Sunday writing chat prompts for 30 April 2023

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    • #9669

      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: protest, island, forge, opposed, hallway. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “The colors are impressive.” (10 min)

      3. Write about an excuse. (10 min)

    • #9670

      It was one of the few times Olivia and Josh were out on the town as themselves. Since the first chance encounter with Eck and Joey had gone so well and they’d become good friends, they met from time to time at a restaurant in town. Joey wanted Ann along, so there was a reservation for 5 in Josh’s name.

      “It’s fun having you people along,” said Ann. “When it’s just grad students, conversation tends to be either on our work (the latest detail in a generation-long argument) or university politics.”

      “You actually, like, have lives and stuff,” said Joey. “I’m a little envious.”

      “Well, huh,” said Josh. “I wouldn’t consider our situation to be enviable.”

      “I was gonna say,” said Olivia. “I mean, I enjoy my work and all, and they have a diversity policy that should probably cover, but I find I don’t dare tilt at that particular windmill.”

      “Maybe we can have a 60s-style protest. All five trans people in town marching around city hall chanting… uh… something,” said Eck. “You’re the words person, make up a slogan,” he told Joey.

      “And yeah, there’s a policy,” said Ann. “But something tells me if we make too much noise the politicians might decide there shouldn’t be. They’re not exactly sure what they’re opposed to, but they do know that they’re against it. Whatever it is.”

      “Maybe it, whatever it is, needs a new pronoun,” said Joey, with a chuckle. “We should open a forge: slogans and pronouns made to order.”

      “Who gets to run the bellows?” said Josh,

      “Uh, the bullhorn?” said Olivia.

      “No no, the thing that blows air on the fire in the forge,” said Josh. “Though bellowing somehow seems more in keeping with the tactics on the other side.”

      “No person is an island,” said Ann. “The draft from the bellows made the fire hot enough to burn the islands to the water line.”

      “Ouch,” said Eck. “I’m grateful there’s somebody on my hallway who kinda understands me, or I would have been one of those scorched-earth islands.”

      “The metaphors are getting more violent,” Olivia observed.

      “As is the threatening rhetoric,” said Eck.

      “It’s true,” said Josh, quietly. Everyone looked around to see if anybody else in the restaurant looked a little too interested in their conversation.

      When the moment had passed, Olivia said, in a low voice, “The guy at table twelve, over by the kitchen.”

      “Yeah, he was my pick also,” said Josh.

      “Wha?” said Eck.

      “If there’s anybody here to watch us, or who decided based on what they’ve overheard that we need watching, he’s the guy,” said Olivia.

      “Wow, I had no idea,” said Eck.

      “You’re not paranoid enough. Or the rest of us are too paranoid,” said Ann. “It pays to be aware of the circumstances.”

      “I’m beginning to see that,” said Eck. “Thanks to you folks, I can now see over my shoe-tops at the scary world outside.”

      “So many impressive shades of grey,” said Olivia. “Sorry, that’s the cop speaking.”

      “I kinda want to look at the world with one of those indicator stains we use in the lab,” said Eck.

      “Yeah,” said Ann. “Spritz a bit of something in the air and see who turns purple or whatever.”

      Joey rolled their eyes for Josh’s benefit. “I know they’re just… bonding over shop talk or whatever, but sometimes it seems like an excuse to be vague about what people are talking about.”

      “Olivia loses me with the police procedural stuff sometimes,” said Josh. “I try not to let it bother me. It’s not even on the same stage as the real worry of being a cop’s significant other.”

      “Heeeey, we’re always careful,” said Olivia. “You know that.”

      “And we’re always careful in our home life,” said Josh. “The price of eternal vigilance is the occasional slip-up.”

      “Which is another reason we’re out with friends relaxing,” said Olivia.

      “Relaxing by trying to pick an assailant out of the crowd before they strike,” said Eck. “I dunno about the rest of you but that doesn’t seem relaxing to me.”

      “Point,” said Ann. “If they come for us, we’ll deal in the moment. Now about those protest slogans.” She grinned at Joey, who smiled in return.

    • #9671

      I don’t mean to sound cranky. It’s an occupational hazard when doing, what I do, twenty-four-seven. This isn’t really a protest either. I’m exactly where I need to be right now, being strengthened by the forge of life. But can’t they turn the heat down? Wasn’t menopause enough?

      There I go complaining again.

      I’m not opposed to the life I have. I chose it after all. I knew the risks and could have walked away. I didn’t so here I am. At the end of the long hallway, with the light shining, beckoning me closer.

      This time though, while the light signifies the end of the journey, I want to linger here, despite the difficulties. What comes afterward will be healthier… for me, at least. But it will be the end of an era. The end of a lifetime. The end of a life.

      Morbid much?

      The colours are impressive in that prism of light at the end of the hallway: passionate red, white hot rage, friendship yellow and all the pinks and oranges in between. The most relevant to us at this moment, the purple of Alzheimer’s.

      Part of me wants to make any excuse to get off this track, but no matter what I do, this train will keep moving in the direction it must. There is more at stake than just my tender feelings and dread at what is to come.

      Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

    • #9672

      this is Ude’s contribution:

      They were all grouped in the hallway. This time it was in Tom’s house or really his Mother’s place. Such a spacious space and they still liked to gather in a shabby line in the corridor that led to the kitchen. The light stretched from the large kitchen windows that faced the back garden and shone a natural torch on the group. Tom’s parents were away for a week. At some tropical West Indian Island. Barbados, I think. I know that when I was alive Tom would talk about the two of us hiding ourselves in his Father’s huge trolley suitcase and travelling for free to some luxurious place.

      As I floated above the heads of my brother and two sisters I felt like an intruder, just for a second though. Would I be able to forge some positive feelings, a bit of forgiveness or perhaps just a tiny bit of understanding? Then I thought, no scrap that ridiculous feeling, just enjoy without guilt, seeing your siblings in turmoil.

      Who would tell Mother? Where would he or she speak to her? When? What? These ‘W’ questions needed to be answered. I had a feeling I should say something, protest at their ignorance. But I kept silent. I couldn’t say anything anyway. My sprit, soul, whatever you call it, was detached from my body and floating along the ceiling.

      ’I’m opposed to this whole idea. You know that don’t you Jay”

      “The colours are impressive”

      Jay was admiring a Picasso print that hung across most of the wall immediately in front of them.

      “Look, there’s no point ignoring me”. Jay said forcefully. “You’re going to have to tell her today. It’s been two weeks. They’ll be signs. Someone will notice something. One of her neighbours”

      Shan looked at Ellie. There was fear in her eyes. Ellie forced a smile and said,

      “I think Jay is right. We will leave it for a few days. We’ll go and see Mum this week. All of us. We’ll tell her”

      “What do we say if she asks us why we didn’t tell her sooner?” Ajee always thought one step ahead of the others.

      I hovered above her head eager to hear how Jay would respond.

      “Mum rarely leaves the house these days. Just the odd shopping trip or a walk to Church. We can wait for a few days. Think things through”.

      Well, there has been too much thinking going on my sisters and brothers. Time to act. I don’t know how much time I have left in this spirit world beyond my earthly body; before I have to enter my body and go beyond the spirit world. They wouldn’t understand anyway.

      Jay’s phone suddenly rang.

      “Hi Mum, how are you?” He signalled for the clan to be silent, putting a finger to his lips.

      “What! His voice rose to double volume. You’re going to her place. You’re in a cab. You’re there! Mum wait, a minute. No, no don’t use her key to let yourself in”.

      I could hear Mother asking.

      “Why not Jay?”

      Jay was fumbling, trying to catch an excuse from thin air.

      “Because I’m dead Mum”.

      I was talking but no-one could hear me. As I dangled above their heads I thought, soon I will be back with my body. Poor Mother!

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