Writing Calisthenics

AvatarA collection of short stories, essays, and exercises to keep my brain from rusting between larger works.


Exercise: Write a scene of a story from a glimpse you have had of a group of people.   Sketch the characters in their settings and let them interact.

    Anyone who's ever said that boys and girls, women and men can't be friends has never watched puppies.  Puppies with nylon backpacks stacked in a corner where a fourth would have sat.  Puppies, each with their own snack packs of fruit gummies, each poking and pawing and picking through the other's candy for just the one they want.  Puppies with names like Zach and Rachel — and I'll think I'll call the one in the blue shirt "Friendly." 
    Zach and Friendly have scratchy voices.  Friendly's is dropping as he speaks.  He's going to be a tall one and even though the escape from High School is still several weeks off, he already shaves like a man.  His sideburns are neatly trimmed but the bum-fluff on his face is more than a day's growth.  He wears glasses and the copper colored frames are utilitarian, far from affectation.  Zach is just a bit more boyish and even though it's so rare as to no longer embarrass, his voice still bounces into an uncomfortable register now and then.  He's darker and quieter than Friendly, more brooding, but Rachel is sparkly today and she draws out the puppy in all of them.
    Friendly and Rachel wrestle over the only monthly train pass amongst them.  They're trying on their adult accessories even as they laugh and play and paw and scratch like puppies.  Their day in the city is done and so is the tussle, with Friendly, comfortable in his role as Alpha, conceding the pass.  Rachel practices her care-taking with a squeeze around his shoulder that quavers between mother, sister, and friend.  Zach watches, taking notes on a hungry slate; laughing, involved and enveloped in the infectious affection as an observing equal.
    They sit back and settle in for the ride.  Out come the phones.  I'm surprised when it's Rachel and Friendly that are sucked in and drawn away so quickly.  Zach watches, his eyes slowly shifting back and forth from friend to friend and a slow grin spreads across his face.  He rubs his baby-smooth cheek with his hand, then rests his chin on his arm and turns out the window.


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