Short Story Exercise: Fix a Flat Tire

(using this book, set timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “fix a flat tire,” lightly edited)

Hugh sang out his window as he sped down the highway. “And I can’t fight this feeling anymooooooooore…”


The Subaru made a sharp turn to the right. Hugh nonchalantly brought his left hand inside and put it on the wheel, lifted his foot from the gas pedal, and guided the injured car onto the shoulder. He set the emergency brake and killed the engine.

Humming to himself, Hugh stepped onto the pavement and sauntered to the back to get his jack and the spare. He’d driven these lonesome straight desert highways enough to know a flat tire when he got one.

The sun roasted his neck as he pumped the jack to raise the wagon. It was mid afternoon, prime sunburn time, but Hugh removed his shirt anyway. Without a breeze it was far too hot to work fully clothed.

He had just pulled the flat tire off, a pair of scissors firmly planted in the tread, when he heard another car coming up the road behind him. Its engine made a terrible noise, and when the car pulled in behind him, Hugh stood to greet his would-be rescuer. There on the shoulder was an ancient red Volkswagen bug.

He wondered if it had just happened to break down in the same spot.

The woman who got out of the bug was all smiles. “Howdy,” she called out. Her eyes widened as she took in his lean, sweaty torso. “Want some help?”

“Thanks, I got it.”

Looking unsure, the woman said, “Do you want some water, or maybe some sunblock?”

“Really, I’m fine,” Hugh said. “Be back on the road in a minute.”

“Okay. Take care!” The woman waved then dropped back into her car and roared away.

Hugh stared after her, the flat tire forgotten. He rubbed his eyes and blinked. He could have sworn that woman only had three fingers on her hand.

Short Story Exercise: Tell a Story

(using this book, set the  timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “tell a story,” edited lightly)

“I lost them in the womb,” Susann said, making her voice barely audible over the thump-thump music in the bar.

The cowboy seated next to her lifted a brow and took another drink from his beer, then his glassy eyes returned to her misshapen hands.

“Yeah,” Susann continued. “You see, I had a twin. She got my extra fingers! Doctor said they looked like flippers, if you can imagine. Seven fingers per hand, she had, and here I only got three.” Susann wiggled the fingers of her left hand under the man’s nose before taking a dainty sip of her daiquiri.

The cowboy took another look at her hands then pulled his beer from the bar and, shaking his head, wandered away. Susann, accustomed to people making their exit as soon as they got the story of her missing ring and pinkie fingers, swayed her body back and forth, out of time with the music, and scoped the bar for the next man she could catch staring.

She spotted him at the end of the bar. He was a little rough around the edges, but Susann was bored so she picked up her drink and sauntered towards him. “Mind if I join you?” she purred, making a demonstration of her deformed hand by gesturing towards the empty stool.

The man, eyes wide, motioned for her to sit. “That’s some hand you got there, honey!” he drawled.

Oh a southerner! Susann thought with excitement. “You like it?”

“What happened to you, darlin’?”

“Well,” she leaned towards him conspiratorially, doing her best impression of a southern belle, “I was but five years old. My pappy’s farm had this old well, you see. And my job was to bring up the bucket every mornin’, right?”

He nodded somberly.

“So this one mornin’, I’m a-haulin’ the bucket up and wouldn’t you know my brother’s mean old hound dog ran up behind me barkin’ and snarlin’ and I was so scared I lost my grip on the rope. The bucket starts fallin’ so I grabbed at the rope, but it just wound round the last two fingers on each hand, and snap! The rope yanked ’em clean off!”

“Why you poor precious thing,” he soothed. “I hope your brother got a whoopin’ for that dog of his scaring you like that.”

“Worse than that,” Susann said, leaning closer. “Pa made him eat the meat off my old fingers. Raw.”