A while back K told me about an on-line writing group; a website called Write on Edge.  I subscribed to the blog and started watching the writing prompts they offered.  Everything, at first glance, seems so vague.  The word limits are always too small.  We all know brevity is not my forté.

The most recent writing prompt was one word; flavor.  Four hundred words or less, either fiction or creative non-fiction.  I told K, “I don’t like it.  It’s too vague.”   She told me I should just give it a try.  So I did.  What follows is my first ever submission to this writing group, in the shadows of which, I have lurked for months.

I don’t think it’s very good (go figure) and it seems really contrived, but what the hell.  It’s not like I’m going to get a grade for it.  So here you go…


It took him a long time to open up.  Months of silent car rides, open-ended questions answered with a vague “I don’t know”, and doubts about what the relationship was accomplishing for either of us.  I began to contemplate giving up.  Maybe he didn’t need me.  Maybe he didn’t need anyone or maybe he needed something I wasn’t providing and someone else could.  Could I walk away?  Should I walk away?  After all, I had met my initial commitment.

Walking away just seemed wrong, so I stuck it out hoping to see something change.  I reduced the amount of time I spent with him; it took a lot out of me and I didn’t feel connected.  Half as much time would have to suffice.

I don’t know when it changed.  One day it was suddenly obvious; half the time wasn’t enough.  He wanted more and I wanted to give him more.  A new schedule.  More time.  Different days.  Dinners some weeks.  He lit up at the notion.

After the second dinner when he returned home he told his sister all about our outing.  “And he had five Diet Pepsi’s” he told her, excitement in his voice.  That’s when I knew he was watching.  Picking up on everything.  He sees all that I do.  I have to be constantly aware, vigilant about the example I set.  But I don’t mind.

I try to show him a good way to be, but it’s hard when what I want to show him is something different from what I am.  I know he’s following my lead.  I should eat better; drink more water.  But I love the flavor of Diet Pepsi.  It’s my one vice.  I’m completely addicted.  The sweet, refreshing, cola taste.  It’s the first thing to enter my mind when the all important, “can I get you something to drink?” is asked.

He talks to me now.  Still a lot of “I don’t know”, but there’s much more than that now.  Stories about school.  Stories about friends.  Stories about playing video games.  But he talks.  And when I taste that sweet, dark elixir, I’m reminded, once again, that our relationship matters; that he needs me and I need him.

And that tastes pretty damn good.

14 thoughts on “Flavor

  1. It IS really good! Lil’ B would be thrilled to know you wrote a story about him.

    BTW, I feel the same way about Diet Coke. I remember to drink some water about three times a week.

    1. Well, you know, I epitomize “my own worst critic”…

      Glad to know I’m not alone with the diet soda thing. Every time I drop him off, I think, I’m gonna start drinking more water in front of him, and then the next time I order Diet Pepsi again without a thought. (sigh)

      I drink water every week day without fail, it’s just usually only one 24 ounce bottle. The weekends? Forget it. 🙂

  2. Although you won’t be ‘graded’, you will get plenty of feedback! I thought that this was really good, I loved the hints of the relationship and wanted to know more, more about the people and their back story. I have friend who’s had to give up cola because of the example she sets her children. We all have our weaknesses! Oh and there’s a missing word (I do it all the time, don’t worry!): Maybe he didn’t me. Welcome! 🙂

  3. Welcome to WoE!

    I thought this was great: i love the way, now, you have tied the flavor of your DPs into the relationship with your Little Brother. As a a reader, it give me a change to access the “flavor” of the developing relationship: nothing gets a boy’s attention like a man’s capacity for putting down Diet Pepsi’s!

    My personal crutch would be Diet Coke, but I respect your choice!

    I hope you will continue to post – I’d love to read more: WoE is a truly welcoming and supportive community. Look upon the limits as a challenge – it gets me writing about more topics and responding to more people’s pieces than I possibly could have if I went for a longer work!

  4. I really liked how you tied it together; linking the flavor of the drink to the enhanced flavor and nuance of the relationship. While DP doesn’t taste better with time (it tends to go flat), this relationship is growing.

    You pick up on how kids notice everything.

    I’m so glad you linked up. I hope to see you here again.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. This was actually fun; I don’t know why I’m surprised. You’ll be hearing from me again.

  5. This was fantastic, so thanks for linking up. Keep them coming. You can’t get a more supportive group of people and the prompts can only serve to help you fine-tune your craft. The voice you have is strong and I was captivated from the first word. Well done!

  6. Well, you’re definitely your own worst critic… I actually loved what you wrote and the relationship you have with your kid. It’s great to see how a simple word like “flavor” led you to write such a beautiful piece and to tell us how deep and complex feelings you have for your son -and diet Pepsi lol. I really loved it. Congrats!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the read.

      I guess I had different expectations about what I thought the outcome of the prompt “should” be and this piece reminded me of school when I would just write “something” to get through the assignment and have something to turn in even though it wasn’t what the teacher wanted. It was fun to write though.

      Just to clarify, the boy in this piece is not my son (I don’t have kids). He is a 10 year-old boy I have been mentoring, through Big Brothers and Big Sisters for about 2 1/2 years. He’s a great kid and I really enjoy the time we spend together.

      1. It has happened to me that each time I’ve written papers focusing on “something to get through the assignment”, I had responses that I couldn’t have imagined while I was writing them… It’s a curious thing huh? I guess I’m too perfectionist sometimes LOL.

        I don’t know why I thought it was your son, I was really convinced of that lol Anyway, I know what you mean about mentoring and all, I’m a teacher and I really enjoy the time I share with my students.

        I’m more of the Diet Coke type, but Pepsi is okay though 😛

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