Forty-five minutes you sit behind the steering wheel. Tears run your face. I talk to you through the closed window. You stare straight ahead. No acknowledgement. Not a nod. Nothing. The kids wait. Your grandchildren. Ten and five years old. Thirsty. Sweaty. It’s hot in Boston in July. My daughter cries, my son asks what’s wrong with Grandma, why won’t she get out of the car? Let’s go, I say and we walk the couple of blocks to the Common to see the ducks. Your granddaughter sobs the entire way. I tell her you would want her to have a good time. A lie. This is not a good time and she knows it. Like last Christmas when she and her brother woke up and surprise. You were up and gone on the early flight home.
Our mom finds the ducks who live in the park. Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. They walk behind their mother, Mrs. Mallard. We sit on the ducks, my brother and me. A man walks by and tells us to get off. No sitting on the statues, can’t you read? He points to a sign. Park Rules, he reads, but it sounds funny, like he’s got a bad cough, pock pock pock like pock in pocket. Our mom starts laughing and that’s always a bad sign. She’s already mad because my grandma won’t get out of the car. Grandma read us Make Way for Ducklings last night and she was so excited to take us to Boston to see the ducks, even though she told us there is no grandmother duck. She seemed sad. My mom tells the coughing guy to get away from her family or she’ll call a cop. The guy laughs, “Quite an accent you got there, sweethaaart, maybe you can’t read down there in Appalachy, ha ha.” My brother slides off Pack and says we can too read and stop calling our mother hot. I say, “Mom, I think I know why Grandma won’t get out the car.”
You walk back for me. I’m still in the car, but roll down the window just enough for a breeze and a beg. I get out at the first please and together, we walk back to the park. I walk with my granddaughter. She tells me “You were right, Grandma. There isn’t a grandmother duck.” “There isn’t a dad duck either,” my grandson calls over his shoulder. Erased, like the kids’ dad, I think. He walks ahead of us, holding his mother’s hand. He can barely keep up with her. She is walking too fast, ahead of me, away from me. I feel left behind. Left out. Alone. Whenever we visit, I feel invisible like I shouldn’t be around. “Mom, slow down, “ my granddaughter says. She’s a good child, a little emotional, but a real sweetheart. We catch up, our ducks in a row for now.
Thank you for engaging this and for trying on multiple angles. It’s trickier than it looks. If we aren’t careful, what we intend to be different lenses are kind of an extension of one lens, with narrator shifts. Does that make sense? One way to avoid the traps is, when there’s a perspective change, it helps to not pick up where the last narrative left off, but to enter from a totally different door. There is a movie called “The Dead Girl” that breaks into four or five pieces I can’t remember but each vignette is helping us understand why at the very beginning of the movie the body of a young girl was discovered in a field. As an audience we know all roads lead to this girl because the road began with her and we know all of these people have a role to play but with each perspective change, there is almost a reset. This can help you keep these different angles separate from one another but also working in concert together. I’m so glad you engaged this. Thank you,
Thank you, I definitely see how individual resets from these three in witness from the same start point would take this piece in strange new directions. Appreciate this !
Hi Sheree! LOVE when there are many perspectives of a scene. This builds tension with each character. “I feel left behind. Left out. Alone. Whenever we visit, I feel invisible like I shouldn’t be around.” I would love to see this and you start to show it with the daughter walking too fast away, and the granddaughter saying “Mom, I think I know…” I hope you keep working on this! It’s mesmerizing! LOVE!
Thanks so much, Meg.
Hi Sheree, I love how we get three different glimpses into a scene, similarly, how this speaks also to how any experience is always uniquely one’s own, even when shared. Possibly you could take the POV of each and really set them apart? What is each character’s fatal flaw?
That’s a good idea, thank you.
This was a stunner, so raw, honest and emotional. I loved it. the one and few-word sentences were really effective as were the different POV’s. Very clever. And the ducks…
TY, this means so much, appreciate your kind words.
Sheree, love the three generations/perspectives and how you skillfully built a house from them. The ducks, the bits of dialogue, the harasser, all fantastic details. Love.
Sheree, I love these three points of view, each so grounded in physical detail. I do wonder about spacing them out more, as others have suggested, to provide a wider lens for story and context. I also wonder about altering your syntax, sentence structure, language style in each of these so that the voices feel more distinct? But this is wonderful, truly. And so much room to build.
Thank you, Julia.
Sheree, I love the triptypch of perspectives here. The details are concrete and immediate, especially the ducks. Great piece!
Thanks so much for reading.