"Fingerprints from Childhood, Not?" by Julie Weinstein

Introduction Childhood friends seem to reappear throughout life. They pop up here and there like memories. Those strange moments remembered, for example, when the world encroaches upon your view of it. That moment of growing up, changing — epiphanies. Sometimes though, you ignore them or hide them or fit them to your worldview so that you don’t have to grow up. Those are the moments that return over and over. “Fingerprints from Childhood, Not?” by Julie Weinstein deals with just such a friend. Or the disappearance of one. The conclusion is open for interpretation, though the futility of the action in the memory, resending letters into a feedback loop, is a powerful and doleful metaphor for the very act of remembering. Send in your work: [email protected]. Don’t be haunted by your past.

—Lyle Rosdahl

"Fingerprints from Childhood, Not?" by Julie Weinstein Most kids didn’t stare at stop signs and at parked cars and at the shadows their elongated bodies formed in the daylight, I did. Even though the teacher asked me to write about my childhood, surely I couldn’t mention that kind. Nor could I state how my ghostly Grandma visited when I got lonesome. Or that my father mourned when trees got cut down to make a road or the neighborhood kid, Bobby, made water change colors. Now that water fixation of his was something else! My teacher, Miss Rosylyn Timberlyn explained that water is supposedly a reflection of the sky or of oxygen.” Bobby said, “It’s much different,” and I believed him. I watched Bobby reach his hand into trickles of water, even the faucet sink, and he’d bring back rust, mud and clay. Of course, in my neighborhood the kids called him a freak. His fingernails always looked dirty. Some kids said he played in the cemetery. I didn’t think so. I ran into him often at the thrift stores where he sifted through the dollar bins. He had the most amazing collection of ties mostly in purple, black, turquoise and green polka-dots. He hoarded them for his dad, a man none of the neighborhood kids ever met. Bobby had a collection of penguins, some as tiny as your fingers and others as big as a stop sign. He kept them for ‘his act’ when he made it big as a teenager. It seemed like forever at the age of eleven. Bobby said that number rhymed with heaven. I didn’t like it when he talked like that. Sometimes to distract him I painted his penguins. I liked making a white stripe on the darkened parts. He often reached for my paint brushes. Usually our index fingers and thumbs got the messiest. I painted his lips turquoise, my favorite color. He kissed mine and made yellow dots on them, along with my cheeks, like pollen, he said. I let him reach into my blouse with the paint brush. Though he didn’t make any colors, it tickled. I painted red dots on his forehead. He didn’t like that. He said it looked sick like chicken pox. His dad came home one day and took him away, that’s what his mom said. It was on his twelfth birthday. She said Bobby was kidnapped. I got a postcard once with a handprint from Mexico. The outlines of the fingers Bobby had crisscrossed over and over so it looked like barbed wire. I wished he had painted it in color. I wrote to him. His mom said she received a couple of calls from Bobby in a garbled whisper with an operator stating Pesos by the minute. I think she lied. The stack of returned letters from him has piled up by my bedside. I dipped my right thumb into a paint jar and made prints on them and sent them right back out in the mail.


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