Show ‘Em! – A Writing Exercise

Do you recall the writing exercise I mentioned the other day? The one designed to get the reader to fill in the blanks as the writer tries to convey emotion through action?

I thought I’d share the one I did for my post today.

Her body buzzes like it isn’t hers. The pressure in her forehead and behind her eyes is like the worst sinus headache. She shuffles up the stairs to the bedroom loft, almost missing a step. Her hands grasp tighter at the smooth wood; she ascends in rigid, constricted movements.

Straight for the small window in the middle of her bed. One street lamp shines directly into the alley, and a porch light across the street casts a minimal amount of light into a neighbor’s yard.

Her eyes dart to the left and the right. Her heart’s held captive as a prisoner in its own body to the shadows, to the light.

She is suspended in the suspense of a horror movie and frozen to the night. Scanning, hunching, peering like a feral animal.

The loft holds her things – a journal, clothes from the day, and books.

In bird-like movements, she looks about from thing to thing. Her things? Somehow, somewhere the connection and the attachment to them have vanished.

Just a shelled-out nut without a home; unnatural, drifting, left to rot.

She returns to the bed, eyes darting: to the street lamp, to the porch light, her body tense, and pressure in her head.

The washing machine turns on. Yet nothing’s cleaner; nothing’s changed. The wash, rinse, and repeat of the cycle – indebted to it all.

She moves to sit cross-legged on the floor and grabs a journal and flips to a page with words in it. 

Her words.

She drops it and picks up a loose photo from under the bed with her image. She squints her eyes tight and pulls it close to her face.

Like a dementia patient, there’s the notion it’s of her. But the whens, whys, and hows escape her; the primitiveness of the caveman observer disallows for anything more.

Back to the bed. The lamp, the light. Body tensed. Pressure. Then on the floor, she lays. Rigid as a plank. The imperfections in the ceiling pulse with her pulsing body.

Back to the bed. The lamp, the light. A sound? It has to be. A frozen deer, her eyes dart. Breath paused. Nowhere to go. The lamp, the light.

She takes a short breath and twists her body away from the bed and onto the floor. The cycle starts again.

Nothing cleaner.


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