Short Story Exercise: Hum a Tune

(using this book, i set timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “hum a tune”)

I breathed deeply. It always stank like burnt peanut butter here, and the more air I moved through my nose the faster I would stop noticing the smell. I inhaled again, closing my eyes. When I opened them I noticed the man in the next line was staring at me, seemingly shocked at my behavior. There was no point trying to explain my logic to him. So I smiled, closed my eyes, and took another deep breath.

My line inched forward. The woman in front of me was rocking side to side from foot to foot, her shoes so worn they were even more worthless than mine. Peeking at my own feet, I wiggled my big toe through the hole in the leather. Dirt was caked under the thick, yellow nail. No one had had any socks in years. Maybe these hundreds of bare, unwashed feet in old dirty shoes was the source of that burnt peanut butter smell.

The woman in front of me begin to sob and across the room I could hear someone sniffling. I glanced to the man next to me. He was staring at his own shoes, frowning.

I started to hum a tune. If I’d remembered the words to the song I would have sang out loud, but I didn’t so I hummed. Signs were posted everywhere saying we weren’t allowed to sit or push, shout or swear, but not one mentioned humming.

After I managed a few notes without punishment, I felt bolder and hummed louder. I looked towards the station but none of the guards seemed to notice me. So I took another deep breath and continued to hum.

The woman in front of me stopped her rocking and raised her head, and then I heard her voice join mine. Someone behind me picked up the tune as well, and soon a dozen of us were humming and swaying until finally the man next to me yelled out, “Whoaaa whoa wah-oh sweet child of mii-iiiine!”