What follows is a piece I wrote for my creative writing workshop, an exercise on describing a setting.

Layers of laziness swathed the interior of the black Toyota Echo. Since she had struck out on her own, the car, once such a point of pride, had become a perverse time capsule of things she never wanted to keep.

On the floor of the car, then: the Do Your Own Divorce in California Handbook and corresponding paperwork, carefully laid there months ago so if she ever did happen to park near his car, and he happened to look inside hers, he would see that she was doing it, moving on, moving up. It was covered up with a large bag with a cheerful red apple logo on the side, an old knitting project spilling out of it, a would-be gift never finished last winter. Near the tangled strands of fading red and blue sat a copy of the 2003 Poet’s Market, carefully tabbed pages indicating the latest brand of rejection. Silt clouded all the edges, a faint trace of that horrible habit that she welcomed back into her life, little ash-bits everywhere, and the smell (faint to her, strong to non-smokers) clung co-dependently to the sunvisors.

Upon entering the front seat, one could hardly avoid the jungle of adapters that vied for dominance in the hole the lighter left. Old copies of Harper’s and The Fortean Times splayed across the passenger side seat. It was not a place for companionship, or road-trips; it remained empty of voices except when she sang to herself, old love songs in a delicate soprano. An occasional monologue interrupted the medley, meant to be delivered to him, the ever-present him who could not ever get comfortable in the tiny capsule, who would not ever have to try again.

And always, she fastened her seatbelt, more paranoid than careful, and afraid of the airbags.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.