I’m still taking part in the Teachers Write Virtual Writing Camp. Today’s quick write assignment comes from guest author Margo Sorenson. Since I want to get back into writing my novel about Little Red Riding Hood, I’m writing the option that imagines a character walking into a room and feeling uncomfortable and awkward. There’s been a new character poking around the edges of this story. I’m not sure who is is or what role he might play in this story, but this free write will give him a chance to introduce himself.
Mother and I sat quietly by the fire. I yanked the needle through the rips in my skirt and glanced over at Mother. She sat with a lap full of dried bloodroot in her lap. She had been sorting them, but now her hands were still as she stared at the dancing flames. I swallowed back the questions that burned my throat about the red cloak that now lay stuffed under my mattress. If I asked, she might look to see if I had put the cloak back in the trunk as she asked. I still hoped that she would forget about it.
I glanced up at light tapping at the door. Who would come so late? Eager to be done with my mending, I stood up. Before I lifted the heavy bar that held the door shut, I called out, “Who’s there?” After the events of last night it wouldn’t do to fling open the door too hastily.
“Please, miss, can you help me?”
I could barely make out the words of the soft whine, but I felt the undercurrent of desperation. I lifted the latch and cracked open the door, stopping it with my foot. A boy stood before me. Tufts of hair stood out in all directions on his head, and his bare toes curled in the mud. I recognized him as one of the children from the village. Like me, he usually hung back from the pack of children that ran together through the streets and fields. He stared down and asked again, “Can you help me?”
I opened the door wider and motioned for him to enter. “What do you need help with?” I asked.
He stepped inside, still looking down. Now that he was inside I could see the frayed hems. His wrists and ankles stuck out too far. As if he could feel my glance, he tugged at his sleeves. “It’s my pa,” he whispered. “He won’t get out of bed. He shakes and moans and grabs at things that aren’t there. He’s never been sick before. I don’t know what to do.”
Behind me, mother set aside her bloodroot and rose to stand beside me. “How long has Henry been sick?” she demanded.
“Since yesterday morning, ma’am,” he said. He looked up at Mother and grinned shyly. “Pa always said to come to you if we ever had trouble. I just didn’t think trouble would ever find us.”