Writing prompt with edit: preparing for a long trip

Time: 7 minutes. I then set it aside for about 30 minutes, and then edited the piece for ten minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“preparing for a long trip”

The first run: 7 minutes.

Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It wasn’t the one that would accompany him on his journey, but it was the same size. That suitcase was in a sterile environment, and everything that would eventually go into it would have to be sterilized as well. He would have to be scrubbed and cleaned up as well. But looking at this empty suitcase, not even the one that he would take, lent an air of finality. Whatever in the world that was his from now on would fit in this small space. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again. This said nothing about all the people that wouldn’t fit into the box.

Lily panted in the doorway. She seemed to sense her master’s discomfort, but feared suitcases and other boxes for reasons Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister. She might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. He couldn’t look at her, and he couldn’t look at the suitcase. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.

He tried to tell himself what an opportunity lie ahead. But it was hard not to feel the weight of all the opportunities closing behind him. Many a master lost a beloved pet. But where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again. Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility.

The edit: 10 minutes. I tried to eliminate unnecessary text while still preserving Dale’s emotions. I removed scifi-ish stuff that didn’t seem to contribute to that end, regarding the suitcase, and tried to give more time to Lily and Dale, which to me ended up being the best part of my first run.

Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It had an air of finality. This space would encompass his life until this point. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again.

Lily panted in the doorway, unable to come closer due to a fear of suitcases and other boxes that Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister, Eva. Eva might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.

Dale could not deny his excitement for his future, the opportunity of a lifetime. But it was hard not to feel the weight of the opportunities closing behind him. Where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again, never a new puppy, never an old companion. His eyes burned.

Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered, her eyes uneasily fixed upon the suitcase, but determined to be near him. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility. He grabbed two tennis balls. One he put into the suitcase; hopefully the decontamination process wouldn’t destroy the scent of dog drool. The other he kept in his hand as he and Lily walked toward the door.

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