Vanessa wrote a story once, and by write I mean sat down with sheets of soft recycled college ruled paper and pen, and wrote. She took the whole weekend to create it, and took the loose pages along with her to her little job at the pool hotdog stand and wrote in between serving dripping, chlorine-scented children who paid in wet coins.
The story was about a girl around three, with clouds of black swirling hair, playing on her family’s long front porch and drinking little glasses of lemonade. The real kind. With lemons floating in it. Not like the lemonade her mother made, the powdery kind. Vanessa liked slicing up fresh Meyer lemons that she bought with hotdog stand money and plinking them in the pretty, blown glass pitchers her mother used to stir up the mundane Country Time mix. Vanessa liked her aesthetics just so. Her mother loved pretty things but didn’t like to make them from scratch. Hologram art. Illusions. Watercolors. Shiny things.
The story was Vanessa’s first. She had written small compositions in school, obviously. Stories about princesses and pretty boys and mean old witches, typical girly bits. Her teachers had offered a bit of breezy praise for her sentence structure but never too much on her creativity. She didn’t think it was what she was about, and that was fine with her. She liked to be outside. She liked cross country. She liked boys. Her mind, at fourteen, was happily airy.
But one morning, the summer before her freshman year, she saw in her mind clear as a silver bell a little girl. She was beautiful, wearing a yellow dress, in front of a large yellow farmhouse, and she was small. Vanessa thought it was a fragment of a dream she must have had the night before, and she was really interested in dream interpretation (she and her friends had a book from Borders that they pooled their money together for and shared), and she wanted to write down a description of the little girl so she could consult the book later. Her friend Mary had the book at her house this week, and Vanessa couldn’t have it until the following Tuesday.