Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hallway, a short assignment

It’s been a while since I did a short assignment, so here’s one I cooked up the other night:

Once she mounted the last concrete step and exited the stairwell, the corridor stretched before her with unforgiving precision. A trail of fluorescent lights bisected the ceiling like the dotted lines on a midnight road. She shuddered when her first step echoed sharply on the slick linoleum, but she forced herself to continue. She concentrated on neither hastening nor slowing the cadence as she passed curtained windows and closed doors. For the moment, the hallway was empty. Even the hospital PA system was silent. Like a crypt, she thought. Like death.

On the right, Room 215, 217, 219. On the left, 214, 216, 218. So she identified her door, Room 220, before she arrived. It loomed larger as she neared. Her instinct, of course, was to stop. Who would want to enter? Who would want to face what lay inside? But she wouldn’t interrupt what momentum she had. Her footsteps didn’t break rhythm as she approached the door. The hammer strikes continued as she swung the latch, and shouldered the door open.

Sunshine was pouring in the window, and she felt as if opening the door released a tidal wave of light to crash around her. She was blind as she stepped over the threshold. The window was open, and she could hear the faint rush of traffic, wind in branches, voices, birds. The deathly spell of the hallway was broken. Another step forward, blindly, until the shape of the hospital bed emerged faintly, its head against the window. Another step, and she can see the visitors’ chair next to the bed. And in the next step, the shape upon the bed came into focus, and she saw…


  1. What??? Who???? The suspence! Are you ever going to tell us?

  2. Absolutely amazing. How can you write with such focus, yet so dynamically? So detailed, yet so concise? I try much harder than I should when I write, and always finish with a sense of falling short. The only benefit I do get from trying to write well is to better appreciate those who can. See? I bet you could have gotten the exact same point across in half as many words.