Sunday writing chat prompts for 5 March 2023

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    • #9584

      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: bay, low, vacuum, spend, obligation. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “caught on camera.” (10 min)

      3. Write about feeling seen or feeling understood. (10 min)

    • #9585

      There was something unspoken, somehow. It was either too sensitive to talk about, or so obvious no words were needed, which was good, because I for one had no words to speak of such things.

      But we hung out in the lounge in first floor northeast, which we usually had to ourselves, watching games on the lawn through the bay window, wondering aloud sometimes if we had ever found all the light switches for when the sun got low behind us. It was a pleasant way to spend spare moments, and many that we couldn’t spare, for a semester.

      And we graduated, flung out of academia along very different trajectories, and somehow the obligation to stay in touch lapsed. When Ann wasn’t there in front of me, knowing, looking through me, somehow it was harder to talk to her, or to anyone else.

      And so, as Renee put it in one of her stories, work harder, feel a little less bad. Fill the vacuum with stuff you have to do anyway.

      “Oh, but…” Ann interrupted.

      “Oh, but?” said Becca. “Sounds like another story there.”

      “But Halloween,” said Ann.

      “You may tell that one if you wish,” I said. “Or another time, perhaps.”

      “It kind of applies, though,” said Ann.

      So, right. How to say this, any of this, without embarrassing myself, Ann, and all of you…

      Come Halloween a bunch of the kids organized a costume party, off campus. In those days it wasn’t illegal for undergrads to drink and we did. But first, there’s the question of what to wear, and even before that, what’s this holiday thing about anyway.

      And there was that look again, like duh, you thought I already knew the answer to that one, for people like us, at least. People for whom every day is dress-up day, whatever comes out of our closets is drag of some kind or another. Now, finally, here’s a holiday where it’s okay to dress up as anything that strikes your fancy.


      Ann filled up the ensuing silence. “So we went as each other. Everybody who knew either of us knew were kind of an item, knew what kinds of stuff we both wore…”

      We went, as she said, as each other. We went through each others’ closets. Ann’s not exactly girly, but there were a few skirts that were somehow characteristic. And a tunic thing and some undies with suitable stuffing.

      And from my collection a pair of worn-out jeans with a Swiss flag patch on the rump, and her choice of t-shirts. I was the kind of person who couldn’t let humorous shirts go by, on their way to cultural oblivion. Everybody knew if there was something to be figured out about a shirt slogan seen on camera, I would be wearing it in a few days.

      Another silence.

      Well, let me say this. It was suggestive of various kinds of things that could never happen in real life. Well, they could, and nowadays they do, but it required years of preparation and rethinking everything about my life and…

      Yeah, not being helpful. But there was Ann, dressed as me, looking at me inhabiting clothes she had loaned me, with that slogan on her flattened chest. And so we did. Like zombies obeying advertising jingles, but we saw through the clothes, the drag, the pretense, to who we really were, and acted out that script instead of the usual one marked Dating.

      And somehow, like being on stage in a particularly intense Method Acting scene, where the conjured emotion was more uncovered than djinned up, we saw each other again for the first time.

      It was… magical. Maybe more to the point, using words I learned later, it was sort of sacramental. Inward and spiritual grace flowing from outward and physical signs, to quote somebody’s catechism.

      And then we went back to being college kids, playing the hand nature had dealt us, whether we liked the game or not.

      And THEN we graduated, flung off on different tangents, if Ann will let me go there.

      Ann nodded, but she was looking at me the same way she had when we were twenty. Which would be fifty-some odd years ago now. Except that, instead of staring at her open-mouthed, I smiled for her.

    • #9586

      April passed in a blur of preparation. Truckloads of gravel had been delivered and Blake spent hours helping me wheelbarrow it fill in the sloped edge of my property to level it off after he built a retaining wall from old railway ties. He’d been going above and beyond any contractual obligation.
      Seriously, this guy had the connections to get anything.

      Today was gorgeous. The tide in the Bay of Fundy was low, making it hard not to spend my time watching the seals out on the exposed rocks. It always fascinated me how the water rose and fell. It was as if it had been sucked up by a vacuum and then released again to fill the space again.

      I had hours of it caught on camera. Every low tide revealed something new deposited by the currents.

      Back to the task at hand, I soaked the root balls of the trees Blake picked up in his big work truck this morning on his way here. We had three apple trees, two pear trees and a cherry tree to plant near the new retaining wall. And three lilacs to plant along the side. Once the roots were wet, I started attaching bird netting loosely over the leaves, tying them at the bottom to look like see through shower caps. They’d keep the birds and deer from chewing the leaves, flower buds and eventually the fruit while allowing the bees I to pollinate.

      Blake and I work in silence. Just like Bob and I used to. We talked so much during our work hours that it was nice to be with someone who got you, who understood what you needed without saying a word. Part of me knew that at the same time, this was a cop-out on my part. Maintain the companionable silence so you don’t have to talk about the elephant in the room.

      So I don’t have to decide if I’m done mourning enough to have another relationship.

      If I’m ready to risk the pain of losing another partner. or in Blake’s case, because he’s younger, do I want to put him through the pain of eventually losing me?

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