In the spring I took a short story writing course from Cornelia Feye, author of Spring of Tears and House of the Fox. As a non-fiction author, these types of classes scare the heck out of me – but as it turned out I managed to write a fairly decent short story. What you’ll read below isn’t the short story, but a few paragraphs from an exercise we did in class. The first line is from a published work and the exercise was to continue writing using the first line as a launch pad. Again, first line is not mine. Why don’t you use the same first line and see what pops out of your creative mind?
The great Pullman was whirling onwards with such dignity of motion that a glance from the window seemed simply to prove that the plains of Texas were pouring eastward. Not fast enough, thought Jake, not fast enough.
Leaning back against the frayed wool blanket that had suffocated him the night before, he now felt oddly comforted by its warmth. Just like Anna. Too hot, just right.
As the unbroken expanse of nameless desert sped by, he idly wondered why anyone had been so keen on grabbing this from Mexico. Who cares? Who gives a good God damn? Anna would, of course. But then her family had put down roots generations before Jake had appeared on the horizon. Before Jake had turned her smug little town upside down.
Glancing at his wrist, he momentarily regretted trading his watch for a plate of grits and a glass of warm beer. Who needs it anyway. He could see the sky well enough to know the sun had just crossed mid-heaven, well enough to know Anna was still a good three hours east. Too far.
Any other time he would have settled into the rocking rhythm and lullaby of the tracks. But not this time. Not this time.