Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Tell the Truth

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was written in response to the Three Word Wednesday challenge. This week’s words: Avoid, Class, Sticky.

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Tell the Truth

Marta took a deep breath and stared at the screen. The bluish light from the monitor bounced off her pale skin, the worry lines around her eyes and the grooves in her forehead looked like someone had traced them with a fine-point pen – the marks looked like gruesome slashes in the dim glow.

So I went to ‘Blogger’s Unite’ this past weekend and I can honestly say I had the time of my life.

Marta frowned and continued typing.

Everyone was so nice and I can honestly say, I didn’t feel intimidated in the least.

“You’re such a liar, Marta,” a female voice sounded behind her.

Marta stiffened, but she kept her eyes trained on the computer monitor. “What are you talking about?”

Marta could feel her sister leaning over her shoulder, her warm breath, which smelled faintly of eggs, brushed against her skin.

“You told me that the conference sucked. Royally.”

Marta shrugged. “It did.”

“So why are you blogging that it didn’t?”

Marta leaned back in her computer chair and lifted her arms for a deep stretch. “Because I’ve got sponsors that expect me to gush and be all … girly about what a great time I had.”

“But it’s not true.”

“Well, not entirely.”

“Your readers will see through you.”

Marta glanced up at her sister and bit her lip. She had earned the reputation for being a pretty straight-forward sort of blogger. Granted she wasn’t as popular as the “big kids” on the cyber block but she had a pretty decent following. Though she didn’t deliberately go out of her way to be offensive, she knew that most of her thoughts and opinions were often times considered brusque and yes, even cruel at times. She hated lying to her readers, but she wasn’t sure she could be completely honest – not this time. She hated the conference from the first moment she walked in and could see nothing but lacquered hair everywhere she looked, though to be fair, there were a few moments, maybe two out of 1,000, that didn’t suck too bad.

“They aren’t going to know,” Marta insisted. She laced her fingers together and proceeded to pop them one-by-one.

“What, are you kidding me?” Calla pointed to the computer screen, her tone of voice dripping disgust. “That sounds like something a suburban soccer mom would write.” She pantomimed a huge yawn. “Boring and predictable. In other words, not you. Oh, let me guess,” she held up a hand, “next you’ll be posting pictures of all of the bloggers you meant over the weekend and talk about what beautiful, nice people they were, blahblahblah … give me a break.”

Marta arched a brow. “I didn’t take any pictures, actually, and aren’t you a bitch today.”

Calla plopped down onto a bean bag chair next to Marta’s desk and leaned her back on the overstuffed fabric. “Have you forgotten how depressed you were when you got back? Have you forgotten the number of times these so-called ‘friends’ of yours openly snubbed you?” Calla shook her head. “All I know is this, if I had gone there with you, and I’m wishing now that I had, I would have kicked some major ass.”

Marta didn’t doubt her sister. She rubbed her eyes, suddenly tired of the whole subject. “I may have exaggerated a tiny bit.”

“Marta,” Calla said softly, waiting until she turned her head to look at her. “I saw your face. I heard your voice. You did not have a good time. It was like that damn sorority disaster all over again.”

“Okay fine, the conference sucked. But I have to say, a lot of what happened was my own fault.” Marta said, her voice dipping into a whisper. “I should have known I wouldn’t fit in. I’ve never been very good at approaching people, or making that annoying small talk that no one cares about or ever remembers. In fact, if I had known the conference was going to focus more on finding the biggest, or most popular parties, dancing in the aisles of a major department store and making a fool out of yourself, consuming mass quantities of alcohol or kissing my fellow bloggers all for shock value, then I wouldn’t have gone.” She ran a hand through her short, spiky hair, her movements jerky, her features twisted into exasperation. “It was like a damn Girls’ Gone Wild video. I mean, come on, grown women? I can understand getting together and having fun, even going a little nuts, but come ON! The way some of those people acted … I was embarrassed for them. And I wasn’t even that impressed with the sessions, quite frankly. I thought they were lukewarm and slapped together in a hurry – like they were a cover-up, or an excuse, to throw a huge party, really.”

“There,” Calla lifted a hand, “that’s what I’m talking about. Talk about that.”

“But no one wants to hear anything negative, or even honest. It’s all about being the most popular.”

“Who says? You?” Calla snorted. “I bet there were a lot more women there for the same reasons as you – yes, to meet other bloggers, but to learn more about the craft, or their business, as in your case. To learn how to entice sponsors and how to write compelling entries that would leave a lasting impression on readers. I’m sure the majority of bloggers who went to this thing weren’t all that interested in how many mojitos they could drink.”

“It’s … sticky. I don’t want to alienate myself more than I already have. I’d like to be a blogger with SOME class.”

Calla twisted out of the bean bag chair, lifted up to her knees and took the mouse from Marta’s hand. “Since when did you start avoiding confrontation?”

“Since I learned that sponsors weren’t all that interested in what I had to say, as opposed to how many RSS readers I had.”

Calla’s eyes narrowed on the computer screen and Marta watched to see what she was doing. “Okay, look at those stats,” Calla said while sitting back on her heels. “Those are pretty good, Marta. Contrary to what you may think.”

Marta shrugged.

Calla placed a hand on her sister’s knee. “I’ll lose respect for you if you change. I’m betting a lot of your readers lose respect, too. Is that really what you want? To write about what everyone else is writing about and not staying true to yourself?”

“If I write about my experiences, they won’t be flattering.”

Calla continued to look at her.

“They won’t be all goody-goody and nice.”

Calla arched a brow. “But they’ll be honest.” She said after long moments.

Marta shrugged and stared at her hands for several minutes. She finally nodded her agreement. She swiveled around in her chair, placed her fingers on her keyboard and with a deep sigh, began to type.

So I went to ‘Blogger’s Unite’ this past weekend and I can honestly say, that will be the last time I attend this conference. It was a waste of my time, money, and here’s why …

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Here’s another writing prompt idea:
Fiction Friday
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s a writing exercise you can use any way you wish – everyone is welcome to participate.

Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Change of Plans

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was originally published May 16, 2007

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Change of Plans

Sherry placed the pads of her fingers just under both her eyes and rubbed gently. “If I don’t see another box in my lifetime I’ll be happy.” She chuckled and laughed up at her husband. “So, are you packed?”

Mike smiled and looped an arm around her shoulders. “Let’s take a break, shall we?”

“Ugh, sounds good to me,” She leaned her cheek into her husband’s strong arm and allowed him to guide her toward the living room. “Can you believe the time has finally arrived? I mean, who would have thought that we would be moving to New York City?” She sighed happily and thought about the editing job waiting for her in the Big Apple. She still couldn’t believe she had landed her dream job.

“Yeah, that’s pretty remarkable,” Mike said next to her. She smiled against him, soaking in the deep timbre of his voice as it vibrated against her face. “You certainly deserve it. You’ve worked hard enough for it.” He eased down onto the couch, pulling her down beside him.

They settled more comfortably into the deep cushions, placed their feet on the oak coffee table before them and gazed into the fire. “Mmm, this is cozy,” she said.

Long moments went by, each of them hypnotized by the flame’s seductive dance and deep into their own thoughts. A log cracked and the pop caused them both to jump out of their reverie.

Sherry chuckled in response. She wasn’t sure why but she suddenly felt shy and a bit on edge.

“Are you nervous?”

“Not really,” she replied. “I mean, I’ve basically been doing this type of job for the past six years so I know I can do it it’s just …” She twisted around to get a better look at him. “It’ll be hard to leave, ya know? Our families are here. Our friends…”

Mike nodded and continued to stare into the fire.

“But,” she swallowed, “we’ll make new friends. It’s just going to be …” she paused to inhale one long shaky breath before exhaling one lone gusty word, “great.”

Mike patted her shoulder before removing his arm from around her. His wedding ring nabbed a few strands of her hair and she felt her scalp jump in protest. “Ow.” She reached back to rub her head.

“Sorry.”

She waved his concern aside and settled herself more comfortably against his side. “I lied,” she began. “I am nervous. It’s all this anticipation. I mean, what if I get up there and totally bomb this? What if I’m not good enough? A lot of people are taking a chance on me, I can’t let them down.”

“You won’t.”

She sighed in contentment. “I love you, you know.”

“I know.”

A crack of thunder sounded in the distance and a sudden gust of wind rattled the windowpanes. Sherry struggled to sit up. “We better load the car before it starts raining.”

She stood up and tugged on her pants legs. She looked toward the door. “Where’s your luggage? I thought you brought it down already.”

Mike heaved a long, slow sigh and also rose from the couch. He shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the floor.

Sherry shot him a quizzical look before walking over to her luggage stacked neatly by the door. Mike’s black matching set of luggage was definitely not there. She glanced through the half-circle of windows in the front door in time to see a nasty streak of lightening slash it’s way through the sky. She mentally counted to herself …

One one-thousand … two one-thousand … three one-thousand … four one-thousand … five one-thousand …

A deep rumble rolled through the house causing the crystal clock on the foyer table to tremble.

“It sounds like it’s about five miles out. We better hurry.” She reached down and grabbed a suitcase in each hand. Mike still hadn’t moved and continued to stand in the same exact spot.

“Mike,” she said sharply. Enough was enough. She was sad to leave too, but it was time to go. Their flight was scheduled to take off in just under three hours. “Earth to Mike, hello?” She tried to keep her tone of voice even but she was rapidly losing patience. “Mike come on, get your stuff and let’s go.”

Her husband continued to stand there, only now he had turned to stare into the fire. His shoulders were slumped and his head was hanging so low it was hard to see his face.

“Mike?” She struggled to lift the heavy cases and volleyed the extra weight on the balls of her feet. “Mike, seriously, let’s go. If we leave now, we can beat the storm.”

He finally turned around to face her. His face was hard and his mouth was set into a grim line.

“Mike?” She gritted her teeth. She hated that look. She always had.

“I’m not going.”

Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Missing Youth

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was originally published May 2, 2007

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Missing Youth

Clara glanced at her watch and frowned. It was nearly time to get back but she just couldn’t force herself to move. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the children were having so much fun playing and chasing each other in the park.

She sighed. She missed having little ones under foot. She missed her grandchildren. She missed her family. Lifting a hand, she shielded her eyes from the afternoon glare. The man on her left shifted a bit and caused the park bench to groan in protest.

Clara looked over at her companion; Ben was asleep and snoring softly. She shook her head in disgust and turned her attention back to the children. How could he sleep on a day like this? There was so much activity, so much life, to appreciate and soak in before going back. There would be plenty of time to sleep, later.

A black and white checked ball bounced off her foot momentarily startling her. A little boy, not more than five, walked shyly toward her. She offered an encouraging smile, careful not to show her teeth; she didn’t want to scare the boy.

“ello,” she croaked in a throaty voice.

The boy hesitated. His eyes darted back and forth between the ball and his friends, he was clearly debating on whether it was worth confronting her to retrieve the ball or simply run back to his friends and forget about the toy.

Clara bent slowly from the waist and tried to pick up the ball, but her bones protested loudly and her muscles locked and refused to stretch. She sighed loudly and lifted one bony shoulder into a shrug. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But I can’t pick it up. Can I kick it to you?” The croak had worked itself out of her voice and the sound came out soothing and friendly. She was pleased at the change and smiled again; this time, the smile reached her eyes.

The boy visibly relaxed at her smile and nodded eagerly. He ran back several paces and Clara laughed softly. “No my child. I can’t kick it that far. You’ll have to come a little closer.”

Ben suddenly twitched next to her and emitted an abrupt snore. The boy jumped and Clara laughed again. “Don’t mind him. He’s just dreaming.” She blinked to bring the ball into focus. “Okay, ready now?”

The boy’s face stretched into a wide grin and he clapped his hands to signal he was ready. Clara summoned what little strength she had, brought her foot back and kicked.

Only she missed and the ball remained near her feet. She glanced up at the boy. The boy stared back at her. Suddenly, they both erupted into giggles. “I’m sorry,” Clara struggled to say past her amusement. “I guess I’m out of practice.”

The boy approached her and placed a small hand on her bare arm. His smile was beatific and his eyes sparkled with life and innocence. “S’ok,” his voice tinkled out. “My mom’s not a very good kicker, either.” He gave her arm little reassuring pats before picking up the ball.

A lump formed in Clara’s throat and she felt an overwhelming sadness surround her heart. She missed her grandchildren. Dear God, she missed them.

A soft rumble eased its way past the sounds of the park and caught the boy’s attention. Clara nodded off into the distance. “It sounds like rain’s coming.”

The boy nodded in agreement. “Yeah. My dad said it was gonna rain today.”

“Your dad is a smart man.” Clara said.

“Yeah,” the boy responded. “’Cept when it comes to fixing things. Mom says he’s not a very good fixer.” He grinned. Clara’s heart jumped at his expression and she noted, for the first time, one of his front teeth was missing.

“Mark!” A voice called toward them.

“Oops. That’s me. I gotta go.” Mark patted her arm again. “Thanks for trying to kick the ball.”

Clara’s eyes began to fill with tears at the boy’s kindness. Her throat closed up and she found she couldn’t speak. She simply nodded and smiled at him in return.

She watched Mark run off, and with each stride of his chubby legs, her smile dissipated until finally, it disappeared altogether.

“Mrs. Stevens?” A deep male voice sounded next to her right ear, a large hand rested on her shoulder. “Are you ready to go?”

“But,” she glanced at the thin gold watch on her wrist. “It’s not time yet.”

“There’s a storm coming, we should go. Are you ready?”

She swallowed a sigh and sadly nodded her agreement.

Prompt Fiction

Fiction: Hell Freezes Over

Thursday Thread
Thursday is the day I post a bit o’ fiction.

This was originally published March 23, 2007

These prompt fiction pieces were all written in a hurry and haven’t been edited (much). I’m using these prompts to free / speed write – just some warm-up exercises.

You can find a ton of writing prompts at Write Anything. Click over today and write YOUR version!

Hell Freezes Over

“So, this is what I’m thinking,” Cyndi whispered. She glanced toward the tall, lanky, dark-haired boy in the corner of the hallway talking to his other geeky friends and pushing his black-rimmed glasses back up his nose.

Stephanie impatiently tugged on her cheerleader skirt while trying to juggle her stack of books looped under one arm. “You, think? Brace yourselves girls, this outta be good.”

Cyndi ignored her friend’s waspish tone of voice and continued. “I’m thinking of asking Lane to the dance this Friday.” She clasped her notebook tightly to her chest and warily watched for her friends’ reactions.

She wasn’t disappointed.

“Girl, you have lost yer min’.” Missy said under her breath.

“You can’t be serious,” Stephanie squeaked.

“With Lane?” Tina chimed.

Nell’s eyes simply blinked, owl-like, behind her round glasses.

“But … why him?” Stephanie asked. “You could pick from any of the more popular guys and – ”

“– and be bored out of my mind,” Cyndi finished for her. “Look,” she leaned in closer to her circle of friends. “I have Lane in English class. Ya’ll know I hate English, right?” All four girls nodded in unison. “But Lane,” she suppressed the urge to sigh, “he makes it fun. He helps me understand stuff. He cracks jokes. He’s a really nice guy. And you know what else?” Her head popped up from the group for a mere second to look toward Lane before lowering once more. “He has really nice eyes.”

There was a long pause.

“But … aren’t you afraid of what people will say?” Stephanie asked.

Cyndi shrugged. “Who cares? I want to have fun and it’ll be nice to actually be myself for a change instead of someone I think everyone wants me to be, ya know?”

Again, all four girls nodded emphatically.

“Okay then,” Cyndi took a deep breath. She shoved her notebook into Nell’s arms and stepped out of the circle. “I’m going to go ask him. Wish me luck!”

“Uh … good luck?” said Missy.

Cyndi squared her shoulders, threw back her long reddish-blonde hair and began to walk toward Lane and his friends.

One of the boys, catching sight of Cyndi heading their way, was so astonished at seeing her that his gum fell out of his mouth. The other boys moved instinctively away from Lane to make room for Cyndi to join their group.

“Ladies,” Stephanie said from the corner of her mouth, her eyes trained on Cyndi, “Hell hath frozen over.”