Friday, August 8, 2008

Writing Exercise: Word Cram

Yesterday, I said I'd share a short story I wrote, which came about through a simple creative exercise. Just as it's important to warm up and stretch out before running, at least for me if I'm running long distances, I find when I pen a small piece prior to tackling lengthier projects like a novel, it sparks my creative drive and keeps me cranking longer. Someone on my workshop site, The Next Big Writer, put forth a challenge to write a story using a provided list of words: spigot, balcony, simple, price, migrate, customary, obedient, screen, broom, gypsy, tripod, state, cap, scale, familiar, dodge. It had to be 1500 words or less. And of course, I had to take up that dare. Here's my crazy effort:


As soon as I exit my house and step into the sunshine, I gasp.

Wearing a patchwork sunhat, fuchsia daisy flip-flops and pantaloons, Mrs. Davenport is spraying rainbows on the brown zone of nothingness uglifying her otherwise perfectly manicured yard. Why someone fortyish would risk being mistaken for seventy is beyond me, but that's so not the shocker. The lack of flowers is what leaves my mouth open like it is. I mean, not even one sprouting bud decorates the spot where previously no dog, kid or rabbit could come within feet of without getting hosed. Now, I know I'm only fifteen and supposedly don't know squat, but I swear she has a corpse buried in that bloomless bed.

She twists the spigot increasing the flow, then sees me and waves. "Hidey-ho, Kylie."

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Davenport," I reply with my eyelids sinking into a squint.

My suspicion arose two nights ago, when Bobby and I were on my tree house balcony watching the sun set. It wasn't customary for us to be up there dressed so nice, but we were waiting for my mom to get off the phone and bring us to a dance. I kept eyeing my red gown. Way too much lace and sequins. And definitely more tomato than scarlet. Gross! I should've gone with the simple, sky blue one I'd adored, with the spaghetti straps, but it went beyond my $80 price cap. Regrettably, in the travesty I bought, I appeared far more gypsy than diva. Definitely not the look I was going for. Florescent lights lie; that's all I have to say. The seventeen bucks extra would have been worth it.

Bobby, my best friend since preschool, didn't seem to care about my orangey mega-frill, and I could tell because he'd tried to kiss me. After telling me I looked hot, he leaned closer and gazed into my eyes. Delighted, I moved in too. I'd never been so near to the freckles on his nose without a football between us. Our lips almost touched, but the sound of a crash halted our magnetic pull. Bummer! Our neighbors again.

They always fought. Yelling and slamming doors were familiar echoes on the street, but this battle raged on a much grander scale. Even the normally unfazed dogs in the vicinity voiced their agitation.

After hearing trash talk about money and whose things were whose, between the cars and the winter home to where they migrate when frost bites their noses, Mrs. Davenport released a blood curdling scream. She shouted, "Frank! Don't you dare!" as she ran onto her or his enclosed porch. I'm not sure who actually owns it. Anyway, he followed her and threw a television in her direction. Not a big one...just a thirteen inch. She was able to dodge it, but it tore through the screen and smashed on the driveway into like a million pieces. She went ballistic, flailing her arms and hollering words I shouldn't repeat, but she looked pretty ridiculous in her pink, fuzzy robe with green goop on her face. A little hard to take seriously in that state.

He apparently thought so too. He howled in laughter. She snatched a broom, which was pitched against the wall, and swung at him, but he ducked, grabbed it from her and twisted her around. He held it against her neck threatening to choke the life out of her. He said he should beat her with it, then maybe she'd be more obedient. She started laughing. So did he. She turned around, and he lowered the broom and held it against her back vertically. She looked like she was in the middle of a tripod, but she didn't seem to mind being trapped. She kissed him on the lips, and he reciprocated and let the broom fall to the floor. They started mauling one another, and his face became goopified too before he picked her up and carried her in.

Yeah. Yeah. Anyone would assume they had sex, and maybe they did...but that was the last time I saw Mr. Davenport. I haven't heard fighting since. Not even one slammed door. He's always coming and going, but there's his car, right in the driveway, and so is hers. They haven't moved one inch. And the newspapers he reads everyday are collecting on the stoop. I'd bet today's makeout session with Bobby, she choked the life out of him with that broom. Looks to me like she now has everything to her name except her beloved garden.

"What happened to your flowers, Mrs. Davenport? I thought the begonias, tulips and such were your babies?"

"I got sick of 'em," she says while watering the grave with the biggest smile I'd ever seen the lips he paid for make. "Wanted to start fresh."

"That's what I thought," I reply with a nod. I knew it! My instincts are never wrong. I sigh in dismay...I really should've gone with that blue dress.

♦ ♦ ♦

Try and come up with a short story yourself or pick out a bunch of random words in the dictionary and see what you work of art you can create. It's fun and exciting. Go for it.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs

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