This was my third time attending the Writer’s Conference at CSCC, the tenth in the series.

From “Committing the Crime: Mining the Riches of Cross-Genre Writing.” The exercise is to write a scene based on the following premise: A woman’s husband comes home with his pickup full of scrap metal. She goes to the truck to investigate but her husband intervenes. Write first in a literary style, the a crime-fiction style.

She heard the rough, familiar sound of his truck as it pulled alongside the house, just below the kitchen window, over the sink filled with suds and dishes. It rattled to a halt and went silent.

It was a working truck, patched with primer, rust lining the wheel wells, and tires well into their dotage. She’d seen every sort of object in the bed of that truck: used furniture, second-hand lawn mowers, odd castoffs left on the roadside behind signs that read free for the taking.

She stopped wiping the dish and furrowed her brow. She stood tip-toed to get a better look.

What the hell?

She set the dish in the rack and wiped her hands. She opened the screen door an inch before it bumped into her husband. He gave her a silent look, before getting a beer from the refrigerator and sitting at the kitchen table.

“Hello, dear,” she said.

He gulped and set down the can.


What’s…” She stopped. He looked straight ahead.

“What have you got? In the truck.”

“What does it look like?”

“I thought I saw a refrigerator door, and some rusty old wheels.”

“Oh, you’re good. Yep, I got some of those.” He leaned back in his chair and drained his beer. She glanced at the door.

“What is it for?”

“I got plans for it.”

From “Looking Out: Using the World in Creative Writing.” The exercise is to explore the ambiguities in the true story of the Prometheus Tree, a 4000+ year-old bristlecone pine that was cut down in 1964 (see the Wikipedia article).

Currey touched Prometheus the way a pilgrim might touch a relic. He felt the texture of the bark, ran his fingertips along a twisted branch. He inspected the trunk, imagining the wood in its interior, guessing how many rings he might have counted. More than three thousand, certainly. Probably more than four thousand. He had speculated, publicly, that some bristlecones might be more than five thousand years old.

He stood and crossed his arms. He looked at the Forest Ranger standing beside him.

“What now?” the Forest Ranger asked.

Currey had made two attempts to extract a core sample. One borer broke halfway in. The second resisted all attempts to extract it. The wood was denser than he had anticipated.

Currey looked back at the tree.

“Cut it down.”

Copyright © [2016] by Charles O’Donnell, All Rights Reserved

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