Sunday writing chat prompts for 29 Jan 2023

Home Forums Just the Place for a Snark Sunday writing chat prompts for 29 Jan 2023

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    • #9476

      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: screen, list, growth, drawing, sandwich. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “That’s all, folks!” (10 min)

      3. Write about deciding what to do with a day off. (10 min)

    • #9477

      “Okay,” said Mona, at the end of a weekly meeting of the prop department. “There’s one more thing coming at us. During the layover after we deliver the emigres to Mars, while they’re delivering supplies, we need to verify that the nitrogen we’ve been using for reaction mass hasn’t done anything nasty to the thrusters.”

      Jun was, as always at these meetings, in the middle of what would otherwise be her sleep cycle. “I’m, like, drawing a blank… Several blanks, and I should know this, but how do we do that?”

      “Sample the exhaust nozzle, while the engines are disabled,” said Jon. “Get the chemical lab over in Environmentals to analyze it for us.”

      “And, let me guess, there’s no way to do it remotely,” said Jun.

      “Which is why you’re doing it while we’re in port,” said Mona. She grinned meaningfully at Jun.

      “Oh,” said Jun. “Oh, no. And yes, I passed all the vacuum suit procedure exams at the academy so in principle…”

      “Now’s the time you get to put principles in practice,” said Mona. “It’ll be a growth experience. Oh and we also wanted a sample of the backup hydrazine system, while you’re out there.”

      “Right. Who’s the extravehicular checkout person?” said Jun. “Make sure I have all the seals closed, tees dotted and eyes crossed?”

      “You’ve met Sylvia,” said Jon.

      “You can meet with her when we’re done here,” said Mona.

      “Girl’s gotta sleep sometime,” said Jun. “But, um…” She shook herself, ran fingers through her hair, and added, “Sure.”

      So they set up a time for the following swing shift, when Jun would be alert. She talked Mona, the group leader, into taking her shift for a couple days, to fulfill her monthly watchstanding requirement.

      “There’s less to do in port anyway,” Jun said, trying to sound encouraging.


      “Okay, I think I’m ready,” said Jun.

      “Bathroom first, then put on the thermal underwear, and we’ll get you into the suit we picked out yesterday,” said Syl.

      “Check,” said Jun.

      “If you think of it as walking into a very small spacecraft and sitting down it goes easier than putting it on like a garment.”

      “Ah. I can see that,” said Jun. They were on deck two, so gravity was just two-tenths earth normal, and that made the struggle easier.

      “All the seals on the list are in order,” said Jun.

      “Concur,” said Syl on the comm loop in Jun’s head. With the helmet on, she couldn’t hear sounds in the room any more.

      “Here’s your toolbox; I tethered it to your belt,” said Syl. “That’s all, folks!”

      “Copy that,” said Jun. “And the procedure and diagrams are on my head bug. Let’s get started.”

      Syl pushed Jun into the airlock, which doubled as a lift to Deck Zero, which is on the rotation axis of the ship. Aside from rotating, there’s no gravity there. And most of the user serviceable parts are in the axial compartment where the ion engine lived.

      “Prop, EVOne, your loop… comm check?” Said Jun.

      “We’ve got you loud and clear,” came Mona’s voice in her head.

      “Likewise,” said Jun. “I’m at the hydrazine port now. Sampler widget ready…”

      Mona chuckled at the fact that Jun didn’t know the names for all the vacuum tools.

      “Um, huh. Seems the augmented reality heads-up screen system is projecting pipes and valves where there aren’t pipes and valves,” said Jun. “Like, maybe it thinks I’m over there or something.”

      “EV One, EV Base on the EV loop,” said Syl. “Let me run a diagnostic on your suit’s location system. It’ll just be a moment.”

      While she waited, Jun wondered what she would do with tomorrow’s swing shift, assuming this task went well. Mona had taken two of her shifts, just to stay in practice, what it’s like in the hot seat, so she could manage the usual watchstanders more effectively. She wondered who-all would be up and about at 10pm ship time, and not busy with their jobs. There was a ship’s library she’d been meaning to sample.

      “Or maybe it’s because you have the primary system instead of the backup system drawing,” said Mona.

      “That…” Said Jun, scrolling to the document number and title, in the block in the corner. “That’d be correct. Loading the backup drawing now.” A few flicks of the eyes and it came up, neatly superimposed on reality. “Bingo. EV Base, you may cancel the diagnostic.”

      “It just finished. You passed,” said Syl.

      “EV One here, getting down to work,” said Jun. She read the procedure aloud, step by step. Attach the sample bottle to the port, turn till it clicks. Grab the handle, turn till that clicks. She’d expected to hear gas hissing, or feel the bottle grow cold in her hand, but of course she was insulated from both by the suit and the vacuum. She wondered idly why in her subconscious she expected it to be dark in the enclosed chamber if it was at vacuum. Even after a year in space, she still expected vacuum, zero gravity, and darkness to coincide.

    • #9478

      I sat with my girls and pondered their words of encouragement as I nibbled on one of the whoopie pies Brenda brought with her. She knew I had a weakness for these sandwich cookies, especially when they were homemade.

      The arguments they listed against my reluctance to move on after Bob’s death were sound.

      My late husband wasn’t leaving it to chance. He knew I’d remain loyal to his memory and took steps to make sure I didn’t think I had to stay single to do so.

      I know he told me he didn’t want me to be alone, but the fact he’d told our daughters and daughter-in-law, and made them promise to intervene if I got in my own way… well it made me feel cared for in a way that I never expected.

      Drawing strength from their support, I smiled. “So you really think Blake would be interested?”

      They looked at each other with hopeful expressions. “Oh course.” They said in unison.

      “I have proof.” Bonnie pulled her phone out and tapped the screen until she found what she was looking for. “See.”

      On the screen was a video of Blake and I planting the first batch of seeds a few weeks ago. Bonnie had stopped by and filmed what we’d done do far. She claimed her husband was interested in the process and our growth expectations by the time the plants could be planted outside. It was apparently a ruse because she set her phone down when I ran into the house to get something for her and then tilted it up again as I left so we could see Blake watch me leave. The longing in his expression was unmistakable.

      “When are you going to start making your move?” Bonnie’s voice came from off camera. “You know we’ve got your back.”

      Blake didn’t seem to look surprised at the question. “I know.” He shrugged and looked back down at the seed packets in his hand. “She’s still grieving and honestly I think she still sees me as the kid she used to babysit.”

      “I don’t know. She was watching you pretty closely today.”

      “Just making sure I was planting the right seeds.” His look toward Bonnie was stern. “That’s it, that’s all. You folks will just have to be patient and wait until she’s ready.” He looked down again with a sad expression.
      “and when she’s ready, there is no guarantee it will be me she’s interested in.”

      “Maybe I should take a day off and take Mom to a spa, have some quality mother-daughter time.”

      “Bonnie, leave it be.” Blake was getting upset. “She isn’t ready and she won’t be any faster if you start pushing her.”

      “Okay.” Bonnie’s voice came over the phone’s speaker before the video cut off.

      “See, proof. He’s yours for the taking.” Bonnie said as she pocketed her phone again.

    • #9479

      This is Ude’s contribution:

      Her eyes were on the window. It was a screen that partially let light in. Three o’ c lock in the afternoon sunlight , trapped noises of five, six, seven year olds, not quite reading for the big school, who left their nurseries accompanied by their parents and were dropped like heavy luggage in the play area opposite the estate. She could see them clearly, list the names of the ones who lived on her landing. There was Ailya who always had a sandwich in one hand. A neat triangle with something yellow and hard, probably cheese spilling out of two layers of brown bread. Josse, Maya, liked to play on the roundabout, one would run at a manic pace, drawing a circular breeze around them, circles spinning like a spinning top gone mad. I wondered at their growth. In 2 years time would they still be screaming withy delight as their heads swirled and danced that round dance of the roundabout? On the verge of throwing up their afternoon snack hastily prepared by their parents. Or would the sedate pattern of the swings lull them into a calm peace as they rose and tried to meet the clouds.

      I liked hearing the sounds from outside they were still audible even though my window was snugly closed. Voices from the courtyard drifted and settled on the glass.

      “Did you see Maureen yesterday. They say she’s getting married. Her Mum told me.”

      “She’ll be leaving the block then. I hear her husband to be, works in the City, in Investment. They’ll probably buy a house, at least 3-bedroomed if she’s expecting”

      “She’s pregnant then!” The voice rose a pitch higher.

      “Didn’t you know? I know the family well. They moved in same time as me, over 20 years ago. I’ll probably be invited to the wedding.

      The note of smugness in Saffron’s voice (it had to be Saffron) was muffled by silence.

      Evelyn lowered her voice conscious that she might be overheard.

      “Good luck to them, getting away from here. Although it’s not all bad”

      “That’s all folks. Let me through please, you’re blocking me. I have a delivery.”

      The Postman could be arrogant at times. He was new. I didn’t recognise his voice. Then I heard the loud knock on the door.

      I didn’t open the door. I liked the feel of sitting in my armchair facing the sounds and colours of the block. The knock was loud too loud. Disturbing my reverie. I heard a scraping shuffling sound like paper sliding. Probably the postman or postwoman, you couldn’t assume these days, had shoved a thick envelope under the door or a thin package.

      This was one of many days off when I could decide to do nothing. Stay in my armchair, my blanket wrapped around my shoulders, as I was suddenly feeling cold. And do nothing. Just watch the world go by and look out for the odd mouse that had no fear of being caught or trapped.

      It was getting dark. The sounds were being sucked into a vacuum of silence. I could sense the darkness. I had no need to get up and draw the blinds to cover the window.

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