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W203 Fifth Assignment

Here is this week's writing prompt...

Write a scene, involving only one character, who is uncomfortable in his or her surroundings: socially inept, frightened, revolted, homesick. Using active verbs in your description of the setting, build forceful conflict between the person and the place. Use concrete details: what objects are in the place, what “setting pieces,” what are the smells, what do things feel like to touch, what are the sounds?

The phrase "uncomfortable in his or her surroundings" made me think of my friend Zach for some reason. I don't really know why, but he's the first thing that came to my mind. I told this to my good buddy Dane (also a friend of Zach) and he suggested I write about Zach in his own home, which, if you have ever been there, would most certainly make you uncomfortable. This is what I came up with.

After a long week of tests and presentations, Zach was ready to enjoy the weekend. Knowing his father was on a romantic getaway with the woman Zach affectionately referred to as “Brace Face,” he called his friend Andrew to see if he would come over, but there was no response. Zach groaned aloud as he pulled into his driveway, but he wasn’t about to let anything ruin this much needed break from school. He entered the house and tossed his backpack to the side, determined not to look at it until Monday morning. As he stood in the foyer he could feel the stress start to melt away and he contemplated what he should do first. Amid the silence of the house, it was easy to hear his stomach growl and Zach knew instantly how he would start his weekend.

He meandered down the hall, avoiding the shoes and piles of clothes, and made his way across the kitchen’s unmopped, food-stained tiles. If he didn’t know his house as well as he did, Zach would’ve sworn someone had ransacked the place. The clutter of empty potato chip bags and fruit snacks boxes on the countertop had amassed to twice its normal size and the dishes were stacked so high they resembled the Tower of Pisa. Zach wanted to clean up, but that would require physical exertion and this weekend was all about relaxation. He pushed enough trash aside to get to the novelty cookie jar and saw a family of roaches scatter off the opposite end of the counter. Zach had never heard himself shriek so obnoxiously. He knew he was alone, but was still embarrassed by his reaction. “Settle down!” Zach yelled out. “It’s leisure time!”

“Da-da-da-da-don’t be such a pig!” Porky exclaimed as Zach lifted off the swine’s head. “Empty,” Zach said with disappointment. He turned around, his heart still racing from the insect incident, and reached up for a glass. He grabbed a hold of the first one he felt and was immediately disgusted. The moss-coated glass flew from his hand and shattered on the floor, the fungi still gripping each piece of glass. Zach gagged as he repeatedly wiped his hand on his jeans, trying to rid himself of the sickening feel. He toed the smaller pieces under the overhang of the cabinets and scooped the larger pieces into his hands. He felt like throwing up again.

He dumped the shards into the rust covered sink next to the spoons so sharp with crusted food they could be used as knives. “So gross,” he said to no one in particular as he turned on the faucet. After a short pause, yellowish water sprayed in every direction as if exploding from a cannon and Zach slipped on a candy bar wrapper trying to avoid it. His face hit hard on the linoleum and his glasses slid under the refrigerator. He awoke a very short time later not realizing why he was on the floor. As he assessed the situation, his memory came back. Disheartened at the way his weekend had begun, Zach simply sat up, disoriented and frustrated, and felt his bruised chin, wondering how much more it’d hurt if he didn’t have a beard. He was unsure how he’d retrieve his glasses as he could barely make out which object was the fridge. He settled on the blurry white thing, but became incredibly nervous as he crawled over to it. What would happen when he stuck his arm under there? Would another insect scurry out? Would he cut himself on glass? What lie beneath this food-storing monster?

Zach took a second to focus and then slowly marched his fingers across the dust. The first thing he hit was his glasses and he yelped like an excited puppy as he pulled them out. Zach cleaned the glasses with his shirt and felt a sense of relief as he put them on. But the relief turned to grief the second he opened the refrigerator door. The odor of rancid cottage cheese and malodorous Mahi mahi swept into Zach’s nostrils causing him to vomit on his Nikes and he slammed the door closed as quickly as he could. He wiped the remaining puke from his mouth and wished as hard as he could that when he opened the freezer, all he would see was a delicious Jack’s frozen pizza. Unfortunately there was nothing but frost and a cold breeze that slapped him across the face. Zach closed the freezer door and laid his black, spidery head of hair against it. He heard his stomach again, only this time it wasn’t so much of a growl as it was a cry for help. He settled for a sleeve of Saltines that lay atop the refrigerator and sulked over to the couch. As he bit into the stale, dry cracker he noticed the calendar on the wall. Today was Thursday.

so that's why Zach's always eating food at other peoples' houses!

it sure is a good thing he has that beard. by the way malodorous is an amazing word.

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