Random Exercises – OOC Is Serious Business

Sunday, 08Jan23

Category: Characterization Device

Prompt: OOC Is Serious Business


“Harvey doesn’t whistle anymore.”

Katie stopped drawing and scrunched her nose up at him. “So what?”

Carson knelt down next to Katie on the cold concrete. She had seen some pictures online and was trying to replicate them, making it appear as though there were a cavernous pit in the middle of the sidewalk. From the right direction, you’d almost swear you could fall in. From Carson’s present angle, it looked like a movie when you got stuck in the very front row of the theater. You could kind of tell what it was supposed to be, but it was flat and distorted.

The December wind gusted across the cul-de-sac, and Carson tucked his hands beneath his armpits for warmth. “Like, what would it take for you to just stop drawing?”

Katie’s hands were pale where they weren’t blotched with kaleidoscopic chalk dust, but she bent over to resume her picture regardless. “Why would I stop drawing?”

“That’s my point. Something really big would have to happen to you for you to stop drawing, right? Like, something serious or sad or scary.”

“I mean, I guess so.” She said.  She exchanged a pale blue for dark gray, and began to fill in a big section with heavy even strokes, the chalk scraping across the pavement with a regular shrrrrrk-shrrrk-shrrrrk. “But that’s different. I mean, drawing’s like a skill. It’s art. It’s what I want to do. Whistling’s just…” She paused her scraping to consider. “Whistling’s trivial,” she concluded, pleased with the vocabulary word. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time.”

“He’s not doing it at all anymore. Don’t you think that’s weird?” The frozen pavement sapped Carson’s body heat through the legs of his jeans, so he stood up and rubbed his knees.

Katie had solved that particular problem with hockey pads. “How do you even know he stopped? Maybe he’s just been doing it when you weren’t around.”

“I first noticed it on Tuesday, because we had basketball in gym, and he always does the Harlem Globetrotters song. Always. But on Tuesday, he didn’t.”

“Maybe someone made fun of him for it.”

“That’s never stopped him before. Anyway, I noticed it then, and then I guess I was already feeling like something was wrong, because it just felt… off. But I couldn’t figure out what it was. So I started paying attention to him, and I haven’t heard him whistle a note in the five days since then.”

Katie finished filling in one of the crevasse’s cracks, and then stood to examine her handiwork from the proper angle. “So okay, maybe something happened. Did you ask him about it?”

“I did. Right after school on Friday. I just laid it out: ‘Harvey, how come you stopped whistling?’”

He paused, and Katie scowled. “Well?”

“He said that he hadn’t stopped whistling. And then when I told him about the basketball and everything else, he said that I was imagining things. And then I kinda got mad, because he was acting like I was being stupid. Not even confused, but just like I was making some kind of stupid joke. So I told him to prove it by whistling right then.”

“How was that supposed to prove anything?”

“I don’t know, I was mad. But then he couldn’t do it!

“Well, he probably didn’t like being told to whistle on command, but… Wait, did you say wouldn’t or couldn’t?”

“He tried, Katie!” Carson’s mop of hair was at the mercy of the winds, and his eyes glistened. “I saw him try to do it, and he couldn’t. He tried to pass it off like that, that he wasn’t going to do it just because I told him, but I saw him try, and I saw him look scared when it didn’t work.”

“Are you suggesting that Harvey forgot how to whistle?”

Carson chewed on his lower lip for a while, his cheeks and nose reddened from the cold. “I’m suggesting,” he said at last. “That he’s not Harvey.”

Comments are closed.