Today my small writer's group met at the mall. At our meeting last month I provided three photos for everyone to look at and then asked them to choose one and write about it for 20 minutes. We had a good time doing it. This month, one of the other members brought several photos for us to use to do a writing exercise. We didn't see the photos until we drew one. You could exchange it if you felt you couldn't write about it.
At first I wondered what I'd do with the photo I got. It was so bizarre and unrelated to anything I had ever written or was likely to write. But I believe that challenging yourself in your writing is important. Write about something you don't normally write about, even if it is experimental. You never know what you'll come up with but every time you write something, you'll learn something about the process and about yourself. I was quite pleased with my little story.
Running Out of Time
Harold tried to hurry through the checkout line but the elderly lady ahead of him was certain that the clerk had made an error in her bill. She insisted that the girl go through the twenty items on the counter and check the totals.
He shifted from one foot to the other, rolled his eyes, and gave a loud sigh, looking around at the growing line behind him. Other people were mimicking his behavior. At some point someone would likely say something but his need was much more urgent. He dare not be away more than an hour. Timing was everything and one minute over would be a disaster.
Finally, the lady nodded, handed over her money, one dollar at a time until she counted out thirty dollars and then a series of nickles that amounted to ninety-five cents. She toddled out of the store, pushing her cart ahead of her.
A collective sigh rippled through the line and Harold gave the clerk a tight smile. She returned an easy smile.
“I'm so sorry for that, sir. We'll have you out of here in a tic.”
“Yes, please, do hurry. I have an appointment I'm late for, very important.”
She began to run his purchases through the checkout, tiny beeps sounding with each one until she reached the last, a 50 lb bag of bird seed. She looked up at him with raised brows and wide eyes.
“You must have a lot of birds. Or are you feeding all those pigeons in the park?”
With an unsteady chuckle, he nodded. “Not the park. I have a big family at home.”
“Must.” She grunted as she manhandled the sack into his cart. “I won't put it in a bag.”
“Yes, yes, yes.” His voice cracked.
He nearly threw the money at her and rushed away. “Keep the change.”
His cart bumped the door, causing a loud banging that drew everyone's attention. A quick check of his watch warned him the he was nearly out of time. Five minutes. Five minutes to get to the car, load the items, get in the car, drive five miles to his house and get unloaded. A tiny squeaking moan escaped him. Not enough. Not enough.
Without caution, he tossed everything into the trunk, slammed it and shoved the cart out of the way. It rolled into a Lexus on the opposite aisle. Immediately, the car alarm began to sound. He grabbed his ears with a squawk and jumped into his own car. With tired squealing and smoke flowing behind him, he flew out of the parking lot. He loosened his tie and blinked. Not enough time. He had to hurry.
He blew the first stop sigh and the second light. Cars honked and swerved to miss him. A truck slammed into the back of one as they stopped suddenly. He saw it in the rear view mirror. He looked at the steering wheel and sobbed. He was out of time. His foot moved to slam on the brakes and the car swerved and headed for the curb, slamming into the light pole.
The police car pulled up behind him and the officer approached with gun drawn while a second stood on the other side of the car covering him. “Put your hands out the window and get out of the car!”
Harold didn't move. He couldn't. He was out of time.
The officer opened the door, keeping the gun on him. He leaned down and gasped. “What the hell are you!”
Harold chirped an answer and the officer backed up.
“Will... you gotta come see this. Damnedest thing I've ever seen.”
Will hurried around and skidded to a halt.
Harold struggled to get out of the car and stand up. He looked first at one officer and then the other. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause an accident. I tired to get home before it was too late.”
Both policemen let their guns drop and stared at Harold.
What they saw....