A Few of Their Favorite Things (Penny Rader)

I recently watched NCIS: Los Angeles during my lunch break and realized one of the themes of this particular episode had to do with prized possessions. Some of the characters had them, while others did not. It got me to thinking about writing and the things our characters treasure. I'm tickled so many WARA members have shared the items cherished by their characters.

In Sapphire and Gold, Alexandra takes her diary with her everywhere. Early in the story she finds a locket that leads her on a quest to find her family. Even though she has physical reactions to it, she keeps it with her. In If Tomorrow Never Comes, Jenna treasures her snow globes, especially one given to her by her grandmother, while Nick would be lost without his camera. In my current story I haven’t yet discovered what belongings my characters hold dear.

I found this Character Generator http://www.archetypewriting.com/muse/generators/character.htm online. Here are a few of prized possessions it came up with:

an unopened package

an old recipe

a set of lock picks

a tattered feather

a photograph that was torn in half

a mask

an empty wooden box

a library card

a scar

a coroner's report

Want to play? Pick a possession from the above list, make up a character to go with it, and let us know why your character values this object. Please share.
Do you have a prized possession? What would happen if you lost it?


Tanya Hanson said...

A tattered feather: Tiwiwas of the Nez Perce keeps it as remembrance of her chief father Joseph. The sacred feather always keeps him close to her heart.

My family has a locket that all the girls have worn on confirmation and wedding days since the 1850's. It's not giantly valuable in terms of jewels or gold but very precious.

Kathy said...

An unopened package. My character is a widow and an officer in the US Army. The package was from her husband it arrived after his death and she never opened it. She is saving it to open when their daughter is older. Then they will openit together.

Penny Rader said...

Tanya, I love how you've made the feather into something sacred. And how cool that you have such a lovely family tradition. I'm jealous.

Penny Rader said...

Oh man, Kathy, you're making me tear up. Wonderful job. Gotta go wipe my eyes and get back to work. I would love to read that story.

Rox Delaney said...

Unopened letters...

I have a letter that for 35 or so years I didn't open until a few years ago. It was in an envelope within an envelope from the U.S. Army. The letter was written by me to a guy I knew in high school. It was returned to me by the Army because my friend died in Vietnam before it reached him.

Penny Rader said...

Rox, you're breaking my heart. That's so sad! Thanks for sharing with us.

The Word Place said...

What a great blog and link! I can't wait to get started!

Pat Davids said...

What a cool list of things.
I shall give my character has an empty wooden box. (I love wooden boxes) She's an Amish widow. When she was a child, the family went to the seashore when they were visiting family in South Carolina. She loved the sea and brought back a wooden box filled with sand to remind her of the trip. She often talked to her husband about going there again and he promised that they would one day. When he died, she poured the sand into his hand inside the coffin because she wanted him to hold a reminder of her for all eternity. She kept the box because it was like her heart. Empty now of the dreams they’d once shared.
My goodness, the hero is going to have a hard time winning her heart, isn’t he?

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for stopping by, Judy! I hope you'll share with us.

Penny Rader said...

That is soooo cool, Pat! Heart-wrenching, but cool. I hope you write that story. I'd love to read it.

Penny Rader said...

I pick the scar. Mary Beth bears a jagged scar along her right cheek, a gift from her savage first husband. For a long time it made her feel ugly and ashamed. She eventually learns to see it as a badge of survival—that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

My personal possession? A pendant I've worn nearly every day for over three years. It bears the footprint of my granddaughter, Lexi. She fought hard every day of the 164 days she lived. How can I do no less? The pendant is silver and more than a bit tarnished. (I wear it under my clothes, against my skin.) I can't seem to keep it shiny, especially around the edges. But you know what? I'm finally okay with that. I'm not so shiny myself. Especially around the edges.

Nina Sipes said...

All of a sudden I realized that I have something odd that I have kept as though it were precious to me. It is a box of all the personal mail I've ever received. Somewhere along the way, I've added a few other letters, like from one of my dad's depraved girlfriends. I had always thought that when I grew old, I would read them and remember my life. Recently, I decided to take a peak at what I was keeping (in case they were merely inane).

It became clear to me within just a few letters why we were always ill-at-ease around my grandmother. One letter or card at a time, you don't notice trends. Read several in a row and you do. My dad's skanky girlfriend, sitting on the bed in a cut-rate hotel by-the-week-room smoking a cigarette and writing to my dad asking when he was going to come see her. (She's the one who described what she was doing and where.) Her desperation as he didn't come, her growing sense of betrayal, the maps she included, (as if it were actually possible to get lost out here.) They are so fifties Noir--when she hit her adulthood, yet written in the early 70's. How I ended up with them in my box, I'll never remember. Then, there are the ones that my husband and I exchanged. Silly ones, for we met as adults by mail. I answered the ad on his business card. Those we shall be keeping for sure, the others...I'm almost ready to toss

They reflect a side or two of the characters of the people who wrote them, and the reflection isn't necessarily nice. Anyone want to vote on whether I keep them or toss? Opinions? I am emotionally uninvolved with them at this time. Except the few I did read and they're kind of creepy.

Penny Rader said...

Nina, did this girlfriend become your grandma, or did you feel uncomfortable around your grandmother because you somehow sensed there was something going on with your grandpa? (This is just me being nosy, so don't answer if you don't want to.)

Looks like you've got some fodder some creepy story characters.

And how cool that you have letters written between yourself and your husband. May I ask what kind of ad he placed on his business card? (I love hearing stories about couples met each other.)

Nina Sipes said...

My dad was a womanizer like other kids have drunks for fathers. The girl friend was his as were the letters. Does this affect me? Make me not trust men? Not really. When you are growing up in a situation, it seems normal to you. Maybe not to other people, but normal to you. My father is a wonderful dad. Crappy husband, boyfriend, but great dad.

My grandmother was incredible. Married 6 times. Inventor. Suicide threatening. Possible murderess. In-home nurse. Previous two sentences unconnected. What made her difficult was that she wasn't very accepting. She continually wanted things improved--including me. I was her favorite and I rarely measured up. Like I said, one letter at a time and you don't notice as much. Read four in a row and you fall all over the trend. But, it doesn't weigh me down and never did very much. I figured out early she had issues.

My husband's business card at the time said he was many things, a pilot, a clod-hopper for two of those things. When I saw clod-hopper, I laughed and grabbed a pen. I wrote to him a letter telling him I had forty acres of clods needing hopped and I needed a price quote and references. The silliness bloomed from there into a year's correspondence and a few phone calls. Then an opportunity to move back to my home county came along and I took it. I wanted to see if upon meeting as adults (I didn't remember him from school, he remembered me. He's four years older.) our relationship would grow or die. It grew. We've had 30 happy years so far. It doesn't seem anywhere like that many.

My sister-in-law once asked me when I was going to cheat on him because according to her that supposedly runs in families. Well, none of my dad's three kids have ever cheated on their spouses. So, I guess it doesn't. Actually, dad is the only one in the family that I know of. He's also the only one that has ever been divorced (on his side of the family) except one of my cousins. I just realized how odd that is.

None of this is secret. We all live our lives in public view. We don't think about it, but we do.

I too collect stories of when one of a couple knew the other person was for them. They're fantastic stories.