Here’s my first attempt at a directed writing “assignment”. I put that in quotes because of course there is no true assignment here, but rather an attempt to use some of the writing assignments we used in our creative writing class to develop material for use in my short story. So this is targeted towards the setting, which is the house of the old man’s daughter and her husband, also the home of the dog.


A house in the suburbs. The house is a split-level, with the living room, dining room, and kitchen on one level, the family room and a bathroom half a level lower, the bedrooms and main bathroom half a level higher, a partially finished basement yet another half level lower, and a small rear entrance area on a level of its own – about a quarter level below the kitchen. The house is on a corner lot, so the front yard is quite small but the back yard is a large wedge of land. The front yard is grass-covered by a crusty layer of snow about four inches thick, but uneven. There is a single evergreen tree, about eight feet tall but with a crooked trunk that leans it back somewhat, towards the house. The house faces north-west. On the south side of the house is a long paved driveway running from the street to a double-car garage behind and to the south of the house. The driveway has been cleared of snow, but piles of dirty snow sit in hard curbs along the length of the driveway and to either side of the garage door.


Inside, the house is warm. Most rooms are carpeted in an older multi-hued brown shag. The exceptions are the kitchen, the back entrance, and the two bathrooms, which all have yellow-brown linoleum flooring, and the basement, which is bare blue-grey concrete. The walls are painted in various shades of off-white, as though they were all once the same off-white colour, but time and repainting has made them all subtly different. There isn’t a lot of art. Only a single oil painting hangs in the living room over a long green polyester-covered sofa. The painting is of a mountain at either sunset or sunrise from the angle of the light. Possibly the mountain in the painting is far enough north or south that the light is always at a steep angle, in which case the painting could be of the mountain at almost any time. The other furniture in the living room is a reclining arm-chair upholstered in light brown polyester, and a glass and wrought iron coffee table with a handful of magazines and a small empty glass serving dish on it. The dining room is crowded with furniture: there is an over-large dining table in heavy, dark wood. The table has thick, carved legs that curve outwards from under the table top before curving back inwards before they end with leafy carvings at their bases. Against the wall at the head of the table, farthest from the living room, there is a hutch of the same dark wood. The hutch is open, displaying a large collection of silverware and china.


Not bad for a start.


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