Hi there. Happy Friday.
This week has swung from oh-my-goodness-I’m-melting to I-need-a-sweater. Right now things seem to have settled on a perfect balance between the two. Hopefully that will last long enough for me to enjoy it.
The weather has been the least of my concerns this week – standing upright and moving has been my main focus. I did a lot of yard-work and furniture moving over the weekend, forgetting that I am not, in fact, Super Woman, and I have been paying the price all week. It is a mistake I make more frequently than I’d care to admit.
Ah well, this too shall pass. In the meantime, while trapped flat on my back I’ve have plenty of time to spend brainstorming and dreaming up stories. I think the perfect way to celebrate returning to the upright and locked position will be to give this week’s story prompt and random words a try.
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.
This week’s random words and story prompt again come to us courtesy of The Ripped Bodice’s Summer Reading Bingo card, which we talked about previously. You may not have a chance to read your way to a “bingo” but perhaps you can write your way there.
What if: “Your character elopes?”
Feel free to include any (or all) of the following random words:
wine mature history beach
assassin elope country heart
spirit kilt hat tarot
female royal smell costume
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!
For the first time I’ve risen to the writing sprint challenge. This week’s one has helped me plan ahead to the final act of my current novella in progress, part of several series I’ve been working on, from which I’ve shared a few snippets over the past weeks. Thanks so much for helping me to get clear on a few ideas. Although I’m only starting the second act at present, to have this much further scene in place has really got me to focus on where I’m headed.
“Although disguised by the fancy dress costume, Ella’s heart thumped in her chest as she slipped into the hotel’s grand ballroom, at once overpowered by the smell of expensive perfume. A female, dressed in a sequined, royal blue satin flapper dress, slid past her, face covered in a familiar mask of the same shade, an elasticated string of tiny, delicate pearls stretched around neat, short, ebony coloured hair. Grace Upshaw.
‘Stay close!’ she hissed in her ear. ‘And don’t look so glum!’
The lupin blue eyes briefly met Ella’s own. How could Grace possibly guess at her expression, concealed by her own Venetian carnival mask she’d bought on ebay? But Grace was right, glum summed up the way she felt. Plus terrified.
If only she hadn’t been fool enough to succumb to the tarot reading in the Portobello Road that previous Saturday, when the market was in full swing. Yet hadn’t her mum led her to the stall, accompanying her in spirit, floating by her side? An ethereal figure dressed in white. There were lessons to be learned and this was the next step.
‘You can do it Ella, you can – you can!’ she’d whispered.
Yet the fortune teller’s story had scared Ella out of her wits, especially the bit about running away. While the tale unfolded, Ella pictured herself calling Jake, her pumpkin coachman, requesting him to drive her back to Uxbridge once more, in a bid to escape for good. She should have done so the first time of course, instead of allowing her curiosity to get the better of her. All that stuff about karma, and loose threads that needed tidying, had been a smoke screen. She should have left Grace Upshaw’s challenge behind her, turned her back on Notting Hill and its controversies, and returned home.
‘You have a history of running away!’
The fortune teller’s words boomed in her head. It was all down to which direction she chose to take, the woman had warned. Return to her old life by all means, but if she chose to go forward along the path set out for her, she would instead elope to a far country, accompanied by a man much older than she. Mature and wise, that’s how the woman had described him. A man wearing a kilt, she’d added. And a hat. They’d go to a beach – somewhere deserted in wintertime, where the truth would eventually be revealed. A recreation of the past.
‘Stop dallying and stand tall!’ Grace ordered under her breath, accusing lupin blue eyes fixed upon Ella through the mask’s slits. ‘Don’t lose me in the crowd.’
Attempting to keep Grace in her sights, Ella fought her way through a multitude of characters, attired in all manner of fancy dress. A court jester, leering at her via a full white and gold mask, topped with three points of dark red velvet, each tipped by a bell in the style of a fool’s hat, planted a glass of wine into her hand, accompanied by a fiendish, high-pitched laugh.
‘Drink this – my lovely!’
A thin, female figure, disguised by a cat mask and covered from head to toe in black leotard and tights, tail hanging down from her backside, ran into Ella. The wine spilled down her front, soaking her bra. Onward she pressed, clutching the base of the glass, focused on placing one foot in front of the other.
Ahead, a tall, black-cloaked figure, face covered by a beaked mask, like those worn by plague doctors, bore down on Grace. He placed a pair of large hands, sheathed by tight fitting, black leather gloves, on her shoulders. Murderer’s gloves. An assassin. Yes, the fortune teller had mentioned him too. How she’d hoped the woman had been wrong about that one.
Someone bumped against her. A grey-bearded man, in Highland dress and tam o’shanter, face partially hidden by a mask of matching Stewart tartan.
More wine spilled from Ella’s glass.
‘I’m so sorry,’ he said in a rich, velvety voice. ‘Let me get you another.’ ”
Extract from ‘The Mask’: a novella under wraps.
So glad today’s words were able to help you make progress on your novella. It’s great when the sprints become more than just a fun exercise.
Thanks for sharing your extract.
Thank you so much again!
What an exciting tarot read! Lovely to see her tall dark stranger from the cards show up at the end!
Thank you so much. Yes, the tall dark stranger still has to reveal himself even to me the writer – food for thought!
Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints: June 14th 2019 – Freedom Writing
My head ached, and there were still stars in my eyes when I heard a lady’s voice whisper, “Sam, yore gonna get us kilt.” I was lying in a pile of straw, and the aroma of horse manure told me I was in a working barn, no longer on the beach with my tarot cards.
“Calm down, Ash-honey. I ain’t gonna get nobody kilt. I’m gonna get some answers.” I peeked through my eyelashes, and saw a beach bum in a bucket hat, slowly stropping a butcher knife on a leather belt. His left hand was bandaged. I almost squeaked, but caught myself just in time. Where was Porky-Pie? There was a little whimper, and I realized that I was curled up around him on the stable floor.
Sam tromped over to me. “I see you peeking. Open yore eyes. You’ve got some card-reading to do for me.” I sat up, swaying a little as my head threatened to fall off my neck. “Get up,” Sam said. He waved the knife at me.
Porky-Pie seemed fine . . . he sat up too, and bared his teeth at Sam, but didn’t growl. Behind me, Ash-honey reached under my armpits and helped me to my feet. Could this be a female ally against Nasty Sam? She frog-marched me to a table in the stable’s office, and plunked me down, then whapped me on the head. Sam had followed. “Keep that dog outta here. He ain’t gonna bite me again.” The door shut, and Porky-pie whined outside the door. “Shut up, ya mutt!”
Ash-honey slapped my cards down on the table. “Some of them cards blew away in the wind, so you’ll have to make do with what’s left.” She turned to Nasty Sam. “Honestly, I can’t believe you believe in this garbage, Sam. Stealing’s one thing, but kidnapping? We gonna get in trouble for something like this.”
“Now, Ash-honey, just settle down. We do this last job for The Assassin, and then we can elope off to Florida, like we talked about. We just gotta find out where Bob hid the stick.”
My heart twisted. My dead, complicated fiancé was named Bob. He was a computer guy who took the wrong job with the local mob, and wound up in a ditch for reasons I just didn’t understand. I loved him, but I didn’t love his choices, and I was on the point of breaking the engagement when the police showed up at my door to tell me the bad news. But Bob was a common name, so it surely couldn’t be . . . .
“I need you to do what you gotta do, and find out where Bob Vail’s stick went.” Oh. It was my Bob. “I hear you can contact spirits and what you say comes true, so you do your thing, and we’ll let you go,” Sam said.
“I don’t think you understand. It’s not like my sixth sense works that way . . . .” I was stopped when Ash-honey slapped the back of my head, just hairs away from the tender spot where someone had knocked me out. So much for female allies.
“Shut up and get to work. We got a bus to catch tomorrow night, and we aim to be on it, and out of this hick town,” she said. Porky-Pie was scratching at the door. “You can shut up too, you dumb mutt!” The scratching stopped.
Well, it couldn’t hurt to ask. Maybe I could make something up. Sam and Ash-honey didn’t seem like the sharpest tools in the shed, if they were going to let me go after all this. Maybe I could divert them enough to make an escape. I shuffled my cards, murmuring, “Tony, Tony, Look around. What is lost, must be found.” Just for good measure, mind you.
First, I got The Moon, with the little dog yapping. Crawdad. “Could it be in the creek?” I asked.
Sam groaned. “We ain’t got all day to look up and down the creek. Find out more. Call Bob’s spirit!” Porky-pie yipped at the raised voices. “Shut up, dawg!”
Hah. I was not about to call on the ghost of Bob Vail. Bob had been confused, random and secretive in life. I could only imagine what death had done to his executive function. I drew out another card. Hah, again. It was The Fool in his jester’s costume, on his way to falling off a cliff. That had to be me, in search of answers, with a little dog merrily yapping all the way . . . a dog? Porky-Pie gave a sharp bark.
“This may sound crazy . . . .” I said.
“Crazy?” Ash-honey snorted. “This whole bidness is crazy. She ain’t going to find a stick with no cards,” she complained to Sam.
“No, I think my dog can help find the stick. That’s what the cards are saying.” Porky-pie gave a short sharp bark as if agreeing with me.
Sam gave his knife to Ash-honey and rummaged around the room. He came up with some leather straps and a horse bit. “Well, you rig something up so that dawg can’t bite me, and we’ll take a look.” Sam let the dog in and he and Ash slid around the door while I dealt with 40 pounds of slobbering, happy mutt. Whew, his breath smelled like he’d found somebody’s three-day old tunafish sandwich, but I didn’t care. My head ached, and I thought I was going to be knocked off the seat, but he was a good, solid dog. My sixth sense told me I’d be all right if I followed him. I set about making a make-shift leash for him . . . one that would release easily if he had to make a run for it.
Sam got us packed into the back of an old American-made car, with the baby-locks on (I surreptitiously tested the doors). The floor was a mess, littered with burger wrappers, and several half-empty bottles of spirits . . . I picked up one with Royal Crown Whiskey (matured in oak casks) that seemed to have had a short history as somebody’s pee jug. Maybe it’d be disgusting enough to use as a weapon, but then I thought better of it. I chose an empty wine bottle and slipped it into my tote bag, instead. As we drove through the country-side toward the mouth of Crachit’s Creek, I reviewed my options. I wondered if the criminal duo who had kidnapped me had also done something nasty to Jonas. If not, Jonas couldn’t drive; he’d be stuck out at the beach, a few sand dunes away from our destination. Maybe he’d be waiting for us. For whatever reason, Jonas always seemed to wind up at the right place at the right time during my psychic adventures, and maybe he’d be of some use in finding the stick. I held tight to Porky-pie as we sped through the night. Over the ocean, lightening flashed, and I knew we’d have a hard search ahead.
What fun, Michaeline. This story is really taking shape. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Also, I love the way you incorporated “kilt”.
LOL, I groaned when I saw that word; didn’t think it’d fit in at all. And then Bonnie and Clyde stepped in. I had a LOT of problems with the last six or seven words, but managed to chuck them into the backseat.
I can’t wait to see where this goes next! I’m trying to keep it free and clear, and work on something else during the week.
Fast paced – very good. Do keep going with it! ‘Kilt’ was clever!