After all this talk of creativity, I felt it was time to actually give it a shot, and stretch those creative writing muscles that have been so long dormant. Below is a 500 word vignette based on the following prompt from Poets & Writers.

The promise of a new year is laden with expectations. Much of the conflict and drama that propels stories forward stems from a character’s passions and expectations. Some of those expectations are achieved, others bring heartbreak and despair. Write a scene in which your protagonist deals with unfulfilled expectations. Describe in detail his or her reaction, whether it is expressed by a simple downward gaze or a violent tirade. Contending with failed expectations reveals much about the inner worlds of our characters.

The phone rang, jolting Martin Anderson from his unintentional sleep, slouched over the dimly lit kitchen table. As he jerked his eyes open, he looked around in the darkness, trying to make sense of his surrounds and wondering just what that god awful noise was.

"The phone!" he thought as he bolted out of the chair revealing the time-worn and cracked vinyl upholstery. He hurried to the cigarette smoke stained phone hung off-centered on the yellowed wall. Pausing to collect himself and test his voice to ensure he had rid himself of some sleep-induced slur, he answered, "Hello? Anderson residence."

Although the interview had been two weeks ago, Martin’s heart still fluttered with anticipation when the phone rang. Martin was laid off 6 months ago, and despite all the applications, he had been unable to find a job. This phone call would have been the 14th such phone call he would have received in the last 6 months, every one of them a disappointment. “You don’t have the experience,” they’d say, “Another candidate was a better fit.” On and on the excuses went. And these were just the ones who bothered calling at all. Martin had waited in vain for a dozen others—waiting in desperation for a call that would never come.

His bank account was empty, his credit cards were maxed out, and he figured he had another two weeks at best before his landlord would send the sheriff to force him to leave the dingy, cold house he could no longer afford to rent. This phone call could turn his life around.

“Is this Martin Anderson?” the voice on the line asked.

“This is he.”

“Hi, this is Carole. From McDonalds?”

“Yes! Carole! Thank you for calling me back. I hope—”

“Mr. Anderson,” she interrupted, “I’m afraid that you don’t have the experience we’re looking for right now, but we will keep you in mi—” But he stopped paying attention. Tears welling up in his eyes, he lowered his head and stared unblinking into the grimy corner by the refrigerator.

He robotically thanked her, half-heartedly attempted to hang up the phone, but instead he let it fall clattering to the floor. Shifting his gaze to the handset on the floor, he let out a small chuckle. Leaving it there, he shuffled to the middle of the room, tears slowly trickling down his face, and looked around at the dark room, suddenly disgusted by the dirt and grime.

He checked the refrigerator, frowning at the layer of ice at the top, frowning further at the spoiled half-gallon of milk and decades old mustard bottle. Closing the door, he plunged the room back into the darkness of the waning, leftover, fast-sinking sunlight.

Martin Anderson felt the last of his hope sinking with it.

He lifted the knife from the table, stole a final glance at the phone on the floor, and plodded heavily out of the room.