Write a 600-word first-person story in which you use the first person pronoun (“I” or “me” or “my”) only two times—but keep the “I” somehow important to the narrative you’re constructing. It is very important in this exercise to make sure your reader is not surprised, forty or fifty words into the piece, to realize that this is a first person narration. Show us quickly who is observing the scene.
(from prompt #1 in The 3 AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
Sunday after the show we slept in late, perversely exercising the right to be lazy as babies in response to a hangover. This means not moving upon waking, except to pee, and this is why iPods were invented. Because as much as people dance, that is a quarter of the amount of rest they will feel entitled to the next day, assuming the involvement of alcohol and the lack of any inclination to dance while sober. So it was a quiet house, filled with delicate white earbuds and heavy heads, all of us maintaining the lowest level of wakefulness.
Until the realization that all the equipment lay in a van that didn’t belong to anyone in the band and that may or may not be driving towards east county that day, and then of course everyone moved slowly towards the door in a backwards race where the winner is the one who never got there. I won.
The boys left, grouchy and bitter and mumbling vaguely threatening observations about coffee and headaches, but neither one really expected sympathy, and none was given. Drinking and the morning after have been dealt with enough times that unless an arrest or nudity occurs, there isn’t much to say about it. And even then, it’s got to be a pretty spectacular arrest or unexpected nudity. Like if the nudity came from the arresting officer.
The house should have been quiet and undemanding, that was the prize for winning the “Who Wants to Leave Least?” Race, and for about four minutes it was. And then there was a window being smashed, and then there was some banging, and some crashing, and some throwing about of things, and two guys running from the house into a car idling in the alley, and then it was done. And it was a fire in the downstairs bedroom. And the house was neither quiet nor undemanding; fire demands attention like an angry girlfriend, and any moment wasted to gather thoughts allows the rage to gain control. It was a time to react, to rush to action, but most importantly this was a moment that allowed no thoughts of self to interfere with what had to be done.
The fire manifested as three small blazes: one in an open dresser drawer that held softly worn T-shirts, another burning on the floor, fueled by magazines and bills and post-it notes with phone numbers. The third, the smallest, blazed curiously on seemingly nothing but the wood varnish of a small desk that had been acquired second-hand from a lucky encounter in an alley. Broken glass lay under the window, but in spite of the breeze smoke had gathered in the room and contributed to an otherwordly atmoshphere; not only was the whole situation confusing, it actually looked like a scene from a nightmare or a bad adolescent drawing.
So as the two sleepy boys carried their familiar instruments, lifting amps and pedals and various components of a drum set with the leisurely pace expected for the morning after the show, they did not hear the first, second, or third phone call. And probably they talked about getting a greasy burrito, with spicy fire sauce, while an actual fire was being addressed by this girl, more alert than ever, carrying every available vessel with the quickened pace of someone who has suddenly realized that the race had started without her, and the winner was the one who had control. I won.