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The Only True Genius in the Family - A Novel by Jennie Nash
'My Own True Genius' Essays : Beth Morrow, When Your Muse... Lemons

True Genius Essay Contest First Place Winner!

When Your Muse Hands You Lemons...

By Beth Morrow

The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie NashDominated by math problems with one acceptable solution and penmanship rules that shunned star-dotted I's, the creativity I'd been gifted with at birth fizzled by fifth grade. When Mr. H made us enter an ad contest sponsored by car company, I planned a color-pencil car surrounded by a traditional family like everyone else. I wasn't about to be the girl with the "full of weird and random thoughts" box checked on her grade card.

As I settled at the kitchen table that evening, my brain didn't bubble with images of Mercury Monarchs — it gave me lemons. Brilliantly yellow lemons. Lemons on wheels. Lemons with exhaust pipes, steering wheels and windshields. Lemons that loved Sunday drives.

I repressed the lemons to get to the cars. Lemons resurfaced. I leafed through dad's Popular Mechanics. Lemons percolated through chrome and engine blocks. I played with my brother's Matchbox collection hoping for osmotic transfer of their car spirits to me.

Unfortunately, lemons won.

Begrudgingly, I sketched the best lemon car ever. The family of the tricked-out fruit grinned, unaware the citric acid inside would both burn and cure their scurvy. With a heavy heart, I penned a clever caption then stuck the failure in my Trapper Keeper.

A few weeks later, Mr. H silenced us to share "neato news". Someone — in our class — had won the advertising contest. Hushed whispers bounced off the creaky wooden floor beneath chunks of spring mud. Mr. H approached my girls-only block of desks with a certificate and a check, stopping beside me. In disbelief, I shook his hand and took my bounty. Genuine smiles, jealous glares and a life-long love of lemons are the memories I carry with me from that day I felt — and reluctantly ran with — the genius of my creative inspiration. •

© 2009 Beth Morrow,