Today's prompt was a personal challenge.
Write a story (set in your novel’s world) that makes sensation a priority. Use all five senses.
I am not generally good at descriptions, especially of sensations. When I took a storytelling class last year, the leader gave us a similar prompt, and I remember about the experience was how I struggled with it. Anyway, here goes nothing.
Anna woke up to a stuffy nose, dry mouth and sharp pain in her throat. It hurt to swallow; what if she lost her voice? Luckily, she’d brought a supply of her favorite licorice-flavored herbal tea with her. Tilting back in the creaky recliner, she sipped the scalding tea and was about to consider alternate plans when she heard an unmistakable sound. First faint, then louder, then filling the room: the slightly discordant, full-throated cry of a steam whistle. Engine 844 was making its way into North Platte!
Half-running the three blocks to Front Street the hot tea occasionally scalding her hand, Anna joined the swarm of North Platters converging on Front Street to look and listen and take pictures. In spite of the pre-dawn chill, it was the biggest crowd she had seen anywhere the entire week! There were scores of children, many riding the shoulders or father and grandfathers who regaled them with personal stories. “Grandpop used to work on those!” “I built engines just like that!” “When I was little, I saw these everyday from my backyard!”
The great black engine was on a siding just beyond chain link fence, now and then exhaling a hissing cloud, or even a shriek of steam, to the delight of the children. It was scheduled to depart at 8:30, but the hour came and went with no sign of movement. The retired railroaders in the crowd offered various explanations and argued genially about the likely reason for the delay. Anna eavesdropped and sipped her tea, which had grown cold but was still somewhat soothing. Her head was clearing, and she could even breathe through her nose again. She sniffed the cold morning air, and then inhaled deeply the mingled smells of steam, oil, alfalfa from the surround fields, and bacon wafting from the diner next to the tracks.
The sun came up and still the engine sat. The crowd thinned, as work and school beckoned. Anna was about to head back to the motel, when a chuffing sound and a piercing whistle announced that Number 844 was about to move on. Slowly, it backed along the siding, almost out of sight beyond the Poplar Street viaduct. Then, another whistle, and another, and the thunder of her steam-powered driving wheels, each taller than most men, and the mighty machine headed toward Cheyenne and was gone. Anna sighed and glanced around. Across each face was a broad grin.
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