Being Original

by Carlos Cooper | 53 comments

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Have you ever been afraid to start writing because you couldn't come up with an original thought?

What if I told you that being original isn't the problem?

photo credit: jairoagua via photopin cc

photo credit: jairoagua via photopin cc

Is Anything Really New?

In our quest to be creative we sometimes miss the fact that everything we think is based on some old memory or lesson learned.

How many books have been written that were inspired by past novels? Too many to count.

When we get past the fact that words and ideas are essentially recycled goods it opens us up to new possibilities.

Let Yourself Be Inspired

It's okay to take the basic themes from your favorite novels and tie them into your writing.

I'm not telling you to copy and paste. That's illegal.

What I am saying is that you should feel free to be inspired by the movies you watch, the books you read and the music you listen to.

Don't Be Afraid

I remember being worried about readers calling me out as a fraud, connecting some vague dots to a book I'd read as a kid.

You know what? 99.99% of readers aren't looking that hard. They don't know that you got the idea of the love interest in your new dystopian novella from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

Don't listen to your fear. Tackle it by writing a great story.

How would your writing improve if you stopped worrying about being original?


Your mission: for the next fifteen minutes write a short story based on the theme of a popular novel or movie.
If you're a reader, see if you can guess what work inspired the writer's story.

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Carlos is author of the Corps Justice novels. Get the box set of Books 1-3 for FREE HERE.


  1. debra elramey

    How would your writing improve if you stopped worrying about being original?

    To answer the question you posed here, I’ll quote one of my favorite ‘originals’,
    who’d be the first to admit that he borrowed his ideas from George McDonald and
    G.K. Chesterton and many, many others. And had this to say on the subject: “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told
    before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having
    noticed,” ~ C.S. Lewis

    So you are write on, Carlos 😉

    • Miriam N

      Thanks for sharing debra. I really like C.S Lewis

    • Carlos Cooper

      Thanks, Debra. Love that C.S. Lewis quote. So true.

  2. Sandra D

    This is a short story I have written a bit ago. I wrote it based on what Frankenstein’s sons life would be like and have thought about making it a full fledged story.

    The Open Casket:

    Gregory the Third’s skin looked grey in most light. He towered above others at 6.7, and had booming steps when not careful. But often he was.

    He spent many nights retired at home, pencil tapping, frowning over a crossword on his cherry wood glazed table, with a heaping cup of tea steaming nearby. He had a small mansion on the edge of town, a quaint mansion. He was quite comfortable there. Born from wealth, his home made him feel closer to his old folks. His chair was red felt with brass buttons pinned at five places, like the five on a die. He had an antique black phone, and a bookshelf with weathered copies of the classics which he’d read many times and never tired of. He also liked the occasional mystery or spy book. He had an English accent, unlike the locals.

    Once a week he’d go to the store for necessities. It’d seemed quiet when he entered. Two people creeped as they pushed their carts past him. One tripped over his feet and then broke into a run past Gregory and turned into the meat department. A few others hid deeper in the aisles as they peeked back at Greg from boxes of cereal or cans of vegetables.

    A man started to cross his path but stopped and turned slowly to face him, his finger poised as he spoke, “You crawl back into the hole you’ve come from. You’re nothing but a curse to this town.” Other people came out of hiding crowded around the man. A few other men bellowed, “yeah!” A woman nodded her bobbed blonde head, shuffling her white polka-dot dress, “None of us want you here don’t want you here, so why don’t you just go somewhere else.” A boisterous call of yeahs boomed from the crowd.

    “I apologize for any inconvenience, ” Gregory said, “but my family is gone. And this place is all I have left of them.” Then rolling his cart. “Excuse me, but you are blocking the oranges.” He reached and put four oranges into a clear bag.

    “You’ll be sorry.” The man said. But Gregory went past him, ignoring him, twisted the bag of oranges shut and rolled to the next part of the store.

    When he returned home, he opened his over-sized door, it creeked, and sat at his chair and read Moby Dick till his eyes started to feel heavy. He placed his book mark in it and set it on the table. Then lumbered to his office and composed a letter to a friend.

    Afterwards he got up, his back stiff with a hunch at the shoulders and stalked down the hall into a room with dim lights along the wall. There was a casket in the center of the room on grey carpeting. It was a shiny black, and inside it pillowy red velvet pads. He turned off the lights and walked to the casket, and bent down and lay down his long body and shut his eyes. As he relaxed the lines on his grey face deepened.

    • Avril

      I think you’ve done a very good job describing setting and atmosphere. The character is engaging and I definitely want to know more about him.

    • Sandra D

      Awesome, thank you.

    • Lisa

      I like your descriptions. I got a real sense of the man and pictures in my mind of his environment. And I’m interested to see what’s going to happen to him! Is he someone like Dracula?!

    • Sandra D

      Yeah not Dracula, but old like that.

    • Miriam N

      Nice job Sandra. I really have a feeling of “what happens next.” keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Sandra D

      Thanks 🙂

    • Teo Jansen

      I love the dark environment. And reading the comments I see you was inspired by how Frankestein’s son could be. Amazing exercise! Well done, Sandra!

  3. Avril

    The movie series I’ve borrowed from is surely blatantly obvious. Oh well!

    One of the strangest incidents I recall from my career on a large peacekeeping vessel happened in the Outer Rooibos Galaxy. We were investigating reports of a rogue merchant ship operating in violation our trade embargo against the Lapsang planet, and the militants there, called the Souchong. Little was known about the errant traders, and much of what we’d heard was second-hand rumor.

    We’d heard these people were called the “Dar”, based on the fact that they traveled in a very old ship known as a Teapot, made generations ago in the Darjeeling Galaxy. However, all the civilizations of all the planets in Darjeeling disavowed knowledge or kinship with the Dar.

    As we headed toward the planet Lapsang, we caught up to the much slower Teapot. Keeping visual contact, we hailed them. We hailed three times, in three different standard languages (one for commerce, one for political negotiations, one for distress). They ignored, or at least failed to acknowledge our messages. We finally sent the most basic communication available, by flashing our lights. In the ancient code called “Morse” we alerted them that they were to stop, dock their ship to ours, and that their commanding officer was to present him/her/itself to us at once.

    The Teapot crew continued to ignore us, and maintained their trajectory toward Lapsang. Next Captain Earl Grey ordered us to close in on them, and we approached their right rear flank. As we pulled alongside the old scrapheap, we could see the ship had no identifying markings.

    First Officer Pekoe and Second Officer Assam called an Officer’s Briefing. to review what little information we had gleaned on the mystery traders. We learned that the Dar were known to conduct their activities throughout the Rooibos and Ceylon galaxies. This in itself was startling, as Ceylon Galaxy was understood to be lifeless. Its sun had dimmed and died out long ago. When the sun in Ceylon was still bright and hot, only one planet had sustained life. It was a very small planet, and only one civilization had lived there: the Oolong. The Oolong were a colony of humans exiled from Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy many eons previously. The Oolong had refused to leave Lapsang when their sun was dying, and were now presumed to be extinct.

    Some of the older officers recalled a story that went around the space stations when they were young. In this story, the Oolong had rounded up all their most undesirables, put them and their families on an old garbage barge ship, towed the barge out to deep space, and abandoned it. According to the legend, the old barge did not have engines, and lacked sufficient life support systems to allow the stranded passengers to raise crops. All aboard were presumed to have died.

    Captain Earl Grey called into our meeting, and summoned us to battle stations. Very soon, the Dar ship would enter Lapsang airspace, and it was time for us to change our tactics to containment. Within minutes, we had fired our first electromagnetic lasershock missiles. Hit hard, the Teapot slowed to a holding pattern. Officer Pekoe opened a hailing frequency and attempted once again to communicate. The Teapot continued to silently tread space, and did not respond.

    The second time we fired on the Dar, we tripled the intensity of the lasershock. We could see the ship list sideways and drift. Finally, this was enough, and they hailed us. Using their rear cargo lights (probably the only ones that still worked), they asked in Morse, “What do you want from us?”

    Captain Earl Grey dictated to Officer Pekoe as he transmitted, “You are operating in a restricted commerce zone. I give you this one opportunity to send your commander aboard this ship for negotiations.” The Dar didn’t answer immediately. When they did, it was only to flash, “Agreed.” As we prepared to give instructions for their leader’s induction onto our ship, our security alarms buzzed, and our on-board intelligence drone announced a warning, “Warm-blooded entity arriving in Coalescion Bay One. Enitity is alive.”

    Pekoe, Assam, and I ran to the bay, with our guard unit, all weapons ready to fire. We entered the Coalescion Module, just as a solid form materialized from sub atomic proto molecule portage, and stepped out to face us. Instantly I was furious. Pekoe cursed, “Those damned animals! They sent a child!”

    Our new arrival was a human boy, very young. He was so young, he probably had not yet cut all his adult teeth. He had olive skin, with dark brown hair and eyes. His eyes were unusually large and round, for a human. He was dressed in rough fabric, and a plain, peasant style. However, as he approached us, we could smell him. This boy was surrounded by the aura of an unknown scent. It was an intoxicating blend of old Earth style spices. I believe they had names like cinnamon, parsley, vanilla, sage, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, and thyme.

    The boy walked directly to us, and looked up into our eyes. He was breathing calmly, and he spoke softly, with a steady voice. When he spoke, he used a dialect of Oolong that had been used by beggars and criminals. Exhaling a delicate cloud of spice, he said, “I am Chai, The Chosen, Please tell me, why do you harm us?”

    • Lisa

      I like the boy and the description ‘exhaling a delicate cloud of spice’ – I can smell it! Can’t guess the movie series though unless it’s star wars?!

    • Avril

      You’re close 🙂

    • Sandra D

      Unless there is some movie about Tea and maybe tea trading across space, I am not sure.

    • Avril

      Hint: It was a tv show and several movies. Big hint: Cpt Earl Grey. Red Herring: tea

    • Sandra D

      Star Trek? As in Captain Kirk?

    • Avril

      Star Trek as in Capt Picard, with the haughty Brit accent and ‘tude…(Earl Grey)

    • Teo Jansen

      Awesome story. I loved the detail for communicactions “one for commerce, one for political negotiations, one for distress”. I loved the way you created the tension and the descriptions of the situation. Good work!

    • Avril

      Thank you Teo!

    • Kessrai

      Picard! Picard and tea, two of my favorite things!

    • Avril

      Me too. =)

  4. Emmelie Swan

    If I stopped worrying about being original, I think I’d feel a lot more confident about writing. I’m going to try that!

  5. Hyacinth Fidelis Joaquin

    If I do not mind writing original articles, i could have inspired a lot of people with my sonorous ideologies. But fear haunt me the deepest level that I could not start writing all over again. With this plight I am into, I am enlightened of this article. Pray that I may start even on a day where my inferiority will serve to be in much comfort.

  6. Scarlet

    This is my first practice to post on the website. I haven’t edited it, but I would love some critiquing. 🙂

    This is based on two very popular books I have enjoyed reading. I would be surprised if no one could guess where these ideas originated.

    They say there was a war. The war was terrible, they say. My
    mother believes otherwise. I do not know exactly what she means. I ask her
    about it, but she is very vague and refuses to discuss further in this topic.
    She tells me not to ask questions.
    They say the whole continent was wiped out shortly the war
    after by a major wave of tsunamis and hurricanes. All that’s left is a small
    stretch of land leading north. And we are planted in the middle of it. In what
    used to be called the Rocky Mountains.
    I will never know what is beyond. Large gates surround the
    country, separating off the destroyed remains of eastern farmland and the vast
    ocean that ever extends to the west.
    Our small community is south of the only major city. The
    capital. Several communities surround us, all are divided based on occupation.
    We are in the fourth, the plain ones. Known for making the things none of the
    other communities care about. The soap, the shoes, the never ending reams of
    toilet paper. We are the ones who clean up after the others. Our community is
    considered the lowest. They call us, derogatorily, ‘gray’.
    I tap my sister’s shoulder to wake her. She gets up without
    a sound. We pad across the cold wood floor in our stockings past our sleeping
    little brother. I stock the fireplace with another armful of logs near the
    hearth and she begins the early chores. An eerie silence makes my ears ring.
    The only sound that breaks apart the numbness is the crackle of the fireplace
    as the fire is brought back to life. I glance to my mother, across the one-room
    hut. She sleeps like a baby. This is the only time I see her without her
    wrinkles. She’s so young to be so old. I will never be like her.
    Today I choose.
    With a sigh, I stare at the flickering flames in the stove.
    I have succeeded to keep my mind from wandering to the
    inevitable. It is the day I choose my job. The one I will never be able to
    change for the rest of my life.
    My mother was a tailor. All her waking hours, it seems, are
    spent with a needle between her fingers, a thread across her lap, and the tired
    determination to mend the tattered piece of fabric to something beautiful.
    My sister follows in her footsteps exactly. I can’t sew a
    straight line to save my life. My brother follows in the shadow of my father,
    quietly repairing shoes. My father tries hard to connect with him, but
    struggles. He sits in the back of our hut, in his workshop.
    Everybody has their place in this community.
    Everyone except me.

    • Wolf271


    • Sandra D

      Sounds like Divergent.

    • Scarlet

      Yep 🙂 I LOVE that book

    • Sandra D

      Yeah it is a great book. I am thinking about starting the next one. Have you read it yet?

    • Scarlet

      I haven’t started it yet, but I placed a hold on it at the library. I can’t wait to read it. I hope it was as good as the first.

    • Teo Jansen

      Very powerful way to describe the situation. It feels the emotion by the main character

    • Scarlet

      Thanks 🙂

  7. Madison

    I haven’t written seriously in months and this felt great! Excuse the language, by the way.

    E and I were on the highway for about half an hour. The seal in my backseat was still broken, so it sounded as if the door wasn’t closed, even though it was. The faster I went, the louder the sound of the wind was. The whistling of it irritated the hell out of me, but I needed to get away from the asshole truck driver behind me. The sun was beating down on my thighs, but of course my AC was broken. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Every time I tried to make myself a little more comfortable in my seat, the leather burned my skin, so I stayed my ass in the same nasty, sweaty spot I was in. When the truck driver behind me honked, I grabbed the window handle to roll the window down and stuck my finger outside. I was staring out of my rear view the entire time. He swerved in the next lane without even checking his mirrors and raced past me displaying the same gesture.

    “Asshole. And you! Can you get your sweaty pigs off my fucking car?”
    “I’m trying to stay comfortable!” E said. “It’s blazing in here. Can you at least leave your window down?”
    “No! It tangles my hair. Be comfortable with some socks on. I’ll even take mine off for you.”
    “There’s a reason I don’t wear or own socks.”
    “Your philosophy of socks being feet jail is bogus, especially when your feet are STILL on my dash. Get them off or I’m turning around!”
    “Bullshit you’re turning around. Take the next exit then ride it ’til you see Elizabeth Hill Road.”

    We were on our way to the Lincoln Rocks right outside of Sumpter. I had never been to the Rocks, but E used to go there all the time when she was still heavy drinking. I’m really only going because I know it’ll make her feel better. E’s quit drinking, but her mom still won’t even look at her.

    “Right here. Make this right.”

    The road was a little curvy, but it wasn’t long at all until we were watching the purple and orange sky. We sat at the rocks for maybe an hour or so just looking, not talking. I was thinking about Derek and how my mom barely comes home anymore. Who knows where she could be going for days at a time? She doesn’t work and I don’t think she has friends. I know for sure she has no family, except for her sister Debby, who hates her because my mom slept with her husband. That was when my mom first found out Derek was using. All my dad does is deal with problems the only way he knows how, sitting on the living room couch, watching Jeopardy. I used to think it was sad, but I’m used to it now. When he found out about Derek, he would just drink until the morning, but once he found out about my mom cheating on him, he just shut down completely.

    “Do you ever miss Derek?” E asked me.
    “I don’t know. He hadn’t really been around too much since we were kids. Why?”
    “I don’t know… I miss my mom.”
    “That’s different, you know?” Derek killed himself in his cell a few months ago.
    “I know, but still…”
    “What are you gonna do about your mom?”
    “I don’t know… What about you?”
    “I don’t know.”

    • Sandra D

      Interesting characters.

    • Madison

      Thank you very much!! 🙂

    • Teo Jansen

      The name “E” is very interesting for me, mysterious… Great job!

    • Madison

      Thank you! 🙂

  8. Sunny

    Hi guys, (sorry I submitted without my name, Sunny)

    I haven’t written anything creative since 1998, but lately i have had a real desire to try my hand at fiction. Below is my practice related to “Being Original.” Let me know if you can pick the two movies inspiring it. Also, I’d love your feedback; I am not shy or easily offended so dig in!!

    Macey shivered off the snowflakes on the shoulders of her pea coat as the door closed behind her. She loved the friendly sound the bell made as the door opened and shut. Each morning it welcomed her back, reassuring her that she had crossed the threshold into a tidy world of order and comfort. It was five years ago that Macey came across the the Help Wanted sign at Beauregard’s Cupcake Shoppe. She still felt the same sense of giddy admiration she did back then as she ran her hands along the perfectly polished glass case in which, every morning for the past five years, she lovingly arranged Beauregard’s confections into orderly, tasteful rows.
    At the time, Macey had never seen anything so lovely and delicate as Beauregard’s cupcakes. She had not grown up poor, but she had not grown up in comfort either. In her home, three rooms shared with six souls, nothing existed which was not absolutely necessary. She smiled as she thought to herself what possible purpose a pink frosted cupcake adorned with tiny pearl drops of sugar would serve in their stark, utilitarian home. It had taken some convincing that first day, but she was eager to work and demonstrated a certain doe eyed interest in his confections that flattered Old Beauregard. She was hired.
    After a cursory look around the shop, Macey hung up her coat and immediately set to work. Beauregard was in the back in his usual manner, spattered with frosting and flour, already shouting orders in his thick (although some assert fake) accent. A look at the clock confirmed there were only 30 min left until their first customers arrived. She found her favorite apron, the blue one with gold lettering which made her feel stronger somehow, more confident.

  9. Miriam N

    I liked this article Carlos. It reminded me of when I started writing the first draft of my WIP. I was so worried that it wouldn’t be original, or that someone would call me out for not being original. After a while I realized that if I was taking someone else idea the I would be one out of many. Thanks for sharing.

    • Carlos Cooper

      “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. What matters is what you’ve got inside. Take the risk and write.”

      Amen. Just do it.

      Thanks, Miriam!

  10. Lisa

    Maya was little for her age, a tiny thing with rolled-down
    socks that sagged at the bottom of her thin white legs. Her head, covered in shining thick dark hair,
    was bowed.

    Emily, standing in the corner of the room, looked down at

    “I really am getting sick of you.”

    She was newly married, and should therefore have been happy,
    but his girl, this child, was like an itch in her foot she couldn’t scratch, an
    irritant, a smell in the room she could not mask. She had been left with her today for the first
    time. Maya’s father Matthew had gone to
    the city on business, and her own daughters were visiting friends. Emily resented the intrusion on her space, on
    a day that she could have had the house to herself, to hum, sing, pace around,
    tidying here and there, hang up pictures, sit peacefully in the window and
    sew. But this girl, this girl was here,
    and not only that, she needed things.
    She was useless, drippy. Emily
    knew she should be kinder, but she hated the way Matthew fawned over the girl,
    the way he put his arm around her and smiled at her with his deluded dewy brown
    eyes. She had not been a jealous person
    before, but she could not dislodge the feeling in her chest. It ruined all of her happiness. It would be perfect if the girl just did not
    exist. But she did.

    “Why don’t you go and play in the garden?” Her voice sang but it was laced with her

    Maya’s heart was thumping quietly inside her. She did not like this new mother, she did not
    like her at all. She had thought it
    would be fun, to have a mother like all the other girls she knew, and at first,
    Emily had been kind. She had made her
    cupcakes and sewn her a purple dress with apple’s embroidered on the pockets. She had smiled and said how they would do
    lovely things together – did Maya like gardening?

    But only a week or so after the wedding – for which Maya had
    worn a white dress and a daisy chain around her head – Emily seemed to have
    changed. She knew that Emily did not
    love her. Mother’s were supposed to love
    their little girl’s, weren’t they?
    Weren’t they supposed to cuddle them and tell them how they loved
    them? She saw that Emily enjoyed her own
    big girls, Esme and Gracie, whom Maya felt more than a little nervous of. She saw that they laughed together and
    chattered and that Emily was proud of them, that she enjoyed buying them
    dresses and brushing their hair. But she
    did not touch Maya. And more than once,
    Maya had felt the heat of her glare when she stood close to her father for

    She felt frozen to the spot.
    Emily had large blue eyes and blond hair scraped back from a high
    forehead. Maya could see her face in her
    mind but she did not look up. She felt as
    though her feet were like heavy bricks she could not lift.

    “Well?” demanded Emily, and suddenly Maya felt energy
    buzzing inside her and she turned and ran to the front door, pulled on the
    heavy brass doorknob and was out in the crisp cold air and the door swung shut
    behind her.

    • Avril

      Lisa this is so real it breaks my heart. Very good charcterization to describe the little details they observe in each other.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement, Avril 🙂

    • Avril

      I almost forgot to ask: Is this based on Cinderella?

    • Lisa

      Yes! 🙂

    • 709writer

      Wow. I was literally leaning forward on the desk to read this. You captured me with your authentic portrayal of Maya and Emily. Well done. : )

    • Lisa

      Thank you! 🙂

  11. Teo Jansen

    “You will be saved by a man with only one shoe. That hero is the real king of the planet, and not you”,

    That was truth and Porh knows it. He is not the real king of The Earth. He is usurping Letihdel’s throne.

    Porh beggins a hunt against Lethidel’s family. The first son, Makanaki, have not seing by anyone. He is hidden.

    20 years later, the day arrives.

    Porh’s skybike is broken and he is going down. But a man got him in the air. A man wearing a golden goggles takes his foot. The rescuer is tied from a zepellin and he prevents Porhs fall.

    However, this stranger lost his right shoe in the process. Porh knows he is doom. But he is also in a big debt of this man.

    “What’s your name?”

    “Makanaki”, says the stranger.

    “Makanaki. What are you doing in this part of the planet?”

    “I am getting closure to the King Porh. I will demand him for my throne”

    “Oh! I see”, says Porh.


    “But the King is very powerfull. A lot of people have tried before to take him down and nobody could do it”.

    “Till now!” says Makanaki, optimisc, driving forward the zepellin.

    “Yes. Till now. But I own you my life. Let me tell you a little secret. If you bring the Silver Axe to The Earth, you will have the power to makes him surrender”. Porh says that knowing about this impossible mission.

    The Silver Axe is in a very far away planet, where the Gods leave everything away from the ambition of the humans.

    Makanaki is thinking about it.

    “I have known a lot of brave warriors, but you are the first to make this kind of jump. I think nothing is impossible for you, Makanaki! Look for the Silver Axe and take your place in this world”, says Porh.

    Makanaki leaves the old man without knowing his real identity, because his mind is in all the things he need to reach the Silver Axe.

    The main issue is a crew.

    Makanaki organizes a world wide tournament, where the best heroes from the planet comes to earn the spot in the greatest space crew never created.

    Porh sends his son Khaos to fight for a spot. He needs a warrior who can trust in the enemy lines.

    Khaos made it. As well another brave and strong heroes. But the best one is Tonk: Earth’s stronger man.

    The heroes are ready, but Makanaki needs something more: a spaceship.

    His zepellin can’t travel around the space, but he knows someone who can help him: Boyston, the greatest spaceship builder of The Earth, and he doesn’t let down Makanaki, building the powerful Bost.

    The journey beggins. Makanaki and the Bostonauts travel in the space looking for the Silver Axe, but the path is full of monsters and guardians of the gods, trying to keep away the humans from the most powerful tool in the Universe.

    Would the Bostonauts take the prize?

    Would Makanaki fulfill his destiny?

    Let’s find out together…

    • Avril

      Teo this story has a vibe that reminds me of an ancient legend. That is really cool. The details are a little confusing, but I think it’s a tale in which all the pieces would come together.

    • Teo Jansen

      You are right, Avril, it is an ancient legend! “Jason and the Argonauts” but in a scifi / steampunk theme hahaha, I was experimenting how it’s looks! Thanks for the feedback!

  12. Marta Traverso

    Come on, I try. Be patient with my English, I’m not native speaker and I’m trying to learn:-) Indeed, any correction in my use of language is welcome!

    Todd was asked to deal with his brother’s things. He wouldn’t have wanted to do it, it wasn’t respectful, he didn’t talk to him for a long time. He decided to do it because his poor, weeping mother, implored him three times by phone, and because his wife Carolyn told him that in front of death every misunderstanding goes to hell.

    So he accepted. He took his car, kissed the twins Neal and Robert on the forehead, and left for home. Not returned there since five years. Neither a Thanksgiving, a Christmas, or a summer vacation. Not because he lacked time – the school is closed in those days, he spends only a couple of hours a day catching up with the tasks to be correct – but because he wouldn’t know what to tell them. Todd Anderson, expelled from the same school in which Jeffrey had graduated with honors, before becoming a famous lawyer. An intolerable disgrace.

    When he arrived it was snowing and the house was dark. The keys were under the mat. His mother was waiting for dinner in the neighbours, the widow and children were already there: they left the whole house to Todd, they haven’t the confidence to relive the pain in seeing his clothes, books, certificates of merit, all boxed and given to the poor or who knows who.

    All in the closet, upstairs, mother told him. Todd opened the door and Jeffrey’s scent invaded him. Smell of cigar and hairspray. Patiently, he began to remove clothing from hangers. The full suit and tie, ironed and starched shirts, the pants with his initials embroidered. A photo of his three children in his Sunday-coat’s pocket. The shoes, blacks and dark grey loafers, perfectly polished. Not like Todd’s ones, cheesy as a poetry and literature teacher in a public school could wear. Jeffrey had always reproached him, that with those muddy shoes he would not get far. Todd never cared. Up to that moment.

    He wondered if Jeffrey had retained its school texts. The Latin handbook of McCallister, the horrid Pritchard’s poetry anthology, the Maths and French books. Todd kept them, one by one. They were really useful in the early years, when he kept giving private lessons, Carolyn was pregnant and they lived with her parents because they could not afford a rent. They were good texts. He held also the desk set. He gave it to his last student as a reward for graduating in Art School. He would destroy it and obtain the wood in one of his sculptures. The best use he could do with it.

  13. Rachel Levy 777

    Hi there, I’ve just subscribed. Stupid question but if I want to post a story, do I just do it in this comments box?

    • Dawn Atkin

      A good question actually. And the answer is yes.


  1. Top Picks Thursday 08-21-2014 | The Author Chronicles - […] big fear for many writers: being original. C.S. Lakin explains why tweaking your writing and genre for success is…

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