Sunday writing chat prompts for 25 Jul 2021

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    • #7480

      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: transport, throat, impound, suppress, hang. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “I’m not sure what happens now.” (10 min)

      3. Write about giving up trying to explain something. (10 min)

    • #7481


      Jun asked Gin for a few pointers on organizing meetings with more than just two people, and on the next shift she messaged George and Barb and they all agreed they could probably get together in a side cubical at 1900. That would give them all several hours to get settled with what was going on with the ship that day.

      “Plenty of time to cancel,” was how Barb put that.

      “Subject to there being nothing actually happening,” said George.

      “So, right,” said Jun, when the meeting time arrived at last. “I gather the chief engineer or somebody wanted us to start a little working group to talk over issues of mutual expertise.”

      “How long have we been running this transport?” said Barb. “In ten years you’d think we, collectively, would have learned how this thing works.”

      “I guess part of the question is whether we, individually, know what we, collectively, have learned,” said Jun.

      “It’s your first trip, isn’t it?” said George.

      Jun nodded. There was a protest in her throat about being fully qualified, but she suppressed it. “I mean, humanity collectively know how to drive and where to park, but it doesn’t keep them out of the impound lot.”

      “Point taken,” said Barb. She cast a look at George that seemed to help.

      “So I’m here from Propulsion, obviously,” said Jun.

      “Flight Dynamics,” said Barb.

      “Attitudes,” said George.

      “So from my perspective this latest anomaly was that there was something funky in the Attitude Control System that triggered an interlock which shut down the ion thruster. And that made headaches for Flight Dynamics, recalculating the orbit in real time, for whenever we got everything back.”

      “I guess that’s what we get paid for,” said Barb. “But it’s good to hang out with you guys so I know who I’m talking to on the loops, and what kinds of questions to be ready for.”

      “Likewise,” said Jun.

      George mumbled and nodded.

      Jun tried not to laugh. He was such a typical “attidude” as the Prop folks called them in their group meetings. She smiled instead.

      Apparently George liked her smile.

      “Sometimes I kind of feel like I can understand the numbers on the Attitudes displays,” said Jun. “Other times, it’s just noise. I’d sorta like to sharpen up my skills there.”

      “And doing orbits with constant thrust is black magic,” said George.

      “Did I forget my wizard hat?” said Barb, putting a hand on top of her head. “Just for the record, I’m always impressed that engineers can get systems to actually do things in real life. My world is pretty theoretical.”

      “I’m not sure what happens next,” said Jun. “I mean, are there coordination issues we should work on, procedures to rewrite, whatever? Is there a set of interface control documents someplace that I’m not aware of that we can study?”

      “A lot of crew interaction is kind of culture that grew up around cooperating on operating a complicated system,” said Barb. “I know that makes it hard for new people, and in new situations like the one we just dealt with.”

      “But there’s lots of kibbitzing from the group,” said Jun. “Except they’re all having dinner and going to bed right about now.”

      “And it’s our baby til midnight,” said George. “And we can unwind after that.”

      George was looking at Jun.

      Who was thinking, oh man, here it comes.

      “Still six hours until then,” said Barb. “Might be fun to do some practical attitudes exercises in Deck Zero,” she added.

      “Haven’t I seen you up there with…” said George.

      “… our esteemed Systems Engineer?” Barb finished his thought.

      Jun was about to say something about debriefing at the end of a stressful shift, but decided to keep her mouth shut. One thing about working in her second or third language, depending on how you count, is you’re never entirely sure what other meanings might be lurking behind innocent words.

      “She’s my pod-mate,” seemed safe enough, so Jun said that.

      There were so many things she could say. Down, George, might be one. Or just leave the pod out of pod-mate. Except of course Gin might not think of her that way, at least not yet. The whole thing was at the confusing stage where everything seemed hopelessly complicated.

      But the bunch of them together had worked through a spacecraft anomaly; surely that’s kinda the same level of complexity? Or something? Maybe?

      “You’ve made her blush,” said Barb. “Bad George.”

      “Sorry,” said George.

      “How about we put our little working group on the schedule for weeklies?” said Barb. “What are we calling ourselves?”

      “Lessee… Prop, Attitudes, FIDO… Dynamics working group?” George said.

      “Could work. I’ve reserved this cube in perpetuity,” said Barb.

      There was a gentle hand on Jun’s back after George blundered back to his station.

      “Thank you,” said Jun.

    • #7482

      I stopped trying to get comfortable three days ago. Right now, I was just trying to hang in there until it was time for my next dose of painkillers. It’s not like they did much to suppress the constant ache in my back, but they helped dull the sharp pain whenever I tried to move.

      It’s like my body was impounded. Chained to my chair, waiting for the bounty of painlessness to be paid. I even slept in this damn thing last night because if I had of laid down on my bed, I wasn’t certain I could get up again. At least not without assistance, and there is no one else here. Aside from my cat, I lived alone.

      I needed to use the facilities and get some water. My throat ached it was so parched.

      It seemed to take forever to stand and transport my sore body to the bathroom. Rheumatoid Arthritis is not for the weak, or faint of heart.

      An hour later, I felt mostly human again. I took a long shower. Thank God my condo had a walk-in shower instead of a tub. The warm heat soothed the muscles in my back that were aching from the strain of keeping my spine steady. I was just pouring coffee when my phone buzzed to let me know someone was at the door. I didn’t bother checking to see who it was before I pressed the icon to let them in. Cindy promised to stop by this morning with groceries. She’s the only visitor I ever had.

      Not that I didn’t have people around me, I was an introvert and liked to keep my private space private. Cindy was the only exception and even that was more from necessity than anything else. Most people just thought I was lonely and bitter. Yeah, I was that too, but these days I just valued my alone time.

      I’d given up trying to explain myself years ago. People wanted drama. Being content just didn’t seem to be enough of an explanation.

      A knock sounded on the door before I heard her key turn in the lock. “Hey,” Cindy said as she wrestled the bags she was carrying through the door and eyed me critically. “How are you doing?”

      “Better now that I’m up and moving. I slept on the chair last night and while I didn’t sleep much, it felt safer. I just had a hot shower and my morning pills. That helped a lot.”

      “I wish you’d just come to my place.” Cindy scolded. “It would only be for a few days and you’d have people to help you.”

      “I’d go nuts.” I said, and I would. She had a husband, two teenagers, and a dog. “Besides, I couldn’t leave Frenchie here alone and Brutus would eat her alive.”

      Cindy laughed at that. “Frenchie would have Brutus groveling at her feet in no time.”

      I patted my friend on her shoulder as I helped her put my food away. “I’m not sure what will happen now that my back is causing so many issues, but I hope you know how much I appreciate everything you do.”

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