Extreme Writing Challenge #7: “Skipping Town”

Challenge for this post:  Write a story in which each sentence contains at least two k‘s.  The k in each sentence only counts as one of the two if it is part of a word that has not yet been used in the story.


My flight was at six o’clock, so I paid a visit to the vending machine and took a seat while I waited.  The man next to me was reading a dirty joke book and he snorted every time he laughed.  He reeked of rubbing alcohol, a scent that made me sick to my stomach.

After some time, he stuck a bookmark between two pages.  When he spoke, his voice was rough and weak—a heavy smoker’s.

“Couldn’ta picked a better day to sneak away,” he said.

“I’m sorry?” I asked, taking a bite of my candy bar.

“I skipped work today,” he explained.  “Packed up a suitcase, hopped in a cab, and bought the cheapest plane ticket I could get.”

I observed all the people walking by and wondered why, out of everyone at the airport, I got stuck sitting next to this man.  I checked my watch; it was only 5:15, so I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes, hoping he’d leave me alone.

But he continued, “At first I panicked, because it’s crazy to call in sick to work and just board a plane to the nearest Podunk little city for no reason at all.”

It was like magic, the way he tinkered with my curiosity.  I broke down and decided to kill the time listening to his story.

“I dreamt that I was playing poker with the devil, and when I woke up I was drenched in sweat.  I made pancakes for breakfast and I couldn’t eat them—pancakes are my favorite food, you don’t know how weird that is that I couldn’t stomach them.”

I finished my candy and put the crinkled wrapper inside the pocket of my khakis.  “So what made you think playing hooky from work and taking a spur-of-the-moment trip would solve the pancake problem?”

“No, it wasn’t just the pancakes, it was all kinds of things that have happened this week.  I sprained my ankle, I’ve had horrible insomnia, and someone left a bucket of worms on my doorstep.”  Then he added, “Oh, and I wrecked my car—totaled it,” as if it was the least severe of the bad luck he’d encountered.

“It was an awakening; it was a sign that karma has finally caught up with me,” he told me.  “I need to start somewhere new with a blank slate, where I can’t make so much trouble.”

He told me about every bad things he’d done, from robbing banks to getting hooked on drugs and hurting the people he loves.  Eventually the time came for us both to board our flights, and he chuckled as we stood up to embark on our journeys.

“You’re a nice kid,” he remarked.

“Good luck,” I said, “I hope you find the life you’re looking for.”

He kissed me on the cheek and we parted ways, and I knew I’d just taken part in something amazing—even if all I did was listen.


One response to “Extreme Writing Challenge #7: “Skipping Town”

  1. Kudos, I liked it! Question: did you keep track of the k‘s by hand, or do you have a letter frequency tool? Knowing the challenge made it seem kind of odd. I found myself keeping track as I read. Checking each sentence made me overly aware of some of the awkwardness. (Maybe if you took the intro and put it at the end, revealing the trick after the read? It might make for a big surprise, if only then, did we learn your secret task.)

    But again, kudos for such creativity; I’m going to add a link to this blog!

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