It was a warm day in May and I was up in the attic rummaging through forgotten boxes, trying to locate my late husband Walter's old photo albums. No reason, really, other than that I missed him, even though he'd been gone fifteen years now. I guess the soul can never forget its mate. So there I was, digging deep, sneezing my head off from all the dust, when my hand paused on a satin red ribbon in the third box. Gently, I pulled it towards me, eyeing the slightly tarnished golden bee medallion on the end. As I slipped the award over my wrinkled neck for the first time in some sixty years, I felt the magic still there. I was flooded by a wash of memories.
Suddenly I'm eight years old again, rushing out the door on young legs into the spring air, which is fragrant with Mama's rose garden collection, her pride and joy. Those roses border our entire yard, front and back, and sometimes I get sick of finding myself hung up on thorns. They make Mama happy, though, and that's all that matters really. She's been prone to sadness ever since her twin brother Billy came back from the War so messed up in the head.
I swing open the white wooden gate and rush down the sidewalk towards the woods. I'm supposed to meet my friend Angie by Cameron Creek at 3:30, and I'm running late again. I swear I'm always late. Time just gets away from me what with marble collections and doll babies and yoyo tricks as distraction. But this is important, so I break into a jog, even though if my Grandma drove by with Grandpa right now she'd make him stop the car just so she could tell me I'm not being lady-like. But Angie and I are trying to get Walter and Alex to let us into their club. It's BOYS ONLY or so the three foot tall rough-painted sign on the fort says, but we want in so bad we can't barely stand it. If only we could cross that army-green canvas door, oh what adventure must lie behind. Why there's probably castles and pirate ships and if I'm real lucky maybe a grizzly bear cave - must just be all sorts of delights for a tomboy like myself behind that door.
"Angie!" I holler, as I see her messing with her braids by the creek. Angie can be a little prissy sometimes, but she's alright. "You seen 'em yet?"
Angie works a big wad of chewing gum over to the side of her mouth before answering. She must have at least four penny pieces in there. Course that's nothing really, I can easily chew five or six pieces myself.
"They're in there alright. I seen Alex shoot a bird with a slingshot. He missed."
Warily, we grasp hands and start advancing on the fort in the distance. It seems like every step pops and creaks as we snap twigs and leaves, even though we're trying real hard to be quiet. Turns out we're making quite a racket, and it doesn't go unnoticed as we close in on the clubhouse. I see Walter peep out a window with a long spotting tube.
"Who's there?" he booms.
I gulp. My hands are kind of clammy, so I pull out of Angie's grip. I want this so bad. I search for the right words.
"It's Patty and Angie. We come to see your club." I try to sound like I know what I'm talking about. My Mama says this is called having confidence. She says young girls all need to learn how to act like they have confidence, until it becomes real. So I'm practicing but it's hard.
"Can't you read? Dumb girls. You can't, can you? GET OUT!" Walter roars. And that's when they started a full revolt on me and Angie. They were launching buckets of acorns and rocks and soda pop bottles out the windows at us, screaming like banshees the whole time. Lord, they must've been saving up Coca-Cola bottles for months. Glass was shattering all over the place.
Well, you better believe we took off running. I pumped my arms and ran until my lungs hurt and my legs cramped. I didn't even stop to look back and see if they were coming after us. Angie tripped once and tore the hem of her favorite pink dress, and she scraped up her knee right bad. I felt kinda rotten 'bout the whole thing, specially since she cried so hard, so I let her take my Mary dollie home for the night.
That night after dinner, as I worked on my studies, I was all in a huff. Can't read indeed. Who did that Walter Mitchell think he was anyway? I was going to show him. I'd show him good. He wouldn't know what hit him. Why I'd do something so amazing that he'd be begging me to join his stupid boy's club. I thought and I thought and after about an hour inspiration hit me cross the head like my big brother Mike when I take his bottle rockets. Why I, Patty Maynard, I would win the town Spelling Bee.
This is a piece of fiction, inspired by The Red Dress Club prompt, which is as follows:
Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.
This is a story started from scratch, based on the prompt, but I had a hard time getting in what I wanted to say within the word limit. In fact, my original idea was to write about the spelling bee itself, but I never quite made it there! Please help me by pointing out any rough, choppy, or confusing patches.