Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday and, for those who celebrated it, Happy Thanksgiving.  As I’m writing this, the cooking is finished, dinner has been eaten, and the dishwasher is running.

It was not quite a typical Thanksgiving day but there were dog walks in the park and socially distant family cooking in the kitchen, all wrapped up with a delicious apple-pecan-streusel pie. As a bonus, there are plenty of left overs, so I won’t need to cook for days. 

Though we were unable to be together in person, my siblings and I holiday Zoom call.  I’m guessing many other families did too.  Not quite the same as sitting around the same table for a meal, but a nice alternative.

Now, rather than sneak into the kitchen for “just one more” bite of apple pie, I think I’ll give today’s writing 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 either today’s random words or writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

What if: “Your character is cooking for the first time?

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

volume               find             mindless       allergic

charming           heroic        rose                 fight 

houseguest       noise         curfew           hope

honey                  grizzly        talk                 witness

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!

7 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. I’m glad you had a good Thanksgiving, Elizabeth! You are very lucky to have pie leftovers. I must have had particularly bloodthirsty dreams last night. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t indigestion, but then there’s my output today…

    How to Candle Eggs
    “Honey, how do I turn on the stove?”

    Blanche Redfin looked up from the eggs she was candling on the back porch. She’d hoped that her husband, if left to his own devices, would be able to figure out how to boil water, but as god was her witness, she’d married a charming and mindless moron who was allergic to work. She wished, not for the first time, that her romantic self had gotten a good talking to from her practical side before she tied the knot with Geoff. That knot would be the death of her. Or him. It was too soon to tell.

    “See the black knob below the burner? Turn that to the left.”

    “I can’t find it.”

    “Keep looking.” He’d used this ploy before: Pretend helplessness until she took over. It might not even be pretense. But she didn’t care anymore. She wasn’t having it.

    He appeared in the doorway, the edges of his limp and shapeless bathrobe fighting heroically to stay closed, his grizzly cheeks needing a shave. Too much quarantine, that was the problem. One problem, anyway.

    “The stove is making a funny noise,” he said.

    “Maybe it’s the radio,” she said. “Turn down the volume.”

    It’s the stove.”

    Figure it out.”

    “Why do I have to do it? You’re the one who understands the stove.”

    Blanche thought about it. Then she nodded.

    “Okay,” she said. “You candle the eggs. Sit here.” She rose from the bench and stepped aside so Geoff could take her place. She pushed the basket of eggs within easy reach. “Now for the flashlight.”

    As Geoff reached into the basket for an egg, Blanche raised the heavy-duty mag light and brought it down on Geoff’s head with all the force she could muster. She heard Geoff’s skull crack just as a delicate egg shell cracked when it hit the side of the pan for a nice cheese omelet, maybe with extra butter and just a pinch of thyme.

    Blanche quickly moved the basket of eggs as Geoff toppled sideways onto the pine plank floor. It was one thing to ruin a deficient husband. It was quite another to ruin a perfectly good basket of eggs.

    • Well, that suddenly took a drastic turn. Blanche does not sound like a woman to mess with, though she *did* save the eggs. Hope you’re feeling happier now that you’ve gotten that story out of your system.

      P.s. I had to look up “candling eggs” — apparently one can learn something new, even in a writing sprint.

      • When I looked at your words, the first thing I thought was, “it’s about candling eggs,” and I haven’t thought of egg candling in years, probably. When I was a kid, one of my dad’s good friends had a butter and egg distribution company, and sometimes my dad would take me to the plant when he wanted to gab with his friend. This guy candled thousands of eggs by hand every week. It seemed utterly normal to me then, although the thought of doing that for a few hours at a time now seems like about the last way I’d want to spend my time. That’s all mechanized now, so one wouldn’t have to. 🙂

    • LOL! What do you know? I was bloodthirsty, too, today. Must be something in the air. The morality here is suspect, but obviously, this sort of thing happens in real life. Just that one, final straw . . . .

      Maybe we’re killing off our inner lazy, selfish greedy selves to get ready for the holiday rush?

      Probably best to not think too hard about where these murderous impulses come from; writers just have to deal with them on paper. Can you imagine being the spouse of, say, Neil Gaiman? Or Stephen King?

  2. Warning: This is a dark and bloody vampire story . . . not your usual Thanksgiving fare. (-: But I’m thankful it came to me today! Thanks for the words, Elizabeth! Another 1000 for my NaNo!

    Mary Anne woke up super, super early . . . the sun was just setting at 4 p.m., and she wished for a second that she could return to her coffin and sleep until midnight. But then she remembered her special houseguest . . . Benjamin.

    She’d been fighting in an alley with her prey when Benjamin rose up from behind a dumpster and dispatched the 6-foot-4 drunk with a certain elan and flair. Such a charming and heroic young man!

    It turned out he was temporarily homeless. He’d spent his last dollar on a flight to Omaha, only to find that his family had decided to quarantine in Aspen. The house was locked, and he had no money for a hotel, and no friends. He’d been living in the library and sleeping in alleys for a week, or so he said. There was something about the story that was not adding up, but he smelled as sweet as honey, and she knew he’d be easy to handle, so decided to take him home and fatten him up for a Thanksgiving feast.

    He cleaned up well, too. After a shower, Mary Anne “accidentally” barged into the bathroom. Dark hair, dark eyes, broad shoulders, broad chest, and a waist that was such a pretty hanger for the towel wrapped around his hips. He looked like a Greek god. In life, Mary Anne had been a blond, cornfed farmgirl who never had a chance with the handsome men about campus. Death had given her a chance to perfect her social wiles, and learn to dress to bring out the best in her curves. She forced a flush into her cheeks and acted embarrassed, but she knew he was interested. Men always were. Women, too.

    She made up a story about working with some people in Vietnam and needing to sleep all day so she could stay up all night, and he happily adjusted to her schedule. And she fed him all the wonderful things she could think of. Fresh pineapple from the grocery store, cheeses and the best wine, big juicy steaks. Of course, she couldn’t eat any of that. But what a pleasure it was to watch him devour his food, build his blood. The roses in his cheeks from long brisk walks and cold, cold showers went well with his dark eyes and the wave of dark hair that framed his face. Oh, and that grizzly young beard that he seemed to always forget to shave off. Charming.

    Yes, charming.

    She’d never learned to cook in life. She could handle a steak, or a baked potato, but her mother and then the university kitchens had kept her fed. And of course, in death, there was only one thing she drank. The problem was, Benjamin wanted a Thanksgiving dinner. And the rich young man couldn’t cook, either. He seemed to expect her to do it. She cheerfully promised to do her best. If it turned out inedible, she could have him a little earlier than planned. But she did like it when her prey died happy and sated. They tasted so good, they made less noise, they went mindless with such ease.

    So, yesterday, they’d made a list, and went to a grocery store to find supplies, masked of course, and came back with everything he said was necessary for a proper Thanksgiving feast. Except the dressing. She had to make the dressing herself. And the potatoes and the gravy.

    So, in order to eat at midnight, she needed to have dinner on the table by ten. She put the fresh turkey in the oven, then played some Scrabble with him. Quite a smart young man. Her hunger and excitement rose. The smells from the kitchen were delicious.

    Then Benjamin said, “You’d better get started on the dressing. The recipe says it takes an hour in the oven.” She batted her eyelashes at him, and he bit his lip. The blood rose to the surface, and she could barely contain herself from taking him then and there, but the timer went off in the kitchen and broke the spell of bloodlust.

    She basted the turkey, then looked at the recipe. There was garlic in it. So much garlic. She had gloves, but the fumes stung her eyes and peppered her face. She got sidetracked by the rice; she counted each grain quickly, and then mixed them into a white sauce that looked strangely lumpy. The sage was a horror. She didn’t know vampires were allergic to sage; or at least she was. She couldn’t stop sneezing until the last of it was finally mixed into the stuffing. Benjamin sat at the counter, chatting with her and playing with the wooden spoons, making a strange tattoo on the old cherry. His talk lulled her, though, and she hoped he appreciated what she was doing for him.

    Finally, it was done, and ready for the oven. She gave him a taste on one of those wooden spoons. It slipped between his lips, and his tongue licked the retreating spoon like a cat. Or a snake. She shook her head to clear her thoughts.

    He lead her to the living room, and put a jazz record on her phonograph. He turned the volume down low and pulled her tight into a slow dance. They swayed to the barely-heard music. Such a romantic song! She’d loved this standard when she was alive, dreamed of dancing with a handsome man to it until midnight. Her curfew back then, and now the beginning of her days.

    Benjamin whispered in her ear, “I was so lucky to see you in that alley. It was fate that you and I were there.”

    “Such a coincidence,” Mary Anne said. “So strange that you picked that alley to sleep in that night.”

    “Not such a coincidence,” he said. “There was a good heating grate. I slept in that alley every night.”

    Mary Anne had a strange foreboding, and felt something she hadn’t felt since her death . . . the feeling of a predator, very very close.

    “I was a witness two nights before. I saw you suck that man dry, and throw him into the dumpster like a rag doll.”

    She felt a sharp object in the small of her back, then it slid up between her shoulder blades. The fumes of the garlic and sage were making her dizzy.

    “You never asked what I did in New York,” he purred into his ear. “I’m afraid vampire hunting isn’t a very profitable career, but it is a satisfying one.”

    And with that, he thrust the sharpened end of one of the wooden spoons through her heart. What a waste, what a waste. He would have made a charming feast. He was a gentleman to the end, and held her gently in his arms until she passed to the other side to face her judgement.

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