Tagged: writing prompts
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.
Use the following five words: quota, drag, husband, recommendation, bargain. (10 min)
Use the phrase, “Let me answer a different question.” (10 min)
Write about talking yourself out of a corner. (10 min)
Friday is a time when grad students drink beer. Half the lab seemed to have lives, at least this particular week, so there were three, but we, by force of habit, took the usual table for six against the back wall of the bar.
“Can we join you?”
They sat down before we could react.
“Hi… I’m Morgan,” said the woman to my left. “We’re from the gender studies program. I use she, her, hers pronouns.”
“Gender studies is an actual thing?” Peter said. Calling him an unreconstructed Neanderthal would be insulting to that noble race.
It seemed polite to respond in kind, so I said, “I’m Ann; we’re in molecular biology. Um, she, her, hers pronouns.”
It was almost like a table tennis match… back to you.
“Bill. It’s an interdepartmental program. I’m in linguistics. He, him, his.”
And the person across from me. “Joey. Um, I’m in anthro… though maybe we could come up with a less gender-specific name for it. Today I’m using singular they, them, theirs.”
The imaginary ping-pong ball came back to us.
“Peter,” said Peter. “Manly man.”
I glanced at the third member of our lab, and kicked Peter under the table.
“Sooo…” said Eck. “Name’s Eck. Beauregard Eckhardt, neither useable as an actual name. While I consider pronouns, I can’t help wondering why we decline them.”
“De- what now?” Peter wanted to know. Truth be told, he probably didn’t want to know, but he does like dominating a conversation. Why did I ever think he was interesting?
“Yeah, I was wondering that,” said Bill from the other end of the table. “Give all three forms: he, him, his.”
“Oh, so, yeah, I get it. I mean, who would go for she, him, theirs?” said Peter. Dragged kicking and screaming into the previous decade.
Just looking at him, Peter has revised my quota of husbands to zero. The fact that he shares my office and is conveniently available is not a bargain, or even a recommendation for his gender.
“Let me answer a different question,” said Eck. “Maybe we’ll get back to this one. So I appreciate that there are some folks, like our new friend Joey here, who for whatever reason want pronouns that are not obvious. They should get them, it seems only polite. And so now here I am wondering how to answer.”
I’d had versions of this conversation with Eck, so I pushed my hand across the table, between the pitcher and a puddle of spilled beer, and put it atop his hand. Their hand. Whatever answer they were about to come around to.
“I could give the obvious answer,” said Eck, tugging at the corner of a mustache. “But that’s kind of a lie. Or I could tell you, before you know anything else about me, that I have issues around my gender identity.”
Eck turned bodily to face Peter.
“But since you suggested it, I’ll take she, him, theirs pronouns, please,” said Eck, with a sly little smile.
And so I started trying to come up with a serious response to that, while the conversation went on without me.
“That whooshing feeling is the courage leaving my belly,” said Eck.
“You’re very brave,” said Joey.
“Terrified,” said Eck. “Can’t pick up my beer mug, my hand is shaking so much.”
“Sooooo,” I interjected. I nodded in Eck’s general direction. “She wants us to call him by their favorite pronouns. Is that so hard?”
Morgan laughed from the other end of the table. “You beat me to it. I was trying to compose a sentence with all three in it.”
“Yes,” said Peter. “Yes it is hard. It might help if I understood what’s going on.”
“Coming out,” I said.
“It’s more like the closet exploded, than you coming out of it,” said Joey. They put their hand on Eck’s.
“You seem like somebody I’d like to get to know,” said Eck.
“Yeah,” said Joey. They bumped their phones.
“I’m still terrified,” said Eck, glancing at Peter, but mostly looking at their hands. Trying to get the pronouns right, here… She picked up his mug in both hands… Nope, their mug. I refilled it for him. There we go.
“Courage is feeling the fear and going anyway,” said Morgan. “I saw that someplace this week. Maybe we’ve learned something.”
“If you say so,” said Eck.
Once I was inside my new house, I took my time going through the rooms, picturing where I’d put my furniture once it arrived. Unlike Curt’s house, this one was new. The previous owners tore down the old homestead and replaced it with a cookie cutter prefab.
I didn’t mind. It was the water view that sold me on the property. The old homestead would have been too big and too expensive to bring up to date. I could only imagine how much it had cost to bring my old friends house up to code.
I was well past my quote for fixing up bargain basement projects, be it buildings of people. I smirked to myself when I placed my ex-husband in that category. He was as bargain basement as you could be, and he tried to drag me down tohis level.
Even Curt, with his unfortunate childhood circumstances, stood head and shoulders above my ex in every way that counted.
I smiled to myself. I wonder if he ever found out it was my Mom who had made the recommendation for him to be considered for the Groffit Foundation’s Bursary that paid for two years of community college. By the time he graduated, I was already away at university. We lost touch shortly after that. If he did. I hope he saw it as faith in him as a person and not charity.
I flipped on the lights the were tucked under the railing on my back deck and wandered out onto the wooden surface.
The harbour was as calm as glass.
I leaned on the railing, lost in through when I heard a voice call up from the shore.
“How art though, my rosey, rose Rose.” The rumble of male laughter was as familiar as my own, only much deeper than I remembered.
“Curt?!” I ran to the stairs leading down to my lawn and met him halfway across the grass and threw my arms around his waist. Was he always this tall? “What are you doing here?”
He hugged me back before loosening his hold and stepped back to look at me. “I ran into Tom the other day and he said you were moving home.” He motioned toward the shore. I took a walk to see if there were any lights on yet, when I saw you come out onto the deck.”
“I was just thinking about you.” I shook my head thinking how great it was that he appeared. “Have you seen what they’ve done to your old house? It looks fantastic.”
“Let me answer a different question.” His teasing tone made me feel like a kid again.
“What question is that?”
“Gosh, Curt, how long did it take you to completely gut and reconstruct your family home. Did you do it all by yourself? When did you become such a skilled carpenter? Why didn’t I assume you still lived there.”
“No way.” I was stunned and a little ashamed that I hadn’t even considered he’d done the work himself. He’d always been resourceful. I quickly backtracked. “Curt, your home is stunning. I should have assumed it was yours.”
“That’s all right. It’s understandable to think I’d want to be as far away from that place as possible.” He paused, “I thought about it after Dad died but then I decided I would just be running from my past when I had the ability to use it as a foundation to rewrite my future.