The Treatment

My assignment was to be at Cafe X by 5pm. Once there I am approached by a woman, who says “I hear you are a writer. Z wants to see if you can write your way out of a paper bag. I’ll be back in 30 minutes. Go.” She hands me a paper bag and leaves. Inside the bag are a tiara, a tongue depressor, a scrub brush, a push pin, a 8×11 photo of the woman who’d just handed me the bag, an envelope, a pen and some paper. Inside the envelope was a note from Z that instructed me to write a story focused on the woman who’d just dropped off the bag (who I’d never met before), and in which each item in the bag appeared. When the bag-handler returned in 30 minutes she would read the story and then I would ask her if it turned her on. She would then hand me one of two envelopes – labeled YES or NO – that held further instructions. She does not know what is in the bag or that you will be writing a story about her meant to turn her on. Go. I put each item in the bag on the table, pulled out the pen and paper, looked at the photo, felt the scrub brush on my skin, pushed the push pin into my skin, put on the tiara, bit down on the tongue depressor, and began to write a treatment…

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