Robin Hawke

December 1, 2011, 3:21 PM
Filed under: All Writing Challenges | Tags: ,

The cat scooted across his path. Dylan swerved but felt a small bump as his bike ran over the tail. The owner must have watched events from the window because Dylan heard him shout. Next morning, a garbage can blocked the sidewalk. Escalating the small war, Dylan threw a rock at his neighbor’s house, shattering a pane of glass.

Dylan began taking the long way to school. A week went by without repercussions.

Returning, he noticed the scrap of board. He knew; he just knew.

Dylan salvaged some glass and putty from home to leave them on his neighbor’s stoop.

100 Words for Grown Ups

The prompt this week is: …photo by Teresita Abad Doebley….Click to read entries.


18 Comments so far
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I wonder why Dylan and his mysterious neighbor dislike each other so much.

Comment by Lisa Wields Words

An excellent piece that shows how something so small can be turned into a full blown pissing contest. Excellent! 🙂

Comment by Janece

This feels like a very sad series of events to me. I think many wars actually begin in this sort of way.

I wonder if the 5 words, “He knew; he just knew” could have been used differently and shown us more of what Dylan was feeling and what sparked his small offering?

Comment by Sparks In Shadow

I’d just assumed Dylan was a rotten little kid, or this was a trigger for a little of the intrinsic rottenness in so many boys. I know I had it in me.

I will side with Sparks that the “He knew; he just knew” wasn’t evocative enough for me. There wasn’t enough context for the scrap of board to emerge as a threat to me.

Comment by John Wiswell

And I was thinking that the trash can was just coincidence, that the batttle was all in Dylan’s mind.

Comment by wcdameron

The first half of this is very interesting – the emotions (both in the piece, and that it arouses in the reader), and the way people create problems between themselves – ‘For the want of a nail’ syndrome. But I agree with the other comments – I didn’t understand the significance of the board – and what did Dylan know? Sorry, probably being dumb here! I hope that the last line is a move towards reconciliation, but I couln’t be sure!

Comment by Lorely

If it didn’t work, it didn’t work. From the comments, I realized I expected my reader to go from broken pane > scrap of wood > glass and putty because of the picture prompt. Sometimes I narrow my readership down to the others participating in the challenge. It’s a bad habit.

The piece started with “He knew; he knew,” as the impetus for the entire story. Sometimes we have to get rid of the impetus for a piece, though it is usually the strongest fixture in our writing minds. I’m amazed I added the “just”, a word I rigorously resist.

This is an accident, that leads to a maybe-retaliation, that leads to violence. If a boy becomes aware of someone on the other side of a broken window, and actually does something about it, I think a small “I get it” moment is in line with the point I’m trying to make. His reaction is underwhelming, too…he could apologize, he could fix the window, but I wanted everything to be small, not just the war. If it becomes about him and his feelings or even his realizations…it is not the story I was trying to tell, however poorly.

Yes, I hope that big wars lead to big remorse, but the smallest action of contrition is better than none.

Comment by Robin Hawke

Appreciate your depth and candor, Robin. Good piece, the way I might have written it, similar writing style so caought my eye …. 😉

Comment by ventahl

Thank you!

Comment by Robin Hawke

No, you are quite right – it is all about small things – including, for Dylan the small step forward, of learning something small but significant as a result of his action. Something he won’t forget. Life is made up of innumerable small things! Thanks for the explanation!

Comment by Lorely

A good take on the prompt. Left me wondering why they disliked each other so much.

Comment by Susan Mann

I don’t think they know. I think we automatically dislike people who don’t see us (or our cats).

Comment by Robin Hawke

It’s funny but I had a slightly different take on your piece. I thought he felt guilty about riding over the cat’s tail and imagined the neighbour’s shout. The bin on the path was coincidence – it happened to be bin day. He threw the rock in anger but after a week it was still on his conscience and he tried to make amends with the offering of new glass and putty.

Btw – you can post the prompt picture so that everyone can see where it’s comiong from.

Comment by midlife singlemum

It may be silly, but because visual prompts relay so much information, I don’t like to repost them–even if the copyright permissions have been granted. It’s part of trying to make my words as strong. I enjoyed hearing your take, thanks! Robin

Comment by Robin Hawke

Interesting take on the prompt. I liked the way that it ended with Dylan trying to make amends…although thought that both sides were too quick too react.

Comment by annahalford (@anhalf)

This piece conveys a whole history of relationship between the two combatants. It is like any other disagreement that gets out of hand. However, it has hope in it with Dylan trying to make amends. If only those throughout history had tried! Excellent writing Robin!

Comment by jfb57

I would like to hear more about the neighbour. I liked the attention to details (like the cat’s tail – is that non pc on my part !? . . )

Comment by gsussex

I like the cat’s tail too…

You may have hit on the reason that so many people didn’t connect with this story…the other side (the neighbor) of the story is not examined. Even though I know this neighbor’s age and circumstances, I didn’t share it. It was important that the boy’s awakening of the needs of others be a tiny step. I thought that if the reader knew more about the neighbor, then the boy’s act would be seen as ‘not enough’ instead of positive change.

Comment by Robin Hawke

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