So here's the thing: when I tackled last week's prompt I thought I was going to write about something grown up. Last week's prompt included the words recovery and round and experience and so I thought I was going to Write Important.
Instead a four-year-old started talking and I felt like I was taking dictation as she kicked at the grass with her feet, pondering in all seriousness what colours taste like.
It was wonderful, to feel my creativity veer, and it is my prime wish for you with these writing prompts. May they take you somewhere you're surprised — and happy — to go.
"Which part is the head?" — and other writerly questions
Last week's In My Experience prompt inspired these glories and I really, really need to know more about Mbr'x. Well all of them really but, y'know, Mbr'x kind of especially.
This was advice given to Kel by her grandmother, a round little lady with grey hair that frizzed out in 800 different directions, all at once…Kel had been wandering around the galaxy with no permanent place to call home, no family left to take her in, not even her own ship.
“A poorly tended cooking fire, like as not. You see how dry the wind is, how it blows with scarcely a pause.”
Euthalia could see it in her mind’s eye: A spark, floating for a moment, then lighting on a fluttering curtain.……“How did it end?"
“In my ‘sperience the purple ones taste like fun and the orange ones taste like wind.” Thanh Nu Leyla rolled onto her belly and looked at her small stash of jellybeans lying plump and sweet on the lawn. Leyla counted them again because she likes to count, then she said, “I think the black ones taste like coughing.”
As ever I encourage you to try writing for these prompts, see what happens. Maybe, like me, you'll end up taking dictation about jellybeans and what colour fun is. Or about wood nymphs or aliens, or……well, what?
What will you write?
Ten minutes in and Yvonne knew she’d made a dreadful mistake. She’d made her choice, though, and she was just going to have to live with it. So she sat there quietly, biding her time.
It was a relief when she could finally stand and say,
“We had a lovely time, thanks for having us!”
“Aw, going so soon? Well, thanks so much for coming, Yvonne. And you too, Shane! Marla loved your gift. Drive safely!” Vance stood at the door and waved. Yvonne smiled brightly and waved back as she ushered her son ahead of her down the walkway to her car.
Once the door was safely shut behind them and they were in their car heading home, Yvonne let the smile drop from her face and gave out a sigh of relief.
“Well, that’s done, huh?” Then added hopefully, “Did you have a good time?”
Shane didn’t answer right away. With some chagrin, she recalled the conversation she’d had with her husband about the party in the first place….
“I’m not forcing him,” she’d said to Joaquin. “I just said I thought it would be a good idea if he accepted Marla’s birthday party invitation. She’s the new kid at school and probably doesn’t have a lot of friends yet.”
Joaquin arched a brow. “It sounded less like a suggestion and more like a demand, hon.”
Yvonne felt herself bristling, but her husband’s tone was mild and she knew she would come off as the asshole if she took offense. She wasn’t a helicopter mom or anything like that, but she took her child-rearing responsibilities seriously. Mama birds did push the little baby birds out of the nest, right? For their own good? She just wanted to nudge Shane out of his comfort zone a little. He was a bright boy, but quiet and introverted—too introverted, as far as Yvonne was concerned.
“Maybe I was kind of… firm about it. But he needs that, sometimes.”
Joaquin shrugged in noncommittal acquiescence. “He’s a good kid.”
“I know that.”
“And you’re a good mom.” Joaquin smiled. “The two of you are just very different types.”
Yvonne had to smile back. She was definitely an Extrovert with a capital E.
Joaquin wrapped his arm around Yvonne’s waist and kissed her cheek. “Do what you gotta do, hon. But just remember, Shane gets a say in this, too. There’s a certain amount of growing up he’s going to have to do on his own.”
So she’d done what she felt she had to do. Turned out her pushy mama bird instinct was for the birds….
“Yeah,” Shane said, breaking her introspection. Yvonne blinked.
“Yeah, I did.”
“You had a good time?”
“Uh-huh.” He smiled, wide and genuine. “It was different, y’know? Not like everyone else’s birthday parties.”
Well, that was for sure. Not that the Sanfords were bad people. They’d been friendly and gracious hosts, and their home was pleasant and well-kept. It was just… a really odd birthday party for an eight-year-old. At least, it was from Yvonne’s perspective.
But apparently Shane hadn’t thought so.
“Let me understand this—you liked that it was so different? I mean….”
“Sure.” Shane began to warm up to the subject. “Like, the Martians! They were so great!”
It wasn’t a costume party, Rhonda had assured Yvonne when she invited them in, “Marla just loves Marvin!” She and Vance both wore homemade Marvin the Martian costumes: red tights and olive-green tutus, all festively bedecked with colorful sequins. Bicycle helmets with shoe brushes perched on top completed the ensemble. Yvonne had difficulty getting over the random quirkiness of it, but Shane didn’t seem bothered at all.
“And the pie was really good. Better than boring ol’ chocolate cake.”
The banana-coconut cream pie was, Yvonne had to admit, absolutely delicious. No candles to blow out, but that was a tradition she could do without anyway—no accidental spitting on the dessert.
“True. No clown, though. You didn’t miss that?”
“Ugh, no. Clowns are creepy. But the drawing and singing were fun.”
Yvonne made a mental note. She made several, actually.
Joaquin had been right, but her instincts hadn’t been so wrong, either. Together, they were doing pretty well with the whole parenting thing after all.
“So, you’re glad we went, right?”
She could practically hear his eyes rolling, but that was okay. Shane was doing pretty well on the growing up thing, too.
She was wearing a flowery dress and the first thought she had was that she was dressed completely inappropriately for being kidnapped by a Martian.
She was having a picnic on her own, sitting on one of the floating boulders, when he stepped out of the shadow of the blue shrubbery. As all Martians he was dressed in a red spacesuit. She had seen pictures from Long Before and knew that humans had used similar devices on planets not suited to their needs, before they’d just terraformed whatever planet they wanted to use.
She had never seen a Martian up close and never expected to see one either. They were not supposed to be here, so why was he?
He took a step closer and she slowly lowered the hand holding the sandwich. Common sense would have been to run for the hills, screaming. Common sense clearly had nothing to say today, she thought as she watched her own hand offer him her sandwich.
A second later she realised that he couldn’t eat it anyway, because taking off his helmet meant certain death. She blushed. He looked at the sandwich for a moment, then he nodded his head, looked at her face and started to root for something in his pocket. His hand reappeared, holding a small, beautiful red stone, that he gently held out to her. She took it with quite some confusion. He pointed to the stone and then to her face. She blushed even harder, but then she threw her head back and laughed.
She patted the boulder next to her and they sat in surprisingly comfortable silence and watched the moons rise.
~ ~ ~
The second time he came, he brought her a translator, something she could’ve never afforded on her own, and that made everything much easier.
The next few weeks were filled with clandestine meetings, because no one here would approve her socialising with a Martian.
Talking to him opened a new world (well, several, to be precise) for her and she realised how narrow her own life had been so far. When he asked her to go with him, she didn’t even have to think about it.
She was wearing her flowery dress and the last thought before she left her planet was that she was dressed completely appropriately for being kidnapped by this Martian.
The aliens were deeply unimpressed with all of the confusion.
No, of course they didn’t call themselves Martians. They were themselves. It was everyone else who was someone else!
And no, they didn’t call their ten-budded ships flying saucers, who’d do that? It was entirely obvious these were flying family homes.
It just went on, and on like that too, the humans asking if they had death rays and teleportation and, “Wait, what? You all thought we came here to invade you? Like…like conquer and plunder your world? Whatever for?”
It wasn’t until an exceedingly bright boulangère was hired for one of the endless round table discussions that relations thawed and the aliens and humans finally found common ground.
“My word. This is a what now? A creeeam peeeeye? It’s just delicious. We have nothing like this. It’s so squishy. Goodness. Can I have another one?”
It turned out that a sweet tooth—or in the case of the aliens, calcified sieve structures—were a universal. So was another characteristic.
“Oh goodness, I definitely ate too much.”
“Wow,” Kl’yd said around a mouthful of what Kel had so proudly presented to him after dinner. It looked like a dessert, but in his mouth it felt more like soft cheese and fingernails. And why the kark was it such a weird shade of green?
“Happy Birthday! Well? What do you think?” Kel was smiling and waiting for what she hoped would be praise for her efforts. “Me’lee said it was your favorite when you were a kid.”
“Did she?’ Kl’yd, through sheer force of will, swallowed the stuff in his mouth and took a long drink of water to chase the jagged bits down. “Darlin’, don’t take this the wrong way, but what did she say it was?” He wouldn’t put it past his sister to prank him from across the galaxy for his birthday.
“She said that every year, your mother would make you an Aqualarian creampie. Isn’t it good? Did I do something wrong?” Kel looked crestfallen.
“I really appreciate you goin’ all out like this for my birthday and all, and again, don’t take this the wrong way. Its, um… somethin’ ain’t right.” He was trying to be as diplomatic as he could. “You used fresh aqualar, right?”
“Yes. I got the recipe out of the Galactic Culinary Encyclopedia. That’s where Me’lee said your mom got it. She even found out where I could buy it fresh.” Kel got up to retrieve her data pad. Waking it up, she showed the recipe to Kl’yd. “See? It’s right here.”
Kl’yd took the pad from Kel and tried not to laugh at her, she really had gone all out for his special dessert, and he didn’t want to squash her mood. “I think I know what went wrong darlin’.”
He turned the screen toward her, showing that it was open to a recipe for “Arch Grubs Glazed with Greel-Wood Syrup”. With a swipe of his finger, he flipped back to the listing for Aqualarian Creampie. “You musta accidentally flipped the page to the next recipe, and used a bit of both.”
Kel looked at the pad and started to laugh. “Oh, for pfask’s sake! I knew there was something off about what I was doing when the recipe said to ‘lightly roast the grubs’. I couldn’t believe there were grubs in your favorite dessert.”
Kl’yd made a grab for his water and only succeeded in knocking it over, spilling it all over the table and floor. He looked a little bit green. A green very close to the odd hue of the awful insectile abomination he’d just taken a bite of.
“Let me understand… you put actual roasted Arch grubs in this?”
“Well, yeah? I was following the recipe!”