In my post on Finding Your Voice, I suggested a 300 word exercise in which you describe something sitting on the kitchen table in your voice. Never mind characters, never mind plot, just write something in your style, no matter how grandiose or unsuitable for the object. Here’s my version.
Its unpolished form rose stoically from a soft, contrasting surface. The bottom rim was dulled and smudged from overuse, and the length of it reflected shapeless, drained colors as though it were the still, silver facade muddy waters. Near its dark upper lip there were two imperfections where an indelicate keeper had dented it.
A round, black fixture was firmly mounted at the top, with a handle that swept back like the long horns of an animal. The small entrance in the center was clapped shut by an unassuming stopper. By its silence, its imperturbable posture, it seemed to challenge onlookers to question its formidability. It had proven time and again that whatever was sealed within would remain there, safe and unchanged, until called upon.
It was cold to the touch, like something lifeless and forgotten, unaffectionate, but duty-bound to complete its task. The task that no set of human hands could ever hope to accomplish of their own power and vigil, the task that made its existence so necessary: holding back the thrashing, untamable treasure that both gives and takes life, that refuses to be confined and disappears irretrievably once it escapes.
But it was empty, lightweight and dormant. It had been left out, purposeless, away from the barracks where it was usually stored with others of its kind. The others were not all like it, though they served the same function. Some were colorful. Nearly all of them were newer. Some were plastic, some were insulated, some had a mouthpiece and some had a small opening to sip from. And so, depending on the journey and the unique prerequisites for the task, it was not always chosen. But it soldiered on, always at the ready. Always dependable.
Such is the life of an old, stainless steel water bottle.