Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Friday already – how did that happen?  This week seems to have just raced by, but the number of things on my to-do list doesn’t seem to have decreased at all.  I’m pretty sure that two more things were added for every one that I crossed off.

Fortunately I have a little down time now, so I’m going to make some hot cocoa, cuddle up with my favorite quilt, and see if I can make some progress on the mess-in-the-middle of my current manuscript.

Sound like a plan?

Hopefully you have had a little time for yourself and your writing this week too, whether it’s a few stolen moments or a luxurious block of time.

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, feel free to give our weekly writing prompt a try.   This week we’ve got a starting sentence and some random words to work with.


Here is today’s writing prompt:

Write a story that begins:  “One day, Helen hung up her stethoscope and joined the circus.”

And includes any (or all) of the following random words:

flexible               heights                 lion                        emergency

scarf                     crowd                   teeth                     riddle

hideout               deception           injury                    risky

associate            window               frustration          escape

Whether you’re sharing a bit of your current work or writing something fresh based on the writing prompt, we hope you’ll join us for today’s Story Time.

Happy writing to all!

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

  1. That was fun! I got in all the words except for “riddle.” Here it is.

    One day, Helen hung up her stethoscope and joined the circus. The EMTs had brought a lion into the emergency room because of an injury it had sustained from the bite of a jealous Pomeranian. Who knew the teeth of a Pomeranian could be so sharp? Quitting the ER was a risky move, career-wise, but subduing the lion had held its own risks. Afterwards, Helen thought, what the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound.

    Helen was afraid of heights, so the trapeze was out. And she wasn’t flexible enough to become a bareback rider, as a single misplaced handstand would catapult her to the sawdust ring, where she could be trampled. But her associate—a dashing Hungarian named Piotr—told her that she looked particularly appealing in the purple-spangled tights and snug, off-the-shoulder sequined top she wore for his magic act. He liked to tie a scarf around her eyes and saw her in half. His illusions bordered on the melodramatic, but the crowd seemed to approve of the deception.

    After the initial excitement wore off, being sawed in half twice daily by an illusionist did not give Helen the fun-loving thrill ride that she’d dreamed of when she’d run away from the ER. Her frustration reached a peak one day, when, after Piotr sawed her in half, he made her disappear. Banished momentarily from the demands of make-believe and set free on the outside of the Big Top, Helen searched out the lion’s quarters, a slatted hideout near the flamingo enclosure. She opened the shutters and looked in through the window.

    “Hey, Leo,” she said to the lion. “I’ve had enough. The food’s lousy, the pay stinks, the work’s boring, and the medical care is subpar. How are you doing?”

    The lion tilted his massive head at Helen’s voice and licked the sutures that she’d put in just weeks before. Sure way to get an infection, she thought. Maybe he needs more antibiotics. The creature surged to his feet, padded to the window and reared up, putting his enormous paws on either side of the window. He shoved his face next to the bars and thrust his rough, pink tongue through, washing Helen’s face with vigor, if not tidiness.

    “That’s what I thought,” Helen said, reaching through the bars to rub the beast’s ear. “I’m ready to blow this popcorn stand. Want to come along?”

    • Awwww. A girl and her kitty!

      I’m feeling time slip away, too. My daughter’s passport is running out, so we go to Sapporo Monday to get her Very First Adult Passport (ten years, whoo-hoo! OMG, when she next needs a passport, I’ll almost be 60). We leave in about 14 hours . . .gotta pack, and take care of our own *felinus* here at home.

      I would really, really love to run away and join the circus. I may have to come back to this later in the week.

  2. You know how some days the words just speak to you? This was one of those days. Here goes.

    One day, Helen hung up her stethoscope and joined the circus. At least, that’s what she’d have you believe. Me, I’m a skeptic. That old lady has more stories than cats. Still, I guess she’s flexible enough to have done the horse stunts like she claims. I’ve driven past her trailer some mornings and seen her doing yoga with a few of her cats – the fat, black one that likes to rummage in other people’s trash even though Helen keeps him well-fed, and the fluffy gold one that looks like a toy lion.

    And she’s resourceful enough to’ve survived some of the adventures she claims to’ve had. There was that time when I was on a first date with Johnny Furman, hiding out in the ladies’ room, trying to figure out how to sneak out of the Appleman’s Diner without him seeing me. See, Johnny’s not really first date material, but he does know which table at Appleman’s has a view of the front entrance and the backdoor emergency exit. I expect it’s because he’s had more than one date sneak out on him.

    Anyway, there I was in the ladies’, gnashing my teeth and nearly crying from frustration, because it turns out my brilliant plan to escape through the bathroom window hit a snag, in that I’m afraid of heights and Appleman’s is on the fifth floor of the old industrial building out on highway 9. (It’s nicer than it sounds. The first four floors have been spiffed up with all sorts of fancy shops. We’ve got our very own JC Penney’s and the best dollar store in the county, so there!). So I’m gnashing my teeth and pacing the white-tiled floor and Helen’s using one of the three stalls, and then she comes out, takes one look at me, washes her hands real quick, and unwinds her long pink scarf. (I know what you’re thinking – how long is that old lady’s scarf now, girl, when you have to drop five stories? Turns out, there’s a rickety old fire escape on the third floor, so it’s not as risky as you’d think. Still, it was a pretty damn long scarf.) Long story short, she ties one end of the scarf to the heavy-duty radiator, and I crawl out the window hanging onto the other end, and a baby’s blink and a prayer to Jesus later, I’m safe and sound on that fire escape.

    Now that Johnny and me are married (he’s a good egg most of the time and he hit it out of the park on the second date), I haven’t had much occasion to crawl out of Appleman’s bathroom window. I haven’t even been there in years. But I like to think of Helen there on Saturday nights, helping other crying women escape from bad first daters. And I really hope some of her stories are true, ‘cause Helen’s promised me she’s going to introduce to some folks she used to know, get me started on a new life somewhere pretty far away from here. She figures she owes me.

    See, when I was just over the ledge that night I went out of Appleman’s bathroom window, she gave me some good advice: don’t let go and don’t look down. But she forgot to tell me the last part, and this is really important: keep running and don’t look back. See, Johnny’s a bad egg some of the time, and it’s those times he’s the rottenest, smelliest egg you ever would want to peel. Helen says she did me wrong that night, and now she’s gonna make it right. Yeah, old Helen’s got more stories than cats, and me, I’m a skeptic, but I think I’ll take my chances with the old bird. And you keep an eye out, ‘cause someday you might just see me in the circus!

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