Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Captain’s Starlog, Day 3 . . . wait, that’s not right.

Welcome to the end of a crazy week. It started slow and has ended up with the entire state of California in “time-out.”  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people reference the 1918 influenza pandemic (formerly known as the “Spanish Flu”).

Fans of numbers and charts are undoubtedly having a field day dealing with all of the data points floating around.  I must admit even I had a bit of fun (relative term) playing with one of the interactive “what if” scenario charts in one New York Times article.

When I haven’t been busy tracking the news, I’ve been busy trying to maintain a semblance of normal as my day job department has transitioned to “work at home.”  It’s not much of a change for me, since I periodically work at home, although there have been some drawbacks, like the fact that I looked up at 8:30 this evening and realized I should have stopped working hours ago.

Tomorrow I plan to do a better job of managing my work at home time.  If nothing else, I’d like to avoid another 8:35 dinner time.  Since it appears we’ll be trapped at home for the duration, I’m busy thinking about home improvement projects I can tackle.  If things go on long enough I’m pretty sure I’ll wind up painting the walls; that’s far better than climbing them.  I can’t help but think how ironic it is to be trapped at home during the one time when calling in all of the various repairmen I’ve been waiting to schedule is not an option.

For a treat, I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words a try after work.

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 random words and writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.


What if: “Your character is entering week 2 of quarantine?

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

flavor         terror            meat           daffodil

deceit         doctor          captivity     playtime 

crystal        graffiti         boredom     boast 

hiss             casino          ammonia     applause

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!

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. That’s one of the potential problems of working at home—you’re always working. I hope by now you’re having a glass of wine and waving goodbye to last week, Elizabeth! As for me, I had fun writing a sprint and imagining what the Munsters would be like if they were sheltering in place. 🙂

    Staying In
    “I’m bored,” whined little Regis as he scrawled red crayon on the dining room walls.

    “I’m pissed off,” snarled Vivica, the nanny. Tasked with watching Regis, the Heir Apparent and terror of the household staff, she followed after him on her hands and knees, washing off the graffiti with a robust ammonia solution that stank up the front half of the house.

    “Who wants to play casino?” cried the Heir joyfully, dealing out cards on the upholstered pod chair.

    “Who wants to eat broken glass?” Zandra, the Heir Presumptive, slouched into the room, her lip ring gleaming, her crystal nose stud sparkling in the mid-afternoon sun.

    “I want to play! I want to play!” The doctor, formerly a staid internist with a moderate and unenthusiastic practice, had unfortunately lost his mind after two weeks’ captivity with the Heir and his family. He no longer remembered how that one unnecessary house call two weeks ago had turned into a permanent quarantine, and in his madness—temporary, everyone hoped—could no longer differentiate his official medical duties from playtime. For the moment he was bunking with the butler, believing him to be his surgical assistant. The Heir had improvised this little ruse following the discovery of a band of gypsies occupying the upper stories of the domestic quarters, and Jeeves, who had been with the family for some time, had not the heart to rectify this deceit.

    “Who wants to eat dinner, which is not broken glass?” asked the Heir’s Consort, entering the drawing room with a wooden spoon in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other.

    “What deliciousness can we expect this evening, then, dear?” asked the Heir.

    “It’s meat,” said his consort. “And stewed daffodils.”

    “Daffodils have an excellent flavor this time of year,” said the Doctor, following them into the dining room.

    “And they had the benefit of being available,” the Consort said, “out there in the yard.” She put the bowl of stewed daffodils on the table to the applause of the family.

    “I could make better stewed daffodils than this by the time I was twenty,” said Trixie, the ninety-five-year-old Dowager, who’d never left the dining room table after breakfast. She poked at the dish with her knitting needle and hissed at it.

    “Boasts do not become you,” said the Consort, lightly smacking her mother-in-law with the wooden spoon. “Now, eat your daffodils.”

    “Where’s the meat?” asked Zandra, the Heir Presumptive.

    “The gypsies got it,” the Consort said, pointing to the colorful wagons out on the lawn.

    Zandra pulled out her Bowie knife from under her sleeve, where it had been cinched against her arm, and rose from the table.

    “Hold my beer,” she said. “I’ll be back.”

    • LOLOL! Love it. The house that gains a few inhabitants during the Pestilence. And stewed daffodils. Mmmm! You can’t have your stewed daffodils until you eat your meat. How can you have stewed daffodils if you haven’t eaten your meat??

      I wonder what the trigger word in Elizabeth’s post was . . . your thoughts went to the Munsters; mine went to Bewitched, LOL. So much fun!

  2. Again, I only used enough words to start. (-: I do feel you. The days are starting to run together, and while I can drag myself away from YouTube, it’s really hard to leave a project half done.

    It’s a little late for St. Patrick’s Day, but maybe a bit of fun, anyway.

    Outside, a host of golden daffodils had just graced Annabelle’s yard, but inside, she wandered lonely as a cloud. It was day 8 of her self-isolating routine, and the balance between boredom and concentration was beginning to tip ever so slowly to the comatose side. She spent her time at the bay window, curtains open, watching for signs of human activity like one of those old, nosy women in a 1960s sitcom. She liked the thought, and put on her Gladys Kravitz voice, a nasally suburban accent. “ABNER! There’s something very strange going on at the Stevens’ house.”

    Although, given the circumstances, it wasn’t that strange. Her neighbor, Roger Jeffries, was putting up a tent, and his little terror, Jeremy, was rushing around the yard like herding dog instead of a human child. Roger had been putting up the tent for the last hour and a half, and Jeremy had enough energy to power Manhattan for two days, if only they could put him on a treadmill.

    Annabelle dropped the voice. “If only something strange would happen. I’m sick of being home.”

    A gruff voice behind her said, “Well, I’m sick of you being home, too.”

    She whirled around. Who was in her house? She couldn’t see anybody, but the peace lilies were shivering suspiciously. Was that? It was . . . a tiny red cap, half the size of one of the white flowers. She couldn’t stand the twee, and she had no knick-knacks. “What the heck is a Smurf doing in my house?”

    “God, could you be any more annoying? I’m not a Smurf.” The little man stood up . . . 18 inches from toe to cap, and looking like a leprechaun come to life. “I’m not a leprechaun, either.”

    “Ugh, can you read my mind?” Annabelle asked.

    “No, we just get that a lot. I’m your house brownie.”

    Annabelle looked at her snack plate. “Did I grab the wrong brownies?” She checked the package. No, they weren’t the medicinal brownies, just normal Snak-Heaven brownies. She looked back at the little man.

    “I have to repeat myself: could you be any more annoying?” With a cross look on his face, he leaped into the air and disappeared.

    “Hey, Brownie-man, come back! I’m sorry!”

    Annabelle spent the rest of her Saturday afternoon on the computer, looking up brownie lore, and realizing that if she really had a household spirit, she’d been doing things wrong ever since she moved in. She dug through the fridge, looking for some sort of dairy product, but the stores had been out since Day 3. Her anxious eye fell on the liquor shelf. She dug a thimble out of her sewing kit, and a shot glass from the Good Dishes cupboard, washed both well, and pulled down the Bailey’s Irish Cream.

    “Sorry it’s not real cream,” she called. “One for you, and one for me.”

    She poured, gulped down hers, and waited for a minute. Nasally, she said, “Do you prefer the Gladys Kravitz voice?” The picture in the hall fell down. “Guess not.” She poured another shot and slammed it back. She felt like a college girl again. “You know what this needs? Some cocoa and the medicinal brownies. Don’t go anywhere, buddy. I’ll be right back.”

    The peace lilies fell over. “You know, I always blamed that on the cat. I guess I know better now.” Through the quiet house, the distinct sound of a tiny raspberry pierced the silence. Annabelle chuckled.

    “Now, let’s see. I don’t have a hearth . . . maybe the TV would do.” She clicked it on, and muted the news before she could hear anything. She’d heard it all this morning; it wouldn’t be much different than the news tomorrow morning, if past experience meant anything. She rummaged through the digital files until she found the recording from Christmas of a fireplace. She unmuted, and Bing Crosby was singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas . . . .” She quickly muted it again.

    On the TV stand, she arranged the thimble-full of Bailey’s, a dixie cup of cocoa, and a smidge of medicinal brownie on one of those little table-like things that come in a box of pizza. She smiled. Even if she was imagining the whole thing, it was fun to have a tea party. Cocoa party. Irish Bailey’s party. Whatever. She brought up her Celtic playlist on her phone, and let the drums play, and the piping voices fill her living room.

    Annabelle settled into her wingchair, waiting for her brownie to show up; maybe they could talk. But what with three shots of Bailey’s and some yummy freaky brownies in her tummy, she drifted off to sleep.

    The bright sun woke her up. It must be 11 a.m. “Damn! My phone!” It was 3 percent, so she took it into kitchen and the charger there. The kitchen looked like a disaster area – flour all over the place, a broken egg on the flour, tea towels flung here and there . . . but on the table was a beautiful pineapple Danish, and a cup of tea that was still steaming. “Mmmmm.”

    There was a message under her plate. “I’m not Irish, you know, but it will do until the Quarantine is done. My arthritis is cured. I’m seeing little people! Littler people! Wheeeeee” and the line on the last e slid down the paper.

    Across the street, Jeremy was running again, flapping his hands. “Dad, Dad! There’s something very strange going on at Annabelle’s house!” Annabelle smiled. Strange days, indeed.

    • What fun, Michaeline! I’m always amazed at the stories that come out of mundane word lists.

      Your mention of Jeremy (across the street) and his boundless energy made me think of a recent environmental conference I went to where you could charge your cell phone by pedaling on a bicycle. Maybe Jereme’s father should get somethign like that – Jeremy could probably power the whole neighborhood.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly have the urge to make brownies and find out whether or not *my* cat is to blame for the things that inexplicably fall down around the house.

      • (-: I WANT A BICYCLE LIKE THAT! I don’t know why it isn’t standard with the stationary bikes they sell; it seems like a simple thing. I say that because I know you can get a bike light that runs on the friction of a bicycle tire. It’d be such a nice thing to have during a post-earthquake power outage — a reason to get some exercise, and keep the old cell phone banks charged.

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