31 DaysDay 14: CHAOS FOLLOWS {the prompt follows at the end of this post}


Let Me Help You

“I can fix that for you,” Zac said, watching Nora tinker with the screen door. “Should be pretty simple, you know, it’s just not meeting up right there.” Zac leaned past Nora and pointed to the upper right corner, where the door seemed to be catching. “I can just file that edge down.”

“Seems like it’s catching on the nail actually,” Nora said. She pushed the door open again and watched as it hung up at the top.

“I’ve got this,” Zac said. “Let me just grab my tools out of my truck.”

Nora ran her fingers over the corner of the door and realized it might actually be the door that was the problem, not the frame just as Zac jogged back around from the driveway, tools clanging against the metal of the box.

“Won’t take but a second,” Zac said and pulled out a file and started scraping it back and forth along the rim of the frame.

“Actually, Zac,” Nora began, but her cell phone ran, interrupting her.

“You take that,” Zac said, “I’ve got this.” He waved her away and went back to work. Nora walked around the side of the house. When she came back to where Zac was working, he had the door off it’s hinges and several tools scattered around near his feet.

“I think it’s good,” Zac said as Nora stared blankly at him and the door in his hands. He fit the door back up and tossed his tools back into their box. “Good to go. As am I,” he said. “Headed to the library to drop off some books Laura boxed up last night.” He smiled and waved as he headed to his truck. Nora stood there, listening to his truck start up and back out of the driveway and watched the door fall off its hinges and clatter to the walkway. She sighed and went to get her dad’s tools.


Zac parked in the only shady spot left, which meant he had a bit of a walk to the door of the library. He stacked the three boxes on top of each other and hefted them off the tailgate. He considered leaving the tailgate down, but didn’t want to create a situation where someone might get hurt or run their car into it, so he dropped the boxes on the ground next to him. He didn’t notice the broken in-ground sprinkler head that was on but not spraying water anywhere except right around the curb where it puddled and muddied the ground and the parking spaces where Zac’s truck was parked.

To be safe, Zac hopped up in the truck’s bed and secured the tool box with a bungee cord then closed the tailgate and retrieved the boxes he’d put on the ground. Inside the library, the woman at the check out desk told him he could leave them by the door and they’d have one of the guys grab the boxes shortly. Zac smiled and the woman thanked him as he left. Just then, George came up from the Friends of the Library Book Cellar and the woman asked him if he’d carry the books down to the Cellar. As George hefted up the boxes, the bottom box let go and the books avalanched out of the box over the floor and some falling down the stairwell. One particularly heavy volume landed squarely on George’s big toe to which the man cursed loudly and claimed his toe definitely bruised and possibly broken.


Nora hung up the phone and wondered if Laura would be able to catch Zac before he dropped the books at the library. She’d been in quite a state when she called Nora’s phone to see if Zac were still there. When Nora told her Zac had already left, Laura seemed to catch her breath and Nora thought she heard her curse under her breath. Nora soon learned that the boxes Zac had taken from the house were the wrong ones; he’d actually taken the boxes of Laura’s prized antique books, including some first editions.

Oh Zac, always so willing to help, Nora thought, looking at her screen door. She smiled and shook her head and went back to hanging the door.


{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I create playlists on Spotify that allow me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. I also select music that fits with the story idea and help inspire the words I write. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing. Usually.}

Writing Prompt: CHAOS FOLLOWS – write a set of short scenes in which confusion or chaos follows a character, as if in his wake. The character does not cause this, knowingly or unknowingly, but disorder nearly always happens after he has left a room, an intersection, or an elevator. This should not be magic. Imagine an exotic wake, but try to make these effects and aftereffects grow naturally out of the character you’re describing. {Exercise 34 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}


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