I wrote this story for a creative writing class in response to a character development prompt. The goal of the prompt was to see if your preconceived character molded to the environment they were put into, or if the environment molded your character and plot. It is my favorite short story I have ever written.
We started out with a character idea, then put them into an empty room with any or all of these items (but no more than these): a plain chair, hardwood floor, pen and paper, vanity mirror, golden compass, map, window and door, gun with bullets, a desk with two drawers.
As it turns out, my environment completely shaped my character. The person I ended up with after the environment was given had completely different characteristics, personality, and backstory than the one I had made up at the beginning of the prompt.
Without further ado, here is my story.
30 Sept 2015
She was in a room. A white, generic room with a square, generic window. Sitting at the plain oakwood desk in the chair her father had made as a boy, she reflected on her life. Its mundane routine, the absolute void of color and emotion in which she was basking at this moment. White walls. White paper open in front of her, begging for the black ink from the pen she clutched to be splayed across its surface. Sameness screams for change once it has been tired out. Light begs for dark once the eternal day is done. Putting her unused pen down, she stood and shuffled over to the vanity. A plain face, neither beautiful nor entirely ugly, stretched and released once more by the hands of time. Deep ravines, symmetrical on both sides, threatened to swallow her whole. There would be nothing left. She sat back down at the desk, bumping the table on her way down, and from that minor disturbance came an unexpected clink. She shook her head,
brushing the sound away, and picked up her pen. She drew. Furiously, she drew. Drew spots and angles, lines and curves. When the deed was done, she was satisfied. She dropped her pen on the table. Clink. The drawer was suddenly open- the gun was on the table. One bullet, rolling around in the empty drawer. Clink. The walls. They were so, so white. Clink. Her soul was like that ink on the paper: spiraling nonsense splayed across an unassuming surface. Trapped within the pen until that final moment of salvation. Clink. The walls were so clean, so bare.
Like unused paper.