Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Ball, A Wall, and Its impact

by Jody Feldman

I was about 14 years old that day when we were swimming in my aunt and uncle’s backyard pool, just my brothers, my mother and me. Maybe a couple others. Doesn’t matter. What does is this. 

Diameter-wise, it was about 24 inches of thick rubber, a stiff handhold jutting from the top; altogether sturdy enough for bigger kids to sit on and bounce. Not a mainstream pool toy. Nevertheless, and for whatever reason, this kangaroo ball was being hurled around, bouncing and skimming off the water's surface. Not by me, though. I was practicing flips into the deep end then leisurely swimming or treading.

Which is why I wasn't looking when the kangaroo ball propelled my skull against the concrete-and-tile pool wall. The impact had me somehow scrambling out of the water and over the edge where I lay on the deck, stars and flashing lights putting on quite a show

I hadn’t given this incident a thought for decades...until. Until a couple weeks ago when I added this line to my WIP: Since when have the entirety of my thoughts revolved around survival? 

I needed the main character to give a response. And there it was, a flash of me in the pool, trying to keep from drowning. 

Into the narrative it went.
Just that little snippet...
...because I rarely (maybe never?) center full scenes around specific childhood experiences. And yet, so many of them are there, their impact coloring the narrative, bringing a sense of realism to pure story.

Award-winning middle grade author of The Gollywhopper Games series and The Seventh Level, Jody Feldman may be taking a brief dip to the other (older) side with a YA thriller coming out next summer (the line above is from that book), but never fear. There’s MG in her heart.

1 comment:

  1. I love this detail--and I love that you added it to your WIP.