Hi, WWWW. I’m getting towards the end of the stories about the beginning of my new life. Check out www.isabeltellsherstories.com.

#77  I, Isabel Scheherazade, experience what Olivia calls a frisson:* awe, wonder, almost spooky, but not as scary as spooky might be. A Way-Back-Seat memory wrapped around a Mom and Me object. I want to remember that memories attach themselves to pictures, objects, sounds, smells…or combs!!

Mimi finds the comb tucked in a folded newspaper clipping. Here’s our comb! She holds it up. But what’s this?  she says when she spots Mom’s handwriting in the margin of the paper. “Show to ISABEL. She’ll LOVE  it!”

A French scientist wanted to find out what kind of hair was the snarliest. He had hairdressers count tangles for a week. They found 5.3 snarls per head of straight hair and 2.9 per head of curly hair. 

Mimi cradles the clipping like it’s a bird’s egg.  Your Mom was always on the lookout, wasn’t she.

I twist one of my curls.

Mimi hunts for the date. It’s from June 13th, she says, and then Mimi and I look at each other. It was the morning paper from the day of the accident.

Mimi talks and smoothes the dateline.  She must have read the article and wrapped it around the comb for the next morning snarl-out. Later that day your Pop and I came over to babysit.  Mimi watches me as she figures it out. We came over to babysit so your Mom and Dad could go out to dinner…

…but we never had a “next-morning.”

We keep staring at the article, picturing what it meant and all. Then Mimi shakes herself and says, Let’s do it, Isabel. Let’s attack the tangles.

She gives me her silver-handled mirror to hold while she combs.  I can see her face in it. As she works, we talk and meet each other’s eyes, like when Pop drives the car and looks in the rear view mirror to talk to us kids in the backseat.

I never did the hand mirror thing with Mom, so I like that this is a little different. While Mimi sprays the detangler she admires the comb. The teeth are spaced just right. Who would have thought of double rows? They’re the exact width for the knots! And these rounded tips! Sweet. She has me read the article again. Straight hair was snarlier than curly? She shakes her head. I never would have guessed!

Me either. I hold the mirror at different angles so I can see how my hair was coming along. Looks good, I say.

Mimi sighs. Well, that’s fine then. She hits the detangler spray button and digs into another section of wild hair.

And do you know?

It is.

Fine, I mean.


A Note on the Wide-Awake Life from Isabel, WWWW’s guest blogger


#71 I, Isabel Scheherazade, leader of the wide-awake life, who writes things down so I can catch them to think about later, Remember Something Mom Always Said to Me. Sorry for the caps, but it shows emphasis. (Hey, I’m “in charge of this blog” as Pop says to me.)


Isabel, come see! You’re going to love this! Mom was always finding something in nature that she was sure I didn’t want to miss. Most of the time she was right.

Not always.

Like the time Mr. Cardinalas Mom called him, was wooing Mrs. Cardinal with bugs and sunflower seed. I mean, it was interesting, just not so interesting that I wanted to sit still for a ton of time to see the courtship unfold.

But do you know?  I can still feel her calling out to me. Not the actual words–just the THUMP of the words.

Think about the rhythm a poem has.

If “ISABEL, come see! You’re going to LOVE THIS!” were a poem, it would have 10 or 11 syllables or parts. So what I feel–a lot–is this vibration with the first three syllables and the last two. It’s like they’re accented or whatever it’s called in poetry.

What happens when I feel these vibes?

I look around for something I might be missing.

ISABEL (I guess you’d say this was a story from the Way-Back-Seat-of-My-Memories. A mini story with a major impact.)

#68 I, Isabel Scheherazade tell of Olivia’s late-night visit and how an unruly night commences and how our house becomes like Whale Island was for Shakelton and Worsley.


#68 I, Isabel Scheherazade tell of Olivia’s late-night visit and how an unruly night commences and how our house becomes like Whale Island was for Shakelton and Worsley.

It’s a school night, but I can’t sleep.

Olivia’s on the inflatable bed under the sloping wall near my dormer window.  Moonlight covers her like a blanket.  She’s breathing in and out, in and out. Steady. So she must’ve stopped crying.

An hour ago my family and I were in bed when I hear taptaptap. I get Mimi and Pop, and we peer over the front stair railing to the front door.

It’s Olivia! Her face is pressed against the skinny window on the side of the door.

Pop rushes to let her in.

She’s dressed like a burglar–all in black: stocking cap pulled over her hair, braids piled into the cap so you can’t see the red, gym bag in one hand and her backpack loaded with books in the other.

She looks up at Pop and cries out, I’m lost and alone!  And then she crumples to the rug and starts sobbing.

This is one sad thing, I can tell you. Mimi and I race downstairs, and we kneel around her, patpatting and shooshing. After a while, she quiets down.

Mimi herds us away from the front door and into the sunroom. (Moon room would be a better name for tonight. It’s that bright.)

Pop mixes Ovaltine with milk. Here, drink this. (Ovaltine is our family’s crisis drink.) 

We all watch while she gulps it. She puts the mug down and looks at us.

Pop clears his throat. So. Olivia. What’s happening?


(I’ll finish this tomorrow, but Dad used to quote Shakespeare a lot and ’twas a rough night is a good last line for now.)



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