Non-Fiction Prompt Response: Childhood Discoveries


Write a nonfiction piece of no more than 500 words. It could be anything from a single scene to a complete micro essay—either way, try to utilize the same techniques and structure that you would for a full-length piece. For inspiration, check out Brevity, an online journal dedicated to the art of flash nonfiction.


As I sat in my room playing with my toys I imagined that I was fighting unknown wars and saving princesses from castles.  Footsteps fell on the stairs.  Who dare intrude on my castle for I had taken it for mine upon rescuing the princess?

My mom appeared at the top of the stairs.  The arrival of my mother instead of a monster or barbarian signified play time was over.

“Come over here Ian.”

My mother summons me to a chest sitting against the wall by my stairs.  I hoped the chest would reveal some long-lost treasure but in lieu of gold or diamonds it held a treasure of a different type.

From inside the chest my mother produced a manilla folder full of documents.  Could it be classified files from a spy agency?  It looked like it, but no.  The files inside were labeled with some hospital in Florida’s name along with Suncoast Adoption Agency’s logo.  Lines were crossed out in thick black pen and pieces were filled in with handwritten sections.

“Ian, this is all of the information we have on your birth parents.  You were adopted.  That means someone else gave birth to you and we raised you.”

What was I to think of this?  I was eight or nine years old and had no connection to my birth-parents for I did not know they existed.  The only parents I had known were in this house.  Best solution to what to think: think nothing.

For years I kept this fact in mind but would do nothing with it.  I would just identify as someone who had been adopted.  What I would remember though, is what came next.

Pointing at a specific page my mom’s face began to turn sad as she spoke.  “You had a sister before you were born.  She died after birth.”

“What was her name?”  I asked, not processing the full magnitude of what had just been said.

“Her name isn’t on here.  I don’t know.”

“Could her name have been Sarah?”  My crush and one of my best friend’s had been names Sarah.  It was a school yard crush.

“I guess it could be.”

This fact too would continue to live in me for years to come.  At times taking different roles.

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