I recently learned that a federal colleague started a creative writing experiment on his blog, and was intrigued. I’ve begun developing some creative writing ideas on my own, and this struck me as a good idea to exercise my creative muscles, so to speak.
This challenge had the following constraints:
- Theme: Fear
- Genre: Dream sequence
- Length: No more than 300 words
- Lesson: Metaphors and similes. Use at least one of each
Here’s what I wrote:
Waking Up Alone Can Be a Nightmare
I didn’t remember waking up, but I sensed I was alone. As a teenager, sleeping late on weekends, I learned what it feels like to wake up in an empty house.
My mother might have told me they were going to the store, her words a calm breeze comforting me as I slumbered. Maybe I’d find a note they left, ‘Gone to the supermarket, back at noon’ it would read. I felt assured.
This time I felt only an overwhelming sense of abandonment. Something wasn’t right. A bad feeling in my stomach said so.
Then I heard my children. I had probably overslept and Jerry took the kids outside to play.
My old digital clock-radio showed garbled numbers, flickering like a scrambled television station. I shrugged into my robe and hurried to check the yard. Despite the blue sky, the world appeared hazy. Jerry was sprawled on the ground, unmoving. I ran to him, the morning dew soaking my slippers.
I couldn’t rouse him. His breath was slow, shallow. No sign of an accident, though. I dialed 911 on the mobile phone still in his pocket.
“We’re sorry, that number could not be completed.” Instead of the neutral voice I would expect, its tone mocked me.
I heard the children again; I couldn’t help Jerry now. I followed their voices, their songs. They were laughing. I was terrified.
The gate hung open. Through it, I glimpsed spring jackets rounding the corner. I chased them to the front, seeing what I could only describe as a demon-truck screeching around the corner too fast, bearing down on my babies, and I heard the thump-thump.
I bolted upright. Sweat soaked my hair. Jerry was beside me. My clock-radio was blinking 12:13. Odd – the power went out. It was only a nightmare.
What I learned from this:
Writing with specific constraints is challenging – especially telling a story in 300 words. It was also a lot of fun to write this. I’m fairly new to creative writing – I primarily write professional communications, speeches, web copy, news releases, articles, blog posts, and other social media. Writing fiction is very different.
What inspired the story:
As a child I had a recurring nightmare in which I was chasing after my parents while they walked away from me, never able to catch them, and having a car hit me while I ran after them. I decided to flip it around to be from a parent’s perspective.