When Words Won’t Leave You Alone

‘My hair is being pulled by the stars again.’ ― Anaïs Nin

Linda Caroll
The Narrative Arc
Published in
6 min readJun 12, 2024


AI-generated mosaic of a woman’s face made from tree, foliage and sky
AI-generated mosaic of a woman’s face made from tree, foliage and sky licensed from vecteezy

Mama is standing in front of me, and she has that look on her face. I know what that look means. It means she doesn’t know what to do with me. Says it often enough. Child, what am I going to do with you? I know why she has that look this time, too. It’s because I’m crying.

But she should know better. Because I have a notebook in my lap and because I was writing, but mostly because we’ve had this conversation at least a million times, and I’m not even ten. But I know. It’s like an unwritten rule of being a mama. If a child is crying, you must ask why.

So I tell her. Mama, there’s nothing wrong. It’s just a story telling itself in my head, but she’s still standing there. I want to write, but don’t want to get in no trouble for my big mouth so I look at her, say Mama I need to write this story before it gives up on me. She shakes her head, but she bends down, kisses the top of my hair. Opens the screen door, goes in.

But I know my mama. She’s going to watch through the screen door like there’s something about me needs worrying on. Sometimes I turn around, say, Mama, I’m fine. But today I don’t because I’m already gone. Chasing the little boy, see where he’s going…