July 22, 2011


Aunt Helen had two children, a boy and a girl- my cousins, James and Laura- both with blond hair and blue eyes. She had a meticulously clean home with ample space both inside and out.

Her kids had everything they could ever want- books, toys, designer clothes.

Everything was perfect.



She took photos of her children when they were babies. She curled them into a ball and placed them atop the laundry in a wicker basket and took photos of them. Pictures of their feet, their eyes, their lips, their bums. Pictures of them in the bath, on the kitchen counter, in their bed. She made most of the photos black and white and blew them up large and hung them on the walls of their spotless home so that visitors could see how perfect she and her family was.

As the kids grew, so did the photos. Some color, some black and white. The pictures were all so beautiful and… perfect. From sleeping babies to laughing kids. Playing in the sprinkler photos; kids coloring, eating, blowing bubbles, riding bikes, playing soccer photos.

Holiday cards were always photos of the family with a letter describing how perfect everything was.



When I would visit to play with my perfect cousins and their perfect toys, I barely spoke unless it was in a whisper in my cousin’s room with the door closed.

See, my aunt Helen scared the shit out of me. Even when I was a little kid.

James and Laura were scared, too, because when nobody was looking as the sun went down for the night, aunt Helen would yell. She yelled a lot. And she would hit my cousins, too. With books or magazines or the phone or shoes or her hands.

I never saw her hit them, but I could hear it, and afterward, when Laura and/or James would come back into Laura’s room where I would hide, they would try not to say anything, try not to cry, but would typically break down and tell me that what I heard was her beating them. We would stay hidden and as quiet as could be the rest of the night and the next morning, aunt Helen, in a calm, happy, and chipper voice, would call out to us that breakfast was ready: Chocolate chip pancakes or waffles and freshly squeezed orange juice. Served on bright white plates at the dining room table with the shiniest forks and knives. A vase of fresh flowers sitting in the center of the table.


Time to link up your Red Writing Hood post!
This week Galit and Angela asked you to write a short fiction or non based on the following picture:.
Editor's Note: this piece is fiction.



  1. Aak! Thank goodness for your editor's note!!

    This was so perfectly executed! I got the feeling that something was wrong from the repetition of perfect.

    But your zinger -See, my aunt Helen scared the shit out of me.- was perfectly played.


  2. So glad you mentioned the editor's note Galit..I hadn't seen it. But still, this piece is heavy on the heart. I do believe behind every perfect door lies a secret. Well done piece.

  3. Wow! This is my favorite response of the day. I love the direction you took this the prompt in. Very creative and unique. I love the repetition of the word "perfect." I love the voice of the piece, so real and relatable. I loved it all.

  4. I had this horrible feeling the perfection wasn't so much...and I was right.

    Your narrator is very matter of fact and believable. Good job with this

  5. thanks SO much for the great feedback! so very much appreciate it.

  6. I cried a little, and then I saw the editor's note, breathed a sigh of relief, and then thought about how this is a true story somewhere. Although most Aunt Helen's probably keep that nasty temper in check when there are relatives in the house. You know, to keep the "perfect" facade going strong.

    I think it's a testament to your writing and rhthym that I thought it was true. It absolutely felt like a memory, from the details of the pictures to the raw "my Aunt Helen scared the shit out of me".

  7. Oh my goodness, this post sent shivers up my spine. It's amazing. What's scary is that I can almost relate - my perfectionist streak, my shortness of patience at times, particularly at the end of the day. Thank you for this - this story of a person I don't want to become.


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