations. Perhaps she’s in a math club at school. An afterschool special class for promising young people. Or even a math school. Perhaps she’s the best at this stuff and calculating 15% on a bill –

20%.

20%? That feels high. Anyway, maybe that is what sets the mom off. Perhaps she can’t do math, and she’s worried about finances, which the daughter doesn’t know about…. It’s not about math at all. It’s about her struggle to keep things normal given a tough financial situation.

She lost her job?

She lost her job! That’s why she’s home during the summer. She lost her job. She wants to keep it normal—no, nice—for the daughter, take her out to eat. She gets the bill, has to give 20% to service, when it was poor service, and feels frustrated. Uses her pocket calculator, which she’s had forever….

And the daughter feels shame for her mother. And perhaps a bit resentment that she wasn’t asked to do the bill, when she knew she could.

Yes! She wants to be an adult. Her mom won’t let her, and then her mom is the adult and fails at it. In her daughter’s eyes, of course.

Yes. But the real failure is she cannot provide for her daughter. Is there a father, a partner?

Yes. No. Does it matter?

It doesn’t matter.

No, it’s a story about a girl.

Girls are strong. They have so many layers. So much potential.

And each of these girls fears her potential is being crushed, destroyed, taken away in this very moment.

Let’s get started. It will be a story about a girl.

  • Michael Huy

    I loved this. This is writing about writing. About developing a story and letting it morph into that something that will be memorable. Loved it, E…

    I guess I can’t wait for the story about the girl, now.

  • It reminded me of the movie, ‘About a Boy!’

    • I admit, I *might* have done that intentionally in the title and even theme. I love that story, you never quite know who the ‘boy’ is. I wanted it to feel like that here, too. Age and maturity mismatched.

  • Pingback: Advice to the Young, the Tired and the Fearful: Don’t Lose Emotions – Ellen Vrana()

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