First Grad School Assignment

I finally have something to post from my fiction workshop! School’s going really well. I think I’m getting used to the workload now. I’m reading a book a week on top of packets of dense reading and, of course, writing. My first assignment was very interesting and there are multiple parts to it.

The first is to go out and follow someone long enough to describe twenty physical characteristics of them.
Then, out of those twenty, pick five that seem to define that person the most.
After, turn that person into a character in a story. The first part is a short paragraph describing how the character would walk onto an empty stage (no props, all alone). The second part is a quick, one-page monologue the character gives to the audience.

I didn’t hand this in yet, and it is also unedited and untitled, but I wanted to share it with you guys. Hope you enjoy.

Part 1

He walks onto the stage as if his whole life has been leading up to this moment, as if no one is in the audience despite the theater being packed. He looks neither nervous or confident as he slowly approaches the illuminated chair at the center of the empty stage. The crowd sits quietly while it waits for him to speak. He sits there indifferently and removes his sunglasses, revealing sleepless, bloodshot eyes. It looks like he travelled a great distance to get here. His leather jacket screams motorcycle rider, but in a cool way, not the overweight, never-grew-up, midlife crisis kind of way. The crowd gives him nothing to feed off of, but he manages to find something deep within himself to get him started.

Part 2

“I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I do want you to know I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re here tonight—well, not really, but I am—and that’s enough for me. It took a long time getting to this point.

“I spent everything I had on a motorcycle and left everything behind. Friends, family, my job. None of it mattered. I needed to focus on myself. I needed to strip myself of all the excess, simply my life. The apartment’s gone, I traded the car for the bike, and used the leftover money on a sleeping bag, a knife, a fire-starter, and a tent. Luckily it’s summer, and the temperature never dips below 70 degrees. Sleeping on the cold ground next to a fire you built yourself is rewarding in its own unique way. You suffer through the first night, but day by day, it gets easier and easier, provided the weather’s okay. Sometimes it rains all night. Other times, the wind is so strong, it blows out your fire when you’re dead asleep. There are times where all you can do is look up at the unfamiliar stars and wait for the sun to come up because the noises outside your tent might kill you. Despite all that, it does get easier, and you’re thankful for the days where as soon as your head hits the pillow, you wake up and it’s already morning.

“I was out in California two days ago. I did all sorts of nasty jobs to make enough money to buy food and gas to drive around the country. What people don’t tell you is that it takes a lot of money to live like you’re poor. To be able to get rid of everything is a luxury. To lose you was my worst nightmare.

“I drove all over the country hoping I’d get you out of my mind. But in each state, I saw you. You were sitting at the counter in the restaurants, the embers keeping me warm at night, the clouds and stars in the sky, the sun beating down on me as I cross state lines, and the endless bugs that flew in my eyes while riding down the highway. And you’re here now, where we first met, in Austin. I always hated it here, and you knew that. You let me leave without ever taking a step out the door. But as soon as you took a step out mine, I knew you were everything, and I’d never get rid of you. All I can do now is hope you feel the same.”

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