(What If? Exercise: Read the description here.)

Ms. Miller listened absently to the ticking of the clock, the only sound left in the classroom after her students simultaneously lowered their heads. Every last millisecond used to count, she remembered as she gazed longingly at the silver medal on her desk. Funny how a single leg injury could change everything.

Mary scribbled on her test paper as if she were deciphering a secret code for the military. Her father promised he would take her out for ice cream if she passed the semester with straight A’s. She was beginning to wonder if he would ever come back and make good on that promise, but for now, her only concern was mastering algebra.

Jane subconsciously snapped her pencil in half when she saw Michael staring at Laura’s behind. How silly she had been to think that pen-dropping incident was their special moment. He could beg all he wanted; she wasn’t helping him cheat this time.

As always, the numbers sat there quietly and encouraged George like puzzle pieces falling into place under his pencil. They never bullied him, or yelled at each other in front of him, or got drunk and beat him until he cried. George realized then why he loved math so much: it was the only thing in his life that made any sense.

By the time the bell rang and Johnny handed in his test, only half the problems had answers, and he knew half of those were wrong. In the hallway, he whistled a merry tune as he crossed paths with the cute girl who was a year behind him. Maybe next year, he would finally get to sit next to her.


These pieces are based on What If? Exercise 97: “Nanofictions”. The exercise is to write five flash fiction pieces of three sentences each, which may or may not be connected by a common detail. The objective is to understand how to focus immediately on a troubled situation and learn how to identify the details of drama. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

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