Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Yesterday My Forehead Had the Number Nine on It, Today it is Eight

Timed writing prompt.

I am not crazy. I am not crazy. I am not crazy!

My eyes are closed and I’m doing deep breathing exercises and trying to calm my mind. This is not happening. Breathe in. Yesterday was just a bad dream. Breathe out. I open my eyes. The number eight is still drawn on my forehead as if in ash. Yesterday the number was nine. No it wasn’t. I turn on the tap and fill my hands with water and splash it on my face over and over. First it’s cold, but soon it is hotter than I can stand and I have to stop and turn it colder.

I take the nubbin of soap and work up a thick, white lather in my hands then press them to my dripping forehead and scrub and scrub and scrub. Minutes, pass. My face feels raw. I stop and rinse my face again and again and again. Finally, I turn the water off and glance up at the glass. My face stares back at me, the smeary grey number unchanged. I press my palms against my eyes until I see flashes of light in the darkness. When I take my hands away and blink until the afterimages fade, the eight is still there.

Only it’s not. Of course it’s not. It wouldn’t make any sense if it was. It didn’t make sense yesterday and it doesn’t make sense today.

“I am not crazy!” I scream at the mirror.

“I am not crazy!” the mirror screams back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Design Your Very Own Superhero

Writing prompt (4 minutes).

I am Whisper. I am the shadow in the corner of your eye. I am the flickering of candlelight and the soft tickle of wind in your ear. My voice is breathe carried to the far corners of the earth. I could be struck down by a child, crushed beneath a mound of feathers, yet I am powerful. I am the words in your head. I am the angel on the shoulders of demons. I am the conscience of the night. With small sounds I hold the darkness at bay and tip the souls of humanity towards the light. I am an echo of goodness. I am Whisper..

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Chairs and Pears, Pairs of Gears, People Upstairs

One of our weekly writing prompts.

Granny’s house is a strange place. The main floor seems normal. There’s a rocking chair in the living room with an orange and gold afghan draped over the back and a sofa that has ugly flowered upholstery. The kitchen is tiny and there is always a bowl of yellow pears in the middle of the miniature table. Her bedroom is also on the main floor and not too interesting except for the cuckoo clock on the wall that ticks and grinds and makes all sorts of noises, and then on the hour, the little wooden cuckoo explodes through the painted doors and screeches its mechanical coo.

But these are the normal things. It’s the people who live upstairs who are strange. The first thing that’s strange about them is that Granny tells me they aren’t there even though she has pictures of them in frames on the mantel. The second thing that’s strange about them is that they never seem to sleep. When I visit Granny I sleep in a bed upstairs, but even when I wake up in the middle of the night the people are awake and staring. They don’t talk much, the people upstairs. That is the third strange thing about them. When they do speak their lips don’t move. I think that is also strange.

There’s also a cuckoo clock upstairs, but there are two cuckoos in it, one is white and one is black. The white one cuckoos on the hour, but the other only cuckoos when someone dies, like when cousin Emma was sleep walking and fell down the stairs. I only heard it cuckoo then.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains... [style: Literary Fiction]

Writing prompt inspired by the title of a Neil Gaiman short story.

I remember that day better than most of my hot, dry summer childhood days sitting on my Grandfather’s porch. The flies were particularly bad that year despite the draught and they alighted on his liver-spotted knuckles as he dozed in the wicker rocking chair. I made a game of catching them and putting them in a jar like you might do with fireflies. I even pretended they were fireflies until my mother found them and made me let them go out by the barn.

But that day, even the fly catching had lost its appeal in the baking heat, and I’d resigned myself to stretching out on the dusty boards of the covered porch try to somehow get away from myself to stay cool. My grandfather had roused then and began rocking like he’d not stopped while he napped. He took a sip of watered down ice tea, its ice cubes having long since melted, and then gazed down at me and cleared his throat.

“The truth,” he began in deep tones like tractor tires over gravel, “is a cave in the black mountains.”

Somehow, even as a small child, I knew that his words would someday be of great import to me, and I listened, rapt, to the secrets that spilled from his withered lips.