Sunday writing chat prompts for 22 Aug 2021

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    • #7542

      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: waiter, chew, magnitude, joint, population. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “It seems less noisy.” (10 min)

      3. Write about an inconvenient modern technology. (10 min)

    • #7543

      So then there was the time in high school. There’s this courtyard in the middle of the school, three floors worth, and people would stand around looking at each other across the way. It’s a little less obvious that way. The little group had drifted apart. Miranda and Vicky had a spot in the corner of the third floor, and Sam would pause on the second, on his way between classes. Sometimes Jim was there.

      “You’re sweet on Miranda,” said Jim one day.

      “What? No,” said Sam.

      “You seem to watch her,” said Jim. “See you,” and he was gone.

      So that afternoon there was this joint health class thing between several of the bio classes, to talk about tolerating gay people. Sam wasn’t in any classes with Miranda, except this one. It’s like they were in different populations for research purposes or something.

      So Miranda started talking about her moms. Several of the kids have gay parents, but not anybody else Sam knew, so he was picking on her about it. She got flustered, which was kind of what he wanted, maybe?

      “Yeah, well, I’m gay too,” she said at last, blushing brightly.

      It’s not like a magnitude nine earthquake or anything, but everybody sort of went “Woh” and there was this long silence while she sort of twisted in the wind. The bell rang.

      Miranda zipped out the door, close to where Sam was sitting. Vicky was apparently also in the class, because just as Sam made the hallway, there was Vicky, pushing Miranda backwards into the doorway of the janitor’s closet, and kissing her.

      It seemed to Sam to be more than he could chew on at once; like trying to eat an entire (small) apple in one bite and getting it wedged between his upper teeth where he couldn’t do anything with it.

      Sam had Phys Ed next, and suddenly all those casual gay slur kinds of jokes were dead serious. Even in the boys’ locker room, the rumor had spread like a plague. Sam was extremely careful not to look at any of his classmates as they changed clothes, because… Well, because.

      “It seems less noisy in here,” the gym teacher remarked. And it was true. Nobody quite knew what to do with this… balloon full of pink paint that had exploded in their faces.

      Maybe lavender paint.

      He was still thinking about it at suppertime, and blurted out something about Miranda (and Vicky?) being gay and coming out in school. His Dad exploded. Sam was astonished, watching him splutter and turn bright red. Sam was taller than his dad, and not the little kid who once was pushed around.

      After some posturing, chest out and chin high, his Dad excused himself from the table and took his truck out for a drive.

      Note to self, Sam dictated silently. Don’t mention anything gay at home.

      And that’s pretty much where things stood. Dad had insisted Sam go to business school. Sam appreciated this in time, and when he graduated he set up a little consultancy that didn’t make ends meet, but showed signs of growing. Meanwhile Sam was a waiter and bartender.

      “Jim?” he said one afternoon when the owner of that name blundered into the bar, attention on his phone.

      “Oh hi,” said Jim. “I didn’t know you worked here.”

      “You gotta eat, I gotta eat,” said Sam.

      “Can’t read the phone outdoors,” said Jim, holding up the evidence.

      “Beer?” said Sam.

      And in the ensuing discussion, it came out that Jim was an engineer, hadn’t seen Miranda or Vicky in years, wasn’t dating girls, and in fact was gay.

      “Wait, what?” said Sam.

      “You heard me,” said Jim.

      “I, um, huh,” Sam mumbled.

      “We should catch up,” said Jim. “My folks are having one of their cookouts at the house on Saturday. You should come.”

      “Okay sure,” said Sam, not knowing what else to say.

      And so there he was at Jim’s parents’ house, with a container of deli macaroni salad, ringing the bell. He had just time to wonder if he’d been there since… the accident. The four of them, Jim, Vicky, Miranda and Sam had been quite the gang as little kids, and then separately girls vs. boys later in their school years.

      “Oh hi, come in,” said Becca, his mom. “Good to see you again, Sam. People are out back.”

      Sam said nothing, but handed her the container.

      Jim was happy to see him, paid him a lot of attention, pointed out his mom’s latest lady friend, whom Sam had mistaken for the wife of the new owner of Miranda’s house next door.

      “Man, there are gay people everywhere,” Sam said into Jim’s ear when they were alone. Becca had ushered Janet around the corner of the house, and here was Jim, holding Sam up against the opposite wall of the house, out of sight from the picnic.

      “It’s true,” said Jim. He looked into Sam’s eyes. “Everybody we can see from here, in fact,” he added.

      There were, uh, just the two of them. Sam said that out loud.

      “Yes,” said Jim.

      “Yes,” said Sam. “That would make a lot of sense out of… stuff I don’t understand,” he said.

      Jim smiled.

      Sam thought he had always liked Jim’s smile. Always for that afternoon, at least.

    • #7544

      I sat at the café and pondered the hell my life had become. The sheer magnitude of screwed-upped-ness was unbelievable. The barista stopped by to bus my table.

      Today she was acting all positions including waiter, as she brought me another coffee. She and I had a ritual. Every twenty minutes or so, she’d ask if I wanted a refill and then bring it to me.

      Occasionally, I’d ask for a muffin too, and she’d bring that along. I made it worth her while. I swear she had dollar signs in her eyes as soon as she saw me park my motorcycle.

      I chewed my food, watching the population drift by on the other side of the window, wondering if their lives had hit the toilet like mine. I’d married in my twenties because my ex told me she was pregnant. After the shotgun wedding, I found out there was no baby. Stupidly I’d stayed and a year later there was. It took me almost a decade to break up with her again. The only plus, my child came to live full time with me.

      I didn’t get married again until my kid had graduated from university and had her own life. I thought I got it right this time. Nope. It started with the little things, an extra glass of wine with dinner, more frequent nights out with the girls, unexplained absences late from work, and then sloppy weekend morning kisses reeking of fresh alcohol. Then they were weekday kisses.

      Now, I was the one leaving the house to get away. I seemed less noisy here in a busy coffee shop than at home with all the caterwauling about how I’m a crappy husband. I was at the end of my rope. Past the end really. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to reread the letter from the lawyer that would be delivered by registered mail tomorrow. The letter initiating our divorce.
      It didn’t make me feel sad anymore. I was so over this relationship. There was just a numbness in my head and heart when I thought about my soon to be ex-wife. Even my anger was gone.

      I flipped over to Facebook to kill more time before I had to return home and clicked the icon for new messages. I figured it would be something from my daughter or stepson. I was not expecting to see a message from Tara.
      Tara Thomas, the one who got away. The woman I’d finally started dating when the claim of pending fatherhood was made. The woman who graciously stepped aside so I could do the right thing. The woman I still thought about, even after almost four decades.
      Her timing was perfect.
      Never in my life did I need a boost of positive energy. For the first time in months, I felt my cheeks spread into a smile.

      “Devon. I hate to ruin your mood.” The barista motioned to the parking lot. “Incoming.”

      I turned to see my ex, tottering toward the door of the café, still in last night’s heels. I stood up and met her before she could enter and herded her backwards. “Whasss ya do tha for? Wass comin in to haff coffee wit you.”
      “How did you know I was here?” I asked, not really caring about the answer.
      “Gee Peee Essssss.” She held up her phone. “I found you.”

      I cursed under my breath and led her to her car.

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