Here is my writing assignment for this week: Describe a character’s bedroom for us using the setting to reveal the character. What’s on the walls? What’s in the drawers? Is that surfboard leaning against a third-hand armoire? Is that a sewing machine buried beneath a pile of dirty clothes? Anything underneath the bed? Try to use all five senses. Finish your survey of the room by arriving at a single, especially important object that is connected to a secret that your character has hidden from almost everyone.

Here are my 500 words in response. Hope you enjoy.

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A German aviator wristwatch with white numbers circling a black face ticked loudly on a mahogany nightstand tucked in the corner between Harrison Miller’s bed and the only window in his room. A breeze drifted through the open window, rustling the heavy khaki linen curtains, allowing sunlight to illuminate the room and cast the shadow of dancing curtains across white walls and the surface of his bed.

Next to the ticking wristwatch was a framed 5×7 – a candid of him, his wife and three boys standing on the dock in front of the candy striped lighthouse at Hilton Head, SC in 1960. Harrison stood in the center with a Winston between his lips, wearing a tight white t-shirt and plaid shorts that revealed his muscular chest, arms and legs. His smiling family leaned toward him. The colors in the picture were fading to one – the sky, the fire engine red stripes circling the lighthouse, the sea, trees, the crisp white of the boats all melting to a single grey.

In a corner facing empty walls was his writing desk. It was a simple table, made of natural wood, with four legs and a 2 foot by 3 foot working area. On the desk was a manual typewriter, a pencil holder with 12 white Bic fine point ink pens (the ones with a black cap) and two paper trays flanking the typewriter. The paper tray to the left had a few hundred blank sheets of paper and the tray to the right had a few hundred pages of unedited autobiographical short stories about his experiences serving as mechanic in Korea during the war.

In the top drawer of his dresser, which he had pushed inside his closet to make room for the writing desk, he kept a manila envelope with a collection of certificates: his birth certificate, marriage certificate, a certificate of appreciation for 35 years of service at Cummins Engine Company, his wife’s death certificate, and a $50 Home Depot gift certificate his grandkids had given him for Christmas last year.

Pushed up against a kitchenette counter was his dining table with two half-full cups of Folgers. Next to the cups was the Autumn Park welcome packet, opened to a picture of coffee drinking residents taken just as they burst in to laughter beneath the Café Yesterday sign which hung above the coffee machine in the dining area.

Between the kitchen table and his bed was a mobile nurse’s station. On top of it was a white cup with his heart medication, a plastic water pitcher, a stack of little blue cups and a binder with patient medical charts which the nurses who worked different shifts used to gossip about the residents.

At the foot of Harrison’s bed were two white nurse’s tennis shoes, with the laces still tied. Next to the shoes were her scrubs, a pair cerulean cargo pants with the draw string undone and the matching v-neck shirt.

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