My words cramp your style, don't they? You feel like you have to use them, don't you?
Feck it, that's what I say. And so that's what I did.
As of this week I've thrown out one whole word on the writing prompt and added an image, so that more of the words are yours, inventive and weird and whatever you want them to be.
So now, what will you write? What do you see?
Seeing Capes, Writing Sex, Accepting Challenges
As usual, here are some sweet snippets from last week's stories, written by writers who each saw different things in the why would you writing prompt. Go check 'em out for the full tale.
“Why would you wash my cape? My actual cape?”
Charles looked up from his cereal.
Indira looked at the ceiling of their tiny kitchen and supplicated at it. “I’ve travelled the galaxy in this thing," she told it. "This dashing cape has been from one end of the Milky Way to the other!”
Charles put down his spoon.
Commodore Indira Balakrishnan, Retired, continued to look at the ceiling, arm raised as if providing an antenna for immediate and pertinent cape intel. It did not come...
The milky way is just a faint shimmer in the starboard window when the new captain swooshes in for the first time.
Everyone on the bridge turns and stares. Because the man they all have heard is strict and by the book is wearing an honest-to-the-stars cape. It’s purple and sparkling and if we’re being honest, he looks absolutely dashing in it.
He flops down in the captain’s chair and starts giving orders as if he wasn’t looking like he was about to win the Nebula 5 award. His second in command clears his throat and the crew turn back to their assigned tasks. Nobody mentions the cape.
“You know… sex? Lots and lots of sex. These corals release all their eggs and, um, their," Kl’yd’s discourse faltered, and he sort of flutter-waved his fingers in front of his face. For a man that had the filthiest pillow-talk Kel had ever heard, he inexplicably went all tongue-tied and blushy when they spoke of sex when they weren’t actually doing it.
“You know,” he whispered, “Their sperm…
When I caught up to Buzz Cut, I used the cape to take him. I pulled it over his head like a hood, covering his face and dragging him backwards. He went down, yelping like a kicked dog.
Okay, I might have kicked him. I don’t know, my foot could have slipped, it was pretty crazy there for a minute.
Anyway, he was down, and I wrapped the cape around his legs, kind of hog-tied him so he couldn’t get up again. Then I sat on him, just to be sure he wasn’t going anywhere……Orange Theory, I’m telling you.
Look, I'm not cackling you are. Except I am, so there's that.
Okay, what I'm going to do is challenge you to write something this week. Yes, I'm looking directly into your eyes with my eyes which are looking into your eyes. In a challenging way.
One paragraph. One line. Five words. Inspired by what you see above. Does it need to include those words or anything to do with the pictures? Nah. You do you. You do you.
The sun blazed hot outside but within the colonnade the air was cool and fresh. Outside smelled of hot dust; inside of earthy stone and antiquity. Ruins, partially reconstructed for the delight of the tourists, made them all feel small in the scheme of time, large in their self-estimation. They had lived to see these sights, and had the gumption to travel far to places where habits, beliefs, language, all different.
Excited travel chatter faded and the group stood in the cool stone cocoon and gazed up, up, up at the paint that clung, centuries later, to the ceiling. Ochre reds and pale greens, the hint of yellow and, in one large, stubborn patch, a blue ground from lapis lazuli made a faux sky on the stone that blocked the real sky.
Ameenah sneezed into the silence, mucus membranes agitated beyond endurance by the colour blue. The floral origin was neither here nor there. Ameenah was allergic to blueberries, blue skies, the blue moon, the Moody Blues. Blue got right in amongst her cells and niggled till she sneezed. Every. Goddamned. Time.
Dr Mason, back home in London, insisted the allergy was psychosomatic. Ameenah insisted that her imagination had never been that vivid, let alone powerful enough to actually manifest sinus pain, irritated nasal passages and actual snot.
Ameenah, sneezing, as remarked, into the silence, and the explosion of it bounced off the marble walls and around the pillars and from the stone floor to carved ceiling and all in all, there was nothing discreet about it.
A tiny flake of blue split away from the ceiling, and another, and a third: drifting down like falling ash.
SlOnto Ameenah’s red-eyed face. A flake into her left eye, a flake onto her lip (and licked unconsciously away) and a flake below her nose so that when the next sneeze began, she inhaled it sharply into her sinus cavity.
Blue. Right there. In the centre of all the trouble.
Ameenah, who was not a believer in crystals, was not aware that lapis lazuli was associated with self-knowledge, with intuition, and with past lives.
Well, not to begin with.
But as she stood on the flagstones, blue in her nose, in her eyes, on her tongue, a much older part of her self turned over. The blue that invaded her body woke up sleeping knowledge and woke up the blue in her blood and the blue of her skin.
The sleeping part of her blinked, took a deep, deep breath and …
Maat, Goddess of Truth, awoke.
Ameenah was not, it turned out, allergic to blue.
Truth had just been waiting for the right blue to rise up.
>> Volcano eruption in 15 minutes!
The computer voice is too loud and too shrill. I blink awake and almost fall off the chair.
My back hurts and why am I on a chair? It takes a few seconds for my brain to catch up. I was on guard duty, sitting near the computer and I must have fallen asleep, feet up on the console.
I drop my feet to the ground and only then does it register what the computer just said.
Branx rips open the door and shouts for me to hurry up, his blue scales shimmer in the dimmed night-time light. I grab my gear and follow him down the corridor towards the exit.
>> Volcano eruption in 10 minutes!
„Faster!“ Linx explodes out of her room and overtakes both of us.
She reaches the exit and starts turning the wheel to open the bulkhead. Her gaze is furious.
“Who of you fuckers was on guard duty?”
I am spared the answer when the bulkhead swings open and we spill through it in a tangle of limbs and curses.
>> Volcano eruption in 5 minutes!
„Come on, come on, come on! “
I run as fast as I ever have in my life, slamming into Branx almost painfully when he stops in front of me. We have reached the edge of a flat plane, the ground covered with soft orange grass.
“We made it!” Branx wiggles his tails and turns around to grin at me.
We drop our butts on the ground and Linx puts her arm around my shoulders.
“You fell asleep again, didn’t you? Moron,” she mumbles into my hair. Her scales have turned back to being mostly green and that tells me she is not angry anymore.
“Look!” Branx claps his hands together, his claws clicking against each other.
We lift our gazes and watch the annual eruption of Argan’s volcano, watch the yellow ash explode into the sky before it gently tumbles to the ground. I open my mouth and catch some on my tongue. It’s good to be home.
It’s the stupid blue shower puff that does it.
It’s unravelling a little at the edges, a tidemark of dried soap bubbles fragile across an edge, and she reaches out with a tentative hand. It’s crisp and dry, sharper against her skin than she expects. She pulls away, brings trembling wounded fingers to her lips, feels a thin high sound rise up like bile in her throat, helpless and bestial. It echoes, cold white tiles reflecting it back as though the walls are crying with her.
When she somehow, finally manages to stuff the noise back down, the silence rushes in.
She tugs down the sleeves of her hoodie, bunches one wrist up and shoves the fabric in her mouth, bites down on it to feel the cotton against her teeth. Staggers from the room on legs that feel alien.
The sofa welcomes her with open arms.
They say that to be a martyr is a holy thing. They say it is a gift.
The thing we must remind ourselves is that it is never martyrs saying these words, for the martyrs are dead. It is the living who fill their silence. It is the living who spin reason as flowers wilt on a martyr’s grave.
“It is god’s will,” they’ll say, “it shows our faith,” they’ll say and say and say, standing on tiny squares of ground beneath which there are no bones, the bodies of the martyrs burned to ash on foreign pyres.
Never believe the living when they speak for the dead. Never believe that suffering is sacred. Never believe that silence is the voice of god.
It is only silence.
And it is always the ungodly who are so eager to fill it.
Remember sunshine, warm and bright
Recall her yellow rays?
A mem’ry now, for falling ash
Enrobes the world in grays
No birds can sing, no flowers bloom
‘Neath endless winter’s veil
That we once lived above the ground
Seems like a fairy tale
We were so foolish, arrogant
Too full of pride to see
The signs were there, we should have known
There is no Planet B.