Writing Exercise

Two-character conflict using less than ten words between one another.

Bo held the knife out by his side. Denny had fallen against the wall and slid into a sitting position, holding his belly. The blood dripped silently from the blade.

They had a staring contest, Bo, his eyes piercing and unwavering, Denny, courageous, but hazy from bloodloss and pain, and it held for a long moment. The tension built until they both felt it tug at their hearts and minds.

Denny broke his gaze, forfeiting his place, admitting defeat, and looked down, shaking his head. Through gritted teeth and a losing battle for his dignity, he spoke a single name.


There was a flinch. The tension wavered, weakened.

So it was true, thought Bo. She was sick. Everyone else could lie and change the subject, but Denny wouldn’t, criminal as he was, mislead anyone over Tessa.

Bo didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want it to be true, didn’t want to face the harsh bitterness, but now that he had a man’s blood on his hands, he had to adjust.

Denny flinched when Bo knelt down, afraid that his life was over, but when the blow failed to surprise him, he opened an eye. Bo’s face had softened, sympathetic, but there was no forgiveness in it. The gentleness was for Tessa and her alone.

“Sell your loot, buy the medicine,” he lifted the knife to point directly at Denny’s eye, “then go.”

A beat, and the next moment spent. Bo stood up, towering over Denny in the dim light, his sillhouette backlit from the cracks of bleak sunlight that filtered through the patched roof. He turned and took a step to the door, absentmindedly tossing Denny’s bloody bootknife onto the pile of hay that served for a mattress.

When he reached the exit, Denny broke the silence.


Bo stopped, lifted the front of his hat up with his left hand and wiped his brow with the back of it. As he brought the hat back down, he barely looked over his right shoulder.

And then he was gone.


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