My mother’s brows were tattooed above her eyes in broad black strokes. In my salad days, when she was my greatest love, I thought her lips were tattoos as well those rigid pink strips as they were locked in a perpetual frown. It was only in recent years that smiles were no longer strangers; for that reason, she is more beautiful than ever despite the increasing wrinkles. When I was younger, she did smile sometimes. I would tell her, I love you mom and hug her, and she would grin and say, no malice intended, If you really love me, you will learn Chinese. Perhaps I should’ve tried harder to learn my ancestral language. I would say, at least I can speak English well , hoping that would compensate for my deficiency. She felt I was forsaking my culture, and therefore rejecting a part of her.
My household was one of intermittent yelling with instances of torrential tears and brief periods of calm. My mother afforded us escape by taking my brother and me to the ocean. She wouldn’t usually swim, just watched us from the beach in a one-piece that hid scars of childbirth. In those times, we were her only joy. She was happy seeing us splash salt at each other and scoop sand castles, having lived through a war-torn childhood herself. One time, I ravaged my brother s sand creation with cruel steps, and he stumbled to my mother, snot and tears starting to ooze. She encircled him, scooping him up with giant arms, and scolded me in a stern, but loving tone. I pouted that she was always taking his side, and she said to me, I wouldn’t have to take his side if you would just leave him alone. I couldn’t fight her good sense, and I muttered an apology to her and my brother. I hugged her and said, I love you mom, and pulled my brother back into the water. Despite being an ardent momma s boy, I made little attempt to do as she asked and learn Chinese. Instead, I would hug her and say, I love you mom, and when she replied, If you love me, you will learn Chinese, I would dismiss it as if I hadn’t heard. As I ripened, my own sense trumped hers. I resented her use of my affection as a bargaining chip. I refused to call her bet, and folded instead; eventually, I tired of the game. I didn’t hug my mother anymore and I stopped telling her, I love you mom. Still, when I imagine her, she is smiling and trying to impart some good sense on her cruel son, and when she thinks of me, I imagine I am hugging her and saying, I love you mom.
WRIT220, Creative Nonfiction Writing, teaches how to draw from life experience to write compelling and interesting stories. What I didn’t realize was that it is perfectly okay to embellish or even fabricate experiences to enhance the narrative, as long as the meaning or essence is retained. Can you pick out which parts of this story are technically untrue