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

Jenny stared at the clear sky above her, while all around, the sounds of screaming and crying grew fainter. She winced at the sharp pain running up her leg, knowing that if she’d just waited a few seconds after the light turned red, she’d still be on her way to school right now. But it was too late; for the next hour, her world would be nothing but sirens, blood, and darkness.

Matt trembled as he fumbled with his cellphone, his heart pounding in his ears. He kept trying to piece everything together, but it had all happened so fast; one second, he was swerving to avoid the boy on the bike, the next, he was slamming on his brakes and screeching to a halt. He was terrified to think he’d soon be explaining to the police that the girl had come out of nowhere, and he hadn’t even seen the lights change.

Cory sat on the sidewalk with his face buried in his hands and a bicycle lying beside him. Two strangers sat on either side of him, patting him on the shoulder and reassuring him that it was an accident, that he wasn’t to blame for the car or the girl, but he knew the truth. He had put off getting his brakes fixed for too long, they had cost him those precious few seconds of reaction time, and this terrible accident was all his fault.

Donna knelt beside the poor girl lying on the pavement, feeling uneasy about the youth in her face and the odd angle of her broken leg. The woman wasn’t usually so affected by her job, but the knot in her throat now was only too real, and she kept her eyes averted as she helped her colleagues move the unconscious teenager onto the stretcher. Knowing that a matter of seconds could just as easily have taken her own adolescent daughter, she resolved to do everything she could to get this girl back on her feet and moving forward in life once more.

Nick watched helplessly as the ambulance drove away down the street, taking with it the girl who sat in front of him in Math class every day. In that moment, it occurred to him that everything left unsaid, everything that could have been said, had been taken away in the span of a few short seconds. Terrified at the thought of never getting another chance, he decided that the first day she was back in school, he would finally tell her exactly how he felt.


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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