Middle of the Night Writing Exercise.

Thank you, San Francisco Writers’ Grotto for the writing prompt and to my friend, Jane, for the inspiration. Write a story in which each sentence will begin with a different letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter A, and moving sequentially, i.e., B, C, D, and so forth.

A single Cheeto lay on the stoop in front of my front door.

Baffling and profoundly bothersome, I closed my eyes and focused on my task.

Count backwards from ten, my therapist had said.

Do it.

Essential to the calming exercise was my ability to block out my environment and envision myself elsewhere.

Factoring in the biting cold of the winter breeze that nipped at my face and nose, begging me to just overstep the dreaded Cheeto and open the door of my home and go inside, I instead chose to face my perversely ludicrous opponent pulsing proudly and preening near my feet.

Gravity pulled on my body, rooting me in place, unswayable as I contemplated my count backwards while gaping at the orange blob of my madness.

Honor bound me to keep the promise I made to myself and my shrink.

It was time to defeat the Cheeto.

Jaw clenched, eyes boring into the mysterious morsel of cornmeal that had taken over my mind, I began my count.

Kismet had brought the orange creature into my life to first torture me with questions of how it got there, but then later, forming a malevolent obsession which was driving me mad.

Lost and swirling through an orange colored wormhole, I spoke the numbers aloud, focusing only on their shapes, the curves of the sleek number 8, two balls sitting on top of each other, the 7 with the diagonal slant of the stem and the crisp short horizontal line.

Minutes passed, but there was no six.

Numbers, numbers, out you damned spot!

Often when stuck in the exorcistic exercise, a forced re-set was required, but oh how deflating it was to begin again.

Past caring what others might think if they knew of my farcical struggle, I stammered out the rest of the pack.


Relief flooded my system as I reached the end of the count, but it was time for the final and brutal step.

Scary as if sticking my hand in a black hole of nothingness only to have it bitten by an unknowable presence, I reached down and plucked the Cheeto off the ground.

Tonight I defeat you!

Utterly joyful, I smashed the Cheeto against my front door, watching it crumble and die.

Victory was mine, I breathed.

Warmth spread through me as the powdery dust of my tormentor was whirled up and thoroughly retrieved by a friendly gust of wind.

Xena the Warrior Princess has nothing on me.

Yet, where was my enemy now, what or who would be next?


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