Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Read this prompt from Literary Mama reader Elise Free. Then, open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. 


Finding Out

When the call came, I was alone with my four-month-old daughter. She instinctively knew something was wrong, and wailed with me as the doctor explained over the phone why she hadn’t gained weight in two months, why she was anemic, and why her skin tasted like she’d been dipped in the salty sea. The doc was calm, chatty even, making small talk while I fumbled through the house, looking for a pen and paper to write down the results of the rest of her life. He must have felt that if he kept me on the phone, he could somehow prevent it from being real, from sinking in. With nothing left to say, he asked if I would be all right.

My baby was screaming and the floor suddenly felt like one of those bouncy houses parents rent for a child’s birthday party. I was dizzy and drunk with the knowledge that our worst fears, the one thing I had prayed wouldn’t be true--couldn’t be true--was now written on a sticky note.

Somehow, I managed to get out the words, “We’ll be fine,” even though I was sure we would never be fine again. I called my husband, my sister, my parents, and my best friend. Their guttural sobs on the other end of the line made it real. It wasn’t a dream. We would never wake from this.

I stood at the screen door, waiting for someone to come, to open the door, wrap their arms around me and say, “Everything will be okay.” And they all came, one by one; saying the only thing you can say at a time like this, “At least now you know.”


Journal Prompt: Write about a piece of news you received that dramatically impacted your life. Good news or bad. How would your life be different had you never known?  How did it change you?


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas!

Elise Free’s plays have been produced at the Harold Clurman Theatre, the Abingdon Theatre and the Creative Place Theatre in NYC and The Gardner Stages in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Nicholas Meyer Playwriting Scholarship, where she graduated from the University of Iowa. In 1994, Elise won the Dartmouth Literary Award and was offered a scholarship. Her plays Holding Achilles and Hospital Corners have received readings and staged readings with The Road Theatre Company, Deaf West Theatre and East West Players in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Elise won first place in the LA. Parent Magazine Comic Essay Contest, and her parenting essays have been produced on KPFK’s radio program, “Motherhood Unplugged.” She is also the proud (and tired) parent of a spunky eight-year-old nicknamed Froggy.

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