The writing exercise was to read Chekhov's Misery and write a sort of character-sketch story where a big event has recently happened, and to show the aftermath.
Here's my take on it.
Melissa Abrams – Writing Exercise 7/6/09
Jareth picked up and then discarded the blouse he found in the box marked “kitchen,” and continued to separate the silverware into the smaller of his two drawers. Fork. Knife. Whisk? “That can go,” he thought calmly, and immediately threw the whisk through the window, thrown open in the attempt to welcome a cool breeze. His back ached from bending over, and moved into his bedroom, the 10x10 cell he’d be living in (if living means existing).
Wrinkled clothes, dirty, were washed by hand. Just enough for one day. “One day at a time,” Jareth said, repeating aloud the advice of his mother, who had warned Jareth not to marry the tramp in the first place. But the tramp was sweet, and bore him two boys. They had been the perfect family.
The bed was made, a welcome gesture from the landlady, and after plugging in his alarm clock, he set it for 4:13 pm, and promptly, he fell asleep.
Fourteen hours later, he brushed his teeth. He changed into his most respectable suit, the one with the double breasted jacket and sleek slim slacks. And then he went to work. He took the subway not east, but west, and arrived surprisingly early. No morning walk for the dog he never wanted, no coffee to make because he didn’t drink it. That morning, there had been no one to ask him if they looked fat, and no one to tell him if he looked nice. Jareth looked down at his shoes, mismatched, and gave a weak smile.
“Good morning,” the receptionist answered when he bid her his usual hello, and “hey Jareth!” could be heard from his unusually perky office. He nodded and smiled and said all the right things, sat down at his desk, and got read to crunch the next set of numbers for the investors arriving shortly.
Crunched, he picked up the designs from the visuals department, and then greeted the businessmen. He wasn’t worried. The presentation was impeccable, months of grueling. Reviewed, tested, and proven to work. A clear manner and distinguished attitude sold the idea. Only in Jareth’s eyes could you detect any pain.
High fives from partners, and Caleb’s suggestion to go out and celebrate.
“You and Elaine want to meet up at Chez Maurice tonight? Eight-ish?”
“She’s, uh, busy tonight.”
“With her new boyfriend,” he muttered, so that only he could hear.
“Want to come alone? You deserve it!” Caleb hit Jareth hard on the back, and tears sprang to his eyes. He kept his back to Caleb and called over his shoulder that he really had to get home.
The number twelve train was more silent than the train that he was used to, and not once did he have to give up his seat to anyone elderly or disabled. He secretly enjoyed this pastime, and without it, Jareth was left alone, to think.
He thought right past his stop, and with his mind elsewhere, he turned down the familiar streets, and walked up in front of his old house, the two-story brick house of lies. Two cars in the driveway, and he recognized neither. “A dream?”
It wasn’t a dream. No one had left him, or run off with another man. The two boys in the picture on his office desk had come with the frame, and the whisk had been his own.
The landlady walked up behind Jareth at the brick house. She put a motherly hand on his shoulder, and handed him a glass of water and a small white pill. She closed the architecture book, marking the page of Jareth’s latest episode. He unplugged and then replugged his alarm, set it to 4:13 pm, and then promptly fell asleep.