Prospective Writing Sample Excerpts

Not that many people read this blog, but I figured this was worth putting up for a vote as to which sounds the most interesting.  I’m trying to pick what I want to include in my graduate school portfolio…I have three major stories (okay, four) that I would be willing to possibly put out there.  I’m going to cut and paste a couple paragraphs from each here just for kicks:


Sample 1 (This is Why We Sing)

I unwrapped the blanket from my shoulders, slowly and carefully laying it down on the couch cushion beside me.  Without making eye contact with anyone, I picked up the glass of water from the coffee table and threw it so hard against the opposite wall that tiny shards of glass made it back to me.  As the water streamed down the wall and everybody gaped in my direction, I whispered, “You can’t give me anything I want.  Not anything.  Because what I want is to have my baby back.  And you can’t do that.  You can’t un-cremate her; you can’t bring her back.  She is never coming back.  So don’t tell me you can do whatever I want.  Because you can’t.  Not everything.  No one can.”

I got up and left the room, going straight into the nursery and shutting the door behind me.  There were tiny Winnie the Pooh’s all over the walls, taunting me with their happiness.  Winnie the Pooh on the dresser.  Winnie the Pooh holding the lightbulb.  Winnie the Pooh in the crib.  Winnie the Pooh on the curtains.  His smile was everywhere, all over everything.  Suddenly unable to stand it, I grabbed the lamp and smashed it against the wall.  Threading the curtains between my fingers, I tugged until they ripped from the rod.  I threw all of the blankets into the corner, and tossed the pillows on top of them.  Finding a small loose corner in the wallpaper, I tore as much I could before it came off in my hands.  Throwing it into the corner, I sank to the ground in the middle of the room.  Ripping everything apart hadn’t done any good.  As much as I destroyed, she was never coming back.


Sample 2 (Purpose)

Women should remain silent.  They must not be allowed to speak, but must remain in submission….To the woman He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbirth.  In pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

–The Book

The chamber was much darker than the bright hallway from which Ciera had come, and it took a few moments for her eyes to adjust. The walls stretched upward for what seemed like miles, coming together at the top in a small glass dome.  It was dark outside, rainy.  Fitting for this day.  Placing one foot in front of the other, the only sound she could hear as she moved to what felt like center stage was the clanking of chains that shackled her arms to her waist.  Stadium seating went from floor level almost all the way up the dome, and the seats were all filled with silent men staring down at her.  Her masters.

“Masters,” she thought angrily.  Ciera came to a halt a few feet in front of the judge’s bench and spit on the floor.  “I’m my own master.”

A thick black hood shrouded the judge’s head, but she knew it was a man.  Men were the only ones who were allowed to judge.    Imagining where in the shadow his eyes were, she looked up as defiantly as she could manage in her pathetic gray cloak and chains.

“Do you accept the charges against you?”  The judge’s voice thundered through the entire chamber.

Ciera blinked once before uttering a simple, “No.”


Sample 3 (Blink)

Doug shoved Rich’s body off of him to the floor and got to his knees.  Lanie could see his hands shaking slightly as he struggled to hold on to the pistol.  “I didn’t…I didn’t mean…Not Rich.”

There was a wave of people pushing past her and running for the doors, and Lanie was crying so hard she couldn’t move.  Somebody tried to grab her arm and drag her along, but she shook them off and crawled over to the boys instead.  Doug raised the pistol, shooting at the students fleeing with shaky hands.

Lanie saw a couple of people fall to the ground, but there was no one in world anymore except for her and Rich and Doug.  Reaching out with one hand, no longer aware of even the boy beside her waving the gun around, she touched Rich gently on the chest.  He didn’t stir, and when she pulled her hand away, it was covered in blood.

Pulling away suddenly, Lanie pinned herself to the wall as the doors flew back open and a police officer appeared with his gun drawn.

“Doug?  Doug Watkins?”

Doug’s grip on the pistol tightened, and he rose slowly to his feet, a small smile forming on his face.  “You already know my name, right?  You know my name?”

“Put the gun down and walk to me.”

Lanie focused on Rich’s lifeless face, tears streaming so quickly down her cheeks that she could barely see.

“Funny,” Doug said.  “It’s funny how people keep telling me to do that, and funny how I still don’t.  I’m making choices.”  He took a step back, yanking Lanie away from Rich and pulling her to her feet.  “I’m making choices,” he said as wrapped one arm around her neck and used the other to hold the pistol to her head.  “I’m becoming less than ordinary.  I’m growing into something extraordinary.”

Lanie sobbed hysterically, all thoughts of struggling going out of her as she leaned into Doug.  The sensation of floating took over, and she found herself watching from above as the pistol was being shoved into her temple.

“Extraordinary, son,” the police officer whispered, “would be letting the girl go.”


Sample 4 (The Rest of Us)

That same spring break, I decided it was high time that I took up walking again.  I bought a new set of double A batteries, and I set out on an adventure.  It wasn’t until I went by the woods the bordered the pool that I had the first memory flash.  “We need to get away from him.  He’s a bad man.”  It was my mother, telling a much younger me that we needed to get away from my stepfather.  The image of her leading me into the woods by the hand faded quickly as I shook my head to clear it.  I walked on, dismissing the memory as a daydream.

As I went to cross the street, a hand flashed, broadside, across the canvas of my mind.  I saw images.  Images of things I didn’t know had ever happened to me.  Images of bad things, that nobody should ever have to remember.

Shutting off my earphones, I turned down the hill and ran as fast as I could towards home and solitude.  At home, the memories couldn’t touch me.

Mrs. Becker, what does a child do to deserve to be hit?  What could any child do to deserve to be hit?

The instant I hit the send icon on that message, I regretted it.  I suddenly wanted to take it back, keep it close to me.  It was my life; my dirty little secret.  But it was too late.  I had let somebody in, against my better judgment.

I received Mrs. Becker’s reply to my message the next morning, right before I was to go to her Creative Writing class.

Nothing.  Talk to me.

I logged off without replying and gathered my books.  There were still ten minutes left before I was due in Mrs. Becker’s class, but I knew if I went early she would try to talk to me.  So I walked around the building until the last possible second before ducking in the door, sliding into my seat just as the bell rang.

Our assignment in class that day was to work on the books we were writing for kids at the elementary school.  I couldn’t focus on the writing, because I could feel Mrs. Becker eyeing me as she made her way across the room.  Shielding my eyes with my left hand, I continued to doodle in my notebook as she knelt beside my desk.  “We need to talk.”

I was sure she knew I heard, but I still didn’t reply.

“We need to talk, sooner or later.  Do you want to talk now?”

I shook my head no, and the rustling of clothing told me she had moved on.  I still didn’t look up though, because I couldn’t bare to see the look of pity on her face.


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