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Creative Writing Assignment

Tonight's assignment comes to us from one of my favorite writers:

New Assignment - Finish this story:"Who here understands what I'm saying?" the old man asked. Jen raised her hand.

“I do,” I say.
I inhale sharp. It’s like that fantasy where you scream in church only this is real.

The other students shift, electric in their seats with their spiral notebooks, their faces washed and stomachs full of apple slices or oatmeal or toast with peanut butter. I don’t talk in this class.
Except now:

“I understand that you don’t know what you’re saying.”

His pacing stops and he half turns, won’t even give me his full ugly face.

All of a sudden I’m not sitting at my desk anymore but am standing, with one leg planted firm, one leg bent at the knee, resting against the yellow plastic scoop seat, bump in the middle for the space between my legs. Standing like a stork, which is comfortable for me, which people have made fun of me for my whole life, which right now is in defiance to him, as if to say: you’re so full of shit, I don’t even need both feet on this classroom floor to stand up to you. My arms hang at my sides, fingers grazing my thighs. I don’t know what to do with them. I never know what to do with my arms.

“All year long you poke holes in me. I’m late. I’m slow. I’m rude. I’m a lot of things. And today I’m a mirror. And while you look like a teacher to everyone else here – maybe look like someone with power, with grey hair, with a gut – against my surface you look like the kid that got too good-looking too fast, didn’t know what to do with it, then the good looks went away only you didn’t know it yet.”

David laugh-snorts. I realize I’m fiddling with the seam of my jeans and I force my fingers to stop it. My mouth is very dry.

“Is that all?” he asks, and his voice is a cold, dry wind.

“You are a teacher, though,” I continue, and I can’t believe it: I am a good kid. There was a time when I really wanted him to like me. I make all A’s. I’m on the Homecoming Court. I also can’t stop talking and I realize I’m saying “you’ve taught me that people don’t really change when they leave high school. I keep thinking people will grow up, will move past this place, but you didn’t. You stay here, every day, trying to prove to ghosts that you’re better than them. That you’re better than us. Better than me. I don’t care who you were then so don’t make me pay for it anymore.”

The silence is thick and I won’t look away from his eyes. They are green with the whites gone milky and we spend a long moment there, breathing. This is what my grandmother meant when she said I had a will of my own. I've never encountered it before but here it is, in this moment with the ticking clock and my nerves and I am powerful and terrified. But no one is saying anything so I scoop up my green Jansport and I walk past the three desks between me and the door and out.

Keep walking because I don’t know what to do and I wonder if I’m just like him now and if I’ll just keep trying to outlive this moment for the rest of my life.


Last night, I took a walk in the snow. It was close to midnight. As I got closer to my place I considered staying out all night, walking the city that suddenly seemed smaller - thought that if the snow I was slipping in looked like the snow at the National Cathedral and the snow at LeDroit Park then they couldn't be that far away? Like the snow was a fast plane, a secret passage, a sameness putting everything in reach.

My favorite part is the tree branches, covered in inches of white unfolding as I move under them against the clear black sky.

People are digging their cars out and walking in the middle of the street and smiling at each other.

Creative Writing Assignment

Assignment - IPOD on shuffle. What memories come attached to each song?

Tijuana Lady - Gomez
I am driving my dad's burgundy Nissan Maxima. The interior is leather and my hands slide over the steering wheel, turning hand-over-hand. I hold the palm of my hand to my nose - it smells like my dad's skin. It is sunset and the sky is orange and yellow and burgundy like the car as I drive up and over hill after hill in this suburban neighborhood, on my way to visit my boyfriend.

Falling Down - Avril Lavigne
I try to subtly adjust my uncomfortable work-appropriate underwear behind a merch stand while I look out over the brown lacquer display at the city park. There is a homeless man with a red rainjacket and a scruffy beard, red sores all over his face. I look from his face to the $55 leather day planner on the rack in front of me and think about the difference.

Please Read the Letter - Robert Plant and Alison Kraus
I am sitting on one ex-boyfriend's futon emailing another ex-boyfriend while the sky turns black outside my warp-paned windows. I've had too much wine and I shouldn't press send but I do it anyway.

Nothing Brings Me Down - Emiliana Torrini
I flex my toes into the dirty blue carpet and look at the candlelight flicker on the off-white walls of my LA studio apartment. I should sweep my kitchen.

Too Little Too Late - Barenaked Ladies
Natalie turns the stereo up in her white car as we drive north on the 5. I share my french fries with Shar and Kylie navigates. The day outside is grey but we all have high hopes.