Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gabrielle's Toenails

I am participating today in a writing prompt over at The Red Dress ClubThis week's memoir prompt is to write a piece inspired by the color red - but we are not allowed to use the word "red" in the story. Here is mine...

Jamie remembered only odd bits of rather unimportant details of the day they had first met.  It was the first day of third grade.  Jamie had just moved to the small  northern California town from and even smaller one.  Earlier that week, Jamie’s mother had walked Jamie and her younger sister, Jeni, to the school, hoping that they would be able to navigate the mile or so on their own for the year.  On the first day of class the sisters had walked alone, but upon their arrival, everything had looked so unfamiliar to Jamie that she had wanted to head back home thinking that she and Jeni had somehow stumbled upon a different elementary school.  The wrong elementary school.  Jeni convinced her sister that they were at the right school and the two girls took their places in line in front of the adjacent second and third grade classrooms.  Jeni was more than a year Jamie’s junior, but infinitely more confident and self -assured.

Jamie, still nervous and not entirely convinced at her belonging there, stood awkwardly and silently against the windowed classroom wall, the cold metal siding chilling the backs of her legs. Gabby had walked confidently toward the timid girl and introduced herself. She was a good head taller than Jamie and wore a colorfully printed sundress that tied at the shoulders, and her hair in a bun.  Her brightly painted toenails peeked out from the leather, braided high heeled sandals like little cherries.  High heals and those toenails! It was the one color that Jamie's mother would not allow her to paint her nails. Gabby looked, not like a nine year old girl, but a sophisticated woman of the world. Like one of the teenagers that Jamie saw on TV shows. There was something unfamiliar about this uninhibited little girl and yet undeniably desirable, and her name was Gabrielle.

Even her name sounded exotic and veritably steeped in femininity. A harsh and direct opponent to her own name. Jamie. A name that gave no hint of gender.  There was very little in appearance to betray Jamie’s femininity either, except her long blond hair.  Yet, it too, somehow only said “tom-boy” as the stringy waves hung unflatteringly in her face, half obscuring her bright blue eyes and freckled nose. She had always believed it was the freckles that won her the nickname Snicklefritz, but she could never quite figure out the connection.  Her little sister, the real beauty of the family, was affectionately called Sunshine. Jamie was pretty too, but she did not know it, so chances are that no one else did either. Gabrielle, in contrast, left no one wondering.  From the pink barrettes that held the perfect coiffure of dark curls away from her face to the tips of her brightly painted toenails, Gabby looked the part. She was a girl. 


  1. i love that this memory is so vivid in your head after all this time and can appreciate being young and seeing the obvious differences between yourself and a girl who seemed so much more sophisticated. A relatable story, thank you for linking up with it!

  2. Well written, you described the trepidation of being at a new school well, the insecurities of Jamie. I love it, thanks for sharing.

  3. Excellent writing! I was right there with you seeing that exotic looking girl, wishing she were me.

  4. I think Gabrielle would stand out in anyone's memory. I hope she brought sneakers to wear to gym class.