“He/She stood at the corner of 79th street & Third Avenue, shivering. Suddenly, clouds rolled in and a cyclone released colossal amounts of snow.”
I am seated at a table in a Writing Circle, at the Yorkville Library. The moderator has just given us a writing prompt, and we have 10 minutes to write. I sharpen my pen, and start scribbling. I haven’t thought of a plot, and I don’t know where this will take me.
Just write. Here goes:
The book she had long waited for—Threading My Prayer Rug—she had put it on hold two months ago—had finally arrived. She walked out of the Yorkville library, three books in hand. She had done impulse ‘book picking’, a travel book, a book for Dummies, and her long awaited memoir.
As she got to the corner of 79th street & Third Avenue, shivering, suddenly the clouds rolled in and a cyclone released colossal amounts of snow. Three books in one hand, her pocket book in the other, she tried to pull up her hoodie. No luck. She spotted a dry spot under the awning of a store and walked with quick steps, hoping to re-arrange her baggage and get out that umbrella.
She had slipped and was on her behind on the wet sidewalk, her hands scraping over the wet concrete, books scattered. Okay! Take it easy. Just pull yourself up.
Swoosh! Back on her behind.
One more try.
Swoosh, and a crack. And a stinging pain in her ankle.
“Lady, I think you just broke a bone.”
She looked up into the eyes of a tall, dark and handsome man.
“I did!” She said, breathless.
“May I?” He knelt down slowly, extending his hand toward her ankle. He wore green scrubs, and a stethoscope dangled around his neck.
On the cool, white sidewalk, with snow flurries falling like soft powder, she looked at him, as he bent his head, his dark, curly hair glistening in the snow.
“May I” He asked again.
“Yes, doctor,” she said. “Do you accept Medicare?”
“They had planned their Valentines Day dinner for weeks. It was their first anniversary. She waited at the restaurant. One hour in, still no sight of him.”
Bill and Mary had gotten engaged one year ago on Valentines Day. By the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, he had surprised her when he had gotten down on his knee. He was a medical resident in orthopedics, she a nurse. They had met when she handed him the scalpel over and across the patient draped in blue. Their eyes had locked for an instant, from behind the veil of face masks. After surgery, as he removed his mask, she had fallen in love with the rest of his face.
“Shall we grab a bite to eat?” She had said. “The diner across the street serves the best meat loaf.”
They set the wedding date—June 20—after he finished his residency. Today was their first the-day-we-met anniversary. They had planned their Valentines Day dinner for weeks. It was their first anniversary. She waited at the restaurant. One hour in, still no sight of him. She wore the scrubs—the same green faded scrubs, wondering and picturing the look on his face when he walked in.
Mary waited. An hour went by—still no sight of Bill.
Had he called it off?
Was he hurt?
Is he dead?
She kept looking at the door, her phone on the table. He had not responded to her text or her call. Just as she was getting ready to call him again, she felt Bill’s hands on her shoulder, shaking her.
Startled, she woke up from her dream.
“She/he rushed through the turnstile toward the subway, but it was too late. The train doors already had closed. Its at that moment when s/he saw him/her, who s/he hadn’t seen in 20 years.”
Why not start with the prompt:
She rushed through the turnstile toward the subway, but it was too late. The train doors already had closed. It is at that moment when she saw him, who she hadn’t seen in 20 years. He stood on the other side of the doors, inside the train, his face close to the window.
Is that…? Oh my God! Could it be he!
She tried to look away. She looked again.
It was he! He had lost his hair, his face was fuller, his body heavier. But that look!
At that moment the subway door opened. Two women rushed in.
She stood, not moving.
Then he saw her. His eyes widened, his brow furrowed.
Had she changed that much, that he had to strain to recognize her?
He moved toward the door, towards her.
“Stand clear of the closing door please,” and the doors closed on him.
The train pulled out.
She was screaming.
“Are you ok?” A man rushed over to her.
“No! Yes, yes. No!”
“What happened?” A few people had gathered around her.
“I just saw…”
“What did you see?” A cop had walked up, and looked around.
“I saw him?”
"Who did you see?"
“He…, ” she was stammering.
“He raped me.”