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Literary Reflections Featured Short – August Prompt

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Literary Reflections is pleased to present our featured writing prompt response from August. We asked "What literary inheritances have you received from your family and/or loved ones? What might you pass on to the next generation?"

Jenny Rich wrote:

From my father, I learned that sometimes the very act of reading to others is the best way to show them how very much they are loved.

I was 21 years old, just home from spring break my senior year of college. It had been an intense week full of drinking, eating and making a fair number of mistakes. It was during that week away with my then-closest friends that depression hit me like a tidal wave. I wanted nothing more than to be left alone, to not have to face the changes that were coming with graduation. I wanted to freeze time and stay a child, to rush ahead and grow up. In short, I wanted everything and nothing.

The flight home was a perfect symbol for the week -- we were heading down the runway, picking up speed when one of the plane's engines blew. The bang, the sudden standstill, the abject fear. When I finally did get back to Philadelphia, my dad was waiting at the gate to take me home. I don't remember speaking at all on that ride to my parents' house but do remember getting home and going to bed. I got into my bed and, quite simply, had no plans of getting up. I didn't want to go back to school, didn't want to shower, to eat, to think.

And then my dad came in with a Janet Evanovich book in hand. He sat down on the side of my bed without pretext and he read to me. That's all he did. I don't know how long he read, hours, days perhaps, but he just kept reading. I remember the dim light in my bedroom, the feeling of being completely shut down, the sound of my dad's voice. I don't remember the book or the plot. I remember that he caught me and pulled me out from wherever I was.

Of course, I did get up and go back to school. I graduated, became a teacher, and later a wife and a mother. When I found out I was pregnant I began to read aloud every night. I brought an anthology of children's classics with me on vacation when I was nine weeks pregnant so I wasn't forced to miss a night of reading. I did this because, in my mind, reading represents love. Just as my dad pulled me along so many years ago, I hoped without realizing it that my reading would pull this baby along, would help him grow and thrive inside of me. I still read to my son every day and every night, never having missed a day. I do this for the unspoken message that I hope to instill in him: I love you, I love you, I love you.

Jenny Rich is the editor of the children's literacy website Ethans Bookshelf and can be reached at editor@ethansbookshelf(dot)com. She also writes the blog Read. Imagine. Talk.

Sarah Raleigh Kilts is a proud member of the amazing Motherlode Writers Group (I love you guys!). Her writing has been published in Common Ties. Following her passions led her to discover a new career that’s tons of fun — as an elementary school music teacher to 220 fabulous 3rd 4th and 5th graders she gets to share her love of music and world culture with a captive — though often wiggly and giggly — audience. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and can sometimes be found (even on school nights!) performing in local watering holes plucking the bass and singing with her hubby Thom in their Indie Rock duo, Diablo’s Dust. Three of their albums are currently available on iTunes.

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