Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

There are currently six raccoons on my front porch – it looks like a mom and her kids – so fluffy!  That explains all of the thumping I heard in the backyard a few minutes ago.  I’m afraid they are destined to be disappointed, however, if they are looking for something to eat.  I’m pretty sure the skunk and the opossums cleared everything out when they stopped by a while ago. Meanwhile, my cat is sitting here on the other side of the screen door looking baffled.

Once the “Wild Animal Kingdom” portion of my day comes to a close, I’ll be curling up with a book and relaxing for a bit.  After that, it’s on to the enjoyment of a four-day weekend.   I’ll be kicking it off by sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.  Once I’ve gotten that taken care of, I’ll be flexing my creativity-muscles by playing with today’s writing prompt and random words.

Care to join me?

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 and would like to share. Seriously – feel free to share. I’m going to keep asking until someone does.  🙂

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, maybe today’s writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.  This week, motivated by Michelle’s story idea post yesterday, today’s story prompt comes to us via the Amazing Story Generator©


Here is today’s writing prompt:

“Having poisoned the soup, a disgruntled nanny thwarts an assassination attempt”

Feel free to include any (or all) of the following random words:

corruption           severe                    healer                aftermath

subsonic              photograph           memory            chamber

brainwash           furious                    festival             autopsy

innocent              battle                      zebra                  panic

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!

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

  1. It’s too long, and I only got about half the prompt words in. But I got carried away with the story and couldn’t fit them in. Here it is, available at fine blogs everywhere:

    How the Disgruntled Nanny Failed to Poison the Soup and Therefore Was Forced to Rescue the Spy

    A furious Dory gazed into the chamber, her long, gray dress brushing the floor, now littered with broken glass. Her expression was severe. Honestly! Did no one listen any more? The kids were bad enough. But she understood why the kids didn’t listen. Kids just didn’t listen.

    It was the adults who drove her crazy.

    Had she not told her handlers that she would take care of the spy posing as a diplomat? Had she not told them she’d poison the soup?

    Yes, she had. She’d planned it most carefully. She herself would carry in the doctored soup. The household would attend the festival. No one would be home. Suspects there would be none. The spy would fall asleep and not wake up. The autopsy would reveal nothing. All this she had reassured her handlers.

    And had they believed her?

    No. Despite her many years of service, both domestic and international.

    Because here was the spy diplomat, still alive, cowering behind the sofa.

    “Help me!” he whispered. “Someone shot me!”

    Despite this clumsy attempt on the part of her handlers to ruin her carefully laid plans, Dory did not panic. The situation must be retrieved. The aftermath of failure would be horrendous beyond belief. Shock waves would roil Whitehall, at the very least.

    The spy, that handsome devil, had to live.

    Blood seeped from his arm, where a bullet had grazed it.

    She entered the room, ducking below the window, and grabbed the zebra-striped throw from the sofa. She ripped off a wide strip of the coarse cotton fabric and wound it tightly around the spy’s bleeding arm.

    “Ow,” he said. “That hurts.”

    “Don’t be a baby,” she said.

    “I’ve been shot,” the spy said.

    Another bullet smashed through a different window, this one on the other side of the room, blowing glass and wood splinters everywhere. The murderers were getting closer. She had to get the spy out of here before he was murdered by these noisy, incompetent boobs. And then she could kill the spy on her own time, in her own quiet way.

    “Can you crawl?” she asked.

    “Of course, I can crawl.”

    “This way.” On her hands and knees, she crept across the room to the fireplace, the spy following so closely that he bumped her backside more than once.

    “The scenery is lovely around here,” he said conversationally, as another bullet smashed the bust of Disraeli and he took refuge behind a pie-crust table.

    “Watch it, buster.” Dory was in no mood for shenanigans, although she’d never liked the Disraeli bust. The sculptor had lacked discipline, she thought.

    At the fireplace, she jumped up and smacked her hand against the sconce over the mantel. With agonizing slowness, the bookshelf swung open to reveal a hidden passage.

    “Holy cow,” the spy said. “That’s what I call a getaway route.”

    “Move it,” Dory said. “That is, if you sincerely want to get away.”

    “Oh, yes,” the spy said as he leaped for the secret door. “I am most sincere about that.”

    They ran through the door, and Dory hit the closing mechanism once they were safely through. Then they ran down the corridor, hand-in-hand so they didn’t stumble in the pitch darkness. At the end, light filtered through a trap-door contraption that led above ground.

    “You have to give me a boost,” Dory said.

    “I’d be delighted.” The spy held his hands for her to step in and then gave her a most undignified shove in the rear end to push her over the top. Dory did not find the boost as unacceptable as she might have.

    She reached down and helped pull the spy up, taking care of his injured arm. Out in the open air, they regarded each other.

    “You must find your own way,” she said. “We can’t be seen together.” No one could know that she’d helped him escape. It would put his life in danger, and she could not permit that—not until she was ready to end it herself.

    “Of course. Let me give you this to remember me by.” And the spy swept her into his arms and crushed her lips beneath his.

    The sensation was not unpleasant, but still, Dory smacked him in his injured arm to get free.

    “You forget yourself,” she said.

    “My memory is impeccable,” he said. “We will see each other again.” There was a glint in the spy’s eye as straightened his clothing, as though he knew what she was thinking.

    “I’m certain of it,” Dory said.

  2. Okay. Better late than never 😉

    Politics was a dishonorable business and corruption its stock-in-trade. Brainwash the innocent, photograph the guilty in flagrante, foment panic and seize power in the aftermath. It was all in a day’s work.

    If the Opposition had stuck to business as usual, Nanny Viola would have left them to their dirty work. Making the children pawns in their battle had been a big mistake. The memory of Amanda and Frederick’s white, scared faces made her utterly furious. And when Nanny got mad, an autopsy was likely in somebody’s future.

    In this case, Somebody was Zoran, the guard in the antechamber. Like the others, he’d thought holding her charges hostage would guarantee her good behavior. Wrong. His unit’s suffering had been severe, their internal injuries beyond the skills of the finest healer.

    “What’s that?” Zoran lifted the lid on the bowl and sniffed.

    “Soup. Cream of wild mushroom.”


    The moment his body hit the parquet, Nanny wrenched open the double doors to the balcony where the unit leader, Rudy, crouched motionless. His zebra-striped camo gear made him near-invisible in the shifting shadows. His Subsonic Sniper XX was trained on the street below, giving him a clear shot at the festival route.

    “Stop that at once, you dreadful man.” Nanny stomped across the polished oak and poked him in the shoulder with her umbrella.

    Rudy spun around.

    “Bugger off, you interfering old bat.” The laser focus of the XX made a brilliant green dot on Nanny’s black bombazine coat-dress. He sneered at her sturdy black umbrella. “Think you can stop me with that?”

    Nanny gave his question due consideration. “I think I just did.”

    She watched with interest as the rifle dropped from his grasp. Seconds later the convulsions started.

    With leather-gloved hands she put the protective cover back on the tip of her umbrella. Then she went downstairs to let Amanda and Frederick out of the cellar.

    • What fun, Jilly. That’s one nanny that doesn’t take any nonsense. The Opposition definitely made a mistake when they incited her ire.

  3. I know it’s late, but I couldn’t resist playing along. Here’s my attempt:


    The Perfect Nanny Handbook

    Rule #14: Always leave a room in better condition than you found it. A messy room is the sign incompetence.

    Frances tossed the handbook down on the table, successfully battling the urge to send it flying out the window, or better yet, directly into the shredder.

    Obviously, the handbook author had never met the Smith Family, if that was in fact their real name. In the two months Frances had been acting as the combination housekeeper, cook, nanny, and Jane-of-all-trades, she had far bigger concerns than tidiness.

    Currently, disposing of the body at the dinning room table, face planted in the midst of a bowl of her famous Italian Wedding Soup with its “secret special ingredient” was her primary concern. It was the third body this week and she was getting tired of thinking of creative ways to ensure an autopsy finding of “natural causes.”

    If people didn’t stop trying to kill her employers, she was going to hand in her resignation and head for the nearest tropical island for a well deserved break.

    But first, she had to put an end to the assassination attempts. The Smiths were annoying, seeped in corruption, and no doubt engaged in various illegal acts in that locked basement chamber of theirs, but that didn’t give the ongoing parade of bumbling criminals the right to burst into the house, guns drawn, brandishing incriminating photographs, making dire threats, and basically causing a mess she inevitably had to clean up.

    It was annoying and it upset the dog, not to mention the mess it made of the daily schedule.

    The Smiths, of course, were no help at all. At the first sign of trouble, they would inevitably panic, loudly claim their innocence, and lock themselves in the cellar, leaving Frances to tidy up the mess.

    As she staged the scene, making it look like the Smiths had been victims of (yet another) home invasion during which Mr. Fuller (if that was his real name), had blundered into the kitchen and been felled by a steaming kettle of soup, causing him to, tragically (and fatally) hit is head on a conveniently opened drawer, Frances wished she’d never answered the ad for an Undercover Nanny.

    With her fondness for “adult entertainment” she’d had a completely different expectation of the job. Sadly, instead of playtime under the covers, her job had consisted of countless hours putting criminals permanently underground.

    And they didn’t even trust her with a gun or the reason for the parade of assassins.

    Well, this was the last time. The next time someone came for the Smiths she was going to let them go ahead with their work unhindered. If she was quick enough, she could be the one locked in the cellar.

    Sure, with her employers dead she’d be out of a job, but the Smith’s wine cellar would ease the pain.

    Besides, who knows what else she might find down there. As long as it wasn’t another body. She was done cleaning up other people’s messes.

    • Very fun, Elizabeth, thanks, and hurray for that story generator. I’m loving all these scary-competent nannies.

      This thread dredged up a long-forgotten memory of Christianna Brand’s 1960’s Nurse Matilda books, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, which I read fortysomething years ago. I remembered the illustrations first, the no-nonsense black-clad scary looking woman with a bonnet and a walking stick, and from there I tracked down the books on Amazon. The writing is terrific. I believe those books were the inspiration for the Nanny McPhee movies.

      • I’ll have to look for those. As a child I loved the Mary Poppins books. She’s completely changed in the film to that saccharine-sweet singing person, but in the books she’s dark and mysterious. I loved her, the movie not so much (although as an adult, I worship Dick van Dyke’s dancing on the roof).

        Loved your story, Elizabeth! These cranky nannies are great. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short – Eight Ladies Writing

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