Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the end of another work week.  Folks here are getting ready to celebrate the long three-day Labor Day weekend, which means the roadways will undoubtedly be packed during the Friday evening rush hour.

Sounds like an excellent reason to work from home.  Sadly, I have meetings in the office that require my physical presence.  Slipping out of the office early sounds good, but since traffic usually starts backing up around noon-time I’m thinking heading to the gym instead and then maybe to dinner in town sounds like a good alternative.

Fortunately, even if I wind up trapped in traffic I have the Hamilton soundtrack to keep me entertained.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it since I bought it – only the first half though, since the second half is a tearjerker (at least for me).

Once I get home and kick off the weekend, I’ve got a whole lot of nothing planned to do.  Should I start to feel industrious, I have a giant TBR pile just waiting for me, as well as a new cookbook full of recopies that I’m eager to try.

I’m guessing I should at least make some attempt to be productive before I give in to my slothful nature.  Perhaps before I crack open the cookbook I’ll give today’s story prompt and random words a try and see where they lead.

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 got an unexpected inheritance?”

Feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose and include any (or all) of the following random words:

gloomy        agonizing       funeral         criminal 

huffy            bloom             execute       colt

canvas         hacksaw          beads           conflict

cuddly         plaything        ceramic        dinosaur

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!

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. I have a lazy weekend planned, too! I hope you enjoy your time off, Elizabeth! And everyone else, too.

    The Passage of Riverside Farm
    Not even an hour after Aunt Estella’s funeral, her lawyer took me aside at the wake to tell me that “the relatives” were meeting the next day, nine o’clock sharp, at his office to discuss the execution of the will. “Discuss” being a euphemism, probably, for the agonizing conflict that was likely to ensue between my various kinfolk, all of whom had big plans for the place.

    I had been voted least likely to inherit, but I was happy to spend any time outside of her gloomy old house, where I’d been staying since Aunt Estella’s demise. It was criminal, how she’d let the place fall apart, but by the end, she probably didn’t have a penny to her name. I’d wanted to spend time in the shabby, untended rooms, remembering the old dinosaur that she was, but all I could think about was how I’d fix up the place if I could.

    In its heyday, Riverside Farm had been a showcase, a thoroughbred stud and training ground for racehorses. At one time, the stables had been filled with sleek mares and one arrogant stallion; the pastures blooming with frolicsome colts. Now the land was empty, fallow, a blank canvas for the aspirations of people who didn’t care about the place.

    That was one thing you couldn’t say about me: I’d always loved Riverside Farm, spent every summer here as a child and every holiday that I could get away from my parents. Because of my Aunt Estella, I was a veterinarian with an advanced degree in animal husbandry. She and I had had a falling out over the man I’d married and quickly divorced; she’d been huffy and unforgiving about it and I’d taken a snit, and we’d never really recovered. But soon Riverside Farm would be nothing more than a name on a housing development, because my parents and aunts, uncles and cousins all wanted to take a hacksaw to the place. I wouldn’t stick around for that.

    When that lawyer, looking almost cuddly with satisfaction, told the assembled crowd the next day that I had inherited the whole shebang, plus another several million bucks to set the place to rights, well, my mother, who’d been fingering her necklace in anticipation, broke it, scattering the ceramic beads all over the floor.

    I hadn’t expected to inherit Riverside Farm and hadn’t let myself want it. But now that I had it—well, I helped my mother pick up those beads.

    • I love this, Kay! You just started my day with a smile. Yay! for Aunt Estella making the smart choice. Now I want to see photos–glamorous black-and-white ones from the old days, grainy ones in the now, and glossy ones after Riverside Farm is restored and subtly improved with skill, love, and the judicious application of oodles of cash 🙂

  2. I’m supposed to be writing my post for tomorrow, but this was more fun 😉 . I think I got ’em all.

    Uncle Victor’s Legacy

    The meeting to discuss Uncle Victor’s funeral arrangements sparked more than the usual family conflict.

    Paula sat between two of her innumerable slab-faced cousins, wondering which of them had discreetly tucked the envelope into her jacket pocket. On the outside, cut and pasted from newspaper lettering, was the inscription “UNCLE VICKY’S LEGACY.” Inside sat a single sheet of paper with a string of letters, characters and numbers followed by a few brief instructions.

    At the head of the table Aunt Gina, Vicky’s long-suffering wife of more than half a century, proposed a requiem mass at gloomy St. Xavier’s cathedral, a memorial service at the Roman amphitheater complete with orchestra and thousand-person choir, and a marble mausoleum topped by a distraught angel.

    “Nah. We gotta follow tradition,” Uncle Laurence bellowed. He leaped to his feet and countered with an old-style spectacular of carriages, black-plumed horses, fantastic floral tributes and all the brouhaha you’d expect from a dinosaur of the underworld.

    Delilah, executive-assistant-slash-personal-plaything, leggy and fine-boned as a thoroughbred colt, looked from one to the other while simultaneously dabbing her eyes with a jet-edged lace handkerchief. She was eighteen and wholly out of her depth, a gum-chewing blank canvas in form-fitting ebony satin and grape-sized beads that looked a lot like black diamonds.

    Uncle Inigo let them fight it out, complete with tears and table thumping. Then he issued a ruling in typical staccato style. “No horses. No cathedral. No choir.” He made a swift motion with one chubby hand. “Private service. Low-key. Secure location.”

    Uncle Laurence swallowed hard, but zipped his lip. Aunt Gina took a deep breath and tried not to look huffy. Uncle Inigo might seem twinkly-eyed and cuddly, but they’d all heard the rumor about the hacksaw. And the one about the ceramic hair straighteners. If Inigo said low-key, that was that. The message would be discreetly circulated among the appropriate people.

    Uncle Inigo had his reasons. Not that Victor was a criminal, exactly—he’d never been tried, let alone convicted—but protocol required that the family’s associates, even those who rarely appeared in public, should show their respects. Which meant that a high-profile ceremony would be awash with law enforcement and government agents filming the proceedings and bugging everything from the hearse to the wake.


    It was unfortunate that somebody leaked the arrangements to the Enquirer. And then dropped a hint or two on the Dark Net for good measure. The crowd was a hundred deep, not to mention the TV crews and helicopters.

    Paula live-streamed the debacle on her phone and watched disorder bloom like mold on a Cohiba. There would never be a better time to execute her plan.

    Her fingers flew over the keyboard. For an agonizing moment she thought the mystery message was fake, but then the screen blinked and she was in. There was a whole hierarchy of accounts to empty, but she’d prepared thoroughly. It took less than five minutes to turn the lot into bitcoin. Run the automation to break the bitcoin into smaller parcels and move them on. Close out the bitcoin wallets. Wipe the computer and walk away.

    It would take longer to pay back all the people Uncle Vicky had swindled, but she’d prepared for that too. She had a list. And an untraceable hideaway. And an awful lot of money.

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