Sunday writing chat prompts for 11 July 2021

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    • #7464

      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: case, version, leave, tourist, precedent. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “where did that come from?” (10 min)

      3. Write about correcting someone. (10 min)

    • #7465

      It was a remarkable transition, after a couple weeks of worrying about the anomaly, to have everything working more or less as designed again. Though of course Jun had the additional task of incorporating the lessons learned into the written documentation. And setting up a working group with Barb from Flight Dynamics and George from Attitudes, so that if they had to improvise as they’d done in the case of this anomaly, they’d know the other stakeholders pretty well. And, just maybe, have a better understanding of the issues from other points of view.

      Jun had a serious tourist’s level of interest in the attitude determination, figuring out which way the spacecraft was pointed, and how to keep it there. The Prop system was used mostly for unloading the momentum wheels when needed, so it pertained to her job, but at a couple steps removed. Just keep the thrusters ready to go whenever was a good way of summarizing. But having at least some idea of the meaning of the numbers those folks across the room were monitoring, that could be useful.

      And now she had a precedent, in her own experience, right here on her first trip out. So in her spare moments, of which there were really rather a lot, now that she had figured out how to accomplish the mundane parts of her work in just a few minutes if needed, she got out the old version of the restart procedure, the red-lined one they’d planned to run, and the actual as-run document, with her own annotations on it. Oh, and the detour to set up the engine for different reaction gases.

      Shuffle, merge, cut, deal. And do something about the dreadful way a not all that much younger Jun had thought would be a good way to write it all down. And leave it in better shape than she’d found it.

      Some of that was trying to put herself in the position of being sleep deprived and confused about what was going on, writing out careful instructions for what to check, on which computer screen to look for it, and hey, maybe putting together a new screen that had exactly what needed checking at a given pause in the action, in the order listed in the procedure she hadn’t revised yet.

      Jun waited for a yawn, but when it came at last she subconsciously reached for a bulb of coffee that was next to her elbow and took a hit.

      Which of course defeated the purpose of that part of the evening, which was to simulate the feeling of having attended meetings held deep in her sleep cycle in order to figure out what they’d be wanting her to do during her shift.

      “Wait,” she said aloud. “Where did that come from?”

      Gin popped up to look over the partition, saw Jun puzzling at the coffee bulb in her hand, and said, “The caffeine fairy, of course. You’re welcome.”

      “Um, thanks,” said Jun, remembering her manners. Sometimes the social niceties and old habits get in the way of the optimal way of going about some task or other.

      She decided to start by writing a new document, just notes at first, about stuff she’d learned or found surprising about the situation as she remembered it. She worked through the logs, Jon’s jotted notes from the initial trouble-shooting meetings, figuring out what had happened and what could be done about it.

      Because multi-tasking is always a thing, she also consulted the training documents for Attitudes and Flight Dynamics, and found lots of theory that was way too detailed, and at the same time too abstract, for what she needed, which was largely parsing the jargon of other people’s workspaces.

      Maybe that first meeting of the new working group could be trading reading material to get the other people up to speed. It turned out to be a ten-minute standup at 23:00 hours when all three of the swing shift members turned up at once to wait for the same bathroom facility.

      “So it’s just point and shoot,” said Jun, with a grin.

      “Just point, she says,” complained George. He was the Attitudes guy.

      “At what, exactly?” said Barb. “You don’t want to point at Mars where it is now, and you also don’t quite want to point at where it’s going to be when we get there, though that’s a better approximation.”

      “And I’m going to get lost during the next sentence,” said Jun.

      “Not as lost as we’d be if we get this wrong,” said George.

      “True,” said Barb. She was the FIDO, which had been the contraction for Flight Dynamics Officer since at least Apollo days.

      “And I stand corrected,” said Jun. “I’m not lost yet, despite my prediction.”

      The others were laughing when it was Jun’s turn for the bathroom.

    • #7466

      “Are you mad at Mom for keeping me a secret from you?” Aaron asked as we drove toward the Hilton.

      “In spurts.” I answered him honestly. He’s eighteen. He didn’t need another parent coddling him. “I missed so much.

      Milestones. Birthdays. That kind of stuff.”

      I gently banged my head against the headrest. “I think I’m more disappointed than mad. And I can’t let her shoulder the blame for not telling me she was pregnant. I think she was going to, but Amanda tried to set the stage and I rejected the idea of settling down. I was about to leave, and there wasn’t a version of my life that included a wife and family. At least not then.”

      “Which set the precedent for every time she saw you after that.” My son told me. “I overheard Mom and Amanda talking one night before Mom had meetings in Toronto. Amanda was trying to talk her into telling you.” His fingers drummed on the wheel. “Amanda was certain that you weren’t the same guy she’d known. That both of you had grown up and become more mature versions of yourselves.”

      “What did your mom say to that?”

      “She said I deserved to have a real father, not some guy who didn’t want to me more than a tourist in his son’s life.”

      We passed the old Harbour Station Arena, I’d never get used to its new name, and were almost to the hotel. “That wouldn’t have been the case at all. I grew up without a father. I would never have done that to my child. She should have known that. Hell, I spent a lifetime looking for my brother, for my family.”

      “I don’t know where that came from except a place of fear. I wondered if she worried you’d try to take me from her.”

      “Yet you tried to find me, anyway?”

      “I’m eighteen. It’s not like you could take me against my will. Everything Mom said about you made me want to meet you and get to know you.” He stopped the SUV at the front doors. “I think Mom convinced herself you wouldn’t want me and kept us a part to protect me and keep her heart safe as well. She rarely dated when I was growing up. I think she still loved you and was just as afraid you’d reject her again.”

      “I won’t do that.” I promised. “I’m disappointed that I missed being part of your life and horrified that I gave your mother the impression I wouldn’t be there for either of you. If I do nothing else on this trip, I will correct her opinion of me and make sure we have a solid plan for how I’m going to be in your life from here on.” I put my hand on his shoulder. “I couldn’t be prouder to have you for a son.”

      My head was spinning as I walked through the lobby. This time it wasn’t about my son. “She still loved you.” the phrase Aaron spoke repeated over and over. Sharon loved me? Does she still feel the same way?

      Do I want her to?

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