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Creative Writing, Lists

An Imagination Exercise

Explanations for what that weird noise I heard in the middle of the night could have possibly been, arranged in order from least likely to most likely:

  • Nothing but my dream-addled imagination. On that note…
  • The cat knocking over his water dish. (A nigh-daily occurrence.)
  • The cat tripping over his own feet. (A nigh-weekly occurrence.)
  • The cat tripping over his increasingly large belly and wiping out on the floor in spectacular fashion, tiny mewlings futilely escaping from his mouth all the way down. (This would also explain why I awoke with a giggle on my lips.)
  • Dut sleepwalking in a blanket cape and running headlong into a wall. (This could have likely happened in tandem with any of the above; also explains the giggle on my lips.)
  • My other-side-of-the-duplex neighbors finally tiring of my incessant singing and inanity-shouting, and deciding to stage a coup by breaking in the door. (Their battle cry: “Down with the singing idiots!”)
  • One of my crazy dreams actually coming true. (PLEASE, no.)
  • The spiders and insects I scorn so strongly acting as one and attempting to invade my secure stronghold. (My relationship with arachnophobia has long been documented.)
  • A Hobby Farms/Chickens reader vehemently disliked some of my latest magazine columns, and is out to tell me just how wrong I really am, no matter what time of night it may be. (“A green roof is NOT the most valuable chicken-coop accessory!”)
  • The opening of a Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-style Hellmouth under the house, which will subsequently launch me on a series of comical, fashionable and heroic endeavors with a group of close friends in the imminent future. (I wish that I could make the claim that I would be the Buffy of this intrepid band of adventurers, but we all know I’m the Giles of any group of people.)
  • The cat finally throwing off the miserable trappings of disguise and ascending to his true cat-person form. (He’d surely begin his imminent reign of terror by scratching my head too aggressively, and singing nonsenses into my ear in a lilting falsetto, fangs glinting in a too-large grin.)
  • The ascent of a Lovecraftian, unknowable and unpronounceable elder god from the soft earth beneath the house; a god hellbent on unleashing chaos on sleepy Lexington, Kentucky that has decided to start his rampage by harnessing my unique weirdnesses for his fight. (I, of course, would battle against his will, but my fragile sanity would crack in an echo of the plot of “At The Mountains of Madness.”)
  • A paparazzo knocking aggressively on the apartment door in an attempt to rouse me and snag a photo of my bedhead after that #BookNerdConfessions tweet of mine went crazy-viral overnight. (Haaaaahahahaha.)

What have we learned from this imagination exercise?

  • I have a penchant for thinking that humans and animals are always out to enact revenge on me.
  • My love-hate relationship with the cat is only continuing to grow and evolve.
  • I am a ridiculous individual—but we already knew that.

(Inspired by Margaret AtwoodChina Miéville and Patricia Lockwood; hat tips and apologies to all.)

About Cory Hershberger

Neurotic/eclectic critic obsessed with pop culture who enjoys good food, good company, and, most of all, good books.


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"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"




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