Writing Prompt #3

Okay, the prompt was: You have two characters, A and B, who have never met before. They are in a crowded space (a bar, a bus, a subway, a concert – whatever you like!) and A has bumped into B by accident. What happens next?

“Excuse me, sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing? I bumped into you.”

“Uh-”

“Seriously, think about it. What’s wrong with your life that you feel the need to apologize to strangers who knock into you?”

“…”

“Like what, are you a terrible person or something? Do you just need to apologize for everything? Do you murder little kids? Do you torture adorable kittens? Do your parents wish they’d never had you? What?”

“I’m actually going somewhere, I gotta-”

“You gotta listen to me is what you gotta do. You handed me your will the second you thought it was your fault that I bumped into you. So now stand there and listen to me, fool. Just wait right where you are and get to wherever you’re going late, and hate me. Hate me a little more every second.”

“…”

“What are you gonna do, huh? Are you going to push me? Go ahead, push me. Get me out of your way. Achieve bullyhood. Just do it. Who knows what’ll happen. Maybe it’ll feel good, ever thought of that? Maybe it feels awesome to just get someone out of your way. Why do you think I do it? Why do you think I shove people away? Think I’m just rushing? What if I don’t have anywhere to go? What if it’s just the best way to get around?”

“It’s rude.”

“It speaks! The mouse opened its little mouth. Want to yell at me? Tell me off? Come on, let’s see if you can actually muster up the energy and the vocabulary to do it.”

“…”

“Blushing really isn’t as endearing as people make it out to be. You look stupid, red and flushed like a balloon. This has been fun, but I really should get going, but you know what? We should do this again sometime.”

Let’s write! Writing prompt #2 – My Own Response

Use these words in a story: asphyxiate, contraption, cherry

Here’s my own response to this!

Imagine A Breath

There were whistles and bells and blades and gears and string and everything that a bored twelve-year-old could think of. Terry’s contraption looked less like a machine and more like a Brooklynite’s senior thesis art installation. But Terry, dressed in a plaid button-down and dirty khakis, had no more awareness of his awesome power for sculpture than his parents had of his operations. He wasn’t working in his own garage, but at the empty one belonging to his aunt, Lena.
Lena was the kind of woman who believed in unsupervised play. She wore feathers braided in her hair and spent the majority of every day measuring, pouring, mashing and mixing fruit smoothies that she believed would cure what she was almost certain was breast cancer. She was puzzling out the last few steps of a cherry-muesli-aniseed recipe while Terry worked on the final additions to his invention.
He didn’t know that his Aunt Lena was a hippie. He didn’t know his parents were old hippies as well, and smoked marijuana during the long afternoons that he was away from home. Terry didn’t understand the language of adults, and when they – his parents, Lena, his teachers – tried to subtly tell him things, he would stare at their nostrils until they got uncomfortable and told him right out what it was they’d meant to say. His parents had recently begun telling him he should get out and play more, and so he did, but not before he’d made the deal with Lena. He would use her garage for whatever he wanted, and in return, he wouldn’t tell his parents that she was regularly being visited by a man she called “the witch doctor”, and who Terry was pretty certain was the alternate teacher he’d had once, in third grade, for math class.
Terry carried an inhaler with him. He had severe asthma, according to his pediatrician, but the inhaler didn’t really help. When ever he felt he was going to asphyxiate, he would take two puffs of it, as instructed, and then he’d sit down and wheeze for a few minutes, leaning his head into the dark space between his curled up knees and his hunched back, until he could breathe again. He hadn’t gotten a severe attack in almost two weeks, and he knew, at the back of his mind, that he was about due for one. He tried to keep his airways open and clear while also not breathing the dust of the garage in too deeply, a feat difficult to accomplish when his mind was so preoccupied by the finishing touches he was making to his bladed and belled machine.
When he was finally finished, he looked at the whole thing from far away, and he figured out immediately that something was missing. All good machines needed a switch, a lever, something to make them go, and Terry’s was sorely lacking one. It had a cardboard bellows, several cereal-box rings tying various parts together in an ingenious fashion, and various compartments that Terry could pull back to see the inner workings and make adjustments. But there was no switch.
Come to think of it, and Terry realized this with a tightness in his chest and throat that told him that the time had come, he wasn’t quite sure what it would all do, even if he did find the right place to start it from. Should it move from right to left or top to bottom or diagonally? He pulled out his inhaler and balled his free hand up to keep his fingers from contorting with the loss of circulation. Would the machine even work? Did it have a purpose? It looked like it must. Terry puffed on the inhaler and pulled his t-shirt away from his neck, which felt swollen and raw. Maybe he could use the machine to breathe. He squeezed on the bellows and made the butter knives tied in front shiver a little, but nothing else happened. Terry felt the tears running down his cheeks with exertion and turned his back on the thing he’d built. He walked towards the door that cut the garage off from the house and opened it.
Inside the house, Lena had turned on the blender, and the sound zoomed into Terry’s ears. He twitched.. He sat down in the doorway and shut his eyes, burying his head in his arms. If he concentrated hard, and pretended with all his might, he could almost convince himself that the blender’s noise was coming from his own machine. Slowly, his breathing steadied.

A Writing Prompt and Response

slightlyignorant:

Alright, ladies and gents and gender-neutral folk, here we go, my first writing prompt.

Take the nearest book and turn to the 34th page. Look at the last full sentence on that page. That is the first sentence of your story. Write between 200-500 words. GO.

Alright. MY TURN. Let it not be said that I don’t respond to my own writing prompts (because that would be sad…)

The nearest book to me is More Pricks Than Kicks, by Samuel Beckett. The last full sentence on page 34 is: “We’ll pass him before we get to the main road.”

 

**

“We’ll pass him before we get to the main road,” you said. We were walking fast, basically jogging since you kept skipping ever third or fourth step and I had to run a bit to catch up. My pulse was so fast that I could feel it in my throat. When I answered you, I was panting.

“And? What’ll we do? Ignore him? Say hi? What?”

“Nothing, that’s the point. He’s an ass.”

“Yeah, but maybe he’s going through something.”

“That doesn’t make it okay.”

“Okay. If you’re sure.”

I wondered what you were hurrying towards, but I didn’t ask. You were all prickly, your porcupine spines were standing up, and I couldn’t get near enough to hug you, to tell you it would be okay, that you were allowed to be hurt.

When we finally saw his shape in front of us, you sped up even more. I caught your wrist and held onto my throat, trying to signal how out of breath I was. You slowed, but your cheeks swelled. You were pissed off. You wanted your prediction to come true, and the main road wasn’t that far ahead.

We didn’t catch up to him. He turned left and we were supposed to turn right. I didn’t even ask if you wanted to follow him. I knew that wasn’t the point. You weren’t going to go out of your way. That would be too much.

I pictured you leaving his bed and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for his phone call. Even though I knew that you’d been calling him nonstop and that it wasn’t in his bed, it was on the grass behind the party house, when you were both wasted. I wanted to tell you that you weren’t being fair, that he was probably embarrassed, maybe as confused as conflicted as you were. Freaked out, now, by how much you were calling. I wanted to tell you so many things, but you were too far away. You’d kept going as quickly as ever, and I was left behind, gasping for air.

Sticks on Stretched Leather

The drums thud in time to her heart. She feels loud some days, her mouth as wide as the sticks she plays with. She runs and runs and runs and is always behind the other girls running to school. She can’t catch up. Her legs don’t let her. The girls don’t know what she does in secret. They don’t know she runs at night too. She runs and runs and runs at night to the valley. Her head thrums with rhythms and she falls asleep in lessons and there are no two ways about it, she won’t be going to school next year. She knows she is wasting her time and her father’s money. Her mother’s care. Her sister’s sacrifice. But the books in tatters at the school and the walls dripping with sweat and Teacher shouting when they forget their lessons – there is no reality to it. There is no tradition.

The rhythms. There is tradition in the rhythms. In the footsteps on the ground and the dances and the songs. She sees the way the women look at the elders. Even the elders who have forgotten how to eat by themselves and who don’t go far enough away from the river to do their business, even they get looked at with respect. Even the smallest elders with the biggest ears that the little children laugh at, even they remember the drumbeats when everything else is gone. It is soul, the rhythm. It is heart. It is mind and body and memory.

Everyone’s history is in that beat. She thrums to the story of them all and practices far from anyone who can hear, and waits until one day she will be able to show them, show them all, that she has learned their family names in the language of sticks on stretched leather.

Prompted: You wake up covered in paint

All you want is some peace and quiet, you know? You’re sitting there, hanging with the terps and the other canvies, and you’re chilling. You’re all a little high, see what I’m saying? Can’t help it, those terps are always high, you catch a contact off them no matter what. Whetheryou like it or not. It’s not a bad life. Sure, some got it better than others. Canvie 98/4 over there, he’s hanging on the wall, just chilling, but every day the skins come in and boy do they worship him. They can’t get enough of him! They’re always talking about what a piece of work he is. Or maybe work of art? I don’t know, man, you can’t expect a canvie to get things straight in this kind of situation. Anyway, point is, I was just minding my own business, you see? Just hanging out, just chilling, and suddenly, I get snatched up from my comfy spot where I was getting to know this new canvie, a real beauty she was too, this really rare oval and tight man, tight like a drum. So I get snatched up just as she’s beginning to warm to me, and I just know that old bastard River Scene At Dawn will go for her because he’s been really nasty ever since he got retired and can’t even enjoy his high anymore, always just talking about the good old days.

So anyway, I get put up right in the light and next thing you know the turps are there with me and damn if I don’t get smothered with them! I mean it’s great for a while, sure, best high I ever had, but you know, it does wear off and eventually I wake up from the drowsy and find I’m covered in paint. All over me, just covered, top to bottom, end to end, and not just that but I find out next thing that they’ve changed my name too! Now I’m not 563/2, I’m bloody Nude On a Bathtub Rim! What kind of name is that, I ask you? Nothing, nothing, not even the wall and the attention, is worth this.