Sunday writing chat prompts for 10 Jan 2021

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    • #7040

      The Sunday Brunch Prompted Writing Chat is an opportunity each week to test your skills at writing under pressure — or to have some fun without the need to be brilliant — or both!

      The prompts are intended as both as a challenge and a starting point, open to creative interpretation. You can use these as an excuse to write anything that comes to mind, whether it’s fiction or creative non-fiction or a mixture of both. You can write a separate piece for each prompt, or try to link them all together in a single story.

      If you join in the chat, you can add “an excuse to complain about unfair prompts” to the entertainment, too. But even if you can’t attend the chat session, feel free to give the prompts a try anyway (and leave your responses, comments, or complaints in this thread if you like).

      This week’s prompts are posted below.

      1. Use the following five words: arrogant, qualification, overwhelm, listen, reflect. (10 min)

      2. Fill in the blank: “_________ is what makes the world go around.” (10 min)

      3. Write about being slightly too late. (10 min)

    • #7041

      “So…” Miranda said, one wintery afternoon on the family vidchat.

      “So?” Susie responded.

      “So the fam, the uh… What did you call it, Sarah?” said Miranda.

      “Hyperextended family?” said Sarah.

      “Yeahthat. It’s getting a little big to squeeze into one room at the holidays,” said Miranda.

      “Growing by bleeps and mounds,” said Lia.

      Everyone, including Susie whose 8 year old mouth had emitted the phrase, laughed together.

      “Thirteen we could do,” said Sarah. “With some ingenuity from Mo and Cris, figuring out how to make the table as big as the room.”

      “So how about, not to overwhelm anybody’s house in particular, doing an outdoor cookout thing, at, say, Jim’s house. Obviously it’d have to be in the summertime,” said Miranda.

      “Obs,” said Susie, who even into middle age retained some younger-generation speech habits. “I’m listening. It’s convenient for us. And there’s at least one parental for each of the child progeny, to serve as sherpa and chaperone.”

      “You’ve asked Jim?” said Lia.

      “That’s the next call. This one’s Sundays at 9, and I call my, uh…”

      Susie just grinned while everybody listened for her to characterize Miranda’s love-life.

      “Them,” Miranda filled in. “On Thursday afternoons after everybody gets home from work. The yard does meet the one qualification of being big enough for a multitude.”

      “Are you still in contact with Becca? Let’s invite her, too,” said Lia.

      “She gives me a lot of really sage advice to reflect on,” said Miranda. “I suppose we could also include Vicky and Susan’s folks; are they on speaking terms, Susie?”

      “Last week after her phone-home-thing, the first thing Zunn did was shriek Arrogant Homphobes,” said Susie.

      “Maybe not, then,” said Sarah.

      “Yeah, maybe not. She could have been talking about some of her sisters, I suppose. I’ll ask,” said Susie.

      “It takes all kinds,” said Lia. “Diversity is what makes the world go round.”

      “I prefer my diverters not to be chasing me around that world,” said Miranda. “Though Sam and I have an understanding.”

      “I understand you…” said Susie. “Uh, never mind, that was going to be cruel.”

      “My baby sister is growing up,” said Miranda. With a grin, she wiped an alligator tear from her eye.

      “Well, right. When Hel and Kair go at it, somebody has to referee,” said Susie.

      “I can’t believe you named your daughter Hell,” said Miranda.

      “On wheels, sometimes,” said Susie. “Helen and Karen decided to drop the second syllables from their names. Not so very unlike what Susan and I did at about that age, dropping the Sue part. We call each other Zunn and Zie, but all y’all haven’t ever started doing that.”

      “Well, back in the day we had a couple of friends in the northern virginia lesbian community both named Louise,” said Lia. “We called them by their last names, or the two together were The Lousies.”

      “I wonder whatever happened to them,” said Sarah.

      “Yeah, me too,” said Lia. “We’re getting to an age where the old e-mail list circulates obituaries way too often.”

      “We’re getting to an age,” sniffed Sarah. “You kids get off my lawn. Including you, Lia.”

      The younger ones watched while Lia startled, glanced to where Sarah’s picture might have been on her screen, to discover that Sarah was grinning. She relaxed.

      “Well, I sent a card last January to Willie, only to find out via a long-delayed answer that her wife had just passed away,” said Lia. “What was her name? Gin? Virginia?”

      “Ginger, I think,” said Sarah. “And I’m sorry to hear it. I guess it’d be weird if I signed up for the list again, having both of us on there, but separately.”

      Lia smiled, tiredly. “It’s okay with me,” she said. “I mean, we can’t live together, and not just because we have jobs eight hours apart by train. But the miracle cordial does make it nice, getting together now and then. Thanks for inventing that.”

      “Thanks for reinventing it,” said Sarah, smiling nostalgically. “Reverse engineering it, I guess.”

      “And concocting it into wine we can share with our friends,” said Susie.

    • #7042

      It wasn’t arrogant for me to be confident in my abilities. I had a freakin master’s degree in child psychology and a bachelor’s in social work. Perhaps my greatest qualification if you want to call it that was personal experience. So, it is with all of that in mind you can understand my irritation as I listen to Sunny, the teenage girl in front of me.

      Whether I reflect on my own reactions or the ones in countless journals, this girl doesn’t exhibit any of the normal markers of an abuse victim. Especially not to the extent of harm she’s claiming. In fact, she’s portraying all of the hallmarks of someone who is lying.

      But that’s not my role. I am not the judge. I am the fact finder.

      If you listen to all of those sappy romance stories, love is what makes the world go around. In my line of work, it’s usually money or manipulative behaviour. As a child protective services case worker, I’ve seen far more of the shady side of life than I expected. Sure, I had a neighbour’s dad threaten to hurt my little sister if I told on him. That was nothing compared to the utter shit people did to kids to get back at a spouse or just take out their frustrations on the object of least resistance a.k.a. their child.

      There was an air of smugness in this girl’s answers which led me to think her agenda had nothing to do with righting a wrong. She reeked of payback.
      Next, I interviewed the Sunny’s mother. Now, that woman was a wreck. After a few questions though, it was hard to gauge what she was upset about. She seemed surprised at the tone of questions regarding Rick, her partner. He wasn’t the girl’s father but he’d been part of their lives since before she was born. Apparently, he’d gone to school with Sunny’s father.

      Rick was nice. Rick took care of them. She couldn’t imagine Rick would ever hurt her daughter. No, she didn’t think Sunny was lying.

      That bothered me, her answer about her daughter lying came just a hesitation too late to be convincing. I knew that I’d have to interview other members of Sunny’s family before I could make any sort of recommendation. I needed to have a better all-round feel for the family dynamics before I would add my professional assessment to my report.

      But, of course, budget and staffing restraints meant that it wasn’t me who interviewed the other family members. I barely had time to duck into the interview rooms was others took notes. By the time I came back to the case, they were recommending charges be laid for Child Interference.

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