Friday, November 26, 2010

Creative Writing Exercise: Clutter

I found a great resource on the Internet today: Daily 5. It's a series of 365 creative writing activities. Yes! I don't know that I really have the perseverance or dedication to hit all 365 in as many days, but even if it takes me six years, it will still be worth it!

So here is the first one. I'll only list the date as the exercises are not mine to share. If you follow the above link, you can see what the original prompt was.

January 1 (Might as well start from the start, right?):

(I chose to only do the first)

She looked up at the large mirror at the top of the vanity table. She didn't see her own reflection; instead, she let her eyes wander over myriad snapshots tucked into the edges of the frame. Photos of date nights and family gatherings and vacations. Some had started to yellow, their edges crisp, with age. Shaking her head to rid her brain of unwelcome sadness, she focused again on her reflection. Lipstick, she thought, and she reached into the small drawer to her right. Ten, fifteen lipsticks from which to choose. She poked through them, pushing aside the somber brown she had worn to Frank's funeral twenty years earlier and trying to ignore the vamp red one she had shocked him by wearing on their first anniversary. Finally, she found a tube that was less than five years old. She rubbed her lips with Vaseline before smearing a pale mauve over top of them.

She had spent nearly an hour getting ready so far. She had fumbled through foundations, concealers, and blushes. Given up on choosing from the spectrum of eye shadow colors, settling on plain black mascara that was well past its prime. Straightened her hair, then curled her hair, then settled on a low ponytail that she hoped made her look young though she feared it only emphasized the feathery wrinkles at the corners of her eyes.

Faking satisfaction at her appearance, she turned to the left. Two drawers and three boxes of jewelry, sorted by costume and real, daily or dress. She reached for the smallest of the boxes and opened it. A faded velvet ring box was nestled in the lower right corner, her engagement ring tucked inside. She pulled it out, opened it, and pulled her wedding band from her left ring finger. Rolling it between her index finger and thumb, she chewed on her lower lip before closing the ring box. She slid the band onto her right hand and closed the jewelry box.

Opening the second box, she pushed aside the bracelet Frank had given her on their third date and tried to ignore the pang in her heart as she glanced at the heart-shaped locket he'd given her the night before their wedding. A pouch containing a simple set of pearls that she'd bought at the department store were at the bottom of the box, and she chose them.

Rising from the small, upholstered bench, she walked in stocking-clad feet to the closet. She pulled the string that turned on the single, bare bulb that lit up the closet's interior. Frank's second-best suit was tucked in right next to her only black dress, the one she'd worn to his funeral. She pushed both of them aside as she tried to find her white cashmere sweater amongst Frank's old dress shirts. She finally noticed it, right next to the Hawaiian shirt she'd bought him the Christmas that she'd surprised him with tickets to Hawaii. Tears filled her eyes. That had been their last vacation together. A month later, he'd found the lump. A year later he was gone.

She couldn't do this. Putting the sweater back on her hanger, she instead pulled out Frank's worn bathrobe. She padded over to the phone on Frank's nightstand, pushing aside his reading glasses and his favorite novel in order to grab the receiver. She pushed her wedding band back onto her left hand as she waited for someone to answer.

"Carol? It's Margot. Could you call Patrick and tell him I have a headache; I won't be able to go...Carol, please...I know...I know how long it's been. Just call and tell him, okay?"

Setting the phone back down, she reclined on the bed, her head on Frank's pillow. She pulled his favorite sweater from beneath the pillow, inhaled the cologne he had worn, the same cologne she sprinkled on it once a week.

Margot wept.


  1. Oh Nichole! I had tears in my eyes by the end. Wonderful honey, really. Very moving. I'm going to enjoy your 365 days of Creative Writing and I'll be here to support you on the journey!

  2. Thank you! I just tried to picture how I would be and off I went!

    I look forward to having you along for the journey! That, in itself, is enough to keep me going!