“Listen to mommy’s heart.” I told Abe. It’s something I came up with in order to get him to lie down for bed. He put his head on my chest and told me he heard the “boom, boom, boom.” He then slid his head down to my stomach. He likes to listen there as well. He pulled up my shirt and put his head on my bare belly. The noises he usually hears sound like wa-wa or bubbles. But he didn’t say what sound he heard that night, instead he lifted his head and examined my belly. He poked at the birthmark beside my belly button, “Red,” he said, “owie.”
“That’s not an owie, it’s a birthmark.” I told him. “You have one too,” I patted the back of his shoulder, “back here.”
In his toddler lingo, he asked to see it.
I picked him up out of bed and walked through the dark into the bathroom. I turned on the light and set him down on top of his light blue stool in front of the sink and mirror. I put my arms on his shoulders and spun him around so his back faced the mirror. I pulled up the back of his shirt. “There it is.” I pointed. “Can you see it?”
He turned his head over his shoulder and was able to see the brown mark in the mirror. I remembered thinking it looked like a little UFO when he was a baby. Now, it is longer, a little more stretched out just as he is.
Mark, my husband, watched us from bed and decided to join us. He walked into the bathroom and pulled up his shirt to show us the birthmark on his belly. It is big and round. Mine is still the shape of Australia, or so I’d like to think. It is curious how we both have birthmarks on our tummies. It’s as though we are two of a kind or belong to some secret society of people with belly birthmarks.
I’ve always been curious about birthmarks and if there is some meaning to them. I’d like to write a story about birthmarks one day. I started one once but threw it away. I’ve thrown out most of my stories because I thought I wasn’t a good enough writer or my ideas were not extraordinary enough. But it doesn’t matter that I’ve thrown it away, the idea is stuck with me.
I recently watched a YouTube video of Stephen King giving writing advice and he said he doesn’t keep a notebook full of ideas. He said:
“My idea about a good idea is one that sticks around, and sticks around, and sticks around. It’s like if you were to put bread crumbs in a strainer and shake it, which is what the passage of time is for me, it’s like shaking a strainer, all this stuff that’s not very big and not very important just kind of dissolves and falls out. But the good stuff stays, you know. The big pieces stay.”
People often ask writers where their ideas come from. “How do you get your ideas?” they say.
An idea is like a birthmark. You discover it as you observe and examine the body. And then you get curious about it. Why is it on the belly and not on the knee or behind the ear? And why is this one red and this one is brown? And how did it really come to be, and why does it matter? Does it have any meaning?
Life is strange. One day, I feel like I’ve got things figured out; the next day I realize, I know nothing. I don’t know what I’m doing. But, here I am discovering more little hints about life, such as birthmarks, and trying to make some sense of it, all the while enjoying the wonder and fun of not knowing.
Thank you for reading,
Here is the link to the YouTube video of Stephen King giving writing advice: https://youtu.be/lwhOd65gGoY