The Burden of Ashes: My George Saunders Writing Challenge

I love George Saunders. When he offered an online reading/writing Story Club, similar to his book A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, I jumped. He recently posed an exercise to participants:

  1. Set a timer for 45 minutes.
  2. Write a 200-word story. But (and here’s the trick), it has to be exactly 200 words long (not 199, not 200) and you can only use 50 unique words in the process.

The Burden of Ashes is my attempt at this exercise. I found it to be a really fun challenge. Difficult, but worth it. Thanks for reading! Oh, if you are interested in checking out Story Club, you can find it here.

The Burden of Ashes

Jack’s ashes are in the trunk of his car. His red Mercedes convertible. In a box I will take out of the trunk before I sell the car. I put them there after the funeral. Now where will I put him


the ashes?

I already now have two boxes of ashes in my closet. The ashes of those I have loved. A third box of ashes will not be a burden. Where will they go, ultimately?

I had known Jack a bit while he lived. He was in the closet. In a box. He was a burden to those he loved while they lived. While he lived.

Jack is now my burden. Where will I put him


his ashes?

I had known him a bit while he lived. I love the car the red Mercedes convertible. I will sell it now. I will take the box of ashes from the trunk.

Jack is now the the third box of ashes in my closet. Ultimately they will go…where? While they lived they were loved. Two of the boxes of ashes in my closet. Jack? the third box of ashes in my closet? Was he loved? My burden now.

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