Day 12 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story with a heavy focus on numbers.
Erin: At 4:02am I woke up. I ate 20 cheesy chips. After 42 minutes of flipping between 7 channels, I turned off the television. I climbed the 14 steps back to my room. I burrow under the 5 blankets I had piled on my bed.
I slept for exactly 7 minutes. The other 6 hours and 31 minutes were spent pinching my eyes shut and trying to pretend I could control the thrashing of my heart enough to lull into a sleep. My mother checked on me 4 times within the span. She had undoubtedly been up even longer than me. I imagined that pretending to sleep would make her more secure, but my actions may have had the opposite effect.
1/4 of a phone ring sounded. In a millisecond of the ring being cut short my mother’s voice said, “Hello.” My fingers sent out signals to my body telling me it was not the call. There were three more of those while my mother and I complete 5/16 of a puzzle. When the real call came, mom let it ring 4 times. We wanted to know, but then again, we might not have wanted to know. As the fifth ring started she picked up.
She took 20 breaths throughout the call. 2 of them were used on, “Just let me know if my baby girl is okay.” 1 smile spread across her face as she dropped the phone. I was in her arms in an instant and I was no longer concerned with how many happy tears were rolling down my back, just that there were a lot of them.
Shannon: “Number 765 you are in violation of Code 49, what do you think you’re doing in Area 100 at night,” the guard shouted from behind the fence as he pushed the button to light up the number label on my shirt. The new uniform was a permanent nametag to keep us unified and accountable. However, I thought the dress code was more than obnoxious.
“Do you really want an answer or do you just want me to get down,” I yelled back from the tree branch I was sitting on, and then took a deep breath of the fresh air.
He was unlocking the gate door that I had climbed earlier to gain access to my favorite secret spot. “No, I actually would like to know,” he explained once he was standing below me. He was young, somewhere around my age.
“Oh, so you’re not a stiff,” I teased. His number was 601. Not much older at all. “If you must know,” I leaded back into the bark, feeling more at ease. “I like to look at the stars from up here.”
“What is so special about stars that you feel the need to break the law to see them?”
The extra year he had over me hadn’t made him any wiser. “There are so many stars that no one ever takes the time to keep track of them.” I looked up to soak in their power. “They are never labeled with a number, or their place in the sky. They are free to be exactly as they are. I wish I was a star,” I looked down at him with a sigh, depressed at what he might soon take away for good.
His brow furrowed at my desire. “Numbers keep us visible. No one gets left behind anymore. How would you like to be forgotten?” He pointed up at me aggressively, because I was questioning something so engrained in his beliefs.
“I would love to be forgotten,” I hugged the tree in appreciation.
He released a growl. “Get down now 765.”
Numbers, numbers numbers… Most writers hate them. Learn to love them.