Sunday writing chat prompts for 15 May 2022

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    • #8551

      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: community, orientation, pasture, problem, loot. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “And then it’s gone.” (10 min)

      3. Write about watching a bird. (10 min)

    • #8552

      “Olivia,” said Josh.

      No response.

      Olivia was not in the same community as this morning phenomenon. Josh, among many other things, functioned as an alarm clock.

      The coffee maker was waiting in the kitchen to be switched on. The clock circuit had gone kaput once, about a week after it started leaking onto the counter. Josh flipped it on. And then, mind out to pasture while waiting for the product, considered the problem of whether flipping it off when it finished would be an obscenity or just a routine morning chore.

      In due course the snorting from the kitchen signaled the time had come to face that dilemma. The coffee was in fact ready, so Josh flipped it off in the usual way, using the switch and a middle finger, but without hostility. Two mugs of loot in hand, we return to the beginning.

      “Olivia,” said Josh, a bit more insistently.

      There was a moan from the bed. Josh set one mug on the bedside table, walked around the bed, and sat on the far corner, legs crossed, mug in knee, to watch. The mind was firing on a few cylinders by now, drawn more by the promise and aroma of the coffee than the actual drug itself.

      It was possible to imagine an engine idling roughly, coming around again and again to dimly remembered conversations. The kind of things they talked about in the evenings when they were both more tired and more awake. And more curious. About each other, about their orientations to the various prevailing social pressures of the world beyond the front door. Like, and yet unlike. About why it was that they had different names out there than they did here, together.

      “Coffee’s getting cold,” said Josh. “And my feet. I always forget the kitchen floor is so cold.”

      Another moan. Whatever was on the other end of the mop of hair that was visible on the pillow seemed to be moving.

      Josh swigged some coffee, set the mug on the nearest bedside table, and slipped under the blanket.

      Olivia’s language circuits were not yet activated but there was an unspellable utterance from somewhere near the pillows. The meaning was clear enough even without recognizable words or gestures.

      “C’mon, O,” said Josh. “Flip me off. You know you want to.”

      Olivia rolled over, pulled the covers away from the hair, sat up, and growled at Josh.

      “You have a… what was it today? A thing to do this morning,” said Josh. “Drink up, so you don’t scald yourself in the shower.”

      “Morning,” Olivia grumbled, “is for the birds.”

      “The early bird got the worm and flew away already,” said Josh.

      “Warm it up?” said Olivia, handing Josh the mug.

      “And you’ll be sleeping when I get back.” Josh set the mug beside its mate and used cold feet to push, prod, and goad Olivia to the edge of the bed and over the side. “Warm it up yourself.”

      Josh joined Olivia in the kitchen, bearing both mugs, which they put into the microwave.

      “You’re right about the kitchen floor,” said Olivia. “But not about the bird. Look!”

      Josh turned to the window, to see no bird life. But there was a very cold foot high up on Josh’s leg. “Ooooo,” said Josh. The idea was to use Olivia’s name, or at least initial, but the sensation drove the words out of Josh’s head by some path other than oral. The word started, and then ended halfway through.

      “I’m awake now,” said Olivia. “Thanks, I guess.”

    • #8553

      “I knew you’d turn out okay, but wow I’m impressed. You seem to have your life more together than I do.”

      “I doubt that.” He stepped back to look me over. It would have been creepy if he’d been anyone else. This was Curt and he his smile was genuine. “You just bought a house, and if the rumours are true, you paid for it outright. Your car looks new, and you aren’t exactly wearing rags.”

      I laughed and shook my head. “Employment was never a problem. I did an orientation test in high school, and it didn’t steer me wrong. Job-wise I’ve always managed to find green pastures. My personal life however was a dumpster fire.” I paused, unsure about how much to tell him. Sure, he has always been easy to talk, but it’s been thirty years since I’ve seen him. “It’s one of the reasons I decided to come home. It was time to stop running away from my problems.”

      He smiled. “This is a good place to heal. The community hasn’t changed much since you left. Even the new houses are owned by the same people, or their kids.”

      “This makes me happy.” Happy childhood memories flooded my brain. “Remember when we were kids. All the sugary loot we’d get going through the neighbourhood?”

      His smile was there and then it was gone. “I give out double the treats now to make up for all the years we couldn’t.”

      “Oh Curt.” I stepped forward and put my hand on his arm in comfort. “I didn’t mean to remind you of that.” It bothered him a lot to know that his old man would scare the kids away from their house with slurred swears and thrown beer bottles or cigarette butts. Every year I had to convince him that he could still trick or treat even if his parents didn’t participate. Every year, he had a blast. At least until it was time for him to go home and he’d stash his treats at my house so his dad wouldn’t steal them from him.

      “You are so much more of a man than he was.”

      He looked at me with a strange expression. “What do you mean by that? Dad was a man.”

      “Not to speak ill of the dead, but he was a mean bully who picked on people smaller and weaker than he was. He wasn’t a man, he was the epitome of toxic masculinity.”

      “You don’t think I’m like that?” His look still questioning.

      “You never have been.” I raised my hand to his chin to make him look at me. “You were always the biggest kid in the playground yet you used your size and strength to protect the little kids not pick on them yourself. After all, that’s how we became friends. Remember?”

      “You were like a little bird. Always fluttering about and chattering a mile a minute. I couldn’t stop watching you, you were so different than anyone I’d ever met.”

      “Then the twins came to our school and started picking on me. He’d trip me and she’d make all the girls laugh at me.” It was my turn to have a bad memory.

      “And then I stepped in.” Curt curled his shoulders forward and struck a Hulk pose. “I protected my little Rose-bird.”

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