Our last assignment was to make a pie from the fruit we spilled on the page the previous week in a rapid exercise of character creation. We had two minutes to describe a tourist visiting the Washington Monument. Quick. Turn the page. Two more minutes to imagine a seagull’s perspective of the monument. Stop. Two minutes to outline the man who mows the lawn at the site. Finally, two minutes to fill out a newly elected congressman seeing it for the first time.
The homework was to write three hundred words chosen from one of those four characters. With a little help in the editing process (thank you), this is my outcome:
Claire had seen the damned thing in books and movies her whole life, but she wasn’t quite prepared for how tall it was now that she was standing at its base. She harrumphed and took her place in line with the rest of the tourists, waiting for the elevator to the top. She looked around at her shuffling neighbors and didn’t see a one that was dressed properly. “No pride anymore,” she quietly sneered. Her niece, who was always fussing over her like she was senile or something, cautioned her that she might be cold but Claire wasn’t going to let her niece or some stupid weatherman tell her she couldn’t wear her red, white, and blue spangled halter top in the capital of her own damned nation. No Sir. It was becoming clear her niece might have been right, Claire thought, as she rubbed her paper thin skinned arms for some warmth, but she’d be damned if she’d let her niece know the better.
The line was inching forward and Claire really wished she had brought that sweater. She shooed a fly away from her cheek and watched a man on a lawnmower making perfect lines in the grass a hundred yards up from her. He was a fine-looking gent as far as she could see, but he was no Abe. Her Abe. No one ever could be. The air grew colder and she rubbed her arms a little quicker.
Cobb had been working the lawn of the Monument for going on twenty-five years and he couldn’t remember a colder April day. The sun was out but a lot of good it did, he thought, as he rode the rough rumble of his mower. He glanced over at the line of tourists. He’d been happy to see the crowds grow over the past few years, after that awful day, and there, among all of those tourists was the brightest reflection of red, white, and blue fireworks he’d ever seen. “Now that’s what I call a patriot,” he chuckled to himself. Cobb let his mower crawl to a stop, and squinted in the crisp sun to get a better look. The colors blurred his vision but he could tell it was a woman, a looker at that, she was. He raised his hand in a wave, even before he could think about doing it, and the moment he did, he regretted it.
Claire craned to look behind her. What was that crazy fool waving at, she wondered. She squinched hard so she could see the distance and damned if that man wasn’t looking right at her. She tugged at her halter with her right hand, smoothed her hair with her left, and beamed the biggest smile she had mustered in longer than she cared to remember.
I walked out of class feeling accomplished, something that undercut my dreadful day. I made a few friends who threaten to put together a writing group, and I felt thismuch more confident in what I’m struggling to pursue.