Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Writing Exercise: 2 in 1

Two-for-ones are great deals in a grocery store, so why not in writing? Use at least 3 of the items listed below, two of which must refer to the same element! (Bonus points if you use all five, or get a 3-in-1). You have a 500 word limit! Post in comments, or just stick in your own files somewhere. 

Ice storm

My 2-in-1 (artist, soldier):

The soldier stopped on the ridge, frigid wind pelting his thin cheek with half-frozen water and turning the last inch of his shoulder-length hair to ice. There, in a valley half-hidden by the barn, were the pigs his sergeant has sent him to bring back to camp:

“Frozen bacon is fine and all, but I’d rather have my pork roasted. Find them and bring them all in before it’s pig-cicles!”

He began to turn his horse, a placid plow horse repurposed for war, when a break in the clouds light the porcine mass below, turning them into diamond-encrusted pink and brown statuettes. Beautiful.

A quick sketch wouldn’t take but a moment, in this break of weather. Just enough to get the memory down, so he could expand on it later. There was coal in his shirt pocket, and a child’s drawing pad he’d picked up for doodles. Stripping off his gloves, he jotted the image down, his horse shifting uneasily beneath him. Inside, master, the beast seemed to say, you and I belong in a warm stall tonight.

The cold numbed his bony hands, his usually elegant lines shaky. Not yet. Almost, but not yet.

Wind whipped across the hollow of his cheek again to ruffle the fur of his hat, and on to creak the rope swing dangling from a tree by the farmhouse. His fingers rushed to add the crystal painted ball, the shimmering laundry lines.

Ice cracked hard against his boot. Finished or not, he was done.


The sergeant stopped outside the shelter, a hank of ham in his hand, to stare at the shoes drying by the door. “Pacchu?”

No answer.

Opening the door, he saw a lone man seated in an empty pigpen, charcoal pencil sketching at a piece of paper. “Pacchu, come inside, get warm. Come eat.”

The soldier tilted his head back, circles dark under his sunken eyes, skin pale and sallow. “Not hungry, sir. Cold killed my appetite.”

Knobby wrists, too much belt hanging off his uniform’s trousers. War didn’t make men fat. The sergeant offered his soldier a hand. “Not how it works, son.”

The boy was easy to haul to his feet. Shuffling, staring at his socks, the soldier shrugged. “Not hungry.”

The drawing lay on the floor: crystal pigs glimmering on a hillside by a farmhouse lit by moonlight. Couldn’t tell from the image that the walls were all that was left of the structure, the other half naught but ash now. Couldn’t see the rebel-informant farmer or his family as skeletons in their beds, the dog roasting over a fire beside the pigs and the clothes trampled into the mud by hundreds of boots.

A beautiful fantasy.

“Come in, son,” the sergeant murmured again. “Rozca shot a deer. You can have that.”

The boy hesitated, and let the sergeant pull him to the door.

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