The flashback and recollection of the children’s book “In a dark dark room” is the moment I fell in love with storytelling. Only those who read this at a juvenile age understand the nostalgia of this place in time.
As a child reading this was as evocative as being in each scene. It was like you were in the room when Jenny’s head fell off. The memory so vivid.
The book contains seven stories: "The Teeth”, "In the Graveyard", "The Green Ribbon", "In a Dark, Dark Room", "The Night It Rained", "The Pirate", and "The Ghost of John". Each one of these birthing the literary writer in me. Sparking my purest imagination and storytelling skills.
I remember reading in my 7 year old body, a hundred times over, and each feeling like the first time.
Feeling apprehensive and frightened through every page.
The short stories were so well written that it taught me how to build momentum of a storyline and the imagery in fiction, and how to give a story its grand ending.
Of all the stories this was the one that I returned to. “The girl with the green ribbon around her neck”. This was the third story in the book.
“The Green Ribbon", follows a girl named Jenny. She always wears a green ribbon around her neck and meets a boy named Alfred.
Oh, the love story of Jenny and Alfred.
Just going through the images of these pages alone have me squealing under the covers!
Jenny always wears a green ribbon around her neck, and every time Alfred inquires about it, she tells him that she will let him know when the day is right.
Jenny and Alfred get married, and he never once sees Jenny without the ribbon around her neck. We know Alfred didn’t have commitment issues!
After reaching old age, Jenny gets terribly sick, she tells Alfred that the time is right, and slowly unties the ribbon while she is on her deathbed, causing her head to fall off.
The horror of this have child readers enthralled in excitement of
“ahhhh -the end!!”
And boy was it! Looking back reading it as an adult it’s quite morbid, considering Jenny is hiding a secret their whole life and gets extremely sick where Jenny tells her beloved Alfred she is going to die.
But as a child, I read this over and over wanting to be scared, again and again. Giving myself nightmares but feeling inspired! Theres no magic on the planet like the mind discovering colors, feelings, and fantasy for the very first time.
As a child this story provoked my thinking cap. I remember liking Jenny, even though she scared me, but thought she cared for Alfred so she must never tell him about the green ribbon in fear of losing Alfred. I never understood the ribbon, but I understood not telling him. Because let’s face it, if I die by taking the ribbon off what’s the point? It would just scare him away.
Oh Jenny. The insecurity and trauma of needing to be loved so desperately and hiding skeletons to be with the one we love was the tale told in a simplistic way. According to adult readers, and internet essays, the ribbon can be interpreted in many ways symbolically: her voice, given its placement around her throat; a piece of herself more sacred than her body, which she gives to her husband freely.
But to the child, the ribbon was worn openly and outwardly.
I think we miss the fact that he knew it was there, and loved her anyway.
The green ribbon held her together.
And she didn’t break her promise.