Rachael crunched through the yard. A pinecone, crunch. Dead leaves, double crunch. Her feet on the ground sounded like her teeth when she bit into a ripe, crisp apple. When she tired of crunching, she decided to swing. Kick up, lean back; tuck feet, lean forward. It seemed backwards to her that she should lean back to move her body forward and lean forward to move her body back.  But her Daddy said life was backwards sometimes. She had tried to do it the other way, leaning forward to go up and back to go down, but she didn’t go much of anywhere.

Daddy had not called her for lunch yet, so Rachael went on swinging, and she sang a song.

I can’t get enough of this thing

My backwards-ackwards swing.

Daddy still had not called for lunch, so she dragged her feet until the swing stopped, then went inside without being asked. She went to the office and said, “Daddy, it’s time for lunch.”

“What? Oh. Sorry sweetie. I guess I lost track of the time.” Daddy came out looking sleepy and led them back to the kitchen.

Rachael climbed into her seat. “When will Mama and the baby be home?”

Daddy leaned against the fridge for a moment, then went on getting out the jelly. “Mama should be home tomorrow or the next day, sweetie.”

“Will she bring the baby with her?”

“No honey.” Daddy set the jelly on the counter and sat beside Rachel. “The baby died.”

“Ohh.” Rachael leaned into Daddy and put an arm around him. “Is that why you’re so blue?”


“Is it one of those backwards things? Like my swing but not fun?”

“I guess so sweetie. I guess so.” Daddy hugged her back with with one arm, then both. They sat together at the table, holding onto each other,  holding back the blue.


Come shed a tear with us at Trifecta this week, where all of us are blue. (Uh metaphorically. Not like, really. Or not all of us. That’s this week’s word, okay?)

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Blue — 46 Comments

  1. After my last miscarriage, my niece who was less than 5 yrs old at the time constantly asked me “You remember that baby that was in your belly and died?” “Yes. Of course I remember.” “I miss that baby and I never met him. Do you miss him too?”

    I can so picture those two chasing away the blue…

    • Ouch. It’s strange how little kids can give you a chance to talk about something that was off limits or else force you to talk about something you were hoping to just hold quietly in your heart.

  2. My ex had a split uterus and we went through that same thing more times than I care to remember. You bring us high, you bring us low but you always give us an opportunity to grow… smile

    • My step-grandmother had a split uterus. She actually carried two kids to term, but it was extremely rare, especially in her era, for a woman with that condition to be able to have a baby. Her son was in the smaller part of her uterus, so he has a hand with just these two pincer fingers because he didn’t have enough room to grow and the fingers all fused.

  3. Love the descriptions in that first paragraph. I’m glad Rachel is only on the fringes of the sadness; even through her perceptions, you can tell how difficult this is for her father.

    • I wanted to come at it from the kid’s point of view because with an adult, I felt like the Dad would have had to discuss particulars, like how far along the pregnancy was, whether the baby was born alive but then died, or stillborn. And I didn’t want to tackle that in 300 words, because I didn’t want to dishonor that loss at any stage. I wanted the point to be that the loss of a child is devastating, and by using Rachael’s perspective, I could aim myself that way.

  4. Oh, poor sweethearts. The moment when Rachel reminds her Daddy it’s lunchtime, that’s such a perfect illustration of his sadness and distraction.

  5. Daddy distracted, of course. I can’t even imagine the sadness. The backwardness. Not the way it’s supposed to be.

    • And the distraction is clearly unexpected. She is playing outside waiting to be called in for lunch and kind of has to start feeling her way when Daddy doesn’t come out.

  6. Beautiful writing, Jessie. I love when a person writes children well. It amazes me how many people don’t seem to remember their own childhoods very well AND don’t pay close attention to the behavior of children around them.

    As a kid, I knew this meaning of the word blue because I listened to song lyrics a lot, so I mostly accept Rachael using it. But thinking in terms of reactions I’ve heard over the last year about my own writing, it could help to give us some sort of foundation for Rachael using the word “blue” here instead of “sad.” The hardest thing for me is finding unobtrusive ways to do this sort of thing, especially when this information isn’t the point of my story.

    • That’s a good point — I was the kind of kid who knew the meanings of all words. I absorbed context clues like water, and so then when I came out with one in front of an adult, I always got this shocked response. In my case, it was because my grandfather just talked big around me, so I learned to talk big from him! I hadn’t considered that ‘blue’ might not be in the vocabulary of a little kid!

  7. Thanks so much for linking up with Trifecta this week. I love your movement here from the swing to the house, from the girl’s interior dialogue to the conversation she has with her father. And I really love how you frame the whole thing with the child just trying to make sense of the world around her–nothing is spared and one learning experience isn’t really valued over the other. Nice job with the prompt. Hope to see you back soon.

    • I’m a Trifecta lover! I’m sure to participate when I can. THis weekend is insane, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but we’ll see. Maybe.

  8. This is so endearing and detailed. And I loved the voice of the child. I hope I’ll become this good at writing. It’s such a real story.

  9. Rachael’s reaction to the sad news is perfect – so very child-like. I love how you used her interpretation of the world around her to show the reader her age, rather than saying it straight out. I have a hard time picturing a particular age, but a child learning to swing, singing songs to herself? That I can picture, no problem. Well done!!

    • Thanks! I was worried that her age wouldn’t come through, but the response I’m getting is pretty universally positive on that level 🙂

  10. Oh dear. I’m sorry I made you cry. Your little girl’s reaction absolutely teared me up, too. I remember when my grandfather died, my daughter, who had no idea that my grandparents used to dance all the time, stood up after the funeral and said, just casually, ‘Poppa is with Mummum now, and they’re dancing.’ And it brought this tent full of mourners to their knees.

    • Thanks Jennifer! I want to learn how to present characters from any background realistically, and it’s one of the things I’ve been working on in my blog. Glad it works for you.

  11. The child is growing up. From a carefree world of innocence, the child was ushered in to the world of adults and pain. Beautifully written as always.

  12. that was truly blue! 🙁
    i liked your use of onomatopoeia in the beginning and how a child’s understanding of backwards was incorporated.

  13. I’m clutching at my heart and there’s a lump in my throat. You tell this story with such striking details and moments.

    • Thanks Sandra! I was a little wary of this one — anything where I have to delve into the character entirely without knowledge of the subject through personal experience leaves me wary. Not that it ever stops me. But these are the ones I worry about most.