The Table in the Foyer

Open University – Start Writing Fiction 2.1

Activity 11

Make a list of objects you remember from your childhood home. Don’t use any particular order or many adjectives. Don’t censor yourself – something seemingly unimportant may evoke strong impressions. Read through your list and circle the objects that evoke the strongest feelings and memories of events.

my list:

marble table in hallway

green carpet in dining room

linoleum floor in kitchen

wood paneled walls in living room

carpet covered steps leading to living room

shelf in bedroom closet

bookshelf in bedroom

bookshelf in living room

high bed in brother’s room

bedroom closet

bedroom window – trees outside

Now write a paragraph describing one of these events.Where exactly did it happen?What objects were involved?Don’t use any overtly sentimental language – let the details speak for themselves.Example: In the space beneath the staircase I find my old dog’s house, with his shaggy hairs caught in the rough edges of the wood planks, although the dog is long gone.If you don’t spell out the emotional significance of the dog, you create poignancy without sentimentality.

There was a table that sat in the foyer.  The first thing one saw when the front door was opened.  It’s ordinary in appearance, dark wooden legs, a small circular white marble top, perfectly positioned so it was directly in front of the front door and the kitchen/dining room.  It was always at my back as I sat at the dinner table. Unimportant things were deposited there, junk mail, handbills, flyers stuck in the mailbox and under the screen door, only eventually to end up in the trash.  And the important things, letters from the school or notes from nosy neighbors, lurking, waiting for a parent to open and peruse, then the inevitable punishment or commendation that followed.  Sometimes a source of joy would be found there.  Fresh flowers, candies, gifts, greeting cards, invitations to weddings, parties.  But that was rarer.  The marble table was always the first stop after a school day.  That’s how you learned what sort of evening you would be having.

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