Flash Fiction Friday 044: Mended Memories by Marjorie Doerring

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the forty-fourth piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s is a 608-word first person memoir story by mystery / suspense novelist and short story author Marjorie Doering.

Mended Memories

At four or five, I didn’t welcome naps like I do now. I resisted lying down for even a minute, except on washdays. My bed served as a balcony seat for our damp laundry’s performances. I’d watch it flap on the clothesline with a life of its own. Jeans and dresses of various sizes danced side-by-side to the wind’s music—bucking, kicking, the beat slowing as the air stream gave way to a wash day waltz. And I would sleep.

Growing up we didn’t have much, but we always had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on a regular basis. Some meals were skimpier than others, but we always went to bed with supper in our bellies. Being the youngest of eight, by the time my oldest brother’s clothing got passed down to me, they weren’t hand-me-downs anymore; they were heirlooms.

Unlike our neighbor ladies, Mom didn’t stitch memories into quilts; she sewed them into her mind and heart with every tug of the needle and thread as she patched holey knees and mended rips.

Each repair represented a future recollection: like my tomboy sister Jenny’s Communion day when she snuck away and climbed into our tree house before the big event, fancy white dress and all. With only minutes to spare, Tommy and Michael found her and brought her back bawling about a six-inch tear in her dress. Dad threw up his hands, but Mom put hers to work. She hurried to the attic and returned with a broad strip of white satin from her wedding dress. Wrapping it from front to back around Jenny’s waist, she draped it in a graceful, inverted “V” over the tear and fastened it with a sparkling brooch—a gift from her great-grandmother. The tear became invisible, but no one in church could miss the smile on Jenny’s face that day. Secondhand dress or not, she knew it was special.

Then there was the day Will ran up against a skunk and tore a hole in the seat of his pants going over a barbed wire fence. I didn’t think the stink would ever come out. It took a while, but after several bouts with lye soap, her wringer washer, sunshine and fresh air, Mom did it, and the pants survived to clothe another Brewer.

In January of 1941, Will quit school and joined the army. His letters stopped coming in ’43. They never recovered his body. A car accident took Jenny’s life when she was eighteen. The rest of us moved on with our lives, and financially things got better for Mom and Dad. For their thirtieth anniversary he even bought her an automatic washer and dryer.

She used the wash machine gratefully, the dryer only for undies … to please Dad. Everything else she hung from the clothesline. On visits, I secretly enjoyed new washday dance performances.

Last year, Mom died in her sleep at the age of eighty-one. Now, with Dad’s health failing, Michael and his wife have taken him in.

When the house sold, we kids gathered to empty the old place of its contents, treasures and trash alike. Susan claimed the scrapbooks for herself—Tommy, a share of the old photos. Each of us found something special. Me? I came across a small trunk in the attic. What I found inside took my breath away—mended clothes—those that held some of my family’s fondest memories. The others laughed at my find, but I sensed a bit of envy. After all, inside that trunk, I carried home precious members of our old washday chorus line—memories still alive and intact.

That was lovely, thank you, Marjorie.

Marjorie Swift Doering enjoys writing in various genres. Currently, her focus is on the upcoming completion of the third in her series of murder mysteries featuring Detective Ray Schiller.

In 2005, her first one-act play was produced and performed by Darknight Theatrical Productions in Chicago, Illinois.

Omega Publications, in 2009, published a number of her short stories in an anthology titled Mosaic, A Collection of Short Stories.

In 2010, another of her short stories was published in Red Cedar, The University of Wisconsin Barron County’s journal of arts and literature.

She and her husband Denny live in the northwestern area of Wisconsin with their Springer spaniel, Casey, and their three crazy but lovable cats, Freddy, JoJo and Dickens.

She is on Twitter, the ‘Mosaic’ anthology is available from Smashwords and Amazon.com, and her novel ‘Dear Crossing’ is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

***

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with mystery writer and publisher Patricia Rockwell – the four hundred and thirty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday 044: Mended Memories by Marjorie Doerring

  1. Jane Risdon says:

    Wow, what a wonderful post Marjorie. What you said reminded me of my own mother’s childhood and teens growing up in England during WW2 with her 4 sisters and younger brother with a mother who had to ‘make and mend’ and try to feed them all with very little and what was available was on ration. Her own father had been gassed in WW2 in France and was ill for almost 3 months of the year so they didn’t have any income during those times. My grandmother made clothes from blankets, turned collars and even patched the sheets so many times that in the end there was little sheet left to patch. My mum is 82 and going strong and her memory is amazing…we have all had a look at the photos and other items from her long life and that of my late father’s and I know what you mean about clothes. This brought back so many memories of the long chats I have had with Mum – I am writing the Family History so everything she says is so important. Your story was so typical of those times and the hardship everyone had to endure…but it seems not to have done any of you harm. I wonder how the kids today would cope if they found themselves in your family situation? Not that well I bet. Thanks Marjorie and Morgen. I shall seek your books out now I know of you. Much success for the future.

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    • Marjorie Doering says:

      Jane, thank you so much for your wonderful response to my flash fiction story. It touches my heart that it brought back so many memories for you. Isn’t it strange how the hardest of times have a way of creating some of our fondest memories? I’m sure your book about your family’s history will be nothing short of a treasure. It’s a wonderful endeavor.

      My very best wishes, Jane. And thank you, Morgen, for posting “Mended Memories.” It’s genuinely appreciated.

      Like

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Thanks Marjorie, you too. I am not just writing a Family History, but also two novels: one of my own which is a Crime novel – Ms Birdsong Investigates, and another with a friend of many years who is an award winning author – this is under wraps for the time being, but is so much fun t write….we are having such a laugh together. Morgen has asked me to do an Interview with her – I hope to soon. I have already done Flash Fiction (which was pod-cast) with her. You never know, you may pop in and read my interview soon, hope you do. Happy writing, happy days, Jane

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      • Jane Risdon says:

        Marjorie, I am sure I replied before but in case I did not, I am just thanking you for your comment – I am sure I did, remind me if you recall it. I have had such a time with Mum – we discussed the older generation I think – taking up more and more time…so forgive me if my brain has gone walkabout! Hope all is well with you and your writing. 😉

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  2. Marjorie Doering says:

    It was wonderful hearing from you again, Jane! I love this story. A Walk to Destiny had me right there with your protagonist, seeing and hearing it all–a vivid and pleasant experience. Whatever the challenge lies ahead, your story had me cheering.for her.

    How are you progressing with Ms. Birsong Investigates? Please let me know when it becomes available; I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Marjorie

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