Sunday writing chat prompts for 27 Dec 2020

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    • #7000

      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: sugar, multimedia, indirect, ignore, elephant. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “How long do we have to wait?” (10 min)

      3. Write about an exception to the rule. (10 min)

    • #7001

      “Well then,” said Jun. “It’d be nice if I could get the whole plumbing system on one chart, spread it out on a table… somewhere… and scribble on it.”

      “There’s a nice table in the engineering conference room,” said Gin.

      “Aaaaand using my handy multimedia room reservation form,” said Jun, twitching eyes to the side to scroll through it, “there are also meetings there around the clock. Besides, I don’t think there’s an E-size printer aboard.”

      “And paper is expendable, unless somebody’s running a recycling mill someplace I don’t know about,” said Gin. “And as a systems engineering department qualified watch stander, I’d know about it,” she added.

      As tough as it was for Jun learning the propulsion system, she had to bear in mind that Gin’s job was to have a supervisor-level knowledge of everything on the ship. If something went wrong, it was her job to indirectly supervise and coordinate the recovery.

      “Sugar?” said Gin.

      “What?” said Jun, mind still in the further reaches of the engineering spaces, wondering where there was enough space for the elephant in the room. Whatever it would turn out to be. It felt like she was missing something obvious.

      “For your tea,” said Gin.

      When she refocused her eyes on her surroundings, Jun remembered they were having breakfast at mid-morning in the halfG lounge. The day shift lunchtime crowd would be along shortly, so it paid to be up and presentable by, say, ten or so.

      “Oh,” said Jun. “Sure. Wonder how long the supply lasts.”

      “Good question. Did you go to the astrodynamics lecture before we left?” said Gin. They cleared their breakfast things and took the lift back up to their pod near the core.

      “Yeeeaaaah?” said Jun. “It all seemed like black magic to me.”

      “Shuttling people back and forth to Mars, there’s a minimum energy solution but it only works every second year,” said Gin, in her Systems Engineer voice. “So for the shuttle, they use ion thrusters that run continuously to speed it up a little.”

      “I do know about that,” said Jun. “It’s a piece of the prop system that hasn’t misbehaved yet.”

      “Let’s hope not. There’s nobody aboard who can do that particular brand of black magic to get us back on schedule if the engines are down for a while,” said Gin.

      “Fully redundant,” said Jun.

      “Thank you, Prop,” said Gin. “How long do we have to wait for another opportunity?”

      “Systems, Prop, no clue,” said Jun.

      By this time Jun had resumed her favorite study posture, feet velcroed to the ceiling. There was just enough gravity to eventually corral her hair into pointing at the hatch in the floor. Gin preferred back to the wall, head toward the hub, so it looked to her as if Jun was upside down. She pulled a pillow loose from the wall and tossed it at Jun. As they both expected, it curved away before it hit the target.

      “I like how I can duck just by standing here motionless,” said Jun.

      Gin giggled.

      “You do have a point, though,” said Jun. “I should reread the procedure for doing the engine swap, so I know what the issues are when you call me in a panic.”

      “I devoutly hope it happens on the day shift,” said Gin. “I’m not sure I could handle the panic of something going really wrong.”

      “You totally rocked the attitude anomaly the other day,” said Jun. “It made me proud to share a pod with you. Maybe some of that… I dunno, calm or whatever, will rub off on me.”

      “How about I just turn the thermostat down then,” said Gin. There had been a problem with the heating system that puzzled Environmentals for a week. “Snuggling in the same sleeping bag might rub some of my karma off on you.”

      “You’re sweet on me,” said Jun. She turned her head to look at Gin, who was, from her point of view, upside down. Jun could feel her hair begin to twist in response, sending a torsional wave up… down… out… to the ends. Which, when Jun thought about it for a moment, reminded her of the magneto-hydro-dynamic drive mechanism in the ion engine. “Plumbing first,” she said aloud.

      “What??” said Gin. “One moment you’re saying you’re sweet on me, next moment, plumbing.”

      “You on me,” said Jun, “and you know how our conversations go, three topics at once, braided together. Hmm. I wonder if my hair would behave itself if I braided it.”

      “Straight up off the top of your head,” said Gin. “That’d be a hoot.”

    • #7002

      In the past three months, I’ve been busy. First thing I did was purge my house of junk food, sugar and all other empty carbs. I’d kept up with some exercising as I served as a hospice, but it wasn’t nearly enough to combat the weight gain that came with being more stationary than in motion. So far, I’m down three sizes.

      I fought my way back to being able to interval-jog five kilometres. My goal by the end of six months Post-Sean was ten. It was impossible to ignore how much better I felt.

      To help in my quest for better health, which had become a priority, I had employed multimedia. Alexa woke me each morning with a rousing song to get me moving. I had a laptop set up downstairs set up with another set of speakers, extra heavy on the bass, to play a schedule of videos to keep me honest and not miss arm days. I excel at leg days, so I never miss them.

      Then I force myself to spend an hour sorting through the house. I wanted it on the market by the same six-month deadline as the ten kilometre run. It’s the elephant in the room that Sean’s kids and I don’t talk about. I’ve tried to broach the subject indirectly, but they refuse to bite. I understand this is their childhood home, but I don’t want or need a house this big and none of them can buy it. It’s a damnable situation.

      I don’t want to alienate Sean’s children, but it was never our plan for me to keep it after he passed. My real estate agent champing at the bit. He has buyers lined up for this neighbourhood. “How long do we have to wait until you’re ready to sell?” He’s asked me more than once.

      That’s probably why I’m taking so long to get the house ready to sell. Reluctance to upset Sean’s adult children who are still actively grieving. I knew it had been a mistake to hide Sean’s condition from them, but he insisted. He didn’t want them to worry about his health. He’d been able to fake it until he was close to the end.

      His kids are still pissed at me.

      This may sound heartless. I probably sound like a cold-hearted bitch. My defence is that while Sean’s kids thought he was going to life forever, I was watching him lose ground every day until I prayed his excruciating pain would end. His death brought us both peace.

      Hiding his pain from his kids did a huge disservice to them. He didn’t give them time to accept and say goodbye. Three months later and they’re still hurt and angry.

      As always, I understood where they were coming from and allowed myself to be their verbal punching bag instead of defending myself. Each time hoping they’d realize I was in pain too. This wasn’t the first time I allowed myself to be in this position. As I’ve said before, I’ve always been the caretaker. Just once I’d like it to be the exception to the rule and have someone step in and care for me instead.

      Sure, Sean’s kids list their father, but damn it, I lost my husband too. Surely, that has to count for something.

      I look around the clean garage. I’d started the great-house-urge there. I figured the stuff stored there would be the easiest to organize or dispose of, and then I’d have a base to work from as I sorted each room in the rest of the house. I was over halfway done, which meant that I could contact the realtor sooner than later. Maybe once the house was gone, Sean’s kids would ease up on me.

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