Bad things happen to good people, they say.

Description of a person

She was all beige: her skin, her hair, her clothes, her shoes, her purse. Juxtaposed beside her stood her son, who was all black: his hair, his eyes, his clothes, his shoes. Only his skin stood out, a sharp bluish pale beneath the long of his black hair and clothes.

Narrative summary

Shelly often wondered how her life would have turned out differently if she would have married Jason, like she thought she was going to. She was never very excited at the idea, it just seemed so logical that it must be inevitable. Instead, she left the state, did poorly at college, and eventually moved back home after losing her job due to blatant and confusing sexism.


“The worst part about seeing a movie is that it’s a movie,” Carl whispered as we found seats in the dark theater.

Several characters but not dialog

Cathy, seated at a table with the rest of her family, all agreed that this was the best ham they’d ever had. Each member somehow came up with a unique question to ask, like how long it was cooked for, what it was seasoned with, if it had been cooked that way before, all in order as if it was planned. I really had no idea what to say in response, so I found myself mostly smiling and nodding as if I didn’t understand the language.

Setting and only one character

The park, beautiful in summer, had somehow paled overnight between August and September. Elise walked slowly down the path, kicking small rocks with her shoes as she went, thinking about what she was going to do about the mortgage this month.

With a reminiscent narrator

I remember telling my friend about my dad’s surgery outside the big front window of our old house, about how he had to put on a dress and the nurse got to see his butt. There was so much we didn’t understand about what we were saying.

With a child narrator

Sometimes mom tells me that dad is sick, which is why he lies down on the couch all the time. Diana across the street says her mom gets sick too, but the juice in a glass bottle makes her feel better. I brought my dad the orange juice last night, hoping it would help, even though it was a plastic container, but all I did was spill on the new carpet.

Establishing POV

I’ve never appreciated holiday shirts. In fact, I hate them. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, even Christmas is too much for me. When do you wear them? The day of? And then away they go, into a box labeled “mostly worthless things”?


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