Moving Out With Barbie

Flash Fiction:

Moving Out With Barbie

I used to wish my parents would divorce, so my mother and I could have some peace.

We could barely afford school clothes as it was, so how much worse could it be without my father screaming like an outraged gangster in the middle of the night anyway?

As I nudged toward adulthood, it dawned on me that my parents could have lived totally different lives, separately. Instead of torturing each other for decades. Instead of inherently blaming the hypnotic vapor trail of a post-war society that told them divorce was B-A-D. Bad. But devout mothers didn’t leave their husbands, no matter what throes of insanity were unleashed.

One brawl cut through the 3:00 a.m., mid-seventies darkness and woke me out of bed. Mom threatened to run away. She sprinted through our wood-paneled hallway, yesterday’s make-up running grey trails down her cheekbones.

A Barbie carrying case the size of a mini-fridge sat in my closet, sturdy cardboard veneered with a layer of white vinyl as slim as typing paper. It held Barbie’s mod and glamorous ski apparel, gowns, tennis outfits, and plastic go-go boots, arranged in cardboard drawers and on orange hangers diminutive as paper clips.

I dumped the cloud of pink and yellow Barbie gear to the floor and stuffed the case with my less-appointed wardrobe, snapping closed its silver latch. Case in hand, I stationed myself at our front door.

Mom paced in the kitchen, left-over make-up swiped away, having transitioned into the next phase of the night’s argument. Never planning to attempt what she’d proposed. She stopped cold at the sight of me. “What are you doing?”

My grip tightened around the molded plastic handle.

I’m ready to go,” I answered.

I can still smell the vinyl.


Finalist:  Women on Writing WOW Spring 2017 Flash Fiction contest

Winner, First Place (revised version) in Pennwriters’  “In Other Words” contest, May 2017

Mothers: The Determining Factor

A Heritage of Mothers


Only my husband still remembers that when I was a teenager, I said I wanted to have six children. SIX. Also, recently my daughter and I asked each other what we thought we would be if we didn’t become writers. She told me she would have gone into child care.

I believe that someone can only come to these kinds of conclusions when they have been born into a long heritage of absolutely wonderful mothers.

This is a true test.

I’ve since come to realize having an adept and caring mother is the most defining factor in a person’s life.

I didn’t go on to have six children, but that’s not the point. The point is I had such


an outstanding mother that, if practicality had warranted, I thought I might have inherited

the ability to mother more and more and more children… just keep ’em coming. And she’s the reason why. Because she was this amazing example, who to this day can make me feel better just with the sound of her voice.

A lot of Mother’s Day messages talk about all the sacrifices and such that they acknowledge their mothers made, etc. Well, of course, my mother made sacrifices up the wazoo. But she never made it feel that way for a moment. She made it feel like she was just having the gosh-darn most rollicking fun time with us, even when we drove her crazy. I don’t know too many people who laughed more. And we still have fun.