Pre-Podcast Live Writing Sprints – April, 2021

All Writing Sprints Written Prior to The Christian Indie Writers’ Podcast and authored by J. R. Nichols. Click Here To Read A Random Post!

04.30.21 Today’s Prompt: Everything Old is New Again

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She picked up the garment and assessed it with a critical eye. Mary would never wear anything like it – puffy sleeves and shoulder pads. Still, if she snipped a pad out of one side and used it for…

“Shiela Buckwiler, is that you?” Sheila did not even have to turn around to know who owned the shrieking voice she heard approaching her from behind. 

“Catherine, how nice to see you,” she said, turning and pasting on her “public” expression of interested kindness. Catherine Miserall was the Treasurer for the Bunko Committee and Sheila hadn’t been to play for a few weeks.

“We’ve missed you at bunko,” Catherine said, chewing her gum loudly in the space between words and reching out to pluck something off Sheila’s shirt. What have you done to your hair?”

“Nothing, why?” Sheila put a hand to her head.

“I can tell, is why,” Catherine rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe how far you’ve let your standards slip. I mean, it was only a dog, for heaven’s sake.”

Sheila’s heart leapt to her throat and stayed there like a lump of unswallowed oatmeal. She felt hot tears form in her eyes. There was so much she would say if it wasn’t for that oatmeal. Instead, she stood there, as Catherine inventoried the series of missteps she had taken since putting down her longtime companion.

As the frenemy prattled on and on, Sheila stared, hard, at her assailant. She inventoried the imperfections of the face, so artfully camouflage by a layer of thick makeup. She pictured, in her mind’s eye, the rolling eyes of Steve,  Catherine’s husband, whenever her back was turned. 

Before long, the harsh words seemed to become as inconsequential as a morning rain to a man with a slicker and a pair of galoshes. 

“Actually, Catherine, I’m just here picking something up for my daughter, but it was nice to see you.”

She put the blouse back on the rack.

After all, what can anyone really do with shoulder pads?

(There is still time but I like this as is. – Author)

04.23.21 Today’s Prompt: Stormy Night

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The movie proved to be a let down – there were only three jump scares, and Sally hadn’t tried to hold my hand after any of them, not even when the thing came up from out of the swamp and grabbed the woman on the ankle. 

I didn’t mind = Sally would hold my hand on the walk home, I knew, but now I had to be about the business of getting us both out of there; the theater was overbooked – every seat taken with some fellas even lining up around the walls to view the feature.

She was twirling her hair, the way she did when she watched people in the halls at school while I stood in line to get a drink. She never let me hold her hand there, either, even though most of the guys with gals was doing it.

“How come you didn’t try to grab my hand?”

“I wasn’t scared.” I believed her – it took a lot to scare Sally Macaffee. One time I saw her plunge headlong into stink creek after a hardball, and Jimmy Neblum had insisted there was gaters all throughout that water. Also, I knew she’d been noodlin’ and I was always scared myself of any woman rumored to have stuck her fish inside a mouth full of fish fangs.

“What’s gonna scare you, then?” I asked. My face felt hot and I couldn’t help but punch myself on the knees as I asked. I didn’t know why I was so angry.

“Tommy Fortune, if you want to hold my hand, you can just ask me.” Her jaw was set, her eyes flashed. “I don’t like to be tricked any more than I like to be scared.”

“Awe, I wasn’t trying to trick ya,” I scowled, sinking back in my seat and realizing that was exactly what I’d been trying to do. After a moment, I took a peek – she was still twirling her hair, looking just as mean as ever. I still wanted to hold her hand though, so I told her that.

“See now,” she said, giving me a smile that made it all worth it. “Was that so hard?”

“No ma’am,” I said, at the same time regretting having made such a fuss. I had her hand, now, what was I to do with it? I needn’t have worried, Sally clamped down on my hand leaving me no choice but to squeeze hers back.

“Ouch!” she cried, and I immediately released, horrified.

She burst into whooping laughter. “Oh, Tommy, you didn’t hurt me none.” she brought our still joined hand to her mouth and pressed the back of my hand to her lips. “You treat me like such a delicate flower. Don’t you know how tough I am?”

Tommy did know; Sally’s toughness was what he liked about her – what made her seem like the right choice to have at his side.

“You’re a tough cookie, alright, Sally Macaffee, a tough cookie, indeed.”

(There is still time, but I am done with this. – Author)

04.16.21 Today’s Prompt: “The door slammed on the watermelon.”

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“The door slammed on the watermelon.” Mark dropped his head. 

I didn’t know how to respond; he’d practiced his gallagher routine for the talent show for six weeks, saving his own allowance money to buy the gigantic fruit, which was marked up on account of being out of season, and her was absolutely disappointed.

But my mother’s  heart had been in this situation before, and had acted rashly, offering to solve the problem – which was a mistake in almost every case – or, worse, offering sympathy, which was a need my boy seemed to have outgrown from the moment he took his first curious steps out into the big wide world.

“I’m here for you, if you want to talk about it,” I said. I wanted to say so much more, but I held my peace. The silence stretched as he scooped moutfuls of eggs and toast into his mouth instead of allowing anything to come out of it which would have reassured me that he was going to be alright – but that was the job now, wasn’t it, to trust him that he was able to work it out for himself, that he was able to ask either his heavenly or his earthly father if it was something my woman’s heart would never understand.

As he left the kitchen, I took his plate – the least I could do – and asked him for a hug. I knew when he responded without question that everything was going to be alright.

04.09.21 Today’s Prompt: use the following five words in a story: proposal, avenue, agriculture, goalkeeper, premature

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“How did you meet your husband?” Tiffany spread orange marmalade across a toast point and complimented the place setting in a futile attempt to avoid answering the question. Gertrude was relentless, asking it twice again, refusing to be put off even after Tiffany had cornered the servants and made an elaborate fuss over the appropriateness of the centerpiece – all ostrich plumes and pussy willows, perfect for a dinner celebrating such esteemed guests.

When it was clear the question could no longer be avoided, Tiffany dabbed the corners of her mouth with her napkin, as though the gesture could push them up into the smile a naturally happy newlywed would wear upon being asked about the love of her life.

“I met tony at a charity football match,” she said. “He played goalkeeper.”

“There’s a joke in there somewhere,” Gertrude said, as Tiffany presumed she might. She put on her all-teeth smile and made a slight nod at the attempt at humor.

“Quite. Anyway, he found out what I did, and we bonded over the unusual interest of the future of agriculture in this new, post-war society. The rest, as they say, is history.”

“Imagine!” Gertrude guffawed. “Bonding over something as dull as that.” She took an enormous gulp of wine, then beckoned for a refill. “I have to say, news of the proposal was a shock to us. We never thought old Tony would settle down, did we, fam?” She raised her now full glass to the uproarious approval of the jovial folks crammed in ‘round the table, and Tiffany, feeling the color rush to her face, dropped her head and wished Tony could be there now, sitting next to her, to squeeze her hand and remind her of what it was like back home by the fire, with just the two of them there to quietly discuss their hopes and dreams for the future. 

“I’d suppose some would have thought our marriage premature,” she finally managed, lifting her head and setting her chin. “We just were too old to carry on for too long without a promise of some kind, you understand.”

Though the words were harmless enough ont he surface, the sting of them was felt by Tony’s considerably older and as yet unmarried sister. The transformation of Gertrude’s grotesquely painted face happened in phases – first, the brows collapsed over the bright purple shadow – as though someone had said something so confusing, a master mathematician would need to be summoned to make sense of it – then they shot up in surprise before widened in outrage.

“Get out!” She shrieked, to the apparent stunned surprise of the others at the table, who’d been laughing only seconds before at the riotous and jovial 
(Rats; The Timer Ran Out! – Author)

Author’s Note: If you watched me writing LIVE on my facebook page, you can click on the corresponding date to see the text in full. I am not going to edit these, just copy/paste from my working document onto this page. -J.R. Nichols

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