Old Writing Exercise

The challenge: Write a one page (~250 words) description of a barn as seen through the eyes of a man whose son just died in a war overseas. Do not mention the man, the son, war, or death.

My work:

The barn looks to be the color of dried blood. The roof, taken by a twister, leaves the interior exposed to the sky, the age-bleached rafters sticking out of it like shattered ribs, and all that was once inside has been scattered to distant shores. Once a focus of the nearby family, it is now pointedly ignored, the memories that swarm around it unwanted, but unable to be removed by the tempest of the tornado.

It is all that one can do to ignore the fetid smell borne by wind passing through the bones of the building, and the lonesome display of it rising up, alone, over the surrounding fields of freshly-plowed dirt can make the heart ache for things lost. Before the autumn, it seemed invulnerable, like a granite outcropping that would only wear away with millions of years and the passage of countless raindrops and gusts of wind. Now, it seems like a small boat, afloat at sea – transient, the lives of those tied to it frail and far too short.

Dusk gathers around it and it moves into the end of the day gracelessly, its bones clinging to the sky as if hunting for the light. For the barn, though, daylight will be back and it will age and crumble past the insults of the storm, its joints failing and skin eroding against the weather of time. And someday, it will fall in on itself, its soul and memories joining with those that spent too few summers in its shade.

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