Writing exercise: images – 2014-03-06

Sometimes we do writing exercises based on images we’ve gleaned from the Internet. At this week’s jabber chat, we looked at choosing one or both of these two images: a picture of a girl encountering a large, burly, anthropogenic tree or a guy holding open a briefcase filled with something brilliant.

Here are our unedited entries (each written in about 15 minutes). Feel free to add yours in the comments!


Mueller, the old professor, pulled out his collapsible PATT (Peek-Around-The-Corner, in spy-speak) mirror, extended it, and took a look down the corridor. Seeing that it was empty, he silently snuck to the next doorway. He hopped from doorway to doorway, crisscrossing the corridor, until he reached the end. There was the sound of a violin being played in one of the soundproof music rooms. Mueller liked violins, not so much for their beauty, but because they could hold secret messages.

Listening carefully for a few more moments, Mueller concluded that there either were no other people in the building or that what people might be in the building were busy in their own musical worlds, in their own soundproof practicing rooms. At this point, he tore off the silicone mask to reveal a much younger, and much more dangerous man. Mueller the spy.


He said little, once I agreed. He simply opened his briefcase.

The contents blinded me, and I understood why he wore the odd glasses with opaque lenses. He looked off into the distance, waiting, while I tried to focus on what he had in the case.

“Bright,” I said.

He made a noise. Possibly it was a grunt acknowledging the truth of my observation.

“It’s for sale, you said?”

He nodded.

I couldn’t even see what it was, to tell the truth. I’m used to being a bit behind the eight-ball. I usually try to vamp until I figure out what everyone else is so interested in. Sometimes I figure it out. Often I don’t. I’ve gotten tired of pretending. Finally I said, “People want this?”

He nodded again.

“I don’t get it.”

He shrugged. No skin off his nose, he seemed to imply. Of course, that made me all the more convinced that his merchandise must be very valuable. Otherwise he’d try harder to sell it to me, wouldn’t he?

“I’ll take it,” I said. “You said it was 99 dollars?”

“A bargain,” he said.

He shouldn’t have spoken. I suddenly had second thoughts.

It’s tough, not knowing who to believe, or what really has any worth. That was how I’d ended up in this dive bar, with only 101 dollars to my name.


Sally loved the woods. Especially her woods. The woods behind her mother;s home was what she called her own. Since her parents had divorced it was the only place that she really felt in control. In her woods the trees and the ground would do whatever she wanted. Most of the time everything went according to plan, but sometimes it was different.

Saturday morning Sally got up and did her usual routine. She ate breakfast with her mom, watched a cartoon, then got dressed to spend a day with her friends in her woods. She combed her hair, put on a light yellow dress to keep her cool in the hot summer weather, then gave her mom a peck on the cheek.

“I’m going to play with my trees,” she sang. she stood on her toes and let her mom give her a tight squeeze.

“Stay close to the house,” she said giving her a hard look. “Last time you got so deep in the woods that I had to go out searching for you and it took me an hour. It practically ruined my lunch.”

“Sorry mommy,” she said as she ran out of the door. The weather was perfect. The sun was out. A dry breeze was keeping everything cool, and the woods were beckoning her.

She ran into the shade of the trees and laughed as she threw her hands out, touching the bark of all her friends as she ran by.

“Hello everyone!” she yelled. “I’ve missed you.” The leaves of the trees all rustled in response and she felt their joy as she ran among them.

Deeper into the forest she ran, jumping over a brook, and clamboring up to the top of the hill that rose above the rest of the forest. It was here that her most special friend live. Maximilian was a massive old tree that she loved most dearly. She would sit in his arms for hours and watch the world go by. Last time she was here she stayed long past the time she was supposed to go home. In fact t was getting dark and shew as still sitting in his branches looking at the evening sky. As the first star appeared she wished, more than she had ever wished for anything before, that Maximilian would be able to move, to be able to hug her if she wished. She giggled as she made it, but she knew there was magic somewhere. She just hoped it would help her with her special wish.

Sally ran up the hill, reached the top, and yelled. “Hey Max…” but her voice trailed off. Max was gone.

She ran all around the top of the hill looking for him, but he was no where to be found. She went so far as to look behind a tree. As she looked around a rather old and large pine she heard a loud rustling and dragging sound.

“Sally,” a booming voice said.


They were poor, not quite desperately so. Alice’s gruff woodcutter father shielded her and little Giuseppe as best he could from that. Alice would take Giuseppe a little ways into the woods to gather edible plants and mushrooms and roots. Giuseppe was too young to be of much help, but was barely old enough to not be too much of a distraction. Alice’s father worked hard to cut enough wood for his family and to sell in the village.

Their own rude, little cottage was half a day’s walk from the village, so it was up to Alice to take care of herself and her brother while her father was gone during the day.

Though she missed her father, Alice enjoyed the freedom and didn’t mind the cold too much, despite her thin, ragged clothes. Giuseppe adored his older sister, tried to emulate her accuracy with her leather sling, though more often then not his stones ended up tumbling to the leafy forest floor.

It was on a gently cold autumn day that Alice’s wandering took her past the cold stream (Giuseppe didn’t cry even though his pants were wet through from falling off of one of the stepping stones). The sun’s dim light filtered through the tree branches overhead. It was almost time for a small lunch.

Alice glanced at her basket. It was less than half full. A small handful of smelly berries, some mushrooms that were only somewhat shriveled and a rock lobster that still wiggled now and then, testing its bonds of vine.

“Would you care to join me for some lunch?”

Alice looked up in surprise. Sitting with his back against tree was a little man wearing a tall hat of dark green fur with a wide brim.

“Is that roast duck?” Giuseppe’s little voice was filled with awe.

“It is indeed,” the man said smiling. “Come, sit beside me.”

“We don’t have much to share, I’m afraid,” Alice said, trying to remember her father’s warnings about strangers.

“You need not share anything of what you have,” the man said. “I am here only to grant your wishes.” But something glinted in his eyes as he said it and Alice shivered in spite of herself.


When I was a child
I wrote poetry of dreams

I put the stars to bed with stories of trees
that walked and cried and felt anger
like burning kindling, happiness
like bubbles
and every character
was a child
lost in the woods

I wrote for her
who brought me golden light
she whispered rhymes
and metaphors and gave
me worlds

I dreamt of poetry
as a child
to wake with words

Tim is a founding member of the Journey, co-Municipal Liaison for the Naperville region of National Novel Writing Month, and the author of several short stories.

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