I recently took a writing class called Story Telling For Kids run by Val Muller. One of our exercises was to pay attention to children out in the world and incorporate them into one of our stories if possible or just write the scene. I witnessed some kids with their father at a grocery shop visit and one boy was thrilled about a cartoon bear on a cereal box. It was pretty cute. I turned those boys into the girls from one of my middle-grade stories and expanded the moment.
Without giving the full synopsis, this a dark fantasy story about a young girl who’s family of three is dealing with new sadnesses, and (unbeknownst to them) very old evils. Samantha may just be able to help out if she could only keep her manners in check.
As I mentioned, this isn’t an original piece from my story, but it was a fun exercise to do and it may very well go into the story. Who knows. But if not, I figured it should go somewhere, so here it is. A bit of my writing just for the heck of it.
“Can’t I stay home?” asked Samantha, “I’m almost 16.”
“Samantha don’t lie, you are 11 years old,” said her mother.
“Yeah but almost 16, like it’s not that many years away really.”
“Can I be 11 years old too?” asked Samantha’s little sister.
“No Penny, no one is allowed to just randomly change their age, lord knows I’d like to. Now let’s go! We won’t have anything to eat for breakfast tomorrow if we don’t get to the grocery store today. … TODAY GIRLS!”
The giant old door shut with a thud and Samantha imagined the entire inside of their new home bursting into a cloud of dust. Smelly dust. Ew, she was glad she hadn’t unpacked her boxes yet like she was told to do. Dust would be all over her stuff. And then her stuff would smell bad too.
The grocery store was a complete bore just as she predicted. But at least it wasn’t dusty. She knew her mom hadn’t written up a proper shopping list so she was hoping to influence a little on an extra item here and there.
“Mom, can we get some chips? I can go find the snack aisle and pick something out to save time,” she said while pretending to inspect the fruit like her mother was doing.
“Thanks but let’s stick together. I’m not familiar with the layout of this store so no running off just yet.” Samantha put her apple down with less than care and moved over to the cart where her sister was squished into the child’s seat.
“I think you’re too old for this Penny,” she said.
“I am not,” said Penny.
“You’re legs are like, stuck in there or something. Mom’s not gonna be able to get you out.”
“I’m not stuck,” Penny yelled.
“Oookaaay,” Samantha sang to herself. She walked around the fruit some more poking at random piles challenging them not to spill.
In the cereal aisle, Penny was an absolute baby. Samantha wondered if the circulation was getting cut off of her sister’s legs and decided not to point this out yet to her mom.
“Bear! Look mom a bear!” squealed Penny pointing to a box with a cartoon bear on the front.
“Yes dear,” said mom.
“A bear! Right there! Look there’s a bear. Haha, a bear right there.”
“We heard you, Penny,” said Samantha in her monotone voice as she dragged her feet across the tiles to show how bored she was. Meanwhile, her mother was busy decoding cereal boxes as if there was a secret message about which one to buy.
“There there, a bear is right there.” Penny turned her exclamation into a very bad song.
“Ugh!” said Samantha while bumping rudely into other customers as they passed. If her mom can’t see she’s bored, maybe someone else should.
“Oh sorry,” said one lady after getting shouldered by Samantha.
“Samantha, get out of the way.” Her mother who could so magnificently ignore Penny’s horrible singing suddenly noticed one small shove of Samantha’s.
Samantha did not try to hide her eye roll.
“A bear right there, a bear right there, I see a bear right there,” continued Penny’s song.
The lady Samantha pushed was smiling at her sister for some reason.
“Ha, looks like the greatest shopping trip ever,” she said pointing to Penny as she squeezed past.
“Uh, yeah, for one of them at least,” breathed her mother as she finally chose a box and began to move on. “Let’s go girls.” As if they were the ones taking so long.
“Ugh,” said Samantha as she slid her feet along the floor to the next aisle.