Writing Exercise Responses (April 2021)

I’m moving house tonight and won’t have internet access for a while, so I’m posting this week’s Fiction Friday a day early.


These are my responses to the writing exercises from our fourth Writing Apocalypse lecture. These are all completely raw, unpolished and unedited, and were written during the lecture in the small window of time allocated by the lecturer.


Trigger Warning: Alludes to rape; discusses 9/11.


Write a short piece in which the survivor of an apocalypse relays his tale to the narrator

Do I remember that day? Yes. You might think I wouldn’t. The days that followed were full of terrors and screams and bloody limbs; of fathers beaten before the eyes of their children and daughters unveiled in the presence of strangers and sons torn from the arms of their mothers. You might think that day would be forgotten, lost in the cacophony of days since. But I remember. I remember watching the village television as the planes hit, horrified for the people trapped inside. I remember my eyes widening as I heard the words ‘Taliban’ and ‘Bin Laden’ fall from the newscaster’s lips. I remember watching my children play in the dust, my heart filled with tears, knowing what was to come, feeling the looming threat, helpless to prevent it. I remember. Of course I remember. I remember because that day was the beginning, the start of every day that followed.


Imagine that the narrator becomes convinced the survivor is lying or withholding key information. Make room for this dynamic in the narrative.

What’s that? Yes, of course my family was affected. I don’t know any who weren’t. But I don’t want to talk about that. No, we are all still alive, Alhamdulillah, but my daughter — well, the Americans, the soldiers, they… she was just fourteen, and such a beauty you see. She hasn’t spoken a word since that day. And, who will marry her now? She’s ruined. I don’t want to talk about that, I tell you! That’s right, yes, I have a son. Had a son. He is alive, though death would be better, I think. They took him, the Americans. They sent him to that place, the one they made in Cuba. My son — he did nothing. He was just a boy. A good boy. But they took him and he may as well be dead.



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