Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Day 7 (Sept. 08 Southeast Review Writer’s Regimen)

#1 Create a character and fill his or her shopping car with 10 different items. Now write a brief narrative on what your character is going to do with those items when he/she gets home.

The ten items:

  1. clear nail polish
  2. frozen chicken pot pies
  3. can of cranberry sauce
  4. a flashlight
  5. Two Hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds
  6. ginger ale
  7. saltine crackers
  8. Jergen’s hand lotion
  9. prescriptions from the in-store pharmacy

It was late afternoon when George entered the brightly lit grocery store. He had tried to wait out the rain, but even now, it continued to drizzle and the cold wind had gotten under his collar as he made his way from the parking lot.

Did he need a big cart, or one of those small green ones with a handle?

“Big one,” he decided. “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

George pushed his cart to the pharmacy department first. “Let ’em get started on these,” he thought. “It may take awhile.”

He found the soft drink aisle and put a six-pack of Canada Dry Ginger Ale in his buggy. Then he went looking for some Saltine crackers. “Mother always gave us kids ginger ale and saltine crackers when we were sick,” he muttered to himself.

A display of flashlights at the end of an aisle caught George’s eye and he threw one in his basket. “Can’t have too many flashlights.”

“Supper,” he thought. “What can I fix for supper?”

“If Betty was here, she would know just what to get. Chicken pot pie. That’s it. Haven’t had that in a long time. Good comfort food.” Encouraged that he had hit on an idea, George’s step was lighter as he made his way to the frozen food section. Two frozen chicken pot pies were added to his cart.

The pot pies made George think about Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce. One can of the jellied kind that came out with marks from the can molded onto it was added to the growing pile of stuff in the cart.

“What was it Betty asked me to get? What on earth was it? Damn, I hate getting old. Should have written it down. Something weird.” Then he got a picture in his mind of Betty fooling around with her glasses. “Nail polish! That’s it! She said to get some clear fingernail polish to seal the little screw in her eyeglasses and keep from coming a loose.”

George heard his named called out from the pharmacy, and headed over to pick up the medicine for Betty.

At the check out counter, he saw Hershey Bars with Almonds and flipped two into this shopping cart. “Chocolate makes everything better,” he thought to himself, “maybe it will work for Betty, too.”


#2    Create a character whose gender, race, ideologies, or station in life is the opposite of yours. Put that character in a difficult situation and write about it form his or her point of view.

My, uh, my, uh, my name is Carol Ann. I like my job. I work, uh, here, uh, at Albertson’s, and I make money. It’s a good job.

Why are they closing, uh, uh, c-c-c-closing the store? Where can I, uh, go, uh, during the day? My, uh, c-c-c-customers will m-m-m-miss me.

They s-s-s-say I have to uh, uh, ap-ap-apply to the new com, uh, company.

I d-d-don’t want to! Whu-whu-what if th-they don’t l-l-like me?


#3 Riff word is Father

So different from Daddy. Noun, verb. Father knows best. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Father Goose, a funny movie. Never called a pastor father until I became an Episcopalian, and even now, it depends on the clergyman. Father Harry, for example, or just plain Neal (even though he is the rector).  Father is formal. Strange that when I was a kid, father was daddy, but mother was mother: never mom, mama or mommy.

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