Life in Vignette
I recently subbed for an entire week for an honors English class that was about to start reading The House on Mango Street. It was pretty exciting since I had heard of the book 100 times, but never actually read it. The first day of class, I devoured the book while they read silently to themselves and finished it on my lunch break.
I loved everything about the book, from the choppy narrative and focus on small moments (vignettes) to the poetic prose and conversational style. Let’s just say it was right up my alley.
But this isn’t a book review (though I do recommend you read The House on Mango Street if you haven’t).
When the students finished reading the book, they were supposed to write vignettes in a style similar to Cisneros’. A vignette is a very short piece of writing that focuses on a specific episode or description. Since I’m a
n attention-seeking creative writer stellar substitute teacher, I wanted to give them an example vignette to work from (in addition to all of the vignettes in the book) – so I wrote my first vignette.
And I fell in love.
I’m sharing that vignette today; I hope that you enjoy getting a little peak into a moment that I hold sacred in my heart.
So without further ado… my life in vignette.
Grandma sat on the edge of her bed – long hair down her back like a silk waterfall. All these years and still no gray. My fingers followed the brush, feeling my own hair – passed down from her head to mine. She always kept her hair long, wearing it in braids and ponytails even though my uncle said she was too old. She laughed at the idea of wearing old lady hair. “I’m not that old,” she said. And behind all the layers of soft wrinkles, she wasn’t.
Chemotherapy makes you lose your hair, but hospice.
Hospice made hers grow faster. Each pound she lost added length and shine. As cancer cells multiplied in her body, so did the dead skin cells – transformed shiny on top of her head. Her hair was death in my hand – each stroke of the brush a tick of the clock
– so I made them last
– stretching each moment from root to end
– grateful for the length.
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