Sunday writing chat prompts for 3 Oct 2021

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    • #7652

      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: feeling, perforate, cottage, jungle, mislead. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “There was a person I knew.” (10 min)

      3. Write about something done for healing purposes. (10 min)

    • #7653

      The rent was reasonable. The funky apartment house had a checkerboard pattern on the facade, opaque panels and windows alternating in the stairway up the front of the building. The manager’s office was in the basement, where he could hear the superannuated elevator wheezing.

      It was rainy when he moved in, and the telephone (they had landlines in those days) was extremely noisy when it was hooked up from afar. The first month’s rent was due anyway, so he found the office, knocked, and introduced himself.

      “John Mitchell,” he said.

      “Call me Freddy, Everybody else does,” said the manager. “Were you named after the Attorney General?”

      “He was named after me,” said John. He explained the phone problem.

      “Ah,” said Freddy. “The repair guy will be here tomorrow. He’ll open up this box here above my desk and water will gush out. Seems the downspout dumps next to the foundation just where the phone line cuts through the foundation. But I have learned to move my desk when he comes.”

      John chuckled with Freddy. “It’s like living in a cottage in a jungle,” he said.

      Later that day, John went to the campus to find the department office. There were other folks looking, and eventually somebody found the directory that said the office was on the second floor. Given the room number, they found it at last.

      The department secretary was waiting for them, with a box of manila envelopes neatly alphabetized, each filled with all the paperwork involved in new employment as teaching assistants at a large public university in the Upper Midwest. The air outside had a feeling of Upper Midwest about it, even though it was still August. John took his big envelope into the conference room next door, filled in the forms, copied down his assigned office number, added the T key to his ring, and turned the whole mess in again, minus the handouts he was clearly intended to keep for himself.

      He climbed two flights of stairs, noted that the small bathroom on his floor was marked for men, unlike the one by the office. Presumably in a physics department most of the folks would be male, except for Madelein (or did she say Marilyn?) the graduate secretary, and some other few women here and there. The glossy brochure had an adjunct professor or zero-time associate or something who was mostly in the ag school and was obviously female. He couldn’t remember if there were any others.

      The fourth floor had a row of a dozen offices, each with two small desks, three or four chairs, a blackboard, a book case, and nothing else in them. There was a side hallway that seemed to be mostly lab space with one teaching experiment set up in each room, but there were a few offices there as well.

      John found his number, dropped off the instructions and orientation materials, a thing or two from his apartment, and a book, and then he went back to the main hallway. There were three or four other guys shooting the breeze with a girl.

      “There was a… person I knew,” she said. “Wouldn’t take no for an answer. I kind of hate that.”

      The guys nodded. Whether it was intended to perforate their egos or not, it was informative. This was not someone who would be easily mislead. Within five minutes of hearing her talk to five guys, he had developed a respectful opinion of her, well before he knew any of the guys at all.

      “Is anybody from around here? Is there a decent place to eat? I haven’t unpacked my kitchen stuff yet,” John said, when there was a lull in the conversation.

      “I could eat,” each of the others said in turn.

      “Not helpful,” John observed, grinning.

      “I think there was a Mexican joint across the street.”

      “Sold,” said John. If he had been told her name, he had already forgotten it. Just like… all four of the other guys, to be fair. She was already taking charge.

      So when they had ordered and sat down, John was about to suggest introducing themselves again when the pitcher was delivered with five glasses.

      “You get beer when you tell us your name. I’m Renee.”




      “Also John,” said John. He and the other John eyed each other suspiciously.

      “David,” said David. “And we’ll need more beer. I only got half a glass.”

      “Feels like fall already,” John said, just to have something, anything, to talk about.

      “I, for one, welcome our autumnal overlords,” said Renee. “I seem to have developed a sunburn, swimming off the pier behind the student union building.”

      John watched while she did something with her hair, so it wouldn’t touch her red shoulders. “Could you, like…” Renee asked, handing him a tube of sunburn cream.

      “I was just pondering the knot theory of whatever it was you did with your hair,” he said, mostly to avoid thinking about the fact that his palm was flat on her shoulder, moving lotion under the straps.

      She laughed. She seemed to laugh a lot, especially when somebody was making gendered comments in her general direction.

      “Thank you,” she said, with the second syllable at a higher pitch than the first, like a clerk summoning the next person in line. She took the tube of lotion and returned it to her bag.

    • #7654

      After talking to Tara, I was feeling more confident in the knowledge I was doing the right thing. I had a hero complex, which often got in the way of me living a life for myself. Hell, it’d taken me almost two years to reach the point where I was ready to give up on my marriage to Andrea. In hindsight, for my own mental health, I should have let go a long time ago.

      Maybe if I had, she wouldn’t have been so unhappy and could have cleaned herself up instead of becoming a raging alcoholic.

      I’m sure she didn’t start off intending to mislead me about the way she coped. Like me, I’m sure she thought we’d be happy. But lying to ourselves seems to be the worst kind of lies to weave. Before we know it, we’re battling a jungle of sticky webs. Unable to break free.

      If I looked too deeply, I’d realize that Andrea reminded me of a person I knew, at least physically. Tara. They were both strawberry blonds, petite, had similar tastes and their voices had a similar register. Only difference, from what I learned, Tara wasn’t a raging alcoholic, despite some difficult circumstances.

      The perforations in the neatly woven lie of my marriage to Andrea were big enough to walk through. Finally, that’s exactly what I was going to do, walk through them, and then right out the door.

      My dream now was a little cottage, on one of the islands in southern, BC. Close to my daughters and closer to Tara.

      Life was finally looking up.

      I was moving back home for a number of reasons but the biggest factor was I needed a place to lick my wounds and reset me inner mental rhythms. Learn that I don’t always need to be the hero. Sometimes I can let people look after me too.

      I don’t mean become a parasite and live on the backs of others but learn how to partner instead of taking over all the time. Surely, I’ve earned a rest. Time to just be grandpa and putter around with my motorcycle and gardens.

    • #7655

      One. —–

      Two. I’ve known a lot of people over the years, but what’s the point of remembering the past when I’ve put all that behind me?

      Three. Maybe the only way to move forward is to stop looking back. I wonder how much a person can leave behind before there’s nothing left.

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