This is a bit out of a story I wrote a long while back.  My stories are all the same—Bipolar Girl Finds Acceptance/Love.  It’s a need I work through on paper when I can’t manufacture it in real life.  Recent events have shown me that I am both characters in this scene.  That is a great comfort

So, I’m in the guest room, sleeping through tea and dinner.  Amanda has told the children to leave me alone, but by bedtime, Grace can’t stand it.  She comes in and gets on the bed with me.  I’m awake, groggy, slow.

“What’s wrong, Auntie,” Grace asked.  She snuggled close and laid her head on my belly.

I bunched a pillow under my head and watched her pick at the pink lace on her shortie pajamas.

“Well… “

It was hard to think, to even scrape together words that might make sense.  How could I answer her question?  I wanted to do it right.  You’re supposed to answer kids’ questions simply, not give them more than they ask for.  That’s right, isn’t it?  Isn’t that how you’re supposed to explain sex?  Jesus.

“I get sad sometimes, Gracie.”


“Well… my brain doesn’t work quite like yours does.”

“Is your brain broken, Auntie?”

Oh, it was too hard.  I didn’t want to scare her, but I also didn’t want to just brush her off.  She looked at me with her huge, round eyes.  Her little elfin face a perfect combination of her parents’.  I brushed the white-blond fluff away from her eyes.  I loved this little girl—the daughter of my best friends on earth—a tiny, precious creature with a scientist’s curiosity.

“What grade are you in now, honey?”

“I’m in Seconds,” she said proudly, the squeaky little voice with the perfect British accent.  It went straight to my heart every time.  But my heart was already too full.  I felt tears leaking out the sides of my eyes.

“Okay.”  I fingered the pink lace next to her hand, trying to pull myself together.  “You like pickles, yes?”

“Oh, yes.  I LOVE pickles.”

“And pickles live in their jars with juice all around them.”

Brine, Auntie.”  She was very smug.

“Yes, that’s right.  Brine.  The brine is always green.  Whether the pickles are sour, or sweet, or spicy—always green brine.  Well, let’s say you and I are pickles.”

Grace giggled.

“What kind of pickle do you want to be?”

“Gerkin!” she shouted.

“Good choice.  I’ll be Bread and Butter.”

She giggled again.

“You have beautiful, clear brine.  The most delicious brine in the world.  But my brine is brown and smelly.  My lovely Bread and Butters live in that nasty brine.  Sometimes they don’t taste very good.”

Grace blinked at me.  “Then, we must rinse your jar, Auntie.”

“What a good idea, my darling.  But it’s hard to do that to a real brain.”

Grace sat up, her little face puckered in thought.  She looked just like her father right before he let loose a string of profanity.  “You can have some of my brine, then.”

I took hold of her hand.  “What a generous gift, sweetheart, but I’m afraid you need your brine to grow up to be Prime Minister.”

“Pew.”  She wrinkled her nose.  I’m going to be a Maori princess in New Zealand.”

Of course, she was.

“I shall live with the kangas and the wallabies and be their queen.”

“May I visit Your Highness in your realm down-under?”

“You may,” she said magnanimously, “but only if you hop.”

“Your wish is my command.”

Inside, I breathed a sigh of relief.  That wasn’t so bad.  And she didn’t seem to be scarred for life.  But I was exhausted, and looking at that vulnerable sweetness filled me with a melancholy that would spew soon.

“Off to bed now, Grace,” I said, turning on my side.

She slid off and stood at the edge of the bed considering me.

“‘Night, ‘night, Princess,” I said, tears wetting the pillow.  I wanted her gone before I started sobbing.

Grace reached out and put her hands on my head.  A royal blessing, I thought.

“Poor pickles,” she whispered.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarthaS
    Oct 30, 2019 @ 08:53:59

    My nickname as a very young child was pickles because I loved them and because I ate all of my great aunt’s cucumbers one time. She was sharp tongued and stingy so the adults thought my misdeed was hilarious and worth a place in the family stories lexicon. May your pickle juice sweeten despite the gloomy weather, time change and other annoying externals.


  2. Writer Lori
    Oct 31, 2019 @ 05:02:33

    Think we are all trying to keep our brine clear in some form or fashion, Sandy. A wonderful story….


  3. Kiki
    Oct 31, 2019 @ 11:43:48

    Your ‘findings’ make me think of Eleanor Oliphant – and one wishes your story would go on and on. But of course, I get it and I think the pickles’ explanation is a fab one.
    I’m with you on your journey and wish you good things. One thing about the tears is that they have very different ‘compositions’, depending on the reason for them – salty, bitingly strong, soft, just to give the eyeball some liquid, etc. When I’m in a ‘salty, harsh tear phase’, it nearly takes the skin off around my eyes, but now we should concentrate on getting the soft, comforting ones – together with a candle lit and a mug of tea or herbal!


  4. TamrahJo
    Oct 31, 2019 @ 16:44:31

    As long as you are both in the story (great story – and here’s some ❤ to tell you how great!) then I guess, your brine is okay – just a different mixture – but, do you know how rare it is for folks to see they are both or all characters in the stories of their dreams/minds? Consciously?

    So, um… I have trouble thinking you need to change out your brine – – maybe just need to move the pickle jar from here to there as needed – so it gets refreshed by environment?

    No easy matter, I know, to move one's pickles just when they should or to the right location – – maybe we should make wine, instead (is Grace in her teens yet? She might be ready for some home brew experiments…) – IF wine 'turns' it becomes cooking vinegar or compost additions for next years garden – see? nothing ever wasted or lost – – 🙂

    I find your mind to be reminiscent of a fine, home crafted country wine – it brews, it bubbles forth with enthusiasm and creativity and if not fed adequately, stored properly, well, it needs some time to fully age towards a fine cooking vinegar and on the batches that took you by surprise? Well – they are useful for something – in the garden of your mind – sooner or later – –

    Sorry – got carried away – mostly because me own mind is stuck in seeing how home fermenting projects age/improve the local assets and even when projects go bad, nothing is ever truly lost or useless – – so hope I don't offend, but yes, to me, your brain can be pickles, but I'm thinking about nicknaming you 'soda, cordial, wine, cooking brandy' dependent upon the day 🙂


    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 31, 2019 @ 17:06:12

      I love ALL of this!


      • TamrahJo
        Oct 31, 2019 @ 17:10:42

        Oh! Thank Goodness! You know my ticker tape brain picture of you is different from how you see yourself, so I’m not always certain whether to hit the ‘send’ button or not – – ❤ – just a reminder you are loved, appreciated and seen with way more than the 'down times' allows you see for yourself – – LUB (luv u bunches)

      • Sandy Sue
        Oct 31, 2019 @ 17:18:15

        Well, the story is a story, not how I actually felt when I wrote it. I was trying to convey the feeling of that level of depression for that bipolar character. You know—fiction—sorta.

      • TamrahJo
        Oct 31, 2019 @ 17:31:42

        yup – to me, any fiction is always, in a way, creative non-fiction – a way to explore, ponder, etc., the things we struggle with in daily life, or observe or try to make sense of, or fun of, or what have ya – but that’s just me – – I have my ‘own stories’ about writing, but to me, imagining the future, trying to understand the past or ourselves is always a creative work – how we create it, label it is, for me, rather a ‘you say tomato, I say tomayto” type thingee – – :). but, then, perhaps I erred on side of talking to much – let it suffice to say, I have weird ‘stories’ about what is deemed ‘normal’ and what isn’t – and I think, most likely, some of our greatest gifts are borne from not fitting in with the current standards of ‘normal’ however, there are things that interfere with daily life, to extent, stories must be concocted within, in order to function within the reality/environment we find ourselves in – sorry – again – sigh – my dill pickle brain is just spilling over into the wine experiment – – might be interesting to see what comes out of that whole hybrid – – LOL

      • Sandy Sue
        Oct 31, 2019 @ 21:16:38

        I love that you’re so JUICED by all this!

      • TamrahJo
        Oct 31, 2019 @ 21:36:00

        well…um…sometimes, I do connect while utilizing my adulting version of a juicy box – and waxing on about philosophy or stuff – sigh – but, It is watered down…and on my way to making my own ferments (more healthy, so they say…) AND..well…. sometimes, I just get lost in all the ‘stories’ that can be had or told, about the human condition called Life – :D. So yup, I’m probably Juiced – – 😀

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