#JustWrite writing prompt: October

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This week at school I gave my writers’ club students the following prompt:

There was knock at the door . . .

An oldie, but a goodie. Their eyes lit up and they had five minutes to come up with the opening of a new story. This is what the four of them individually came up with: a dead body, a shadowy figure, an alien space ship and an unknown being.

Yep. I did ask them if they enjoyed watching scary shows.

So, this month the prompt for you is the same. I tried to do something that wasn’t on the thriller scale, but I must admit it was my first reaction. Who doesn’t automatically think of something freaky happening on the other side of the door?

Remember, don’t think too hard about it. Just start writing and don’t edit. It’s all about getting some words out. Put your piece in the comments, I’d love to see what others come up with. Up to 600 words this month. Have fun!

~~~~~

There was a knock at the door.

‘Hang on a sec,’ she called out. She gave the simmering pot of tomatoes, garlic and basil a mix with the wooden spoon. The aroma teased her senses. Her heart stated to beat faster.

She wiped her hands on her apron and strode to the front door. She knows who is on the other side; a phone call had informed her of this earlier in the morning.

She stood at the closed door. Eyed the knob and willed it to open itself. I don’t know if I can do this. She startled when there was another loud knock.

She silently counted to five. Reached for the doorknob and took a deep breath at the same time.

A familiar face looked at her in anticipation. Another behind him, but this person was nervous and unsure. She stared in amazement at this second person.

‘Hello, June.’ The man grinned widely.

‘Good afternoon, Tom.’ She said without looking at him. She straightened her back. ‘Would you both like to come in?’

June stood aside and welcomed them in with a sweep of her arm.

Tom gave her a wink as he passed. The young woman, however, was rooted to the spot. Tears had formed in her eyes. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but closed it again.

Tears also welled in June’s eyes as she watched her. ‘Belinda?’

The other woman nodded.

‘I’d very much like to talk to you.’ June’s voice catches. She cleared her throat. ‘Please come in. I’ll put the kettle on.’ She walked back to the kitchen. Please come in.

June was grateful to hear the door close gently behind her, as she gave the tomato sauce another stir.

‘Mum?’ The voice wobbled.

She turned and gave the young lady a hesitant smile. ‘I believe so.’ June wiped her eyes. ‘You certainly look like me when I was younger.’

Belinda sobbed, ‘I’ve been looking for you for nearly ten years now. Ever since I turned eighteen.’

‘And I have looked for you for even longer. I didn’t want to give you up. My father gave me no choice. But he died not long after you were born and I’ve been searching ever since. Tom—,’ she gestured to him as he sat at the table between them, ‘is a magic detective. Wouldn’t give up after I asked him nine months ago to look for you.’

Belinda took a step forward. ‘We left the country. My parents took me to Canada and we lived there for fifteen years. They only told me when we got back . . .’

Tom stood. Glanced at Belinda. ‘I’ll leave you both to it.’ He took the few steps to June. ‘Are you good?’

She nodded.

He embraced her in a tight hug. ‘Hey, June?’ he whispered.

She looked to her godson who had almost been a surrogate son to her. ‘What?’ she whispered back.

‘I think she wants a hug.’ He gave her a final squeeze and left.

The two women stared at each other for a brief moment. It’s her. It’s definitely her. June walked quickly to her daughter and held Belinda’s face with her wrinkled hands. I’m not losing her again. Belinda crumpled into her mother’s arms.

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August #JustWrite prompt: superstition

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It would appear the days and weeks and months of this year are ticking by at an alarming rate of speed. We are in August already people! And by writing that, I’ve also realised that yesterday was the first Wednesday of the month and I did not do a #JustWrite post. Jeez Louise. There goes my idea for this post; a change of plans is necessary – I will put up my last piece from my writers group monthly exercise. I’ve edited it using the members comments.

If you would like to play along this month and write something, use the word ‘superstition’ as the prompt (the set exercise was different, but this works just as well):

superstition 

noun [ mass noun ] excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural: he dismissed the ghost stories as mere superstition

count noun ] a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief: she touched her locket for luck, a superstition she’d had since childhood

Here is my piece, feel free to comment, or have a go yourself and put your take on the prompt in the comments section.

He walked through the golden paddocks, sunshine warming his face, and breathed in the smell of crops only farmers appreciate. Although a familiar scent, he didn’t belong here. It was a mistake.

He’d been watching his family, every second of every day, and they needed him now. But he wasn’t tired. He didn’t need to sleep. Not here.

The field came to an end. He stood before it, mesmerised by the kaleidoscope of patterns across the opening of a shimmering black hole. He turned in a slow, deliberate manner and looked at those who followed him – their eyes low, taciturn, and wishing he would change his mind. In the previous months, they whispered in his ear, ancient lore passed down to each new arrival. And when they knew he wasn’t listening – when the man became too concerned for his family – the warnings continued, but now they yelled in his face, reminding him of the superstitions beyond the black threshold. And yet he would not listen. Nobody had ever ventured through; age-old advice ensured they remained apprehensive. What would happen to him? No one had this knowledge.

Those who knew him from before came forward. A quick hug or a handshake. A hard shake of the head before a small nod of grim acceptance. He looked into the eyes of his mother, the last person in line. “Please don’t go.” The old lady’s voice broke as she shuffled forward.

“I have to,” was his simple reply. He turned and without further pause, stepped through the shimmering hole, vaguely aware of his body feeling like it was being pricked by thousands of pins, and yet it was pain-free. And then, he felt himself swooning as a bright light assaulted his eyes, before he collapsed.

~~~~~

When he woke, he looked around in confusion. His expectations were minimal when he left; this was absurd though. He rose to his feet and teetered, grasping at his head as what felt like a sharp knife pierced through his temple. His eyes blurred, so he closed them and put his hands out to balance himself, save falling over.

Once the sensation passed, he opened his eyes again and watched as a sedan drove towards him, dust billowing behind. As it got closer, he recognized the blue and red lights of a police car and had the presence of mind to cover himself with his hands.

The sirens whooped once, twice, and then the vehicle came to a stop. The policeman stepped out of the car. “Sir, may I ask what you are doing out here naked?”

He went to speak, and found words wouldn’t form. What he wanted to say was, “My name is Allan. I need to see my family. Betty and Bruce and Stephen. Can you find them for me?” Instead, all he could manage was grunts and groans. The policeman watched him warily, before coming forward with one hand on his gun and the other out in front of him.

“Sir, I’d like you to come with me to the station. Is that okay?”

He stumbled over to the car and grasped at the blanket the officer offered him. Once they left, it only took minutes and he was asleep, lulled by motion of travel. He became aware they were at their destination when he felt a gentle shaking of his shoulder. He was led inside the police station and deposited in an interview room. A feeling of anxiousness started to rise; his heart beat faster and faster, and sweat started to sheen upon his forehead.

It was only later, when the officers deduced he could comprehend what they were saying – he simply couldn’t respond via words – they asked him to write down his name and what he could remember prior to waking up naked on the dirt road. They took his details and left him alone with a cup of coffee – he savoured the hot drink as the delectable flavour aroused his long-forgotten taste buds. Numerous times, the officers came back in and looked from him, to a piece of paper they held in their hands, and back again. They would shake their heads, and one in particular, would sign herself with the cross. He was kept waiting and told his family would be at the station in a short time.

His eyesight was still keen, and he spotted his wife before she did him. He stood in an instant and the chair fell over. When she looked over to the noise, a look of horror passed over her face, before she screamed and fainted. The man recalls seeing his reflection in a window earlier, and understands she is viewing a man who looks as he did when she buried him seventeen years earlier. He’d probably faint too.

July’s #JustWrite prompt: soporific

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This month’s prompt has been motivated by one of the latest So You Want To Be A Writer podcast (episode 114) by Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait. It was Valerie’s word of the week, and seemed a good one to have a go at for this #JustWrite exercise.

It is… *drum roll*… soporific and means:

adjective: tending to induce drowsiness or sleep: the motion of the train had a somewhat soporific effect • sleepy or drowsy: some medicine made her soporific • tediously boring or monotonous: a libel trial is in large parts intensely soporific

noun: a drug or other substance that induces drowsiness or sleep

So, have a go at writing up to 500 words with soporific as your prompt. Don’t think about it too much, just write and see what comes out. Put your piece in the comments, and feel free to comment on mine. Here’s my take on it…

 

She sat in the uncomfortable seat, her sweaty legs sticking to the plastic. Glancing at her takeaway coffee cup, she sighed, knowing that it no longer contained her precious caffeinated drop to get her through the next half an hour.

“Following on from point A, we can see that the corresponding factors of…” Her eyes glazed over as Professor Darwin droned on in his monotonous voice. He stood in one spot and had barely moved from there since he started speaking thirty minutes ago. He occasionally moved his arms, but then he seemed to remember that that was getting a bit more excitable than need be for a class on epic narratives from Ancient Egypt, and would quickly drop them back to his sides.

Robin leaned forward, elbows on knees, chin on her clasped hands. She felt herself relaxing, and figured if she had to listen to Darwin’s dreary voice for a while longer, she best not get too comfortable. She sat up straight again, crossed her legs and started to doodle in her book.

“Whatcha drawing?” Ben said.

She looked over at her neighbour and replied, “Anything to keep me awake.” He snorted quietly and shook his head. “This guy is a bloody joke. Do they want us all to fail?”

A small murmur of agreement came from the back of her throat, but it was all she could manage. She felt her eyelids gently closing, and she figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick five minutes. Besides, Ben could wake her, and they were at the back of the lecture theatre. Her head dropped and her shoulders relaxed, the pen fell from her fingers.

~~~~~

      She opened her eyes and it took a moment for her to realise where she was. On the ground, wedged between her seat and the row in front of her. Oh, the shame! she thought. Her face became hot and she could tell it would be the same shade of red as the strawberries on her notepad that was beside her. As she managed to get to her feet, the Professor was suddenly next to her. “I apologise that this lecture is so uninspiring to you, Miss Rogers,” he said in his voice no different to the one he used for his lecture.

I just cannot deal with this today. “Soporific, Prof. Sop-or-if-ic. I suggest you look it up.” She picked up her things, shoved them into her bag and stumbled out of the room and towards the coffee cart in the hallway, to a slight rumble of hand claps behind her.

Don’t forget to have a go yourself. Happy writing!

June’s #JustWrite prompt: despair

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So not only did the first Wednesday of June fly by me (I blame the fact that it was also the 1st that day, it was unexpected!), but the second Wednesday of June also escaped me. Argh! Anyhoo… the writing prompt for June is the word despair:

noun [ mass noun ] the complete loss or absence of hope: a voice full of self-hatred and despair ~ in despair, I hit the bottle.

verb [ no obj. ] lose or be without hope: we should not despair ~ she despaired of finding a good restaurant nearby.

Free-write up to 500 words using ‘despair’ as a prompt. Put yours in the comments and also feel free to comment on my piece.

~~~~~

He grabbed the bottle filled with amber liquid and twisted the top off, then threw the lid in the bin; it wouldn’t be needed again tonight. He heard with great pleasure the glug-glug-glug as the first of the rum was poured into the glass, flowing over the ice. Now to decide: to add coke or not? He voted against – why ruin the taste?

He took a swig before listening to the tinkering of the ice as he swirled it around. It wasn’t long and his glass was empty – he poured some more rum, added some more ice, took a swig, swirled. By the time the bottle was part empty, he was muttering to himself and staring listlessly at the wall.

“You need to stop Jase, it’s getting beyond control.”

He spun his head around, trying to locate the person who spoke. Where the fuck are they?

“I can’t keep doing this. Coming home to find you passed out on the couch or out in the shed or god help me, like last week, out the front on the grass for the whole world to see.”

He stood up quickly, the chair falling backwards and hitting the tiles with a thump. “Come out and show ya face, you fuckin’ cow! Don’t hide!” he screamed.

“I’m taking the kids. We’re going to my parents. I don’t want them to be around their father when he can’t have a single drink without it turning into twenty.”

He strode up the hallway, bumping into the wall as he went. He turned slightly and punched a hole through the fibro. “Look what you made me do Julie!” he yelled as he regarded the blood on his knuckles. Fancy that, doesn’t even hurt. He looked in each bedroom, but he couldn’t find his wife. He kicked a tall-standing vase in the lounge room –small pieces smashed across the floor and fake flowers were sent sprawling.

“What’s happened to you? You always said you wouldn’t become your father.” There was a loss of hope in her voice.

You happened! Always fuckin’ nagging me. Can you do this Jason; can you do that Jason? Fuck mine, leave a man alone for once!” He stumbled to the bathroom and swung the door open hard enough for it to slam into the wall. He stood there breathing hard, and looked at the closed shower curtain. He strode forward, intending to rip it open and find his pathetic wife cowering from him. But as he took a step, he slipped on the wet tiles and fell backward, his head thumped on the ground.

It was three days before Julie had the phone call at her parent’s house. The police informed her that his employer had found Jason crumpled on the ground, dead from a head injury. The tiles were long dry; they had no idea why he fell.

Julie didn’t have the energy to cry. She simply thought it rather ironic that Jason would die exactly as his father did.

~~~~~

Don’t forget, have a go yourself! Happy writing 🙂

May’s #JustWrite prompt: bluff

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Bluff blʌf |

noun: an attempt to deceive someone into believing that one can or is going to do something: the offer was denounced as a bluff | [ mass noun ] :  his game of bluff.

verb [ no obj. ]: try to deceive someone as to one’s abilities or intentions: he’s been bluffing all along | they bluffed their way past the sentries | [ with obj. ] :  the object is to bluff your opponent into submission.• (bluff it outsurvive a difficult situation by maintaining a pretence. there’s no point in trying to bluff it out.

—–

As always, use the word prompt any way you see fit and free-write up to 800 words (I got slightly carried away this time, mine is 870) and post it in the comments. Don’t stress about editing, this is more about getting something down on paper – or onto the keyboard – to get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to comment on my piece, and I’ll do the same for yours. Happy writing!

‘Strawberry Blush’ was written in the same shade described as the stick inside, in italics against a silver background. She fingered the cylindrical tube, twisted the top open to crack the seal and ran the lipstick over her lips.

She slipped it into the inside pocket of her handbag before grabbing her basket and continuing to the checkout. “Hi,” said the bored girl abruptly. Jill placed her shampoo and soap on the counter and decided it wasn’t worth answering the surly teenager.

Her items were scanned and dumped unceremoniously into a plastic bag before she was told, “Thirteen dollars and ten, thanks,” in a tone that clearly stated she had no desire to be there.

Jill paid via PayWave and walked purposely out of the discount chemist, quickly turning to wave her plastic bag at the girl behind the counter when the alarm beeped going through the security gate. She shook her hand at Jill in the universal ‘go on, go on’ gesture and Jill kept her small grin in check as she turned around again, clutching her bag closer to her side. It will be a nice lippy for my selection at home, she decided. Her heels click-clacked on the tiles as she made her way to her BMW in the car park.

 ~~~~~

Jill slipped off her Jimmy Choo’s and arched her back into an enjoyable stretch. She made her way into the bedroom, and opened a drawer on her dressing table. She placed her new lipstick amongst the thirty-odd others that were in there, before sliding it shut. I’ll go to the place on Demille Street tomorrow, I haven’t been there yet, she thought.

 ~~~~~

The alarm sounded and she made a slight turn around, holding up the plastic bag with the purchased items inside, as if to say, I’ve paid, see? She made to keep walking, but was flagged down by a woman standing to the side that she hadn’t noticed.

“Hi ma’am, I just need to check your bag please.”

Jill was floored. Normally her self-assured nature kept them at bay.

“Sure,” and she handed her the shopping bag.

“No ma’am, your handbag thanks.”

Jill’s chest constricted. She opened her oversized Guess bag, but tried to block what the other woman could see by keeping her arm over the opening.

“I’ll need you to open it a bit more, ma’am.”

She sighed, hoping the woman would take it as a sign of impatience. Get yourself out of this mess, Jillian Woods. “Look, I really am pressed for time. Do I look like I need to steal anything?” She waved a hand down her outfit that clearly screamed ‘Money.’

“It takes all sorts, you’d never believe it.” The woman glanced into the handbag, eyes sweeping over the lipstick with its top cracked open. Obviously an old one, she thought to herself. “That’s fine, thank you.”

Jill zipped her bag shut, a wave of euphoria sweeping over her and said, “No worries. I’m sure there are teenagers that don’t mind nicking a lipstick or two, I’m guessing?” She click-clacked her way out of the store.

 ~~~~~

She pulled into the drive, studying the car parked on the edge of her manicured lawn. The BMW beeped as it locked and she marched over, “Excuse me, but would you mind removing your car from my grass. It will leave marks!”

“Jillian Woods? I’m Senior-Constable Gowrie, this is Constable Smith; we need to have a word with you. We’ll move the car after.”

Jill feels the heat rise in her neck as she leads them inside, away from the prying eyes of nosy neighbours. “What is this about? Is everything okay with Dennis? His flight isn’t due back until tonight.”

“Jillian, this isn’t about your husband. Do you recognise these?” Constable Smith asks as he slides some photographs across the table to her.

She studies the numerous screen-shots that are obviously from security footage. They all show her in the cosmetics aisle of different stores. Looking, pocketing, pilfering. “Jillian, is this you?”

Fuck it, she thinks, Dennis’s lawyer will get me off. “Yes it is.”

“Mrs Woods… why? Your husband is CEO of TruBank, surely there’s no need for you to steal lipsticks?”

Jill sneers at him. “Constable Smith. I am a middle-aged woman with no children and a husband who is more interested in eighteen-year-old blondes than his own wife. He won’t care, and I don’t care. I’ll get a slap on the wrist and a fine, that both you and I know I can afford.”

He stares incredulously at her, unsure what to say next.

Senior-Constable Gowrie moves forward. “Fair enough. How about these photos? Do you recognise them?” He slides some new pictures across the table.

This time she finds it hard to breathe.

“Is that you purchasing ice and cocaine from Jimmy Snell?”

She looks up at the young police officer who is now smirking at her. The older one however, has a look of contempt, which is not at all hidden on his face. She wonders how fast his reactions would be if she managed to grab the handgun hidden at the bottom of her handbag. It’s worth a try. It’d certainly change their uptight attitudes.

—–

Don’t forget to have a go yourself with this #JustWrite prompt and then place your piece in the comments.

April’s #JustWrite prompt

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#JustWrite prompt for April is (drum roll…)

 

forget fəˈgɛt 

verb (forgetsforgettingforgotpast participle forgotten or chiefly US forgotwith obj. ] 

fail to remember: he had forgotten his lines | [ with clause ] :  she had completely forgotten how hungry she was.

• inadvertently neglect to do or mention something: [ with infinitive ] :  she forgot to lock her door.

• deliberately cease to think of: forget all this romantic stuff | [ no obj. ] :  for years she had struggled to forget about him.

• (forget itinformal said when insisting to someone that there is no need for apology or thanks. ‘I’m sorry …’ she began. ‘Forget it’.

• (forget oneselfneglect to behave in an appropriate way. ‘I’m sorry, Cassie. I forget myself’.

Go your hardest and free write a maximum of 500 words and put it in the comments. Comments are encouraged for all posts. 

~~~~~

Nell closed the album gently and sat for a quiet moment before she stood. She made her way into the bathroom and stared at her gloomy reflection in the mirror. Her cheeks were stained with tears and her eyes red-rimmed. Damn it, she thought, why do I always have to react like that? Bloody well get over it already Nell.

Water starts to well again in her already-sore eyes, so she strips her clothes, leaving them in a pile on the ground. Something she never ever does. By the time the water runs from hot to cold in the shower, she has exhausted herself of all her tears and reached a calmer head space.

The invitation had not been expected. How in the hell did they get her address? She thought that she had been completely out of the loop. It’s not like she had kept in contact with anyone over the years. She thought she had been forgotten.

“Petronella is a fella!”, “P starts for pussy, penis and Petronella!”, “P..P..P..P..Petronellaaaa!”

The schoolyard taunts haunted her. She had hated her parents for years, for naming her after her great-grandmother. While she had eventually grown to be proud of her inherited name, she tended to call herself Nell when in public.

And now, a school reunion. She had missed the first reunion – no invitation received then – but it was now another ten years on and they had found her. It came from the Burwood State School Reunion Committee of ’96.

Twelve years of only the odd friend here and there, before they too became embarrassed from the endless teasing that eventually became poked at them as well. Twelve years of being the last picked for any sports team. Twelve years of her chair being constantly kicked from behind in class. But she had persevered, and in the end, she had been Dux of Grade 12. The upside of having nothing to do except study.

This time when she stares herself down through the foggy glass, her face is fresher, less puffy.  She stalks naked, back through the house to the invitation on the kitchen table, grasping at a pair of scissors along the way. She takes glee in cutting it into the smallest pieces possible, before sweeping them with one arm into the bin.

As she calmly walks back to the bedroom to get dressed, she stops and looks at the photographs filling her walls. Her wedding day. Her two happy, healthy children. And her many, many friends. She may have lucked out while at school, but she sure has hit the jackpot since.

~~~~~

How would you interpret the prompt, ‘forget’?

Have a go, and put your piece in the comments. 

 

Just Write: frustration

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So. Since updating this site, I may have forgotten that I was going to do a #JustWrite post on the first Wednesday of each month. But guess what? I have remembered today – bonus. This month’s word prompt is ‘frustration’ because that is what I am feeling this week. So I am going to try and write the frustration right out of myself… Have a go yourself – up to 500 words, use the prompt as you see fit, and comment if you please!

~~~~~

frustration |frʌˈstreɪʃnnoun [ mass noun ] the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something: tears of frustration rolled down her cheeks.• count noun ] an event or circumstance that causes one to feel frustrated: the inherent frustrations of assembly line work.the prevention of the progress, success, or fulfilment of something: the frustration of their wishes.

~~~~~

She unpacked the dishwasher, and started the re-stacking process. The kids were yelling at each other in the shower; something about one wanting the blue washer, not the stupid yellow washer. Then there was crying and the shower door slammed and one kid streaked past on the way to the bedroom, leaving wet footprints across the carpet.

“Dinner’s nearly ready, come and set the table please,” she called out over the top of the argument about who was turning the shower taps off.

They traipsed into the kitchen, one by one, asking as they arrived, “What’s for dinner, Mum?”

“What are we having tonight?”

“What eating, Mum?”

“Sausages and vegetables,” she replied, bracing herself for the incoming torrent of differences of opinion.

“But, I don’t like sausages!” said one, and so she added to the menu, “What if we have pepper gravy, too?” to which there was a conflicting response of “Yeah, yum!” and “But I don’t like pepper gravy!” to which she then had to remind them that you don’t have to have pepper gravy if you don’t want it. Have some bloody barbecue sauce instead. Of course she didn’t swear, but she said it in her head. Absolutely.

The next hour was interspersed with whining about brushing teeth and getting lunch boxes and water bottles out of bags so that they could be repacked for school. There was a small period of quiet as Home and Away sapped out their brains, before they were shipped off to bed to read a book.

When the mum finally collapsed into bed later that night, after putting on a load of washing, finished packing the dishwasher and starting it again, cleaned the kitchen, found clothes for the next day, threatened the kids sixteen times to “just go to bed and stay in bed!”, she thought to herself… “Why don’t parents ever get a Star of the Week award? For washing and cleaning? For taking the kids to dance and footy and tennis and guitar lessons? For cooking and keeping their bellies full? For breaking up the continuous fights?”

And then she remembered, the quiet appreciation of her daughter as she was saying good night to her, “Today was the best day ever. Thank you for letting me do dance, Mum.”

And the excitement after footy training: “Did you see me tackling, Mum? And catching the footy when it was high in the air?”

And the game of hide and seek with the smallest child, when she had laid in the bath giggling at her daughter who could hear her name being called as a hint for the right direction to go in, but still couldn’t see her Mum in the bottom of the tub, so she was knocking on the wall saying, “Hello Mum, are you in there?” thinking she was inside the walls.

That’s probably close enough for a Star of the Week award. Even if frustration does play a major part in the course of every day.

This is how I feel some days... image credit

This is how I feel some days… image credit