Ring of Fire

Cold hospital air hit my nose as I sniffled, I stared at the hospital bed in front of me, holding my dad’s hand. I thought back to all of the time I had spent with him, sitting with my mom in the small apartment we lived in, awaiting my father’s arrival home from work. My mom walked around, humming to herself and cleaning spots off of the countertops. That’s when a key hit the lock, turned, and the door opened. “Daddy!” I yelled, hopping off of the couch to run into my uniformed father’s outstretched arms. He picked me up and squeezed me tight, that’s when I assume that my mom walked over and kissed him on the cheek, asking him how his day was. That’s what she normally did at least, but it slips my mind if she did it that day.

He then put me down, walking over to the cd player that sat in the corner of the living room. Ring of Fire, by Johnny Cash started playing, followed shortly by my father’s raspy voice singing along. He then picked me up and held me in his arms. We danced around the living room of the small apartment we lived in, while my mom sat and watched, smiling from ear to ear.

I can’t remember how long we danced for, if it was just that song or more to come. I can remember though, how the smell of cigarettes radiated off of his clothing when you got close enough. That’s when the beeping of the hospital monitor and my dad’s deep coughing pulled me out of my daydream. He half smiled, the most he was able to do. I held tears back as I smiled back, squeezing his hand.

I used many different stylistic choices in this piece. One that was inspired by Margaret Atwood was the fact that the narrator doesn’t remember everything. In both “The Handmaid’s Tale” and my story the narrator says that they don’t remember certain parts of the memory that they are retelling. Something else that I did that wasn’t inspired by Kesey or Atwood, but I felt was something that was important was telling small, but important details about what was happening at the moment. For example, telling that the narrator’s father was in the hospital. It makes the memory more special for the narrator, which makes it more special for the reader.

Comments (5)

Bea Gerber (Student 2019)
Bea Gerber

This is an amazing piece, Julia. I really love how you take some style choices from Atwood in that you give away character traits without describing them on their own. For example saying "uniformed" tells us about his job without having to add a whole sentence, and makes us feel like we already knew, like we were there. I also liked how you humanized some elements like when you say the key "hit" the lock, because it brings a new level of excitement to the story. You give the readers exactly what they need in order to understand the context and the connection between the characters, but not too much that it is all spelled out for them. Overall, super captivating and a great read.

Olivia Musselman (Student 2019)
Olivia Musselman

Wow! This scene felt so realistic, especially with the descriptive language! I felt transported into it. I'd love to learn more about the family's history. I think making the character not remember everything made the scene more relatable and realistic. Great job!

Majo Bostani (Student 2019)
Majo Bostani

Based on the author's note, this piece did succeed, considering that this piece felt special due to all of the details that you put into it. I'm still intrigued by the personal connection you had to the song that was playing, as I feel like a person's memory has a lot to do with what their five senses were engaging in during the memory.

Amelia Benamara (Student 2019)
Amelia Benamara

Great piece! Short repetitive sentences throughout your writing allowed me to remember the important details of the memory. An example would be the small apartment they guys danced in — this made me think deeper about the affection between all three characters as they danced and laughed.

Afi Koffi (Student 2019)
Afi Koffi
  1. I think your piece was very successful. I especially like how the reader doesn't get the full picture until the end. Starting with the memory and ending with the realization that her dad is in the hospital is commendable.
  2. Were the parents having issues? Why do you insinuate that the mother might have not asked how his day was?