Sunday, July 13, 2014

W55: Elevated Writing

I have been a little busy lately so I apologize for getting a little behind on posting.

Last week, I decided to do a writing exercise since I hadn't done one in a while.  I found the prompt at WritersDigest.com.  This is a website dedicated to providing resources to writers of all kinds.  In addition to prompts, there are articles and competitions and other resources to help people "write better, get published" as the site's motto proclaims.

The Prompt: Shut In:

The department store elevator shuts down on the way to the fourth floor, with you and *eight* other people in it. You remain calm, but other people begin to panic. Write this scene and the dialogue between characters. (modified to have eight people instead of the original ten)

My Response:

The elevator grinds to a heavy halt, jolting all of its passengers out of their separate, little bubbles.  Looking around, I suddenly take stock of the people I’m trapped with—the middle-aged store manager; the teen-aged employee; the little, old lady with return in hand; the two small children clutching their mother’s skirts; and the young couple registering for their wedding.

At first, everyone stands there in a sort of expectant shock, gazing longingly at the dial overhead.  Surely, this is a temporary break in service.  Any second now we’ll be back up and running.

Then, the lights flicker.  And, that brief glimpse into darkness is enough to completely obliterate the patience of this increasingly cramped space.

“Hit the emergency button,” demands the young man, aggressively aiming the registration gun at the panel.

The little, old lady is closest, but she is slow to react so the store manager pushes past her to jam the red button in.

The elevator is instantly filled with a high-pitched feedback followed by static then silence.

“Oh, God,” mutters the store manager as he sinks to the floor.

“What?!” screams the employee.

“There was an issue with the intercom during the inspection last week so they were going to send someone out to fix it.”

The children, as if on cue, start in on a sort of wailing that only a mother could tolerate.  She begins singing to comfort them, to comfort all of us in a way.

Meanwhile, an argument has broken out between the young man and the store manager.  The young man wants to pry the doors open, but the manager insists that won’t do us any good since we are between floors.

“We’ll climb through the ceiling then.  Like in the movies,” declares the young man.  He turns to his fiancĂ©e for a boost.  She starts laughing hysterically.

The little, old lady begins hitting the button to the fourth floor repeatedly, as if that is the simplest solution to our dilemma. 

“I think we are all being a little rash here,” I say.  “We’ve only been in here a few minutes.  Let’s give someone time to notice we’re gone.”

But, by then, all of the commotion in this stifling space has made it impossible for me to speak rationally to anyone.  No one even acknowledges I’m here. 

As tensions escalate, the store manager is on his feet again.  The two men are near blows.  Amidst the shouting and crying and singing, everyone is near frenzy when a familiar ding slices through the racket. 

We turn as the doors slide open, revealing the fourth floor in all its glory before us.

As we step off, we are suddenly more aware of the world around us.  The store manager kisses the ground.  The young couple helps the old lady to the return counter.  The employee helps the mother wrangle her little ones.  

And, I stand in awe. 

None of us will ever quite return to our little bubbles.  At least, not like before. 


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I know I'm rusty still, but I think that every effort I make towards getting back into writing is another step towards getting back in touch with something I used to be so passionate about.

Feel free to post your responses to my writing, or your own take on this prompt in the comments.

Coming up... Week 56: Random Firsts

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