Archive for the ‘writing from a prompt’ Category

The first time I died, I was nineteen years old, and resigned to my fate; the second time was a different story.  The first time I was leaving a horrible situation.  I didn’t care to stay any longer, even though it meant my demise.  That was okay.

But then, I found myself in paradise and I never wanted to leave it.  I could see the deep blue water from the high point on the island.  The palm trees shaded me from the hot sun and let me hear their fronds tickling each other as the winds made them sway coquettishly.  A gentle breeze.  Just enough to move the air around.  There was so much fruit every where.  I would never feel the rumblings of my empty stomach on this island.

Every so often I would have a flashback to the life I had left the first time.  I fought those flashbacks.  I didn’t want to go back there, not even in my memory.  That place had been a pure hell filled with evil.  No wonder I left it so willingly.  But this place.  No way did I want to leave it.

The day came for me to die.  I tried to find a way to fight it; a way to escape it; a way to cheat death.  But because I didn’t know how my death would come, I couldn’t figure out a way to save myself.  I was careful in everything I did but I was scared.  How would it happen?  Would it hurt?  Who would do it?  What would do it?  And exactly when?  If I could figure any of those out, If only I could figure out just one of those, I might have a chance.

The first time I died, I welcomed it.  I didn’t fight it.  Why prolong the agony of the so called life I had?  I didn’t deserve to die that time.  I didn’t deserve to die the painful death that time.  But then, after I died, I was born again, here in this heavenly spot and I led a wonderful life.  A happy life.  A full life.  And now it’s time for me to die again.  I don’t know how.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  I just know it will be soon.

Will I go on to another place?  A better place?  I think that’s what I deserve.  I haven’t hurt anyone here. I’ve been productive.  I should be going to a better life, or at least an equally good one.  Is that the way it works?

Filled with questions, she was lost in her own world of thoughts.  She didn’t realize it was happening until it was too late.  She kicked.  She reached for something to hang on to.  But it was no use.  The wave took her away.  Even a strong swimmer would have been lost, let alone a weak one like her.

The next time she died, she hoped it would be quick and painless.  She hoped she wouldn’t know.  Not even for a few seconds.

This post is in response to Mel’s Midweek Menagerie.

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Through the open window
I hear the world

Tap tap tap
Lori’s cane constant
As she takes her midnight walk

Vroom vroom vroom
Andres’ clunker as it coughs, warming
Before it carries him to work

Tinkle chinkle tinkle
The delicate chimes
Whispering in the gentle breeze

Midnight’s habits never change
The magic hour
I don’t usually try poetry but today, while browsing for a writing prompt to try, I came across this one at Something New Daily and thought I would give it a quick once over try. The poem above is what spilled out. My poem is not great but it’s a good first try that I might play around with later.

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In today’s Daily Post prompt, there was a list of five posts to write when you’re stuck on what to post on your blog. The last one caught my eye: “Your Childhood Fear”.

I really can’t say that it’s something I’ve gotten over, either, so maybe it’s a lifelong fear? When I was growing up, my parents fought a lot, especially when my father was drinking. My mom always tried to get us out of the house when he was drinking too much. One afternoon when my father had been drinking, my mother got my oldest brother, Carlos, to gather us up and take us outside and wait for her. When she got out with the baby, we walked downtown to the movie theater. It was quite a trek, about a mile and a half from our house and there were seven of us kids so it took awhile to walk all the way. My mother didn’t drive so we walked or we took the bus when we had to go some place. That day we walked because paying the bus fare meant we wouldn’t have enough money for the movies. In those days, the very early 1960’s, they showed two movies, movie trailers, cartoons, and a news reel. They didn’t come to kick you out at the end of the movie, either. So that afternoon we stayed through the whole show then stayed again. My mother wanted to keep us out of the house as long as possible in the hopes that my father would either be sober by the time we got back home or he would be passed out.

When the last show was over, we had to leave the theater. It was late so it was very dark outside. We walked home but it was so dark out that we walked in the middle of the street so we wouldn’t trip on the sidewalk or step in a hole. I remember that there was steam coming up from the manholes in the street so it looked like fog coming from the ground, or at least that’s how I picture it when I recall that night. The movies we had watched were monster movies. I don’t remember which ones but they both had monsters and had been scary to me as I was about four years old. As we walked in the middle of the street, we would watch for cars and when one approached, we left the street and headed for the sidewalk. That’s when I saw the opening in the side of the curb. It had a grate over it and now I know that it was a storm drain but at four years of age, I thought it was where the monsters lived. I was scared that if I stepped over it or even near it, the monsters would grab my leg and pull me in. I was so traumatized that one of my brothers had to pick me up and carry me over the storm drain every time we came to one.

Ever since then, I cannot go near storm drains, let alone walk over one! If I do, I know a monster will pop up and drag me away! I just know it!

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It was a Friday and she had not seen her grandsons in two days. She missed them but on the days their mother was home from work, she wasn’t needed to take care of them. While she enjoyed the timme off from babysitting them, she still missed them. The house was too quiet without them. No TV. No music. No why’s and no “what’s that”. No requests for cookies or water or juice. Too quiet. Then the phone rang. It was her four year old grandson wanting to know if she would take him to Olive Garden to eat because his mommy didn’t want to go. She said yes and they arranged a time. She hung up. She smiled. And all was right with the world.

This was taken from a prompt posted in The Daily Post on wordpress.com.

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Prompt: Take a line from a song you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

As some of you know and others may have guess from the name of this blog, I love the song Wasted Nights And Wasted Days by the late Freddie Fender. I’ve always loved that song since I heard it in the summer of 1975. I was in college then and just fell in love with the song, the music, and the lyrics, as I had fallen in love with Before the Next Teardrop Falls earlier in the same year.

Later, when I could truly relate to the lyrics (…For you don’t belong to me, Your heart belongs to someone else, Why should I keep on loving you, When I know that you’re not true…) the song meant so much more. Then even later, when I had gotten over that heartbreak and had spent so many days and nights alone, crying, mourning the loss of my marriage, I finally realized that it had all been a waste of time. I needed to move on and put the past behind me. So I worked on leaving it all behind me and going on. I moved 500 miles away and started a new life. And although I’m still alone, and I’ve not forgotten the past, it’s all just that…the past. It’s behind me. No more wasting time. Not days, not nights.

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
I have left for you behind
For you don’t belong to me
Your heart belongs to someone else

Why should I keep on loving you
When I know that you’re not true
And Why should I call your name
When you’re to blame for making me blue?

Don’t you remember the day
When you went away and left me
I was so lonely prayed for you only, my love

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Writing from a prompt. Short fiction.

It was love at first sight. That’s what I had always read in the books I loved to read by flashlight after I had been sent to bed. That’s what I dreamed would happen to me…that one day I might be sitting in the library, reading and then I would feel a pull, an irresistible urge to look up and there he would be, looking straight into my eyes and we would never part after that first glance at one another.

But it didn’t happen that way.

I had been sitting in the library reading between classes when I suddenly realized that I had stayed too long. I was late for my next class. I quickly gathered my things and put on my coat, noting that it had not yet dried from the last time I had been out in the drenching rain two hours earlier. Rushing, I didn’t see him coming off of the elevator next to the exit and he, struggling to get his umbrella ready for the rain, did not see me until it was too late.

As I lay on the floor, just inside the front doors to the library, people tried to get around me without tripping as they ran in from the rain. I noticed an outstretched hand and heard his voice. “I’m so sorry! That was totally my fault. Here, let me help you!”

Reaching for his hand, I pulled myself up, only have my heel break. As I fell again, holding on to the young man’s hand, I pulled him down on top of me. We must have been a sight! We both sat there laughing uncontrollably as people tried to enter and exit the building without stepping on us.

Finally, we managed to upright ourselves in a standing position, me trying to figure out how to walk with my broken heel and he trying to gather all of our books from the floor.

Suddenly, there was a tall man with an angular face asking us to be quiet and rushing us out the door before we were quite ready. That’s when I finally took a look at the young man that had knocked me head over heels onto the floor. I was shocked to see that it was no other than the young man that sat behind me in class, the class we were both horribly late to. I had spied him occasionally in class and had, more than once dropped my ink pen so that I would have an excuse to get a look at his face for all I knew about him was that he had a voice that would have me following him any place and when he used it to answer a question, he spoke with intelligence and self assurance.

As we stepped outside of the library, he asked if I might want to have a cup of coffee with him at the coffee shop next door, seeing that we were both too late to stumble into class and interrupt the whole session. I agreed and minutes later, as we sat down next to the blazing fireplace waiting for our coffee, we finally both looked introduced ourselves.

“That voice! I would know you any place. I hear your beautiful, lilting voice in my dreams! I never thought I would have the opportunity to sit next to you like this and have you direct that voice at me!”

Flattered, I batted my eyelashes as my vanilla latté arrived. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the coffee shop, talking and listening, lost to the realized dream we each had.

That’s how it happened. I guess you could call it love at first sound, not sight!

Prompt from WordPress Daily Digest: “Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.” I used the first sentence from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, although it is not my favorite book.

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Short fiction.  Writing from a prompt.  Part 1 here.


Emily explored her new cookbook, reading through the recipes page by page and taking time to think through the ingredients and procedures.  She was looking for something that would pop out at her…some special recipe that did not remind her of any other recipe she had ever seen or tried.  She was so consumed with reading through the book and deciphering the many notes, some of which appeared to be in different languages and in different handwriting that she forgot all about the competition she had applied to enter.  As she sat with the book in her hands, feeling the vibrations of those that had used it before her, it grew dark outside and before she knew it, she had to get up and turn on the lights.  As she got up, she placed the book on the table.  Coming back to the book after flipping the light switch to the on position, she noticed the pointy corner of a faded pink piece of paper.  She hadn’t seen it before but it was there now.  She tugged at it gently.  It appeared to be stuck between the back board and the endpaper of the cookbook.  It was in there tightly and Emily realized that it could not have gotten back there by mistake.  It was intentionally hidden there.  She wondered why as she finally freed the paper from its hiding place.

The paper was old and the edges were not in the best shape.  The outside of it was more faded than the inside.  As she unfolded the paper, Emily saw what was definitely feminine writing with a lot of loops and flourishes.  It was a letter which read: “Beloved niece, this is what you asked me for but I warn you that it is to be used only on the young man that you are sure is the perfect mate.  You must be one hundred percent positive that the young man is the one you wish will adore you til the day he dies; the one you will honour and cherish all the days of your life.  Once consumed, there is no turning back and the two of you will be bound together forever.  So be very careful and choose wisely.  If there is any doubt, do not use it.  Wait until there is not a sliver of doubt.”

Intrigued, Emily read the few lines to the recipe: “Philtre d’amour–dittany of crete, banana leaves, boil in water then add to chocolate. Administer mixture as a drink every night during the waxing moon. While you boil and prepare the ingredients, you must think only of your beloved and imagine seeing him/her in their natural state and cherishing them every day of your life.  To be prepared and administered with the greatest of caution.”

Giggling at the silliness of even the idea of a love potion, Emily folded the paper and returned it to its secret hiding place.  She continued to browse the recipes in the book and finally came upon one that intrigued her.  It was for a simple, yet very appealing banana chocolate cake.  She marked it so she could prepare it the next day just in case she made it to the competition.  She might just need a new recipe for that occasion.

In the end, Emily was accepted into the competition and not only did she win in her category, she also fell absolutely, totally in love with one of the judges.  His name was Romero and he had paid special attention to Emily throughout the competition.  When it was over, he had asked her if she would like to go on a date with him.  Three dates later, Emily had found the one man that was her true love; the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.  She remember the faded pink paper in her chocolate cookbook and knew that it was put there and meant to be found by her so that she could win the heart of her true love, Romero.  She pulled it out of the cookbook and began to look it over so she could get the ingredients and make the love potion.  She would have to hurry as the moon would be entering its waxing stage in just three nights.  She studied the paper carefully, eyes full of dreams of her future.

The prompt: A woman purchases an old cookbook at a used bookstore and discovers a note tucked inside its pages.

Source: The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction, by the Staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, put out by Writer’s Digest Books.

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Short story.  Writing from a prompt.


Emily was nervous and when she was nervous she would leave the house to distract herself.  Her favorite thing to do was to go to antique stores and to thrift shops.  She always got wrapped up in the little treasures that had belonged to other people.  They made her think and wonder and imagine who might have had any particular item.  Like one day last August she had found a fan…one of those delicate paper and tortoiseshell hand fans.  It had been displayed behind glass, fully extended to show off the delicate hand painted design full of colorful flowers and tiny butterflies against a cloudless light blue sky.  The little card next to it read: “Spain, 1894. Ecru parchment, tortoiseshell.”  It had sent Emily off on an imaginary trip to 1894.  She made up a story of two young lovers, Emilia and Rogelio, who were forbidden from seeing each other.  Rogelio had bought the fan for Emilia and had persuaded Emilia’s chaperone to give it to her for him.  He had given it to the chaperone in a box with a handwritten love note hidden under the tissue paper that folded over the delicate fan. Two days later, Rogelio heard from one of the servants in Emilia’s house that her parents had found the love note in Emilia’s things and had sent her away.  She was bound for the coast, to Cadiz, to board a ship. Rogelio could not even find out where she was being sent.  He departed for Cadiz as soon as he heard to try to find Emilia before she left his world but he was too late.  Even before he arrived in Cadiz, he had run into one of the house servants that worked in Emilia’s house.  He had just left her at the port where she had already boarded the ship.  All he could tell Rogelio was that the ship was headed to America and had already departed.  Broken hearted, Rogelio returned to the village where he lived near Cordoba.  He had been so dejected, so hopeless, that he had stopped eating and soon fell ill.  Without Emilia in his future, Rogelio had no reason to fight for his life and so he succumbed to his broken heart.

Thinking about the competition to which she had applied, she left her apartment to find a distraction from the worrying and waiting to hear if her application would be accepted.  She wanted to be in this competition.  It would make or break her.  Winning, or even placing in this competition, would give her the publicity she needed as she prepared to open her one shot at fame and happiness–her own bakery.  She headed for the antique store but instead, something led her into the thrift shop around the corner from the antique store.  Sherry, the clerk at the thrift shop greeted her, “Hey Emily!  Listen, you might be interested in this box.  I was just sorting through them to price them.  They’re all cookbooks.  Interested?  If you want any of them you can have them for a buck a piece while they’re unsorted.”  Emily thanked Sherry and started to rummage through the box. She found one book with chocolate recipes.  Emily had a lot of chocolate recipes already but this one was an old book with a lot of handwritten notes and recipes clipped to the pages throughout the book.  It made her smile, remember how her grandmother’s favorite cookbook looked just like this one, full of her Nana’s own recipes, corrections, and notes clipped and taped to the pages.  She decided one could never have enough chocolate recipes and if she found even one recipe within the pages, it would be worth it.  Emily grabbed the vintage cookbook and paid Sherry for it and headed home to look through the new to her recipes, in search of a new treasure.

Part 2 here

The prompt: A woman purchases an old cookbook at a used bookstore and discovers a note tucked inside its pages.

Source: The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction, by the Staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, put out by Writer’s Digest Books.

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Short Fiction.  Writing from a prompt.


He hadn’t seen Kara since the day he left high school.  He had thought about her often then he had gotten involved with Kathleen.  Kathleen was perfect for him or so his mother said when she had promised Kathleen’s mother that he would take Kathleen to the prom.  It had been his mother’s idea and she is the one that had pushed them together.  While they made plans for their wedding, he kept thinking that Kara was the perfect one for him and he knew they loved each other.  He was stuck between wanting to please his mother with someone that he’d be happy enough with or daring to please himself with the one he knew he would always know had been his soul mate.  In the end, he had chosen to please his mother.  But now, when he saw Kara again, he wished he had been strong enough, man enough to tell his mother that, while he loved and respected her, he needed to do what he felt was right for him.  He hadn’t done that.  That had been his mistake and here she was again.  If he had stood up to his mother, both he and Kara would have had remarkably different lives.  Kara.  Kara.  Kara.

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She wore her glittery red dress as he held the door open for her to enter the diner.  She smiled and thanked him, noting how well dressed he was and how tall!  She loved tall men but she was not the type to strike up a conversatiion with a stranger so she walked into the diner and sat at the counter.  She usually sat at the counter when she was alone.  She didn’t like to take up a table that other larger parties could use.  Even when it was a slow night, you never knew when a large party would come in and need the table.  She had been a waitress for many years and this was the diner where she had first waitressed.  It had been several years since she had worked there but she still felt at home and when she was there, she always took a seat at the counter.

Although she hated going out alone, tonight she had done just that.  She had gone to the Museum of Art to catch her favorite painting before the exhibit closed in a couple of days.  Her favorite was Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.  There was something about it that drew her to it.  There was a sense of mystery and of lonliness, maybe even sadness, in the painting.  She also loved the way the darkness of the night and the building was illuminated by the light inside the diner.  The light made it possible to see the figures in the painting.  It was like they could not hide, even if they tried.  She asked for a cup of coffee and a piece of pumpkin cheesecake and as she waited for Philly to bring her order, she took out the print of the Hopper painting from the bag.  She had bought a small print for the wall of her new apartment.  She had wanted one forever but had never had the right spot to highlight it.  Until now.  She had her own apartment now.  No roommate to bug her about what she put on the wall.  She felt like it was a new beginning for her and she had bought the print to celebrate this new stage in her life.

“Hi.  I couldn’t help but notice the Nighthawk print.  It’s my favorite print.” It was the man in the grey pinstripe suit that had held the door open for her.  He looked at the print she was holding as he sat next to her at the counter.

“I hope you don’t mind if I join you.  It’s not often that I find a beautiful young lady sitting at a diner counter all alone and holding my favorite piece of art.” He smiled at her as he sat, not waiting for her to answer, not that she would have objected.

“I don’t know what it is about that painting.  It just gets to me.  See how it’s general a dark painting but the light inside the diner lightens it all up.  If these people have anything to hide, they’re sitting in the wrong diner because there’s nothing they can hide here.  It makes me wonder what they’re doing in there.  How about you?  What do you like about it?  Or maybe it’s not for you.  Maybe you’ve purchased it as a gift?” Suddenly he looked uneasy as he realized that he might have guessed wrong about her being all alone.

She looked around and couldn’t help but notice the similarity of this diner to the one in the painting, right up to the fact that she was only one of three customers in the place, and the only female.  This man sitting next to her was a total stranger.  Should she get up and walk away?  She she sit there and wait until he left before she left?  Suddenly she began to feel a little uneasy.

“I’m sorry.  If you’d like I’ll leave you alone.” He began to get up.  “I hope I didn’t alarm you.  I’m not a stalker or a serial killer.  Heck!  I haven’t killed even one person!  I’m sorry if I bothered you.  I was just drawn over here when I saw the Hopper print.  I thought we might have something in common.

She hesitated a bit then said, “No, it’s okay.  You don’t have to leave.  Please stay if you’d like.  The print is for me.  It has always been my favorite piece of art, too.  I guess we do have something in common.” She tucked her red hair behind her ear as Philly brought her coffee and cheesecake.  He looked like a nice guy but she would not take any chances.  She would sit here all night long if she had to.  She wouldn’t take the chance that he was a wack job.

They chatted about the exhibit they had both attended.  She had been there that night and he had been there a week before.  Before long, she was on her third cup of coffee and they had discussed Hopper’s Nighthawks and some of his other work.  They were both enjoying the evening, or rather the “after evening” and had forgotten that they were actually strangers to each other.  They chatted away, laughing and joking and enjoying some deeper insights into art and reality.

(This was inspired by a challenge to write about the Nighthawk painting…what’s the story behind the people in the painting?  I changed it up a bit and made the prompt mine.)

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