I have two friends undergoing a move right now. But I think I’ve done a writing prompt in the past about packing stuff so this time I want you to write about getting friends to help a character move. You have 1000 words, maximum. Have fun!
Write a story, no more than 500 words, that takes place during a car trip. The entire story must take place in the car, though character(s) can think or talk about events that took place outside of the car.
Jane turned in a full circle, squinting through the dappled light. The trail forked here, in three directions, but she couldn’t see any trail markers on any trees. Frowning, she decided it’d be best to double back and retrace her steps. She marched down the path that led her here, and followed it for at least a quarter hour. Her steps became stomps. Saplings suffered under her boots. Prickers scraped her ankles, left thin red lines raised on pale skin.
She stopped and turned. A panoramic scan of the area revealed no painted trees—just ordinary brown and gray bark. When did she see the last yellow square? Jane walked over to a boulder and perched on it, splaying her feet to balance. She dropped her pack on the dirt between her boots. Her hand dove in to find a map nestled between a bag of homemade trail mix and a BPA-free water bottle.
She spread the wrinkled map over her knees and traced her fingers from the start of the yellow-square trail. Her index finger followed it over topographic rings and alongside a stream. Jane had already passed the stream. She’d crossed it—but the yellow squares on the map did not. She folded the map again, unable to match the previous creases, and stuffed it back into her bag.
Jane continued on, retracing her steps, planning to cross the stream again and continue on the yellow-square path. Only after what felt like an hour of hiking, she didn’t find a stream. Instead, she found a rusted green gate with a sign dangling at one corner that read: No Trespassing. Jane hesitated. She needed help and maybe there was a house up the unpaved road ahead. Two furrows of flattened weeds stretched into the trees. Stones lined each side of the road.
Jane ducked under the gate and walked up the hill in one furrow, then jumped to the other and walked there. Back and forth she went, weaving her way up a steep hill. At the top, there stood a building that was half cabin, half concrete rectangle. The latter looked like barracks. Jane turned and started down the hill, but after a few steps she decided she’d made it this far. She needed help and a house meant a phone.
With a deep breath, she marched up to the door and knocked. There was no answer, but a sedan and a blue pickup truck with a dented chrome bumper sat in the gravel courtyard in front of the barracks side of the house. Jane knocked again. The door opened to reveal a skeletal woman. Her face was sunken and her eyes bulged. Her elbows and knees reminded Jane of a little kid who hadn’t quite grown into her frame.
“Can I help you?” The woman asked, her lips stretching over crooked teeth. One of them was chipped. Behind her, Jane spotted a brown-stained mattress leaning up against the wall.
“Erm, I got lost…I was wondering if you have a phone I could borrow?”
The woman looked Jane up and down. She nodded and opened the door for Jane to enter. When she did, she was almost knocked backward by the stench of cats.
“Watch your step,” the woman said. “We let the cats go where they will.”
Jane wrinkled her nose, grateful the woman was ahead of her and couldn’t see.
“The phone is in the basement.”
Jane thought about leaving. She could outrun this woman, this string-and-bones woman, this wraith. But she didn’t. She hadn’t seen any other houses on this mountain; they were as scarce as yellow squares on tree trunks. The woman led her down a steep and narrow staircase and then down a dark, dank corridor. They passed one of the cats, a sphynx. It rubbed up against Jane’s ankles and that’s when she noticed the briar scratches and wished the cat wouldn’t rub against her legs. She could imagine microbes jumping from the cat into her scratches and swimming up her bloodstream.
“Phone is in here,” the woman opened another door. It was painted bright red, but the paint chipped away to reveal layers of blue and green. Jane paused before entering the room. The door slammed behind her and she heard a lock click. She turned and tried the knob, but it refused to turn. Jane kicked the door, screamed, railed against being locked in a dark, dank room. Fear bubbled up.
She spun around, searching the room, frantic. There was a window on the far side. She crossed the room and tore the moldy curtains away to let the light in. There was no phone—just a pile of logs in one corner. She lifted one of the logs to examine it in the light. There, on the middle of the log, were two yellow squares.
Inspired by Sunday’s writing prompt.
This week, write a story 500-1000 words about a character who is lost. This character can be figuratively lost, literally lost, or both. Have fun!
I saw a show recently where someone’s stomach got pumped. I got to thinking about a character who might have undergone that, and apparently, she was talking for this prompt.
“It’s like a scene right out of Jaws,” Jane said, eying the beach. She stood on the boardwalk, beach towel and cooler in hand. The beach towel was white, with large blue words that read, “Surf’s up” on one side. She wasn’t a surfer, but the towel, threadbare in places, had been her brother’s. Since he lost his mind and went to school in the frigidity of Canada, she decided he couldn’t be a surfer anymore.
“Oh, it’s not that bad,” her older sister claimed. “Come on.”
They wove between blankets and beach chairs. Boomboxes blared. Babies and little children tipped buckets of water onto piles of sand, and with frantic digging, tried to make tunnels and castles before the sand could dry.
“There’s no space anywhere. And it’s really hot out here,” Jane whined. “Why did we come here again?”
“I’m not missing the holiday weekend at the beach. Not when it’s this nice out. And I can’t exactly leave you home alone.”
Jane’s face flushed. “It’s been a whole year, Sara. I wouldn’t do anything—”
“Yeah, right. Mom and Dad come home tomorrow with Dave to find you OD’ed on the kitchen floor. Nice image. You promised we could do what I want today. I took you to the bookstore yesterday, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but I hate the beach.”
“Get over it.”
They found a few square feet about three feet back from the tide and spread their towels. Jane sat on hers, wrapping her arms around her knees. Sara rolled her eyes.
“You’re not going to sit there covered head-to-toe.”
“I’m here. What does it matter what I wear?”
“I know you’ve got a bikini on underneath. I had the happy task of checking your closet and dresser last week. You don’t own a one-piece. Show off a little.”
Jane shook her head and chewed her cheek. She’d been clean for over twelve months and had the chip to prove it. But she didn’t want Sara to see the long thin scars she’d made with a steak knife she snagged from the kitchen as soon as Mom and Dad went away for the weekend. If she’d known the beach would be the payment Sara demanded for a full morning at the local bookshop, Jane wouldn’t have cut herself Friday night. She would have waited. Because she knew how Sara was, how she could get—for some reason it mattered to her if Jane was covered up.
“You’re so weird.”
“Thanks,” Jane said, a half smile peeking out. “I resemble that remark.”
Another eye roll. “Whatever. Just be quiet and let me enjoy the sun.”
Jane didn’t nod but she didn’t disagree either. She watched the surf rolling onto the beach, and timed her breathing to each breaker. Breathe out, slam the sand. Breathe in, pull the sand back into the water. She imagined it churning, and her with it, spinning under the water. Dave once told her about a time the riptide had sucked him under. She wondered if it was more uncomfortable than having her stomach pumped. That’s what happened the last time she overdosed.
“I’m going for a swim,” she said. Sara made some noncommittal noise, and Jane stood. She didn’t take off her teeshirt or shorts, but kicked off her flip flops. She hoped some sand got into Sara’s eyes. Jane wove her way toward the water, and when the next wave rolled, she dove under it.
This work of fiction is in response to my writing prompt from this Sunday. All characters and events are completely fictional, and in no way created to represent myself or anyone else I know.