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In Writing Prompts on August 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm

After years of leading a normal life, you discover you have a special ability. Afraid to share this information with anyone, you confide only in your closest friend. To your surprise, your friend shares some information with you—he also has a super power.

You’re Hired… Ahem…

In Writing Prompts on August 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

After six months of mailing resumes all over the city, you finally have a bite. Though under-qualified for the position, you attend the interview anyway because you desperately need work. As the boss starts to ask questions, you notice that he’s not reading from your resume—it’s someone else’s. Instead of correcting him, you go with it. Write this interview.

Simple prompt

In Writing Prompts on August 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Write a story about an empty glass.


In Responses, Uncategorized on August 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Blood is everywhere. His blood, my blood, it’s all over the seat of the car, the ground in the parking lot, all over my clothes. I’m screaming and looking behind me, in the back of the van, out the window at the red bandana scurrying down the street, drunk white men in boots huffing, trying to chase him. My kids, I want to hold them but I can hardly see them. I hear sirens and Megan comes up behind me, touching my shoulder but she doesn’t say a word, just gazes at the bloody hole in my hand, looks through it out to the street and I know she won’t forget that. Everyone is screaming and no one is with me or the kids yet, but I hear sirens. I can’t tell if I’m bleeding too much and about to pass out or if I’m in too much shock after fighting the boy with the gun. I’m twenty seven, the robber couldn’t have been older than twenty and my kids, they are seven and eight years old. We are all too young. This hurts so bad and yet I can’t feel anything at the same time. I lay my head back on the red velour driver’s seat, everything is spinning and the circle of blue and red lights swirling in the dark and against the wall aren’t helping.

I think I hear my husband. Who has the kids though? I can hear Michael crying in the back seat and all I can tell him is, “Mommy’s ok, Mommy’s ok.” But I’m not. He shot me, I’m shot and I’m bleeding and I hear the sirens and I hear him crying and I hear my name. I see things too but my eyes, they want to close in the worst way, so I let them.

“Ma’am can you hear me?” He has his hand on my wrist, the one that is attached to the hand that has not been shot. He yells stuff out and I can still hear Michael crying. There are four people around me and no one is with my kids.

“Ma’am can you hear me?”

“Yes. I hear. Do you hear him? He is crying, why aren’t you helping him? Somebody help my kids!”

“Your kids are okay ma’am. They are safe and right behind you. We are watching them but right now we need to get you to the hospital, you’ve been shot. The kids are safe. The detectives will be here in just two minutes to be with them.”

“Where is my husband?”

“The police are interviewing the witnesses. I need you to let me get you out of the van and onto our stretcher.”

“I’m not leaving my kids.”

“Ma’am we have to get you to the hospital. Your little girl and your little boy are safe here with Detective Simmons right now, they are just fine.”

My head is spinning and I know I shouldn’t leave them but as I look at my bloody hand and start to feel the tremendous pain throbbing I know he is right. I hate it, but he is right. I have to go.

I tell the kids I’m okay as I get off the stretcher and they are so oddly still and quiet sitting in the captain chair seats of the van, so little. I tell them they will be brought to the hospital in just a few minutes. I have no idea what is going to happen. My husband hops into the back of the ambulance with me. He’s a mess and I kind of hate that. Buck up, I’m the one that got shot! The paramedic guys never leave me alone and they tell my husband he should sit down until he is calmer.

This is by far the worst day of my life and my heart is back there in that van with the kids. It’s all happening so fast. I can feel every little bump in the road; hear the siren and the voices of the two young guys trying to tend to me. Andy is in the corner sobbing. I’m going to be sick I think. I tell them that and I do get sick but they tell me that’s okay and normal, that I’m going to get help and be okay. We are bobbing up and down in this tin can, clanking and bloody and a too bright light, crying, radio noises and that nauseating smell of hospital clean sheets. Always too much bleach and never enough to cover the sickening stench of our humanness. It reeks and I’m sick again.

I’m in and out of consciousness and bright lights and voices and surgery and all I can think is, When do I see the kids and get to show them I am okay? I have to be okay, they have to know I’m all right. So I lay here and let it all happen because that’s the quickest way to the Megan and Michael. I’m aware that I feel like death but my mind keeps saying, it’s just your hand, they can chop it off and you’ll be fine. It’s just a hand.

I don’t want the hand, I want my kids. They are fussing over it too much. “Just chop it off and get me home.” I murmur. They say something and I can tell they are preparing to operate. I hear that nice voice of the anesthetist, the calm way he is explaining what he is about to do and then blackness. It’s a good and safe blackness so I rest.

Suddenly I hear voices and see lights and I am so sick and so thirsty. My vision is blurry so I lay there and it all starts coming back to me.

He yanked the door open and stuck the gun to my ribs and said, “Just don’t…”

I did though, I screamed and kicked and I remember the feel of his hands. Strong fingers that dug into me and clung to his gun and I was not going to give him my van because I was not going to give him my kids. I kicked him, bit him, screamed, honked the horn and grabbed for the gun furiously. It was dark and he was wearing a red bandana and a ball cap. I never really saw his face but I felt his fingers dig into my arm, the rough pads of dry hands. I felt the taught skin of hunger and desperation as I tried to claw and bite him.

I grabbed the gun but I must have put my hand over the barrel and I’ll never know if he meant to shoot me. I’ll never forget the gun going off, echoing in the parking garage. So loud. As soon as it fired he ran, the struggle was over, as if I’d been wrestling something imaginary. I looked behind and saw the hole in the roof which assured me my kids were okay. Then I saw my hand and started screaming. Shrieking.

I’m more awake and more nauseous than I thought was possible. A nurse comes and gives me something and I’m sinking again.

I’m in a hospital room. The smell of this place makes me sick, everything makes me sick. Visitors are in and out in hushed tones and I can’t stay awake long enough to ask relevant questions so I listen to them talk and I doze. I didn’t know a lead bullet could poison your blood. It can. It did apparently. They won’t bring my kids to me. Am I going to die?

Then they do bring the kids and somebody puts lipstick on me and sets me up in the bed and brushes my hair and Megan and Michael walk in and say hi but they won’t get close to me. My mother has her hand on their shoulders guarding them and my daddy walks over and invites Michael first to come sit by me but he won’t. This hurts worse than being shot.

Every day I can stay awake a little longer. They tell me, and it’s funny because the poor doctor wasn’t thinking when he said it but he said, “You really dodged a bullet Mrs. Jones.” I stay quiet and start snickering because it is hilarious really. He looks ashamedly at my bandaged hand and says he is sorry but the more I laugh the more his face changes and his chest bobs up and down. My husband is laughing and as the doctor starts to laugh harder his nurse laughs the loudest.

I’m going to be okay. I can go home in two days. I call Michael and Megan who are more comfortable talking to me than seeing me.

“Hey sweetie. Mommy is going to be okay. The doctor said I can some home tomorrow night. Are you going to rent a movie with Mommy and lie on the couch and stay up late and have a banana split with me?”

She doesn’t answer but passes the phone to Michael who does the same. My mother explains that it may be better for them to stay at her house just a little longer.

I protected them that night, I know I did. I’m proud I fought and I’ll look at my scars and work my way through the bandages and tightness and throbbing pain to fix my hand and be well again but how do I make them well again? How do I heal wounds I can’t see or touch? I’m sick again and not because this place smells horrific but because I can’t fix this.

Our first night home together the kids wake up no less than five times. They are scared to be at home, they are scared to be with me. We are going to plow through this and bake brownies one handed and I am still going to be room mom and I am not quitting. They missed two weeks of school so there is a lot of make-up work and tears because they don’t want to go over spelling words and they lay so quiet on the carpet at night. They don’t want to watch TV.

Today I heard them giggling for the first time. As soon as I turned the corner they stopped, I wish I had stayed away so I could have heard the sound of their laughter longer. I miss it.

My cast is obnoxious. My whole arm is in a sling. I carry an entire tray of Halloween cupcakes up to the school one handed. Megan sees me come in and all of her classmates are staring at me. She stays in her seat. She smiles ever so slightly at me. The poor teacher doesn’t know what to say to me. It all is truly abysmal. One little kid after the next starts saying, “Mrs. Jones, what happened to your arm?”

“I had an accident and hurt it.” I say in that condescending mom voice we use when the truth won’t do at all.

Megan comes up and hugs me good bye after the class party. It’s a start I guess.

I hate feeling like a stranger to my kids but I understand, this bullet wounded more than my hand. It shot a hole in our whole lives. There is no such thing as a safe feeling for my kids anymore. They now know things I wish to heaven they didn’t. Like Eve when she bit the apple, she saw her own nakedness and was ashamed. We are all ashamed of this nakedness, this feeling of not being able to protect ourselves or control anything.

Michael is coming around faster than Megan. He is back to snuggling with me but he won’t talk about it and I worry that’s not healthy so I schedule an appointment with a child therapist.

Typical of Michael, who loves to talk he went back to school and when I went to pick him up his first day back his teacher pulled me aside in tears and told me how sorry she was. She told me Michael had told the class about my accident and that she was praying for us.

Now don’t get me wrong, this has been horrific but I am okay. No one died so I feel her tears are a little over the top. I thank her, trying to comfort her, that we are going to be all right. I get Michael in the car. I’m still bothered by this interaction with his teacher so I say, “Mikey, honey, what did you tell your class happened to Mommy?”

“I told them you got shot.”

“That’s all you told them, that I got shot? Did you tell them why I got shot?”

“Uh-huh, I told them that when that bad guy was raping you he shot you.”

Oh my.

“Honey, mommy got robbed, not raped. Raped is very different from robbed. You told your class I was raped and shot?”

“Yes.” He said more tentatively. “I thought robbed and raped were the same thing. What does rape mean?”

I pull the car over and tear up for a second. I hate that this is now what I need and have to discuss with my seven year old. I hate that guy who pulled the gun on me and I hate they haven’t caught him yet. I hate this and I get so angry. I’m just angry. I could have been raped just as well, that horrifies me. Where did Michael learn the word rape?

But then I think back to Mrs. Adger’s tears and hushed tone. I look at Michael’s sweet little boy face, his big brown eyes and imagine him saying it out loud in that musical, excitable voice of his.

“My mommy was raped and shot.”

I imagine poor Mrs. Adger’s eyes going wide, the chatter of his school mates and her white and gray bun nodding, at once wanting to quell the questions and comfort a little boy. I see her aging face as she hovered near me trying so hard to be thoughtful, appropriate and kind and me saying, “Well, it all wound up okay. I’m just glad that he didn’t hurt the kids too.” It’s just so funny all of the sudden. So I laugh on the side of the road, poor Michael sitting in the chair behind me looking puzzled and maybe proud that he has made me happy.

I send a note to Mrs. Adger the next day explaining what happened because I know if I have to say it face to face I’ll lose it. I’ll laugh and cry and she’ll think I’m crazy so I write the note instead.

Megan is more pensive than ever but then again her quiet nature is prone to that. I do see a break through about one month after the incident. We are at home at the dinner table and I hear her humming. She’s locked up her happy smiles these days; I can tell she is afraid they will be ripped away again. We all are afraid, but still, I hear her humming. I know she has it in her, that happy place.

We are muddling through. Struggling well but this sucks and I can’t help that. I finally have my bandages off. I’m in physical therapy. I can do almost everything one handed now. Turns out they never found the guy, probably never will but I still have to participate in police line ups and they want to tape a re-enactment of the crime to put on tv to try and locate the suspect.

I get to meet with the detective that will play me. These things are hard and it’s an all too real reminder that more than my purse was stolen. We all hate loud noises and New Year’s Eve we won’t do fireworks, but we will celebrate. We will celebrate new things, forgotten things and spared things. I’ll see to it that we have fun, that the kids throw confetti and drink sprite out of champagne glasses. I’m still that woman in the van, fighting, screaming, protecting. He is still trying to rob us.

The police laughed later and told me that there was more blood from the suspect at the scene than from me. They congratulated me. I wonder if he ever looked at my ID, did he curse me as he wrapped up his own wounds? Did he mean to fire the gun? Will he do it to someone else?

I don’t know, probably will never know but I know this, there is no doctor for what ails us, no pill, no security system to remedy our fears. All we have is hope, thankfulness for what we have right now, today. I’m not done fighting him.

The prompt that stirs up emotion

In Writing Prompts on August 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Think about an incident from your life—something especially monumental, unexpected, or traumatic that altered the way you see the world. Write a story or essay about it, but from someone else’s perspective. You can appear as a character in the story, but explore it from outside of yourself, as an event that happened, but not one that happened to you.


In Writing Prompts on July 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Write a scene in which two characters who are close (friends, relatives, a couple) are secretly angry at each other about something that has happened in the past. Decide what they are angry about before writing the scene but don’t write about it directly. Instead, reveal the tension between them in the dialogue and in the actions involved in accomplishing a mundane task they are doing together, such as moving a couch, setting up a tent, making dinner, or painting a house.

Two Old Women in the Den

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

by Jen Gregory

“You ever been so hot in your life Vera Dee?”

“Nope, not ever that I can think of. It’s hotter than that summer all the potatoes baked up in the dirt. You remember that, Velma?”

“Hah, Daddy was sure mad that summer. It was this hot I suppose, but we could go dive in the creek then and get some relief that way. I’m too wrinkled up to cool off like that now.”

“You reckon it’ll cool off by the end of August. I’m sick to death of sweating, just sitting here. I’d sure like to get into my flower garden and do some work.”

“Maybe it will cool off by then but it’s just hot Vera, dad gum hot!”

“When are your young-uns going to come see us again, isn’t it getting  to be about that time of year?”

“Yup, Joe is coming up on the sixth of September with his gang. You know that means we have to clean and cook?”

“Well at least you got folks to clean and cook for. I call that a blessing. When Frank died I haven’t had nothing to do but adopt your people.”

“And I’ll share, I sure will! Bunch of rascals they are.”

“But you love them?”

“But I love them. Yes I do. Way God meant me to I reckon. Joe says he is bringing the great grans with him too. That plump little Liza makes me laugh, she’s a spitfire.”

“How long you think God wants us to go on loving rascals? I loved mine for fifty-four years and I tell you he made me plumb miserable some days and you know what?”


“I miss him! Miss him like when we were seventeen and couldn’t keep our eyes off of each other. I miss him all day, every day, and yet I still remember how mad he made me. Fool couldn’t figure out what to do with a pair of dirty socks!”

“Made me mad too sometimes best I recall.”

“Hee-hee, that he did. Rascal.”

“Yup, rascal. I miss him too. I reckon God wants us to keep loving our people even when they aggravate and act ignorant.”

“I don’t aggravate you do I?”

“Don’t be ignorant of course not!”

“Of course not, I’m your little sister. You ain’t ever aggravated me much Velma, a little, but not too much. That’s why I love you.”

“Then go get me some lemonade.”

“Want to joy ride over to the Sonic in Arlson? Only twenty minutes away.”

“Sounds ignorant, two old ladies driving all that way for a drink and you driving so slow like you do. That’ll aggravate the town folk and who knows who they will tell about it…  let’s go!”

“Yes ma’m let’s go! I’ll get my purse.”



In Writing Prompts on July 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Write a pure dialogue story using “only” dialogue. No description or narration allowed!

July 15

In Writing Prompts on July 17, 2012 at 3:55 am

Start your story with: “I never would have purchased this house if I’d known that…” and end it with: “That’s why tomorrow I’m setting it on fire.”


In Uncategorized, Writing Prompts on July 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, “I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one.”


Dear readers old and new, welcome! Let me remind you how this little venture works… a new prompt is posted each Monday. During the week, at least one of the ‘regular’ authors of the blog posts a response, 2000 words or less, with about 3 hours (or less) time spent on the writing  (the purpose is to WRITE not to PERFECT. It is an exercise in continuing to practice the art of writing… a form of accountability and a place for inspiration). We invite anyone to join us, either by emailing a story for us to post or by sharing a link to their own blog in the comments section under the prompt. Whether or not you care to write, we are delighted you came to read! Comment, share, and enjoy!