1. Your story’s first word must be NEW
  2. Your story must include the words NINETEEN, DESERT and PRESENT.
  3. Your story must include SOME KIND OF LIST. (Interpret how you like – could be just a mention or an actual list.)

NewTissues,” I said again, a little louder. Nothing. Silence and blank faces. Someone in the back coughed. I was undeterred.
“I present to you all the greatest innovation in tissue technology since, well, probably the turn of the century.” I began, projecting my voice around the small boardroom.
“1924,” chimed in Lisa, my insufferable assistant. I ignored her.

“For too long, our disposable culture has run rampant with single use products, without any consideration for the waste we create, the cost of production, and of course, the environment.”

Still no reaction. Dave from accounts had obviously found something fascinating outside the window. Am I boring you, Dave? Honestly. Some people have no respect for creative genius.

“With NewTissues, this reckless consumption will be a thing of the past, where it belongs. It’s time to usher in a new age of tissue technology.” I felt my confidence growing with every word, my well-rehearsed spiel landing perfectly as I began to list the brilliance of my idea. You have to have a flair for the dramatic for this sort of thing.

“Lightweight. Reusable. Washable. Stronger and more durable than your tissues of old. Take it everywhere with you! Name it! Bond with it! Love it unconditionally!” I felt my voice bordering on hysterical. Need to rein in it.

“Oh, and it’s environmentally friendly. How many trees are we slaughtering by the thousand, to fund this nation’s tissue addiction? Too many, I say. Let’s save the trees together. With NewTissues.

I noticed everyone was avoiding my gaze. A few people shuffled nervously, and a rogue bead of sweat formed on my brow. Jerry faced me, his expression difficult to read. If I wasn’t so confident, I would have said he looked disappointed. But, as CEO, Jerry always looked disappointed.

“Derek,” Jerry said. “We appreciate all you do for us, you know.”

I nodded vigorously, hanging off his every word.

“Your knack for unconventional thinking is…unique,” he continued.

A dull throb in my neck reminded me that I was still nodding. I forced myself to stop. It was replaced with a frantic tapping of my foot.

“I know that since the iSnack 2.0 fiasco, you’ve spent a considerable amount of time, and company resources, trying to redeem yourself.”

“That was on-trend!” I protested.

“I have to be frank with you,” his expression hardened. “What you’ve just described is a handkerchief.”

My stomach dropped. What? How could this be?

“No, no no. I’m not sure you understand. This is no mere handkerchief. NewTissues are hip! And modern!” I couldn’t believe it. Were they too blind to see the future? “I mean, sure, there are some similarities…”

Jerry was shaking his head sadly. “It’s a handkerchief, Derek.”

“But. The trees,” I pleaded softly. I looked around the room for support. Lisa! Sweet Lisa, my brilliant, capable assistant. My lighthouse in the sea, my oasis in the desert. Surely you can see this potential?

Lisa slowly took a tissue from her handbag and blew her nose.