Character Sketch

Too hot, I thought to myself.The sun brought it’s dry wrath upon the desert sands of the Valley the day I left for Quesnel. For eight hours, the sky gleamed an azure hue above the massive craggy mountains, bringing life to the seemingly dead landscape. Sage bushes dotted the dusty hills and rocky mountainsides, but I never saw a single tumbleweed. Wasn’t hot enough, I figured. I really didn’t understand how that was possible.

The heat was sweltering. I heard people from all age groups sigh and pant as the sun heated up the Greyhound bus, cooking us. As people shed their layers to reveal sweat-stained underclothing, all I could think of were onions, as the smell that marinated us and stuck to our clothes was suspiciously similar. The air around me was thick from the heat, and just looking at the other passengers made me feel sticky and in desperate need of a shower. The overworked wheels made a constant whirring sound, never really allowing me to sleep, and bringing up large amounts of dust that dirtied the sun that came through the tinted windows. Any attempt to sleep by using my arm as a pillow was shot down, and I didn’t wish to lean my seat back, either. People were behind me, and they were sleeping peacefully. My legs were fully exposed to the rough, itchy fabric that was the seat cushion, making me seethe with anger.

I wanted to change my clothing, but I couldn’t with my perfumed, sweater-clad, elderly sitting-partner having the freedom of turning her head from the wonders of the desert outside to the uncomfortable, itchy teenager beside her. I resorted to putting my coat under my legs. Not ten minutes later, however, the azure of the desert hid itself behind a thick curtain of gray, freezing all below it. The sweat on my body cooled down, freezing the ever-living hell out of me, but I had to chose between itchy legs or frozen arms. Goosebumps covered my flesh for an extra five hours before I stepped off the bus to cover my shoes in the dust of the sleepy town of Quesnel.

 

World-Building for “The City of Light”

“The City of Light”

Setting: “Ciudad de Luz” or “Luz”, a grimy, crime-ridden city with a population of about five million.

Characters:

Erika Frost: A detective-turned-vigilante who kills off hard criminals the police are looking for. She uses drugs to quell her depression, despite the negative effects it could have on her daughter, Hope, and her best friend Mathew. She hates Ciudad de Luz and wants to leave with Hope, but the addiction of killing criminals keeps her cemented. Her main character traits are: Headstrong, stubborn, independent, and impulsive.

Mathew Steele: A detective who is Erika’s best friend. He knows about her night-time activities and her addiction, but rather than telling the police, he gives her much-needed emotional support and often takes care of Hope. His main character traits are: Cautious, selfless, strong, and serious.

Alistair Summers: A well-off author who happens to be Hope’s biological father. He was intimate with Erika a few times, but ever since the start of her descent into depression (and soon after, her drug-use), he left her for his own safety. However, in finding out that Erika had his child, he had been trying to gain custody ever since, to protect Hope from the ticking time-bomb that is her mother. His main character traits are: Persistent.

Hope Frost: The young, but bright daughter of Erika and Alistair. She always seems to make Erika happier when she’s around, despite her addiction and condition. She sees Mathew as a father-figure, as she has never really known Alistair. Her main character traits are: Innocent and young.

Three Styles of Writing

A bored 52 year-old housewife: The dull grey of the steel appliances is too familiar. I have spent most of my married life here, freezing my feet on the floor till they themselves have become as hard as the tiles I step on. I refuse to believe that my life has been wasted. The neighbors seem to think that with the application of women’s rights fifty years ago I should be out working a desk job or even a profession, and that’s the problem. I want to. 

A 23 year-old hipster: The yellow of the streetlamps outside burn through the night and into my kitchen. The light reflects off of the glass of the black and white picture frames littering my walls gently, continuing to bathe the room and all of it’s appliances in a dim hue. The old lightbulb in the lamp above my head doesn’t do much for lighting the entire room anymore, but it does help with letting me see my typewriter’s keys as I sit at the breakfast table working. The stack of paper beside my coffee mug is two years of my life put into print, and I’m not going to stop any time soon. 

A 35 year-old PTSD widower: The paint above the stove is unwashed and thick with grease as I sit by the breakfast table, immovable. I stare across from me to the seat once filled by my wife as I remember that I have to take my pills. The cat-shaped breadbox and the rooster-print tea towels watch me with apathy as I breathe in the dusty air, catching a subtle hint of perfume and blood. I open the drawer beside the fridge to grab my pill box, but without thinking I pick up the bottle of pill box refills along with it. I sit back down again, and in staring at my wife’s chair for the last time I dry-swallow my pills and half of the refills before collapsing beside my wife’s body, sprawled face-down on the floor.    

A RANT THAT NEEDS ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IN THE TITLE

I want you to think about sitting in a locked trailer with fifty other people. It’s 45 C outside which is causing the backed-up toilet’s stench and the pungent aroma of sweaty humans to mix together and marinate everything inside the trailer like a sick pressure-cooker. People are giving birth left and right, but with hardly any food besides the rotting, dead bodies of your roommates that couldn’t last, most of the newborns die. Most of these people are related to you by blood, and you’re sure that the person making suggestive eyes at you is your inbred cousin.

Now on top of all that, add “not able to breathe or see properly because of widespread bacteria all around you, filling the thick, murky air” to the list. Your last instructions are to replace the human element with cat elements. Yes, this does happen, and yes, it could be that weird cat-lady down the block with a coat which seems to be made out of house-pet fur. Many people in the US and Canada are hoarders, but some of them go to new lows as to hoard cats or other animals, and for some reason a common pattern is to lock them all in a confined area of a house in the desert. Usually, cat hoarding starts by the owner having two or more cats who end up breeding, but the owner refuses to give away the kittens or spay or neuter the parents.

It seems to be less punishable to hoard cats than when someone hoards people, like a human trafficker. Don’t get me wrong, human trafficking is a sick, disgusting profession and I approve of tying a cinder-block to the feet of those found guilty and throwing them over the dock and into the ocean, but animal hoarding is sick and disgusting, too. People seem to focus less on the fact that animals can feel as much physical pain as humans do, possibly because they don’t care, or that they simply don’t know. We can change this without trapping people in locked, messy trailers to make a point, but instead by showing the animals that have been hurt by a hoarder’s actions to the public.

See Me Work (I…)

Usually at two years old, we experiment. Not like that, you freak. Well ok, maybe I led you on to thinking that. What I meant was experimenting with colour. For example, your parents left a sharpie on the coffee table, well within reach of your little fingers, and in being completely oblivious to the cost of wall paint, you draw all over the stairway’s walls. When they come downstairs, they notice red lines all over the blue-washed stairway, and instantly get angry, almost forgetting that you’re still two; a rookie in the ways of the world.

I was sixteen, and I still drew on walls. Not with sharpie, as it took too long and the rough texture of brick wore down the felt. I tried it, and wasn’t too happy with myself after I ruined a three-dollar thick-line sharpie. You see, sharpies are what those idiots at school use to desecrate the girl’s washroom stalls with racial and sexual slurs. I knew I was better, higher, than that petty ten-second enjoyment. I decided on spray paint instead.

Sure, I knew what I was doing was against the law, but damn, I felt so good after finishing up some work. I started out at night, biking down to one of the local skateparks to do some inking on the ramps. After a while of jumping into the bushes when the cops passed by (which was often), I decided to focus on alley walls instead of the skatepark. I can’t say if I was addicted to the feeling I got when I painted on someone else’s things, the anticipation of a cop possibly coming around the corner, or even the paint fumes themselves. I do know, however, that I was bent on the idea that what I was doing was justified. I brought colour to the dull city I lived in. Yet it wasn’t long until I realized I was part of the problem.

With rising crime rates, cops put anyone they found doing any type of crime behind bars and not back home like they would have done before with young offenders doing stupid things. This reached my mother, who was scared for me and begged me not to continue my late-night activities. However, me, being a teen, rebelled and didn’t listen to her warnings. That very night, I snuck out of my room through my window and ran to one of the alleys that were a bit farther than my other alleys. I was there for an hour before a cop flashed his light into the passageway, and the minute we noticed each other’s presences, I reacted accordingly, as a good criminal should. I ran down multiple passageways (I knew the back-alleys better than anyone) for about ten minutes before I climbed a water-pipe up the side of a building. I held my breath, watching the cop run right underneath me and down the street. I never saw him again that night.

Getting home, I sat with my mother who scolded me harshly for going out, but was so relieved for my safety. Sitting with her then made me realize how lucky I was that I wasn’t in jail, and I promised myself I would drop spray painting for good. I found myself reaching into my bag once or twice for the non-existent paint-cans when I passed by a brick wall, but I stopped myself quickly after remembering my mother’s words. Every day that I passed the skatepark on my way from school, I saw more and more graffiti-artists in handcuffs being escorted away, and I always managed to notice their half-finished work beside mine. Little by little, more half-finished work began to overlap mine before it was barely visible, cloaked in scribbles and graffiti-tags.

Today, I continue my habit of art, but I found a new canvas on the bodies of my customers, which my mother greatly approves of. I believe I will always miss the sound of spray-paint on brick, but like my skatepark art, it is covered enough to never see the light of day again.