I was supposed to practice description in a story with a specific setting.

Becoming a Writer – Week Three


The humming of the central heating system was loud and invasive, broken up by chatter that was wither inaudible or in a different language. The irregular squeaking of the automatic door created a harmony with the constant padding of shoes across the atrium. The doors were letting in cold air, and Laney shivered in her sear. The seat was comfortable but the back stopped halfway, creating a line of pressure on her back. She sat in front of the glass safety wall on the balcony, watching her fellow students. Most of them were alone, kept company by their phones, music, or coffee. The only ones who seemed to notice the other people in the room were the group sitting on the bench in front of the blue wall, waiting for their class to start, and Laney on the balcony, sitting in her uncomfortable chair, scribbling in her notebook.

It was nice to just sit around and watch people. The longer she just looked and listened, the more beautiful the whole situation became. It was like watching an opera in a foreign language; you can’t don’t know exactly what is going on, but you appreciate the performance. The sounds around the atrium were almost like a symphony: the heating was the bass chords, supporting the sound; the unintelligible chatter was the melody line, rising and falling as people walked around; and the squeaking doors behind me added the trill that boosted music from good to great. The people were the chorus; most people were wearing dark or neutral colours, so the girl in the blue sweater kept drawing the eye. She looked happy, animatedly chatting to the people on her left and right; she didn’t notice Laney on the balcony watching her. If this really were an opera, she would be the main character. It would be the story of a girl caught up in her own world.

Sitting by herself on the balcony was remarkably peaceful. Laney had adjusted to the cold air, and all the noise had faded to the background. She sat still, not on her phone or talking to anyone. For once, she was completely happy with the world, fascinated by observing bits a pieces of other people’s lives.

As time went on, the atrium emptied; people went to their classes, or wherever they were heading. The girl in the blue sweater went in to her classroom with her friends, still chatting. Laney wasn’t alone in the room, but if she closed her eyes, she could pretend to be. She didn’t spend much time alone; her family saw to that. But she enjoyed taking ten minutes for herself between classes and work, to just sit still and be happy.

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