I was digging around my box of zip drives from the last ten years and found one with writing exercises I have kept. Some were from classes, some I created for writing classes I taught at my business. I decided this was a fun one to post. It requires a little escape in the writer’s mind to consider “what if?”
What would you do if you awoke one morning in a different house, a different country, a different life than the one you had when you went to bed? What if the same thing happened tomorrow in a different house, a different country, and a different life than the one you had today? Well, it happened to me.
I had no worries. My life was everything I wanted it to be. I had a great career as a journalist, drove a refurbished 1969 Mustang, and had the house of my dreams in South Carolina. My boyfriend was in Florida on business and I was taking the day off to go shopping with a friend. To my disappointment, she cancelled and I was left to gypsy around Charleston by myself. I made the best of it because I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good summer day.
The first stop was at a coffee shop on the beach for a cappuccino and roll. Then off to beach and book it for a couple hours. The afternoon was a soak in a bathtub at home and then out for a quiet early dinner at a pub that serves great loaded baked potatoes. My day out did the job, I was finally relaxed. After a quick ten minutes how are you talk with Frank, I turned on Bridget Jones Diary and fell asleep.
“Good morning turtle!”
I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes. The sheets were slippery and caught my rough soled heels as I kicked off the tight wrapping. At the foot of a large oak bed was a man about sixty with a goatee and a French twisted mustache. He was five foot nothing and held out a tray toward me. I sat up in the bed and looked around at a yellow painted French provincial decor which was not my own. The light cascaded across the satin comforter and quilted coverlet and soaked the shining china he held with bouncing reflection. I covered my eyes again and returned to the same scene upon refocusing.
“Did you sleep well my dear?” He said.
“Yes, I think so. Who are you? Where am I?” I asked.
“Oh really, it is a little early for such drama don’t you think? Now finish your snack and come down so we can get started. The model is here and waiting in the study.” He said as he turned and left the room.
I jumped out of bed and looked out of the window. It was early morning and I was looking out over a large plot of land from a second story. I knew that I had gone to bed in my own home, a three bedroom flat close to the ocean in Charleston. However, this was no where near the water, I was up a story, and there was a strange little French man running around in a weird looking suit. I looked in the closet, which was by no means a real closet but a hutch, and was surprised to find nothing but long dresses. Long, strange looking satin dresses. I laughed and said, “not likely.” However, I didn’t sound like myself. I walked by a full-length mirror by the door to see a red headed girl of twenty. “What the hell?” Again, the voice was not only not mine, but sounded a bit…French.
In the mirror, I slowly turned to see someone holding my stare. She was ravishing really. Red hair, fair to pale skin, and wild looking green eyes. Her features were bold but petite, like she was poured out of a porcelain cast. This was not my body and this was not my house. What the heck was going on?
I found a robe and threw it over my white sheer gown and flung open the door. I yelled,
“Hello? Where did you go? Mister?” I yelled as I took the stairs two at a time.
“Yes, well aren’t you dressed casually today miss? Your model is waiting, please come this way.” He held my elbow and directed me to a large set of double doors. Before I could object in my not so me voice, I was pushed through the open door to reveal a completely naked man standing on a small box in a pose like he was a prize girl on a game show. I began to laugh out of pure fear. He looked traumatized and the butler slash French midget gave me a dirty look.
“I’m sorry, it is so early. Please forgive me.” Funny I thought, that didn’t sound like something I would say.
“Miss, would you like me to send Pierre away, you don’t seem well.” Little French dude said.
“Yes, I think that best.” I tried to compose myself to head back to the room that was not mine. “I am going back to bed.”
I thought, maybe if I went back to bed I could wake up from this craziness.
“But miss, your father will be here soon.” He said.
“What, my father is dead. What are you talking about?” I said.
“But miss, he just called to say he will be here directly.” He said. “Would miss like for her lady to help get ready?”
“Yes, I suppose I do need some help.” I thought if I had to dress in that Victorian garb, I would need help figuring out how to put it all on.
It took the lady and a chambermaid, at least that’s what she called herself, to help me into the corset, the over wires, the undergarments and the dress. All in all, I think I was carrying about fifty pounds of material on my 120-pound frame.
“Holy cow this is heavy.” I said. To which the lady and her shadow gasped like I had cussed the pope.
“Oh miss, it is not good to use such language. You are ready now, will you be going down?” Said the nice older lady.
“No, not until I have to. Why?” I asked.
“Well, you will need help down the stairs of course.” Said the maid.
“I know how to go down stairs, so you two go ahead and I will be down later.” I said confident.
I heard them whisper as I left about my strange behavior and began to look at myself in the mirror. I was quite a vision of Victorian girlhood. I still couldn’t buy that I wasn’t asleep so I pinched me and lay down on the bed. Mistake! I almost didn’t make it back to my feet. The damn corset was so tight I couldn’t bend at all. I had to roll out of the bed and get to my feet from a crawling position while using the footboard to push up. What a nightmare. I was in a time, a place, and a body I couldn’t recognize. What is going on here?
It’s Your Turn!
Your assignment is to write a similar two or three page description of another life in which you awoke. Who are you now, where do you live, and what are you doing?
This exercise is meant to stretch your imagination and take you someplace different. Use your writing to escape all that you know as normal. Are you a man or woman, child or dog? Are you in a foreign country, in a cave, under the ocean?