Then, write a 250- to 500-word fictional scene that includes this line: That changes everything. (Note: you can’t do this wrong… use it as a prompt. Wherever it takes you (even to other characters that aren’t related to Alpert’s story is fine or a story that doesn’t include the prompt)
They don’t hide, which is what confused me. They let us dress them up and paint their faces. We make them pose, smile, and frown in plaid and khakis. I felt ashamed putting the taller, wide shouldered, man in the small green polo, khaki, and slippers.
“I’m sorry.” I pulled his collar and rested my hands on his chest, “I wouldn’t do this to you if I had a choice.”
“Please.” He started, relaxing his stiff body for a moment. Color came to his cheeks, bluish and light under the pasty white. My eyes met his with cold, hard seriousness. He stiffened again, “Plea—”
“Don’t give them a reason.” I glanced around the room. No one seemed to be around in the summer section this early in the morning. The aisles were waxed nearly transparent and the racks were aligned and quiet, “I didn’t know you all could actually speak our language.” I turned my back to the hind camera, adjusting his belt buckle and hushing my voice.
His eye trailed onto mine, but he didn’t speak. He just watched me, tug on his pants and lower it a bit to make it urban. He swallowed hard. It wasn’t until then I’d realized how their eyes moved around so freely. Maybe if I’d noticed that maybe I would have thought that was how they spoke to each other.
Later that night, I rolled a piece of clay in my hand trying to remember how his face looked. He was very straight nosed and had this long sloping jaw—European jock looking but obviously not. The clay rolled in my palm and I decided what I wanted was to talk to him. I didn’t want to be stupid about it so I waited until the summer was over and they were replacing the display with the more childish, festive young ones. They looked great in coats and stockings.
“Don’t panic.” I said stacking his light body in the back storage locker with the rest of them. They had changed him into a button down in blue and black plait at this point and he looked almost cool. I pulled the door behind me and turned on a flashlight. He grabbed me and slammed my back against the rusty lining of the metal box.
“Please!” His voice came through again, this time lower and pained. I pointed the flashlight at his white face, blue veins traveling to his eyes and green globs streaks coming from his eyes. I wanted to scream, but if I did they’d know I locked myself in here with them. I’d more than lose my job, “Please.” His smooth, plastic hands clenched mine.
For a long moment we stood there and he whispered the word over and again and I felt my heart break; I didn’t know why. I was sure this was why they never let us talk to them. I made a mistake coming there. (493)