Exercise #1169: Revision

Revision Exercise

Below you’ll find a 601 word piece that was written without revision, spell check or detailed attention to punctuation.  Revise the piece down to no more than 125 words.

Be sure to maintain the essence of the piece; however, feel free to add information that enhances the story.

Note: Although it may be difficult to pare down to 100 or fewer words, it can be done. It MUST be done. Treat this as if it were a piece about to be published, and the editor will accept no more than 125 words. That’s all the space available in the publication for this piece. Make it, or you’re doomed to the reject pile.


On the other side of the wall he knew there was a life he could never have. It was a rich life. It was a life full of colors and places and people, and most of all fun.

So day after day, from the safety of his wheel chair, he dreamed of all the things he could not see or do because his legs could not move, and because his parents were afraid of what might happen to him if he traveled beyond the garden and the walls that surrounded it.

Then came that Friday, the day the chauffer forgot to close the gate on the way to taking his father and mother to the airport. He’d been left to the nanny’s care, and she was somewhere inside doing what nanny’s do.

He waited until the sound of the big engine had faded before he made his move. Slowly, avoiding the rocky pathway that had a maddening way of making his wheelchair rattle, the boy turned his wheels toward the gate. He looked back now and then to be sure nanny was not watching.

Finally, when he’d reached the gate, the boy began to push his chair’s large wheels faster and faster, until he came to the end of the tree-covered street. It was there that he saw what he’d been missing. It was there that he saw all the things that the flatness of his TV screen had told him were beyond the wall. It was the big city.

For hours he pushed himself along the city’s sidewalks. They were crowded with people loaded with large sacks with names of stores printed on the sides. From one shop came the smell of fresh fish. Another shop smelled of cinnamon. Yet another had a window filled with every kind of candy imaginable. There he waited for a while.

It was then that the girls walked up and asked him if he would like a piece of candy. Of course he said yes. He told her his name and she told him hers. And then she asked if he wanted to go to the park. And just as it had been with the candy, he said yes.

The park was around the corner. But when they reached the place where they had to cross the street he stopped. She said come on,  but he stayed there at the curb. Again she urged him on, but he didn’t move. And when she asked why he would not come, he told her he was afraid. He had never crossed a street with so many cars before. The curb was so high. He could not make it.

She grunted and called him a name, then said she would just go on alone. But as she stepped from the curb there was a loud squeal and then a car hit her and sent her rolling across the black pavement. And then the car sped off, leaving her where she was.

At first he did not know what to do. But when he saw that she was not moving and that no one was going to help her, he realized that because she was so small no one had seen her get hit.

Without a thought about what he was doing, the boy lifted himself from the chair and went to her side. He lowered himself beside her and brushed her face. Her eyes started to move. And then her head. And finally her eyes opened and she smiled. You walked, she said. And the boy smiled and looked back at his chair waiting at the curb.


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