Writing Prompt: Graduation

Lots of students are graduating from college this time of year. For this week’s prompt, write a story no longer than 500 words–you must include the word “graduation” in the story. Have fun!

The Stowaway

Tommy felt someone haul him out of the waves that slapped his face and rushed down his throat. He coughed, sputtered. Someone said, “hold on boy, you’ll live.” He clutched the side of the row boat as hard as he could. The oar smacked his leg right before the rower pulled it out of the water again. By the time the rocking stopped, Tommy slept.

When he woke, he felt the warmth of fire on one side of his body and turned to ease the chill on the other. He opened his eyes. The walls of a cottage and a hearth surrounded him. Above, he could just make out the underbelly of the thatched roof. He wasn’t rocking anymore but lay on a straw bed before the fire. A deer skin rug stretched the short distance between the straw bed and the hearth. A black kettle hung in the orange and red flames.

He pushed himself to his elbows. Tommy’s arms shook. “What happened?”

“Shipwreck,” a male voice answered, and then the man came into view. He was short with wide shoulders and sand caked on his breeches and boots. “We got most of you out of the water.”

“Most of us?”

“Aye. You’re lucky to be alive.”

Tommy sat up all the way and winced, pressing a hand to his sore side. “The captain—of the Content—did he make it?”

The man shrugged. “Wouldn’t know. I pulled you and two others out of the water. The others are upstairs. Neither looked like a captain though.”

Tommy nodded. “Thank you for saving me.” He stood.

“Whoa, where’re you going?”

“I have to leave.” He’d been a stowaway on the Content, and the captain had just discovered him before the storm hit.

“You’ll stay. You’re hurt and the sky’s open.”

Yet another I might turn into a longer story. I kind of want to see what becomes of Tommy, find out why he stowed away, etcetera. This is in response to Sunday’s writing prompt though, so I had to cap it at 300 words.

Writing Prompt: Random Date

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I used a random date generator to pick a date between 1600 and now–and this is what it came up with. So, your task is to write a story up to 300 words long that takes place on September 26, 1749. It can take place anywhere you like. Have fun!

Grand Central Market

Fletcher heaved the sack of bows over his shoulder, balanced the across his back, and left his apartment. He gave a nod to the doorman, Floyd, because he had to hold the sack with both hands. “Headed to the Grand Central market,” he told Floyd.

“Ah, good luck, mister Fletcher, sir.” Floyd was lean except for a round ale belly that stretched his tunic so Fletcher could see his belly button. Fletcher looked down at his feet. “Taking the lot today, sir?”

“Aye. Hoping to trade a few for new boots. The army’s in town.”

“Good luck,” Floyd said again and pulled open the glass and brass door.

Fletcher turned sideways through it and walked to the corner to hail a cab. Three passed him by, their numbers lit up. He hissed a curse and walked three blocks to the subway. Fletcher lived downtown—way downtown—in the hunting district of the island of Manahatta. Tall apartment buildings, all identical with identical two-room apartments surrounded a massive grassland. Deer often roamed south an when he wasn’t crafting bows and arrows, Fletcher hunted for his community. His hunting partner, a descendant from the Lenape tribe, would spend the day preparing their kills from the day before.

Fletcher was descended from one of the few European families allowed to live on the island. His great, great, great, great, great grandmother was permitted to stay because she’d been pregnant when her husband brought her over from England. He’d had to return. He climbed down the steps to the subway platform, apologizing to people who pressed against the handrails to get out of his way. He got plenty of stares and grimaces on the subway, except from a man who shuffled the car, hands outstretched and begging for food.

Fletcher didn’t have any on him, so he just shook his head. “I’m sure you could trade something at the market.”

“Ain’t got nothing to trade,” the man said. He flashed Fletcher a jack-o-lantern smile.

Fletcher stopped the man before he could shuffle along. “If you’ll assist me today, I’ll give you one of my bows to trade.”

The man grinned again and then wiped some drool from the corner of his mouth where he didn’t have a tooth to hold it in. He extended the same hand to shake Fletcher’s. Fletcher looked at the drool-drenched hand and swallowed back a grimace. “Can’t let go of this sack, but you have my word.”

A bell dinged and they both swayed as the train stopped. Fletcher led the way out of the train and above ground. Grand Central was filled with booths, tables, and people milling around, peddling trades. “What’s your name?” Floyd asked.

“Fred,” the begging man answered, shuffling to stay close.

“Fred…I’m Fletcher. That makes us neighbors. If you’re hungry, why don’t you come to me for venison?”

Fred shrugged. “Likes of you never look my way.”

Fletcher pulled a bow out of the sack and passed it to him. “Until now.”

This is from Sunday’s writing prompt about a parallel world. I thought about how the world might be different without money, if we still lived on a bartering system. I might turn this into a longer story.

Writing Prompt: Parallel World

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This week’s writing prompt is all about parallel worlds. You’re charged with writing a 300-500 word story involving a parallel world. All other parameters are up to you! Have fun!

July Fourth

The room was full of sign-painters. The signs weren’t elegant, but rather they were slapped together last minute before curfew. Cheryl stood next to Steve, who splashed red paint on white poster board. A blank sign sat on the table before her, and her own paint brush—a conglomeration of uneven horse hairs dripping globules of red craft paint onto her white sneaker—hung limp in one hand. “I just don’t know what to write on mine,” she said.

“What? What do you mean you don’t know what to—look, you can just copy mine. We don’t have a lot of time here.”

Cheryl looked at Steve’s sign again. It read: You say curfew, I say screw you!She chewed her lip. “I don’t know. I don’t think that line is really me, you know?”

“Then make something else up. Or don’t carry a sign. You’re the one who said you wanted a sign.”

Cheryl looked around the room again. They were in Sarah’s and Peter’s basement. Half-windows illuminated the three-dozen people in the room, but by the time the sun went down, it’d be empty. Some were painting signs. Others counted out canisters of mace. “Maybe we should just go home. What if we’re the only ones?”

“We won’t be. Peter heard that everyone is preparing for tomorrow. Everyone’s going to march.”

“But what if they don’t? I mean, if we’re the only ones, they’ll arrest us. They’ll—well, you know what they do to dissidents.”

Steve wiped his hand on his shirt, leaving a red streak across his stomach. Cheryl stared at it. Steve was sweating; they all were. Air conditioning was a thing of the past, but Cheryl could remember the cool dry air even in the middle of summer. Between global warming and the recent shut down of electricity service providers, they all had to learn to sweat again.

“Look, Cheryl, if you’re going to freak out about tomorrow, then maybe you shouldn’t come.”

“I’m just starting to wonder if we can even fight this. There are just so many of them. Don’t you remember the news reports? Tear gas, Steve. They’re going to throw tear gas at us.”

“We can’t cower to tyranny because of tear gas.”

Cheryl scoffed. “Why not?”

“Because. If we bow down to them because of that, then they win. Curfews. Reduced resources. I can’t remember the last time I saw kids on the street going to school. I know they’d be on summer break right now, but that’s not really the point. It’s messed up, Cheryl, but that’s why we have to do something.”

“This might not even accomplish anything.”

“I know. But we’ve got to try.”

She sighed. “Okay.” Five minutes later, five minutes before sundown, Cheryl dragged her brush over her poster board. Say “no” to tear gas. Say “no” to tyranny.That night, after curfew, Cheryl didn’t bother cleaning the red paint off of her sneaker or Steve’s shirt.

This is in response to Sunday’s writing prompt about emotional wounds. In looking back at my last couple of flash fiction pieces, I’m noticing a theme…granted, the random number generator picked the page with civil unrest for this prompt, but I think the #WriteBackToFightBack spirit is coming through in these stories.

Writing Prompt: Fish

This week, I want you to write a story about a fish out of water. Your protagonist can find herself in a new place, facing a language barrier, or something much smaller-scale. Have fun! You have 1,500 words.