Lost Child

The following is by Veronica Weeks-Basham, a member of Writers in the Grove. It was inspired by Prompt: Being Brave.

I have decided that I don’t exist.
That person died when my parents refused to accept or even see
The person that I was discovering myself to be.
That person, like the mythical Atlantis,
Sank beneath a sea of criticism, disregard and approval
When my being reflected back their own comfortable version of themselves.

To Be a Bee in Their Bonnets

This is by Writers in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, inspired by Prompt: The Party Conversation.

She walked over to the counter with the coffee. Appearing relaxed, she’d floated across the room, not a care in the world, back turned to the thirty or forty people chatting away behind her, no ripple in her wake.

I knew the moment the two sat next to each other that this was an oil-meets-flame moment. Against the black leather couch, her swept-up blond hair back-lit by the orange glow of the porcelain lamp behind them, white silk blouse shimmering around her bare neckline, tinged gold in the amber lighting, contrasted strongly against his dark curls, evening shadow along cheeks and chin above the freshly ironed, crisp linen long sleeve shirt. Beauty and beauty, I thought. That is what others will see. The perfect couple. But I knew them. Beauty and the beast with no happy love song or shared interest between them.

He was the gentle one, razor sharp on the outside, marshmallow opinions on the inside. Nothing Ray ever did in his life caused conflict or disorder. It was all about order, precision with self, never others.

She was all angles, knives and chains in her soul, soft and wispy on the outside. Her tongue left bloody slices on the delicate in her wake.

A small part of me was intrigued to see the fireworks these two could spark, yet terrified of the showdown that could happen right in front of everyone. The only saving grace and commonality the two shared was decorum, spelled with a capital D. This wasn’t just a noun to them. It was a law.

“Let no one see you sweat,” was her motto. She meant it in life as well as exercise. A hard-boiled attorney, she could make knees quake the moment she stepped into a court room.

“Never let them see your pain,” was his mantra, determined to not let anyone feel, see, or experience pain, never to share his own as well. Pain was for wimps, those not strong enough to endure. As a doctor, he’d listen but never absorbed the experience of his patients. Sympathy, yes, but empathy? That was lacking in his psychic gene pool.

Introducing Callie to Ray, I stepped back, wine glass in hand, and watched, drifting into the shadows of the party’s energy, my specialty. “Never let them see you,” was the invisible line on my personal calling card.

They were casual at first, toes dipped in the pool of conversational politeness. I knew Ray would never touch politics or religion, so they were safe there, but I knew Callie hated small talk, not caring about weather, sports, modern entertainment, or gossip. She was a political body, a raging Democrat from hair follicle to toe nail. He was a soft Republican, not religious, not greedy, just determined to keep his own.

I couldn’t tell what lit the embers to a slow burn. His face tightened. Her lips froze into a plastic smile. I thought a coffee interruption might part the stormy waters. Both smiled at me, fury in their eyes. I passed the full coffee cup to Callie, then Ray, and faded back into the crowd.

By the time she stood up to walk away ten minutes later, her cheeks flamed, hand gripped the coffee cup to breaking. His face was white, teeth and hands clenched.
Ah, to have been a bee in their bonnets. I watched and licked my lips, eager for more.

Prompt: The Party Conversation

The prompt this week was to imagine observing two people in a party or large social event having an emotional interaction, displaying physical signs of frustration, distress, anxiety, etc. It looks normal, but isn’t. Show us so we can tell what is going on.

November 23 Prompt – The Pet

Writers in the Grove NaNoWriMo Prompt a Day badgeThe following prompt is by Susan Schmidlin, member of Writers in the Grove, a part of our Prompt-a-Day project to support NaNoWriMo during November 2015. Each prompt was generously donated by our Writers in the Grove members. You are welcome to take this prompt in any direction you wish.

Did your character have a childhood pet?

How did they get the pet?

Where did it come from?

Why did it become a pet to this person?

What did it do for the character?

November 22 Prompt – Fear Sensations

Writers in the Grove NaNoWriMo Prompt a Day badgeThe following prompt is by Mary Jane Nordgren, member of Writers in the Grove, and a part of our Prompt-a-Day project to support NaNoWriMo during November 2015. Each prompt was generously donated by our Writers in the Grove members. You are welcome to take this prompt in any direction you wish.

Whisper, moan, shudder

Prompt: Positive or Negative Effects on Love and Kindness

The prompt came from the book “Art as Experience” by John Dewey. In one section he describes that for art to be whole, it has to have its own unity. Each word in a poem has to come from what came before it, and contribute to the words that come after.

The example is an excerpt from Wordsworth’s “The Prelude.”

…the wind and sleety rain,
And all the business of the elements,
The single sheep, and the one blasted tree,
And the bleak music from that old stone wall,
The noise of wood and water, and the mist
That on the line of each of these two roads
Advanced in such indisputable shapes.

The wind as the noun is not described in adjectives but in the descriptions of what followed in the poem, the single sheep, blasted tree, bleak music from the stone wall, noise of wood and water…all paint the sense and emotional quality of the state of the wind.

Part one of the prompt was to write at least 7 words that leave you with a negative feeling, each one building upon the other. Then write at least 7 words that leave you with a positive feeling, building upon the previous one.

Part two of the prompt was to write something about the negative or positive effects on the topic of love and kindness, growing the feeling as the word choices push the reader forward with the growing emotions.

Prompt: Hero, Villain, Victim

The prompt this Monday involved choosing a picture from a magazine of an adult. The images represented advertising, marketing, and the photographs used in articles to help tell their stories. Your task is to randomly search through magazines and find a picture of a person of your own to work from. Could be male or female, someone alone or with others.

Study the body language of the person, their facial expression, the way they are positioned in the scene. What stories are evoked as you examine the person in the image?

The prompt was to imagine this person as first a hero, then as a villain, then a victim, and write.

Doesn’t matter what happens or how you want to handle this, just write what comes to mind.

Prompt: T-Shirt Said “Not Responsible for Lost or Stolen Virginity”

This prompt is based upon a news story about a person wearing a controversial t-shirt at a university sports game, created by a local sports bar.

“It was pretty much towards the end of the game when things were getting pretty exciting,” said fourth-year medical student Erin Avondet, who spotted the T-shirt. “I spotted it and at first I was just totally taken aback, just completely shocked. I didn’t know how to comprehend it.”

The shirt reads “We are not responsible for lost or stolen virginity!” which appears below the Blue Jay Bar logo.

“The big thing I perceived was the use of the word stolen. That obviously implies it’s just being taken away from you without your permission,” Avondet said.

Avondet posted the picture online and it has been shared thousands of times. She said many people share her disapproval of the message.

“There are so many people that are victims of rape, and I think having that open conversation, starting that conversation is important,” Avondet said.

The prompt was to write about a situation where your character is outraged about an insensitive t-shirt, garment, or situation. Discussing the prompt, we realized that there are layers here in writing such a character driven moment. There are times when a person is offended by something but must constrain their response due to social norms. We can’t throttle everyone we don’t agree with, and protect freedom of speech while promoting responsible behavior.

Round Robin: The Smell was Familiar IV

The following is one of the prompts created by members of Writers in the Grove in response to Prompt: Round-Robin Writing in a Group.

Cheri: The smell was familiar and touched a deep place in my heart. Why had I been so angry? Why was he? I am sure it was because of the kids, the unpaid bills, life, the usual suspects of marital discord. No one was talking, we were both just sitting there, angry. I didn’t want to be angry, but I wasn’t about to give in. I was right. Let him apologize. I could only assume he was thinking the same thing, which was getting us nowhere fast. As I sulked on the couch waiting for an apology, my mind wandered to an anecdote I had read a few weeks ago. The article asserted that whenever you are angry with the one you love, walk over and sniff them. The thought made me both laugh inside and smile. No way! I wanted nothing to do with him right now, but maybe…

Dorothy: …I was really angry with myself. Why did I ever love HIM? Why not someone else, anyone else. That darn smell. The smell is to blame. My anger was strong and protected me, but then…maybe I could smell him. Just walk over and lean down and smell him. NO, No! I would probably like the way he smelled. NO. STOP. Don’t let the anger go – it is the only thing protecting me – I need to be angry.

But I can’t. It cost me too much. I do love him. He is not my enemy. He is my friend, my lover. Surely we can work on this – yet there are so many things. Can we work together?

Bev: I’ll do it. Had to try it.

I got up, walked over to his chair, and leaned over his head. His arm went up in defense.

“What are you doing?”

I took a sniff. Hair gel mingled with after shave, and something else. What was that? Familiar, yet not. I stood back and looked him in the eye.

Susan: “I remember,” I said in a hushed tone. “I remember when…”

I saw the look in his eyes, the look of distrust. That was the same look that I had seen in the mirror last month, last week, and even this morning. The distrust that came from hopes and dreams that had been shattered, then scattered about as mere trash. All the memories came flooding back as I remembered his words saying he was moving on without me.

MJ: That meant that I would be all alone. He did not like me any more. He didn’t need me. Where do I go from here?

DK: There are times in life when one must love, and still leave. Remember the first, but walk away from the anger. A place deep in my heart told me this was one of those times.

Barry would always be my first love. That smell, or scent would always take me to a memory of better days and love and bright beginnings. But now, it was time to move on. To find other scents, and colors, and experiences.

I walked to the table, signed the divorce papers, and smiled. I looked into Barry’s deep blue eyes one last time.

“I love you,” I said as I walked out the door.

Lorelle: “And good riddance to bad rubbish,” I quoted the old Bugs Bunny cartoon to myself, then cringed. The relationship hadn’t been rubbish. There had been beautiful moments, memories of moments brought back by the scent of hair gel, burnt into darkness by the resentment in his eyes.

In the car, I gave that thought more consideration as I put the key in the ignition. Memories of joy triggered by hair gel? I started to laugh, hard. Gut tearing laughter. Mouth open, guffaws exploding out.

I put my hand over my mouth, then the laughter turned to sobs. Tears for hair gel. Not funny any more. I cried for the angry voices, the missed appointments, the mean things said behind people’s backs – those were the memories I hoped would be washed away with the tears.

The engine revved as I pressed too hard on the gas as the key turned. I had to leave now. It was now or never. Yet it was done. Finished. Time to leave.

It was final. I’d done it. A done deal. Time to get over it and get on with it. But get on with what? I wasn’t sure what I would move onto, but it was time. The act of putting the car into gear and stepping on the gas felt good, in control, confident. A wipe of my eyes cleared my vision. I let my foot off the brake and rolled down the driveway.

I had plenty to move on toward, I assured myself. Let’s start by turning left.

Prompt: I’m Fine…When You’re Not

The prompt this week was:

Saying fine when you’re not.

Set yourself a scenario where your characters are in a stressful or bad situation and they have to say that they are fine when they aren’t. They have to be brave. Consider situations of bullying when a child or adult is asked but compelled to respond with “I’m fine” as some form of protection or defense.