Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.).
Note: This exercise is the author’s attempt to construct a brief narrative using the Realism technique, broadly defined as “the faithful representation of reality.” See more here. For the inspiration behind the idea, read the article posted here.
The harsh scrape of his neighbor’s snow shovel on her concrete driveway resonated around the cul-de-sac as Kanye West pulled on his parka and gloves. Zipping up the coat, he opened the front door, grabbed his shovel from where it was propped against the siding of the house, and plodded out into the cold. There had been a storm last night and his Hyundai would get stuck if he didn’t clear a path from his garage.
Kanye West didn’t say anything as his shovel joined the early-morning chorus. He liked his neighbor and might have greeted her, but he was still groggy and would have preferred to stay in bed. He’d made that mistake before, though, and had trouble getting out of the driveway. Then Chris had yelled at him for being late to work. He didn’t like getting yelled at, especially these days: the company was downsizing and he didn’t want to give his bosses a reason to notice him.
He tossed another shovelful of snow onto the front yard. It was cold out, but that was okay with him: it helped wake him up and made the snow easier to lift. The driveway was the easy part; he knew that the apron was always the toughest because city plows had pushed compacted snow right into his way. That was where he had gotten stuck last time. Before he’d been yelled at.
The darkness started to fade as Kanye West slowly made his way down the driveway, stopping here and there to take a breath. The grey morning reminded him of a day last February, when he’d taken Annie for an early walk before work. Kanye West loved walking Annie. It was calming, a release after the mundane stress of the workday. He was already looking forward to his evening walk. He thought that maybe today they’d go over by the water tower.
Kanye West realized he’d forgotten to shovel while thinking about his walk. He could’ve nearly finished the apron by now, but he’d have to speed up in order to finish on time. He didn’t want Chris to yell at him again.
The stillness around Kanye West told him that his neighbor had finished her driveway. He wished he were finished too; the snow on the apron was dirty and heavy and his shovel wasn’t very good. He had to keep going, though—he didn’t want the Hyundai to get stuck. Last time, he’d had to push it to get it out.
Inside, he could make out the figure of his wife making coffee. Coffee sounded good to him, but he could get some from the office. He knew she’d want to talk about last night, but he didn’t want to. Maybe later they could talk about it. After his walk. When he was feeling calm.
After working in Washington, D.C., for two years, Andrew Orlebeke (’10) is in graduate school in Seattle, Washington, studying public policy. In addition to public service, he has a passion for traveling and an abiding love of sports.