Friday Flash: Breaking the Mold

When she was small, we created people out of cookie dough, Jell-O, stories, clay and mud. There were molds of almost every shape available: holiday gingerbread men, scarecrows, ghosts, Barbie. There was no mold for a little girl or a perfect mother. Those things have to be specially crafted, shaped by hand, cooked on low heat so there is no searing or melting involved.

She grows taller, breaks the mold. Becomes a sailor. The horizon is closer than you think, but you can’t convince a sailor because they know the world is round, life is a circle. They know the ride is sun-soaked, full of sea-winds whipping through the insignificant parts of the journey.  I will be back around some day, she says. I stay close, dipping my toes in the sea. Water is an excellent conductor, of energy and also of ideas. The idea that insignificance is a mirage, for instance. A silvery fish slips beneath my foot, a caress. It is enough. Drifting used to be enough for her, now she is steering.  An island where the waves lap at white sand glints close by. Another mirage? Only she can know. I am on a different shore.

Funny thing about little girls and perfect mothers. They are one in the same and yet neither. They are their own mirage, ideas of our own making. Ghosts shaped by matter. Shaped by each other’s dreams, shaped by bird songs, molds of words, ideas, wars and passion long gone, the whisper of fate. Shaped by hope that, like the potential flower curled up in the tiny seed, bursts forth to create and destroy its own container.

It’s a Sunday morning when the meaning of life occurs to her.  She is gray and lumpy from all the kneading, the twisting, the falls during her journey through space-time.  Eyes open wide, pupils dilate, laughter percolates, gains speed and force and rips the reigns from her bone thin fingers. The freedom startles her. She hears the white-crested-laughing-thrush in her own cry. She no longer cares why the caged bird sings. Or the free bird. She no longer cares why waves crest and foam, why the sun’s light is gentler from the moon, why the unpredictable nature of life is the only foundation worthy of a little girl or a perfect mother. It just is.  It just does.  And it is beautiful.

(photo credit: Marius Fiskum)



  1. #1 by karen from mentor on January 8, 2010 - 1:32 pm

    Speechless. I’m going to have to wait til someone eloquent like marisa comes in and comments so I can say “me too.”

  2. #2 by mazzz_in_Leeds on January 8, 2010 - 1:58 pm

    Like being lapped by little waves as you sit on a beach, like lying on a lilo with thos small waves passing underneath.
    Lovely, Shannon!

  3. #3 by Laura Eno on January 8, 2010 - 2:47 pm

    You managed to capture the entire cycle of a life in these few words. Bravo!

  4. #4 by Marisa Birns on January 8, 2010 - 2:58 pm

    Oh. I was waiting to copy Karen.

    But no need.

    Powerful imagery. Magical imagery. Wonderful imagery.

    Lovely writing throughout this piece!

  5. #5 by Estrella Azul on January 8, 2010 - 3:47 pm

    Wow, this was so beautiful! I could imagine it all even without the photo to set the mood 🙂
    (lovely photo by the way, does add a very good effect to the story) 🙂

  6. #6 by Anticrombie on January 8, 2010 - 3:53 pm

    Your little ball of clay isn’t bothering to gather moss, nor even stop to smell the roses. Instead, she is hurling through life as if cast by David himself.

    God Speed, that is.

    • #7 by soesposito on January 8, 2010 - 4:11 pm

      Yes, I know. God speed, light speed. Faster than the speed of thought. sigh….

  7. #8 by Eric J. Krause on January 8, 2010 - 6:02 pm

    Beautiful prose here. Simply an excellent piece of writing. I enjoyed this.

  8. #9 by Anton Gully on January 8, 2010 - 11:28 pm

    ” She is gray and lumpy from all the kneading”

    I love that line. Heck, I think I AM that line.

  9. #10 by ~Tim on January 9, 2010 - 12:54 am

    This is lovely. I especially like, “Water is an excellent conductor, of energy and also of ideas. The idea that insignificance is a mirage, for instance.”

  10. #11 by michael j. solender on January 9, 2010 - 1:00 am

    They are one in the same and yet neither.

    I just love this line .. very telling. great piece and neat pic!

  11. #12 by Gram on January 9, 2010 - 12:43 pm

    One of your best works. Beautiful and touching, this is pure and true, simply you ,,,in full bloom.
    ” It just is.”

  12. #13 by Lou on January 9, 2010 - 3:56 pm

    This is wonderful. It could almost be considered prose poetry.

    “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is my favorite poem, so your use of the caged bird really floored me. As I grow older, I do find more acceptance and less questioning. This can be both a sad and cathartic process at the same time.

    Again, beautiful work.

    • #14 by soesposito on January 9, 2010 - 10:54 pm

      Thank you, Lou. That is a lovely and sad poem. I feel in a way that we are all beating ourselves against our cages, until we surrender and let go.

  13. #15 by David G Shrock on January 9, 2010 - 7:56 pm

    A soothing read. I feel quite relaxed now.

  14. #16 by Anne Tyler Lord on January 9, 2010 - 8:48 pm

    This is beautifully poetic! You have so many wonderful phrases in there that speak volumes. Here is one of my favs – it is a poem, all by itself – WOW is all I can say.

    “Funny thing about little girls and perfect mothers. They are one in the same and yet neither. They are their own mirage, ideas of our own making. Ghosts shaped by matter. Shaped by each other’s dreams, shaped by bird songs, molds of words, ideas, wars and passion long gone, the whisper of fate.”

    • #17 by soesposito on January 9, 2010 - 10:50 pm

      thanks, Anne. This one came from the heart.

  15. #18 by Cascade Lily on January 9, 2010 - 10:43 pm

    Shannon you’ve outdone yourself this week. An amazing piece of prose. How generous of you to share with us instead of sending it off to a paying market (where it most definitely would have sold!). You have a real affinity with water. It’s definitely your forte IMHO 🙂 And I have a daughter too. Four going on fourteen. The time just slips through your fingers doesn’t it.

    • #19 by soesposito on January 9, 2010 - 10:52 pm

      Yes, it does, Lily…both time and little girls. And you’re right, water plays a big part in my life and writing. It’s why I have to live by the beach. I think I was a fish in a former life. 🙂

  16. #20 by Louise Dragon on January 9, 2010 - 11:16 pm

    A very moving and touching piece. I’m a tad speechless, I may have to read it again!

  17. #21 by Christian Bell on January 10, 2010 - 4:23 am

    This piece is quite poetic, a beautiful piece full of great descriptions and turns of phrase.

  18. #22 by G. on January 10, 2010 - 6:01 am

    This, in my estimation, is one of the best things you’ve ever written, my twizted big sister.

    Your work here takes on a depth, quality and tone that is unparalleled in not only your own work, but anyone else’s, living or dead, for that matter.

    Find this vein, and tap it until it runs dry, and I think you’ll find a place among letters that will last a long, long time.
    It would not be easy keeping the pace, language, and feel of it for something book-length, but I think you could find it.

    Because of the poem mentioned above, as well as Maya, I balked a little at the use of the caged bird, but do not think I would change it, either. Even if cliche, as you well know of me by now, I do not believe cliche is always bad (and I am not saying this necessarily pushes it, anyway).

    The poetic nature, besides, I will refrain on this time, as it seems to be in vogue. You know me well enough from the last few years to hear it without my saying what I think, anyway. lol

    Remarkably well done. Seriously.

  19. #23 by Michelle on January 10, 2010 - 11:31 am

    oh, the visuals you’ve given my head! a beautiful piece of writing.

  20. #24 by G.P. Ching on January 11, 2010 - 1:05 am

    Superb! Touching and lyrical. A literary piece with an immediate hook. Your writing reminds me a bit of Laurie Halse Anderson’s. I look forward to reading more.

  21. #25 by Virginia.Moffatt on January 11, 2010 - 7:28 pm

    I love the idea that we mould perfect images of ourselves that we cannot possibly live up to and our only free when we let go…

  22. #26 by Deanna Schrayer on January 12, 2010 - 12:15 am

    Wow! Simply beautiful Shannon, and I’m not at all surprised. I just love your work.

  23. #27 by Laurita on January 13, 2010 - 12:30 pm

    Beautiful, poetic, and a lovely concept. One of the nicest I’ve read.

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