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Writerly Wednesday: The Rose in the Rubble

I'm currently taking some writing classes through Writers Village University and having fun with the exercises: 

The object of this lesson:  To find the rose in the rubble. 

Picture a vacant city lot, discarded rubble, broken bottles, clumps of weeds, perhaps a body or two, and a single rose in bloom on a fine sunny day. Now imagine someone perceived as evil -- it could be an historical figure, a fictional character, the school bully, a serial killer. Find the rose.

Write a 400-500 word scene that exposes something of beauty in the character of an otherwise evil man, woman or monster. Your scene should represent the contrast between the character's negative and positive features.



Jacob knelt in the rubble from the dilapidated building, a big bruiser of a man with arms like tree stumps, his bald head shiny with sweat. He grasped the two by four again, his knuckles torn and bloody, slammed it against the old safe. The board splintered, pieces flew everywhere, stung his cheek. He huffed out a breath, glared at the dirty, metal, gray box with small rusted out holes. He shined the flashlight through one and and saw bundles, green bundles.

He stumbled into the joint last night. The building had creaked and groaned as he wandered through the vacant, dusty rooms. He had burrowed beneath the remains of a desk and fallen asleep. He woke with the sun shining through the wrecked ceiling, warm on his face. Then he saw it as sunlight reflected off a bit of metal, beneath a cracked floorboard. He yanked the wood apart and found a small, heavy safe. For the moment, he forgot about Daniels and his thugs coming after him once they discovered the body. He lugged it outside, then pressed a hand against his side. It came away wet with blood; his stitches had torn again.

He rocked back on his heels and looked out across a vacant lot towards the harbor. He would get out of the city, maybe head to Mexico. He’d start new. Wiping sweat from his brow, he figured it to be about noon. The sun high above baked the city in heat. Broken glass glinted and hurt his eyes. He rubbed the metal, tugged again at the handle, and twisted the dial in a fruitless effort to open the door. Paper bundles, had to be money. Maybe. Could be anything. He pushed it over in disgust and there, duct taped to the bottom, a note. Printed in small block letters, it said “Property of St. Peter’s orphanage” and several numbers.

He turned the dial left, then right, then back ago. He took a deep breath and pressed down on the handle. He chuckled, raw with disbelief, as the door opened. Inside, 20 bundles of $100 dollar bills and pictures of kids – snot nosed brats, tiny girls with flowery dresses, the sisters. He dropped his head, rested his chin against his chest as memories chased memories. Sister Agatha, she’d never been mean to him, no matter how snarly he had been back then. Despite that, he’d run away, never turned back, nor given her or the place a second thought. If he didn’t think about it, he couldn’t feel guilty, could he?

He pocketed one of the bundles, closed the safe door, wrestled it back into the room, and shoved the thing underneath the desk. He made his way to the harbor and just before he sneaked on board the cargo ship to Africa, he used Daniel’s cell phone to make a call, then tossed it into the water.

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