Sunday writing chat prompts for 6 November 2022

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    • #8886

      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: trivial, gown, college, wriggle, stereotype. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “if you can get away with it.” (10 min)

      3. Write about an expected malfunction. (10 min)

    • #8887

      Call me stupid, but I waited for Krista to appear most of the day. Even after Ted called to tell me about his conversations with her at the grocery store.

      Everything she said to him confirmed what I thought. Knowing what I did about trauma and the way it can affect people’s thought processes, plus the way her mother treated her as a child, it’s no wonder she reacted the way she did.

      Ted said she thought she was protecting me.

      I don’t doubt that for a minute. Now it’s my turn to protect her and free her from whatever ties still threatened her. And apparently threaten me, if what Ted said she’d told him had any merit, which I’m assuming it did. It’s one thing for a scared kid to take an action, t’s another completely for a nearly fifty-year-old to continue with the same action. Especially if they’ve said there are no other alternatives.

      I knew how damaging rumours could be to a person’s reputation. I’m not sure what Krista’s mom thought she had on me, but knowing her, it was more substantial that a simple rumour.

      Time to beat her at her own game.

      Knowing Krista, the way I did, it wasn’t something trivial that made her break my heart and break all ties with me and then leave town before graduating high school.

      She’d been so excited to walk across the stage in her cap and gown. She’d been in stiff competition with another student to become valedictorian. She left school before final exams which tanked her grades and disqualified her from the scholarships she’d won.

      Very unusual behaviour for a stereotypical over-achiever.

      Somehow, I knew her mother was at the root of all this. I just had to figure out what her angle was and find a way around it. There were very few things I couldn’t find a way to wriggle out of. I wasn’t about to fail now.

      I wasn’t doing this to get Krista back. I’m not even sure it would be possible, even if she was willing.

      We both needed closure.

      My relationships were few and far between and to be honest, I’d pretty much given up on ever finding someone. Something inside me broke when she said goodbye. I haven’t been able to trust anyone else not to do the same thing.

      Even though her new last name meant she was probably married, the look on her face when she recognized me yesterday told me she hadn’t moved on completely. She still had regrets.

      If we could get away with it, I’d love to sit down and hash it all out.
      Krista still seems wary about her mother and after what she told Ted, it seems to be more than residual fear of an overly strict parent. Krista said she was only back in town because her mother forced her to return for an extended visit.

      She’s a full-grown woman still giving in to an abusive parent who presumably, she should never have to see. The question was why.

      I took Ted up on his offer to talk to Theo. See if he could learn anything from Krista’s brother and his malfunctioning brain.

    • #8888

      “Why don’t you reach out to Environmentals and ask if we can borrow a cup of nitrogen?” said Mona. Jun had floated the idea she’s worked up during her overnight shift, using nitrogen instead of xenon for the ion drive.

      “OK, I’ll do that. They keep it in liquid form in tanks on the outer cylinders, right?”

      “Right,” said Gwen. “We did a tour down there before you came aboard.”

      “Yeah, I was still busy doing to college at the Academy, waiting for the official gown of approval.”

      “Which of course didn’t come until you prove yourself with us. All that ‘in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree…’ Verbiage on the front page of your thesis,” said Gwen.

      “Yeah, that. Oh, also I’m wondering about plumbing. If they have surplus, we still need to get it from their pipe system into ours.”

      “The fittings on the pipes are purposely made incompatible so you can’t hook up hydrazine to the oxygen system,” said Mona. “That could be non-trivial. There’s a machine shop down on Deck Ten, aft, if it comes to that.”

      So Jun spent some time wriggling around in the stereotypical org charts, trying to figure out who, in particular, in Environmentals might be available to chat about what kinds of things might be possible. Budgets for how much of their nitrogen they were going to be needing for the atmosphere. And she went through the maps of which spaces were used for what purposes, found the machine shop, and spent a few of her precious minutes on break walking down to have a look at it for herself.

      The machinist was just locking up for the night, but turned the lights on again and listened while Jun explained what she might be needing.

      “Huh,” he said. “That sounds like a clever idea. I’ll look at the specs tomorrow and see how hard it would be. And of course you need this yesterday, right?”

      Jun chuckled politely. “Next week would do. The Attitudes people have to figure out how to get their equipment to keep us pointed the right direction before we restart the engine. So there’s time to do it right.”

      “Says you,” said the machinist. “Who I’m guessing haven’t ever machined much of anything.”

      “True enough. I came as soon as we started thinking seriously about the possibility.”

      “And you should check with the Supply department to make sure they don’t have such a thing in their stores.”

      “Right. It’s already on my list. If you need some encouragement to rearrange priorities, I’m sure I can get some support from the Chief Engineer,” said Jun.

      “It’s nice to have a bit of weight to throw around, if you can get away with it,” he said. Jun waited while he checked her out, assessing her body mass in his mind. At least she hoped that’s what he was thinking about.

      “We’ll be in touch,” said Jun, “Remind me what your name is?”

      “David Strom,” said the machinist.

      Jun stopped by the canteen on her way back to her station in the control room. While waiting for coffee, she muttered to herself, “We’ll be in touch, indeed. While he was checking out my figure. Really smooth, girl.”

      “Systems, Prop,” said Jun on the voice loop when she had sat down. “I’m back online.”

      “Copy that, Prop,” said Gin, the overnight systems engineer. Her face appeared around the partition, and, off loop, she asked “Did you bring me coffee?”

      “Of course,” said Jun, and handed the second container over.

      Jun checked through all the status screens that pertained to the propulsion system. The thruster system was fine; the ion engine was offline as it had been for a couple days, waiting for the Attitude guys (and girl) to figure out how to keep the ship pointed the right way before thrusting further. She twisted her head around, looking around the curved deck and into the Attitude cubicle, where there were two engineers huddled in conference. They’d been like that since the anomaly, working long hours so there were always two of them on shift at a time.

      Jun was interested to see that one of her classmates was in Environmentals. There had been an even dozen Midshippers on the shuttle, and she had lost track of who went to which departments. Except that Gin was the systems engineer on her shift, and also her podmate.

      Jane seemed to be online, so Jun called her, off loop.

      “Hey, it’s Jun Jeong. I’m in Propulsion. Do you have some time to talk through an idea we’re working on?”

      “Jun! Nice to hear your voice. I kinda lost track of… everybody, trying to study up on my system.”

      “I know the feeling,” said Jun. “So as you probably know we are in free drift. There was an anomaly in the attitude control system, uh, Thursday? I think it was?” Jun counted on her fingers and couldn’t actually remember how many shifts it had been since then. “Anyway, when we come online again, we’re going to need just a little more xenon than we have on board, to get us to Mars.”

      “That sounds dire,” said Jane. “How can we help?”

      “We’d like to borrow some nitrogen to shoot out the tail pipe,” said Jun.

      “I, uh, hmm. Would that work?” said Jane.

      “We’re not sure just yet. The grey suits at Satellite Beach are running the numbers. But just supposing it’s feasible…”

      “I’ll have to ask my group leader,” said Jane. “How much do you need?”

    • #8890

      This is a guest contribution from Ude, a new participant. –ed

      It was always a trial getting ready for the hot date. Well the date that wasn’t really a date. Just a gathering in the worst place ever – a pub. Meeting his College friends or out to watch the thrilling band with a mixture of young and ageing revellers. I had to wriggle into the pure new wool mini skirt that I’d treated myself to, 5 years ago. Surprised it still fitted me. There’s one stereotype, as you age you get fatter and dress with more mediocrity. I had a good lean, strong figure. Those 1 hour sessions in the gym were not money down the drain. He had given me that awful comment , “You look good for your age”.
      Then realised his mistake. It’s alright for guys to wander round with a beer belly. There goes another stereotype! I squeezed into black patent boots. Yes, I think I look good enough to eat! A third stereotype but who cares.
      I picked up my phone, slung the black leather Russell and Bromley bag over my shoulder. Then shouted to Nen, “I’m off out now”
      I didn’t wait for her reply. I was to worried about missing the train.

      1. Nelly was digging the last bit of earth from her garden, right at the back where the end wall hid the railway line. Foxes liked to come out at night, nose around, annoy Chocolate who gave as good as she got with her ear splitting snarls. She even got her claws out for one fox who unwittingly tried to nab her purina tuna flavoured dinner that Jade left out on the back doorstep.
        This particular fox, shaped like a narrow box, smelly from loafing around the bins had come into the garden last night, a rabbit in its mouth. Next doors pet. It saw me looking at its bleeding jaws with some fear, not much as thy don’t scare me. So I leaned over tried to catch Bobby from her slack jaw. The creature tightened her grip. I grabbed the spade behind me, whacked the stupid fox on its head.
        So here I am making a grave for this animal. If you can get away with it, you do what you must!

      2. An expected malfunction
        “We are now approaching Edinburgh Station, oh I’m so sorry passengers but I have been informed that we will need to wait for the green signal, as the track is not clear”
        “This happens all the time when I catch this train. Five hours journey, reading my book, eating too expensive dried up egg sandwiches – (nothing vegan), I can usually have a little nap but as I’m travelling alone, nothing personal, but I can’t trust anyone, I have to keep my eyes open, keep my belongings close. So here we go again. You know this delay will not be short. Last time I came to Edinburgh to visit my sister, that would have been three months ago, Christmas, they kept us waiting for 30 minutes! I was itching for the loo but I had to hold it in. I’d be so embarrassed if I went and someone went after me. You know how it is. Train on hold, not able to flush the toilet. Imagine that! My bowels would let loose some stinking shit after me eating all those plastic tasting sandwiches.
        Sorry I didn’t mean to be so crude. You and I strangers and all! It looks like it might be a long wait though. “

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