May 5 – Setting

Today’s prompt from Story a Day is to write a story with a strong sense of place. The full prompt can be found here.


A pile of books are stacked up against the wall, the top book balanced open on page fifty two, where an in depth analysis of children’s toys in Victorian England litters the page. Small handwritten notes are scrawled up and down the margins of the book, some of them barely legible. At the bottom of the pile, a collection of different coloured highlighters lie opened on the desk, slowly drying out in the coldness of the room.

The radiator has not been on for a week. Thick jumpers are strewn across the bed and the back of the chair, ready for use by their owner when the cold becomes too much. The choice between heating and the liqueur bottles in the middle of the floor was easy. They sit in a plastic bag, waiting for the house party down the road in two hours.

On the desk, a laptop sits wide open, a half finished Word document blaring across the room. The final sentence is unfinished, left hanging where the owner lost track of their argument and abandoned the work for a much sweeter calling. They are slumped in the chair with their head resting on the desk, snoring quietly. A nap is always a good thing before a house party, especially one that is supposed to celebrate the end of the semester.

How unfortunate it is that this final assessment is due on the same day. Five hundred words wait to be typed; the anticipation of a well rounded conclusion that will never be written hangs in the air. Whether the assignment will be finished or not is anybody’s guess, but whatever happens, the sleeping student knows that they are not the only one in this position. There are countless others in the same position, who also need to get their final essay finished before they can go out and party.

Countless others who have also left their assessment until the last day, when they panic and stress and realise that they have not done enough research on the topic.

Countless others who will check out every available book in the university library in the hope of finding something relevant to their argument.

Countless others who are, at this very moment, cursing those who have already finished their work and sent it off to be marked.

When they wake with a start, alarmed by a loud noise outside, it is to the realisation that there are only two hours left to go – and some of that time has to be spent getting ready. The house party is a fancy dress do, and everyone else will be going to great efforts to ensure they look good. The student jumps back into their essay, finished the sentence that sent them to sleep without reading it back to themselves first.

It will do.

A flurry of words burst onto the laptop screen to finish the paragraph; the conclusion is poor and ineffective, but any essay is better than no essay at all. There is no time to read through the essay and the student does not wish to: they feel clumsy enough already without spotting all of their mistakes right before the festivities. The house party is just pre drinking for those who cannot afford to splash out like they did at the beginning of the year, and must now save their money for the club rather than drinking at any bars beforehand.

The assignment is sent off to the appropriate tutor, and the student breathes a sigh of relief. They close the book that perches on the top of the pile and place all of them in their backpack, ready to take back to the library whenever they are good enough to brave the sunshine once more. That will not be tonight, and if things go the way they plan, it will not be tomorrow either.

They move away from the desk and navigate themselves around the small room, picking their costume for the night out of the wardrobe. It is cold, both inside and outside, but that will not matter once they have finished off their alcohol.

The night is young, and as they shut the door behind them, their tedious room sinks into obscurity.

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