‘First’ stories

Post your story in the comment area below on a FIRST of any kind: your first sandcastle, first scolding, first big win, first skinny dip, first loss, first lie, first job  … You get the idea.

Stick to 300-1000 words and embrace the traits.
Feel free to post your story on your site then post an intro with a link here.
Here are some writing tips that may be helpful.

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Categories: writing tips

5 Comments on “‘First’ stories”

  1. galenpearl
    June 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    The First Time I Lost My Child

    I was at the check in desk at the hotel in Stuttgart, Germany. My three year old son was standing at my knee. When the elevator door opened a few yards from the desk, James bolted and ran into the empty car. I dropped my passport, credit card, everything, as I lunged for the closing doors, watching my adventurous toddler standing alone in the elevator looking perplexed at my antics.

    German elevators, or at least that German elevator, had little safety precautions. No amount of crazed mom strength could pry those doors back open. I watched the floor indicator above the door flicker ascending numbers as the elevator spirited my child away.

    I jabbed at the buttons to call it back as I shouted like a banshee for security and people muttered about those rude Americans. My stomach twisted as I watched the floor indicator stop on two floors before coming back down. When it reached the lobby, however, it kept going and made one more stop at the parking garage level before returning.

    The doors opened and … nothing. The car was empty. My head was exploding. I was still shrieking to an apparently deaf crowd. It was a horror movie.

    Up or down. I barreled into the stairway and headed down. The door on the lower level opened into a dimly lit cluster of conference rooms with signs pointing toward the garage. No one in sight. I paused before turning and racing back up.

    Then I heard a slight wail echoing in the silence. I followed the sound and there he was, no longer enjoying his escapade, looking tiny and scared. And very happy to see me.

    That was 23 years ago, and even now as I write this, my breath is ragged, my heart is racing, my head is spinning, and I feel sick.


  2. wflynch
    June 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Too Good: A Third Person Memoir

    The boy was too good for his own good.

    It was the end of the school day, nearly the end of the school year. The boy was small for twelve but not the smallest in his class. His white short-sleeved shirt was tucked tight into his salt and pepper cords. He parted his hair on the left and had a sweet smile when he smiled, which he did a lot, but not now.

    He stood on a fading hopscotch court drawn on the sidewalk outside St. John the Apostle Catholic Grade School while his young future was being negotiated. He watched and listened as the parish priest, flanked by his eighth grade teacher, Sister Edward, told the boy’s mom, who was there to pick him up, “We think your son has a vocation.” The meaning was clear: the boy was being recommended for Mt. Angel Seminary, and ultimately, the priesthood. “He’s a good boy,” chimed Sister Edward.

    The priest asked the boy what he thought of the idea. The toe of the boy’s scuffed black shoe rubbed at the chalk outline of the hopscotch court. The boy was powerless to say anything but what the priest wanted to hear, having had no experience defying authority or even so much as disappointing his elders. And maybe he was secretly thinking that an all-boys high school might be a safe haven from the growing social pressure to have a steady girlfriend. Perhaps the idea of being sequestered at a rural hilltop boarding school with a bunch of other “good boys” wouldn’t be so bad. Yet it still felt like being sentenced for never having committed a crime.

    But as the Oregon summer days grew shorter and the time of his institutionalization drew near, the idea of being plucked from the core of his large Catholic family (he being the middle child of seven) began to ache in his heart.

    The forty-five minute drive to Mt. Angel, through fields stitched together like the quilt on the boy’s bunk bed back home, seemed interminable and not nearly long enough. Sitting in back with the boy was Eddie, a classmate and the son of a local doctor, another good boy sentenced to the seminary. The two of them sat wide apart, shoulders against the rear doors, foreheads pressed to the windows. The boy’s mom was at the wheel of the turquoise Chevy Biscayne. She was also steering the conversation with Eddie’s mom, keeping it light while sneaking glances in the rearview mirror as tears pooled in her son’s downcast eyes.

    They entered the faux Bavarian hamlet of Mt. Angel, passed under a red and black lettered banner strung high across the street announcing the annual fall Oktoberfest, and began the long ascent up the forested drive toward the hilltop that would be the boy’s new home away from home. Through the window he saw what looked like a small, shallow open-air chapel in the woods alongside a well-worn dirt path. Inside the chapel was Jesus Being Sentenced To Death. Then a second chapel sheltered Jesus Accepting His Cross. The boy counted as the stations of the cross passed by – Jesus Falls The First Time, Jesus Meets His Mother. His anxiety climbed as Jesus climbed and fell and climbed and fell a third time, and then station number fourteen, Jesus Is Laid In His Tomb, the end of the line for both of them.

    Saying good-bye to his mom was the boy’s first real heartbreak. She wore a blue and white summer dress with matching hat that framed her face. She forced a red lipstick smile and cupped his chin, tilting his wet blue eyes toward hers. “You’ll be home for Christmas before you know it,” she said. But the moment passed quickly, they couldn’t hold the gaze and keep their emotions in check. And just as quickly she was gone. The bloodshot taillights of the Chevy looked back at him as it slowly descended the hilltop and was swallowed by the darkening woods.

    Left alone on the vast oval lawn, surrounded by a solemn complex of sandstone structures – Romanesque church with rosette window, three-story dorm, dining hall, monastery, school – the boy couldn’t find the privacy of a bathroom stall soon enough before the tide of tears rushed in. Why, he thought, did I accept this cross to bear? Why am I forsaken?

    During the ensuing weeks and months, that bathroom stall would become his frequent confessional, where the truth of his hurt flowed as freely as the creek back home where he spent long Saturday afternoons with his brothers and neighbor boys tromping around in rubber boots along the deep muddied banks catching frogs.

    Too good, those days. Too good to last.

  3. June 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Thank you so much for being the pioneer story contributors to Flash Memoirs! These will always be dear to my heart.

  4. June 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm #


    The First Time the Hospice Nurse Thought Mom was Dying

    When my mom was dying of cancer, much of the responsibility for her care fell on my sister’s shoulders because I lived in another city. I visited as often as I could, but because every trip meant arranging childcare and covering at work, I tried to pace myself so that I could be there at the most important times, that is, when my sister needed my support or when Mom took a turn for the worse. Several times, I raced to the airport when my sister called saying that Mom was unlikely to make it another day. Every time, Mom rallied.

    Finally, I told my sister I wouldn’t come back until the hospice nurse called me to say that it was time. Surely the nurse would know. It wasn’t long before I got the call from the hospice nurse, telling me that Mom was near the end. It was my birthday. I scrambled to make arrangements, hugged the kids, and flew through the now familiar routine.

    When I got off the plane, I took one look at my sister’s face and knew. “She’s better, isn’t she?” Yes, she was. In fact she looked terrific, perky and happy. We shook our heads and sighed. Who knew I was the cure for cancer?

  5. June 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    A Clear Path: My Journey into Junk

    I am a professional organizer. A de-clutterer. I am in the homes and offices of cluttered and chaotic people to help them clear space, think differently about their place, and to help them understand the relationship between the negative stuff in their head and the clutter that’s under their bed.

    But, like nearly all of my organizing colleagues, my life’s work never exactly entailed climbing into 40-cubic foot dumpsters in order to make room for more junk.
    It comes as a surprise to many that I earned a Ph.D. in history from a prestigious university in Los Angeles. In my world of organizing, networking, marketing, and business building, well-meaning people ask if I have a doctorate in professional organizing. (Last I checked, academic institutions do not confer PhDs in organizing.)

    My academic credentials raise eyebrows as I move about my new professional life. But when you think about it, the work I’m doing now is all about how people connect to their past, which is why so many have a hard time letting go of their possessions. But the real irony is this: when I was in grad school I heard the joke that the initials of the Ph.D. stood for Piled Higher and Deeper, which is really where I spend a lot of my time now. And really, the higher and deeper the pile, the happier I am. I knew the Ph.D. would open a lot of doors, I just had no idea the would be garage doors.

    My journey into junk began innocently enough. Budget cuts at a well-known university where I was working as a director found me laid off from a job that was zapping my spirit. It was a not a good place for me there. I wasn’t thriving, I felt gagged and bound by rules that didn’t make sense. I had been actively seeking the next opportunity (to work for yet another entity) when I got word that my position would be eliminated, effective immediately. Although figuratively speaking, the job gave me ulcers, this was the first time in my life that I didn’t have the next thing to go to; I had nothing up my sleeve. Over the next 90 days I flung myself into three different job markets. When the dust settled I settled on the entrepreneurial life and A Clear Path: Professional Organizing, was born.

    I was raised to ABC ( always be cleaning) and my parents made sure my bedroom was next to the laundry room. I wasn’t able to enter one room without straightening the other. My dissertation materials were super-organized (a box for every chapter) and my friends and family are happy recipients of my de-cluttering eye. Still, clearing space and organizing other people’s stuff… well, how can I make a living from that?

    Turns out there’s more clutter in the world than those of us with the ability or desire to do the work.

    My first job took place in my 50th birthday month. It was a hot October day and the Santa Ana winds were blowing across Los Angeles. I was hired to unclutter a packed, floor-to-ceiling, garage-sized shed that had been open and exposed to the elements for more than 20 years. It was hot, hard work and I was a filthy mess. It was one of those jobs where I had to use a log stick to poke around the corners. There were spiders everywhere. It was gross. I was dressed in a cap, jeans, and tank top. I wore gloves and a face mask. At one point, I poked my stick into a corner, heard movement, jumped back in time to see a little bunny rabbit scamper away! Ha! At the end of the 2-day gig I wondered out loud, “Regina! Three months ago you had a nice little desk job at UCLA. Today you are a stinky mess. WHAT HAPPENED?! And I as folded the check for $1000 into my pocket, I thought, “What happened? A good day’s work is what happened! And I never looked back.

    I started A Clear Path on a shoestring. I built my own website, asked family members to give testimonials, and looked at other organizers’ websites to learn more about my new profession. Business cards from Vista Prints… I’ll tell you a little story: on my first order of business cards I did not include my PhD after my name. I had this funny thing about “perception” and thought about what the people who had interviewed me for Dean jobs would think about my work as a dumpster diver. It was almost a feeling of shame. Here I have the highest degree in the land but the only job I can get is de-cluttering a shed! That feeling of shame lasted about a minute. Every business card thereafter included the Ph.D. and will also include the certifications I am training for now (the card will eventually weigh a ton!)

    And business is good. I’m happily and gainfully entrepreneurial in my thinking, my attitude, my life. I am working with the people I want to work with. My areas of expertise include working with Boomers, Seniors, women with ADD, and people with chronic disorganization and hoarding disorders. I am joy-filled, I make-up de-clutter lyrics to popular songs, and the professional speaking side to my business is growing.

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