Tonight's exercise comes from the book The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen. The instructions say "Below are the solutions to twelve problems. Choose the one with the most or least energy and write the problem after setting your timer for 15 minutes."
Here are the 12 solutions, as listed...
1. Leaving town for good. 7. Looking for a new job.
2. Ending a friendship. 8. Letting go of anger.
3. Telling the truth about his wife. 9. Buying a house.
4. Paying $20,000. 10. Joining the Marines.
5. Tearing up his telephone number. 11. Playing the saxophone.
6.Getting engaged. 12. Borrowing money.
Solution: Leaving town for good.
It had been a dark night. That was all she could remember--the depth of that windless autumn night. She had just finished the dress rehearsal of the little community play she was directing, staying late to see to last minute details. The programs were printed. The costumes hanging backstage. She went through the performance in her head as she drove, her little red car the only thing on the road, as far as she could see.
Then, suddenly--a shadow. That was all. A movement out of the corner of her eye. The next thing she could recall was waking to a stark, white ceiling. A cold winter's day. Stillness. Steel. She would soon discover that it had been nearly two months since that night. She was told she had hit a horse that had gotten out of it's pasture. A beautiful horse, the doctor said with regret. The play she was supposed to direct had gone on without her, as a show should. The cast had sent yellow roses that had wilted, drooped, and been thrown away by the janitorial staff long before she'd woken up.
A halo, with screws drilled into her skull, supported her head, keeping her neck perfectly still. She was lucky to be alive. Lucky not to be paralyzed. Lucky. But when her husband and her children came to see her that day--the day she awoke, she felt nothing. She remembered them, but the memories had no warmth. No color. The children chattered and quarreled. She wished the would go away. When her husband bent down to kiss her cheek, she flinched.
"What is wrong with me?" she wondered. Deep down, she felt--instinctively--that something much worse than her neck had been broken. She tried to tell herself to give it time. Surely, she was just in shock. She'd been in a major accident and suffered a traumatic injury. Things would get better.
But the days passed, and the weeks passed, and nothing was the same. She loved the color red--asking the nurses to tape Georgia O' Keefe and Rothko paintings on her walls. Her husband came to visit that day, and asked why--responding quietly, almost to himself, "But you always loved blue. The palest shades of blue." Her favorite food was caeasar salad. It had been strawberries. Nothing was the same--she was not the same. And the love that she kept hoping would return never did. Her husband knew it. She knew it.
Quietly, on the day she left the rehabilition center, her husband carried her small bag out of the hospital. He placed it in the trunk of her new, black car. He told her that he had set up a small account with a little money for her. That if she ever wanted to return... he left it hanging. He turned and gave her a hug with a single tear on his face. She took the keys, got in the car, and drove away.