My assigned writing exercise for this week came from What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (Second Edition). I had to pick an exercise from part four, and I chose the one on psychic distance. The objective is essentially to create a story that begins far away from the character, using general/unspecific language, and then gradually focuses in until the narration feels specific and very close to the character—without slipping into first-person. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but I kind of like what I got out of the assignment, a simple piece of flash fiction that’s a lot horrific and a little magical/fantastical. As of now, I call it “Red.” Oh, it’s supposed to be “within 200 words,” but I just couldn’t get it under 200. I think it’s 205. Oh well.


The girl was removing her rouge and singing jazz classics when the wolves finally came. She’d heard them crying, and was frightened, of course, but she’d never let fear run her life. She didn’t care for that kind of thing.

“Sarah Harper,” she told herself, “don’t you be a ‘fraidy cat!” Sarah continued rubbing cleanser on her face—firmly, but not so hard that she’d go raw and be mistaken for a burn victim the next morning and rushed to the hospital or something.

When they scratched the door and pretended they had knocked and said, “Let us in, let us in,” she looked at the doorknob suspiciously. She thought she’d heard a scratch, but maybe it was a knock. She put down her cleansing pad and went to the door to let in chaos.

The wolves leaped, scratched, clawed, dug. In a rage, they tore her pretty face open like a hunter gutted deer. They fooled and embarrassed her, shamed and disfigured her. They made her bruised and swollen and ugly. And red. So much red. She abhorred the red—the blood and the raw, puffy, mangled mess that now masqueraded as a feminine face.

Sarah woke up the next morning in the hospital.

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