Tom’s Diner

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This was written for The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing project, Remembe(red). Concrit is always welcome, and thanks for taking the time!

This week, we're borrowing a prompt from Natalie Goldberg from her amazing book on writing memoir, Old Friend from Far Away:
Goldberg offers this challenge: “Give me a memory of the color red. Do not write the word ‘red' but use words that engender the color red when you hear them. For example: a ruby, a tomato, fire, blood.
Word limit: 700 My count: 431

Waiting in the wings, where I could smell the microwave-warmed apple pie and store bought brownies on the tables, I listened for the performance before mine to end. One last hitching up of my black and grey argyle tights, one more smoothing of my floral print dress, and once more wiping an imaginary smudge off my black mary jane Doc Martens, keeping my mind occupied for these last moments, trying to prevent the nervousness from taking over. I was ready to go.

Someone hands me a microphone, and I start my song. No instruments, just me, walking out from stage left, singing. “Doo do doo-doo doo do doo-doo…” I step on my mark at center stage and continue the song. “I am sitting in the morning at the diner on the corner…”

Getting through my performance with no noticeable flaws, my only disappointment is the absence of my boyfriend, Ben. He had told me that he might have to close at the video store that night, but it didn't make it any more upsetting that he wasn't there for my performance.

Part bake sale and part concert, the Dessert Show is the big choral fundraiser of the year, featuring solo and small group performances and an array of sweets and snacks. We were collecting funds to offset the cost of our upcoming tour to Las Vegas, and it would be one of the highlights of my senior year.

I emerge from backstage through a side door and slip mostly unnoticed to the back of the auditorium, smiling back at the parents of my friends who flash thumbs up and grins as I pass. I guess I did do OK, I think to myself, still proud that I had the nerve to audition in the first place, the only a capella act in the show.

Meeting up with Michelle and Julie in the back of the darkened auditorium, we stand and watch our classmates perform, waiting for the show to end. Sensing motion to the side of me, I turn to see Ben, grinning at me in the dim, his outstretched hand presenting me with an “I'm sorry I missed your performance” gift.

A single rosebud, wrapped in cellophane and tied with raffia. The largest one I'd ever seen, almost three inches from its hardy stem to the tips of the delicate petals, its fragrance sweet and familiar and gorgeous. Even in the dark, I could see its deep, rich color, the satiny petals almost glowing in the half-light.

Concerts and flowers come and go; and so do high school boyfriends, but the memory of the first rose I ever got from a boy stays with me always.

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  1. I like it! Roses come in just about every color of the rainbow, but somehow when you say the word "rose" red is the very first picture that comes to mind.

  2. I am a singer, and I never received flowers for a performance, so I can imagine your thrill at receiving this from Ben 🙂 And now I have Suzanne Vega stuck in my head 🙂

  3. New here to The Red Dress Club, and a new follower.
    The end of this post was fantastic. It forced an unwelcome image of the first rose I got from a boy. Good writing.
    I was distracted by using both past and present tense. In the first paragraph you use past and in the rest it's mostly present. Either way is effective, but you should choose one or the other, not both.

  4. This is a great memory. I love that he showed up and handed you that rose as an apology for not being there. You did a great job of sharing it.

  5. Oh this is lovely.
    I can so see it all perfectly.
    A big fat rose.
    The auditorium.
    And you're right, you don't forget your first flower from a boy.

  6. I don't think that any girl could forget her first rose 😉 You remembered it so vividly right down to the petals. Swoon.

  7. Ah, well at least he knew to try to make up for it! I really like the description of how you did your las minute prep before walking out to sing your song.

  8. This invoked so many memories for me. Well done.
    Please tell me you'll vlog us a replay. Pretty please!

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