Open Door Policy

Prompt: “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

This exercise will keep you from focusing on the door that is closing and, instead, dwell on the door that is open.

Start with: “I ended the conversation by saying that I’d leave the door open…” (Take Ten 100.4)

I ended the conversation by saying that I’d leave the door open, but I silently knew that I was locking it.

On the cloudy day in my small town, I sat on my porch with Derek. He’d been in the friend group for about 3 years now, always around for game nights, movie trips, and the occasional out of town escape, but he’d always seen more interested in our friend Diane than in me. That was why I’d been so boggled when he’d walked up and interrupted my afternoon reading marathon on the porch. I had watched him settle next to me, and breathe deep, before he spit out a “hi” and I’d gotten very confused. If Derek was anything, he was never silent.

I let him put his hand on my shoulder, though it felt very strange, and then I listened as he spit it all out. The nights he stayed just a little longer after game night. The times he’d kicked Johnathan and made him pause so he’d slide in the seat next to me at the movies. The way he immediately called shotgun when it was my turn to drive. And as he said each sentence, my eyes got a little wider.

I’d never noticed, not really. To me, the staying late was just him talking too much, the seats were a coincidence, and shotgun was just his quirky thing.

He scoffed, And told me I must be awfully dense to not realize how completely infatuated with me he was.

My breath caught in my throat and I had to think carefully how to respond, because I had a secret he didn’t know.

(Oooooh, tension! I should keep writing this piece a bit, but I wanted to just make sure I’d be able to get at least one post for the week in, and that’s when time was up. Not looking so good for your friendly neighborhood author chick, haven’t seen any comments or readers out there, but it won’t slow me down! Writing isn’t really for your audience, though it may feel that way sometimes. It’s for your characters, who aren’t really born until you put them on paper. It’s for your brain, to get those itchy ideas out of your head. And it’s for your soul, because without stories, it’s so easy to feel alone in the world. Keep on creating, keep on reading, and keep on living!)

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Mix-and-Match Music, Take 2

(For this week’s expanded post, I’m bringing back an oldie, but a fun one, “Mix-and-Match Music”, copy and pasted from the beginning, so no need to go back!)

The music was loud, the decorations were awful, and no one had even managed to spike the punch. Oh, prom. What “life changing” event could be more insignificant to a person’s life. I’d seen all the after school specials and stupid teen dramas. If I don’t get invited to Prom, I swear I’m going to kill myself. ERMAGERD blahblah *Insert football star’s name here* asked me to Prom, I’m going to die! Ew, Joey asked me to Prom. He spends more time with his Chemistry set than he does with… You get the idea.

We all knew how it went. We all knew how it ended. So that meant we got to break the cycle, right? Negatory. So, there I stood, in the middle of our lovely high school gym. Tonight the usual smell of sweat was permeated with bleach. In my black, floor length dress with a white shrug, I was wondering what the hell I was doing. My best friend Alyssa had disappeared five awful songs ago. My “date”, if you’d like to call him that, had ditched me nearly as soon as we got through the door (last time I let Alyssa tell me, “He really likes you!”). All I wanted in the world was for the dance to be over.

And then it was time for the obligatory crowning of the prince and princess of the social hierarchy. Me? HA. I’d never be caught dead in a tiara. I simply stood in the back and watched as nine of the most popular girls in school proceeded in their obligatory parade of popularity. It was when they called Gina Heffer’s name that I was lost. Gina was the kind of girl who was more likely to be voted Ameoba All Star than Prom Princess…a Red alert if I’d ever seen one.

Gina walked up there, and I swear to God, I heard it start. The football players think they’re so damned funny. And original too. I swear, they started mooing. Yep. They MOOed at Gina HEFFER. Now, I had a choice. I could have been the hero in this moment and tried to stand up for her. I could have been the girl in those after school specials who changes everyone. But that’s cliche, and I was in no mood for cliche.

Judge me if you will, I opted for the lesser option: I headed for the parking lot. Wherever Alyssa was, she would find me eventually. I would, however, reap every ounce of karma I’d sown. As soon as I stepped out the door I saw it: My best friend Chevy’s van. Not something I would have questioned, if HE had not pulled the after school special trick, and opted to boycott prom. Not only was the question why his van was there, but why the lights were on inside…and there was a foot in the window.

I stepped up to the van, expecting to find Chevy passed out in the backseat, as he did sometimes while he hid from his parents. Only to realize that it was a female foot in the window. Alyssa’s to be exact, and pretzel was a nice way to describe the way she was wrapped around Chevy.

“Alyssa Rosethorn, you tell me what the hell is going on, and don’t you DARE mention the word YOLO!” I said, punctuating each word with a pound on the window. In evidence of their volume level, it took until “YOLO” for her to push Chevy off of her and gape at me through the awkwardly steamed up window.

“Beckie, it’s not what it looks like…” She tried to say, fumbling to cover up with Chevy’s plaid button down, though her dress was still on, just slumping at the shoulder.

“Don’t you get all teen movie on me. Truth. Now. Then I’ll decide how mad I am at you.” I kept one hand on the door handle in case Chevy went to run, as he was famous for.

“Ki-bee, trust me, it’s not something we’d have hidden.” Chevy said, using a nickname I’d heard cross his lips since we met when I was nine.

“And you keep your Ki-bees to yourself. Whether it was intentional or not, I was lied to. And I’m not dealing with it. You guys make my head hurt…Look. Whatever is going on is not my business, I suppose. I’m just going to say screw this night and head on home. Have fun with your “not date”. Hey Alyssa, I bet he ‘really likes you’.” I said in a voice so saturated with sarcasm you could have showered in it.

I turned and walked away from the van in the direction of the hill where Chevy and I spent most of our lunch hours. Slipping off my heels to help walk in the soft, slick grass, I made record time to the curve of the hill and our favor lunch spot. Here, where two small apple trees grew together with perfect forks for sitting, I hoisted myself up into the seat which was slightly worn from four years of being sat in at least once a week, and stared at the lightly shapen spot of Earth below. Four years, Chevy had sat down there, between my legs, and smiled the same comforting smile at me.

(Another ten minutes down on this tale, and look at that, I even got a second post for the week. Tonight I only had time to add another ten minutes to the story, though I did take the time to edit from the original post a bit before adding.

I also had to take the time to come up with a name for myself, and decide which fork this story was going to take. Is Beckie mad at the female friend, or the male? Which tries to do the arguing? Which comes clean in the end, and who’s the one trying to comfort? Let me know what you think, if you think this is the right choice, and where you would take it from here, in the comment section. And, as always, keep reading and keep creating!)

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Stop Watch

Prompt: You are a chronic clock-watcher, equally as fascinated watching time fly as you are by watching it crawl. This probably stems from the fact that your favorite joke when you were a young child was: “Why did the man throw the clock out the window? Because he wanted to see time fly!” Today, as usual, you are watching your watch (or a clock) when time really does stop, and everything turns perfectly still.

Tell the story of what happens at a New Year’s Eve party, watching the TV countdown and awaiting midnight.

Start with: “One moment, the second hand on the clock was ticking, and the next moment…” (Take Ten 74.6)

One moment, the second hand on the clock was ticking, and the next moment, I felt like the only person in the room. It was the one day of the year when no one thought my little obsession with literally watching time go by was strange. Frankly, I don’t see why anyone questions it on the average day, but New Year’s Eve is the day when it really shines for me. It’s not just the end of an hour, a day, or a month. You’ll have plenty more Januarys and Mays in your life, or at least we all like to hope so, but unless you know something I don’t, you’ll never have another 2011 or 1999, or any other year. No human being will, or at least not ones in this generation. Some people brush it off, some people see it as a fresh start, a reset button, whatever phrasing you’d like to use. I like the simplicity of it. This really is the only one you will ever have, no turning back.

And so, it was when I turned around to tell my friend Melissa that this was it, as I had every year for the 10 years I’d known her, that I realized the internal pause I felt every year in these ten seconds wasn’t just internal this year. Not a single person in the awkward, tension filled party was moving, not even a breath. Xavier’s hand was it the air inches from Deena’s shoulder, Bree was stopped midway from lifting herself away from Luke. A drop of guacamole was paused halfway into Chris’s mouth, and there I was, in the center of it all, stunned.

I reached out to Melissa, on the edge of her seat as usual, and touched her exposed shoulder from her sleeveless dress.

(Hello readers of the blogoshere! All right, so I’ve already dropped the ball once, but I’m trying. I did manage to keep up to my first new post of the week, but missed the second, a problem I hope to rectify this week. At the very least, you can be sure to look for one post a week for now, and I will continue to try to keep with the posting, if I know you guys are out there reading!

As for today’s post, it’s a great illustration of starting with a strong idea, and struggling with what direction to take it. When I heard this prompt, I had the complete picture in my head. I could put myself into the quirky, time fan’s shoes, but it was deciding what she would do with this pause that slowed me down. I also got caught up in describing the scene, something very easy to do. The trick is deciding how much or little your reader needs to know to really step into the scene and connect with the character.

Regardless, you can definitely look for more out of this character, as I would like to know what she choose to do with her moment!

As always, leave your comments, thoughts, or your own response in the comment space, and keep on writing!)

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Green With Graffiti

Prompt: The town mural committee and the Local Literacy Project have joined forces and decided to paint the side of a huge downtown building with green chalkboard paint. They are hiring one local writer every day of the year to write a story, essay, or opinion on a given topic on this gigantic wall for all to see. Today, you are the hired writer.

Get out your chalk and start with the same phrase that all the local writers must use.

Start with: “Attention, citizens of…”, write about Why writing is an art. (Take Ten 29.3)

Attention, citizens of this sleepy little town, where closed-mindedness tends not only to be a quality, but an expectation. I have been tasked with the increasingly difficult job of getting you to realize that those words on a page, which you are so luck to have the opportunity to take in, are not just simple letters lined up in order, but an emotional, creative, and beautiful piece of art.

When you hear the word “art”, most think of painting, sculpting, drawing. Others immediately think waste of time. But the written word is commonly thrown aside, thought of as a way to deliver information, not a way to truly express ones self. We take for granted the simple beauty of a quote, which lives on in statues, inscriptions, gravestones. We forget, that often even the greatest of spoken words, the most epic of musical pieces, started out as words on a page.

Writing is not just art, writing is the most pliable, expressive, and individual form of art. What may have started as a simple journal entry could become the reason she says yes to that proposal. Scribbles on a bar napkin could become the next epic, Academy Award winning monologue. Writing is art because we don’t just create it, we create ourselves through it.

Writing down your thoughts on paper gives them a permanency you cannot achieve through speaking, through hearing, or even through thinking. It is even possible to find a simple beauty in an apology note, like that of William Carlos Willaims.

(Hello Blogosphere, I do exist! It’s been a year off, not counting the shameless plug post, and it was…lonely. I missed my thoughts, I missed my writing, and I missed having readers. So once more I reach out to my humble audience and hope that I can find them yet again. This time I’m going to start off very slow. The goal is one new post a week, and one elaborating on a previous piece. Minimum ten minutes, but if I get the itch I may keep going. I’ll come up with an indication of where I stopped, so you have an idea of what ten minutes looks like.

As always, you’re welcome to respond with comments, constructive critiques, or your own response to the writing prompt, which will always be at the top of the post. I’ve picked up a few more prompt pieces to shake things up, so if they are used I’ll add a link to, along with the existing links. And, of course, the previous posts will still be available, no matter how rough they are. As always, thank you for reading, and for writing, and for sharing yourself, no matter what your form.

PS: The referenced poem by William Carlos Willaims is , in case you’re not familiar.)

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Brown Town, Take 3

(Dear readers, I wanted definitely to do a post for the evening but was not catching a prompt that caught my fancy. So, here is the first piece I’m adding onto for a second time, I believe you remember Brown Town. If not, click on the “Work in Progress” category on the side and you shall find it. Or, just read from the top, as I copy pasted here and now I’m off!)

I am usually oblivious to the looks that I get. I’m nothing special, just the quiet girl in the corner. But it was different with Jason. He saw through the shell I put up…the too heavy makeup, the jeans, the books up to my nose.

I stood in my bedroom rifling through my pants drawer for something different. Jeans, jeans, dark jeans, worn jeans, HA!, at least this one’s a jean skirt. He’s always liked when I show flavors of me, shined up. On the night table sat the necklace he gave me on our first date. It seems silly, but I never leave home without it. He laughs at me, because some days he comes in to find me wearing it, and nothing else. Not because I know it turns him on (though I know it does…), but because I don’t like it not being there. The only times I take it off are to shower and to sleep, and both are because I’m paranoid.

Breaking me out of my reminiscing, I heard a knock at my door. It seemed odd because Jason came without alerting, often, but knocking was not his thing. I wrapped myself in a bed sheet and shuffled to the door, assuming it would be him and he would get a good laugh. He always told me that it didn’t matter what I was wearing, especially when I was dressing up for the girls, I was beautiful no matter what. Usually I thought he was saying this to get laid, but, again, I’m paranoid.

Lucky for me there’s a window on my door, because it was not Jason I was greeted by, but his father.
I was about to turn and dart to grab pajama pants and a shirt when I realized exactly what Jason’s dad was holding: Jason’s leather jacket, and a jewelry box. I nearly dropped my sheet.

“Mr. Stewert? What…what’s up?” I asked, barely clutching the doorknob. The jewelry box had thrown me off, but Jason was never seen without his leather jacket. Seriously, he and I debated this often, especially on the days when I would snake my arms inside it and come out covered in sweat.

“Alana, honey, could you let me in? I need to talk to you.” He asked, jiggling the handle.

I opened the door without another thought.

“Oh, dear. I see you were indisposed.” Mr. Stewert said, ever so obviously aiming his eyes toward my dusty popcorn ceiling.

I replied by clutching the bed sheet tighter and stepping around the corner to my room. While shimmying into a crumpled pair of jeans and an old Call of Duty t-shirt I called, “My apologies for the, um, “leafless” greeting. You caught me getting ready for this evening, and I assumed that you were Jason. Have you heard from him?”

I was greeted by silence, and some muffled sounds I didn’t want to acknowledge.

“Mr. Stewert?”

“Alana…Have you seen Jason? Today? Maybe yesterday?” He replied, slowly.

I gave him a confused look, having stepped back around the corner to see him sitting on my beat up red sofa, curled around Jason’s jacket. I thought for a few moments. Last night, before I fell asleep, I got my text from him. It was the same text I got every night: See You Tomorrow, Beautiful >B-). He always joked that he didn’t need to actually see me, he would see me in his dreams. But physically I had not seen him that day…or the day before…

“Not since the day before yesterday, Wednesday afternoon. Why?” I asked slowly.

“Funny…that was about what his mother said. Wednesday morning…and ……..then we knocked on his door to drag him to breakfast, and we found this draped across the bed.” He said, holding the coat tighter. “I wasn’t going to worry, but…I don’t know if he’s told you the history…this was his Grandfather’s…the one he was named for…he’d never have left it. And when I picked up the coat to take it down to his mother, I found this. Do you know anything about it?”

He opened the box, and there was, without a question, an engagement ring inside.

I stared in complete silence, the kind that sucks all of the sound out of the room.

I considered the options. Jason occasionally disappeared with the boys for the weekend. He always called it “searching for inspiration”, but I knew better. It was always when things got a little tough: The first time he caught his parents fighting; when his best friend attempted suicide; when he failed two classes his first semester of college. But he hadn’t disappeared in a while, and things had been good. I was three semesters away from my Zoology degree, he two from his in Broadcasting. We had already started looking at places to travel, near a nice zoo for me, but where there would be interesting stories for him to dig up. But the ring…this was new.

I never thought he would consider that. We had been throwing around big words recently. Scary words.

Friends.
Open.
Others.

I can’t honestly say that either of us want these things, but it felt funny. I think they were my fault usually, but sometimes Jason’s. I was looking for a choice. He was looking for a way to not turn into the facade that was his parents.

All I wanted to know was why this…why now…and where he thought was safe from my confusion and frustration.

(I know, not exactly huge progress, but I was angry with myself for missing out. I started to post this a few nights ago, and fell asleep at the computer. This, my little writers, is a lesson in patience. Even if you feel like you NEED to work. Even if you hope you have an audience, you have to put yourself first. It will come. And you will balance all of it. Remember, even when it is work, it’s still what you love. If it’s not, turn it off, you’re done.)

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Tooth Fairy

Prompt: You are a disgruntled Tooth Fairy. You can’t understand Santa and even the Easter Bunny get more attention than you. You just visited twins who expected 20 dollars per tooth.

Start with: “I can’t believe…” (Write Brain 160)

I can’t believe the inflation rate…seriously kid? 20 bucks? 20 bucks AND there’s two of you? You think Ms. Tooth is MADE of money? Well I’ve got news for you. Just a little sprinkling of sand and one little hop…ugh, seriously kid you need to clean these ears…all right, now we can have words.

Yes, I know I’m the Tooth Fairy.

No, no one else can see me.

Yes, I bring you…you know what, SHUT UP AND LISTEN.

Kid, it’s 2013. Do you KNOW how long I’ve had this gig? Let’s just say things were cheaper when hygiene was out. Now it’s “brush you teeth” all three times a day and you little germ bags even get stickers for it. At least we lost the damned singing tooth.

Yes, I know that was a bad word. Since your mommy and daddy can’t hear it, it doesn’t matter.

Look little one, I don’t want to be mean. I don’t even really want to disappoint you. But there’s some flaws in this system that we need to talk about.

Number one: what in the blue blazes do you think I don with these teeth? Fairy dust? Well that’s just silly. Memories? Look, that was a good movie, but that’s very, very misleading. You know what I do with your grungy little teeth? I get to keep one, from all you little suckers and I build up the palace. The rest? Keeping the place warm. Yep, aside from the first one, doesn’t even matter. And how many of you little grunge buckets do you think even take care of that first tooth? Do you KNOW what my palace smells like? Ugh!

Number two: WHERE do you think I get all this money? Magic? Little one, if I could magically make money do you REALLY think I’d be collecting teeth for a living? No no, Tooth Fairy’s got herself a job. Well, several really, thanks to Santa’s snow globe…and you know what? It’s freaking hard to get grease out of wings!

(Mwahaha…bet you’ve never thought of it like that. Really, if any of the imaginary creatures could magically make money, you think they’d be making toys, etc? I started this one thinking that I wouldn’t expand on it, but I think it would be fun. Make a young adult story about how the Tooth Fairy makes her money, like all the rest of us? Maybe?

What do you think? How angry is your Tooth Fairy? Was I too harsh? Leave your comments, thoughts, and your version in the comments section. I will gladly tell you what I think, as everyone needs a second eye on their work, and we’re all our own worst critic!)

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Fair FARE

Prompt: Finish the story.

Start with: “In his rear view mirror, the cab driver saw…” (Write Brain 31)

I his rear view mirror, the cab driver saw a black, pleated skirt raise and a porcelain white leg popped up on the headrest behind him. He considered saying something, opened his mouth, then closed it, wondering where this would go.

The woman in the backseat made some grunting noises and slid off her pantyhose, then struggled a bit. As she shifted and a second leg popped up on the other seat, he saw a quick glimpse under the skirt. At this point, he could no longer keep his thoughts to himself.

“Pink, eh?” He said, casually looking at her in the rear view mirror.

“Neon, and if you keep your eyes front, I’ll let you see them when I get to the swap.” She said slyly, shimmying off her other pantyhose leg.

“Absolutely ma’am, just remind me where we’re headed?” He said, gripping the steering wheel a bit tighter and trying to read the bumper sticker ahead of him, if only to continue to keep his focus away from the show in the back seat.

“4th and Parkway…I’d wager you know what that corner is.”

As she said this, a pair of red fishnets flipped over the seat and began to slide up the lovely white leg.

He shifted his focus just for a second…that cross street sounded so familiar…

Back behind his head, she teased his ear with her toes softly before joining it with the second and pulling the fishnets up softly.

(What do you know, that’s two in a week again! I like the way this story flows, but have not given the character the innocence I meant her to have. I’d wager I could give you two guesses and you could figure out where that cab’s destination is.

Either way, we’ll add this to the growing collection of stories I would like to expand on, unless my lovely readers think otherwise? Where else do you think the cab could be going? Where would your character’s cab go? Leave it in the comments below!)

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