Exercise #49: Meet Trudy Harmon

Exercise 49 Instructions

Trudy Harmon was about as far from average as an average woman can get.  Much of that she got from her parents, though not in the ways you’d think.  For one thing, shortly after she was born and while her mother and grandmother were busy fussing over her, an orderly had handed her father the birth certificate form, which he had filled out and returned that very day.

David Harmon, Trudy’s father, had chosen “Trudy Louise” for his maternal grandmother, the woman who’d helped him understand that he was an excellent carpenter.   When his wife, Roberta, found out which name David had picked, she was livid.  The couple argued about it for hours afterward.  Roberta had been looking forward to naming her daughter with some long, elegant-sounding name, such as Elizabeth or Charlotte.  By the time she learned that this privilege had been rather neatly taken from her, it was far too late and changing it to something she preferred would cost more than the young Harmon family could then afford.  Instead, she’d had to resort to adding an extra “th” to her daughter’s name whenever she referred to her, calling her “Trudyth,” to rhyme with “Judith” until her dying day.

Roberta Harmon had always been a rather fashion forward woman, particularly after she’d given birth.  She’d been eager to dress her little girl in pretty pink dresses and put tiny ribbons in her sparse hair.  Every Halloween, she’d sewn her daughter’s costume herself, always a variation on the same theme.  After all, to Roberta, her daughter would always be her little princess.  Nothing could have prepared her for the disappointment when she learned that her daughter, then twelve years old, would rather attend the local gaming convention dressed as Lara Croft with her father and brother than don the hand-sewn confection of satin and lace her mother had made so she could compete in the local Junior Miss Beauty Pageant.

Trudy was beautiful enough.  With her large, chocolate brown eyes and her fall of golden, brown hair that her mother absolutely refused to let her do more than trim, she could easily have been a fashion model.  Even when it was discovered that Trudy needed glasses, she was much more appealing while wearing them than most of the other girls her age, or so her mother always bragged.  Her hands and fingers were long and delicate.  Her lips were full and pouty.  Her eyebrows never seemed to need plucking.  Roberta was firmly convinced that Trudy could have given Miss America a run for her money, even when she was only fourteen.

As much as Roberta pressed the issue, however, Trudy refused to fit into this mold.  Her long hair was worn in a single, long braid that she wore either down her back or over one shoulder, though she could, occasionally be convinced to wrap it around her head in a kind of coronet.  Generally speaking, the only day she could be convinced to put on a dress was Sunday, for church.  Her preferred hobby wasn’t piano, flute or even violin, as her mother had hoped when she signed her daughter up for music lessons at the tender age of five.  If Trudy had her way, she usually liked to be up to her elbows in wet clay or paint, with perhaps a streak of mud on her face or paint in her hair.  Otherwise, she could be found playing video-games (she could beat her brother, William, at just about any title eight times out of ten) or role-playing games (she was familiar with just about every game system on the market) or trying to help her father fix his temperamental ‘59 Corvette.  About the only talent she seemed to inherit from her mother at all was the ability to sew her own clothes.

Trudy never liked buying clothing at the mall, which was always so crowded and noisy that she often claimed she couldn’t hear herself think.    She suffered through it until, when she was fifteen, the teacher of her high school Home Economics class, a class Roberta had insisted she take, introduced sewing.  Trudy took to it like a duck to water.  After all, the fabric store was never as busy as the mall and, by sewing her own clothes, Trudy had the freedom to make them in whatever style and color suited her best.  So, when Roberta got Trudy’s end of the year report card she was stunned.  Up to that point, Trudy had been barely managing a very disinterested C- in Home Ec.  By the end of that year, Trudy had brought the grade up to a solid A.

So, even though Trudy and Roberta still butted heads in other areas of Trudy’s life (her free time, friends, fabric choices, etc.), by the time Trudy was sixteen, she and Roberta had managed to bond over the unlikely subject of clothing construction.  Roberta was delighted when Trudy approached her for advice on how to become a fashion designer.  They spent dozens of hours closeted in Trudy’s room deciding which schools Trudy should apply to, filling out scholarship forms and building Trudy’s portfolio with drawings and pictures of some of the clothes Trudy had made.

This was the reason why Roberta’s death hit Trudy so hard.  It happened just after Trudy’s high school graduation.  Three of the schools Trudy had applied to had sent letters of acceptance.  She’d won six of the twelve scholarships she’d applied for.  They were in the parking lot celebrating when in the middle of a photograph with her daughter, Roberta had, inexplicably, fainted.  Eight hours later, an emergency room doctor informed her remaining family that Roberta had suffered a heart attack.  They had done all they could for her.

This comes from a story starter that I found in one of my journals.  I don’t know if I’ve fulfilled the requirements of this assignment, so you’ll have to tell me.  Is Trudy Harmon the kind of character you could find yourself rooting for?  Please let me know.


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