18 October 2009
AP Language and Composition
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve always thought that letters should be reserved for
exciting news, but I have none. Instead, let’s reminisce. How about the summer when you were
ten and I was seven? I know you remember it.
Our old, red Plymouth was baking in the sun, and we were slowly baking inside of it—
just like sticky dough in our Easy-Bake oven. It was as if the sun woke up and decided that this
would be a really good day to shine its absolute brightest. Between you and me, the thrill of a
bright summer day had begun to fade.
I glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It lied. With all the wisdom of my seven years, I
knew that technology could be very dishonest—especially the clocks. No, I knew we had been
driving for at least a billion years; I could feel it in my bones. When you’re seven years old, you
know things like that.
You and I were in the back, two little sisters trying to sit still on an uncomfortable bench
seat. Nothing could break the monotony or quiet our endless are-we-there-yets. Our baby
blankets and small, white pillows were a comfort only in their presence; when a seatbelt is
slicing across your chest, curling up isn’t an option. My baby blanket had suffered lots of wear
and tear in the line of duty, and it was just a few yanks and snags away from a pile of rags. I
loved it even more for that.
Through some clever tricks of technology, we were using a lavender Walkman connected
to the cigarette lighter to play CDs. My favorites were the “Focus on the Family” stories. One of
the characters was a boy named Eugene, and he was the epitome of nerd-dom. Still, I had
decided that, if ever the occasion arose, I would marry him. I could tell from the way his voice
floated from the Walkman that he was the one for me. It’s like I said before: when you’re seven,
you just know things.
After one of those CDs spun to a soft and sweet finish, mom and dad put in a brand new
CD. I stared out the window as they pressed “play.” The sun looked like it was burning a hole
through the sky, singeing the edges of the endless blue until they looked like God had drawn
them with charcoal. As the crisp, self-satisfied tones of a British accent hummed through our
stereo system, I pouted. Whatever this was, it was not what I wanted to hear.
It was an audio book: Murder Must Advertise.
The British accent swam in one ear and out the other, boggling my mind with more
syllables than I could count. Supercilious, sesquipedalian…It might as well have been Dr. Seuss
translated into Japanese. Even back then, I prided myself on my expansive vocabulary. Still, I
was only a rising second grader; my idea of a big word was “translucent.” As for my
sophisticated knowledge of foreign languages, it started and ended with “hakuna matata.”
Slowly, though, things started to make sense. The mumbo jumbo started to sound more
like English, full of words I knew, and, better yet, words I could learn. The book was like a
puzzle, and the pieces were clicking into place. I didn’t have every piece, but I knew how to find
them. I knew something else, too: I would like the book.
When you’re seven, you know a lot of things.