Friday, December 31, 2010

The Eyes Have It

Prompt: Write about a man with strangely colored eyes.

Source: Modified from


She held back a gasp as he looked at her. His eyes were flat, slat gray; emotionless, pitiless. He did not blink, the gray orbs were only broken by the wide, bottomless pupils. They seemed to absorb the light rather than reflecting it; always following her. His eyes sucked her in.

Notes: Unfortunately for all involved, my wireless adapter is out of commission until further notice. I will try and keep up with prompts, but I'm pretty sure there won't be one tomorrow as I will be traveling and unable to get ahold of anyone else's wireless. Happy New Year, all, hope your computers are treating you better than mine.

December 30, 2010 - Fated

Prompt: Write about two tarot cards.

Source: Modified from


The knarled hands

flip the cards

in sequence

The knarled fingers

close on the final two

then drop

The two unreveal tarot cards

flutter to the floor

December 29, 2010 - Annabel Lee

Prompt: Use the name of a famous literary character (examples: Helen, Ishmael, Elizabeth Bennet) for one of your own characters.

Source: None


She was a solemn child, with her eyes the color of the sea and her skin the texture of ocean sands. She watched things, with her too-intent eyes, and her fingers brushed her own hands absently, ceaselessly. She watched people, her gaze following their tics and movements, and she watched the hands of the clock as the seconds ticked by. But more than anything she watched the rain that nearly always rain its drops down the windowpanes and splattered on the dirty buildings outside.

Annabel Lee was a small child, slight figured and short for her age. She brushed through life like a whisper, as if she was invisible. She asked little and received less, unintentionally ignored by all around her, her soft voice often too quiet to be heard.

She collected clippings, little bent-up pieces of paper gleaming with pictures of plates of food and eyes and cats that smiled unnaturally. They lay all about the floor, fit together by their mishapen, mismatched edges. Someone might have stopped her or protested if they had seen her digging in the trashes on her walk to school, in her classrooms, in her grandfather's study, but no one noticed. Annabel Lee would peer into the cans and arch her arms to reach in and snatch the thrown-out magazines and crumpled pictures.

Her grandfather grew old and reckless, his trash filling with magazines about far-away places, and Annabel Lee looked at every one, but she never cut them out until the day that she found an article about the sea. She read the entire article, drinking in the description of the salt air and the sands. It was so real that she was tempted to sniff the paper and she could not resist raising the paper close to her face with her tiny hands. The new, shining photopaper of the magazine smelled like home.

Notes: I couldn't resist drawing some aspects from the original character, I like Edgar Allen Poe and his Annabel Lee far too much not to.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Sacrificial Hero

Prompt: Create a story using all archetypal characters (examples: the young hero, the damsel in distress, the benign old woman, etc)

Source: None


The crowd seemed to surge like a wave about to crest upon the shore toward the noise, toward the cries of “Fight! Fight! Fight!” Jonas almost stumbled beneath the feet of the human herd. The group rushed forward until they could all see – almost touch – the fighters. Jonas heard the jeering commentary, the goading cries, and saw the leering, garish faces. It made him sick.

In the center of the circle a young girl lay still in the shadow of a tall palace guard. Jonas could not understand why the crowd was even calling the event a fight when it was obvious that the girl had not even had a chance to fight back.

She was bleeding from a cut on her arm and her long hair fell in tangles around her face. She was sobbing; Jonas could somehow hear it above the noise of the spectators. She looked up for a moment, right into Jonas’ eyes.

The guard raised his arm to knock the girl flat again and Jonas pushed through the throng to stand between them, stretching out his arms to take the blow.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Prompt: Sane mage

Source: modified from


Aldrid ran a hand through his hair, primping the contained chaos of the long black strands. He grinned, his violet eyes glowing a little. He looked as if he had licked his fingers and stuck them in an electrical outlet. He looked insane, but he figured that was all right. After all, not many mages had ever been accused of being sane.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Prompt: Character - Blaise Finney



Blaise Finney looked like a mouse. He had drab brown hair that fell about his ears, which seemed just a half-size too large for his head, in long not-quite-straight pieces. He was small-bodied, all angles and bones that showed no matter how much he ate. He was quiet and, when he did speak, his mouth moved in quick, tight shapes that made him look like he was nibbling. His entire appearance was nothing if not demure, mousy in all its aspects. This rodent-like air was only contradicted by Blaise Finney’s eyes, which not many people did. They were dark and cold. His eyes seemed to reveal a curiosity and propensity for violence – they seemed to be calculating what would be the most interesting way to inflict pain on the person they were viewing. It was a game to Blaise, the only one he played, and he was very good at it. He could guess a person’s deepest fear from the way they held themselves, how quickly they broke eye contact with him and where they looked after they did. Blaise Finney may have looked like a mouse, but he thought like a rat.

December 25, 2010 - Allison and the Door to Somewhere

Prompt: The Door to Somewhere



Allison stood looking down at the rabbit hole with a smile, amazed at the irony. Her full-skirted blue dress blew softly in the wind. It had been pressed just so by her mother only that morning and she tried to resist feeling too happily vengeful as she knelt by the rabbit hole.

She had not seen a rabbit - waistcoat or no - and Allison suspected that she had no chance of fitting in the rabbit hole, but she looked into it anyway with the faintest expectation of falling forward and downward.

She squinted in surprise as she gazed into the hole. In its dark recesses, Allison could have sworn she saw a door - bright red with a shiny gold knob. She leaned forward, trying to see better, certain that the image would vanish beneath her stare, but it did not.

Allison reached her hand into the hole, lying on the ground to reach for the door and it's brilliant knob. She thought she felt it, just within her fingers' grasp, but she could not latch onto it, the width of her shoulder keeping her a few centimeters too far away. Allison retreated and looked down at the door in the ground. Distantly, echoing as if it came from underground, she thought she heard ticking, but nothing moved within the rabbit hole.

Notes: I received a beautifully illustrated copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland today and that's sort of where this idea sprang from.

Yeah, I'm a slacker over the holidays. I'm not going to do a penance prompt for the 25th, in all honesty, because it's one in the morning and I'm tired. I suspect I could come up with a few better excuses, but that's the one at the top of the list.

On another note: Merry Christmas (and other holidays as well)! On Monday, I'm going to be traveling and I'll be gone for (something like) five days. I'll try and post, but I don't expect to have internet very often so I apologize in advance for any days I may miss.

Ooooh, and the playlist on the blog has (finally!) been updated. I was going to do one for Christmas, but I never quite managed that . . . Maybe I'll do one for Saint Patrick's Day or something . . .

Penance: December 24, 2010 - Dragons

Prompt: And you thought dragons didn't exist . . .



"It could've been worse - he could have called you ugly or something," I didn't really think about the words, I just said them.

Bailey's hair seemed to crackle with electricity and she glared at me. Her eyes blazed and her nostrils flared. I could have sworn that I saw smoke curling from between her clenched teeth.

All I could think, as I smiled stupidly, apologetically, was about the conversation Dylan and I had had that morning in which he had tried to convince me that scaled, fire-breathing dragons exist.

Looking at Bailey's bared teeth I laughed at myself. And you thought dragons didn't exist

December 24, 2010 - The Mist


Source: Found through Google


Liza looked up. She saw stars peering through a soft mist and circling planets patterned with swirls. She saw a flock of great birds with wings feathered in rainbow hues.

Liza heard a distant, sweet music that brushed her skin like the mist, caressing gently. She let her eyes fall closed, obscuring the spectacular view, to listen to the music better.

Then she felt his touch, brushing her bare shoulders. Liza breathed in, holding a breathful of wet mist and anticipation. His lips drifted over hers for a brief eternity and then his touch vanished.

Liza's eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright. The mist had disappeared.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Silken, Sad Uncertain

Prompt: Silken, sad uncertain



The child's eyes were uncertain - a kind of silken, sad uncertain that turned her eyes into twin pools of vulnerability.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The House without a Window

Prompt: Start an original story with this title: The House without a Window



Trever rolled the rubber ball around in his palm. He could barely see anything in the windowless darkness. He tossed the ball up experimentally, catching it deftly despite the lack of light.

He added another ball, biting his lip as he juggled slowly. The balls made hollow noises as they hit his hands. Trever closed his eyes. It was dark enough that there was hardly any difference.

The rythm broke and one of the balls bounced lightly, rolling down the dim hallway. Trevor opened his eyes, straining them to follow the ball's movement. It vanished from his line of sight, but he could hear it as if bounced down the stairs.

Trevor remembered the stairs. He had once walked down them, the halls had once been lit with windows every few feet. But the house was empty now; without a single window.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Prompt: Describe a routine or holiday ritual, using the 2nd person “you”.



You lean against the counter, the hard tiled edge biting into your lower back, hitting the same spot as it has for the last eight years, since your final growth spurt. You can see everyone else in their usual spots: Grandma spooning eggnog for Uncle Luis, who’s on his fourth glass, Tarren and Ethan’s continuous supply of children under the age of ten running around squalling, and your cousin Tabitha is giggling too loudly while her boyfriend of the moment looks a little afraid of her but more afraid of the bustle of your family.

You roll your eyes, a little irritated with the noise and nonsense, but you take a sip of Grandma’s special eggnog and smile at the distant sounds of Grandpa regaling the teenage cousins with his wartime tales and sit up on the counter, putting aside your annoyance, because you know this is how Christmas has always been in your family, how it always will be. Because you know that this is how Christmas should be.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spear Bearer

Prompt: This story must involve a spear in the beginning.



Stabbing, hot blood flowing. Looking so much like a waterfall, flowing down his chest. And tears, searing, painful tears clouding everything as her aching hands grasped the spear’s shaft, driving it home again and again into his chest.

Hera woke with a start. The room was dark around her, and cold with the heavy, wet air of the night. The familiar, wet air of her homeland. She closed her eyes, drinking in the cool breeze. She had been in the wilderness plains for too long – had been in the desert, on the dry, forlorn battlefields for too many months.

She settled into her mattress and tried to go back to sleep, reminding herself that she was home. The war had been won, it was over. The weapons had been returned to their resting places and their allies were safe. All was as it should be.

Her eyes flicked open again in the dark and she sighed, her throat feeling thick with tears. She could see the image – the memory – from her dream so clearly; she remembered every sensation of the event. The soldier had been so young, looking terrified in his battle armor, his sword too big for his body. And she had slaughtered him. Because he was her enemy. The child, who looked like her brother Mackii, had been her enemy. The bleeding soldier, crying out in his strange native tongue, had been her enemy.

Hera turned to her side, feeling the discomfort of her strained, wounded hands. Hands that had born a spear for too long without rest. Her hands clutched at each other, mingling their individual pain, and a single tear slid down Hera’s cheek.

December 19, 2010 - The Goat

Prompt: Character - The educated, rebellious male half-Chimera with a knack for trouble. His non-human ancestry gives him a horribly inhuman appearance.

Source: Modified from


He was tall and broad-shouldered, traits that might have been valued in a human, or even in an elf, but on him it only served to make him more frightening, more threatening. Cimeon thought that, if he had been born shorter or a little skinnier he would be easier to ignore. Or if his dad had not been a full-blooded Chimera. Having blue skin or pointy ears or fangs was one thing, having blue skin, pointed ears, fangs that would put a vampire to shame, being tall and having gigantic shoulders was something completely different. The goat growing out of the middle of his back probably did not help either.

Notes: A chimera is an ancient beast that has (among other things) the body of a lion and the head of a goat growing from the middle of its back.

Also, I know I missed two days, but one of them I was flying across the country and the other I was having computer problems and major jet lag, so I decided to excuse myself from the penance prompts (which is horribly lazy, I know, but oh well).

December 18, 2010: Finals Week - Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Prompt: Write the last sentence of a story about unrequited love.

Source: None


She flew out on a Saturday as she always did, smiling and greeting him by name when he motioned her to walk through the customs metal detector and Cohen longed, not for the first time, to know where Miss Jimson, with her ready smile and enormous, expressive brown eyes, was flying to.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finals Week - Like a Kite

Prompt: Write the last line of a story about an abnormally tall character

Source: None


He bent toward her from his great height, but even on her toes their lips did not quite meet so he lifted her away from the ground and kissed her gently while she swayed in his arms like a kite hovering above the trees.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finals Week - Cinderella and the Gardener

Prompt: Write an alternate ending for a well-known story

Source: None


And, of course, the slipper fit Cinderella perfectly. So Cinderella and the Prince began dating, but they soon found that they had very little in common for the Prince had never set a fire or scrubbed a floor and Cinderella could not read a word of Latin or mount a horse, much less ride one. And they went their separate ways.

The Prince married the Princess of the bordering kingdom, a girl who was simple, but kindly enough and he loved her dearly. They had two children, a boy and a girl and, though they were foppish and a bit spoiled their father raised them to read, write and even speak flawless Latin, and he was devoted to them.

Cinderella took a job as a governess to one of the aristocratic families and managed to teach the rotten children some matters before she fell in love with the royal gardener, who brought her vibrant, bright roses and spoke about flowers more passionately than most preachers spoke about heaven. They married and lived in a happy little cottage on the castle grounds. They raised their gaggle of children to know the value of nature’s beauty and hard work. They lived and worked happily together for many years. And the gardener brought Cinderella vibrant, bright roses every day they were in season until the day she died, long after the Prince’s son had become king and Cinderella’s oldest daughter had become the nursemaid to that king’s firstborn son. And every day after until he followed after her, a few days after the king’s second son was born, the gardener tended the flowers that grew on Cinderella’s grave and wound about her headstone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finals Week - Echos

Prompt: Write the last three lines of a story with a bittersweet ending

Source: None


They stood side by side, so close that they could almost feel each other’s warmth through the space that separated them. The early morning air was crisp and cold, floating over them in a slightly damp current. Bane wanted to reach out and touch her hand, to stroke her cheek one last time, but he was too late; when he turned, she was already gone – vanished into the wet air like the echo of a laugh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finals Week - Asleep

Prompt: Write the last line of a story set in a sultan’s palace

Source: None


The smell of jasmine drifted in on the wind, shifting through the gossamer curtains, to curl around the young serving boy’s face, a face so peaceful he could have almost been asleep.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Ambassador's Son

Prompt: Write the last paragraph of a story about two characters who do not speak the same language

Source: None


Bastian's nurse held his hand too tightly as they walked down the marble hall. Her sky scraper heels clacked noisily and she was speaking in a low voice to Betty. Bastian knew that she was only holding so tightly because she knew that if he chose to run away while she was distracted she would get in trouble, but it still hurt. He was determined to run away, but then he caught sight of the ambassador's son coming down the hall in the other direction. The dark-haired child was following his nurse obediently, his face solemn like no child's face Bastian had ever seen. As they passed, Bastian could not help but glance at the boy's foreign features, noting the strong nose and skin that seemed to perfect for a boy. The ambassador's son caught his gaze and for a moment they glared at each other. Then the boy smiled and passed and was gone.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finals Week: The Freaks

Prompt: Write the last line of a story about an animal-like character.

Source: None


The breeze that kicked up the edges of the tent ruffled the hair on Sidney’s face as he lay behind the imposing bars of his personal stage; he smiled slightly as the cheerfully haunting music began outside and Burke’s eerie, booming voice lured the spectators in to see the freaks.

Notes: This marks the beginning of finals week. I have a final every day for the next school days so I decided to carry that theme a little farther. This week every prompt will be a finishing part of a particular type of story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Prompt: Write about a group of people dressed entirely in red.

Source: None


John peered through the trees. He watched the people milling in the clearing. They were silent – the noiselessness made the hair at the back of John’s neck stand up. It was so unnatural how they were standing there so quietly, all of them dressed in red.

The clothes fit perfectly against their bodies as if they were a second skin – the men and women and a little blond-haired girl. The red clothes as if they were covered in blood.

John crouched down, afraid that they would see him, but they seemed distant. They did not look toward him.

Penance: December 10, 2010 - Like

Prompt: Write about a character who says "like" too often

Source: None


She used her hands when she talked. And she told lots of drama war stories and swore to emphasis her point. She was really entertaining to listen to, but you could never take her serious - she said "like" every other word, sometimes more.

December 10, 2010 - The Coin

Prompt: Use all these words in a story or poem: preacher, coin, stairwell, comb.



She pressed her fingers against the sharp teeth of the comb in her coat pocket; it pinched the cold-numb skin, hurting more than the nervous motion usually did. The stairwell echoed with the noise of her footsteps. She looked down at the paper in her hands again. Preacher Gorse, eleven o’clock.

Her chest hurt. She wasn’t sure what the father wanted, but it probably had something to do with her mother. And her mother being dead.

She sighed, looking down at the paper again, double checking what she had already triple checked. A few stairs above her, she saw a penny, face up. The coin was shiny, like a little piece of a sunbeam lying on the ground.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Encounter with Old Man Sun

Prompt: Write about a god of sunlight who takes the form of an older man.

Source: Modified from


Old Man Sun sat by the side of the road, stroking his long beard and squinting into the distance. He slouched on the big rock, his feet braced up and his clothes draped over his bones like gauze curtains.

He watched the road, sitting except for the incessant stroking of his beard while the wind blew his hair and clothes. A figure appeared in the distance and he hobbled down the rock, his body bent over.

The man saw him from a distance, but he pretended that he had not. The traveler was young and straight-backed. Old Man Sun smiled. His teeth were perfect, flat white pearls.

The man slowed. He seemed to want to move to the other side of the road, but he was afraid of appearing afraid. Old Man Sun watched him unblinkingly, unapologetically.

And when the young man was abreast of him, head down, walking fast, Old Man Sun stuck out his ankle and tripped him. And Old Man Sun laughed and his face shone like daylight itself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Prompt: This is a tale about xenophobia. The story is about a duchess who fears non-human beings. The effect of magic on technology is a major part of the story.

Source: Modified from


The windows were all black, like the world had closed in around us. I sucked in a breath, bracing myself before I left the kitchen. I knew the main room would be loud, too-warm. It would be bustling with people who smelled like alcohol and hard labor; people with no sense of personal space. A room full of strangers.

“Get on with it,” the grating voice of the stove was flat, impatient.

I looked over at the appliance. “I’m going. Shut your door.”

The belligerent, metallic clang startled me as I turned away. Stupid stove – total jerk.

Tyrone called out as I entered the room, his dread swinging as he swayed with drink. “Duchess! Where’s my drink?”

I could feel the entire room staring my way. I ignored Tyrone completely. I delivered my drinks and left the room.

The stove greeted me with a petulant command – probably telling me I should interact with the customers – but I ignored it too. I went up the stairs, out to the roof. I could remember when the stove did not talk and when only regulars came to the tavern; before the magic had poisoned everything.

The sky was as black as the windows had suggested, lit only by the faint glows that marked streetlamps. I breathed out a coughing laugh. They had had to bolt the streetlamps to the street so that they would not walk away to pursue other things. One of them was missing – it had figured out how to detach itself and no one had seen it since. It was as warm outside as it was in the kitchen several floors below – heavy, putrid warmth.

I could remember when the sky was never darker than indigo blue and sometimes we could see the stars; before the furnaces had refused to hold the filth inside them and spewed it into the sky. They had called me duchess back then too – called me aloof and snotty – but I had been happy, or at the very least free from fear.

I looked out into the black, dirty sky. I saw strangers walking toward the tavern. Strangers. And bile rose in my throat. I could tell from their dress that they were from the Distant Country, where the magic had come from. And I was afraid.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Prompt: Write about the relationship between two brothers

Source: None


Cambian collapsed into a chair, kicking off his boots. “That was ridiculous,” he huffed, indignant and out of breath. “Father had me riding by Andrid and refused to let me converse with anyone else the entire afternoon.” He looked over at his brother who was standing by the window of their shared room, as if expecting a sympathetic grimace.

Candel glanced at his older brother, expressionless. Cambian was sprawled in his chair, sweaty and rugged. Candel supposed that was the way a man returning from a hunting trip was supposed to look; the way the first son was supposed to look. Candel looked out of the window, watching as servants loosed the animal carcasses from where they lay draped on the party’s horses. He wished he had gone, but he had not received an invitation; he could not remember the last time he had spoken to Andrid, or his father for that matter. “That must have lightened the mood slightly.”

Cambian scoffed, “The girl is a harpy.” He retrieved an apple from the bowl on the table and took a too-big, smacking bite. “Father only keeps her on hand because her father has a particularly large purse.” He took another bite. “And a title – Duke,” he snorted.

“Perhaps.” Candel kept his voice even. He knew that their father planned for Cambian to marry Andrid – the plans had been in the works longer than Candel could remember – but it would not do anything to contradict Cambian, it never did.

Candel turned to leave the room. He knew Cambian would stop him, interrogate him, but his brother said nothing until he had almost left the room. “Where are you going?”

Candel tried to offer his brother a quick, noncommittal smile. He was not sure how it came across. “Help the servants,”

“Ah,” Cambian nodded. “Could you polish my armor after – tournament tomorrow.”

Candel inclined his head, turning before his face could register the resentment he felt at being treated like a servant. It had been happening all his life, but Candel could not help feeling irritated by his brother’s arrogance. He walked out of the manor quickly. He had intended to help the servants, but he could not stand to be around them – his equals – at that moment.

His mother was scrubbing the floor, on her creaking knees with her skirts hitched up and hair falling into her face. She looked up as he came in “My boy, what brings you home so early? Your father and brother are well?” her eyes were instantly worried.

Candel sighed. “Yes, mum, fine. You should let me do that.”

He knelt down next to her, reaching over to take the scrub brush, but she would not relinquish it. She looked into his face, holding onto the brush tightly. “What’s wrong, Candel?”

Candel stood. “Nothing, mum.” He went to leave but his mother’s voice stopped him.

“It’s your brother, isn’t it?”

Candel hesitated. He was not sure he could explain the anger he felt seeing Cambian mistreat his betrothed and run wild at their father’s expense. Only that morning he had seen Cambian roll his eyes as his mother kissed him goodbye before the hunt. He had felt so furious at how his brother took everything for granted, how he felt so entitled, while Candel’s own mother was forced to live away from the manor house, supported but hidden. He could not express how he felt acting the part of a servant while his brother took and wasted his inheritance.

He smiled at his mother, reassuringly. “I’m fine, mum.”

Monday, December 6, 2010


Prompt: Create a story, poem or any other piece based on this metaphor: a plate of fear



She swallowed, feeling the bareness of her throat, the vulnerability, above the dress’ open neckline. She stiffened, feeling the presence of the servants around her, fluttering by like ghostly shadows. When she saw them their faces were silent, stoic. Their eyes were glazed and glassy – they seemed to look right past her to the platters and goblets and silver. They did not make a noise, floating about the room.

She looked down at the immaculate lace tablecloth in front of her, trying to avoid looking at the man seated at the other end of the long, rectangular table. He was distant – obscured by glasses and elaborately decorative dishes – but she thought that he must be watching her.

She jumped as a servant’s sleeve touched her. She looked up; the man’s face was a blank white mask. He did not show that he had noticed her at all – it was as if he was setting an empty table. Embarrassed, she looked down to the dish he had placed before her. Her skin prickled as she looked at the wide, shallow bowl. It contained a heavy, red soup; it reminded her of blood, a thought that made her sick. It was a plate full of fear.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Prompt: This is a tale about debauchery. The story is about an awkward archdruid.

Source: Modified from


Hein tugged self-consciously at his long robes, trying to straighten his appearance before he entered the council room and began be scrutinized by the druid council. His new robes - the heavy, intricately woven, but coarse, neutrally colored robes of an archdruid - weighed down his shoulders making him feel as though he was slouching even while standing upright. He had known the council was looking to promote a student to archdruid, but he had never known that he was being considered. It never would have occurred to him to wonder if he would be considered; Hein knew the council was full of sick, corrupted druids, most of them at least twice his age. He had known that - everyone did - but he had not known that they wanted a puppet.

The door to the council room was closed, but its carved wooden design allowed him to see into the room. He could smell the wine from the hallway. Hein took in a deep breath, bracing himself, determined to remain impartial and separated from the council's corruption. He could not be bought.

Hein pushed open the decorated door to take his place on the druid council.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Prompt: Before I go to bed tonight, I'm going to...



Diane leaned back in her office chair, crossing her leather-sheathed ankles on the desk. She glared at the woman sitting across from her, wishing that she could burn a hole right through Vivian's red-rimmed glasses.

"I expect those articles on my desk by tomorrow morning."

Vivian arched a severely-plucked eyebrow in disdain, but she nodded. "Anything else I can do for you, director?"

"That will be all." Diane sighed as the irritating reporter left her office.

Her assistant, Jamison, walked in. "Trouble with Vivian?"

"None whatsoever," Diane lied. "What have you got for me?"

"Gale is on line three for you and the morning edition ready for you to look over."

"Heavens," Diane exhaled. "Before I go to bed tonight, I intend to eat my weight in chocolate and forget that Dewey freaking Gale ever existed."

Jamison smiled. "An evening to make the entire staff envious. But perhaps you should take his call first."

Diane smiled patronizingly at her assistant before picking up her phone. "Go get me some coffee, Jamie."

Friday, December 3, 2010


Prompt: Here’s a 90-second drill: List items you can find in an airport. When the 90 seconds are up, write a story that includes all of the words on your list. Set your story anywhere but near an airport.


Response: stairs, food, people, planes, metal detector, officer, kids, suitcase, bathroom, music, announcement, gift shop, information desk, carousel, laptop

She was sitting alone on the stairs, knees turned in tweaking the black and green stripes on her tall socks so that they zigzagged across her calves. Her hair had too much texture, like it needed to be washed, and her heavy eyeliner looked like it had been put on layer over layer without bothering to wash away the previous day's smudges.

Ayden had just come from work and he was sick of people. He had been sitting behind the information desk in the university library for nearly eight hours listening to people whine about not being able to find what they were looking for, directing visitors to the gift shop that really was just down the hall like the sign said, and telling students to stop - to stop playing their music so loud, to stop talking so noisily, to stop eating food by the library computers. Just before his shift was supposed to end a young married couple with three obnoxious, squirrelly kids had come in, leaving a trail of snot and fallen books in their wake. He had finally managed to get away when one of the demons had screamed for a bathroom, but he was almost forty minutes late. And to top it off, on his way through a campus check point, he had tried to carry his laptop through a metal detector and the on-duty officer acted like Ayden was a terrorist, making him even later.

He was exhausted and all he wanted to do was gripe and moan about his awful day, but Ayden knew he could not. He into the big hall and saw her sitting on the stairs, looking forlorn and abandoned and he knew there was no room for griping. He almost called out to her, but he doubted, given her unwashed, defensive, punk-rock appearance, that anyone called her "Lissy" anymore.

"Alyssa," he said, walking up to the bottom of the stairs.

She was up higher than most people sat - almost at the top of the first flight. She pretended that she had not seen him, like she wanted to pretend she had not been waiting on him and given up on him coming. "Took you long enough," she greeted, standing to walk down to him.

Ayden was struck by how very small she still was. He was eight years older and she had always seemed tiny, but she looked underfed and she seemed not to have grown an inch. She was tiny, swallowed up by a ratty black skirt and her lurid striped socks and a black jacket that looked like a circus tent hanging on a clothing rack.

"How was your flight?" he asked. It was a lame question, but he did not know what she was interested in anymore. He could not very well ask her about catching frogs to make into stew which was what their relationship had consisted of before she moved away.

"I hate planes," she said, lingering on the last stair as if holding on to an illusion of height. Ayden opened his mouth to ask another question, but she cut him off. "And before you ask, my dad is old and selfish and has high blood pressure, but he's fine."

Alyssa passed him. She walked with her hands deep in the gigantic jacket's pockets, stepping with an odd bounce which Ayden realized came from the black platform shoes she was wearing.

Walking out of the university side-by-side was like deja vu; they had done it so many times before. But at the same time it was a foreign experience; Ayden’s dad had always been in tow, trying to keep the two riotous children under control.

"So how long are you here for?" Ayden asked Alyssa's back.

She did not turn. "Until my dad ships me back to my mom again."

Ayden shut his mouth. He did not know the girl walking in front of him; this moody, matured-but-still-tiny Alyssa was a stranger. He felt uncomfortably overdressed and overachieving next to her - pursuing on his Bachelor's in Anthropology and working at the school's library and participating in service clubs. He wondered what year she was in high school - if her father could even force her to go to school.

He had looked forward to seeing her again with an eagerness that had surprised him, but with her standing in front of him he struck by a heavy sense of unfamiliarity. Ayden smiled at a girl who passed them - Crystal or Kristen or something. The campus was sluggish; it was too cold to spend a lot of time outdoors so most of the students had retreated to the university hang-outs - the library, the cafe, the classrooms of the nicest teachers.

They got to the edge of campus quickly, where the trees came right up to the road. Ayden wished that he had driven, but it was only a ten minute walk to his house and it had seemed like such a waste of gas. He had pictured walking close to the trees where they had used to play with Alyssa and talking companionably. It was painfully quiet between them.

Then Ayden heard it - the circus-y music floating to him. There was a park just inside the woods with a carousel, he remembered. When they were little he and Alyssa had begged to visit it every time they passed. He remembered how it seemed so big and seemed to spin so quickly; Alyssa had always hung off of her horse, standing in the stirrups and laughing into the wind.

The girl in front of him stopped suddenly and Ayden almost ran into her. She turned her head toward the music as though she had only just noticed it. Her eyes were green and faraway. She jumped, as if noticing she had stopped, as if ashamed of something, and began walking again, her steps short and precise.

Ayden stayed where he was for a moment. He could not see anything but the image of Alyssa's face, touched by the carousel music. Beneath her heavy makeup she had looked like Lissy. And she had smiled. Like she could not help it.

Notes: I forgot to put the source for the actual prompt yesterday:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Streets of Carnival

Prompt: Open a magazine and a newspaper and find a picture of a person. Then write a 300-500 word profile of the person.

Source: positive that this came from a magazine, but . . .)

She pulled the borrowed cloak a little closer to her body - her clothing was anything but period and if anyone else saw it her cover would be blown. The mask was a little big and the perfectly curled, newly died blond hair was uncomfortable, but she tried not to let it show. She was a slightly older than most of the people she passed on the street, but she knew she was pretty and when she offered them a small smile they seemed satisfied. She thought back, reviewing her assignment in her mind. It would not take very long to slip through the crowd of masked teenagers in Edwardian garb and get to the quaint antique shop on the next street. The place was sure to be crowded – its array of torture implements from past ages always drew a large group of admirers at Carnival – and the vast majority of people would be half-intoxicated; no one would notice her, no one would see her collect the object. It would be a simple task – in and out in only a few minutes. It was almost irritatingly simple. Her assignments seemed to have been not only diminished, but decreasing in importance and difficulty over the last few months. She almost did not mind – the lighter work load gave her more time to pursue her own interests – but she worried why her master would be giving her less and less responsibility. As though he was fading her out. She shook her head, trying to clear it. The curls that brushed her face still smelled of dye. It might be a simple job, she reminded herself, but every object had its protectors – some more capable than others. The shop was crawling with teenagers and she smiled. There was nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010 - The Aquarium Room

Prompt: Is it dangerous to . . .?

Source: The tallest guy in my math class

He glanced at the two figures beyond the aquarium partition. Tiny blue fish sent shimmers over the silhouettes in the next room. "Isn't it, you know, a little dangerous to leave them alone together?"

Fatima smiled at him. She shook out her hair, admiring the way the light from inside the giant aquarium played with his bone structure. She could not for the life of her remember his name.

She leaned in, touching his arm. "They'll be fine, I'm sure. They're responsible adults."

He raised his eyebrows. "You told me Tanner threatened to kill Ethan. That sounds responsible to you?"

Fatima gave a slight, apologetic smile. She had forgotten about letting that tidbit slip. "They're big boys, they can handle being in the same room."

He turned away from her, looking through the aquarium again. The water was too misty to see the boys clearly. Fatima tried to win his attention back, but after a while she stopped trying.

The party had wound down; she picked up a few cups to throw away. When she walked back into the aquarium room the boys were still there back behind the glowing fish. Fatima sighed. Hadn't they caused her enough trouble?

She walked in, "Ok, boys, break it up. Time to go h -" and stopped. The plastic cups dropped to the floor.

Notes: I'm back! And officially eight minutes late - not a great way to start December, I know, but I may have made up for it in the fact that this month's weather forecast has already been posted to the blog. Be sure to check it out!

December Weather Forecast

December 1 – Is it dangerous to . . . ?

December 2 – Open a magazine and a newspaper and find a picture of a person. Then write a 300-500 word profile of the person.

December 3 – Here’s a 90-second drill: List items you can find in an airport. When the 90 seconds are up, write a story that includes all of the words on your list. Set your story anywhere but near an airport.

December 4 - Before I go to bed tonight, I'm going to...

December 5 – This is a tale about debauchery. The story is about an awkward arch-druid.

December 6 – Create a story, poem or any other piece based on this metaphor: a plate of fear

December 7 – Write about the relationship between two brothers

December 8 - This is a tale about xenophobia. The story is about a duchess who fears non-human beings. The effect of magic on technology is a major part of the story.

December 9 – Write about a god of sunlight who takes the form of an older man.

December 10 – Use all these words in a story or poem: preacher, coin, stairwell, comb.

December 11 – Write about a group of people dressed entirely in red.

December 12 – Finals Week: Write the last line of a story about an animal-like character.

December 13 – Finals Week: Write the last paragraph of a story about two characters who do not speak the same language

December 14 – Finals Week: Write the last line of a story set in a sultan’s palace

December 15 – Finals Week: Write the last three lines of a story with a bittersweet ending

December 16 – Finals Week: Write an alternate ending for a well-known story

December 17 – Finals Week: Write the last line of a story about an abnormally tall character

December 18 – Finals Week: Write the final scene of a story about unrequited love

December 19 – The educated, rebellious male half-Chimera with a knack for trouble. His non-human ancestry gives him a horribly inhuman appearance.

December 20 - The story must involve a spear in the beginning.

December 21 - Describe a routine or holiday ritual, using the 2nd person “you”.

December 22 – Start an original story with this title: The House without a Window

December 23 – Silken, sad uncertain

December 24 -

December 25 – The door to somewhere

December 26 – Character: Blaise Finney

December 27 – Sane mage

December 28 – Create a story with all achetypal characters (examples: the young hero, the damsel in distress, the benign old woman, etc)

December 29 – Use the name of a famous literary character (examples: Helen, Ishmael, Elizabeth Bennet) for one of your own characters.

December 30 – Write about two tarot cards

December 31 – Write about a man with strangely colored eyes