Sunday, March 6, 2011

Today's fortune: March 6, 2011

Today's fortune: Your life will be prosperous if you use your creativity.

We've reached a milestone of sorts here at My Daily Fortune. This is Day 65 of my quest, which means an even 300 days remain until the final fortune cookie on December 31, 2011.

Even though I'm not quite one-fifth of the way to the finish line, this project has been a serious test of my own personal creativity. The creative effort it takes to envision and apply these fortunes to my daily life has been more of a challenge than I ever could have imagined. I'm not saying I regret it; I've enjoyed ever second of this project, and I'm so happy you've decided to come along for the ride.

This afternoon, I put my own creativity to the test with a demanding writing exercise. I wrote a short story.

What I gave myself to start out was a prompt (more on that in a second), a deadline (one hour) and a word count (500).

The prompt came courtesy of a really neat little tool Jamie bought for me a few years back called The Writer's Block, which is, literally, a block-shaped book loaded with hundreds of story ideas for fiction writers.
If you want to be a writer, buy this book.

I opened to a random page and this is the prompt I got: According to the Florida Department of Corrections, more than one hundred people have registered on a waiting list to see an execution. Write about one of them.

So here it is, the international debut of my one-hour short story, which I've titled "Starke."

Behind a double-locked door, Brett Stinson unwrapped the package in the den of his Kansas City home. Inside the manila envelope was a Federal Express mailer, which contained the notification he had been anticipating for so long.

The stiff cardboard FedEx envelope was addressed to the apartment in Starke, Florida, the one Brett rented nearly six years ago solely for the purpose of receiving this single envelope. The apartment was a secret from his wife and from everyone else in his universe. The seven hundred fifty dollars per month for rent was hidden by a supposed gambling habit that was a figment of Brett’s imagination. Brett had visited the apartment only once, when he flew down to rent the place and establish Florida residency. He also paid the manager extra to ship all his mail to a secret Kansas City post office box.

His hands were trembling as he pulled the tab on the mailer, a cloud of cardboard dust visible in the sunbeams streaming through the window.

Inside the mailer were two uncreased sheets of paper and a pre-paid return envelope. Brett carefully removed the first page, which was printed on Florida Department of Corrections stationery.

You are hereby notified of a reservation for 1 (one) seat at the upcoming execution of inmate 565410020 JAMES ARNOLD WASHINGTON. The execution will take place at midnight on SUNDAY JULY 16, 2011. You are expected to be present no later than 10:00 PM on SATURDAY JULY 15, 2011. Visitors who arrive after 10:00 PM on SATURDAY JULY 15, 2011 will be denied access.

Please acknowledge your receipt of this notification and your availability to attend by returning the attached form no later than WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2011.




Brett placed the papers on his desk and quickly fumbled for a pen to complete the acknowledgement receipt. He signed the form, stuffed it in the return envelope and worked to summon the saliva necessary to lick the flap, his mouth suddenly, unbearably dry.

July 16.

Florida was the only state that allowed its residents to witness court-mandated executions. Four seats were reserved at each killing expressly for that purpose. And on July 16, one of them would belong to Brett.

He had no physical desire to witness an execution, and his stomach churned at the thought of the electric chair and the deadly voltage passing through human flesh. And Brett knew nothing about James Arnold Washington or the crimes he committed. He didn’t want to know anything about the man, and was sorry he knew his name. But Washington’s death was unavoidable, and Brett needed to watch a life being taken before he could do it himself.

It was the only way he could gain the courage to carry it off. It was the only way to make sure his body could handle the psychological toll of death. It was the only possible way he could muster the strength to kill his wife.

By the way: it's exactly 500 words.

To answer the question you don't want to ask, no, I don't have any desire to kill my wife. Actually, this prompt worked in well with a novel idea I've been considering, which centers around a reluctant murderer. Maybe this could be his back story.

And maybe I'll write the novel, and sell it, and become prosperous.

It sure seems like the chances are better than hitting it big in the lottery.

No comments:

Post a Comment