Exercise 0003 – Present/Past Tense Prompt

Present tense/Past tense

Warren Wilson College Creative Writing Prompts

[present tense]

15) Create a short story that is 26 sentences long, each sentence beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. (Add other, arbitrary conditions, if desired, such as one sentence should be one-word long; there should be one question mark, one quotation, etc.) Rigid rules often produce fascinating results—such as with well-written sonnets, which have 14 lines and tight rhyme schemes, each line governed by a specific number of syllables and alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.

A fine day, it is. Before the sun comes, last of night drifts against the horizon.

Calm as can be, we listen. Deep within, we hear the same thing. Everyone can.

Free, we’re free, within dying night. Glory, be. Hallelujah.

I am free.

Just one last moment, to say goodbye. Kindness bestowed upon us by time.

Love swells like the tide, calling our name. Moments pass quick, in each other’s eyes.

Now is the time, to go. Over the threshold, across the way. Point in the direction of our heart.

Questions die on our lips. Routine inspection of incomprehensible desire.

Shut out the light that glares against revelations. Transform trees and mountains to walk.

United, together, we stride. Volumes of Eddur unable to contain our legend.

Wisps of knowledge and whispers of intuition. Xenial offerings of that which remains beyond our reach.

Youth is no solution, but a curse of the mind. Zombified consciousness.

 [past tense]

14) Choose a moral dilemma (for example, you see someone pocket several items at a CVS; you’re in a car at night, with people you don’t know well, and the driver hits a dog that ran into the road; you learn that a friend is having unprotected sex, etc) and explain what you would do.  More importantly, explain why you would do it. What do you know about yourself that accounts for such a decision?

Joseph hated his fracking job. He hated it! Every time he swiped the stupid plastic container of whatever cheap, bs item the idiot in front of him decided to buy for whatever freaking reason came in their puny mind, it reminded him how much he hated it!

Like a tiny dagger being stabbed in the center of his brain, Joseph constantly channeled his rage and hostile energy into the tight smile he held at the corners of his mouth. Every time his supervisor, or his manager, or his boss, or the owner, decided to come by, he’d whip it on fast. That’s how he got that 0.12$ promotion last month. He wanted to try and get 0.50$ this time, to keep up with rising rent, but it was a hopeful bet.

Today, the higher-ups were in a meeting and he was left on his own. It was great… as great as working in a craphole can be. While having his feet ache from standing and his stomach hurt from having to stay in a confined area, over the course of his shift, he’d watch more than fifteen people pick at their buttcracks in public.

But he needed this stupid job. It was the only one in the area that had been available for him. He had a five year gap on his resume due to illness and now, no one would even hire him for what he was qualified for, ever again! He assumed this, at least.

CVS sucked. He didn’t want to work here, but he needed the money. Rent drained his wallet faster than anything else in the forsaken city that he, unfortunately, lived in currently. As soon as he had enough money though, he’d be out of there.

“Hey!” The sound of his co-worker, Mason, caught his attention, “Some baby vomited on aisle three.”

Joseph wanted to get away from the counter, “I’ll clean it. Take over.”

He handed the register key to Mason and hurried to grab a mop. As he walked, he scanned the aisles. In aisle one, a couple teenage girls were laughing and badly pretending to not be pocketing lipsticks. He rolled his eyes. In aisle two, a hassled mother was looking for a medication cream while her pack of toddlers tore at the magazines on the other side. With a sigh, he turned his gaze onto aisle three.

There was quite a mess. It smelled awful. Why did the babies that vomit in public always seem to have bile issues too? From one of the shelves, he retrieved a hazard sign and set it up at the aisle. As he did this, he watched the girls leave the store. Whatever. He wasn’t the one that had to do inventory.

A couple hours and a number of hand washing sessions later, Joseph was off work. He started the long trek home.

The buses didn’t run after evening in this area of the city, just far enough out of the regulated limits. A cab would take more money than he earned from work today. He actually had a car that his father had given him, which he had gotten from his father, but a friend had crashed it the other month while driving stupid. Not drunk, or high, or any of those things, just freaking stupid.

Joseph kicked the dusty sidewalk. It was dark and he wished to feel hidden, but he couldn’t because the CVS uniform made him stand out. He should have changed, but this particular CVS was too small to have an actual changing room and the managers were using the conference room.

Joseph was frustrated. As he kept walking, he got hot and took off the powder-blue shirt. Tucking it into his khakis, he squinted as a pair of headlights directly blinded him. Raising a hand, he shadowed his face to watch as a sedan drove past, then stopped half a mile away. Turning around, he watched as a tall man got out from the driver’s side. The man waved, gesturing for him to come closer.

Walking over, he heard the driver say, “Hello! Need a ride?”

Joseph nodded, “Where are you headed?”

“We’re visiting the city, so wherever you need to go is fine if it’s nearby.” He answered. The driver had a rust-colored beard and beady eyes behind thin spectacles. As Joseph got closer, he looked to the passenger seat to see a young woman with a yellow scarf around her neck and a tight, blond ponytail. She glanced at him, her eyes were overly manicured with pink and black shadow, then frowned before looking away. She messed with the radio, switching between stations on the dial.

“It’s unlocked.” The driver said.

Joseph nodded, opening the back door and sitting behind the blonde. She looked like one of those women you see on the side of a shady internet website. He shut the door and put the seatbelt on as the driver started up the car.

“So, where to?” The bearded man asked.

“You gotta turn around.” Joseph answered, “It’s on the intersection of Maine and 45th st, you know that spot?”

“No, but we have a…” He waved at the young woman.

“A GPS.” She said dully, “Turn around.” She told the driver, “Then, turn at the third light, by that gas station we stopped at, remember?”

Joseph relaxed as the two chatted casually in the front of the car about nothing in particular. This wasn’t a social pick-up. They were just doing him a favor, as good human beings. How odd.

The car bumped slightly as they passed through the second light. Neither of the couple seemed to notice, but Joseph casually glanced back. There was the squashed body of a small dog. It did not look alive. So, there was that. At least, Joseph hoped it wasn’t alive because that would be painful… Grimacing, he turned back around and said nothing. Stupid dogs running into the road.

Soon enough, they were near his home and he thanked the couple as he got out of the car. As he walked towards the apartment, he recognized a friend. He had met Chase at a get-together, then proceeded to see the man at every party he happened by for the next year or so. The two built a great rapport over drinking and getting laid. Reaching a hand out, they clasped their palms together and hugged so that their opposing shoulders touched.

“What are you doing here?” Joseph asked, leaning away, “What’ve you done to your hair?” He laughed at the frost-tipped spikes that adorned the chestnut fluff on top of Chase’s wide forehead. It was a mess, “Are those earrings?” Retrieving his key, he tapped in the building code on a dingy grey numberpad box, “Come on, I’ve got some whiskey.”

Chase nodded, putting his hands in his jacket pockets, “I’m trying something new.” He defended his hair before adding, “Whiskey, huh? Any beer?”

“Sure. Got a weird variety mix from this party the other week.” Joseph held the door open for his friend.

“Oh!” As Chase walked through the door, he raised his hands in exclamation, “I met someone.”

“What?” Following, Joseph led up the flight of stairs. He took it slow though, they had seven flights to go, “Elevator’s out.” He explained for Chase’s sake.

“Her name’s Natalie.” He grinned.


“God no.”

“Really?” Joseph shrugged and made a circular gesture with his hands, “I always liked the idea of a Russian girlfriend, or wife, you know, there’s websites for that.”

“Yeah, I know.” Chase rapidly responded, “But, Natalie’s from Oregon. She was born and raised there.”
“Hmm….” Joseph typed in the next keycode for the numberpad that led into the level eight hall, which had the stairs that led to winding hallway that was level nine, which his apartment was at the very end of. It blinked red, then green and he opened it for Chase first, “Portland?”

“No, not that, like… somewhere in Eastern, I think.” Chase shrugged, “Anyways, she’s in school. For biology and astronomy.”

Joseph yawned widely and dramatically, following into the hall, “To the left.” He reminded Chase to take the correct stairs this time. Why the architect had put two stairs beside each other? Joseph will never figure out.

“Okay, okay,” Chase hurried, “She wears a lot of purple for some reason. I don’t know. Her hair looks nice with it though, it’s like.. uhm…” He thinks very hard. It shows in his brow and the way he looks at the floor, then ceiling, then floor again, biting his lip and straining that vein in the temple.

Joseph stays silently, letting him figure it out, then asks, “Tits?”

“Great.” Chase quickly responds, making an okay symbol with both hands, “Nice.” He says with strong effect, if only to illustrate his adoration for his girlfriend’s bosom.

“Just nice?” Joseph banters, doing his best to rile his friend. They reach the correct hall and he can see his apartment at the end of the hall. The faux birch wood (plaster) door looks a pale yellow in the fluorescent hallway lights. One or two flicker, the bulbs steadily dying. The ceiling progressively gets shorter and lower, accommodating the apartments above and shape of the building.

“Supreme.” Chase decided on, hurrying and waiting next to the door, “She’s a blonde.” He adds, coyly.

“Congratulations.” Joseph answered sarcastically, shaking his head as he placed the key into the first lock. Then switched keys, and unlocked the second. Opening the door, he held it for his friend, “Natural or faux?”

“If down under is anything to account for,” Chase spoke carefully, walking towards the fridge to retrieve a drink, “Then, natural. Bro.” He suddenly pointed at Joseph, taking out two beers and shutting the fridge, “Bro. She likes it cowgirl.”

“Shut up.” Joseph answered flatly, shutting the door and locking it behind him, “Please.”

“No, it’s great. And she doesn’t care about condoms.” Chase opened one of the beers, taking a swig before adding, “She’s like, well, wait, don’t give me that look.” He raised a hand, taking another swig, then continuing, “She’s clean, alright? Not a skank. I know, I called her doctor.”

Joseph couldn’t help, but laugh. Taking the other beer, he opened it, then sat down on the couch, “What? You called her doctor?” He laughed again, “You creepy f-”

“No, no,” Chase assured him, hurrying over and sitting across the way, “It was cool, she said I could. And like, I don’t know, she had her tubes tied or plugged up or something like that. I didn’t listen to closely, just got the info I needed, know what I’m saying?” He nudged Joseph.

“You’re a lucky bastard.” Joseph said, once more sarcastically. If Joseph was a cat, his sarcasm would be his purrbox.

Briefly though, he thought about Jennifer and how much he missed sleeping with her. WIth a sigh, he drank his beer and stared out the window longingly, “Oh, Jennifer.” He murmured softly.

Chase stared at him, “Uhm. Joseph?” He snapped his fingers, “Hey, I haven’t even told you about her butt yet.”



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