Thursday, October 17, 2013

Writing Prompt: The Button Factory

I joined an online writing group.
The organizer gave a few writing prompts.

I chose this one:

The button factory had gone utterly silent. All eyes were on the birthday cake and it's 50 candles. Slowly, hesitantly, George...

Here is the story I wrote:

The button factory had gone utterly silent. All eyes were on the birthday cake and it's 50 candles. Slowly, hesitantly, George stepped forward and tried to blow out all the candles. Only about half went out. George wiped his mouth and smiled. "Thanks. Thanks everybody. It was good working with you."
A man in a dark suit pushed through the crowd, and patted George on the back. "George, you have been a pillar of this factory and we have all enjoyed having you work with us," said Randall, the factory owner. George looked down, a little embarrassed. "George we want you to know how happy we were with your work, and we know how much you have always talked about painting and drawing when you are free. So now that you have the time, we have found you a great art course, and to get you started, here is a fine selection art supplies." He handed over a bag full of brushes, paints, pencils and much more.

After settling into retirement, George opened the bag he had received. He examined the variety of graphite pencils, each with a different number. He smelled the oil paints, carefully putting the caps back on. Finally he sharpened the colored pencils to a fine point, and returned them to their container.

On the first day of the art class, George found a seat in the middle of the studio. There were eight other students in his class. The first exercise the teacher gave them was to draw a still life, a dramatically lit vase that sat on a table in the middle of the studio. With a large sketchpad on an easel in front of him, George took out a blue colored pencil and started to draw.
"George," said the teacher, approaching, "we won't be getting to color for awhile. Please try one of your graphite pencils." George put the blue pencil back and took out a number 12 graphite pencil. He attacked his sketchpad, giving shape to a drawing of the vase. The teacher came by and peered down at George's work, and shook her head. "Try to ease up on the pressure you apply." George shrugged and sighed. He looked over at the elderly lady next to him. Her hand was shaking, yet she still delicately brought depth to the vase on her page.

One day George's wife announced she was going shopping with their grown daughter. "You'll be staying here with the twins," she said. "We'll be back in a few hours. Hang in there, George, this is what you were looking forward to." As the women went out, his wife remarked to her daughter, "Isn't it great having George around." Then the 7 year old twin boys came in, tackling the toy box in the corner of the living room. George set up his new easel in the living and tried to do his art homework, drawing a small bowl of fruit. The twins fought over a firetruck, and George tried to concentrate on his shading, getting into the dark contrast of shadows under the fruit. "Grandpa! We're thirsty!" the twins chimed. George sighed, and got up and went to the refrigerator and took out a carton of apple juice. He poured two tall glasses of juice for the boys, tapping the glasses with a spoon to call them. They grabbed their glasses, sucking down the apple juice. When George came back to his easel, there were green and blue crayon scribbles all over his drawing. George looked at this, groaned, and ripped the paper off to start again.

At his next art lesson, the teacher instructed the students to take out their charcoal and work on the subject that she put in front of them, a stylish high, heeled shoe. With charcoal dust all over his hands, George struggled to keep the shoe in perspective, wiping away markings and re-drawing parts.
"It will just take some time," said the art teacher as she passed by, "We will have to work a bit more to bring out the artist within."
"Maybe there is no artist within!" he said. George took the charcoal and drew an X across his drawing, and stormed out of the studio.

He drove around town, and found himself in the industrial area. He parked the car and got out. Many working people were walking up the sidewalk, returning from their lunch break. Suddenly, someone waved to George. "Hey!" a worker yelled, "It's George!"
Many workers gathered around George, patting him on the back and shaking his hand. One guy looked at his watch, and urged the others to come. Then as George stood like a sturdy tree against the onset of flood waters, the workers passed by George streaming back into the button factory. George watched as the last worker went into the factory grounds. A whistle squealed.

George took out his sketchpad and a Number 4 graphite pencil and mapped at the scene before him. He drew the perspective of the street curving around the side of the factory. With criss-cross strokes, he filled in the leafy trees lining the street. He brought out the deep shadows that stretched across the road outside the factory. In light etching, he captured the wisps of the few clouds above. Then rising above the trees, George outlined the huge structure of the button factory, looming over the street.

George looked down at his drawing and smiled.

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