Sunday writing chat prompts for 14 Feb 2021

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    • #7121

      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: fame, hesitate, sign, character, referee. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “Is your heat on?” (10 min)

      3. Write about vigorous exercise. (10 min)

    • #7122

      Jun sat in the breakfast bar with Gin. “I love that there were blueberry scones some days,” she said. “Kind of at random or something.”

      “Breaks up your otherwise monotonous life?” Gin said, with a chuckle.

      “Boring is good, at least at work,” said Jun.

      “So say we all,” said Gin. “I mean all the training is so we can do something approximately right in any emergency, without too much hesitation.”

      “And not wake up the rest of the gang needlessly,” said Jun. “One of the profs of rocket science fame had a cartoon to the effect that the lifetime goal for most engineers is to get through a career without being blamed for major screwups.”

      “Here’s to an uneventful shift,” said Gin. They each refilled coffee cups (carefully… the café was on the halfG deck) and went down the lift.

      “I can’t stop thinking of this part as being groped,” said Jun. “After you mentioned it.” As the lift neared the normG deck, their flight suits rearranged themselves to keep blood from rushing to their legs, and to provide what it thought was necessary support.

      “Builds character,” said Gin. “Or something. Speaking of screw-ups, are you game for a little zeroG acrobatics tonight–uh, tomorrow morning–before bedtime?”

      “Sure,” said Jun. “It’s always fun. I’m not sure I get all the rules people are making up, or why we need them.”

      “Mostly the referee is there to keep people from getting hurt,” said Gin.

      Jun was nodding, still trying to wrap her mind around this, when she came to the prop cubicle. “G’morning, Jon,” she said.

      “Good afternoon,” said Jon. They went through the shift change. Nothing remarkable going on, so when Jon wandered off she started looking for the notes she’d made the day before, on whatever extras she was working on.

      Ho, hum, the thermal models of fuel tank temperatures. There had to be a better way to do it, but everything she could think of was much harder than just re-fitting the parameters in the existing models every few months, and trying to verify that the answers made some kind of physical sense. Besides, Mona had come up with the system, and she was the group leader now. Which, Jun mused, is not really a reason to keep doing it that way, but she’d better have a really good reason for doing something else. She imagined Mona would be delighted with a better, more physically motivated, modeling system, but that sounded like a lot of work.

      Speaking of thermal, Jun mused to herself, where’s that hoodie I brought down here once? And is it time for coffee yet?

      She found the hoodie folded up in the bottom file drawer, and put it on, which left her hair oddly flowing like a waterfall next to the left side of her chin, out of the hood, and down. Then she picked up her sippy-cup and walked down the aisle to Gin’s cubicle. She knocked softly on the partition.

      “Systems, Prop?” she said in a low voice, after disconnecting herself from the voice loops.

      Gin whirled around. She smiled, and Jun could see her eyes ticking the menus in her head-bug to disable her own connection. “Prop, go,” she said.

      “Coffee? Also, why’s it cold in here? Is your heat on?”

      “Coffee,” said Gin. “And why don’t you contact Environmentals and find out when you get back?”

      Jun swiped Gin’s cup and went to the normG canteen for refills. She knocked and put the cup down when she returned, but didn’t stay to chat.

      Jun paged through the various voice loops, wondering where to tune in Environmentals. Probably not on the Systems Engineering loop they all hung out on most of the time.

      Oh, right, there’s an index, who’s responsible for monitoring which loops. And it turns out they have their very own. She tuned it in and listened for traffic for a bit. They didn’t seem to be in the middle of anything.

      “Environmentals, this is Prop, on your loop,” she said.

      There was a delay, just long enough to make Jun think she’d screwed something up.

      “Prop, Envs, go.” She thought maybe the voice was Jan’s? She couldn’t remember where their station was but it sounded miles away and she wasn’t sure she knew who she was talking to.

      “So Engineering is a bit chilly today,” she said. “I’m reading 15,” she said, eyeing an actual mercury thermometer that Gwen had affixed to the cubicle wall.

      “So y’all want more degrees down there,” said Jan. Or whoever it was. “When we’ve all qualified, there’s going to be a room full of BS down there.”

      Jun chuckled and wondered if there would be a shipboard graduation ceremony or anything. The academy was pretty formal about such things, but the Captain was pretty laid-back and cultivated friendly relations among the ranks.

      “I’ll see what I can do,” said Jan. “Thanks for letting us know.”

      “Thanks,” said Jun.

      She sipped the hot coffee and daydreamed for a few moments, about Gin, in the zeroG lounge, and doing… things… with her, moving in a lazy screw motion down the axis of the ship as it rotated around them. And coming to rest neatly above the far end of the bar, just in time to refill their drinking tubes with the good stuff. Push off, just so, and the barkeep would be ready when they arrived.

      But work first. Thermal models, right. Turnkey system, right? Feed it data, let it crank. Back to daydreaming while waiting for results.

    • #7123

      A few hours later.

      ARIF: Put your apartment keys on a separate ring, wash them with soap and put them in a baggie. When you’re done, text me.
      ME: WHAT? You can’t come here.
      ARIF: Don’t question, just do it 😊

      What the hell is he doing I asked my empty apartment. He can’t come into my place. I have COVID-19. I am in quarantine. As if to prove my point, the urge to cough up the little that’s left in my lungs overcame me and I slumped against the counter, barely able to keep myself from sliding down to the floor.

      ARIF: Do you have the keys ready?
      Gawd this man is persistent. The fact that he’s even here is a sign as to what type of character he has. I’m sick and whatever he’s up to is going to help him take care of me. Apparently, he didn’t hesitate to jump in, despite him being a self-proclaimed germaphobe. He deserves a place in the Nice Guy, Hall of Fame.
      ME: Give me a minute. My lungs are trying to referee the battle between my body keeping them intact and COVID trying to expel them.
      ARIF: Okay, let me know when they’re ready. Oh, is your heat on? Windows open?
      ME: No heat. I’m all sweaty. Windows are open for fresh air. Keys are ready.
      ARIF: Perfect. Buzz me up.

      I did as he asked, even though I had no idea what he was planning. I didn’t have to wait long before he knocked on my door. I opened it a crack and saw him clad in a mask, gown and gloved. He even had one of those surgical caps over his hair.
      “Arif, what are you doing?”

      He handed me a can of industrial branded disinfectant through the opening. “Take all of your blankets from your nest on the couch and your electronics, chargers, whatever else you’ll need, into your bedroom. Then spray down all of your surfaces, including your bathroom, go into your bedroom, close the door and then text me.” He wiggled the fingers of his gloved hand. “Keys please.”

      I handed him the baggie and he shut the door in my face. “What the hell?” Still not sure of what he was up to but recognizing that I was on a deadline of sorts I rushed around my apartment to do as he requested. By rushed, I mean walked like an ancient tortoise in between bouts of coughing that left me on my knees for several minutes before I could gather my breath enough to continue. Hours later, at least that’s how long it seemed, I texted him.
      ME: Feel like I’ve run a marathon. I am collapsed on my bed.

      The front door to my apartment opened and I heard him moving around.
      At least I assumed it was him since he had my keys. Honestly, I was so exhausted I really didn’t care.

      “Kamila.” He said at my door after the shuffling and thumping stopped. “Babe, you need to stay in your room and only use the connecting door to your bathroom. Oh, and knock before you use the connecting door, just in case I’m in there.”

      “Wait What?!” I sat up coughing. When I could catch my breath again, I said. “What have you done?”

      “I’ve moved in until you’re better.”

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