Writing101, Day Five: Be Brief

Write about finding a letter, reading it, and then wanting to return it to the sender. For a twist, be as brief as possible.

A $50 bill for a tip. Rare, but not that rare at a fine dining restaurant.

When it is handed to me it is crisp, new, and folded in half. It is not until I open up and flatten it out that I see the dark writing trace a black-inked story that covers the bill in miniscule writing, all but obscuring the lavender and aqua shades of it from end to end.

When I get home, a glass of red wine and the note accompany me to my room. I lay the bill out once more, find the magnify glass I use from time to time, and set to work reading what it had to say.

It only takes me about 15 or 20 minutes to decipher the scrawl to read it through the first time. Then I read it over again at least a dozen times. Transfixed by the message, I gaze at the page, my brow furrowed, as I sit deep in thought.

Suddenly, I rise, upsetting the grey cat that was sitting at my feet. He hisses, but my mind is racing too fast to notice. I grab one of the long candle lighters from the fireplace, don a sweater, and take the backdoor to the concrete steps.

Twisting the $50 bill upon itself, I hold the flame an inch away. The full moon watches overhead, shining brightly, illuminating the entire scene far beyond the lighter’s ability. Yet the light of the flame makes the note opaque, and the writing gleams upon the paper.

For a second I feel surreal, and a little mad, then I remember the words I had read. With no further hesitation, I touch the light to the paper, and watch as it first catches at the corner, then engulfs the bill, and extinguishes itself upon the concrete where I drop it.

Brushing the ashes off the stoop, I return to the house, as the moon looks on unchanged. I however, would never be the same after that night.

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17 thoughts on “Writing101, Day Five: Be Brief

  1. I enjoyed this quite a bit. It really has me wondering about what could have been written on it. I actually think this is quite clever…leaving it up to the reader to decide. One of my favorite phrases was: the full moon watches overhead… I also noticed that you added in a cat!! Great post. πŸ™‚

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    1. I was definitely inspired by another Writing101 participant who also did not say what the note said. I found my mind going, and I really liked that! Thank you so much for your comments, they are so appreciated!! And of course, there’s always gotta be a kitty πŸ˜€

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  2. t…his is just a good solid piece of writing Liz Kibby. It sounds like there is an interesting back story here, which has many emotions. I am not phishing here for you to tell me it. I like how condensed the writing is here, with your stolid pen/keystroke. NICE piece-thanks for sharing;).

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    1. Also, forgot to add – you have a great imaginative writers’ ‘eye’ for things to translate onto paper/web. This piece is the best I’ve seen you use that imagination thus far – awesome. #keep_creating !

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      1. Thanks so much Jason!! That was so kind, and this is honestly the first piece of fiction I’ve ever begun, ended, and published so it is so nice to get that feedback! I really appreciate your kind words about my writing. I think it is getting better because I’m allowing a lot of it to be channeled to me, if you know what I mean. Thanks for reading!

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  3. I really, really enjoyed this, My mind is free to think all sorts of things about what was on the note, what happened after she burnt it. Very intriguing. Great writing.

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