Writing Exercise #1

Prompt: Recall the most terrifying real story you've ever been told. Rewrite it in the third-person point of view.

After pausing to wipe the sweat from her brow, Annemarie tore the packaging tape and pressed the remaining flap flush against the edge of the box. She leaned back on her knees and appraised the progress she’d made. All around the room were stacks of cardboard boxes, some purchased from the local storage facility, others collected from the back of Wal-Mart or grocery stores. Each was labeled in hastily written scrawl in the thick black ink of a large marker, and each was packed tight and sealed with clear packaging tape. She checked her cell phone for the time; she still had about three hours before the movers arrived. When her stomach growled, it was decided: it was time for lunch.

She left her apartment and, because she lived alone, was sure to lock the door behind her.

When she returned to her apartment, her belly full and sipping on her Diet Coke, she was more than ready to finish the last few bits of packing before the movers arrived. And she still had at least two hours to spare. Her accomplished mood faded, however, when she unlocked her door, but failed to be able to open it. Her key only worked on the doorknob lock, as the deadbolt was only lockable from the inside. Frustrated, she pulled and wiggled the knob, but to no avail.

“Maintenance,” she muttered. She’d submitted a work order earlier in the week. Maybe the maintenance staff had accidentally locked the deadbolt on their way in; it wouldn’t have been the first ridiculous thing for the staff to do.

Annemarie sighed and called the complex’s front office. She walked down the hall towards the stairwell while the monotone ringing droned in her ear. As she rounded the corner, she heard the screech of the glass sliding door to her patio; she was the only person outside and it was too close to belong to any other unit.  She disconnected the call and rounded the corner to the railing. From there, she could see a young man standing on her patio.

He looked around, bewildered, cautious. He hadn’t noticed her yet.

But she was flushed with white hot rage. She only had two more hours before she was out of the horrible neighborhood she’d suffered for twelve agonizing months; two more hours before she was out of the awful, Godforsaken apartment with its poor insulation, paper-thin walls and astronomical utility bills; two more hours until she was free. Then this asshole…

“Hey!” she screamed, already dialing 911. “Get out of my apartment!”

He whipped around towards her—she got a clear look at his face—then bolted into the apartment. It was then that Annemarie realized her error: she was standing in the very open, very easily seen stairwell, and she didn’t know if the burglar had a weapon.

“Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?”

“There’s someone in my apartment!”

She dropped her Diet Coke and ran, taking the stairs two at a time until she reached the ground level. She hid around the corner, out of any line of sight from her apartment, but in clear view of the nearby street and other apartment windows.

When the police arrived and the maintenance staff helped her get back into her apartment, Annemarie found her entire afternoon’s worth of packing undone. The thief had easily torn open six or seven of her several boxes to rummage through her belongings, and he’d ultimately made off with her laptop, tablet, phone charging pack, and Darth Vader USB drive.

The police took her report and left. Despite the losses, she was okay. She was upset, but she was okay. It could have been so much worse. And she only had an hour left before the movers arrived to help her leave this hell hole permanently. Only one more hour.

She grabbed the packaging tape and began to repack and reseal the open boxes. When she went to cut the packaging tape, she realized that bastard had stolen her scissors too.