Sunday writing chat prompts for 19 Mar 2023

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    • #9605

      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: cake, forestry, kidney, flourish, solve. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “I don’t know what that means.” (10 min)

      3. Write about an empty bottle. (10 min)

    • #9606

      So he followed the job market. He had thought of various career paths and somehow forestry is what came to the top of the list. He liked hiking, he liked trees, he liked wildlife. He read about fungi someplace and was intrigued by the idea of the Wood-Wide Web. Intrigued, but not entirely convinced.

      It made sense to him that the fungi might be involved in commerce with the trees, and that they might extend over more ground than the roots of an individual tree would. But making sense and proving it was so were two different kinds of things.

      Still, the notion of fungi out there helping with the decay of fallen logs, acting like the kidneys of the forest ecosystem, was really attractive. One organism flourishes on the castoffs of another. Or they trade, as living things. You give me sugar, I’ll give you minerals.

      And hiking around communing with nature was something he could do while ignoring his social awkwardness. And whatever it was Ann had solved for him. He still didn’t know about that. But on warm nights he could watch the stars overhead, moving through the treetops, and think about it really slowly.

      Or wonder about the equally imponderable matter of what the fungal net was transporting from tree to tree.

      Charlie began to chuckle, and then to laugh out loud, as the phrase “From tree to shining tree” echoed through his mind. It was a pleasant last thought before sleep.

      There was an experiment he’d seen written up, where people introduced sugars marked with radioactive carbon-14 into one tree, and then tracked it as it appeared in other trees. The fungal threads were probably too fine to detect with that method, Charlie figured. And he didn’t have the necessary licenses, or the supply of material, to try to duplicate the experiment. But it was pleasant to think about.

      Some of the trees in this particular National Forest were aspens, which Charlie had heard, and read, are really not groups of related trees, but multiple trunks growing from the roots of a single organism. Presumably they shared resources more quickly than the other species who depended on fungi to do it. But the rates as measured weren’t that different.

      “I have no idea what that means,” Charlie told the birds who were looking for treats around yesterday’s fire.

      Well. There were miles to go before he slept again, so he lit a small fire, made himself some coffee, and struck camp. His pack was put together again by the time he reached the bottom of the second cup of coffee. He stopped to refill his canteen at a creek he crossed, and he washed out his cup. He sat listening to the birds sing and the brook babble while he stowed the cup in his pack.

      Lovely, but not getting him closer to his goal. Something that was true both of his daydreaming, and his life in general. Civilization is out there, some place, for people who fit in. “And the rest of us?” he asked, startling a fox. “The rest of us depend on them for supplies.” He liked the way nothing in his normal work environment, nothing and nobody, cared in any way that his gender didn’t fit. His boots fit, and were soft and old and worn and delightful. He wondered whether other people could say that about their genders. He certainly couldn’t. And whatever he and Ann had awakened in each other made it clear he wasn’t the only one.

      He thought of her sometimes, wondering where she had gone, what she was doing. Whether she had ever found someone else she could be with… do whatever it was they’d done. Share whatever it was they were.

      Charlie hadn’t ever found another. But then he spent his years hiking in the high country, where ticks and bears were a more immediate interest.

      And empty water bottles. Mother Nature is a lovely companion, but she doesn’t really know you’re even there, and she’ll kill you if you let her.

      Which… might not be such a bad thing?

      But no, some day, some time, he wanted to compare notes with Ann again, see what she’d done, where she’d gone with their… What to call it. Another thing the forest didn’t care about, what words you came up with to pin on things you found there. Trying on each others’ genders to see if they’d fit better than the standard issue ones? Sort of… Or maybe it was like one of those weird quantum chemistry reactions where you take one of these and one of those and end up with two blended states that work better together than either did apart. In chemistry those reactions tend to be explosive.

      Maybe that’s what had happened: spontaneous combustion. The idea made his hair stand on end, as it might do if he was on fire.

    • #9607

      I was lost in my thoughts as Blake worked the ground putting fertilizer in the holes he’d dug for our forestry project. With him in charge, my trees were going to flourish in this corner.

      My back was turned to him when I hear his yelp of pain.

      I spun around he was laying on the ground. I ran over to him and the first thing that struck me was the silence around his still body. “Blake?” I knelt beside him and noticed blood on the side of his head. “Blake?!”

      I couldn’t tell if he was breathing and I didn’t dare move him.

      I fumbled for my phone in my pocket and dialed 9-1-1 put my phone on speaker and tossed it onto the ground.

      “9-1-1 what’s your emergency?”

      “My friend just fell when we were planting trees. There’s blood on his head.”

      “Is he conscious?”

      “I can’t tell if he’s even breathing.” I told the operator as I bent down to hover over his face to feel his breath on my cheek. I felt the whisper of his exhale. “He’s breathing.” I shouted with relief. “but it’s really soft.”

      “Can you confirm your location?”

      I gave her my address, and then nearly slapped my forehead for forgetting. “Tell them to watch the house numbers once they get to our road. My house can’t be seen from the road and GPS will take them down around the corner and through someone’s backyard. We’re in the field. Tell them to pull in by the XYZ Contractor’s truck. Don’t go to the house.”

      “I’ll relay that to the driver. The ambulance is on it’s way.” The voice on the phone said. “Can you tell me what happened?”

      “I don’t know. I was doing something else when I heard him yell. It looks like he might have hit his head on the wheelbarrow on his way down.”

      “I don’t know what that means.” The dispatcher said. “He hit his head on a what?”

      “Wheelbarrow. The thing you use in your garden to carry a big load. A barrel on wheels.”

      “Oh.” They said. “I always thought that was a wheel barrel.”

      “Glad I could solve the mystery.” I tried not to roll my eyes. I’ve heard of dumb 9-1-1 calls but this one takes the cake. “Do you know how far out the ambulance is?”

      “They aren’t too far away.”

      Sure enough, I heard the sirens echoing over the water from the point. They’d just passed the intersection for my road and were coming my way. It was like a kidney punch when I realized they’d missed my driveway. “They’ve gone too far. They needed to watch the house numbers. Tell them.”

      The next few minutes were a blur. The police car arrived first, then the ambulance followed by the firetruck. There was a flurry of movement while they assessed Blake, who still hadn’t regained consciousness, and lifted him onto a backboard and then the gurney. They left as quickly as they appeared, leaving me alone except for the two police officers.

      “I know you’ve explained this already to the dispatcher, but will you tell us what happened?”

      I looked around the place where we’d been working, looking for a clue about what went wrong. There were empty bottles and plastic wrappers all over the place from what they used while treating Blake. “He was working over here while I was standing there, soaking the tree roots before we planted them. The wheelbarrow was beside him when I called 9-1-1. He had blood on his head, so he must’ve hit it on the way down.”

      By the time I was finished my explanation, my hands were shaking as the adrenalin started leaving me. “Can I go to the hospital now?”

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