Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I’m writing this post on Thursday evening, which I just found out is “National Periodic Table” day.  That certainly explains some of the posts I saw on FB today from my science-y friends.  It’s also apparently “Fettuccine Alfredo Day”, which I would have been far more likely to celebrate, had I only known sooner.

It’s too late now, so I guess I’ll have to set my sights on tomorrow which, among other things, is “Fly a Kite” day (cue the Mary Poppins soundtrack).  Luckily I’ve got a brand new kite in the garage just waiting to be taken for a soar and the wind is rattling the trees as we speak.

That certainly sounds like more fun than going to work, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, go to work I must, so my kite flying might have to wait until the weekend, especially if the rain in the forecast materializes.  I have plenty of other things to do tomorrow including getting some words on the page before I crack open the latest book from my TBR pile.

I think I’ll start things off by giving today’s random words a shot.

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), if you’re not feeling random, 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.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.


What if: Your character woke up with a super power?”

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

bald              opposition      bittersweet     ash

costume       egret               regret              ebony

genetic         marble            delightful        chill

gloves          voice                fluent              brick

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

14 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. I’m too deeply embroiled in Christal’s WIP to sprint, but this week’s prompt (what if your character woke up with a super power?) seems to fit. So here’s a *very* rough snippet:

    Christal and Ysolde wrestled the tub of rock beans to the edge of the walkway, and the three of them stood facing the plant. Sunlight shone through the roof panes, bathing the space in golden light. The scars in Nessa’s peat-brown eyes glowed like embers as she Looked at the leafy vines and green pods twined around their supporting cone.

    “You’ll have to help me.” Nessa said. “I was stirred up this morning. I still am, inside. I just need to bring it all out again.”

    “Should we hold hands?” Ysolde took Nessa’s left hand in hers. Christal took the right.

    “Not so tight, Ysolde.” Nessa shook her left arm. “I’ll need that hand again.”

    “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.” Ysolde swallowed. “I’m scared.”

    “I am, too, Ysolde,” Christal said. “Any sensible person would be. The challenge is not to let your fear control your life. Face it. Use your feelings to make yourself strong, to help yourself, and me, and Aunt Nessa.”

    “You will be fine, Ysolde. I will adopt you, and you will become a superlative Cultivator, and you will be safe.” Nessa glared at the bean plant. “And I will not lose another niece because my brother-in-law wants to ingratiate himself with some ambitious old vixen.”

    “I love you, Nessa.” Christal’s voice made the roof panes vibrate. “You can do this.”

    “You can do this, Great-Aunt Nessa,” Ysolde echoed.

    “Come on, blight you,” Nessa Looked at the rock beans. “You heard my girls. I’m so angry I could explode. Help me here. Make me feel better. Take my rage. Take it all. Turn it into something useful.”

    The air shivered. The bean plant shook.

    “NOW!” Nessa barked.

    Nessa swayed. The bean pods swung wildly back and forth on their stalks, but they stayed resolutely green.

    “Blight it.” Nessa continued to glare at the plant, the burn scars in her eyes shining a brilliant, painful, molten red. “Those beans look different, but I’m not sure what I did to them.”

    To their left, on the bench, the air was filled with a soft popping noise. Christal turned, reached for her wooden box, and opened the lid. A faint scent of ripe summer fruit and honey tickled her nose. She leaned closer, chasing the source of it, and gasped.

    Inside, the dried rock beans vibrated in their compartment. Their dull gray skins were lightly speckled with pale golden spots, like precious flecks in granite.

  2. It’s so funny that this is the prompt! Quite a few years ago (before McDaniel), I wrote a whole book about a character who woke up with a superpower (strength), and then developed a few more (speed, can’t remember what else). There were lots of things I like about that story, but in the end, it wasn’t good. Kind of stank on ice. I don’t even think there’s a good enough snippet to pull from it to post here, but if I have time to look later today and can find a thumb drive where it’s stored, I might take a look at it.

  3. I noticed that “regret” was in the word choices twice, so I decided I would do “regret” once and change one of them to “egret.” That worked, but I had to sacrifice “fluent.” Just not feeling the fluency today, I guess. Here we go.

    Going Bald

    Alva Spalding bit into her last bar of bittersweet chocolate and regretted that she hadn’t gone with the milk. People always said the dark was better, but she didn’t think so. This bar, in particular, had an odd flavor, ash overlaid with sand. With a less-than-delightful aftertaste of brick.

    She tossed the last of the bar and, suddenly exhausted, lay down for a nap. When she awoke, chilled to the bone, she rose and washed her face at the marbled bathroom sink. And gazed, horrified, at her reflection in the mirror.

    She was bald.

    And she was wearing some kind of costume—an ebony leotard with a golden egret embroidered on the front. She looked down—harem pants. She hadn’t worn harem pants since junior high. And gold, light-weight gloves. And gold shoes with upturned toes.

    Had she forgotten she was going to a costume party? Had she undergone some kind of massive genetic mutation? And where was her hair?

    “What the hell?” Alva said.

    Her voice carried down the hall, bringing her mother to the bathroom. She seemed remarkably unbothered by Alva’s new look.

    “That’s your father’s doing,” she said. “I was against keeping that chocolate around. But you know your father—he’s never happy unless he’s in opposition to someone.”

    “You know about this?” Alva asked, shocked. “But what does it mean? What’s with these clothes? And I’m bald.”

    “Don’t worry about it,” her mother advised. “It’s a family, ah, thing. Your father will explain it when he gets home from work. I have to go check on the meatloaf.”

    “But what am I supposed to do? I look stupid.”

    “Everything will be fine,” her mother said. “You’ll see. Just don’t, ah, twirl around, okay? Twirling would be bad.”

    • That was wonderful, Kay. Loved all of the italics in:

      “You know about this?” Alva asked, shocked. “But what does it mean? What’s with these clothes? And I’m bald.”

      Also, the egret was an inspired substitution.

    • LOL! I want to know MORE! What’s dear ol’ dad’s angle?

      And I relate very much with that kind of chocolate. It seems like there’s a certain class of consumer who values health over taste, so that results in 99 percent cacao bars (or something). Anything over about 70 percent tastes horrible to me. It makes sense that it would convey a terrible curse!

  4. I woke up this morning, and discovered I’d lost the power to talk. I mean, it’s bad enough when humans lose their voices, but I’m a talking horse. It’s not like I can write on a memopad or do American Sign Language with any degree of fluency. It was a fucking nightmare, that’s what it was.

    I showed up at the photo shoot a little early, hoping that I could communicate my problems to my photographer, Ellen Bosch. Yes, THE Ellen Bosch, who has photographed so many naked pregnant celebrities that the bottom has dropped out of that market . . . unless, of course, you are THE Ellen Bosch.

    “Hey, Eddie,” she said, and scritched me behind my ears. Ah, I love a former horse girl. Delightful woman. She knew just where to hit the spot. I neighed in pleasure. But then I got ahold of myself. I gently grabbed her jacket with my teeth, and took her over to the paddock, and started to scratch my sad story into the dirt. “No time, Eddie. We’ve got to get you into that professor’s costume. I know Darla wants to do some last-minute stitching.” She walked me through, back to the hard red-bricked street where my literacy did me no good at all.

    “Hello, you ebony stud, you,” Darla cooed at me. “What a genetic wonder you are. Hold still while I brush your mane. Frannie, get his tail, will you?” I don’t like it when Darla objectifies me. Most people are a little nervous around a talking horse, and that’s the way I like it. But Darla’s a little creepy, like she’s got this image of me in a 19th century postcard, and I don’t like it at all. I usually make a token protest, but not today. The thing is, Darla knows how to untangle my mane and where the hoof oil is. Without her, I’d be giving $5 pony rides to the locals and chatting up the more perverted matrons of the community, and making those 19th century postcards for real. But at least when I spoke up, I felt I had a bit of power. Not today. I was her pretty pony boy with no say in the matter.

    The air was still chill when I left makeup, but since I was dressed in a jacket, I didn’t feel it very much. The pince nez kept slipping down, and the cuffs of the jacket chafed a little bit, so I was uncomfortable, but Ellen knew her stuff. She put a dot of no-sock-slip on my nose to keep the glasses up, scritched me again behind the ears, then led me up to the marble columns of the university’s library. “You’re quiet today, Eddie.” I whickered softly, hoping she’d follow up on that thought, but she just patted my nose and headed over to the camera.

    I wracked my brain. What could I have done wrong? I had some whisky and mash last night, and went out singing with a bunch of the lighting crew – but it wasn’t anything new for me. In fact, I went to bed feeling virtuous about the time and my consumption. Then I remembered the lady with the gloves.

    She was dressed in an ash-colored riding suit, and she had a hat on trimmed with egret. She DID look like she stepped out of a 130-year-old picture postcard, but the classy kind. There’d been a veil over her face, and she looked sad. “It’s time, Edward,” she whispered sadly to me, and then touched my flanks with her riding crop. I flinched, of course, and by the time I had opened my eyes, she was gone. You see all sorts of stuff in New York, so I wasn’t really worried. I figured she was coming home from some sort of costume party, maybe even Martha Stewart’s charity event. I kept wending my way back home, nuzzled the security code into my apartment building, and settled myself in for the night.

    I didn’t think she was the angel of death.

    I slid on a wet spot on the marble steps, and came crashing down, breaking my front leg in the process. Everyone was screaming, and they got a vet from the racegrounds – some quack that didn’t know me from Secretariat. “The break is bad. We’re going to have to put him down.”

    Ellen protested that he couldn’t put me down – I was Eddie the Talking Horse, the only one on the planet but by that time, the police had gotten involved, and they didn’t seem to know me from Sea Biscuit, either. I was out of my mind with pain, and I have to admit, I bit two officers and that quack vet before they loaded me onto the trailer, and took me to a death that, at that point, was something of a relief.

    I woke up, talking. The lady with the gloves was there, too, stroking my nose gently. “Oh, Edward, this time was a hard one, wasn’t it?”

    “What, what do you mean?” She didn’t say anything, but kept stroking my nose.

    Then the memories came flooding back. Every hundred years, I was born into a horse, and learned to talk. Sometimes I was exorcised. Once I was burned at the stake. Three times, I managed to keep my mouth shut, and lived a normal horsey life and retired to green pastures with grateful owners. And here was my personal Death, who greeted me each time on this field of bittersweet gray grass, in this twilight land.

    “Oh, Edward. How many times will it be before you learn?”

    “Tell me! You tell me! What am I supposed to learn?” But she didn’t tell me. She never did. She left me to enjoy my feed in peace. I would sleep, and another hundred years would pass overnight, and I’d be sent back to earth to learn my lessons. Maybe next time, I’d learn to live without regrets, and end the cycle of rebirth. A horse could always hope.

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