“I woke up and brushed my teeth.”

I’m been trying out the planning structure which I’ve written about here with some trickier tasks. A couple of months ago on Twitter, I asked for suggestions for mundane images or first sentences with which I could road test the strategy. David Williams (@davowilz) suggested “I woke up and brushed my teeth.” Below is my attempt at a story, followed by the plan. @MissAliceRQT has produced these examples too.

I woke up and brushed my teeth. Misshapen and covered in plaque and worn away, I can barely look at them without flinching. What these teeth have seen, what they have experienced, I could not bring myself to consider for long. I continue scrubbing at them to clear away the yellowing memories. Then there was that fuzzy, fluttering noise again. I splash my face in ice-water before wrapping my whole head in the warm darkness of a towel. Its fluffiness is so comforting, so safe.

For a moment, I am away from the memory of her.

She’s makes me do it. She made me do it and it’s all I have left of her. Last night was the most recent time. I hope it will be the last.

It was close to midnight and I was outside another bedroom. The lights were out and there was a light, sniffling snore lingering on the other side of the door. Why do parents insist they shut their children’s creeky doors tight with their squeaky little handles?

Still, they’re no obstacle for me.

In seconds I’m inside, creeping – I’m not even on tiptoes – taking what I’d come for. The darkness follows me inside. Light as a fairy.

She shouldn’t have made me do this. I’m sure that stupid fluttering noise will give me away one day, but not this time. I’m in and I’ve taken what I need from the slumbering infant and I’m out again. A thief.

I finish with the towel, putting it back on the radiator. It still smells of her cloudy fuzz of perfume. I can’t bring myself to wash it. We only buried her last week. There was a toothy grin on her face as she was masticated by the earth itself. It’s what she would have wanted.

I notice a speck of blood on the towel. In the mirror, I see my gum is bleeding. I cannot clean all these teeth she has made me take. Misshapen and covered in plaque and worn away – like the yellowing memories of my tooth-fairy mother.

Thoughts/Feelings/Mood + Contrasts

  • Fatigue vs Vivacity
  • Dreary vs Energised/
  • Cleanliness vs Grubbiness
  • Harsh realities vs Imagined success


  • Towel – safety, security, warmth
  • Wings – escape, freedom


Deliberately mundane. Bathroom – Single glazed. Chill draft. Cold feet. Personify the tooth brush? scraping/rubbing… Wipe away excess paste. Wrap self up in towel – warmth, greater darkness. Repeat toothbrushing – leave hints he’s a tooth fairy.


Previous evening – make sinister, shadows, creeping into bedroom, stealing.

Return and Zoom

Zoom in on the towel. Mother gave to him. Smell of her.

Flashback to mother’s funeral. Flowers, cards, donations to…

Zoom and Leave

Gums bleeding from anxiety of being unable to clean all teeth. Reprise toothbrushing and mundane comment.

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