Birthmarks

“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,

Ashley

Here is the link to the YouTube video of Stephen King giving writing advice: https://youtu.be/lwhOd65gGoY

 

Door #35

Thursday started off like most days. My husband kissed me goodbye before he left for work. Shortly after, the kids and I rose from our beds. The girls got ready for school and were out the door before 8 AM. I spent the morning with my son. And around 11 AM, we went for a drive. It was nap time and I had a strong craving for fries. I drove to In-N-Out and ordered animal fries. They sat in the passenger seat as I took the long way home to lull my son to sleep. Once home, I put him to bed and devoured my fries.

Before and after I satisfied my craving, I spoke on the phone with four different people. Which was unusual for me but very comforting.

Later on, I picked the girls up from school and took a short nap on the couch before my youngest daughter’s cross-country practice. I shouldn’t even call it a “nap.” I lied there for about ten minutes with my eyes shut.

At the park, where practice was held, I sat alone in my car and read a book. I put the book aside and sent my husband a text: I miss you. I wrote.

He wrote back and said he missed me too and that he was hungry.

I asked if dinner was ready and he responded: Almost. I’m making your favorite.

Awesome. I forget what my favorite is though, lol. 

Whatever I’m making. He wrote.

That’s right. How could I forget. I responded with a wink emoji and heart.

Practice finally ended and night fell. We drove home under the street lights.

Mia and I walked up the dark path to our home. In the windows I saw the shadow of a banner. That’s sweet, I thought.

Mia and I approached the door. As I unlocked it she said, “You know what? I’ve never been to a surprise party before.”

The door opened and a room full of familiar faces yelled, “Surprise!”

I covered my face with my hand and immediately walked back outside. I was overcome with emotion. The tears flowed wildly. I had to wait a moment to pull myself together.

With open arms, I walked through the door. I embraced my loved ones and my age. My heart was full. It was a great Thursday.

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We never really know what’s behind the door, do we?