Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Novel Idea for a Writing Exercise

Sunday’s writing exercise was to choose a book from the pile of novels brought in by the group coordinator. Open it on a random page, pick a random intriguing sentence and write for fifteen minutes. I chose Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amada, and landed on the line “Dona Norma tried to calm her.”

Dona Norma tried to calm her. The woman was breathing heavily, staring hard into her wind shield.

“They are all locked in,” said Dona. “They aren’t going to fall.” She was shouting- the woman hadn’t wound her window down yet. She wasn’t likely to either. She was gripping the steering wheel, hard, her knuckles white like she was on a roller-coaster ride. Maybe she was.

Dona took the decision to open the door of the 4X4 from the roadside. She’d stepped closer to the smashed-in bonnet carefully, hoping she was right about the vehicle the car was jammed into.

The interior was warm, the woman’s breathing loud and high-pitched: repeated gasps of fright.

The heater must have cut off when the engine died.

How can you not see a lorry of that size, she thought, with a pile of cars on the back of it?

“Come on,” said Dona, unbuckling the woman’s seatbelt. “You’re totally sa-“

A metal groan came from beyond the wind shield, a little higher than the 4X4’s roof.

Both women, frozen like ice sculptures, lifted their eyes to the top of the screen.

Then, with a crunch, the black bonnet of a car dropped and stopped centimetres from the wind shield. They both screamed, like movie patrons at a horror show.

Dona exhaled. The BMW badge looked larger than she could ever have imagined. The seatbelt disconnected, causing Dona’s heart to smash against her ribcage once again.

“Take your right hand,” Dona instructed, “and open your door.”

On the way into Manchester to meet the group, I saw a crash on Oldham Road. And yes, it was a woman in a 4X4 who hadn’t seen the giant car transporter.

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