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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on September 30, 2007

William Goes Shopping

William walked slowly, nervously, into the convenience store. He'd never done anything like this before, and his better judgment was warning him to leave now before he got into trouble.

His better judgment seemed to be fighting a losing battle.

In his wallet, aside from a driver's license, two credit cards, a picture of his girlfriend and a blood donor card, he also carried one hundred fifty dollars in ones, fives, tens and twenties.

He walked from aisle to aisle, picking up various items he needed for his party. Potato chips, Pepsi (none of this diet, caffeine free, sugar free colored water for him!), salsa, cheese, crackers, and chocolate candies.

He waited until the line of customers waiting to be checked out was gone, and he approached the cashier. He dumped his armload of items on the counter. The cashier grunted out a very non-commital, uninterested "How's it going?"

William just shrugged. Then, before the cashier could start scanning his purchase, William said, "I'd like to make a deal with you."


"I could just pay the amount on the bill, or we could do this: Every item whose purchase price is an odd number of cents, I'll pay fifty cents under the purchase price. But if the price is an even number that is one less than a prime number, I'll pay five dollars over. And if the price is a triangular number or a Fibonacci number, you pay me fifty cents, unless, upon drawing a marble out of this jar here, we find that it is either red or blue, and then I'll owe you one penny for every diagonal in a convex polygon with as many sides as I have items to purchase."

The cashier looked at him like he was nuts. He said: "Are you nuts?"

"No," William said, "I'm just a character in a math problem."

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