Sunday writing chat prompts for 12 Sept 2021

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    • #7595

      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: girl, advance, corner, register, uncle. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “That’s ten times in the last week.” (10 min)

      3. Write about dim memories of a similar situation. (10 min)

    • #7596

      Sam was excited. Jim’s folks had been having cookouts since they were kids, and now it was the younger generation’s turn. Jim’s back yard was spacious, the grill was practically new, and he’d even found a chimney thing that made lighting charcoal no big deal. The older gas grill was still around as well, so if they wanted they could have politically correct scorched vegetables over charcoal, which would be almost carbon neutral, and also seared animal carcasses over fossil gas for the old school carnivores.

      Becca and Stephan came a little early to help set things up. There was a little good-natured tussling back and forth over who got to run the grill, but Jim and his dad settled on one grill apiece, with Stephan charring the meat.

      Jim had found Vicky someplace, and she brought over her latest girlfriend. “Helen, Jim, Sam,” she said, pointing at the guys.

      “Jim, Sam,” said Helen. “If I repeat the names maybe they’ll register, and I’ll remember for more than two minutes.”

      The doorbell rang. Jim had rigged it so that at the flip of a switch it would trigger a tone on the patio as well. He walked around the outside of the house, and returned with an older woman, who Sam thought fit the stereotype of a librarian.

      Becca stood up and walked over to her, took the dish out of her hands and put it into Jim’s, and put her arms around the newly arrived person’s shoulders.

      “Jim, this is April. Jim is our son,” she said, to the both of them.

      “This is Sam, my, um, friend,” said Jim.

      April chuckled. “This feels very advanced, being together in public, even if it’s in the next state over.” She snuggled in for a quick smack with Becca.

      “Dang,” said Sam, grinning after he watched Jim’s mom kissing her girlfriend while her husband looked on. “This being gay thing blows my mind sometimes.”

      “That’s like ten times just in the past week,” said Jim. He grinned, and hip-checked Sam without tipping the platter of vegetables he was carrying to the grill.

      Sam pantomimed his head exploding, and April laughed and nodded.

      Vicky and Helen managed to toss a salad in a large bowl they’d brought along, using four utensils at once. “If I pick up the top half and you do the bottom half and we drop them side by side, that should mix things,” she was telling Helen.

      Helen stared at her like she was speaking Greek. But she figured it out and they mixed the raw veggies nicely.

      Sam stood with Becca and April, with his hands in his pockets. “You should be helping,” April suggested.

      “If I keep my hands in my pockets, I won’t screw anything up or spill or whatever,” said Sam.

      “Jim has you trained,” said Becca. When she turned her nose to the breeze and let her hair stream behind her away from her face, Sam could see the mother and son resemblance. It wasn’t so obvious most of the time, since Becca’s usually wore her hair close around her face, obscuring the bone structure.

      When dinner was served, people gathered along both sides of the picnic table. Jim set a chair at one end, and climbed into the middle seat on one side. Sam sat opposite, and so Vicky and Helen sat facing each other at the far end, and Becca and April at the end nearest the chair. Stephan dragged the chair to the table and sat down. “I’m the odd man out,” he said. “The funny uncle, because I’m the only straight person at the party.”

      “Usually the funny uncle is the only gay one,” said April. “I mean, out and gay and old enough to be an uncle, at least. Turns out several of us girls were… ahem… queer, in one way or another. One of my sisters grew up to be a funny uncle himself.”

      “Sometime I’m going to sit you down and get your family history straight,” Becca said, reaching her hands across the table to April.

      “Ain’t nuthin’ straight about my family history,” said April, and everyone laughed.

      “It’s really great hanging out with you people,” said Sam. “A crowd where nearly everybody’s gay. I didn’t know that could happen.”

      “You were very carefully not paying attention,” said Jim. He smiled into Sam’s eyes for a long moment.

      “It’s true, isn’t it?” said Sam.

      “There are cues everywhere,” said Vicky. “You just have to know what to look for.”

      “Some of us kind of hope it’s not too obvious,” said Becca. “I’d like to continue teaching at a State University, for example, unlike the ladies next door…”

      “Whatever happened to them, anyway?” said Jim.

      “Sarah’s still at George Washington on this side of the river,” said Becca. “I think Lia’s at Northeastern? Maybe Boston University? I forget. They moved away eight or ten years ago.”

    • #7597

      “And then she made sure she got pregnant again.” I said. “The grapevine let me down. I heard she lied about the first pregnancy, in the same conversation where I learned she was pregnant for real this time. Otherwise, I would have reached out to you.”

      “What’s done is done.” He said softly. “I should have contacted you when that marriage broke up, instead I left town and haven’t been back other than to visit my little girl. Even then, she usually travelled to come see me and give her a break from her mother.”

      “Damn, we really messed things up for ourselves, didn’t we?”

      “I’m hoping I’ve turned the corner and left my stupid decisions behind me.” I could hear him take another long drink. “The registered letter with the divorce papers will be delivered tomorrow. I don’t care how drunk or hungover she gets. I’ve called uncle. I can’t take this anymore.”

      “So, what are you going to do?”

      “I’ve been planning this carefully. Two months ago, I put an advance deposit down on an apartment and have been gradually moving my belongings in since receiving the keys two weeks ago.” He let out a breath. “It’s slow going because she’s always here so I can only take out a duffle. I can’t even pack a box because she’ll freak out.”

      “She freaks out over a box?”

      “Yup. She may be a drunk but she’s not dumb. She’s watching for any sign of me leaving. I’m wrapping personal items in my clothes, and putting them in the bottom of my gym bag, just in case she decides to check my bag which she does almost daily.” He paused and I could hear him counting softly. “That’s ten times this week, I’ve been able to sneak stuff out and she’s nearly caught three of them.”

      “That reminds me a bit of how my ex left. Not Greg but the guy I was living with a few years later. I knew he was cheating but didn’t say anything because frankly I needed his share of the rent. He thought I didn’t notice when he’d leave with a full knapsack and come home with an empty one. But then again, I wasn’t drunk, so I noticed things like that. At least it gave me ample warning to switch the utilities over to my name and take my money out of our joint bank account before he drained it.”

      “At least I’m keeping everything in my name so I can be assured it’s paid. Honestly, I don’t know how she still has her job.”

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