Exactly 500 Words, a New Writing Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I came up with a new writing exercise to stimulate myself and anyone else who wanted to participate:  write exactly 500 words based on a prompt twice a month.  This started on Facebook, where a friend urged me to not just limit it to 500 words but to add to the challenge by requiring exactly 500 words.

We started at the beginning of the month with the prompt “Rebirth, renewal and the return of light”.  Myself and one other person have participated so far by posting our work to Facebook.  If you’d like to participate, either post your work as a comment or comment with a link to your blog.  Or whatever you want to do.  If the medium allows, please tag it with #Exactly500Words.  The objective for me is to stimulate myself first, get some other people involved second, create some community around writing third.  The first prompt runs through 2/15.

The next prompt, for 2/16 – 2/29, is “Leap”, in honor of a 29 day February for Leap Year.  I would love to see what other people can do with 500 words.

This is what I wrote for the first round – Rebirth, Renewal and the Return of Light:

It’s dark in here.  Dark and close like a womb. I keep shifting and changing position, trying to get comfortable.

My skin feels too tight. My body is heavy and awkward, stumbly and lacking grace. I’ve felt this way for weeks.  No, months.  It’s hard to remember a time before this dark sense of pending.  What am I waiting for?  I don’t know, my mind won’t give up its secrets, though it’s happy to snicker at me as I attempt to think my way out of this puzzle.  Whiskey provides some distance, liquid anesthesia to numb the jagged edges of nagging.

I either need to shrink or break free.  I don’t have the energy to pop my skin and slither out like a snake, but the alternative seems just as improbable.  Maybe if I sleep a while longer, if I lie still and let the planet turn a few times more, maybe I’ll be able to find a comfortable position. The days are dark with weather so that waking feels a lot like sleeping most of the time.

I try but I can’t sit it out.  Can’t distract myself with whiskey and politics enough of the time.  My skin is tight and itchy.  I want to rub up against rough barked trees like a bear emerging from hibernation.  I want to thrash around and pop my casing.  I need more space! The house is too small, too crowded, too INSIDE.  The rain is still falling steadily but I want OUT. Stir crazy, that’s what I’ve got.  My head and my heart and my insides are too tight and bursting at the seams.

I go to the gym, I press the weights up and press the weights down and lift them and pull them.  I pedal miles without going anywhere.  It helps, a little.  My muscles are grateful for the use but what I really need is to dig and lift and haul and rake and move, move move.  Real moving for real miles, not running like a hamster on a wheel.

When the light begins its return, it’s slow and patient, like a glacier.  Even at that pace, I can feel the change in my quickening pace, in the way my muscles begin to move with more ease, the way my eyes look up to find the horizon.  I’m looking long rather than keeping my gaze close and safe.  The sun is beginning its annual return to dominance. I’m pulling it in, recharging my batteries.  Soon, soon, I can break free.

The smallest crack becomes my way out. I don’t stop until my dark prison lies in shards behind me. Prison, womb, egg. Ended.  And now a new beginning, basking in this blessed radiation so far from its source.

Always this cycle: light to dim, succumbing to deepest  night.  Re-entering the womb, the egg that cradles new life. Waiting with seeds and deep sleeping animals until that first sweet warm kiss of spring sets us free once more.

Born again.


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