A literary exercise used to find ideas for essays, stories and poems. My English teacher this year used it liberally with us. Here’s an example:

There’s 5 million in the world, more, within me. The pain pounding in my head explodes as the people scream for help. They want the missing piece to life. They’ve never seen it; where is it, what is it? So tired, so late. The pencil runs across my page tracing meaningless lines and the pain pounds in my head.

What will I do if he goes? All alone, missing him. I’m so afraid of the cold, of dark, of hunger, of being alone. It makes my body hurt inside out, like a cat, scratching. Made of glass I’m inside looking out and I see him, I see them all, see through them and scream.

My blood would save the world—if it could it would spill down blue ice into the ocean. I can see the gulls fly—scratch the itch of laughter in your mind, thoughts slide so smooth, like fingers across water. Slick skin. Kissing someone, slow and warm, cuddle hugs. Laughter that pierces my ears like a harpy’s scream and my eyes are blind because the world is tilting on a non-existent edge.

Random thoughts fly by me, thrown by the wind, and I stare at them, tears flying from my eyes. The eyes so blue. Beautiful angel’s eyes, I see them in my mind, but never, really. Elusive souls brush past my outstretched gaze. Please hold my hand. I’m afraid of the cars because I already feel the pain of bone and flesh crushing against blacktop, spilling blood. I can see the bullet before it kills and how the blade slices skin so easily, blood dripping down like a scarlet rainfall—so pretty, so delicious. Like whipped cream and strawberries on cheesecake between a kiss and a hug. A Sammy-squeeze given to Sandra when she feels bad, so bad. Brandon should be beaten, he’s so dense. How can he not go out with her after all these years? Why do Brandon and Ryan always fight? Why do I get Ryan but not get him? Why do people confuse being alive with living? They’re nowhere near the same.

How confusing is life, my mind goes blank and I become aware of my surroundings. The pain in my knee, it hurts so bad, but not really at all. It’s so late, I’m so tired and full of meaningless contradictions that are impossibly easy for me to make.

It upset me so much when I was told—I felt the blood rush from and to my face. It was like being pulled out of hot water and dunked in ice. Ice is so pretty, so good melting to water in your mouth, sliding down your parched throat.

My hair is red and holds the fire of light and the sun. The light burns my eyes, I turn to the dark. Why am I attracted to what frightens me? Why do I care? ...Why do I try…? I can see the devil’s eyes in the dark and feel my heart pounding. The rush of fear.

Elation at a downfall, I will never understand people. I like discovering things, observing. There’s always someone new to puzzle out. I’m working on a hundred thousand right now…so tired. Weary and worn out by thinking. Need sleep, need to dream and cry.