Reading & Writing

Writing Prompt: Office Supplies

A lot of us write on our computers. A lot of us do so at a desk. A lot of us sit and stare and cannot find a subject for our writing.

So look around you. Find the closest office supply to you. Yes, I mean it–the stapler, the desk lamp, even the keyboard. Me, I’ve got a ruler near my left hand. So this morning, I shall write about a ruler. Putting ten minutes on the clock.

Here’s what I came up with; I’d love to see yours! Feel free to share in the comments. I promise to read it and give you some writerly love.

There is no way to measure this.

I tap the ruler on the desk, uncertain. Twelve inches, thirty centimeters, plus the extra space at each end that leads to so much mismeasurement. The ruler is wood and splintering, I peel a sliver from its side, feel its feather weight in my palms. I have never looked at a ruler so closely, never taken the time to consider the marks along its edges, the many lines it’s helped to draw.

There is no way to measure this: this impatience, this anxiety. There is only me and the desk and the ruler, the paper on which I should be drawing shapes, the number two pencil they gave me. To find out whether I’m sullen or stupid. To make my mother happy, or possibly desperately sad.

I will not draw the shapes. I will not touch the pencil. They are watching me. Hoping. They do not know what I will do. I peel a sliver of wood from the ruler’s edge, then another, then another. It is only wood, a thin strip of metal wedged into one side to give it a reliable edge. It slides out easily. Someone steps toward me as I snap the ruler in half.

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