It’s time for another writing challenge! (Here’s the first in case you missed it.) This time around, writers were asked to submit a sentence containing synesthetic elements. Synesthesia is a condition in which a person perceives stimuli as if they belonged to a different sense (e.g. seeing musical colors or tasting sounds). Mixing perceptions like this can add layers of meaning or feeling to what you’re writing; we were asked to demonstrate thus. Here’s mine:

“Ah, this brings back memories,” Oliver said as he picked up the dusty old photo. “We would always carol together in the biting blue cold. Fred there was the most gifted baritone; he had a warm, buttery voice. And old Jeffrey–that scoundrel–why, he could light up a room with his falsetto. Such brilliant notes you’d never heard!” I looked at a third fellow wearing a derby. “And what about him,” I asked. “Wilbur?” he asked. “Well, rest his soul.” Oliver grimaced as he continued, “His blood was blue, but, golly, his notes were all brown.”

As it turns out, I was only supposed to write one sentence. Whoops. If I had to describe myself in two words, they would be “can’t follow directions.” Anyway, the idea for this passage comes from two childhood memories. One: when I first heard “Still of the Night” by the Five Satins sometime around age 10, I went online to look them up and read a bio that described them as having “buttery vocals.” I thought that was such a clever and novel way to characterize singing that it stuck with me all these years. Two: back in high school a runner on my cross country team told me about a breakfast experience she had. One morning she made her dad pancakes but had never done it before, and they came out burnt and powdery. Her dad took a few bites, then said to her, “Jackie, I love you but these are awful.”

Those two memories served as the basis for this dialogue–buttery vocals and trying your best but failing miserably. As with last time, here are some of my favorites:

You must understand why I did it; the black emptiness of the universe, a maddening static humming on my skin, was so unbearable, the blackness rubbing my pupils like sandpaper, was so torturous, until I screamed in agony “Let there be light!” -Adam Carl

Where the serene blue sky met the vibrant green earth, her eyes engaged him; he knew from that moment that he could only truly see through the view of her hue — now and forevermore.  -James Burdick

After an hour of futile attempts to organize her thoughts, she realized that the insidious empty clatter inside her head was the busy clutter of the red and black patterned wallpaper rattling all around her.  -Leslie Simon

 The snowflake aggressively fell from the sky, as if on a dangerous mission, towards its untimely death–for the ground it would land on happened to belong to sun parched California. -Kelsea Mayfield

She couldn’t stop herself, but the foul taste of the lie swept her tongue and graced her lips before she could control the words. -Brittney “Richie” Mastrovalerio

His rancid voice was dripping with sarcasm as he spat his response to the crowd below – they would never understand, nor would they listen to reason. -Aaron Fish

The sudden, ravenous cacophony of florescent light screeched loudly, drowning out her last quiet whispers of sleep. -Christine Zirneklis

The light of the sun falling through the open window warmed me with the scent of fresh bread, though no one was in the kitchen baking. -Sarah Shapiro

It’s a smell like velvet–rough on the inhale, smooth on the exhale. -Joanne Malari

The thick, hot smoke of desire engulfed me, poisoning my heaving lungs and clouding my sight of better judgement. -Aari Salazar Parreñas

I have this game I like to play when I’m online. It’s called “Find the Atheist.” The object of the game is very simple. You must try, based on immaculately subtle clues and your keen, finely-tuned intuition, to determine who is the Atheist.

Every so often I’ll visit my parents for the weekend and they’ll insist that I join them for church Sunday morning; where the preacher piles bullshit on our heads and I can feel the hot, steamy crap dripping down my face and stinging my eyes. -David Rutz

I found the Atheist! (An Atheist who doesn’t understand the difference between synesthesia and mere metaphor, I might add.)

Anyway, just as I did last time, I’ll end with a bunch of rapid-fire sentences. Here goes:

The hot and shouting sand lashed at his feet, just daring him to find the quiet, cooing oasis.

As he drifted into the bleak, weeping void of outer space, with the sad blue Earth fading away to a teardrop against the canvas of black, he thought to himself, “I should have defected to America; NASA would not have let this happen.”

A Shakespearean sonnet’s pattern is as follows: Red-Orange-Red-Orange, Yellow-Green-Yellow-Green, Blue-Indigo-Blue-Indigo, Purple-Purple.


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