Sunday writing chat prompts for 20 Dec 2020

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    • #6993

      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: correspond, arena, aid, witch, spot. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “That’s all they told me.” (10 min)

      3. Write about waiting for something that might not happen. (10 min)

    • #6994

      I didn’t even care at this point if there was relationship potential with Allison. I was content to have another parent friend to share the experience with, especially now that Covid restrictions were in place.

      Allison was already in an overlapping bubble. We could correspond and meet up with each other without putting either of us at greater risk. Maybe I could suggest to her one day to bring Joey to the arena near my place. It’s a great spot with all kinds of things to do inside for little kids.

      I’m on the board, so I have a key. That will be an aid to eliminate the risk of dealing with witches and idiots who refuse to socially distance.

      Parenting is hard, and this pandemic isn’t making it any easier. So many things to consider. My ex and I had actually had to discuss the wisdom of her seeing DJ when the pandemic first erupted. Then the film industry shut down, which made it safer for everyone involved. Now that she’s back to work, they’re in a bubble. If she’d been working on the set instead of the office. She’d be in a bubble and not able to see her son until the end of the shoot.

      As if summoned, my phone rang. Gina.

      “Hi. Is everything all right?” I said after I pressed the answer icon. She’d only had DJ for a couple of hours.

      “DJ is fine.” she said. Her voice sounded strained. “I have to be on set tomorrow at eight in the morning.”

      “I thought you weren’t allowed on set?”

      “That’s been the rule so far.”

      I could hear her clicking her nails on the table in the background. That wasn’t a good sign.

      “Did you need me to come get DJ?”

      “I hate to lose this time with him, but this sounded urgent.” She said.

      “Do you know how long the meeting will be?”

      “Not a clue. Eight AM, that’s all they told me.” she sounded worried. “I hope they aren’t shutting this production down again. It’s supposed to wrap next week.”

      “What time do you need to leave in the morning?” I’ll make sure I’m there to pick up DJ.”

      “Thanks, Dave. You truly are the best ex-husband a girl could ask for.”

      “Not a problem. You’d do the same if the positions were reversed.” I hung up and wondered what her meeting was going to be about. The film industry here was booming, but the pandemic definitely made things complicated. I knew Gina was likely going to be up all night worrying that her job was going to be put on another hiatus or worse end completely. The only thing for certain was that she’d find out tomorrow at eight.

      Now I had to figure out what to do with a disappointed little boy tomorrow if his mom got bad news. She was supposed to have him all day. If the production was closing down, she may have to stay on site to help facilitate.

      Thank God for my nine-to-five.

    • #6995

      Morning. Well, wake time at least. When you work swing shift it’s late morning. Gin was up already. Maybe being able to get up smiling after… yeah… Maybe that’s what got Gin into the Systems Engineering Group, which was kind of nominally in charge of everything.

      Mornings had always been a struggle for Jun. But she staggered out of the sack (a literal sleeping bag, which could be mounted on the wall or ceiling if that appealed, in lowG), and into her jumpsuit.

      Gin was still adjusting hers. It’s tricky, though Jun was getting the hand of it. Try to make something that fit comfortably up here in the nosebleed section with maybe 0.1 gee, and still had room for the suit’s smarts to squeeze the legs like a G suit to keep you from passing out when you got to the normG level. And, well, support other things, as the varying amounts of gravity might require.

      “Breakfast?” Gin asked, running the course comb thorough her afro.

      “Sure,” said Jin, trying to figure out which day it was, and what calendars would correspond to what she actually had to do that day. Shift at 20 hours, probably? Uh, not. But there was a group meeting at 13 hours, which was… just an hour away. “If we hurry,” said Jun. She sort of wished her hair would stay put in lowG, but it was acting like a straight version of the afro, filling most of the space near Jun’s head.

      Coffee was a luxury, but they had some in the midG lounge halfway down to civilization.

      The lift opened on deck six, and when the dizziness stopped, Jun walked widdershins from the starboard lift tube to the dorsal side where the engineering conference room was. The rest of the group was there already. “Into the arena,” she muttered as she walked in and sat down. Her suit was still adjusting. The AI didn’t have much experience at midG levels but she imagined her body could settle down without its aid.

      Jon was watching the proceedings across the table, with a certain unseemly glitter in his eye.

      “Great, everybody’s here. Let’s talk about yesterday’s anomaly and whether we need to do anything about this one, or future events like this.” This was the group leader, Mona whose years in lowG had been kind to her. She looked younger than Jun, though she was class of ’45. Jun had looked it up. “Jun? How’d the initial safing action go?”

      So Jun narrated events for the last hour and a half of her previous shift. “Sometimes I think I can hear the iso-valves clang when they shut in a safe-mode transition,” she said, at the end. “And I know they’re at the other end of the ship and there are alarms in my head.”

      “Maybe that’s why recruitment seems like a witch hunt,” said Jon. “Looking for people with supernatural hearing or something.”

      “Somebody looking for a witch?” Gwen asked. She’d been up since midnight and was showing the hours. “Recovery was nominal, but I was kind of wondering what would happen in some corner cases,” she added. “Like say the attitude system decides a momentum wheel unload is needed, while the iso-valves are closed. Or right in that spot where some are closed and some are not.”

      “Go on,” said Mona.

      “Doesn’t the safe mode transition disable that? On their end, I mean?” asked Jon.

      “Let’s look it up, shall we?” said Mona. She was smiling, arms folded, and Jun got a little distracted looking at the way her boss filled her jumpsuit.

      “Somebody… Fred I think it was? He was Attitude last night, mentioned that, I think,” said Jun. “But that’s all they told me. Where are we looking it up?”

      “Also a good question,” said Mona.

      Jun knew she should be able to do this. “Um, there’s a safe-mode handbook someplace…”

      Everyone else stopped kibitzing and waited for Jun to catch up on her own.

      “Got it,” said Jun, staring into the middle distance like everyone else. The bugs they had in their heads were great for interfacing with the computer system, but it sometimes made actual meetings with real people awkward. “And here’s the sequence of Attitude actions…”

      “And it’s not there,” said Jon. “I figured that was a sufficiently complex operation that they wouldn’t try it on the stripped down, economy model computer that runs the safe modes.”

      “So what would happen if the Bright Star Hold attitude got close to gimbal lock?” said Mona. “I seem to be all about the Socratic Method today.” She laughed. She caught Jun’s eye. “Jun, what do you think?”

      “Well, that would be bad,” said Jun. “I imagine they could, like, yaw away from it or something?”

      “And lose the one bright star the star tracker is holding on to,” said Gwen.

      “Didn’t we get off the track?” Jun asked. “We established it’s not disabled. So the question should be what happens if the iso-valves are shut, or some of them are shut, when it’s time to help the Atti-dudes with their little problem?” Each department’s junior members had slang for the other departments, and she should learn to keep it out of quasi-official discourse.

      “It’s a complicated question with lots of side branches, depending on just when in the iso-valve closing sequence the unload request comes in,” said Gwen. “I watched that last night, and they weren’t anywhere close, so there was some time to wonder about things that might not ever happen.”

      “Better to wonder about them here in the daytime, than be surprised in the heat of the moment at oh-dark-thirty,” said Mona.

      “Well, exactly,” said Gwen. “And since the Oh-Darks are my shift…”

      “Jun, would you like to work with Jon to figure out all the contingencies and what would happen if?” said Mona.

      “Um, sure,” said Jun. Gulp. It was one of those “I can do that, how am I gonna do that?” moments. For one thing, Jon was day shift and Jun swing shift, so one of them was in the control room anytime the other was awake. But a really thorough review of where all the valves are and why they’re there and what order they close… that could be useful.

    • #6996

      After living in a semiarid country for the first part of her life, Eira (?) was delighted by all the greenery in [country]. She was especially taken with the witch hazels with their bright red flowers. She picked off a leaf and a flower cluster to put in her book. It had illustrations, of course, but having the real thing was more… personal.

      There was so much to see, but she had to stay focused. She asked for the local news every time the caravan stopped; she would be as informed as she could be. But she kept one eye on the side of the road, in case she spotted anything that she really wanted a sample of.

      Eira wrote home to her parents, but would not be able to receive any correspondence while she was traveling. She was anxious to send them good news, but there was no way to know yet if Metin would forgive them. Their beliefs about life and death were so different.

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