Write a very brief story (300 words) told only in images--concrete, simple, visually efficient movements and details. This exercise does not ask you to eliminate people from your prose, just to watch what they do and what objects they crave and caress rather than what they say or think about these objects and actions.
(from prompt #14 in The 3 AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
Boxes of detergents line a shelf hung above a row of washing machines. Two boxes of Tide, Sunny Meadow scent and Fresh Spring Rain, take up the most space. A bottle of All Small & Mighty rests on top of one washing machine. Five quarters go into this washing machine's slot. Inside the machine are two wifebeaters, thirteen elastic-banded socks, a flat sheet, two pillow cases, three boxers, a crewneck undershirt, a t-shirt from The Killers' Hot Fuss tour, a thong, and a lace cami with a built-in bra.
Four chairs flank the windows to the left of the door. In the second seat from the door, there is book of Sudoku puzzles, a pen, and a woven coin purse with orange, red, yellow, and green stripes and $4.75 in quarters. In the third seat from the left there is a boy sitting with his elbows on his knees, rotating a cell phone held by his right hand's thumb and forefinger. His left foot taps unevenly, between six and eight taps every ten seconds.
The machine with the All Small & Mighty buzzes. The boy grabs a metal cart and takes everything inside the washing machine, puts it in the metal cart, and wheels the cart from the washing machine to the row of dryers. The boy pulls his cell phone out of his pocket, looks at it, notes the time, puts it back in his pocket. He puts all of the clothes in the metal cart into the dryer, plus one sheet of Downey Soothing Lavender fabric softener. Six quarters go into the coin slot for this dryer.
The boy sits down on the third chair from the left and picks up the book of Sudoku puzzles and the pen. He puts down the book and takes his cell phone out of his pocket and flips it open, goes to the Dialed Calls screen, then flips it closed. He opens the phone, goes to the Received Calls screen, then closes his phone.
The buzzer rings for the dryer. The boy grabs the All Small & Mighty Detergent, the Downey Soothing Lavender fabric softener, the coin purse, and his laundry hamper that holds two wifebeaters, thirteen elastic-banded socks, a flat sheet, two pillow cases, three boxers, a crewneck undershirt, and a t-shirt from The Killers' Hot Fuss tour. The book of Sudoku puzzles and the pen remain in the laundromat with the boxes of Tide and other leftover objects.