gotham writers workshop logoI am taking writing classes at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in Manhattan to keep my creativity in tip-top shape. It supports me both personally and professionally. Keeps words at the ready.

At a recent class, our instructor gave us the “full moon” as a prompt. We had 15 minutes to write. This is what I did.

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It’s dark outside and with our flash lights we see the whiteness of the waves  as they break onto the shore, and I hear a sound sort of like the one I make early in the morning when I shake the orange juice up and down really hard until I know it’s foamy and the pulp is sort of gone.

We wait for the activity to emerge from under the mounds of sand cordoned off with foot-tall sticks of light-colored wood and neon pink tape. It’s August and we hope to see the sea turtles hatch tonight. It’ll be my first time and I can’t wait. When Phil from kindergarten brought me turtles for my fifth birthday they got sick and we had to flush them down the toilet. I don’t want the little turtles to die and I hope nothing eats them tonight.

The street lights are behind us and my mom says the little guys sometimes don’t stand a chance, because they’re drawn toward the street and away from their friend, the moon. The moon is full, so it should be a good guide tonight. And we are here to make sure they head east out into the water.

We sit and wait. The sand has chilled since this afternoon when it burnt my feet as I ran to swim. The surf is calmer too. We catch waves when the surf is up. Who needs boards? We take a wave and stretch out our arms and fingers and just roll with it and wait to come up. And we always do, with our hair strung over our eyes and our bottoms down. I always get sand in my bottoms and have to pull them down in the shower to wash off. Or sometimes I just do it in the pool.

Shooting star. Self-created.
Shooting star. Self-created.

I look at the moon and the light shines on the water. “Look, Janie,” my mom says, “it’s a shooting star.”

“Maybe it’s grandma,” I say, “maybe she wants to take care of the little turtles.”

“I bet she does, Janie. She would love to take care of them. You know she loved animals.”

“I love them, too,” I say. I even swim in the ocean sometimes with my goggles on, so I can see the fishies. I grab sand near the shore like I am a crab and when I start to swim out I spread my arms really wide like a mother turtle must do after laying her eggs.

I wonder if grandma swims in the ocean. What does she do there and where does she go when she shoots down from the sky?

Something crawls over my feet. “It’s a turtle, It’s a turtle!” I spring up.

We scoop him up in our orange sand pail filled with salty water that my mom says humans shouldn’t drink and take him to the shore. We dip him in and there he goes! He’s a natural.

“He knows what to do, mommy. How does he know what to do?”

“He just does, sweetie, he just does.”

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