A Broken Seal – “gasket”

A short writing exercise inspired by the word “gasket”.

Farolos de Valladolid  / Streetlights of Valla...

Image by ajgelado via Flickr

The tree was massive and solid, not planted in the earth like a shrub but jutting out like a column. Its leaves rustled in the enormous branches, and a patch of torn, light wood shone out from among the dark, dirty bark like a wound.

Doug touched the bare wood lightly. It wasn’t deep, a scratch for a tree this size. A thick, jagged splinter stuck out from the patch, and Doug pressed it back against the tree, smoothing it out.

He turned his back to the tree, leaned against it, closed his eyes, and sighed. Evening was coming and the air was starting to cool. Everything had a dreamlike quality except the solid tree at his back. Feeling a trifle unsteady, slid down the tree, jacket scratching loudly, until he sat in the tuft of weeds at its base.

He opened his eyes and looked at the patch of churned up earth before him. Dark and moist, bits of grass and rock poked through the big clods of dirt and deep ruts. Strangely, he thought of his mother’s garden when he was a boy, and the fresh smell of dirt when she got it ready for planting.

A sharp point stuck from the ground in front of him, and Doug reached for it.  Shaking off the loose dirt, he rubbed off a layer of oil and grease onto his pants. It was a small metal ring, a gasket. He stared at it blankly in the palm of his hand, rubbing it back and forth with his thumb.

A radio chattered nearby, and Doug looked up to see a police officer watching him quietly. The officer moved as if he might come over to Doug, but instead simply gave a brief nod. Doug watched as the officer got into his squad car and left. The tires crunched as he drove across the thick, black skidmarks in the road that led straight towards the tree. Towards Doug.

Doug was alone. The officer was the last to leave, having made sure the motorcycle was cleared away. The flatbed had left with it about five minutes ago, the twisted pile of metal barely recognizable. The car was gone ten minutes before that, much easier to tow since it did not have to be pulled from the dirt.

His brother’s body had already been taken from the scene before Doug arrived. Doug clenched his hand around the dirty gasket, the edges biting painfully into his fingers. Overhead, the streetlights began to flicker on.

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About Jeff Moriarty

A dabbler in many arts, from Ignite Phoenix to Improv, and from Information Security to Screenwriting. Jeff loves creating new things, and tries his hand at many forms of writing from screenplays to prose. He pontificates on his personal blog, and helps authors get their works online.


  1. Eric Bahle says

    Pretty tight. I think your talent for screenplays is at work here. We definitely arrived late and we’re shown (not told) what happened by watching the impact on the brother.