So I was on a website called Writing Workout, (www.writing-workout.com) today, and I tried out one of their exercises. I tried a recently added exercise, which got me to describe aspects of a certain type of weather, and then combine them with a crime that happens in that weather. I was given “A sudden snow” and “A burglary” to combine into a story.
I encourage my readers to stop by Writing Workout – the exercises there are great when you’re faced with a blank page and the dreaded writer’s block!
This is what came out of my prompts:
Our gleeful giggles stop as the back door creeks open. We stare to the back of the kitchen, shivering both with fear and the breeze cutting through the cracks in our shelter. The announcer goes on, droning through the school closings. Finally finished with distant counties, he goes through more familiar names of nearby schools. A crazy voice inside me is angry, and wants to keep listening. As an unfamiliar boot forces through the opening door, I ignore the voice and whisper to my little brother.
“Living room, now!”
As the rest of the stranger creeps in, Stevie doesn’t fuss like he usually does. He’s in the living room ahead of me, and we both run to the sofa. We push it forward as we squeeze in behind. My back sweats as a warm belch from the furnace blasts behind my feet, up the back of my sweater. There’s a faint stink of burnt gasoline, tickling my nose, but I try to hold my breath. We both breathe out after the booted clomps follow the hall away from the living room, toward Mom’s bedroom. We’ve got to call her, I think. I’m too scared to try the phone in the kitchen – the burglar has to leave that way.
I peel the curtain from the living room window. A grey world, blanketed under white. The snow is thicker every minute. I imagine being buried in it, right up to my neck. I can just see the front door of the house from this angle. The top window of the door is barely visible – even if I could get it open, the snow is too deep for a quick getaway.
More thumps from Mom’s room now. I imagine drawers, torn from Mom’s favorite antique dresser and turned upside down as the burglar looks for her jewelry. An icy wind blows through my hair. It’s from the kitchen – the door’s still open!
Could we? I look to Stevie, getting him to peek over the old sofa. He follows my eyes, but he shakes his head quickly. Another loud thump sounds from Mom’s room.
I grab Stevie’s hand, yanking as I dash. His hand slips, but I run anyway. I’m at the open door in a few steps. Stevie’s stranded in the middle, looking between our hiding place and the door. Booted thumps sound as the burglar approaches. Stevie chooses the door. We’re out, slamming it so hard that the back porch shakes.
White continues to pile up around us. I think briefly how the burglar’s footprints aren’t even visible now. My brother and I shiver, dressed only in our sweaters and jeans.
The door creaks open again. My brother and I run. My toes get number in my cold, wet socks. I whisper a thanks to the snow anyway – we only sink a little as we run over it. We’re around the house, coming to the front.
Our school bus! Its yellow paint shines instead of today’s missing sun! The driver, Mr. Roberts, has the door open, and is shouting at neighbors gathered around. Some of them are behind the bus, pushing and grunting as Mr. Roberts spins the wheels on the snowy road. Kids laugh and tease as they press their faces against the insides of the bus’s windows.
Seeing our crazy run, the driver stops. He jumps out, and he’s joined by many familiar faces turning to us in astonishment.
“Burglar!” I yell, shivering as I stop before him.
Good Old Ralph, our neighbour, only needs the one word. He leads a small pack of neighbours back the way my brother and I ran. I imagine the robber, trying to get through the snow in our back yard. He might make it over the fence, I think, but Ralph is super fast when he’s angry.
The driver and the other neighbours lend us jackets, taking us inside of the school bus. It’s noisy and only a little warmer than outside. Other kids point and laugh, but they move away when the other parents yell at them. Stevie and I get the seat behind the driver’s chair, shivering even with the big jackets on. One nice old lady, Ms. Carlyle I think, tells us that Mom called her. Mom’s on her way, but traffic and snow are likely to keep her a bit.
“Our school didn’t get canceled?” I ask Ms. Carlyle and Mr. Roberts.
“It did, but I heard too late,” Mr. Roberts said, “I was already turning into the crescent when I got the holler on the radio!”
I grin as I look turn to Stevie.
“Yes!” we shout as we trade high-fives.