Posted by: victanguera | August 4, 2010

Writing Prompt #227

I just spent the last three hours filing–one of my least favourite jobs. Because it bores me, I put it off until things start to topple over. I’ve noticed that in books, characters seem to rarely have to do a task they don’t enjoy (especially menial tasks). Now I understand that we have to watch how much we put in. We don’t need to read about a character getting up, putting on their clothes, etc.

But is it possible for one of those boring tasks to be a place of conflict? So for today’s prompt, write a scene with a menial task that becomes a source of conflict.



  1. After a week I have no choice. Stares start around the second day, people whisper by the fourth. By the fifth my boss is giving my pointed looked, and so over the weekend I muster up what small courage I can and get up each Monday morning every two weeks.

    The ritual is as old, and my body remembers it. Teeth are brushed, hair is combed, often without incident.

    And then I shave. I use electric, to reduce my chances of an ‘accident’. Some months the release of death is so tempting, bubbling away under all my other thoughts. And so.

    I shave, and am forced to look into the mirror. What stares back is a human face, too serious, rather thin and worn, a receeding hairline, and the hollowness in my eyes that I can’t hide from myself.

    Every two weeks, I have to face the emptiness and somehow go to work after, pretending to be normal while wondering why no one seems how false my smile is, as false as everything else once one is dead inside.

    Sometimes, if I look too close, shave for too long, I see what lurks at the end of the emptiness, something so vast and terrible that I start crying and spend the day feeling as though I never quite stopped.

    But it was my dream, and there was no way Barney could be. I thought souls were not real, that it was half a joke, a lark, a self-help method to push myself to sell my product. I can seem so very calm about this, can’t I? It is easy to confuse nothing for calm, to call someone nice who does not make waves — I have nothing in me to make them with now.

    All the devil left me was fear, and glimpses in the mirror or what will come in hell, which is the absence of god.

    I need a job where I never have to shave again.

    • Huh, so you’ve seen the Burma Shave ads? I find this very amusing.

      • Never heard of ’em. Just figured someone who had sold their soul and shaving fit together with the prompt.

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