Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Prompt - First Sentence 4

The briefcase was heavy in his hand and the gun tucked into his waistband felt awkward. He moved quickly down the street, walking briskly but trying hard to appear as if nothing was amiss. Only the sweat on his forehead spoke to the tension he felt, the beads of moisture born of the intense adrenaline rush boiling inside of him. He concentrated, forcing himself to appear relaxed and only barely managing the feat.

The faint jingle of the briefcase rose with each awkward step, and each time he was certain a passerby had heard, and that they knew. They knew what he’d done, what he’d taken with the gun leaning awkwardly out of his blue jeans. Any moment he expected to hear the shouts, the pounding feet of pursuit, the sirens of the inevitable as he was hunted down, hauled in, harangued and hanged.

He closed his eyes to calm himself, but the silent scream of the clerk appeared to torture him immediately. He stumbled, earning a loud jingle from the briefcase as a couple passerby gave him an odd look. Pausing, he adjusted his shirt before continuing with the same forcibly-restrained gait. The jingling grew louder in his mind as he neared his destination, placing his hand on the door handle. He pulled, and had a moment of panic when the door held fast before he realized that he had not yet unlocked it. He pulled out his key with shaking hands and inserted it into the lock on the fifth try, turning it quickly and pulling at the door. He ducked inside and sprinted up the stairs, suddenly safe from the prying eyes of the outside world.

He rounded a corner on the third floor landing and, after some more fumbling, slammed the apartment door shut behind him. With a heavy sigh he leaned back against the shut portal, sliding down the varnished wooden surface until he hit the ground with a thump, legs splayed out carelessly in front of himself. He’d done it! He’d gotten away with it! He listened closely but heard no sirens, no telltale pounding of feet, or angry demands to search the premises.

Part one done, he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He took another deep breath, quieting his quivering body a bit further, and cleared his throat. Would they answer? What would happen now? How was he supposed to guarantee his safety? These questions haunting his mind, he dialed the number he had been given and put the receiver to his ear. He heard the click on the other end of the line, and spoke into the silence.

“It’s done. Now give me back my son.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Prompt - First Sentence 3

The classroom was silent as the students worked on the test. That is, until Amber came crashing through the door.

“They’ve all left! All of them!”

She looked around frantically, trying to connect her harried gaze with a single confused classmate, but seeing nothing but blank stares she threw her hands up and ran back out into the hallway. Muffled shouts came in through the closed door, the same voice stringently screaming garbled words in the same meter, the same silence answering. After a minute or so the voice became inaudible as Amber presumably moved down the hallway out of earshot. The students looked at each other in confusion, but after a few more moments of silence they returned to their tests.

Jimmy sighed, trying to put his thoughts back on the problem at hand. Mr. Mooney will kill us if we get out of our desks. He started reading about a train leaving Cleveland at 6 PM, but his thoughts kept wandering back to Amber’s outburst. What does she mean, anyway. They’ve all left? Isn’t that what happens during final exams? Jimmy frowned in thought before angrily dismissing the distraction. Bah, they’re on break, and they’ll be back with their red markers if this test isn’t finished by then.

The time passed quietly, and Jimmy found himself engrossed in his test once again. Coming to the last of the five pages of word problems, he hurriedly scrawled down his answers. Time must be getting short – it feels like it’s been too long already! He finished scribbling the answer to the last problem, then put his pencil down and looked up with a sigh of relief. No Mr. Mooney, must have just made it! He looked around, and saw a few of his classmates looking back at him, confusion on their faces. He looked confused as well, up until he saw the clock and the reason for their confusion registered. 12:37?! Class ended 12 minutes ago! Where was the bell? Jimmy cautiously stood up from his desk.

“Sit down! He could be back any moment!”

The hurried whisper came from Mike, his best friend, sitting next to him.

“He’s twelve minutes late already,” Jimmy whispered back.

Mike nodded. “Exactly my point! He’s going to be pissed when he gets back as it is!”

Jimmy started to sit back down before a thought struck him. “When has he ever been late before?”

Mike started to answer, but stopped as the same thought struck him. He shook himself after a moment of silence. “So what do you think we should do.”

Jimmy shrugged. “Hell if I know, but I’m gonna take a look.”

Jimmy made his way across the room, and a few of the more curious students rose to follow him as he peered out into the hallway. Absolute silence. What’s going on here? He stepped into the empty corridor and looked both directions. It was completely empty – Amber had apparently moved on. He stepped out into the hallway and walked slowly, peering into the other classrooms as he passed. Each narrow window presented the same scene – students slowly looking up from their desks, glancing about curiously.

What had started as a trickle behind Jimmy became a flood as his truancy was noticed. He headed towards the front entrance, the quiet halls devoid of monitors, guards, teachers, administrators – really any leadership whatsoever., just unsupervised students, looking confused and concerned as one. He felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as he neared the front hall of the building. What if Amber was telling the truth? What if they really were gone?

Jimmy came to a halt in front of the heavy doors leading outside, hundreds of footsteps clattering to a stop behind him. The idle chatter and whispering that had filled the throng fell silent, and the students stood still. Expectant. Curious. What should I do, Jimmy mused, if I leave the school grounds I could be in serious trouble. But if I don’t, then I’ll never know what’s going on. He waffled back and forth for a moment before placing his hand on the doorknob. With a deep breath and a silent prayer, he stepped into the bright afternoon light.

He stepped onto the front porch of the school, and nearly walked right into Amber. She had sat down at the top of the steps leading towards the street, arms wrapped about her knees as she gently rocked back and forth. He could hear her quietly whispering as she moved.

“All gone. All gone. All gone.”

He was about to kneel down and check on her when a thought struck him. Where are all the sounds? This close to the city, you could count on traffic whipping by every day. Rarely fifteen minutes would go by without the silence being broken by a horn, or a siren, or a screech of tires, but the only sound Jimmy could hear was the quiet whispering of Amber. Even the wind seemed silent. The streets lie empty, disused, passing before silent hulking homes. The finest houses in the county, with their tree-lined streets, lay silent. No lawnmowers, no children at play, no comings and goings from the busy adults who populated their world.

Jimmy jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned to see Mike staring at the scene in wonder. Mike cleared his throat, swallowing repeatedly before speaking in a breaking voice.

“What, uh, do we do?”

Jimmy opened his mouth to answer, but before he could get a word in Amber jumped up and screamed.

“I’m going home! They can’t all be gone! I’ll find them!”

With a sob she burst to her feet and dashed off down the sidewalk. Jimmy had a hand out, as if reaching to stop her, but let it fall without thinking. He turned back to Mike.

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Maybe we should head home, too.”

“No way,” a voice in the back piped up. “I ain’t getting’ detention for this crap.”

“Me neither,” a girl agreed.

“But there’s no one here to give detention!” A third voice, somewhat shrill, arose to Jimmy’s left.

Jimmy thought for a moment before turning to a nearby student. “Hey Carl, you live near here, right?”

A mousy-looking kid stepped forward, adjusting his glasses. “Yeah, around the corner. Why?”

“Do any of your parents stay home during the day?”

“Yeah, my dad works from home.”

Jimmy looked around at the gathered throng. “Ok, so let’s send Carl home to see if he can get his father to come help us. In the meantime, let’s wait here in case the teachers come back.”

Jimmy didn’t know if he was more surprised that Carl nodded assent, or that there were no dissenting voices from the crowd. He turned back to Carl. “Head on home, and if your father is there bring him back with you.”

Carl nodded. “And what if he isn’t?”

Jimmy shrugged. “We’ll have to deal with that when it happens.”

Carl nodded again, and took off into the distance. Jimmy watched him go, wondering what he would find.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Theme Story - If anyone asks, tell them I'm fine.

Sarah balled up the note and threw it against the wall in disgust. He’d been talking about it for so long, but she never actually believed he’d carry through. Leaving his entire life behind, with the burden to clean up resting on her shoulders… The words “conceited” and “inconsiderate” bounced around in her head, looking for a home.

“So he finally did it, huh.” The voice startled Sarah out of her angry reverie. She cast a glance over her shoulder at Amanda and gave a silent nod, not trusting her voice. Amanda shrugged. “Figures. I never had him pegged for the fatherly type, anyway.” She stepped over to Sarah and put a hand on her shoulder. “You ok?”

Sarah shrugged. “Not really.” She sighed heavily. “I guess I should have expected this.”

“How so?”

“All the signs were there.” Sarah began to tick items off on her fingers. “Obsessive reliance on family support, inability to hold a steady job, never finished college, spent way too much time at the bar…” She stared at her fingers, standing silently on her quivering palm, and let her arm drop. “You see what I mean.”

Amanda moved around her and dropped onto the couch. “So what are you gonna do now?”

“Cry. Scream. Wallow.” Sarah’s shoulders slumped. “Seems appropriate, anyway.”

Amanda nodded. “Anything I can do?”

“If anyone asks, tell them I’m fine.” Sarah shrugged. “Outside of that, well, slap the jackass if you happen to run into him”

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing Prompt - First Sentence 2

(continuing on the writing prompts kick. The sentence given as a prompt is in bold below)

It was the perfect guy’s night out until she showed up. She marched directly for our table, her displeasure evident in her forceful stride. I sighed heavily and stood. With a brief apology to my friends I stepped forwards into the coming storm, diverting her to a nearby wall and a semblance of privacy.

As she came to a halt, her arms snapped into an angry fold on her chest. “So this is why you couldn’t go out with me tonight?” She bit off the words as she spoke, the syllabus cracking like pebbles thrown against a wall.

“Look, Ashley…”

“Don’t you ‘Look, Ashley’ me!” An arm shut out to mirror her interruption physically. “What’s the problem? Am I not attractive enough for you?”

“Of course not…”

“Well then what’s the problem?”

I sighed as I looked at her, arms crossed beneath ample breasts, toe tapping rapidly at the end of her long and shapely legs. “Ashley, I turned you down because of exactly what you’re doing right now.”

She scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Exactly what I’m doing. You mean catching you out in your bullshit.”

“No, I mean your attitude.”

“My attitude.”

“Yeah. Look,” I took a deep breath before continuing. “You are beautiful, and any guy would be lucky to have you. But you’re too forceful.”

Ashley’s eyes narrowed at this. “What the hell do you mean, ‘forceful’?”

I sighed. “You push too hard. We’ve only spoken twice-“

“Three times!” She interrupted.

I waved my hand absently at the interruption. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve talked three times. You asked me out, I said no, and now you’re here trying to… I don’t know. What is your end goal here?”

“My end goal?”

“Yeah, your end goal. What are you trying to accomplish?”

Ashley paused for a moment, before glaring at me again. “I’m trying to show you what an asshole you are!”

“And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I turned you down, so I must be an asshole.”

“Damn straight!”

“Ashley…” I paused, at a loss for how to continue. “Listen. How exactly am I being an asshole?”

She pointed an accusing finger at me. “You lied to me!”

“Oh, I did? How exactly did I lie?”

She scoffed and gestured at the room around her. “You going to tell me that this place, that those friends of yours over there –“ she gestured at my three friends, who were alternately torn between staring intently into their mugs and watching with brazen smiles “-have more to offer than I do?”

I shrugged. “Well, since you want to put it that way, yes they do.”

“Bullshit. Name three things they have that I don’t.”

I was starting to get pissed at this point, but did my best to maintain my reasonable tone. “Well, for one, they aren’t so full of themselves because of how they look.”

“No shit. I bet they’re jealous of you for even being able to talk to me.”

“That’s another one,” I continued. “They’re not constantly throwing their perceived superiority in my face.”


“That’s right. Looks aren’t everything, Ashley.”

“You know what?” She put a finger under my chin, and leaned forwards, her eyes alight with indignation. “I don’t even give a shit about the third one. Go back to your pals over there, faggot. I’m going to go find a real man, one who appreciates me for what I offer.”

I shrugged. “Do what you need to do, I guess.”

She scoffed again before pivoting on a heel and storming off. I exhaled, heading slowly back to the table before slumping into my chair. I looked over at the guy to my left, staring intently into his beer. “You know, John, your sister’s kind of a bitch.”

The other two guys laughed while leaned back, taking a healthy swig of my beer. I felt my pocket buzz, but chose not to check it. I only hoped John had bought the act.