a room of their own

To help myself with my creative writing abilities, I have set meself the task of executing prompts, found online, every few days.

The first of these is as follows: Describe the rooms of three different people; a military leader, a spoiled child, and an artist.


Henry Broadside: Colonel, read the small plaque on the door. The door itself was made of heavy, dark wood, exactly the type one might find on the broad side of an old apple barn. It was slightly ajar, which was odd, because Colonel Broadside was extraordinarily particular about keeping his room locked. The key was always in his left breast pocket, easily accessible.

Colonel Broadside had not been in the army for some time, but his obsession with the institution had not dampened over the years. Adhering to his old routine, he still awoke at five sharp every morning, made his bed with maddening precision, and exercised for an hour before breakfast. The diligence was admirable, and so too was the result. Colonel Broadside was very fit for his age. Aged well, even, people would remark, looking in some consternation at his face, which seemed to protrude with a bull-dog like intensity at whatever object he directed it at.

His room reflected his life-long love of the army. All of his medals were carefully arranged in deep frames on the walls. A flag stood by the window, which was encased in bookshelves that reached the ceiling. In fact, two of the four walls were entirely comprised of built-in bookshelves. The other two walls were wood paneled, giving the room the air of an ancient English library, or some vessel of a bygone era.

If an observer were rather disinterested in the contents, he or she would only note that Henry Broadside appeared to be about to set off on a venture, for maps of all shapes and sizes, ages and inscriptions, littered every horizontal surface, including the bed and most of the floor. If an observer were very keen, he or she might notice also how diametrically this fact was opposed to the general order of the room, still discernible under the papering of maps. The desktop items, where the maps were not lying, were arranged in a manner so as to be of the utmost efficiency. The ruler, stapler, pen tray, paper tray, letter box and knife were placed at right angles to and from each other, at distances corresponding to the frequency of use. The books on the walls, upon closer inspection, were arranged by subject and alphabetized. Small placards on the lips of the shelves labeled each section. There was not a spare ornament, aside from the medals, to be found anywhere. Everything had a use and a place.

These facts all pointed to Colonel Henry Broadside as being very practical and not at all sentimental. So why, one might wonder, had he carelessly loosed the whirlwind of maps in his most private haven?


Turning around and around, Cecilia Augusta Porthaven-Smith observed her new room with a sharp, limpid eye. Her small face, surrounded by a frizzy halo of mousy hair, was twisted into a look of dissatisfaction. It was her usual appearance, and only subtracted a little from her nearly non-existent appeal.

Too small, she declared stolidly to herself. Her room, roughly the size of a moderate apartment, faced the lakefront behind the house. Half of that wall was glassed in, with a small patio leading out. Great plastic flowers sat in buckets around the room, shadowing the corners with grotesque shapes. A hanging basket near one end of the wall of windows housed a dubious collection of plush animals. Most of them were in good shape; a few had missing limbs or eyes. Cecilia was not in the habit of playing with her animals, she merely used them as stress-relievers, pulling as hard as she could until something gave.

Yellow light illuminated the room, giving a sickly tint to the green walls and taupe carpeting. A large ornamental rug lay haphazardly to one side, its edges rumpled in carelessness. Placed at odd angles around the perimeter, the furniture was light pine, with a distressed patina that made it seem dingy. The pieces hung low to the ground, crouching and meek, with an air of reticence about their owner.

Cecilia walked, her hands on her hips, to her closet door, and observed the paintings hanging around it. They were garishly colored in oranges and purples, and depicted scenes from children’s books and nursery rhymes. Having no soul for art, she could not form an opinion, except that it seemed that this was usual for a child’s room, and so would, of course, have to stay.

She peered into the closet, seeing all of her familiar clothes, and rifled through them idly, peering over her shoulder at the bins of toys. She thought she might like to play with something, but after making her way over to them changed her mind and knocked the bin over instead. The contents scattered across the room, adding the only innocently playful edge to the entire setting.


“Smashing,” said Magdalena Pritchard. She was not using a superlative in admiration of anything, she was merely describing, to herself, what her latest painting illustrated. The muted backgrounds, slashed with violet and teal, radiated from a central point near the corner. If someone had smashed two colors, that painting would have been close to what it would look like.

She stepped back and nearly tripped over the tarp. Drawing her thick brows together in frustration, she kicked it aside and looked around. Her bedroom/studio, slashed together because of lack of funds, was cramped, clean, and rather overwhelming. Having to share quarters with art supplies, portfolios, bins of paints and brushes, her normal bedroom furniture seemed out of place and intrusive. It was shoved into as dense a pattern as would be allowed. The room itself was not large, and she needed one whole corner for her easel and drying line. This stood by the window, where the indirect natural light could shine without damaging the oil paint. Other lamps, clamped to nearby bookshelves and hanging awkwardly from the ceiling, further illuminated the area.

Her walls were a stark white, glaring and offensive to her artistic sensibilities, but with little time and money to spare, she preferred to keep her painting on more lucrative canvases. Several of her paintings hung on the walls, but they were ill placed, more a vertical holding area than as a decoration.

Her room reflected her personality, as most rooms do. While leaving enough energy to be organized, her central drive was for her art, and any other hobbies got left by the wayside. The books on her shelves were almost entirely art related, being art theory, practice, and history.

Like any artistic soul, her lack of coherent decorating bothered her to the point of pain sometimes, but with so little time, she could never find the moment to make a solid effort to redo. She had grand schemes of blue walls and white curtains, mustard yellow sheets with brilliantly patterned throws and tufted couches laden with pillows; but her ideas remained in her head.

Suddenly, thinking of furniture made her think of Van Gogh, and thinking of Van Gogh made her think of her painting again. Shaking her head, she dashed back to her easel, peeled off the current project, grabbed the nearest branch of charcoal, and began to feverishly sketch an impressionistic version of her ideal bedroom. Even if she couldn’t have it in real life, she could have it, in its essential form, where she liked it best.


One thought on “a room of their own

  1. timotheous128 says:

    I love your style of writing. It’s very distinct and clear, but not heartless. It reminds me of British author Diana Wynne Jones.

    And that’s a good thing, because she’s one of my favorites. 🙂

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