Creative writing

Isaac has set up a laboratory in his closet. Since he doesn’t really have many clothes that require hanging, we’ve mostly used his closet as a repository for stuff we don’t know what else to do with, but in the last few months he’s been claiming the space, with its half-size door and sloping ceilings, as his own, digging through the debris of old couch pillows and my juvenilia and arranging little vials and boxes and treasures in its further reaches. A couple of weeks ago, he and his friend Ben created a complex, booby-trapped, locking mechanism to keep his treasures safe.

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And now, every so often, if you ask him where something is, he will look at you all shifty-eyed and whisper, “IT’S IN MY LAB.”

(I love little kids, or at least this little kid, for precisely this reason — the dedication to detail, to the illusion, the need to decorate. I brought a new backpack for him yesterday to replace his current one with the busted zipper. And he went through the entire bag very carefully, asking what each compartment was for, then filling all the slots for pens and pencils with every pen and pencil he could find. I so love his capacity to delight in pencil slots.)

Anyway, as much as things are disappearing into his lab, occasionally something emerges from it. I found this on his bedroom floor a few days ago:

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My creative writing folder from either sixth or seventh grade. Actually, it seems to be more of a literary criticism folder, full of book reviews and character analyses. The book confirms — not that I, or, likely, you, need confirmation of this — that I was a total keener, what with all my pristine penmanship and underlined titles and carefully lettered cover pages.

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I had the same teacher — Ms. Davies — for both grades and I credit her for cultivating my budding feminist tendencies. We were a class of nine and ten girls those two years, writing letters to the publishers of our readers to complain about the lack of active female characters and their stories, performing an all-girl version of Free to Be, You and Me. She was the first woman I ever met who didn’t shave her armpits, which I found, then, simultaneously thrilling and embarrassing. The notebook also confirms Ms. Davies’s dedication as a teacher, and her commitment to pushing me as a writer: pointing out strengths, suggesting places to improve, always reading carefully. “Maybe you’ll be a reporter, Susan – this shows promise!”

Maybe I will.

And you, Isaac: what will you be?