Visiting the Madeleine L’ Engle Room (F2K): Optional Prompt #1

One of my objectives this F2K session was to do as many prompts as I could. So, after doing the prompt in the CRO room, naturally, I had to try the one in my old classroom. I was slightly surprised to see that it was the same prompt as the previous session but I was determined to interpret it differently this time. So, I came up with a paranormal, Jessana-themed twist to it. This was the prompt:

Picture yourself sitting in a car in a department store parking lot. You’re waiting for your friend, windows rolled down and music playing from the car radio. Suddenly, a man runs past your car, tosses a package on the seat beside you and keeps on running. In 500 words or less, what is in the package and what do you do with it?

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It hummed. The bundle wrapped in nondescript brown paper was humming and…wait, was that faint tendrils of smoke emanating from it? Smoke that reeked of rotten eggs. Sulphur.

I immediately jumped out of the car searching for the mysterious stranger who’d run off after tossing the package in my car. That’s what I get for leaving the window down. Stupid broken AC.

I caught sight of a disappearing figure and shouted “Hey you! The man in ill-fitting jeans and Pepto Bismol pink t-shirt running away like a coward! Get back here, you!” So sue me, I like to be precise regarding who I’m yelling at.

Just as I was about to turn away, the mysterious stranger turned and smiled a smile that grew wider and wider until he began to resemble a demented clown; teeth multiplying in a mouth that doubled and then tripled in width. “What the…?”

And to my astonishment, he disappeared. Poof! Like he was never there to begin with. Goosebumps formed on my arms. And I was pretty sure that my goosebumps had goosebumps.

My body trembled as I got back into my car and I almost fled it again. The stench was overwhelming; I was on the verge of retching on my lap. I held my breath and reached for the offending package; ready to hurl it back out the window it came through.

The second my fingers came into contact with the brown bundle, the humming intensified and darkness engulfed my being.

You shouldn’t be here child.

That sounded like Grandma. But she’s…I gulped, taking a deep breath. Imdreamingimdreamingimdreaming…

Open your eyes, child. Don’t be afraid.

Too late.

I heard her chuckle. Did I say that aloud?

I can hear your thoughts and you can hear mine, Jessana.

I think I’ll have this conversation with my eyes closed then because Grandma, you do know that you’re…err…not of this world, right? Or am I going bonkers. Maybe that package contained a hallucinogen and I’m in my car right now, babbling like a bubbly brook.

I know I’m dead, dear, and technically, we’re not in your world. Well, not in your reality. We’re In Between.

In between…?

Worlds. We’re in between worlds.

Okay, I’m getting a headache.

Oh Jessana, you were always so dramatic. Listen to me, you need to open your hand and let the package go. It’s a conduit, it brought you here. It’s not time for you to be here. You’re not strong enough yet.

My eyes suddenly felt heavy like lead. I’m tired, Grandma.

Then let go.

Okay.

I came to, slumped over in the driver’s seat of my car. I was drenched in sweat, the bundle no longer in my hand. Like the mysterious man with the ever-growing mouth full of scary teeth, the package had disappeared into thin air.

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This was my interpretation of the same prompt last session.

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In the Madeleine L’Engle Room (F2K): Lesson 4 Conflict

This week in F2K, it was all about Conflict.

Write an opening scene with two characters, the protagonist and the antagonist. Create a conflict between the two. The conflict should be something small or petty – whose turn is it to do the dishes, a misunderstanding of an off-hand remark, should the window be open or closed, or a job related problem. It doesn’t have to be domestic. It could be between friends, relatives or strangers. Try to keep it subtle at first, and then let it build into something a little more complicated -maybe an unresolved problem from the past surfaces or one character sees a new, disturbing side of the other. In other words, let a little conflict grow into a slightly larger conflict and end it unresolved.

Another scratch-my-head-what-am-I-gonna-do week. Then, in an innocent chat with a friend, an old buried unpleasant memory came to surface and this piece was born.

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I like us like this. Bumping shoulders, arms brushing. And when he puts his arm around my waist, pulling me close to his warm body as we walk to Waffle World, I like us like this even more.

The sweet smell of waffles waft towards us and my stomach grumbles in anticipation. I grimace and quickly press a hand to my stomach hoping the action will prevent further embarrassing noises. Beside me, Will snickers. I lightly slap his arm.

“Hey! You dragged me out of bed without coffee this morning! My stomach is allowed to be excited when it smells waffles!” I give him my best sans coffee Glare.

His snickers turn into quiet laughter. Okay, so the Glare is not so effective without coffee so I decide to ignore it because this is a good morning. One of the best we’ve had in a while. No hangovers, no arguments, no misunderstandings. I sigh and breathe in the cool, crisp air. It is a good day indeed.

We walk pass a gift shop and I tug at Will’s hand, pulling him in. I head straight to the glass display housing horoscope mugs in the quaint, crowded store and pick up two – one with the star sign Aquarius and the other Sagittarius.

“This is so cool! We should get matching horoscope mugs!” I hand the one with Sagittarius to Will with a wide grin on my face. I was bouncing with excitement.

Will looks at the mug I was holding and he crosses his arms across his chest, his eyes turn from warm to frost. “I’m not a Sagittarius.”

Wait, what?

“No? Don’t kid around. You are, silly!”

I can’t be wrong about this but the elation I was feeling was quickly dissipating, a weight settling at the bottom of my stomach instead. Girlfriends are supposed to know these things right? Star sign, shoe size, favourite action movie?

“Chase, Toby is the Sagittarius. Not me,” Will explains. Yikes! “And I only know this because you must’ve mentioned it about a million times since we started dating. I couldn’t even forget it if I tried.” He turns to walk out.

I put the mugs down hastily on the glass shelf with a THUNK! and rush after him.

“Wait! I must’ve got your star signs mixed up. You can’t be upset about this, Will. It’s nothing.”

I was pleading, my arms grasping his, my breath getting heavier by the uncomfortable minute. I was pretty sure my eyes were wild. Toby told me that when I panicked, they got wild, franticness would shine through. Not a good look, I’m sure.

Will turns to me and his indigo eyes bore into mine as he hiss “What’s my star sign, Chase?”

I stare back, the synapses in my brain firing, frantic to give me the right response. I take a guess.

“Gemini?”

Dismay and disgust washes over his face. Will turns from me and heads away from Waffle World.

(word count 494)

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Yes, this is a semi-true story. Once upon a time, I got into an argument about not remembering star signs. Stupid now. But then, my heart cracked. So, let’s see how the masses respond to this semi-autobiographical piece.

In the Madeleine L’Engle Room (F2K): Lesson 3 POV

POV has been a weakness of mine. So when I read that Lesson 3 was to write about the same situation but from two POVs, I panicked a teensy bit. Which of course, led to worry, which meant that my sleep cycle was severely disrupted (read: slept at 9pm only to awake at 2am).

From your own writings, pick out a paragraph you like; then tell it from a different POV.

I pulled myself together sufficiently to look at all my previous writing finally deciding to be inspired by one of my A-to-Z post i.e. I is for Iris.

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3rd Person POV:
Their shoulders bumped and their arms brushed as they strolled to the florist that cool, windy evening. Suddenly, Chase skipped ahead, turned and pulled out her tongue at Toby. Disarmed at her rare display of playfulness, he chased after her down the crooked sidewalk. He finally caught up with her in front of The Bloom Boutique, both panted heavily from the impromptu race. Toby steadied her as they entered the store then slowly removed his arm from around her waist as they stepped forward. Chase turned swiftly to him, pulled his arm back and held it firmly where it was. He looked at her, confused.

1st Person POV:
I like us like this. Bumping shoulders, arms brushing. It feels like how we were before and I thought we’d never be able to go back there. I hid a grin, I hope she doesn’t suspect that I’m doing all the bumping and brushing on purpose though. I can’t help it; she has the softest skin of anyone I know. Not that I’ve brushed against many other girl’s skin. My grin grew wider. Great! She’s run off again. I pretend to have a hard time catching up with her, hoping to score sympathy hugs. Ha! Caught her. Holding her feels so right but Chase has always been economical with her affections. I better step away but she stops and holds my arm tight around her waist. This girl is giving me whiplash with her indecision.

(word count 240)

In the Madeleine L’Engle Room (F2K): Lesson 1 Character Introduction

Okay, Lesson One is up on F2K and of course, I just completed the optional prompt so I was a little slow getting to this one (again).

In Lesson One, a character you may already have or one you create for this purpose will introduce you. You do not introduce the character except in the course of speaking about you.

Do not add an introduction to the lesson; we don’t need to know if this is a character you’ve been working on, let it come out in the assignment. Don’t add a lot of back story before your character speaks to us. Let the character reveal you in his/her/it’s own words. A character can be your dog or cat, as long as we learn about you.

So this sounded like a doozy until I read other examples and finally understood what the lesson wanted. I picked Elise to introduce me. She says it herself, she’s a character I thought was new to me but apparently because I’m stubborn, I didn’t realise she was the voice in my head until I was ready to acknowledge her. I have to confess that it was strange to talk about me from my character’s POV. Really strange.

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Hi there, I’m Elise. I guess I’m here to tell you about Amelia.*snicker* When she finds out that I’m introducing her, she’ll roll her eyes. She does that a lot.

She also probably thinks that I’m the least qualified to tell you about her because she thinks I only came into her life recently. Truth is, I’ve been with her for years, lurking at the back of her mind. So, between you and me, I’m pretty sure I know more about her than she does about me.

Let me tell you, this woman is a crazy workaholic. Up until a couple of months ago, she used to work 50, 60 hour weeks at her desk, tapping away on her laptop. She thought she was happy but the truth is she’s a pretty good actress. So good that she believed her own hype. Although this was not a skill she intentionally honed.

I’ve been trying to get her to listen to me for years, I’m telling you, YEARS! Another skill she didn’t intentionally hone – the art of listening only when she’s ready and not one second before. Infuriating. And stubborn as hell. Finally, I broke through. Unfortunately, that breakthrough came at the same time as when she decided to downshift her career and as far as I’m aware, this time next year, adios desk job.

Anyhow, when Amelia’s not racking up the hours at work, she reads obsessively. She has so many books, her house could double as the local community library. Thank goodness, she got herself a kindle because at the rate she was spending on actual books, in a couple of months, she’d have to consider setting up camp on her lawn and bunk with Tiki, her miniature pinscher.

I worry about her sometimes. She has moments when she stares into space, scrunching her forehead, biting her bottom lip. I used to think that she was thinking up adventures starring me but now I know that she spends too much time worrying about her future. She started meditating and I’m glad to report, she’s way more zen now.

Late last year, she started taking creative writing classes at the behest of one of her oldest friend. When she was younger, Amelia used to write poetry and stories with zombie ballerinas and voodoo gypsies. I know! She’s weird, right? But one day she stopped. Never knew why. Never asked.

Since that first writing class though, she fell back in love with writing and this made her more comfortable in her own skin. And the stories that whirled around in her finally had a purpose, a direction – to be written about.

I know she’s got a whole bunch of adventures up her sleeve for me. She whispered to me that I was going to meet someone named James. Now, I rolled my eyes.

But she isn’t ready to let me go yet and until then, I’m good to stay with her.

(word count: 496)

In the Madeleine L’Engle Room (F2K): Optional Prompt

The optional prompt over at F2K’s Madeleine L’Engle room –

Picture yourself sitting in a car in a department store parking lot. You’re waiting for your friend, windows rolled down and music playing from the car radio. Suddenly, a man runs past your car, tosses a package on the seat beside you and keeps on running. In 500 words or less, what is in the package and what do you do with it?

Ever the procrastinator, I only got hit with inspiration late yesterday evening, almost 6 days after the prompt was posted. Typical me.

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I caught movement from the corner of my eye and barely managed to catch the package that was tossed recklessly into my car window before it fell down underneath the car seat.
 
I looked at the retreating back of the man running away and recognised Sam’s bald spot, glinting in the afternoon sun. He didn’t even stop to say hello. I let out a sigh; I’d need to have a word with him later. He was taking this whole skulking around parking  lots endeavour to a whole unnecessary level.   
 
I held on to the package gently and placed it back on the seat beside me.  Then, and  only then, did I take a deep, cleansing breath.  I let my eyelids droop and focused on the female singer on the radio crooning about her dark side. Okay, I thought to myself, maybe it was a mistake to arrange the drop off here while waiting for Denise. She could’ve seen Sam and then there’d be questions. But I didn’t have a choice.
 
I’d told her I’d be her ride the next time she needed to see the dentist. And eventhough she didn’t give me advance notice that she needed to go today and that I was her ride like I promised earlier, I couldn’t bail out. So I’d called Sam and told him that I’d be parked in my car outside the mall and he had to pass me the package then instead of the original plan of me picking it up from his office downtown.
 
I ripped the packaging none-too-gently and removed a cassette. Sam had scribbled 19 September, Holiday Inn, Room 3201 on it. That was two days ago when I was at an out-of-town conference. My hands started trembling.
 
The car suddenly felt claustrophobic and I was perspiring. I switched the radio off  and pushed the cassette into the player and held my breath. There was a whirring  sound then I heard a voice Hey, babe. I could recognise Caleb’s voice anywhere.I’m so glad you came. My breaths started quickening and I could feel my heart starting to beat wildly. I placed my hands on the steering wheel and gripped hard until my knuckles turned white. I’d suspected and here was proof. There was rustling of clothes then a groan. Caleb’s. I closed my eyes and laid my head on my hands. Then I heard him say Oh, Denise.
 
My head shot up and at that moment, how opportune, Denise stepped out and started walking towards where I was parked. I swiped the tears from my eyes, started the engine and revved. The moans escalating now, reverberating rudely through my car, blocking out any other noise. I put the car into drive and headed  towards Denise, accelerating, not caring. My last thought as the groans of the lovers on the cassette became louder was This is gonna hurt more than your root canal, bitch.
(Word count: 486)