Sunday writing chat prompts for 27 Jun 2021

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    • #7415

      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: paralyzed, claim, formation, positive, fail. (10 min)

      2. Fill in the blank: “Not enough room in the _______.” (10 min)

      3. Write about being unable to hear. (10 min)

    • #7416

      The shift ended. The ion thruster provided only a very small thrust, and made very little noise, but when the reaction mass gas feed valve opened at last, the control room was paralyzed with anticipation, everyone holding their breath listening for any of the small sounds they had learned to ignore when they were present. Gin was one of the few who had figured out what was going on just by a change in the feel of the ship.

      “When I was a little kid we lived a few klicks from a railroad,” Jun told her, later, in the bar on Deck Zero. “The first sign of the Troubles was when I woke up in the dark, listening for the train that didn’t come.”

      “Yeah, exactly,” said Gin.

      “To the dog that didn’t bark,” said Jun, holding up her tube of gin and tonic.

      Gin reached across the space between them and held hers, the other side up. There was a dull clicking of plastic containers.

      “The rest of the Systems group claimed they can’t hear the Ion Thruster,” said Gin. “And I’m not absolutely sure I can, either. But it seemed so quiet after it failed.”

      “Shut down by the attitude glitch,” said Jun. “It won’t do to thrust off in the wrong direction. The interlock between the two systems is a positive thing.”

      “If you say so,” said Gin, grinning. The corners of her mouth looked like they moved down from Jun’s spot on the other side of the spin axis of the ship. “There’s some social formation edumication stuff we’ll be needing to do, to get the Prop and Attitudes group to talk to each other as closely as their hardware systems do.”

      “Edumicate me, I’m yours,” said Jun. “Just… can we wait til all that adrenaline gets cancelled by the alcohol first?”

      “Yeah, we’re not doing anything at 2am,” said Gin.

      “Except…” said Jun. “Turn your feet the same way as mine so I can tell when you’re smiling.”

      Gin complied. “You did good,” she murmured in Jun’s ear.

      “Yeah?” said Jun. “Why am I so jittery then?”

      “Adrenaline is great stuff when you need it,” said Gin. “But there’s not enough room in your system for it to metabolize when you’re done with the stressful situation.”

      “Uh huh,” said Jun, skeptically. “Do they make Systems people go through stress management classes or something? That sounded wise. I’ll have to see if it really works.”

      “The biological half-life is like an hour or something,” said Gin.

      “So I should be…” Jun said, flipping her eyes to bring up the time of night. “I should be ready for bed in…” She accelerated her drink container past her eyes, to settle the liquid and allow her to judge how much was left. “…in about twenty minutes,” she said.

      “Perchance to sleep,” said Gin. The smile faded a little.

      “Or, you know, not,” said Jun. “The whole ‘miles to go before I sleep’ thing describes coming down off of adrenaline, don’t you think?”

      “Did you make promises you need to keep?” said Gin. She grinned.

      “Don’t they make Systems engineers remember all the sweet nothings their roommates told them when the Environmentals were screwy?” said Jun.

      “You’re not responsible for whatever you said when you were half asleep,” said Gin.

      “Maybe I’d like to be,” said Jun.

      Gin repeated the gas-gage maneuver with her own drink, allowing the recoil to slowly spin her feet halfway around. She found a foot restraint and went to belly up to the bar again. “Two more,” she ordered.

      Jun downed the last of her drink and pulled herself to the opposite side of the bar. “I think you have one of the most interesting workspaces on the ship,” she told the bartender. “Mixologist in the zero-grav lounge.”

      “Thanks,” said Rita. “I’m glad somebody notices. It took a while to figure out how to do it without spilling, and a while longer to figure out what to do about spills when they happen.”

      Gin and Jun nodded from their spots. Everybody remembered early training flights when they were still getting the hang of variable gravity, playing with snowball-sized water drops, and then trying to clean up the mess when they plated out on a wall or something. Jun’s first try had frozen to a little round porthole, featuring a window on endless night. Which contained it nicely, to be sure, but the frost from scraping it wasn’t easily caught. Adding more water made an ice plug she could pry out with her fingernails. But did she plan ahead enough to have a suitable bag for that? No, she did not. This is only one of a few thousand reasons for training flights.

      “On the house,” said Rita, handing a drink to each of them. “I understand you’ve rescued us from orbiting aimlessly forever.”

      “I guess?” said Jun. “I mean, yeah, but it’s kind of in my job description.”

      “Just part of the job,” said Gin.

      “And meanwhile I’m in the overhead unwinding engineers and playing with liquids in zeroG,” said Rita.

    • #7417

      Once we were at the cabin, we joined Seamus and Sean. They thought it would be a good idea for them to walk around to the dock area first, followed by us and then the girls and Mom, staying back for the first few minutes to see how things played out. Just as we were about to round the corner, I stopped. Paralyzed for a second.

      Luke halted at the same moment. We looked at each other, understanding what each other was going through before we forged ahead to meet the man who fathered us.

      Whether this was a good idea or we failed miserably, I was positive today was one of those life-changing moments. My brothers and I had already laid claim to each other. What would our father do?

      We proceeded in formation. My half-brothers blocked their dad’s view of anyone coming behind them. He didn’t see us until we were close enough to see clearly every expression that crossed his face.

      And maybe relief?

      “What are you doing here?” He said to Luke.

      It made me wonder if he hadn’t figured out who I was yet. I don’t know why. Any fool could see the four of us were related to each other. We all took after him.

      Seamus spoke. “We thought it was time to get to know our brothers.”

      His eyes flew to me. “Alex?”

      “Hi… Father.” I hesitated over the word Dad. This man in front of me would never be Dad. That title was reserved for the man who raised me.

      “It’s really you?” he looked at his sons. “But how? I don’t understand?”

      “Martha let us know Luke was finally coming home and that he was bringing our other brother with him.” Sean told his dad. “Luke, Alex and Aaron found each other through those DNA tests.”

      “Who’s Aaron?” The older man leaned against the railing of the dock.

      “My son.” Luke said. “I was looking for my long, lost brother last year and found out I had an eighteen year old son.” He slapped me lightly on the back. “This year, I got my brother back and yesterday picked up two half brothers.”

      “I guess there wasn’t enough room in the world for me to hide.” I shrugged. “Not that I knew I was hiding. I didn’t know I was adopted until recently.”

      I felt Amanda’s arm come around my waist as the women joined us.

      “Martha?” my father looked at his ex. “How did you get my boys involved?”
      “I didn’t.” She said, a little miffed. “I abided by our deal. They came to me.”

      “Deal?” Luke questioned but she waved him off. “Later.”

      “How did you know?” He asked his sons.

      “Seriously, Dad?” Seamus asked. “Luke’s parentage is the worst kept secret. We’ve known since before we understood what it meant.”

      “We asked Mom once.” Sean added. “She went ballistic, so we never brought it up again until I started working with Martha on the festival a few years ago. But by then, Luke was gone and hadn’t come back. No one knew if the older brother even knew about us.”

      “How did I not hear any of this? Martha why didn’t you tell me the boys were questioning you?”

      “Your sons are almost forty years old.” She wagged her finger at him. “I tried to steer them to talk to you directly, but they wanted to get to know their brother. They figured, even after all this time, you would stand in their way.”

      “Janice is going to have a fit. She thought this was all forgotten.”

      “Mom is just going to have to deal with it.” Sean said. “Honestly, I can’t believe you ignored your son for his entire life just to maintain some sort of social standing. It makes me question if I really know you.”

      “You’d better tell them everything. They can’t think you deserted Luke.”

      “But you did?” Luke looked confused. “You never once acknowledged me. You never even spoke to me unless you had no other choice.”

      “I paid child support.” Our father said. “And I paid your way through university.”

      “That wasn’t a grant?” Luke’s voice cracked. He turned to our mother. “Why would you let me think it was a grant?”

      Our father answered. “My wife had me over a barrel. I couldn’t publicly acknowledge you in any way. She didn’t know about my financial support.”

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