Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Black Friday Edition

shoppingHere in the states, we’ve just finished Thanksgiving, which means the countdown to Christmas has officially started.  Some folks will be spending their Friday in the stores, searching for holiday gift bargains, but not me.  I’m giving to charities this season, in lieu of exchanging gifts, so until Monday, my days are free and clear.

That means it’s the perfect time for a little stay-home-writing-retreat.  The NaNo word goal is pretty far in the distance, but this weekend should get me substantially closer; as long as I don’t get distracted by football or hockey or . . . .oh look, squirrel!.  Fingers crossed on that.

Anyway, now that the day of family, friends, food, and football is over and done, it’s time for a little Random Word Improv to get in the writing frame of mind.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re in a post-Thanksgiving food coma, making plans for holiday shopping, or looking forward to some uninterrupted writing time, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  I’ll be doing my writing after doing a little holiday decorating, possibly with a mug of spiced cider close at hand.  Feel free to get started without me, with your beverage of choice.


For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story (or a whole mini-story) incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. Here are today’s randomly selected random words – can’t wait to see what stories you find hidden in the list.

awkward               magic                 snow                bargain

horseback             box                     happy              commotion

amazing                morning            beauty             family

squirrel                paint                  fortune            truth

Are you ready?  Go!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Back already?  Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

Happy writing to all.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Black Friday Edition

  1. The outdoor holiday lights have been hung, so here’s my improv offering. Enjoy.

    “Well that’s awkward.” Caroline refolded the letter and placed it back in the envelope with the foreign postmark. “You don’t remember Uncle Emilio at all?”

    Her sister Amy shrugged and continued frosting the cake for the upcoming family birthday celebration. “Mom and Dad didn’t have any brothers, so how could we have an uncle?”

    “Good point.”

    “Not like it really matters,” Amy added. “The letter just says he left us the fortune he squirreled away over his lifetime. It doesn’t say anything about us having to remember him”

    “That may be true, but still.” Caroline took the lid off the box that had accompanied the letter and removed the layer of tissue paper. There was a journal, a bunch of photographs, a jeweller’s box and, at the very bottom under a second layer of tissue, a slim stack of letters tied with a faded ribbon. “Maybe something here will help us uncover the truth.”

    Amy wiped her hands on her apron and reached across the table for the old black and white photographs. “Is that mom?” Caroline looked over and nodded. “Wow, she was a real beauty back then. Look, here she is making snow angels and here’s another one of her on horseback.” Amy continued flipping through the pictures. “She looks so happy in all of these.”

    “And so young.” Caroline opened the jeweller’s box and pulled out a worn golden locket. The catch was stiff, but she finally got it to open. There was a painted miniature of a young man and woman inside. “Hmm. That’s mom, so I’m guessing this must be Uncle Emilio.”

    Amy peered at the locket and then pulled out a folded piece of paper that was nestled at the bottom of the jeweller’s box. “Listen to this,” she said, after scanning the contents.

    ‘Though we both pretended it wouldn’t, our time together has come to an end. It was amazing and magical, but we had a bargain, so I kissed you goodbye this morning with a smile and set you free. You remain in my heart and I am yours always. Love, Madeline.’

    “Wow.” Caroline shook her head. “That doesn’t sound like the mom we knew at all.” She picked up the journal and the packet of letters. “Looks like we have some reading to do.”

    Amy got a couple of forks. “I’ll bring the cake.”

    “Bring the wine too,” Caroline said. “I have a feeling we’re going to need it.”

  2. Jack watched the snowflakes with detached, professional interest as they drifted down their lazy, fluffy paths to land in the hats, hair, scarves of the busy shoppers rushing from car to mall entrance. God, it was good to be alive right now, he thought with gratefulness, before making his own way into the shopping center. The entrance was dominated by a strange, spectacular Christmas fantasy: a giant squirrel dressed in a toy soldier’s uniform, riding horseback against an invading army of radio-controlled Volkswagen Beetles, each smaller than walnut, and swarming within a pen to keep out curious children and shoplifters.

    Jack shrugged and turned towards the bookstore when he caught the squirrel statue winking at him. His heart sank: magic entrapment. Something, for good or for bad, had been imprisoned in the brightly painted plastics, and was signaling to him desperately. Oh, drat, he thought. Olivia had promised fresh crumpets for tea, and he’d timed his errand carefully to be back in time. Say what you like about America, there was a definite dearth of fresh crumpets, and he was loathe to waste a good tea on some wretched little spirit who probably was trapped in an awkward giant squirrel in a shopping mall entrance for a Very Good Reason. Sane little spirits rarely found themselves in such tacky predicaments.

    Even over the noise of the Christmas carols Jack heard a muffled whimpering. Double-drat. Well, if he abandoned his Christmas shopping, perhaps he would still be home in time for tea. Luck was with him; he waylaid the Santa Claus returning from break, and dressed himself in the slightly sticky costume. Too large, even with the padding. Jack cinched his belt in, and made his way into the enclosure, avoiding the tiny yellow Beetles vrooming to and fro.

    He rapped the squirrel smartly on the leg. “And who do I have the cursed fortune to be addressing?” he asked. Unexpectedly, a voice issued from the horse’s mouth.

    “Get me out of here!” the voice squeaked. “Santa has wrongly imprisoned me in here, and I must rally the rest of the elves before Christmas, or . . . .”

    “Or what?” Jack asked, unimpressed.

    “Or he’ll get out of paying us that five percent pay raise he promised us last year, the lying bastard.”

    “Is that what the commotion is about? A simple labor dispute? Why don’t you quit?”

    “You don’t understand; he’s got us locked in. All the other shops are unionized – the Easter Bunny’s people look at us as cheap-rate scabs, and the Midnight Hag has outsourced all her work to the Oompa-Loompas for Halloween. We can work for Santa, or we could go back to eating the mushrooms from the fairy rings. Eating ‘shrooms is what got us into this trouble in the first place. Never would have signed that contract if . . . .”

    “Well, what about the Elf Queen?” Jack said, reasonably. “I could get a message to her . . . .”

    “Oh, no,” the little voice squeaked, horrified, and both the squirrel and the horse rolled their eyes. “Let’s not involve the Elf Queen in this.”

    Jack remembered meeting the Elf Queen once. After an amazing morning of beauty and sexual hi-jinks, he’d escaped from an elf prison that evening to the Mortal World, losing 70 years and all his pocket money. And had thought it quite a good bargain. Really, very silly of him to mention her in the first place.

    The voice from the horse’s mouth wheedled, “All you need to do is drill a little hole in the statue. Just give the left leg there a good kick; I’m sure that’s all that needs to be done. Santa will never know it was you; you’ll still be on the nice list.”

    Santa was an odd bird. He had an odd habit of giving rich kids rich presents, and poor kids none at all, and then there was the absolutely vile sweater Jack had received last year. Jack didn’t know Santa personally, but he’d heard from mutual friends that the jolly elf could also be incredibly kind and thoughtful, in random patterns known only by Santa himself. Santa had mysterious ways. Elves of all sorts were not to be trusted to make what any other being would consider moral or logical decisions. This trapped elf was an unknown quantity, himself. All in all, Jack was tempted to slide away from the situation and let it resolve itself. But what if the trapped elf tempted some other bystander to break open the statue? Lord knows, destroying the statue would be a service to the Spirit of Christmas and a blow against tacky commercialization.

    Jack dithered for a minute, then looked at his watch. Thirty minutes until teatime. He wasn’t late yet. With a quick gesture, he froze the electronic eyes that kept the little cars from straying outside the enclosure. They spilled out into the crowd and were snatched up by delighted children, who quickly ran down the mallways, their annoyed parents chasing after them. Good. That cleared the entry of any bystanders. Jack froze the doors with a sheet of ice except the one marked emergency. He fetched a fire extinguisher, sprayed the contents all over the Christmas tree – and from the far end of the mall, he could see a trio of security guards coming. That was all right, he was running out of time anyway. With a quick shot of cold, he made the plastic horse brittle, snapped off the leg, and through clever temperature differentiation, sucked the elf into the fire extinguisher. He burst through the emergency exit, setting off the alarms, and sprinted for his car.

    The swearing from the fire extinguisher was awful. “Where are you taking me?”

    “Home, for a little questioning. Olivia will know what to do with you. She’s a Judge, you know, and can get to the bottom of this far quicker than I can.”

    “A Judge?” The quiet little voice sounded scared.

    “Don’t worry. There will be tea and crumpets in a few minutes, and then we’ll decide what should be done with you. I’m sure she can find another job for you, in one realm or the other, if it comes to that. I do hope we won’t be launching a War on Christmas this year.”

    “She’ll have to hear me out! She’ll have to be fair!”

    “Don’t worry, she will be.” Jack was fully confident that Oliva would do the right thing. Even if it meant bringing Santa down to his knees at the happiest time of the year. He sighed. These were probably the last crumpets he’d eat until the whole mess was over, so he intended to enjoy them.

      • (-: I LOVE the Barenaked Ladies’ Christmas album, and yes, I stole that plot point from the Elf’s Lament (I think there are a few more Evil Santa stories out there, as well). I don’t know how to fix this story — it’s very hard for me to reconcile “exploits his labor” with “good guy Santa”. Possibly, the elf is wrong. I hope next week’s words inspire a conclusion of some sort! I kind of want to know what happens. (Y’all, check out the link. It’s got Michael Buble as well as BNL!)

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