Sunday writing chat prompts for 10 Oct 2021

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    • #7661

      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: waterfall, meeting, rescue, sword, occupation. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “It’s mostly fluff.” (10 min)

      3. Write about making predictions. (10 min)

    • #7662

      The morning after was misty. Not raining exactly, but you’d get wet if you went out without your rain gear. Sam stretched in his tent, listened to the drip drip drip of water from the rain fly, unzipped the door a little, turned over and looked out.

      Trees, fog, the fire circle all burned down. At least the tent was dry inside. It was a skill his dad had insisted he learn, and Sam had thanked him silently many times before. He did so again.

      Sam’s dad had struck camp and hiked out in the dark the night before, not trusting himself to be civil after Sam came out to him. It hadn’t gone well, but Sam was grateful his dad wanted to be more than the proverbial sword-length away from him, so they couldn’t inadvertently harm each other.

      “Is advertent a word?” Sam asked himself aloud. “Sounds like some abstract business marketing theory of advertising.” But the wildlife and the brightly colored fungi didn’t answer.

      Sam pulled his boots on, and went out to light the fire. Coffee first, then a little breakfast, and maybe by then the mist would lift and he could at least take a little less water home with him.

      It was mid-morning by the time he was ready to go, and in fact the sun peeked out bashfully. He pulled the tent stakes, folded up the poles and stowed them, and rolled up the tent, all under the rain fly. Then he bounced the still-stretched waterproofed fabric to clear any standing drops, and struck that, too. He folded it wet side in, rolled it up, and stowed it in his pack.

      Coffee. A couple eggs. Wash the pan in the stream, and use it to bring back water. Douse the fire, hoist the pack. He didn’t have any meetings for a couple days, so he could work the kink out of his back and sleep in Jim’s bed before hobbling back into the office.

      The trail wound its way along a creek. The thing about the Blue Ridge is that the Parkway was at the summit of the ridge, so it was downhill hiking in, and uphill going home. A lot of day hikers pooped out halfway out. But Sam was pretty well rested. Somehow it hardly mattered how closely you inspect the camp site, there’ll be a large rock or a tree root outcropping just in the small of your back by three in the morning. He could hear the waterfall he’d seen coming in. It wasn’t that much; maybe six feet wide and about twice that tall. The trail did a very pretty duck in behind the fall.

      As he approached, he could see lots of chaotic boot prints in the mud. Most campers and rangers were careful about leaving debris behind, but a close look around showed bits of paper wrappings from medical supplies. Somebody had been rescued here, probably last night. Sam had been interested in volunteering with the backcountry rescue squad, but the camaraderie didn’t sit well with him.

      When Jim had… What did Jim do for Sam, exactly? Listened, for one thing. Pointed out that being gay isn’t horrible. You can’t help who you’re attracted to. Taken him home, taken him in.

      After that, he realized that the Squad was including a big dollop of homophobia in their machismo, so he dropped out. There didn’t seem to be any need for such fluff, mixing poison puffball mushrooms into an otherwise wholesome and useful dish. But he’d had enough of the training to know the drill.

      Sam hiked the rest of the way up to the road, then first one way and then the other when he figured out the parking area was behind him. He put his pack in the trunk after extracting the rain fly and unrolling it. He changed his shoes and knocked as much mud off his boots as he could. He had a plastic milk crate in the trunk for just this situation.

      Sam passed the time, driving back to the greater Washington area, speculating about what his dad would do, now that he knew. Dad had always been pretty strongly anti-gay. He thought up reasons for it that he couldn’t really articulate very well. But his strong point was working with his hands, doing amazing things with wood at home, and metal on the job. Sam wondered if…

      Well. It didn’t really matter now. He was Persona Non Grata around the old household, he was sure. So it didn’t make any practical difference if Dad was secretly gay or not. He might (or might not) one day be able to talk to his mother about it.

      Meanwhile, that education they had insisted he get in business administration was starting to bear fruit. It was about time his consultancy paid for itself, and he could quit his job waiting tables, for good. It was nice to have something to tide you over while the transition is still in progress.

      At some point, Sam thought, he would have to come to terms with his own past, what his dad’s opinions had done to him. Maybe Jim or his folks could recommend a decent therapist. Jim seemed willing to listen to anything, but Sam had no idea where that badger den’s exit was. The entrance dominated his present-day dreads.

    • #7663

      I was nervous.

      I wasn’t usually the nervous type, so it caught me off guard. I was a police detective for Pete’s sake, tagging along with Chris for moral support when he meets his new-to-him sister and father for the first time shouldn’t be an issue. If nothing else, my occupation should make me unshakeable.

      Yet, the first time he showed me her picture, I was mesmerized. Then, yesterday at the station, she called just as I was beside Chris’s desk. The younger guy put her on speakerphone, so he didn’t have to repeat the conversation.

      Her voice gave me chills. It was so familiar, even though I’d never heard of this woman until three weeks ago.

      Chris rescued me from my reverie. “Is it weird that I’m calm about meeting Laci and my dad?”

      “Not really. You’ve been talking to them both for a week. The hard conversations are over.”

      “Should I have brought Mom?” he asked for the thousandth time.

      “You haven’t told her you found them yet.” I reminded him. “I think this weekend should just be about you getting to know them.”

      “I know it feels wrong to keep her in the dark about this. But you wanted to make sure his story was the same as the one she believed. You didn’t want her to be hurt if he hadn’t been honest back then.”

      “Laci says he’s a stand-up guy.” Chris said as if repeating it would guarantee its truthfulness.

      “Well, newfound family ties worked out fine for Cameron, Becca, and Abby. I’m sure you’ll have the same good fortune.” I chuckled. “Without the extra drama they had.”

      “True.” Chris laughed. “I’m glad they could figure it out.”

      “Speaking of which, how are you and Abby doing? I’m sort of surprised you asked me to tag along for this instead of her.”

      “It’s still new. I don’t want to say it’s still mostly fluff, but we’ve only been on a few dates. We aren’t solid enough yet for this. I needed someone who knows me well enough to pull me back if things go south.”

      I nodded. “That’s true. No one can predict the future. I expect meeting your sister will be comfortable, but your dad is an unknown. He could either be like rainbows over waterfalls or clashing swords.”

      “Laci said he was heartbroken when she told him he’d had another child. Not that he had one, but that he’d missed out on watching me grow up. She said he felt awful at leaving Mom without support even though there was no way for them to get in touch with each other again.”

      “Well, Laci has known him all of her life, long before she knew he was her biological father. She’d be an excellent judge of his reaction.” I pointed to the Saint John city limits sign. “We’re about to find out for sure.”

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