Out of Place

by Joe Bunting | 432 comments

I don't know if it was the black eyes of the people watching me or the way everything looked dark and overused in that city, but I was ill at ease, as if restlessness could be defined by a leg that wouldn't stop bouncing under the table and an imagination that predicted I would be mugged.

Film Noir by Harry Pehkonen

I sat in a fifties-style diner and waited. I waited for half an hour, forty-five minutes, an hour. I felt like I had been waiting for people all day.

But then he showed up, his dark hair in small dreads, loose-bound behind his head. He was a black man but had sounded Hispanic over the phone. He sat down in front of me.

“Sorry for being late,” he said, “Your wife told me about what happened. You want to see it?”

He showed me the merchandise, that nefarious thing I'd driven to the city for, the thing I couldn't live without.

“It looks good. I'll take it.” I pulled out my checkbook.

“Woah…no no no, we only do cash here. I thought I was very clear about that on the site.”

“I didn't see the site.”

“Right, yeah, I'm sorry about that, but we only do cash.”

“I don't have cash,” I said, my stomach sinking, as it had been all day.

“I don't know then. You could come back tomorrow, or…”

“I'm not coming back tomorrow. I can get cash. Can you meet again in 45 minutes?”

“The banks are closed, man.”

“It's fine.”

I hit up the grocery store first, dropping a half-dozen bagels on the dirty conveyor belt in that dimlit place. “What's your cash back limit,” I asked.

“One hundred dollars,” said the uninterested checker.

“Great,” I said.

The bank was next. I pulled my daily limit. With that, and with what I already I had, I think I would have enough. And then it would be home and out of this dark city where no one knew  my name. I called him.

“You got it all? Wow, I'm surprised. Alright, meet you at the Starbucks at 7th.”

When I pulled in, he was already there, his tall figure in my headlights cutting a column of light against the black. I parked illegally and he sauntered over, pulling what I wanted out of the bag and handing it to me. I put it in the front seat and handed him the dirty cash. He counted it in the parking lot, then shook my hand and left.

Driving home, I put my hand on it, feeling its soft metal purr, that touch that you only get when you've longed for something too many hours in darkness.

When You Feel Out of Place—Write

Thanks for bearing with me. The story above is about my trek to Atlanta to buy a used computer I found on Craigslist. The whole time, I felt like I was in The French Connection doing a drug deal. Thus, the film noir feel of the passage and the ambiguous “merchandise.”

Yesterday, I felt out of place. I spent eight hours in a city I don't know very well, waiting for people I didn't know at all.

I read somewhere that the best time to write is when you first arrive at a new place whether that's a new country, city, or even restaurant. Everything is fresh and new and strange. You don't have those lenses over your eyes that tell you what to ignore and what to notice.

We writers can be social misfits. While sometimes that's uncomfortable, it gives us a creative edge. When you're an outsider, you see things others don't.

When have you felt out of place? How can you capture that experience in words?

PRACTICE

Write about a time you felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable.

Try not to focus on your feelings, but project your feelings onto the things around you (for example, in the story above, I talked about darkness again and again because I felt confused and uncomfortable most of the day).

Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished, post your practice in the comments.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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432 Comments

  1. Patricia W Hunter

    That was awesome…I hung on every word. This was a fun challenge. Here’s what I came up with:

    We waited all day for her to call, checking and rechecking our recording devices, and rushing to check the caller ID every time the phone rang. Wanting to keep the phone line open, we ignored calls from those we knew could not be hers, but answering those in question.

    Anyway, what would the caller ID indicate? Her publicist hadn’t told me. Would she be the one to place the call herself or would a personal assistant traveling with her make the call?

    I‘d definitely stepped out of my area of expertise. Had it not been for the opportunity this provided my daughter, I probably wouldn’t have pursued the assignment.

    We’d done our research and prepared thoughtful questions, but we’d only conducted one other celebrity interview and it was face-to-face with girls we knew well. This was a challenge I suddenly regretted. Would we ask stupid questions? Would she be able to tell we were novices?

    With each passing hour and ring from the phone, my heart pounded and my palms began to sweat, but I tried to appear calm and confident. I didn’t want to make my daughter more nervous than she already was.

    When the phone rang and the name “Smallbone” appeared in the caller ID, we knew instantly it was the call we’d been waiting for.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Patricia. While I have no idea who Smallbone is, it must have been such a thrill interviewing a celebrity.

      I would have liked to see more. You set the scene up by summarizing what is happening, but I think you tell more interesting, suspenseful stories when you drop the backstory and just talk about what’s going on in the scene. With that in mind, I think your first, second, and last paragraphs are great, but your middle paragraphs aren’t as interesting.

      I do like how you don’t start off by telling us exactly what is going on. You let us figure it out slowly. It’s great.

    • Patricia W Hunter

      Thanks, Joe. I appreciate you taking the time to critique my efforts. Rebecca St. James’ real name before marriage was Rebecca Smallbone. If I’d had more than 15 minutes I would have revealed that info, but I wanted to be honest and I was inspired by the mystery of your piece. That was fun.

    • Joe Bunting

      Of course Patricia. That must have been a fun interview. Do you have the link to it?

    • Joe Bunting

      Read them both. Very nice Patricia (in all seriousness).

  2. Patricia W Hunter

    That was awesome…I hung on every word. This was a fun challenge. Here’s what I came up with:

    We waited all day for her to call, checking and rechecking our recording devices, and rushing to check the caller ID every time the phone rang. Wanting to keep the phone line open, we ignored calls from those we knew could not be hers, but answering those in question.

    Anyway, what would the caller ID indicate? Her publicist hadn’t told me. Would she be the one to place the call herself or would a personal assistant traveling with her make the call?

    I‘d definitely stepped out of my area of expertise. Had it not been for the opportunity this provided my daughter, I probably wouldn’t have pursued the assignment.

    We’d done our research and prepared thoughtful questions, but we’d only conducted one other celebrity interview and it was face-to-face with girls we knew well. This was a challenge I suddenly regretted. Would we ask stupid questions? Would she be able to tell we were novices?

    With each passing hour and ring from the phone, my heart pounded and my palms began to sweat, but I tried to appear calm and confident. I didn’t want to make my daughter more nervous than she already was.

    When the phone rang and the name “Smallbone” appeared in the caller ID, we knew instantly it was the call we’d been waiting for.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Patricia. While I have no idea who Smallbone is, it must have been such a thrill interviewing a celebrity.

      I would have liked to see more. You set the scene up by summarizing what is happening, but I think you tell more interesting, suspenseful stories when you drop the backstory and just talk about what’s going on in the scene. With that in mind, I think your first, second, and last paragraphs are great, but your middle paragraphs aren’t as interesting.

      I do like how you don’t start off by telling us exactly what is going on. You let us figure it out slowly. It’s great.

    • Patricia W Hunter

      Thanks, Joe. I appreciate you taking the time to critique my efforts. Rebecca St. James’ real name before marriage was Rebecca Smallbone. If I’d had more than 15 minutes I would have revealed that info, but I wanted to be honest and I was inspired by the mystery of your piece. That was fun.

    • Joe Bunting

      Of course Patricia. That must have been a fun interview. Do you have the link to it?

    • Joe Bunting

      Read them both. Very nice Patricia (in all seriousness).

  3. Mbetters

    I don’t have the time to practice, but hey- great reminder.

    I’m also a writer, and also find that writing when alone and befuddled is the one of the best ways of all. They say I live on Mars.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      What kind of writing do you do?

  4. Mbetters

    I don’t have the time to practice, but hey- great reminder.

    I’m also a writer, and also find that writing when alone and befuddled is the one of the best ways of all. They say I live on Mars.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      What kind of writing do you do?

  5. Gord Mayer

    Ooooo – reminded me of something I wanted to mull over for a blog post. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Do it! If you let me know I’ll link to it in the post 🙂

  6. Gord Mayer

    Ooooo – reminded me of something I wanted to mull over for a blog post. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Do it! If you let me know I’ll link to it in the post 🙂

  7. Jeff Goins

    Joe, your writing just keeps getting better and better. More fun, too. I liked this one.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Jeff!

  8. Jeff Goins

    Joe, your writing just keeps getting better and better. More fun, too. I liked this one.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Jeff!

  9. Hope Clark

    This lesson so sucked me in, and I’m a hard sell on most blogs. Thanks for this. It gave me pause and made me realize the importance of writing from a new place.

    Hope Clark
    FundsforWriters.com

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you so much Hope. I’ve admired your website for a long time. Thank you for what you do.

  10. Hope Clark

    This lesson so sucked me in, and I’m a hard sell on most blogs. Thanks for this. It gave me pause and made me realize the importance of writing from a new place.

    Hope Clark
    FundsforWriters.com

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you so much Hope. I’ve admired your website for a long time. Thank you for what you do.

  11. Guest

    I looked at my ringing cell phone. Steve was calling me, again.

    “Hello, Tom, this is Steve.”

    “Yeah Steve, what’s up?” I tried to act unperturbed.

    “Man, I can’t catch a break! You know Pam’s kicked me out and I’m staying over at my cousin, Sally’s apartment, but the reason I’m calling is to tell you I’m gonna go over to Pam’s and I’m gonna do something bad but I don’t care!” Steve rambled on and on for another couple of minutes about messing things up, but that it had to be done.

    It was obvious to me at this point that there was no way for me to not be perturbed and inconvenienced so I sighed and said a little prayer before responding.

    “Steve, have you been drinking?” I asked.

    “No, what makes you ask me that?” he slurred.

    “Because you sound drunk. You’re speech is slurred.”

    “Really?” was his only reply.

    I did my best to try and talk him out of going over to his ex’s house. I knew it wouldn’t turn out pretty. Pam had kicked him out after he got drunk and took his disability check and gambled it all away on the “boats.” But there was no reasoning with Steve. He was obviously drunk and set on revenge.

    I turned the car around and headed to Pam’s house to warn her. But when I pulled up to the house, I realized it was already too late. Steve was there in the front yard arguing with Pam’s ex-husband and their teenage son. As I pulled my car to the curb I witnessed Steve take the first swing. I reached for my cell and called 911.

    While silently praying for the cops to arrive asap, I got out of the car and did my best to referee my first domestic disturbance. It had all the elements I had always assumed would be involved; beer, lawn chairs, and drunk ex’s in wife-beaters. The only element I hoped would never be involved was me. But there I was in the middle of my first fists-punching, head-locking, blood-dripping and spit-flinging front yard brawl.

    As the fists and f-bombs flew, two questions crossed my mind, “Does Steve have a weapon?” and “Am I gonna be on ‘Cops’?”

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Wow, you were out place. Great practice tdub. I know it’s not possible for this space, but I think if you were to expand this story, I would love to hear more detail about the fight on the lawn. Still, I normally don’t like summary (your second to last paragraph), you did a beautiful job. It’s funny, descriptive, and action packed. In fact, that’s some of the best summary I’ve ever seen. Good job!

  12. tdub

    I looked at my ringing cell phone. Steve was calling me, again.

    “Hello, Tom, this is Steve.”

    “Yeah Steve, what’s up?” I tried to act unperturbed.

    “Man, I can’t catch a break! You know Pam’s kicked me out and I’m staying over at my cousin, Sally’s apartment, but the reason I’m calling is to tell you I’m gonna go over to Pam’s and I’m gonna do something bad but I don’t care!” Steve rambled on and on for another couple of minutes about messing things up, but that it had to be done.

    It was obvious to me at this point that there was no way for me to not be perturbed and inconvenienced so I sighed and said a little prayer before responding.

    “Steve, have you been drinking?” I asked.

    “No, what makes you ask me that?” he slurred.

    “Because you sound drunk. You’re speech is slurred.”

    “Really?” was his only reply.

    I did my best to try and talk him out of going over to his ex’s house. I knew it wouldn’t turn out pretty. Pam had kicked him out after he got drunk and took his disability check and gambled it all away on the “boats.” But there was no reasoning with Steve. He was obviously drunk and set on revenge.

    I turned the car around and headed to Pam’s house to warn her. But when I pulled up to the house, I realized it was already too late. Steve was there in the front yard arguing with Pam’s ex-husband and their teenage son. As I pulled my car to the curb I witnessed Steve take the first swing. I reached for my cell and called 911.

    While silently praying for the cops to arrive asap, I got out of the car and did my best to referee my first domestic disturbance. It had all the elements I had always assumed would be involved; beer, lawn chairs, and drunk ex’s in wife-beaters. The only element I hoped would never be involved was me. But there I was in the middle of my first fists-punching, head-locking, blood-dripping and spit-flinging front yard brawl.

    As the fists and f-bombs flew, two questions crossed my mind, “Does Steve have a weapon?” and “Am I gonna be on ‘Cops’?”

    Reply
  13. tdub

    I looked at my ringing cell phone. Steve was calling me, again.

    “Hello, Tom, this is Steve.”

    “Yeah Steve, what’s up?” I tried to act unperturbed.

    “Man, I can’t catch a break! You know Pam’s kicked me out and I’m staying over at my cousin, Sally’s apartment, but the reason I’m calling is to tell you I’m gonna go over to Pam’s and I’m gonna do something bad but I don’t care!” Steve rambled on and on for another couple of minutes about messing things up, but that it had to be done.

    It was obvious to me at this point that there was no way for me to not be perturbed and inconvenienced so I sighed and said a little prayer before responding.

    “Steve, have you been drinking?” I asked.

    “No, what makes you ask me that?” he slurred.

    “Because you sound drunk. You’re speech is slurred.”

    “Really?” was his only reply.

    I did my best to try and talk him out of going over to his ex’s house. I knew it wouldn’t turn out pretty. Pam had kicked him out after he got drunk and took his disability check and gambled it all away on the “boats.” But there was no reasoning with Steve. He was obviously drunk and set on revenge.

    I turned the car around and headed to Pam’s house to warn her. But when I pulled up to the house, I realized it was already too late. Steve was there in the front yard arguing with Pam’s ex-husband and their teenage son. As I pulled my car to the curb I witnessed Steve take the first swing. I reached for my cell and called 911.

    While silently praying for the cops to arrive asap, I got out of the car and did my best to referee my first domestic disturbance. It had all the elements I had always assumed would be involved; beer, lawn chairs, and drunk ex’s in wife-beaters. The only element I hoped would never be involved was me. But there I was in the middle of my first fists-punching, head-locking, blood-dripping and spit-flinging front yard brawl.

    As the fists and f-bombs flew, two questions crossed my mind, “Does Steve have a weapon?” and “Am I gonna be on ‘Cops’?”

    Reply
  14. tdub

    I looked at my ringing cell phone. Steve was calling me, again.

    “Hello, Tom, this is Steve.”

    “Yeah Steve, what’s up?” I tried to act unperturbed.

    “Man, I can’t catch a break! You know Pam’s kicked me out and I’m staying over at my cousin, Sally’s apartment, but the reason I’m calling is to tell you I’m gonna go over to Pam’s and I’m gonna do something bad but I don’t care!” Steve rambled on and on for another couple of minutes about messing things up, but that it had to be done.

    It was obvious to me at this point that there was no way for me to not be perturbed and inconvenienced so I sighed and said a little prayer before responding.

    “Steve, have you been drinking?” I asked.

    “No, what makes you ask me that?” he slurred.

    “Because you sound drunk. You’re speech is slurred.”

    “Really?” was his only reply.

    I did my best to try and talk him out of going over to his ex’s house. I knew it wouldn’t turn out pretty. Pam had kicked him out after he got drunk and took his disability check and gambled it all away on the “boats.” But there was no reasoning with Steve. He was obviously drunk and set on revenge.

    I turned the car around and headed to Pam’s house to warn her. But when I pulled up to the house, I realized it was already too late. Steve was there in the front yard arguing with Pam’s ex-husband and their teenage son. As I pulled my car to the curb I witnessed Steve take the first swing. I reached for my cell and called 911.

    While silently praying for the cops to arrive asap, I got out of the car and did my best to referee my first domestic disturbance. It had all the elements I had always assumed would be involved; beer, lawn chairs, and drunk ex’s in wife-beaters. The only element I hoped would never be involved was me. But there I was in the middle of my first fists-punching, head-locking, blood-dripping and spit-flinging front yard brawl.

    As the fists and f-bombs flew, two questions crossed my mind, “Does Steve have a weapon?” and “Am I gonna be on ‘Cops’?”

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Wow, you were out place. Great practice tdub. I know it’s not possible for this space, but I think if you were to expand this story, I would love to hear more detail about the fight on the lawn. Still, I normally don’t like summary (your second to last paragraph), you did a beautiful job. It’s funny, descriptive, and action packed. In fact, that’s some of the best summary I’ve ever seen. Good job!

  15. Brynna Lynea

    All right, I’ll bite. Don’t judge, this is practice. 😉

    My first day of high school took place in a downtown office building. Teachers and classrooms stacked on top of one another rose five stories from a stark cement lobby with two elevators and an attached café. The sixth floor rested on top of us still full of offices, drawing primly dressed business people into an awkward mingle with teenagers in the common areas. My historic high school building was undergoing a two-year, forty-one million dollar renovation, and the Holley Mason building, with its echoing enclosed stairwells, would be the setting for my ninth and tenth grade years.

    I was a too-skinny, stringy haired, big eyed girl with a forty-pound back pack and zero sense of public school etiquette. My junior high was a K-8 Lutheran school with two grade levels per classroom and a total of 120 students. I had served as both student council president and valedictorian in my class of eleven; the same year, there were three seventh graders.

    Mrs. Mayer taught my first period Honors Global Issues class on the fifth floor, where our metal-legged chairs and desks scratched hideously on the cement floor. Entering, I scanned the room and recognized a girl named Claire from my church’s junior high lock-in. The boy I was three years in love with had invited her to come and spend the whole night with him and his friends. She had beautiful long brown hair pulled back with a preppy pink ribbon. I sat close enough to her that I could hear her talking with a few other girls toward the end of class about a party they were throwing. Suddenly one of them walked over to my desk.

    “Do you drink?” were the first words Felicia Allerman spoke to me.

    She was tall and athletic, with dark brown skin, spiral hair, and wide dark eyes. By way of a get-to-know-you poster project, I knew that her favorite song was Nelly’s “Country Grammar.”

    “No, I’m sober.” I tossed the question aside coolly.

    She looked at me as though she hadn’t heard correctly.

    “What?”

    “I mean, I don’t drink.”

    “Oh. That’s cool.”

    She walked away, and I was not invited to another drinking party for a very long time.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks for practicing, Brynna! And don’t worry, judgment is only allowed on Saturdays here.

      But I think this is great. You’ve got a good realistic style and pacing. I thought the way you set up your school was full of wonderful awkwardness, just like the scene. I liked your line, “The boy I was three years in love…” Oh high school. What a great representation of the trials and tribulations of that period of life.

      This was great, ““Do you drink?” were the first words Felicia Allerman spoke to me.” You just drop it on us, like she dropped it on you. It feels real to me.

      And you end it beautifully, “and I was not invited to another drinking party for a very long time.” It’s funny and sad and awkward all at the same time. Well done 🙂

    • Brynna Lynea

      Thanks for your feedback and encouragement, Joe! It was a fun scene to remember.

  16. Brynna Lynea King

    All right, I’ll bite. Don’t judge, this is practice. 😉

    My first day of high school took place in a downtown office building. Teachers and classrooms stacked on top of one another rose five stories from a stark cement lobby with two elevators and an attached café. The sixth floor rested on top of us still full of offices, drawing primly dressed business people into an awkward mingle with teenagers in the common areas. My historic high school building was undergoing a two-year, forty-one million dollar renovation, and the Holley Mason building, with its echoing enclosed stairwells, would be the setting for my ninth and tenth grade years.

    I was a too-skinny, stringy haired, big eyed girl with a forty-pound back pack and zero sense of public school etiquette. My junior high was a K-8 Lutheran school with two grade levels per classroom and a total of 120 students. I had served as both student council president and valedictorian in my class of eleven; the same year, there were three seventh graders.

    Mrs. Mayer taught my first period Honors Global Issues class on the fifth floor, where our metal-legged chairs and desks scratched hideously on the cement floor. Entering, I scanned the room and recognized a girl named Claire from my church’s junior high lock-in. The boy I was three years in love with had invited her to come and spend the whole night with him and his friends. She had beautiful long brown hair pulled back with a preppy pink ribbon. I sat close enough to her that I could hear her talking with a few other girls toward the end of class about a party they were throwing. Suddenly one of them walked over to my desk.

    “Do you drink?” were the first words Felicia Allerman spoke to me.

    She was tall and athletic, with dark brown skin, spiral hair, and wide dark eyes. By way of a get-to-know-you poster project, I knew that her favorite song was Nelly’s “Country Grammar.”

    “No, I’m sober.” I tossed the question aside coolly.

    She looked at me as though she hadn’t heard correctly.

    “What?”

    “I mean, I don’t drink.”

    “Oh. That’s cool.”

    She walked away, and I was not invited to another drinking party for a very long time.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks for practicing, Brynna! And don’t worry, judgment is only allowed on Saturdays here.

      But I think this is great. You’ve got a good realistic style and pacing. I thought the way you set up your school was full of wonderful awkwardness, just like the scene. I liked your line, “The boy I was three years in love…” Oh high school. What a great representation of the trials and tribulations of that period of life.

      This was great, ““Do you drink?” were the first words Felicia Allerman spoke to me.” You just drop it on us, like she dropped it on you. It feels real to me.

      And you end it beautifully, “and I was not invited to another drinking party for a very long time.” It’s funny and sad and awkward all at the same time. Well done 🙂

    • Brynna Lynea King

      Thanks for your feedback and encouragement, Joe! It was a fun scene to remember.

  17. Heathmacnelson

    Twilight….Zone….
    She is so sweet, 11 yrs old now, running around blowing people’s heads off. Little girl in a war scene.   Blood gushes. No one bats an eyelash. 
    Something is off… wrong….does no one see?  Awkward….. just WRONG!!
     I remember Tori, so much has changed.  Momma never would allow her to even hear a bad word .  Now….   I am in Twilight.   That game her brother bought, he himself a real-life soldier, back from Afghanistan, a boy no more.   This is no game to him anymore.  They are not bad people.  The conflict makes me long to  sign off into my own twilight.  My obvious disapproval, my self conscience condemnation and disdain.  sigh.  Called to love, called to forgive, called to be holy.  The war is waging in me, like on the screen.  Split, confused, Blood gushes from my head/heart wound.  The condemnation rests on me.  Sigh again.  My weapon?  honestly would prefer some stronger ammo.  PRAYER  when I think of it, I am locked and loaded in bullets of prayer to my Almighty, infinite father.  War, yup I’m in it.  We all are.  Wanting the same things.  Love, Peace children safe and sound.  Not inflicting mortal wounds on pretend soldiers . (good night, she is good at that game!!)  Guess what? My war is not with these people, it is NOT with flesh and blood, but with nasty flesh-eating zombie spirits.  YESSSSSS!  Don’t want to just WRESTLE them,  Want to blow their heads off.  Take THAT!! you flesh eating zombie evil spirit!! Leave my TORI alone!! In Jesus name!!!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting piece, Heath. Lots going on hear. You’ve got the soldier, back from Iraq. The little girl killing things in a video game. And some spiritual killing as well. I think your set pieces are interesting. There’s a tinge of preachy pep rally to it, too, specifically in the “we all are,” and the, “In Jesus name.” It really is difficult to write about spiritual things well, though. I think Annie Dillard and CS Lewis do it well in the nonfiction category, though. Frank Perretti is pretty good too. You might check them out. I would like to see more description in this and a peak into what is motivating the characters. Why does she want to play this game? Why does the narrator dislike it? Why did the soldier give it to her?

      Thanks so much for practicing Heath. I hope I don’t scare you off with this. I actually really like the disjointed, shots of information. Your narrative style is interesting.

  18. Heathmacnelson

    Twilight….Zone….
    She is so sweet, 11 yrs old now, running around blowing people’s heads off. Little girl in a war scene.   Blood gushes. No one bats an eyelash. 
    Something is off… wrong….does no one see?  Awkward….. just WRONG!!
     I remember Tori, so much has changed.  Momma never would allow her to even hear a bad word .  Now….   I am in Twilight.   That game her brother bought, he himself a real-life soldier, back from Afghanistan, a boy no more.   This is no game to him anymore.  They are not bad people.  The conflict makes me long to  sign off into my own twilight.  My obvious disapproval, my self conscience condemnation and disdain.  sigh.  Called to love, called to forgive, called to be holy.  The war is waging in me, like on the screen.  Split, confused, Blood gushes from my head/heart wound.  The condemnation rests on me.  Sigh again.  My weapon?  honestly would prefer some stronger ammo.  PRAYER  when I think of it, I am locked and loaded in bullets of prayer to my Almighty, infinite father.  War, yup I’m in it.  We all are.  Wanting the same things.  Love, Peace children safe and sound.  Not inflicting mortal wounds on pretend soldiers . (good night, she is good at that game!!)  Guess what? My war is not with these people, it is NOT with flesh and blood, but with nasty flesh-eating zombie spirits.  YESSSSSS!  Don’t want to just WRESTLE them,  Want to blow their heads off.  Take THAT!! you flesh eating zombie evil spirit!! Leave my TORI alone!! In Jesus name!!!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting piece, Heath. Lots going on hear. You’ve got the soldier, back from Iraq. The little girl killing things in a video game. And some spiritual killing as well. I think your set pieces are interesting. There’s a tinge of preachy pep rally to it, too, specifically in the “we all are,” and the, “In Jesus name.” It really is difficult to write about spiritual things well, though. I think Annie Dillard and CS Lewis do it well in the nonfiction category, though. Frank Perretti is pretty good too. You might check them out. I would like to see more description in this and a peak into what is motivating the characters. Why does she want to play this game? Why does the narrator dislike it? Why did the soldier give it to her?

      Thanks so much for practicing Heath. I hope I don’t scare you off with this. I actually really like the disjointed, shots of information. Your narrative style is interesting.

  19. Pilar Arsenec

    I totally love this post!! You write so yummy. Yeah, I can totally relate to being an outsider observing and looking in.

    Reply
  20. Pilar Arsenec

    I totally love this post!! You write so yummy. Yeah, I can totally relate to being an outsider observing and looking in.

    Reply
  21. Jenny Dykstra

    This is my 30-minute version – just wrote it, no editing. Thanks for the prompt!

    I pulled into the parking lot after first missing my turn and having to go down the road a ways and come back. It was a place I had been to before, but not for a couple of years, and not a part of town I frequented. I was early. Very early. My appointment was for noon and it was only 11:23am. Wow, Jenny. Over-anxious much? I sat and tried not to think about the impending hour of time I would spend in the office. These offices were all the same, even though they looked different upon entering. The words exchanged between two people had such a familiar ring to them. A talker, a listener, a response, a question. Rinse and repeat. Time’s up.

    This was my third visit to such an office. Let me clarify. This was the third in my series of visits. Twice before I had subjected myself to the agony of therapy, counseling, whatever you want to call it. It all felt the same to me. It all left me feeling as though I was never going to be enough and the tools I needed to cope weren’t even in my reach. Third time’s a charm? I could only hope. This time, you see, was indeed different. Not just because it was my third time, but because he had answers. He had already given me hope in our hour-and-a-half-long conversation two weeks prior. Yes, he seemed surprised about my diagnoses from the year before, but not at all as though this was a problem bigger than something he had seen before. Yes, this did seem different.

    At ten minutes til noon I walked quickly into the building. I checked for his name on the wall in the foyer just to be sure I remembered where to go. I had met with a psychology student for counseling in this office before, but I wanted to be sure. Same office. I walked down the long hall to my right and sat in one of the three chairs in the small waiting room. The white walls were well lit and there was a sound machine somewhere playing bird songs. I figured this was supposed to calm me down. I tried to be calm, really I did. I picked up a magazine from the table next to me. I didn’t read anything but just flipped from front to back several times. Somebody came out of the inner office – another patient. Then my heart really started pounding. The type of pound that feels like everybody else can see and hear as clearly as I could feel it. I noticed a painting on the wall of a lake with bushes on the other bank. It looked like the bushes were on fire. That seemed a bit crazy for a shrink’s office.

    I waited almost ten more minutes until Brian came out. Thankfully I knew him well enough that his presence was more peace-giving than anxiety-causing. He has that effect on most people, I would imagine. But I was still nervous so I told him about his painting. He had never noticed the bushes before.

    I walked into his office and took the black leather chair on the left side of the room. I kicked off my shoes and put my feet underneath my body – my common comfortable yet guarded posture. We exchanged a few pleasantries, but it’s awkward to conjure up conversation with somebody you sort of know, but in reality know nothing about. He guided the conversation to the topic at hand, sort of. We were here to start a new path for my life, or so it seemed. He had, in our phone conversation two weeks before, taken away my diagnoses of Dissociative Identity Disorder. I had been misdiagnosed by a very sweet, well-meaning counselor. It was a relief and a terror all at once, because I had shaped my life around this new reality for the past year. Now it was gone. Here we sat.

    The conversation covered many things, but really not much about the past year, which shocked me. The two therapists I had worked with before wanted to know all about my past. Brian seemed mostly interested in the things I wanted to change in my life, not the things which knocked me off my feet to begin with. As I sat there I knew this was going to be different. I told him I didn’t see a way out of the pit I was in, but at the same time I was willing to forge ahead with his help. My heart didn’t entirely calm down until I arrived home. I didn’t feel empowered, but I did feel ready now. Ready to do something new. And that is exactly what I got. My heart still pounds thinking about it.

    Reply
  22. Jenny Dykstra

    This is my 30-minute version – just wrote it, no editing. Thanks for the prompt!

    I pulled into the parking lot after first missing my turn and having to go down the road a ways and come back. It was a place I had been to before, but not for a couple of years, and not a part of town I frequented. I was early. Very early. My appointment was for noon and it was only 11:23am. Wow, Jenny. Over-anxious much? I sat and tried not to think about the impending hour of time I would spend in the office. These offices were all the same, even though they looked different upon entering. The words exchanged between two people had such a familiar ring to them. A talker, a listener, a response, a question. Rinse and repeat. Time’s up.

    This was my third visit to such an office. Let me clarify. This was the third in my series of visits. Twice before I had subjected myself to the agony of therapy, counseling, whatever you want to call it. It all felt the same to me. It all left me feeling as though I was never going to be enough and the tools I needed to cope weren’t even in my reach. Third time’s a charm? I could only hope. This time, you see, was indeed different. Not just because it was my third time, but because he had answers. He had already given me hope in our hour-and-a-half-long conversation two weeks prior. Yes, he seemed surprised about my diagnoses from the year before, but not at all as though this was a problem bigger than something he had seen before. Yes, this did seem different.

    At ten minutes til noon I walked quickly into the building. I checked for his name on the wall in the foyer just to be sure I remembered where to go. I had met with a psychology student for counseling in this office before, but I wanted to be sure. Same office. I walked down the long hall to my right and sat in one of the three chairs in the small waiting room. The white walls were well lit and there was a sound machine somewhere playing bird songs. I figured this was supposed to calm me down. I tried to be calm, really I did. I picked up a magazine from the table next to me. I didn’t read anything but just flipped from front to back several times. Somebody came out of the inner office – another patient. Then my heart really started pounding. The type of pound that feels like everybody else can see and hear as clearly as I could feel it. I noticed a painting on the wall of a lake with bushes on the other bank. It looked like the bushes were on fire. That seemed a bit crazy for a shrink’s office.

    I waited almost ten more minutes until Brian came out. Thankfully I knew him well enough that his presence was more peace-giving than anxiety-causing. He has that effect on most people, I would imagine. But I was still nervous so I told him about his painting. He had never noticed the bushes before.

    I walked into his office and took the black leather chair on the left side of the room. I kicked off my shoes and put my feet underneath my body – my common comfortable yet guarded posture. We exchanged a few pleasantries, but it’s awkward to conjure up conversation with somebody you sort of know, but in reality know nothing about. He guided the conversation to the topic at hand, sort of. We were here to start a new path for my life, or so it seemed. He had, in our phone conversation two weeks before, taken away my diagnoses of Dissociative Identity Disorder. I had been misdiagnosed by a very sweet, well-meaning counselor. It was a relief and a terror all at once, because I had shaped my life around this new reality for the past year. Now it was gone. Here we sat.

    The conversation covered many things, but really not much about the past year, which shocked me. The two therapists I had worked with before wanted to know all about my past. Brian seemed mostly interested in the things I wanted to change in my life, not the things which knocked me off my feet to begin with. As I sat there I knew this was going to be different. I told him I didn’t see a way out of the pit I was in, but at the same time I was willing to forge ahead with his help. My heart didn’t entirely calm down until I arrived home. I didn’t feel empowered, but I did feel ready now. Ready to do something new. And that is exactly what I got. My heart still pounds thinking about it.

    Reply
  23. Maddy

    This is my first time – I went with the 30 minute limit and here’s what I came up with.

    I’m at my first real boyfriend’s house for my first real
    Christmas party. I’m wearing a pretty but subtle dress that took more than a
    few minutes to choose though I usually opt for an outfit that’s newly back from
    the wash and in a pile on my supposed writing table. I’m wearing this dress and
    I’m standing in the doorway and everyone else is wearing pajamas.

    I don’t know what I had expected, it had been spelled out
    right out in green and red type on the invitation I’d received weeks before,
    but already my hand was hovering by my mouth as it does when I don’t know how
    to behave. I felt myself sinking back into some Scroogily shadowed place even
    as I walked forward the few steps into the main room.

    I hear my name called out long and bright, hear its sound
    being introduced to ears around the room it hasn’t yet met, the sound waving
    and laughing assuredly while I, its owner, move my hand from my lips to my
    opposite arm, preparing to greet my greeter.

    “Maddyyyyyyyy!” It’s my boyfriend’s mom, approaching with
    arms wide open. “Now, where are your pj’s?” The words are light, playfully
    scolding, yet as I scrounge for a cute retort I come up empty-handed, my mind
    as empty as my pajama drawer. I’m stuck standing there, smiling up at her in a
    way I hope appears good-naturedly bashful but probably looks like I’m squinting
    away reflected light from the tinsel-laden tree. After a moment’s pause my
    distressed look seems to pass as some kind of reply and I’m sent with my
    boyfriend to find something from his middle school days that might fit my small
    frame.

    Five minutes later I enter the room a changed woman. Or if
    not, certainly a woman who has changed into a pair of slightly shabby reindeer
    pajama pants with a white tee tucked in at the front. I have been at the party
    less than ten minutes. I catch a few eyes, strangers smiling hello as if I’ve
    just entered for the first time. I breathe in and out, remind myself not to
    knock over the Christmas tree or a festive holiday candle, and blend into the
    comfort of Jingle Bells chatter and a room full of flannel. 

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This was beautiful, Maddy. I’m very impressed. Thanks so much for practicing!

  24. Maddy

    This is my first time – I went with the 30 minute limit and here’s what I came up with.

    I’m at my first real boyfriend’s house for my first real
    Christmas party. I’m wearing a pretty but subtle dress that took more than a
    few minutes to choose though I usually opt for an outfit that’s newly back from
    the wash and in a pile on my supposed writing table. I’m wearing this dress and
    I’m standing in the doorway and everyone else is wearing pajamas.

    I don’t know what I had expected, it had been spelled out
    right out in green and red type on the invitation I’d received weeks before,
    but already my hand was hovering by my mouth as it does when I don’t know how
    to behave. I felt myself sinking back into some Scroogily shadowed place even
    as I walked forward the few steps into the main room.

    I hear my name called out long and bright, hear its sound
    being introduced to ears around the room it hasn’t yet met, the sound waving
    and laughing assuredly while I, its owner, move my hand from my lips to my
    opposite arm, preparing to greet my greeter.

    “Maddyyyyyyyy!” It’s my boyfriend’s mom, approaching with
    arms wide open. “Now, where are your pj’s?” The words are light, playfully
    scolding, yet as I scrounge for a cute retort I come up empty-handed, my mind
    as empty as my pajama drawer. I’m stuck standing there, smiling up at her in a
    way I hope appears good-naturedly bashful but probably looks like I’m squinting
    away reflected light from the tinsel-laden tree. After a moment’s pause my
    distressed look seems to pass as some kind of reply and I’m sent with my
    boyfriend to find something from his middle school days that might fit my small
    frame.

    Five minutes later I enter the room a changed woman. Or if
    not, certainly a woman who has changed into a pair of slightly shabby reindeer
    pajama pants with a white tee tucked in at the front. I have been at the party
    less than ten minutes. I catch a few eyes, strangers smiling hello as if I’ve
    just entered for the first time. I breathe in and out, remind myself not to
    knock over the Christmas tree or a festive holiday candle, and blend into the
    comfort of Jingle Bells chatter and a room full of flannel. 

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This was beautiful, Maddy. I’m very impressed. Thanks so much for practicing!

  25. Paul J Natsch

    This is my first time doing something like this. I basically stuck with a 30 minute time limit. Here’s what came out of my brain. 

    I drove through the tall, metal gate, the wheels of my wheelchair squeaking as I passed over the uneven threshold. The sun was beaming down on me like an automobile headlight shining on a unsuspecting deer crossing the street at night. Then the heads turned toward me as if all on queue. I looked straight ahead focusing on a small tree that lay just beyond the far end of the fenced-in pool area. The area immediately adjacent to the tree was free of onlookers. It was my oasis. My safe haven. Unoccupied pool furniture was haphazardly scattered about seemingly dumped where it’s previous occupants were using it. But where others most likely would see nothing more than a scattered group of pool furniture I saw an obstacle course that I needed to figure out how best to navigate through. Slowing down I went left, right, and then left again before clipping the from corner of one of the cheap aluminum loungers. At that instant the few faces that had already drifted back to their mundane activities once again focused their attention on the peculiar sight. Despite the setback I forged on towards that  spacious area in the far corner that was so beautifully devoid of obstacles and prying eyes. Upon my arrival I turned around to face the glistening water and curious stares from across the pool. There I was on stage, a literal fish out of water, in broad daylight, for all to see. But I achieved my goal. I made it. Now all I had to do was wait. Wait for the one who sees me as the person I am, as a human being and man. It was worth going through all of this just to see her and talk to her. It should only be a few minutes now.

    Reply
  26. Paul J Natsch

    This is my first time doing something like this. I basically stuck with a 30 minute time limit. Here’s what came out of my brain. 

    I drove through the tall, metal gate, the wheels of my wheelchair squeaking as I passed over the uneven threshold. The sun was beaming down on me like an automobile headlight shining on a unsuspecting deer crossing the street at night. Then the heads turned toward me as if all on queue. I looked straight ahead focusing on a small tree that lay just beyond the far end of the fenced-in pool area. The area immediately adjacent to the tree was free of onlookers. It was my oasis. My safe haven. Unoccupied pool furniture was haphazardly scattered about seemingly dumped where it’s previous occupants were using it. But where others most likely would see nothing more than a scattered group of pool furniture I saw an obstacle course that I needed to figure out how best to navigate through. Slowing down I went left, right, and then left again before clipping the from corner of one of the cheap aluminum loungers. At that instant the few faces that had already drifted back to their mundane activities once again focused their attention on the peculiar sight. Despite the setback I forged on towards that  spacious area in the far corner that was so beautifully devoid of obstacles and prying eyes. Upon my arrival I turned around to face the glistening water and curious stares from across the pool. There I was on stage, a literal fish out of water, in broad daylight, for all to see. But I achieved my goal. I made it. Now all I had to do was wait. Wait for the one who sees me as the person I am, as a human being and man. It was worth going through all of this just to see her and talk to her. It should only be a few minutes now.

    Reply
  27. Anna Narr

    I used the 30 minute time limit. I may have went a bit over. The funny thing was when I started writing this piece it wasn’t going to be about what it ended up being about at all. It just kind of happened. I probably should have used more imagery, but since it is my first post I decided to leave it as it is.

    Down town is always so confusing. One ways here, no left turns there, it is really quit ridiculous. I found a parking spot that seemed at least a block away from the building I was suppose to be at. That’s another problem with down town, no parking.

    I grabbed the large envelope from beside me in the passenger’s seat. My stomach clenched. All I wanted to do was go home. Maybe if I went home and went to sleep I would wake up and it would all have been a nightmare. Taking a deep breath, I got out of the car, fed the parking meter and started walking toward the office building.

    The damp musty smell of old building greeted me as I opened the door. Most of the buildings in the area were old. The city was trying to revive it, by renovating the old buildings and houses and calling it the Historic District. Hippsters everywhere were rushing to rent flats in the newly renovated buildings that had been turned into loft apartments. This building had yet to be renovated. It was just old.

    Steep steps wound up to the top floor. I wasn’t about to take the elevator. It sounded like it would die any moment, grinding as it came down to the ground level, and besides, I didn’t want to have to be in an enclosed space with anyone. What if they asked me how I was doing? Or tried to make other small talk? I just couldn’t do it. I only ran into one person coming down the stairs as I was going up. He nodded at me and gave me a pitying look or at least it seemed that way to me. Of course now a days it seemed like everyone was giving me those looks. As if they somehow know what is going on, even if I haven’t ever seen or spoken to them in my life.

    Office 304 was at the top of the stairs and to the left. It wasn’t nearly as nice as I had thought it would be. As much as this lady charged it should be nicer.

    “May I help you?” asked the receptionist at the tiny desk.

    I wanted to say no and walk out but I couldn’t do that, not now. “Yes, I have one o’clock appointment.”

    She found my name on her computer “Yes, here you are. Right this way please. Would you like something to drink?”

    “No thank you.” If I drank anything I was sure I would have to puke.

    “Ok, she is on the phone right now, she will be with you in just a few minutes.”

    “Thank you.”

    The conference table I was seated at filled the whole room, it seemed like the brightly painted yellow walls were closing in on me. Making it hard to breath. A feeling I felt all too often now. It was all I could do to keep from crying. This wasn’t suppose to be happening to me. I shouldn’t have had to be here at all. The envelope lay on the table in front of me. How could I share what was in it with this stranger. I had never been so humiliated in all my life.

    I could hear her on the phone in the room beside me. Either the walls were very thin or she spoke very loud. Maybe both. It sounded like she couldn’t get the person on the phone to understand how things were. Then she called someone else and related the story to them. It seemed unprofessional to allow conversations to be over heard by other clients.

    It was over thirty minutes before she came into the room and introduced herself. Thirty minutes of dread, thirty minutes of wishing it would all just go away.

    She asked me a few questions and I told her my story. No, I didn’t want this, but it was not up to me. She told me my options. I didn’t want to do any of them. All I wanted to do is crawl in a hole and die.

    Reply
    • Shane Johnson

      Anna,
      Your written internal dialogue was honest, straight-forward and was easy to follow through the entire story.
      Shane

  28. Anna Narr

    I used the 30 minute time limit. I may have went a bit over. The funny thing was when I started writing this piece it wasn’t going to be about what it ended up being about at all. It just kind of happened. I probably should have used more imagery, but since it is my first post I decided to leave it as it is.

    Down town is always so confusing. One ways here, no left turns there, it is really quit ridiculous. I found a parking spot that seemed at least a block away from the building I was suppose to be at. That’s another problem with down town, no parking.

    I grabbed the large envelope from beside me in the passenger’s seat. My stomach clenched. All I wanted to do was go home. Maybe if I went home and went to sleep I would wake up and it would all have been a nightmare. Taking a deep breath, I got out of the car, fed the parking meter and started walking toward the office building.

    The damp musty smell of old building greeted me as I opened the door. Most of the buildings in the area were old. The city was trying to revive it, by renovating the old buildings and houses and calling it the Historic District. Hippsters everywhere were rushing to rent flats in the newly renovated buildings that had been turned into loft apartments. This building had yet to be renovated. It was just old.

    Steep steps wound up to the top floor. I wasn’t about to take the elevator. It sounded like it would die any moment, grinding as it came down to the ground level, and besides, I didn’t want to have to be in an enclosed space with anyone. What if they asked me how I was doing? Or tried to make other small talk? I just couldn’t do it. I only ran into one person coming down the stairs as I was going up. He nodded at me and gave me a pitying look or at least it seemed that way to me. Of course now a days it seemed like everyone was giving me those looks. As if they somehow know what is going on, even if I haven’t ever seen or spoken to them in my life.

    Office 304 was at the top of the stairs and to the left. It wasn’t nearly as nice as I had thought it would be. As much as this lady charged it should be nicer.

    “May I help you?” asked the receptionist at the tiny desk.

    I wanted to say no and walk out but I couldn’t do that, not now. “Yes, I have one o’clock appointment.”

    She found my name on her computer “Yes, here you are. Right this way please. Would you like something to drink?”

    “No thank you.” If I drank anything I was sure I would have to puke.

    “Ok, she is on the phone right now, she will be with you in just a few minutes.”

    “Thank you.”

    The conference table I was seated at filled the whole room, it seemed like the brightly painted yellow walls were closing in on me. Making it hard to breath. A feeling I felt all too often now. It was all I could do to keep from crying. This wasn’t suppose to be happening to me. I shouldn’t have had to be here at all. The envelope lay on the table in front of me. How could I share what was in it with this stranger. I had never been so humiliated in all my life.

    I could hear her on the phone in the room beside me. Either the walls were very thin or she spoke very loud. Maybe both. It sounded like she couldn’t get the person on the phone to understand how things were. Then she called someone else and related the story to them. It seemed unprofessional to allow conversations to be over heard by other clients.

    It was over thirty minutes before she came into the room and introduced herself. Thirty minutes of dread, thirty minutes of wishing it would all just go away.

    She asked me a few questions and I told her my story. No, I didn’t want this, but it was not up to me. She told me my options. I didn’t want to do any of them. All I wanted to do is crawl in a hole and die.

    Reply
    • Shane Johnson

      Anna,
      Your written internal dialogue was honest, straight-forward and was easy to follow through the entire story.
      Shane

  29. Jessica Eve

    Took a little less than 30 minutes and did this writing prompt (I am very out of practice!) and haven’t really edited it. I already know it’s a little boring, I am still mastering show-instead-of-tell. I love the idea of sharing my work, so here goes:
    ————————————————————————–

    I came through the door looking, I’m sure, like any schoolchild who is late for class. I glanced wide-eyed at the instructor, who gave me an ominous look and asked where I was coming from.

    “Lewisburg,” I breathed, a town which was a good 45-minute drive away.

    “Oh, okay, just wondering,” he said with closure as if there was no problem. I scurried to a table in the back corner of the classroom where a girl with black curly hair and glasses was already sitting, beside an empty chair.

    “Can I sit here?” I asked with a smile, hoping she was nice. I think she said sure, I can’t remember, I just sat down, with my heart pounding. My first class of my first day of college had begun.

    However, this wasn’t a normal first day of college. Like the rest of my life, my college experience was destined to be unconventional from the start. I was 23, and this was only my second time in a classroom. The first time had been a few weeks earlier when I took my placement test. I had been homeschooled, and the extent of the formality of my school environment from K-12 had been sitting at my family’s dining room table. Now here I was, in a real classroom, with a real teacher, surrounded by people who had been in classrooms all their life.

    When the instructor told us what supplies we would need (a pen and a notebook) I held up the 3 x 5 notebook I had grabbed, having no idea what college supplies should be. “Is this okay?”

    Again the look. “You’ll need to have a regular-sized notebook, college-ruled,” he informed the class. I concentrated on my pen.

    After class, I had to wait before the next one started. I walked through the hall, my painful feelings of self-consciousness and uprooted transplanting more keen than any of my surroundings. I did not want to see anyone, but most importantly I did not want to be seen. Never having been one to obey my weaker impulses, however (such as hiding in a utility closet, had there been one,) I took a seat at a table in the hall and sought refuge in a book of poetry I had, at least, had the foresight to bring with me in anticipation of the wait.

    The table was round, the kind with the pressboard top and a layer of fake wood veneered over it, the kind I ate dinner off of during my childhood at home and at my cousins’ house. The chair was a metal folding chair. I put my backpack on the floor and opened the book.

    It was a book of spiritual poems and songs from many different countries, cultures and religions. I can’t recall which ones I read but I do recall that something true snapped at me and I realized in an instant why I was miserable.

    I didn’t want anyone to know that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t want anyone to know that this was my first time going to school. I didn’t want anyone to think I was backward or awkward or strange. In short… I could not be ME, so I didn’t know who to be.

    With this realization, I also had the joy of the solution: Stop pretending. Don’t be ashamed of and certainly don’t hide your past or the truth. Bring your real self, your whole self, to this experience. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just be honest about it.

    With that determination, my heart completely turned in my chest and I could breathe again. In fact, I smiled. I packed up my things and stood up and walked through the hall and noticed the paintings on the walls, the upholstered benches. I noticed the muffled sounds coming from the classrooms, the signs and bulletin boards, the display case with school memorabilia. “I’m in college,” I thought. “This is college.”

    I walked into my next class early and found a seat in the front row.

    Reply
    • Shane Johnson

      I enjoyed reading this piece. Some wonderful sentences, like the one describing the table. It brought to mind great images. Good work!

  30. Jessica Eve

    Took a little less than 30 minutes and did this writing prompt (I am very out of practice!) and haven’t really edited it. I already know it’s a little boring, I am still mastering show-instead-of-tell. I love the idea of sharing my work, so here goes:
    ————————————————————————–

    I came through the door looking, I’m sure, like any schoolchild who is late for class. I glanced wide-eyed at the instructor, who gave me an ominous look and asked where I was coming from.

    “Lewisburg,” I breathed, a town which was a good 45-minute drive away.

    “Oh, okay, just wondering,” he said with closure as if there was no problem. I scurried to a table in the back corner of the classroom where a girl with black curly hair and glasses was already sitting, beside an empty chair.

    “Can I sit here?” I asked with a smile, hoping she was nice. I think she said sure, I can’t remember, I just sat down, with my heart pounding. My first class of my first day of college had begun.

    However, this wasn’t a normal first day of college. Like the rest of my life, my college experience was destined to be unconventional from the start. I was 23, and this was only my second time in a classroom. The first time had been a few weeks earlier when I took my placement test. I had been homeschooled, and the extent of the formality of my school environment from K-12 had been sitting at my family’s dining room table. Now here I was, in a real classroom, with a real teacher, surrounded by people who had been in classrooms all their life.

    When the instructor told us what supplies we would need (a pen and a notebook) I held up the 3 x 5 notebook I had grabbed, having no idea what college supplies should be. “Is this okay?”

    Again the look. “You’ll need to have a regular-sized notebook, college-ruled,” he informed the class. I concentrated on my pen.

    After class, I had to wait before the next one started. I walked through the hall, my painful feelings of self-consciousness and uprooted transplanting more keen than any of my surroundings. I did not want to see anyone, but most importantly I did not want to be seen. Never having been one to obey my weaker impulses, however (such as hiding in a utility closet, had there been one,) I took a seat at a table in the hall and sought refuge in a book of poetry I had, at least, had the foresight to bring with me in anticipation of the wait.

    The table was round, the kind with the pressboard top and a layer of fake wood veneered over it, the kind I ate dinner off of during my childhood at home and at my cousins’ house. The chair was a metal folding chair. I put my backpack on the floor and opened the book.

    It was a book of spiritual poems and songs from many different countries, cultures and religions. I can’t recall which ones I read but I do recall that something true snapped at me and I realized in an instant why I was miserable.

    I didn’t want anyone to know that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t want anyone to know that this was my first time going to school. I didn’t want anyone to think I was backward or awkward or strange. In short… I could not be ME, so I didn’t know who to be.

    With this realization, I also had the joy of the solution: Stop pretending. Don’t be ashamed of and certainly don’t hide your past or the truth. Bring your real self, your whole self, to this experience. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just be honest about it.

    With that determination, my heart completely turned in my chest and I could breathe again. In fact, I smiled. I packed up my things and stood up and walked through the hall and noticed the paintings on the walls, the upholstered benches. I noticed the muffled sounds coming from the classrooms, the signs and bulletin boards, the display case with school memorabilia. “I’m in college,” I thought. “This is college.”

    I walked into my next class early and found a seat in the front row.

    Reply
    • Shane Johnson

      I enjoyed reading this piece. Some wonderful sentences, like the one describing the table. It brought to mind great images. Good work!

  31. Shane Johnson

    The chair was positioned so I was seated a bit lower than the man with whom I had an appointment. I hadn’t met him yet and as he’d not been in his office, he must be busy. The books on the shelf behind his desk bent in the middle from gravity, or perhaps the weight of knowledge contained therein.
    Someone approached so I straightened my back and hand-pressed the front of my shirt, looking to see that I looked presentable. Mom would be proud with the pressed seams, not to mention the clean underwear and matching socks hidden beneath. I wiped the line of sweat off my lip and chin, praying they would not return when he arrived.
    The sunny day cast squares on the floor that would work well for a quick hop-scotch game which might calm me a bit. My luck, he’d walk in and catch me in the act.
    The worn letter-opener, dog eared dictionary, and yellow notepad pulled back with used pages folded beneath, all spoke to a man who had practiced a craft for quite some time. That was good to know.
    “Hello,” He said, striding in and dropping his coat on the leather couch.
    “Hello,” I said, standing and reaching out to shake hands.
    “So you must be Thatch,” gripping my hand with firmness that I returned in equal force.
    “Yes, thank you for taking time to see me,” I said, as he moved to his desk chair and I sat down.
    “Tell me about your situation,” He said. Wow. He was jumping right in. I’d hoped for some small talk, but I guess not.
    “I was fired for misconduct,” I said, looking at my shoes.
    “I understand that, Thatch, and I want you to know that these things happen,” He said. “Five years ago I worked for an outfit that pulled the same sort of trickery on me, and, looking back, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
    “Really?” I said, squaring my shoulders and looking him in the eyes.”
    “Yes. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and here’s the good part, I’ve reviewed your employment agreement with these scoundrels and I think we’re in strong position to secure full payment for the full term of the agreement.”
    “No kidding?” He had opened a file on his desk and pulled out the document I’d sent to him earlier in the week for review.
    “Not at all, they drafted the agreement, right?”
    “Yes.”
    “Unfortunately for them, they’d written it with the hope of being able to discharge you without cause, but the termination paragraph is poorly written.” He removed his glasses and set them on the desktop, pointed to the document. “In fact, it’s ambiguous, and you know what that means, as an attorney?”
    “Well, a recovering attorney.”
    “Yes, good one, well, yes, it means that because they drafted the document any ambiguity is construed against them and thus works in our favor. That gives us the legal high ground.” He paused, looking at me waiting for a response.
    “Really?”
    “Yes, my boy,” He laughed, “We’re going to win this thing, so let’s get to it!”

    Reply
  32. Shane Johnson

    The chair was positioned so I was seated a bit lower than the man with whom I had an appointment. I hadn’t met him yet and as he’d not been in his office, he must be busy. The books on the shelf behind his desk bent in the middle from gravity, or perhaps the weight of knowledge contained therein.
    Someone approached so I straightened my back and hand-pressed the front of my shirt, looking to see that I looked presentable. Mom would be proud with the pressed seams, not to mention the clean underwear and matching socks hidden beneath. I wiped the line of sweat off my lip and chin, praying they would not return when he arrived.
    The sunny day cast squares on the floor that would work well for a quick hop-scotch game which might calm me a bit. My luck, he’d walk in and catch me in the act.
    The worn letter-opener, dog eared dictionary, and yellow notepad pulled back with used pages folded beneath, all spoke to a man who had practiced a craft for quite some time. That was good to know.
    “Hello,” He said, striding in and dropping his coat on the leather couch.
    “Hello,” I said, standing and reaching out to shake hands.
    “So you must be Thatch,” gripping my hand with firmness that I returned in equal force.
    “Yes, thank you for taking time to see me,” I said, as he moved to his desk chair and I sat down.
    “Tell me about your situation,” He said. Wow. He was jumping right in. I’d hoped for some small talk, but I guess not.
    “I was fired for misconduct,” I said, looking at my shoes.
    “I understand that, Thatch, and I want you to know that these things happen,” He said. “Five years ago I worked for an outfit that pulled the same sort of trickery on me, and, looking back, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
    “Really?” I said, squaring my shoulders and looking him in the eyes.”
    “Yes. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and here’s the good part, I’ve reviewed your employment agreement with these scoundrels and I think we’re in strong position to secure full payment for the full term of the agreement.”
    “No kidding?” He had opened a file on his desk and pulled out the document I’d sent to him earlier in the week for review.
    “Not at all, they drafted the agreement, right?”
    “Yes.”
    “Unfortunately for them, they’d written it with the hope of being able to discharge you without cause, but the termination paragraph is poorly written.” He removed his glasses and set them on the desktop, pointed to the document. “In fact, it’s ambiguous, and you know what that means, as an attorney?”
    “Well, a recovering attorney.”
    “Yes, good one, well, yes, it means that because they drafted the document any ambiguity is construed against them and thus works in our favor. That gives us the legal high ground.” He paused, looking at me waiting for a response.
    “Really?”
    “Yes, my boy,” He laughed, “We’re going to win this thing, so let’s get to it!”

    Reply
  33. Debby

    Just this past week or so got 14 Prompts through Story Cartel and am able to now post my first 30-minute prompt “Out of Place” … would love some feedback:

    I stepped back into history. I never dreamed I would visit such a place. A place I had heard of all my life. History, ancient civilization, a place which existed in my history books and is real, here, today.

    It was hot. I was thirsty. I had traveled hours to get here. The people around me spoke a language that sounded like they were angry and yelling. Arms waved. Voices raised. People in each other’s faces. It was wild. It was crazy. And I felt this was a place like no other on earth. And all I wanted was a cold drink. I didn’t know a drink meant room temperature and not icy like I was used to. Finding the right words to order my thirst quencher was a challenge. Again, little did I know the drink that satisfied thirst in the afternoon in this ancient and exciting place would be hot and make the sweat ooze from your pores, which is the way you cooled down.

    I had come here to live. Finding an apartment was an adventure. Using my limited vocabulary and waving my arms, smiling and hoping they didn’t think I was a crazy American. I was just what they thought. After pronouncing the words all the wrong way, I managed to find a place to live. I made a life-long friend in the process. A friend who showed me the ropes. He gave me the tools needed to live in this piece of history. He told me about life and love here in this land, which abounds like no other place on earth. Except maybe Paris I am told. I like Paris, but no place in my heart could compare to where I stood.

    In the afternoon, all shops close for a few hours People relax over a huge meal and then lazily enjoy a few hours of respite. Dozing, drawing the energy they need to replenish themselves for the latter hours of the day and into the night. It took no effort for me to have that afternoon nap. Especially in the heat of the summer. I didn’t realize at the time, I would be building into my life a habit that later would be hard to break.

    Life revolves around food and family. Around laughter and noise. Meals are enjoyed as a reunion of sorts. Everyone talking at once and yet all making sense. Contrary to where I grew up, just as we would be settling in for the night, the city here comes alive. The streets are filled with shoppers, lovers strolling hand in hand. Cafes and restaurants become the center of existence. As the heat wanes and the night cools, the party begins. The city squares surrounded by cafes and restaurants with tables pouring out onto sidewalks. You take on the feeling of people loving and enjoying the moment. Not thinking of tomorrow or worrying about the next day’s schedule. Living and loving the people right there. I learned to relax and love life in this place.

    I have visited every square inch of history here. Drank in the presence of those who lived, loved and ruled thousands of years before. Breathed the same air of those who met their death in this place. Walked the paths and roads of legends. Those who painted and wrote sat on the same benches I now sit. Gazing up into the same stars once looked upon by kings and rulers. I am mesmerized by the realization of where I am. I actually live here.

    As out of place as I felt when I first set foot in this land, I have succumbed to its charm. As frustrated as I once was not being able to communicate or understand all that was happening around me, I have found rest. I was a stranger and alone, but I have fallen in love with a people. The food and culture. The history. The hills and seaside. The fashion and the coffee. Pasta and gelato. I have found my home. And I love it like no other. And yes, all my roads lead to Rome.

    Reply
  34. Debby

    Just this past week or so got 14 Prompts through Story Cartel and am able to now post my first 30-minute prompt “Out of Place” … would love some feedback:

    I stepped back into history. I never dreamed I would visit such a place. A place I had heard of all my life. History, ancient civilization, a place which existed in my history books and is real, here, today.

    It was hot. I was thirsty. I had traveled hours to get here. The people around me spoke a language that sounded like they were angry and yelling. Arms waved. Voices raised. People in each other’s faces. It was wild. It was crazy. And I felt this was a place like no other on earth. And all I wanted was a cold drink. I didn’t know a drink meant room temperature and not icy like I was used to. Finding the right words to order my thirst quencher was a challenge. Again, little did I know the drink that satisfied thirst in the afternoon in this ancient and exciting place would be hot and make the sweat ooze from your pores, which is the way you cooled down.

    I had come here to live. Finding an apartment was an adventure. Using my limited vocabulary and waving my arms, smiling and hoping they didn’t think I was a crazy American. I was just what they thought. After pronouncing the words all the wrong way, I managed to find a place to live. I made a life-long friend in the process. A friend who showed me the ropes. He gave me the tools needed to live in this piece of history. He told me about life and love here in this land, which abounds like no other place on earth. Except maybe Paris I am told. I like Paris, but no place in my heart could compare to where I stood.

    In the afternoon, all shops close for a few hours People relax over a huge meal and then lazily enjoy a few hours of respite. Dozing, drawing the energy they need to replenish themselves for the latter hours of the day and into the night. It took no effort for me to have that afternoon nap. Especially in the heat of the summer. I didn’t realize at the time, I would be building into my life a habit that later would be hard to break.

    Life revolves around food and family. Around laughter and noise. Meals are enjoyed as a reunion of sorts. Everyone talking at once and yet all making sense. Contrary to where I grew up, just as we would be settling in for the night, the city here comes alive. The streets are filled with shoppers, lovers strolling hand in hand. Cafes and restaurants become the center of existence. As the heat wanes and the night cools, the party begins. The city squares surrounded by cafes and restaurants with tables pouring out onto sidewalks. You take on the feeling of people loving and enjoying the moment. Not thinking of tomorrow or worrying about the next day’s schedule. Living and loving the people right there. I learned to relax and love life in this place.

    I have visited every square inch of history here. Drank in the presence of those who lived, loved and ruled thousands of years before. Breathed the same air of those who met their death in this place. Walked the paths and roads of legends. Those who painted and wrote sat on the same benches I now sit. Gazing up into the same stars once looked upon by kings and rulers. I am mesmerized by the realization of where I am. I actually live here.

    As out of place as I felt when I first set foot in this land, I have succumbed to its charm. As frustrated as I once was not being able to communicate or understand all that was happening around me, I have found rest. I was a stranger and alone, but I have fallen in love with a people. The food and culture. The history. The hills and seaside. The fashion and the coffee. Pasta and gelato. I have found my home. And I love it like no other. And yes, all my roads lead to Rome.

    Reply
  35. Therese

    This is my first post – I can’t wait to hear any/all feedback you may have – thank you!

    ———————————————————————————————

    It was supposed to be just me and you. Let’s get drinks you
    said, I’ll be right there I said. But right there wasn’t what I had meant. I
    meant 20 minutes in my closet, trying on all of my limited wardrobe, 20 minutes fussing over each stray curl of hair as it escaped my control, and 20 more minutes trying not to smudge my devastatingly difficult liquid eyeliner. I was the essence of casual, after hours of preparation, but I didn’t want you to
    know that.

    I made the 20-minute trek to your place, in my usual fast
    pace. Why was I rushing so much? I needed to slow down or I would start
    sweating through my meticulously chosen dress. As I rushed through the streets, the graveyard, and down the big hill that divides the city between me and you, I thought of topics of conversation. This wasn’t even our first date, and I was nervous.

    Okay, run through your day, what can you tell him? What did
    you do that was interesting? What did he say he was working on today? What
    questions should I ask? What’s my back up plan for a lull in the conversation?
    Why do I instantly forget how to talk to other humans the moment there is a
    touch of a romantic inclination?

    As I rushed to your room, you let me in, and swept me into a
    hug that was forced, awkward, and unsure in its delivery. Now I was sure to
    sweat through this dress. We headed outside to the bar across from your
    apartment, we grabbed two beers, and just happened to run into your group of
    friends. “Do you want to sit with them?” you asked. How could I say no?

    Inside I was shouting just as loud as I could, no no no!
    What will I talk about now that I have to engage a whole troupe of people I
    have never met, and not in my native language. I sat at a wooden picnic table,
    in a foreign country, with a group of people who were in varying degrees
    friendly to me, and sympathetic to the fact that I don’t speak their language
    very well.

    The conversation bobbed in and out of Swedish and English, I
    panicked every moment the conversation seemed to slow, feeling their eyes
    boring into me. My first beer disappeared in record time, as I used sips to buy
    myself precious moments to let my mind think up something clever, or translate a Swedish phrase, or an English one into Swedish. I ripped frantically at the label, making a pile of debris next to my empty ale bottle, trying to keep me cool and not seem to eager to go rushing for another beer, for both the
    courage, and the activity it provided.

    I almost forgot you were sitting next to me as my anxiety
    continued to heighten. And I would have forgotten completely if it hadn’t been
    for that unsure hand placed on my knee left kneecap. It was a firm grasp, not
    casual, and placed in a nonchalantly way, but one that was decisive, and full
    of meaning and gesture. This is a date, I will put my hand on your knee no
    matter how awkward it feels because this is what I am supposed to do, his five
    fingers seemed to say with her passing second. I felt like I couldn’t move my
    leg at all, even as my legs stuck to the swollen wood of the bench, and people
    joined and left our clan and we needed to shift around. I felt stuck, holding
    up the weight of your hand, and holding up my giant, American, English end of
    the conversation. It was time for another beer.

    More people joined, and I tried to talk to you, and only
    you, slipping quietly out of the spotlight you thrust me into, on our second
    date. As the Swedish sun began to set, you suggested that we head back to your place, in a subtle, non-direct way of course. But I was more than happy to follow your awkward lead, make our hasty goodbyes, and hope that we would never see these people again. You didn’t grab my hand, and I followed behind you like a lost duckling of sorts, praying you’d keep me safe from their stares, and their thoughts and insinuations as I followed you back to your apartment.

    I wanted to crawl into your bed and die. Wrap myself in your
    arms, let me makeup run, and my perfectly placed curls fall to ruin. I wanted
    to slip into your warn Metallica t-shirt you had lent me before, and forget
    about the world. But you wanted to talk about your friends, and insisted we
    speak some Swedish (to help me practice you said). And I felt all hollow,
    unable to think or communicate easily, or freely. My sentences escaped, short,
    methodical, based on the small bank of vocab stored in my brain. “De var
    trevliga. Det var kul.” You were patient, and eventually slipped into English
    with me, as I pushed you out of your own comfort zone.

    My words sped up, and my sentiments kicked in, and I laughed
    at my own jokes, though it took you a few minutes to catch up. That always
    happened with us, there was always a lag, a delay time between us. A space that was sometimes small, easy to ignore, that us feel so close and connected, and at other times gaped like the Grand Canyon between us. Nothing shared it
    seemed.

    From the chill of sitting outside, I asked to borrow some
    sweatpants to slip on. You cocked your head to the side, confused. You looked away, rummaging for something, and didn’t answer me. But we were chatting away and I didn’t seem to care or notice that you hadn’t answered me. A good few minutes later your eyes lit up. I asked you what was up and you questioned, “mjukbyxor?” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders, admitting my own ignorance to what the hell you were talking about. You pulled out a pair of sweatpants, and alas, we were on the same page for maybe the first time all night.

    You told me that the Swedish word translates to mean
    something like “softy pants,” or “cuddle pants,” and as I laughed at your
    translation, deciding that they were much better words than sweatpants, I couldn’t help but feel the space. I didn’t know if we could ever overcome its nagging presence. And it was important, and big that I could not even communicate a desire for a simple piece of clothing to you, without our wires getting crossed.

    Forget slang, and speed, and colloquialisms, we couldn’t
    have an easy conversation. As the days stretched on, and the days turned into
    weeks and months, I never stopped feeling it. We had this problem of
    communicating, and that was big. Could we ever really have a meaningful
    relationship when we didn’t quite perfectly understand each other? There was no time to think this way. Instead, we practiced and fumbled and struggled. And got frustrated and sometimes just kissed instead of talking because that was common, and universal, and required no translation or force. Your touches became less involuntary, our hugs, and your hand on me knee felt less foreign, less Swedish, and more like home to me.

    Reply
    • Craig Woodall

      I really enjoyed your piece. I found myself feeling the multitude of emotions you were feeling…Very clearly…I’d say you did great.

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Having lived in a foreign country for a few years I know the feeling of being unable to communicate. I had only to communicate with strangers, not someone I loved. You conveyed your emotions well.
      Adelaide

    • Scarlet Ferya Ma

      I really liked the part that was about sitting in the new, big group of friends, that’s such a tangible feeling for everyone, foreigner or not! I thought you could have focussed more on that part of it instead of adding the part where you left them. I really like this line: ‘I followed behind you like a lost duckling’. I thought you really did well in portraying that lost feeling.

    • Annie

      So many great things in your post but at times the the tone and mood felt jarringly inconsistent to me ….. as one reader.

    • Kirsis Concepcion

      Definitely hooked my attention and kept it. I thought that you communicated well the feeling of being out of place. I enjoyed the part about the sweatpants and how the narrator and the Swedish guy were able to communicate and although a foreigner and out of place one individual can make you feel at home even when you can’t communicate thoroughly. Connecting is more than just what we say its how we make each other feel. I enjoyed reading it!

      🙂

    • Valeria Primost

      im really new at this practice, and I´m not a native english speaker, I liked the image of the city divided between you and him, as if nothing else existed in that city or was as important. the phrase : that wasn´t even our first date and I was nervous… confused me: because being nervous for a date doesn´t require it to be the first (for me) so I started imagining you were going to meet someone you liked at a non-date situation… but then you were already running to his bedrroom… – just a note. lovely the issue of language and feeling home anyways, I was also a foreigner in europe and now i am in usa, so i understand that well. And that smile at his translation is a very daily thing at a couple speaking different languages. thank you Therese!

    • Robbie Ann

      You appear to be the only person who has posted someting here in the last 3 months. I just posted a prompted piece, but it disappeared after I picked a screen name and password. I guess I’ll try posting it again, hoping you or someone will toss me some feedback. Got to run an errand. Hope someone logs on later today, though!

    • marimed

      Really great job. I liked it so much and can’t wait to see more of your stories 🙂

  36. Therese

    This is my first post – I can’t wait to hear any/all feedback you may have – thank you!

    ———————————————————————————————

    It was supposed to be just me and you. Let’s get drinks you
    said, I’ll be right there I said. But right there wasn’t what I had meant. I
    meant 20 minutes in my closet, trying on all of my limited wardrobe, 20 minutes fussing over each stray curl of hair as it escaped my control, and 20 more minutes trying not to smudge my devastatingly difficult liquid eyeliner. I was the essence of casual, after hours of preparation, but I didn’t want you to
    know that.

    I made the 20-minute trek to your place, in my usual fast
    pace. Why was I rushing so much? I needed to slow down or I would start
    sweating through my meticulously chosen dress. As I rushed through the streets, the graveyard, and down the big hill that divides the city between me and you, I thought of topics of conversation. This wasn’t even our first date, and I was nervous.

    Okay, run through your day, what can you tell him? What did
    you do that was interesting? What did he say he was working on today? What
    questions should I ask? What’s my back up plan for a lull in the conversation?
    Why do I instantly forget how to talk to other humans the moment there is a
    touch of a romantic inclination?

    As I rushed to your room, you let me in, and swept me into a
    hug that was forced, awkward, and unsure in its delivery. Now I was sure to
    sweat through this dress. We headed outside to the bar across from your
    apartment, we grabbed two beers, and just happened to run into your group of
    friends. “Do you want to sit with them?” you asked. How could I say no?

    Inside I was shouting just as loud as I could, no no no!
    What will I talk about now that I have to engage a whole troupe of people I
    have never met, and not in my native language. I sat at a wooden picnic table,
    in a foreign country, with a group of people who were in varying degrees
    friendly to me, and sympathetic to the fact that I don’t speak their language
    very well.

    The conversation bobbed in and out of Swedish and English, I
    panicked every moment the conversation seemed to slow, feeling their eyes
    boring into me. My first beer disappeared in record time, as I used sips to buy
    myself precious moments to let my mind think up something clever, or translate a Swedish phrase, or an English one into Swedish. I ripped frantically at the label, making a pile of debris next to my empty ale bottle, trying to keep me cool and not seem to eager to go rushing for another beer, for both the
    courage, and the activity it provided.

    I almost forgot you were sitting next to me as my anxiety
    continued to heighten. And I would have forgotten completely if it hadn’t been
    for that unsure hand placed on my knee left kneecap. It was a firm grasp, not
    casual, and placed in a nonchalantly way, but one that was decisive, and full
    of meaning and gesture. This is a date, I will put my hand on your knee no
    matter how awkward it feels because this is what I am supposed to do, his five
    fingers seemed to say with her passing second. I felt like I couldn’t move my
    leg at all, even as my legs stuck to the swollen wood of the bench, and people
    joined and left our clan and we needed to shift around. I felt stuck, holding
    up the weight of your hand, and holding up my giant, American, English end of
    the conversation. It was time for another beer.

    More people joined, and I tried to talk to you, and only
    you, slipping quietly out of the spotlight you thrust me into, on our second
    date. As the Swedish sun began to set, you suggested that we head back to your place, in a subtle, non-direct way of course. But I was more than happy to follow your awkward lead, make our hasty goodbyes, and hope that we would never see these people again. You didn’t grab my hand, and I followed behind you like a lost duckling of sorts, praying you’d keep me safe from their stares, and their thoughts and insinuations as I followed you back to your apartment.

    I wanted to crawl into your bed and die. Wrap myself in your
    arms, let me makeup run, and my perfectly placed curls fall to ruin. I wanted
    to slip into your warn Metallica t-shirt you had lent me before, and forget
    about the world. But you wanted to talk about your friends, and insisted we
    speak some Swedish (to help me practice you said). And I felt all hollow,
    unable to think or communicate easily, or freely. My sentences escaped, short,
    methodical, based on the small bank of vocab stored in my brain. “De var
    trevliga. Det var kul.” You were patient, and eventually slipped into English
    with me, as I pushed you out of your own comfort zone.

    My words sped up, and my sentiments kicked in, and I laughed
    at my own jokes, though it took you a few minutes to catch up. That always
    happened with us, there was always a lag, a delay time between us. A space that was sometimes small, easy to ignore, that us feel so close and connected, and at other times gaped like the Grand Canyon between us. Nothing shared it
    seemed.

    From the chill of sitting outside, I asked to borrow some
    sweatpants to slip on. You cocked your head to the side, confused. You looked away, rummaging for something, and didn’t answer me. But we were chatting away and I didn’t seem to care or notice that you hadn’t answered me. A good few minutes later your eyes lit up. I asked you what was up and you questioned, “mjukbyxor?” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders, admitting my own ignorance to what the hell you were talking about. You pulled out a pair of sweatpants, and alas, we were on the same page for maybe the first time all night.

    You told me that the Swedish word translates to mean
    something like “softy pants,” or “cuddle pants,” and as I laughed at your
    translation, deciding that they were much better words than sweatpants, I couldn’t help but feel the space. I didn’t know if we could ever overcome its nagging presence. And it was important, and big that I could not even communicate a desire for a simple piece of clothing to you, without our wires getting crossed.

    Forget slang, and speed, and colloquialisms, we couldn’t
    have an easy conversation. As the days stretched on, and the days turned into
    weeks and months, I never stopped feeling it. We had this problem of
    communicating, and that was big. Could we ever really have a meaningful
    relationship when we didn’t quite perfectly understand each other? There was no time to think this way. Instead, we practiced and fumbled and struggled. And got frustrated and sometimes just kissed instead of talking because that was common, and universal, and required no translation or force. Your touches became less involuntary, our hugs, and your hand on me knee felt less foreign, less Swedish, and more like home to me.

    Reply
  37. datom

    Ah, what the heck. Let’s give it a shot. 20 mins

    “I’m afraid we’re going to continue the meeting over lunch. You’re welcome to have a sandwich and meet them when we’re finished”.

    I looked at the woman who had opened the door only so far as
    necessary to get her head through. I knew her from a drinks event somewhere or a conference somewhere else, and realized in her smile that she knew I was out of place. A small fish in a sea of whales.

    The door remained slightly a-jar and I squeezed through, as the woman returned to the table where the Captains of Industry sat. They continued gesturing expansively at assorted documents on the table. I made
    sure to not catch their eye as I strode with purpose towards the buffet at the back of the room. I focussed only on my destination; it was not yet My Time.

    I examined the chicken (goujons, stiff like a carrot, battered evenly in something artificial, unearthly). I examined the sauce (peanut, burnt crimson, in a small glass bowl). I considered the two elements and how they might interact. I dipped the chicken in the sauce. I took a bite. Neither item had any discernible taste, but both required chewing. I moved further down the buffet table, and examined the sandwiches.

    The sandwiches clung to the same principles of rigid design as the items on the chicken platter. Regimented clearly into equilateral triangles, each consisted of a paste – all broadly similar in terms of texture but differing in colour and presumably origin. I opted for silver-grey, which was perheps to be tuna, but was also reminiscent of the chicken.

    The analysis and consumption of buffet items continued. I was confronted by cheese/grape cocktail sticks, laid out like so many soldiers standing to attention, near-cubes of chocolate cake (3cm x 2cm x 2cm), and finally a perfectly segmented orange,splayed into a circle. Following the orange, I had arrived at the end of the table; I restarted my voyage, this time heading in the opposite direction, against the passage of dinner time, if one will.

    On returning to the chicken sticks, the figures rose from the table, and strode towards me (I was pleased that their gait was so reminiscent of my original stride toward the back of the room). I had the presence of mind to return all
    chicken to its plate in time to grab the flotilla of outstretched hands that
    approached. I shook quickly, with what I considered the firmness required of a Business Leader of Tomorrow. We swapped names, but not cards; quick remark on weather/golf; and suddenly I was out, hustled through the door in a manner much like I came in by the same woman. “Thanks for that”, she said, patting me sympathetically on the back. Through the corner of the eye I took a last glimpse at the world of Power, Influence and Respect behind me, before the door clapped shut.

    Reply
  38. datom

    Ah, what the heck. Let’s give it a shot. 20 mins

    “I’m afraid we’re going to continue the meeting over lunch. You’re welcome to have a sandwich and meet them when we’re finished”.

    I looked at the woman who had opened the door only so far as
    necessary to get her head through. I knew her from a drinks event somewhere or a conference somewhere else, and realized in her smile that she knew I was out of place. A small fish in a sea of whales.

    The door remained slightly a-jar and I squeezed through, asthe woman returned to the table where the Captains of Industry sat. They continued gesturing expansively at assorted documents on the table. I made
    sure to not catch their eye as I strode with purpose towards the buffet at the back of the room. I focussed only on my destination; it was not yet My Time.

    I examined the chicken (goujons, stiff like a carrot, battered evenly in something artificial, unearthly). I examined the sauce (peanut, burnt crimson, in a small glass bowl). I considered the two elements and how they might interact. I dipped the chicken in the sauce. I took a bite. Neither item had any discernible taste, but both required chewing. I moved further down the buffet table, and examined the sandwiches.

    The sandwiches clung to the same principles of rigid design
    as the items on the chicken platter. Regimented clearly into equilateral triangles, each consisted of a paste – all broadly similar in terms of texture but differing in colour and presumably origin. I opted forsilver-grey, which was perheps to be tuna, but was also reminiscent of the chicken.

    The analysis and consumption of buffet items continued. I was confronted by cheese/grape cocktail sticks, laid out like so many soldiers standing to attention, near-cubes of chocolate cake (3cm x 2cm x 2cm), and finally a perfectly segmented orange,splayed into a circle. Following the orange, I had arrived at the end of the table; I restarted my voyage, this time heading in the opposite direction, against the passage of dinner time, if one will.

    On returning to the chicken sticks, the figures rose from the table, and strode towards me (I was pleased that their gait was so reminiscent of my original stride toward the back of the room). I had the presence of mind to return all
    chicken to its plate in time to grab the flotilla of outstretched hands that
    approached. I shook quickly, with what I considered the firmness required of a Business Leader of Tomorrow. We swapped names, but not cards; quick remark on weather/golf; and suddenly I was out, hustled through the door in a manner much like I came in by the same woman. “Thanks for that”, she said, patting me sympathetically on the back. Through the corner of the eye I took a last glimpse at the world of Power, Influence and Respect behind me, before the door clapped shut.

    Reply
  39. Chetana

    Took 20 mins on this – I am not really confident in my writing – i have lot to work on – it takes quite a bit just to put my thoughts together – its my first effort -so please any feedback will be helpful because i really want to improve!!

    That summer went by too fast for me to realize I was in another country altogether. Everything seemed different, everything seemed blurry, everything seemed unknown and new. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to curl up and be submerged into a vortex that transported me home. I wanted familiarity, my mom and my friends. Now here I was in LA, not by choice. My parents divorce gave me no choice. Mom had moved in her life, she didn’t need me anymore.Dad moved to LA to start over and therefore after finishing my tenth I was transported here.
    You should know that I was never big on change. We used to live in rural India. I went to boarding school which was set in the hills. We rarely traveled to any city in India so to be arriving in Los Angeles was frightening to me. Arrived here, everyone knew what was best for me, still I had no choice. People were different, they talked different, they looked at me different and they had different expectations. I knew I didn’t belong.

    Reply
  40. Chetana

    Took 20 mins on this – I am not really confident in my writing – i have lot to work on – it takes quite a bit just to put my thoughts together – its my first effort -so please any feedback will be helpful because i really want to improve!!

    That summer went by too fast for me to realize I was in another country altogether. Everything seemed different, everything seemed blurry, everything seemed unknown and new. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to curl up and be submerged into a vortex that transported me home. I wanted familiarity, my mom and my friends. Now here I was in LA, not by choice. My parents divorce gave me no choice. Mom had moved in her life, she didn’t need me anymore.Dad moved to LA to start over and therefore after finishing my tenth I was transported here.
    You should know that I was never big on change. We used to live in rural India. I went to boarding school which was set in the hills. We rarely traveled to any city in India so to be arriving in Los Angeles was frightening to me. Arrived here, everyone knew what was best for me, still I had no choice. People were different, they talked different, they looked at me different and they had different expectations. I knew I didn’t belong.

    Reply
  41. Matt Jacobs

    I don’t really know when it was. Third grade…maybe. I remember my teacher at the time had a video camera and for some reason she was filming the class room. Once again, I have no idea why she was doing this. It was forever ago but this thing still comes up in my thoughts all of the time. At this time, I was a huge fan of the show “The Simpsons” and in the cartoon world when somebody was pulled or yanked, someone like Bart Simpson, it would portray him as being lifted straight up off the ground and then completely horizontal leaving only a little poof cloud behind him.

    Anyways back to the classroom, I don’t know why I did it…so awkward…but I remember the camera being pointed in my direction and at that split second, I pull a Bart Simpson (pun intended). No one was pulling me. I just randomly jump into the air and to the left. So strange.

    I think about this incident to this day. Of everything I could have possibly done as a child this particular event traumatized me to this day in my 20 somethings. I can see myself and the other students in my class clear as day. The other students probably looked at me like what in the would?! My teacher probably watching the tape later on saying things like “There’s Matt…what a complete weirdo…what is he even doing?!?!”

    This haunts me day in and day out. I don’t understand why it is that this thought bugs me. It eats away at me. I would rather deal with an eternal bug bite on my leg then to be remembered of this incident. The sheer awkwardness of it is enough to drive me absolutely crazy. But those were simpler times. Maybe I need to realize that children do dumb, awkward, stuff that puts themselves out there. Spontaneous. Awkward. Weird. Whatever you want to call it, but I lost it as I grew up. Now, everything is meticulously thought out and planned.

    The courage is gone. Wait, hold up! I called it courage?…COURAGE?!?!

    Yep. A positive way to look at it. To be care free again. To be awkward and weird would be wonderful.

    Reply
  42. Matt Jacobs

    I don’t really know when it was. Third grade…maybe. I remember my teacher at the time had a video camera and for some reason she was filming the class room. Once again, I have no idea why she was doing this. It was forever ago but this thing still comes up in my thoughts all of the time. At this time, I was a huge fan of the show “The Simpsons” and in the cartoon world when somebody was pulled or yanked, someone like Bart Simpson, it would portray him as being lifted straight up off the ground and then completely horizontal leaving only a little poof cloud behind him.

    Anyways back to the classroom, I don’t know why I did it…so awkward…but I remember the camera being pointed in my direction and at that split second, I pull a Bart Simpson (pun intended). No one was pulling me. I just randomly jump into the air and to the left. So strange.

    I think about this incident to this day. Of everything I could have possibly done as a child this particular event traumatized me to this day in my 20 somethings. I can see myself and the other students in my class clear as day. The other students probably looked at me like what in the would?! My teacher probably watching the tape later on saying things like “There’s Matt…what a complete weirdo…what is he even doing?!?!”

    This haunts me day in and day out. I don’t understand why it is that this thought bugs me. It eats away at me. I would rather deal with an eternal bug bite on my leg then to be remembered of this incident. The sheer awkwardness of it is enough to drive me absolutely crazy. But those were simpler times. Maybe I need to realize that children do dumb, awkward, stuff that puts themselves out there. Spontaneous. Awkward. Weird. Whatever you want to call it, but I lost it as I grew up. Now, everything is meticulously thought out and planned.

    The courage is gone. Wait, hold up! I called it courage?…COURAGE?!?!

    Yep. A positive way to look at it. To be care free again. To be awkward and weird would be wonderful.

    Reply
  43. Fran Thring

    It was late. Way later than planned. I don’t know if it was
    the hair or the glasses of wine but everyone was going to be waiting for us. Oh
    well, they know us well enough by now, probably aren’t surprised. Lock the car,
    check for ID, grab a jacket from the back seat and pop my phone in my pocket.
    Standing on the corner, a toothy half grin, a man waved at us indicating that
    he would watch the car.

    There were a few struggling streetlights along the road and we
    rounded the corner. The sense of anticipation before a night out was evident
    like a strong perfume in our steps and laughing conversation.

    I grabbed Katie’s arm. “Do you even know where it is?”

    “No,” she squealed and hit me. “You’re in charge of
    directions.”

    “I drove. I thought you had them. Fine, just look it up on
    your I phone. We’re about a 5 minute walk away.”

    Walking fast in high heels we turned up the street. This
    way? No wait, that way. The roads- difficult to recognize at night. Checking
    directions we crossed the highway and run up a nearby alleyway. It must be up
    here. I feel as if it’s this way. Just walk fast, ok. Don’t say anything to
    anyone. It can’t be that far.

    The road headed upwards and the lights of the city a moment
    ago exciting and full of promise became a little more menacing with each quick
    step. This didn’t look familiar, was it just because it was night? It must be
    close. It said 5 minutes. But that was at least 20 minutes ago and we’re going
    in the right direction.

    My feet were beginning to hurt from the pace. I could sense
    Katie getting worried. She was snapping at me. It wasn’t my fault. She always
    did this when she was stressed and it didn’t make anything better. She is the
    one with the phone. Can’t she follow a simple set of directions?

    We past a small store dingily lit by a half lit lamp. A few
    men were sitting outside it; bottles in their hands and you could smell the
    weed clinging to the night air. A sense of unease grew between us. It couldn’t
    be far.

    Swaying slightly and swinging a half empty bottle one of the
    men started following us. “Hey ladies, hey ladies, don’t be scared now. I am
    not going to hurt you. Come here, ay”. Picking up the pace we moved further
    down the road. I could hear Katie under her breath, “shhhh, just walk. Shhhh”.

    Encouraged by our blonde hair and the alcohol he followed,
    crossing the road and calling to his friends. “Ay ladies, what you want
    tonight? Why you here? You want me, I’ll tell you what I want”. He made a rude
    sign and something inside me said start running…

    Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      What happens next? You’ve caught my interest.
      Adelaide

  44. Chris

    This is my first attempt at writing and it was all I could do in 15 minutes.
    I am looking forward to getting some feedback and criticism.

    It was 7:45 in the morning, right before sun rise. The sky began glow, that pale blue glow that seemed to be the embodiment of a new day. A new day full of new challenges, Chris thought to himself. He stepped through the sliding doors into jarring humidity. The weather seemed to be mirroring his anxiety. The windows of the hotel as well as every car in the parking lot glistened with the thick moisture in the air. He approached his car and grabbed the slippery door handle. As he climbed in he absently wiped his now damp hand on his pants. Sighing, he started his car headed toward his destination. “This is going to be a long day” he muttered to himself.
        A short and dreary drive later, he arrived at the Sealy branch. Wondering what to expect, tentatively walked toward the building. Just like the hotel, the windows of this structure were sweating profusely. He entered the building and looked around. There was not a soul in sight. That fact seemed to intensify his apprehension. 
    “Why am I so nervous?” He thought to himself. “I’m sure these people will be friendly.” As he looked around he noticed how immaculate the display area was. He turned left down a hallway and continued walking. Still, no one was around to greet him. No one around to calm his fears, and tell him that everything going to be alright.  

    Reply
    • Elissaveta

      Really got sucked in by your story and in all honesty, I wish you’d kept on writing beyond the 15 minutes… Gripping, nicely described and also liked the transfer of anxiety and sweat to the character’s surroundings. A real mirror, like you said.

    • Scarlet Ferya Ma

      Really like the bit about ‘the windows were sweating’ and ‘thick moisture in the air’ – both really conjure up great imagery. Agree with Elissaveta, would love to know where this is going!

    • Anna

      Agreed!

    • Kirsis Concepcion

      I thought for 15minutes you were able to deliver. I wish I could have found out what happened next. What caused Chris’ fears and why the building was empty? You were able to catch my attention as a reader and keep hold of it and thats usually the hardest part so I commend you for that. I feel that if you played a bit with the syntax and/or grammar you could really make the reader feel the challenges of Chris’ day. For example, you have ten sentences in the first paragraph, you can shorten this by merging some sentences and making them longer so the language flows. The first and second sentence can me merged into one making the break of day real and not one thing that happened before the next thing and then followed the next thing, catch my drift? You want the reader to live what your writing, so something maybe like this:

      “It was 7:45 in the morning right before the sun rise the sky began glowing that pale blue glow that seems the embodiment of a new day. Chris stepped through the sliding doors into jarring humidity thinking to himself, “a new day full of new challenges.”

      I didn’t change much just blended a few things but it makes a huge difference and its still your words. When I was reading I felt that the short sentences took away from the natural flow of the narration, now if that is the effect that as a writer you wanted to create then maybe I missed the point but it does read in staccato manner and that can get you into the telling more than showing category and as a writer you want to show more than tell. Short sentences are good for creating impact and perhaps that is what you wanted to do but for the content I felt it didn’t fit.

      Don’t be afraid to run on a bit with your sentences. Life is in fact always in constant motion. Look into reading authors like Virginia Wolf, Marcel Proust, or James Joyce and then read Hemingway and compare and contrast. Totally different styles and both are really gripping.

      I enjoyed reading your story Chris 🙂

  45. Megan DaGata

    My very rough response to the first prompt from “14 Prompts”…
    Every day Meg rises at 7 am without fail. She makes a pot of coffee and washes a few dishes, then heads back to her room to get ready. She dresses simply is slacks and a shirt, pulling a brush through her hair and leaving it to dry in the wind. There is no fussing with makeup, not even a smear of moisturizer or lip gloss. Each morning she is out the door by 8 am to drive the 40 miles to her office. Praying each mile that there are no accidents and no cops. The best mornings she is actually to work on time.
    This is where the comfort ends.
    As each mile passes the anxiety builds Meg’s heart rate increases and a cold sweat forms on her brow. As she enters the parking garage a tightness forms around her throat and as she walks from the garage to the building her breath becomes labored. For one brief moment each morning Meg would like to turn around and go back to the comfort of her home, but she persists. There is too much dependent on her doing her job, and she stays.
    The moment passes leaving Meg in the lobby with a bank of elevators. She closes her eyes and presses the button.
    -DING-
    Twenty one floors to breath in and out, catching up to herself and slowing her heart. Breath in – relax – breath out – relax.
    -DING- 19th floor
    -DING- 20th floor
    “Deep breath,” Meg mumbles. “Smile,” she reminds herself, subconsciously hoping that no one is watching her and that the camera in the corner is just in case of incident and that no one is watching her right then.
    The doors part and the office lobby is empty.
    Thank God for small blessings, Meg thinks as she slides her card past the lock to open the door. Turning right, then left, then right again Meg follows the vacant corridor.
    “Good Morning!”
    Meg turns to see Destiny perched at her desk. Ahhhhh! I had almost made it!
    “Hi there! How are you?”
    “Great! You?”
    It is here where the fear and terror grip Meg and she has had to learn to cope. It is such a simple question, but incredibly complicated at the same time. Meg has learned to answer swiftly in hopes that the person questioning will go away, but on the inside she hears a monologue that would put the best psychologists to work for decades.
    “I’m good,” Meg says with a smile, but on the inside she hears.
    “How am I doing? Really? I am here at this momet trying to perceive what you really want to hear. Do you really care how I feel or are you just trying to fill a societal norm? A moment ago I was thinking about how and when I would get my first cup of coffee. The moment before that I was thinking about the many societal problems in the world. How can I be effective in leading any change that could be possible if I am constantly taking breaks to answer a question as mundane as ‘How are you?’ when the person asking so rarely even cares.”
    Meg smiles again and walks away, keeping her thoughts to herself. Finally escaping into the sactity of her windowless cave to create and perceive through the darkness. All the while hoping that the small talk will be kept to a minimum and that anyone who walks through her door will understand when she just smiles and keeps working.

    Reply
    • gina

      …on the inside she hears a monologue that would put the best psychologists to work for decades. wow! I like it.

  46. Eloise Lau

    Unedited, first response to this first prompt, written in fifteen minutes. Hope to get some good critique. 🙂

    I tried to make my way down the busy boulevard that would eventually bring me to my apartment. I heard the wheels of my luggage bag click against the pavement, and I could feel its weight threatening my hand to let go, else I should topple over. The cars passing by were unsympathetic, the people, even more so. After being splashed on by a puddle the third time I gave up hoping that a kind Samaritan would let me a hand.

    Under normal circumstances, when the rain ends, a lull falls across the land- an eerie, yet soothing silence that reaches deep into your soul. In a bustling metropolitan city like Kuala Lumpur, this was not so. Business went on as usual. The faces of the passersby reflected this. The rain had ended, there was a rainbow in the sky, there was beauty in their midst – but they could not care less. They focused solely on the destination they were headed to, never giving a thought to the beauty of their surroundings.

    At this point, I had given up walking amongst the throng of people and decided to sit at the bus stop. I observed them- these soulless human beings-hardened by the lives they led. I wasn’t one of them.

    I thought of home, miles away from here.

    Reply
    • Mirel

      I found the first paragraph a bit awkward, but once you hit the second paragraph it was really lovely. (especially loved first and last sentence of paragraph 2, last 2 of paragraph 3 and the end) well done!

    • Adelaide Shaw

      The feeling of being a stranger really comes through.
      Adelaide

    • Grits

      My opinion on the first paragraph (for what it’s worth): I felt uncomfortable and restless right along with our protagonist from the first sentence.

    • Jay

      “The rain had ended, there was a rainbow in the sky, there was beauty in their midst – but they could not care less” Love this line… Overall the piece reads well and is definitely a situation many people relate to.

    • Kiki Stamatiou

      Outstanding piece of prose. As I was reading this piece, I felt like a was a participant in the narrator’s journey. The voice in the piece is established well, and there is great use of language. As a writer, you’ve done a great job of capturing the city life and the people. I could get a strong sense of the atmosphere, and the sense of fear and discomfort of the narrator.

    • Karlie

      I feel as if this describes New York City. lol And I believe you did a very well job of describing how much the character hates it. Magnificent!!! Keep up the good work!

    • DRB2930

      I love the details …the wheels of my luggage click, being splashed, the rain had ended. It gives me a true sense of the place and your experience. I also like the stark contrast and brevity of your sentence “I wasn’t one of them.” Excellent. The irony of traveling so far in a desire to appreciate the beauty only to have a moment in which you think of home.

      The only critique I can add is that your voice changes from “I” to “your” in the first sentence of the second paragraph. It takes us outside of your experience for a moment. I wonder if rewriting it from your POV would make it that much more cohesive. Just a thought. Great overall.

    • Mary Wang

      I think this is an interesting set up where you were setting up a somber and lost tone of the story. I sense that it can be darker, and you should permit yourself to go a bit crazy and then tighten. Right now it’s a bit simplistic, with some unnecessary phrases. More adjectives and less “I” could help. For example, what does it mean by “I tried to make my way”. HOW did you make your way down the boulevard? Did you stumble like a zombie? Your best imagery in the first paragraph is on the luggage pulling your over, so start with the best and go deep with description. “The boulevard zipped with cars with dizzying speed, but I could still hear the click of my luggage against the pavement, threatening to pull me down. The cars didn’t care, a man looked but turned away. I gave up. ” Or something like that. You don’t need write things like “I heard” or “I feel”. Just write what your heard, what your feel.

  47. Alyssa Phillips

    I am super new, I know it’s pretty short and don’t know if I followed the prompt fully but overall I like it. It’s about the time I visited family in England for the first time, I’m from Texas so you can imagine the differences in accents.
    ——————————————————————————————
    Here I am, sitting in a foreign land. I’m looking at the people who surround me, family yet strangers, speaking to me in a language I understand but with a tongue so different from my own. I open my mouth to speak and enterally cringe as the slow drawn out words hang in the air. My father’s eyes peer at me from the face of a man I have never met. He issues words of welcome but his stance is cool and distant. The blood between us can’t mask what is clear, I don’t belong.

    Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      I’d like to see more of this.
      Adelaide

  48. Craig Woodall

    Well here it is. It was more fun than I thought. Clicking the “Post” button however is like banging my head against a wall…I just don’t want to do it. Thank you so much for the challenge.

    Purple Rain

    It was the second year I had been enrolled at Saint Joseph International School in Yokohama, Japan I was now in the 8th grade. I had long since grown accustomed to the various challenges I faced. Everyone was smarter than me, their parents seemingly more capable of affording the high cost of a Catholic education and EVERYONE spoke Japanese, including my best friend Thane. He was everything his name described, clearly American with blonde hair and blues eyes, a towering figure over all of our Japanese classmates, possessing a surprisingly perfect grasp of the foreign language. He had been there forever, was Japanese was none too foreign to him.

    Beyond the slight variations of our uniform, we all wore the same thing: Gray slacks, blue blazer, white dress shirt with a crimson tie. My uniform was always somehow different. It looked as well as any of the others, yet I knew that my mother had bought nearly every piece of it second hand. About the only thing that wasn’t a hand-me- down, despite not having an older brother, was my underwear.

    There was planned, and we knew about the dance that our Sister School Saint Maurs, would throw for us at the end of the year. I had never been to a dance before, besides the fact that I had to travel an hour and a half to get to school, dances weren’t an activity my mother let me do, we (my sister and I) had to sneak our earful of secular music. If we were dancing, it was at the Holy Spirit’s direction. Somehow not the coolest look to go for at school.

    I suspect my mother knew the importance of this first dance. Until that time I couldn’t remember a new dress outfit unless it was Easter. I certainly gloried in the crispness of the slacks she had pressed, the collar that was strangling my neck creating that look I saw our pastor with in his Sunday best. I looked and felt good, I felt…Cool.

    Everything was just fine until I took the shortcut from the bus stop and reached the edge of our soccer field. I was a stones throw away from the gymnasium, where the dance was to be. I looked I imagined as good as any one of my peers. My breath was in order and my hair was freshly cut in the “Hammer don’t hurt em’ ” style which was popular in that day including the cut lines on my temple. I was different, and I knew it. I was frozen in the chilly evening air. No one said a word to me, I hadn’t ripped my pants or popped a button, hadn’t lost my dinner from the nervous waves in my stomach. I convinced myself that I was different and somehow it mattered. I was the only black person that would be there. I was panicked and sat and paced back and forth on the player-less field for an hour. I don’t know how I did, but I remembered what my mother had told me once. ” Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something, not even yourself.”

    I made it to the dance, the hour I had “wasted” on our grass-less soccer field almost didn’t matter. The girls in their pretty little dresses were on one side of the dark lit gymnasium, the boys on the other. For about another hour and what seemed a thousand songs, we tried to ease the chill in the air by joking and teasing. All the while cognizant of our true desire to cut it up and show are cool moves.

    I was nervous, so was Thane, together the two most different boys at the dance, decided with our own challenge. I don’t remember the exact charge. I recall only that it It put he and I on the dance floor first. Different must have been cool as others slowly followed.

    The theme for the dance was “Purple Rain”, the song by Prince was the last song. I had heard it many times before, without my mother’s knowledge. As the song went on and I awkwardly embraced the pretty young girl that had been my partner for most of the night, my heart raced, I heard the words, and felt the words, I was free and trapped at the same time. It was a feeling that I honestly had never felt before, a feeling I will never forget. I felt different and it was good. We were the last to leave the dance floor.

    Reply
    • gina

      you capture the era well

    • Craig Woodall

      Thank you! Still banging my head against the wall (practicing) 🙂

  49. FH Turner

    It has been a long time since I’ve done any long-from writing other than journaling so here goes. Thank you for this community I look forward to sharing and learning.

    Number one, I had never considered myself a number one in my life. Even though I was the eldest child in our family my Dad had been married previously and had two children from that union, one boy and one girl; I wasn’t even the number one daughter.

    They say being number one is best and yet I certainly wasn’t feeling that way on this late summer evening with the bright sun still high over the alien, low-slung building and thick humidity hanging in the air.

    I was two years shy of being able to drive myself so Dad dropped me off in front of the high school where dozens of other girls were gathered, freshmen to seniors, all showing off the signs of a well-enjoyed summer break: suntans, cut-offs and flowing hair.

    We had lived in town for two years now so I wasn’t an alien; I would start high school in a couple of weeks with the same eclectic group of friends I had in jr. high. It should have felt comfortable; I wanted to be there and yet as I stepped out of the car and it pulled away my courage went with it. My stomach flipped and I quickly searched for a familiar face. My best friend wasn’t there, she had decided not to try out for jr. varsity cheerleading squad. Why, I wondered, had I?
    Not the skinniest or prettiest or a joiner, I had considered myself mostly invisible around school. Not a number one.

    The coaches rounded us up and we gathered in the school auditorium where a 10-gallon hat sat filled with numbered slips of paper, 99 slips to be exact, to determine the order of our auditions. Going alphabetically, each of us picked a single slip, coming to the R’s it was finally my turn. With still unsettled nerves I lunged my shaking hand into the hat grabbing my slip, I anxiously opened it and
    at the least promising moment of my life it turned out that I was number one.

    Reply
    • gina

      clever! what a fun story.

    • FH Turner

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and send along your positive vibes!

    • Adelaide Shaw

      I replied to the wrong post before.

      A very clever ending which, I would think, give you the courage you needed. If thi is a true story, I hope you made the squad

  50. Judy

    My first post…I am really looking forward to comments. Thank you!
    __________________________________________________

    The long hall to the classroom turned conference room was

    dark in the late afternoon. There were no outside windows. Turning into the room
    I realized I was the first one in the empty room. “We never start on time” I
    heard a voice joking behind me. Oh, I thought, I really don’t know the program
    here yet. Slowly people filtered in, sitting around the tables that were in a square
    shape with all the chairs facing the middle of the room. There was a general
    buzz of chatter and my nerves were a bit raw. What was I doing here, I thought
    to myself? In this place, in this square shaped room, with these people? I was
    the newcomer, and they hired me – but I really didn’t fit. This classroom, with
    its projectors and white boards was a far cry from the soccer mom world I was
    comfortable living in all these years. I was the carpool lady; I was the
    volunteer at the high school football game concession stand. I yelled myself
    hoarse cheering on my kid’s teams. What about this “team”? Ironic, I felt like
    the round peg in this square world.

    As the meeting began this new atmosphere began to intimidate
    me even more than I thought it would. There were whole discussions that could
    have been in Greek for all I truly understood. The classroom seemed to mock me…you
    wanted this, right? You went back to school to move in a different direction
    right? Ah yes, the dream, the goal. I should have known how it would be the
    moment I drove into the university parking lot those six years earlier. I had a
    minivan with juice boxes and Happy Meal toys strewn on the floor and I was
    surrounded by sporty cars with cans of Red Bull and gym bags. Now I am the Home
    Economics Extension Agent turned corporate communicator turned wife and mom
    turned professor in this square intimidating world. Over the months and yes,
    even years, the meetings continued…I continued struggling to “find my place” as
    the outsider in this academic scene until I could no longer endure. I left – literally
    moved out of the area entirely. My world seems sane again. I belong. Teaching
    is still important but structured outside of this square environment. That
    world is nuanced, intimidating, and far from the comfortable world in which I
    exist. My world is the world of practicality; of preferring the applied over
    the esoteric; the pragmatic over the profound.

    Reply
    • gina

      great topic,

    • Adelaide Shaw

      A very clever ending which, i would think, give you the courge you needed. If thi is a true story, I hope you made the squad.

  51. Anne Barrett

    OK, humbly: first attempt to join in the practicing community. This was a 15-minute thing:

    My body tracks it as 7:00 a.m., but the darkness outside is disorienting. It might be much earlier or far later. What are all these shouting, milling people doing here? There are hundreds. Waves of human sound rise and fall from every compass point, often overwhelming the only slightly more remote noises of jet aircraft coming and going. People yell at those exiting the planes. Glazed-eyed ex-passengers yell for each other while thronging around the creaking luggage conveyers. Parents yell at their children, who (having reached a hyperactive state of sleep deprivation) dash wildly among towering adults with their collected piles of bags. The smell of the weary unwashed, undoubtedly including myself, is as piercing as the noise.

    Outside the airport the drivers of a motley ground transport fleet yell, non-stop, for potential customers. In an earlier moment of confusion someone at my office apparently made arrangements for not one, but two drivers to collect me in this distant city. These individuals locate me nearly simultaneously and, quickly assessing the situation, begin to argue vehemently in one or more languages not my own, while I stand by blinking and bemused. I am too exhausted to sort it out for them. Apparently they arrive in time at a compromise: one will take my luggage while the other takes me, and we will reconvene at the hotel.

    My driver puts me in the front seat of his small sedan, and we’re off. I spend a few moments of the almost comically terrifying trip on a fruitless visual search for the car carrying my precious gear. I say with some authority that riding shotgun through a night in Chennai is not for the faint at heart.

    Reply
    • gina

      you paint a good picture, comical yet I am worried about those bags.

    • AC Barrett

      Thanks, Gina! This was a fun exercise. I’ve been poking around in my head for a short-story idea and maybe this is a way to start one.

    • gina

      great idea, keep me posted on your progress. the bags hooked me and can’t wait to see how it plays out.

    • JamesterLee

      I loved the idea of the words overwhelming the reader just as the narrator is overwhelmed by the new place. I’ve traveled to other countries before and this is pretty accurate. It was hard to understand what was going at first, because it seemed like a person just coming into consciousness. I don’t know if that was intentional or not but it seemed as though the story was becoming clearer as the narrator’s mind was adjusting to the setting. Very nice.

    • Jay

      I love how your piece so easily allowed me to picture where the character is. Even before you said Chennai.
      Hope you continue this piece! Also hope the bags don’t go missing 😛

  52. Grant Burkhardt

    First-timer here! Happy to be a part of a community like this one. This took 30 minutes:

    At the beginning of a whirlwind week, I was casually leaning against the railing of an airport terminal reading a magazine printed in a language I don’t understand. I might as well have been holding it upside down. This magazine was a picture book in my hands, and I was convinced that everyone who passed me saw right through my false front.

    I did everything I could think to fit in, but then I realized I had so much luggage. My efforts were destined to be vain ones. Clearly, I was lost in the Charles de Gaulle airport, so I just leaned farther into that metal railing and thought about the morning, while pretending to read French, which I had heard for three years of high school.

    The plane was black, customs felt like a police interrogation room, and then the world became lighter and I realized that I had touched down on foreign floor tiles. The passport worked. I was in another country.

    Now I merely had to navigate the airport to my next gate, and I needed to find my travel companion, who was living in this country and presumably better at maneuvering than I was. It was a matter of making the right turn, and then the right turn, and then the right left turn, and then, apparently, reading a magazine.

    With assistance from bilingual angels, I made it to a checkpoint. My things were being x-rayed. Plenty of time remained before the next plane took off, to the south. I breathed deeply.

    Behind me, a boy started a conversation with a girl. He was from Spain, she was studying in Egypt. He was a Real Madrid supporter. She didn’t know much about soccer.

    “Football…you’re in Europe now.”

    I guess I was. They were both in Paris for the weekend. It’s her first time here, it was not his. Eavesdropping, I was third-wheeling my daydreams. People were meeting, and I was there to share it. But I realized I was staring. I must have looked like I wanted to be a part of the conversation. That’s true, of course, but I put my head down instead.

    Security was the easy part. Hand gestures are universal.

    “Come on through, come on through…”

    Through the detectors, the new friends exchange phone numbers and pledge to explore the city together.

    And then I was acting nonchalant and terrified of communication issues facing me. A few minutes before picking up that magazine, I found out that the airport didn’t sell cell phones, or maybe they just didn’t understand what I was talking about. Either way, I had no way of finding my friend, except for blind chance.

    Luckily, soon after, when I had given up my fantasy of remembering any French I had learned, I spotted him. He didn’t see me, and then he turned and moved briskly in the wrong direction.

    So I hauled my ass and my outrageous amount of stuff in his direction, catching him just before he was about to have security call my name over the airport address system. I think about that alternate timeline, in which everyone would have known I didn’t know where I was.

    We got chocolate chip bread…I honestly can’t remember what it was called, but it was mighty sweet for it being 7:30 in the morning.

    I think that was the day I fell in love with being uncomfortable, and with airports, and with meeting people. I truly did not belong where I was that morning and for the first few days of the week-long trip across an amazing country.

    I had forgotten more of the language than I knew, but even by clinging to that railing, I was extending my boundaries or blowing through them, and in my discomfort I felt at home.

    Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      The discomfort and strangeness of being in a foreign land comes through. As tourists we don’t want to look like tourists, but want to fit in. Not easy to do without the language.
      There seems to some confusion in the time sequence. Beginning with the sentence “The plane is black.” Earlier you are already in the airport, now you’re talking about the plane. Maybe I’m reading this wrong.
      Adelaide

  53. Adelaide Shaw

    I posted this first practice on my blog. I spent more than 15 minutes, about 40 at least. I know it is predictable, but without editing myself as I wrote this is the result.

    YOU WANNA DANCE?

    Again, Angie was where she hated to be, standing in the back, in the shadows, watching the other girls dance with the boys from St. Christopher’s and Mount Carmel. It seemed they all knew each other from elementary school. Getting together the two high schools for boys with St. Mary’s School for Girls was a backslapping reunion for all of them. Except Angie. New to the school, new to the city, she was an outsider, a “wall-flower” at every mixer, every party, every gathering. There were a few others who didn’t seem to mix well, but that was of no consolation.

    Wearing the same style of clothes didn’t help. Full swinging skirt, short curly bouncy hair. What Angie lacked was sparkle. Not being outgoing in nature, any sparkle she had disappeared at these events. The livelier the music the more her stomach jumped and the dryer her mouth became.

    Another casual stroll to the refreshment table. Try to listen. There. Say something. She had seen that movie. Too late. Football now. Nothing Angie could say about that..

    The shadows suddenly seemed longer and darker. Some clown had turned off the lamps in the cozy tete-a-tete arrangements against the wall.

    “Girls Choice,” someone announced. Laughter and squeals erupted as girls rushed to get the boys of their hearts’ desire while the boys feigned dismay, shock, or ardent love.

    Now or never. It usually came down to never. The overhead lights hit her like a spot. Angie felt that they were only on her hesitant steps as she inched her way to a group of unclaimed boys. As if on spring loaded shoes, they took off toward the girls still looking for partners. Except one who back stepped into the shadows. Tall and thin with horned rimmed glasses the boy slouched, and shifted his feet. He was against a chair and looked about to fall into it. Now or never, Angie. Now or …

    She held out her hand. “You wanna dance?”

    The boy came forward a step, one hand held out, the other trying to hide the Honor Society Pin on the lapel of his jacket.

    “Oh, I have one,” Angie said.“But…I don’t like wearing it.”

    “I don’t either. My mom made me put it on. I forgot to take it off.”

    “Don’t take it off. I think it’s great.”

    “You do? That’s great.”

    “You wanna dance?” they said together and laughed their way out of the shadows.

    Adelaide

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      By the end of your submission, I wanted to dance with with the guy in the horn rimmed glasses. He sounds sweet. And I found myself imagining what he would look like if he took his glasses off, even though they seem to be almost a part of his identity.

  54. Xavier

    As a football player, I have to spend a lot of time in the locker room. I have been to many schools that have decent-poor locker rooms that lack basic hygiene, but they are heaven compared to ours. I would liken it to Dante’s Inferno. This is an exaggerated description of my first trip into my high school’s disgusting locker room as a Freshman. I always feel out of place there just because of the sheer lack of standards.

    I had no choice but to venture down. On
    the level below, the dim twitching light illuminated a filthy
    corridor, that held scattered garbage and dirt soaked cleaning
    supplies. I descended the chipped linoleum steps with the support of
    a rusted beam. At the base of the steps, a fowl stench pierced my
    nose. It was the smell of human waste and hopelessness.

    I peered into the room to my left and
    beheld the source of the stench. Crooked tiles led to an aluminum
    sink on the right wall. It was filled to the brim with a murky white
    concoction that had failed to drain. The soap dispenser had been
    stuffed with balls of tissue, and the only remaining soap was a thick
    cake that lined the bottom. Above that hung a tarnished mirror with
    white splotches of God-knows-what, bordered by obscenities
    transcribed in sharpie marker. Beyond the sinks were seven urinals
    lining the wall. Urine and tobacco spit pooled in each bowl like tar
    pits. Rust streamed down the ceramic structures like rain drops on a
    window pane. To the left of the room were the stalls. A wall of black
    plastic concealed what I imagine is pure evil. The last stall on the
    end had no door, because it was sprawled on the tile like a murder
    victim. At the very end of the bathroom, there was a textured glass
    window that rationed as much light as its design would allow. To
    supplement this, unforgiving fluorescent lights were planted in the
    yellow paneled ceiling.

    My attention was drawn out of the
    bathroom to what stood before me. Two green steel doors towered over
    me like Goliath over David. It’s as if they said, “Knock if you
    dare to enter.” With a hesitant shake I raised my arm to the metal
    giants. My knuckle tapped the surface. Tap. Tap. Tap.

    The door creaked inward. I puffed my
    chest, hardened my face, and took one step into the unknown.

    Before me was a congregation of twenty
    massive human beings. At the sound of my entrance, their eyes shot
    over to me. Their faces were expressionless; their intents were
    ambiguous. There was no turning back, so I rigidly walked into the
    room. The room was an image of hell. Broken benches were nailed to
    the cement. Balls of indeterminate rubbish were strewn across the
    floors. Rusty metal chairs scattered the room. Heaps of miscellaneous
    clothes were piled in the corners. Towers of green metal lockers
    lined the walls. The stench of mildew pervaded the air.

    I moved through the silent crowd that
    occupied the benches and chairs to the back of the room. I navigated
    the clunky metal lockers and found my cell. Locker number 58 was to
    be my home away from home in the hell they call my high school locker
    room.

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I enjoyed reading this. You have some very vivid descriptions; I especially liked the one of the door sprawled on the tile like a murder victim.
      I could imagine you writing the scene of an actual murder from a detective’s perspective since you are so good at creating a visual feast (or bloodbath) for the reader.
      I do think that a few sentences could be reworded, like the one that says “I descended the chipped linoleum steps with the support of a rusted beam.” I initially thought that you were walking with the support of a rusted metal beam instead of walking on chipped linoleum steps that are supported by a rusty metal beam.

    • Twinss R.

      Wow, you have some amazing descriptions here! :O
      I also really liked your variety of words, there was a rich dictionary here (I am not a native english speaker and the fact that I had a couple of unknown words is a good sign 😉 ).
      However, I would suggest to give more “emotion” to your surroundings. You were very descriptive but there was a lack of feeling, or of something more than a mere visual depiction.

  55. Gwen Fay

    I could not help seeing the scar on his face. Part of one
    nostril was missing, and a thick, angry scar traversed his dark cheek. His
    fingers undulated in a slow, calculated pattern on the hilt of his machete as
    he walked, nearing me with each slap of his broken boots on the cobblestoned
    hill. He narrowed his eyes when he saw me, and I involuntarily shivered.

    The scar, I realized, must be from someone else’s machete.
    My cheek tightened as I imagined the metal of his heavy blade slicing my flesh.
    I still stood in the shadow of the lofty Catholic church in the center of the
    city square, pressed against the iron gate. My blood would run as red as the
    velvet robe draped over Jesus’s shoulders.

    His head shifted from side to side as if he was weighing me
    out. I was found deficient, lacking in the ability to defend myself. With cobra
    like decision, he moved toward me. As those dark eyes snapped at me, a chill
    crept up my spine with death cold fingers.

    Then, my superhero appeared. Suited in blue, with an utterly
    determined expression on his jowls, he stepped forward. Like Kipling’s
    mongoose, he stared down the cobra. The machete wielding man flung one last snake like look at me and kept walking. He disappeared into a small shop, a cohesion of gray tatters and gray metal. My mongoose gave me a contemptuous glance and planted himself beside me, daring any and all passersby to bother the only one of my kind in the entire city.

    Reply
  56. Blake Robinson

    “Going for a run” hasn’t crossed my mind in the last seven
    years because persistent foot and back pain has been my constant
    companion.

    Every six months or so I work up the courage to make another
    effort to find “The Perfect Shoe.” These episodes don’t come out of nowhere. They’re usually the result of pain-induced depression.

    “How can this hurt so bad when I’ve only had my shoe on for
    five minutes? It must be my imagination. It can’t be my imagination. This really hurts!”

    The thought of enduring this the whole day sinks me and my
    eyes get watery.

    Reply
  57. Op Bish

    First post! Love the idea of getting feedback in the comments. Thanks, all!

    —————————————————————————–

    As I made my way across the dark campus, the nervousness swirled in my stomach. Not many other people were out due to the cold and the fact that it was smack dab in the middle of study hours. I was supposed to be studying; everyone was. Instead, I found myself creeping in the dark, through the shadows, to the back covered patio of the condemned building adjacent to the largest boys’ dorm. As I approached my destination, I prayed that someone (he) would be there, and in my next breath prayed that he would not. What I feared most of all was that no one would be there; that I would be sitting, alone, waiting for someone, anyone, to come along and make me feel like I belonged. Like I wasn’t some pretender.

    As I walked up to the unlit patio, I could just make out the two benches sitting, empty. My stomach sank, but I couldn’t turn around now. I looked around and then ducked into the shadows and took a seat on one of the benches. The cold wood sent a shiver through my body as I took out a Marlboro Light and lit it, inhaling deeply. As the nicotine hit my brain, I began to relax. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought as I leisurely smoked and pondered my evening. “So what if nobody is out here. I’m a legitimate smoker. I have as much right to sit out here as anyone else.” Despite these affirmations, I felt the lie. I was a poser. I was out there for one reason and one reason only, to see him. And this was a wasted trip. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to come back for another few hours, lest I be pegged a chain smoker, which as cool as smoking in high school was, chain smoking showed you had a problem. And nothing’s less cool than having a problem.

    So lost was I in my thoughts and desperate attempt to seem comfortable out there alone, I didn’t even notice him walking up. Before I had a chance to prepare myself, I saw him sit down on the other bench, just adjacent to mine, and I heard the whisper of the flint as he lit his smoke. A Marlboro Red, of course. My breath caught in my throat and I could not think of a single thing to say. So for awhile, silence. Awkward, uncomfortable silence.

    Finally, I took a breath and was able to blurt out, “So, how’s studying going,” in a voice that was nothing like my own.

    He smiled at me, God I loved his smile, and said, “Same shit, different day.” He was so damn cool. I couldn’t even stand it.

    I knew I was in the midst of a rare opportunity, just him and me, sitting alone, talking. I wished with every fiber of my being that he would ask me to go for a walk. I pictured us walking to the edge of campus, slipping across the street under cover of shadows so the dorm parents wouldn’t see us. I pictured him taking my hand in his as we walked, talking to me about all of his awesomely cool bullshit while I tried hard to focus on what he was saying, instead of paying attention to the monkeys jumping around in my chest screaming, “WE ARE ON A WALK!!!” I then pictured him pulling me close and backing me into a tree, one of the tall old, oaks that lined the street, and as he was looking in to my eyes with his deep soulful stare, he brought his face closer, closer, until our lips touched.

    I shivered, jumping back to reality with a start. How long had I been daydreaming? I looked down at my cigarette. Shit. It was almost at the filter. I knew once it was done, all pretense for me being there would be spent, and I would be forced to leave, or stay while not smoking. I couldn’t decide which was worse. Had I been sitting there stupidly for several minutes? God this was awkward. No way was he asking me on a walk. Why would he?

    Suddenly, he spoke up again. “So, what brings you out here on such a cold night? Pretty stressful homework night tonight?”

    “Um, I guess. I think I just wanted to get some fresh air, haha. How about you.” Fresh air? God, I was drowning here.

    “Nah, everything’s cool, I just needed to take a break.” He ran his fingers through his shaggy, almost curly black hair, and shook it back out of his eyes. How was he so fucking cool and I was so lame? This was definitely not a fair fight.

    “So what are you working on?”

    “Calculus, my teacher is an asshole. She gave us this giant assignment knowing that this weekend was break. Fucking bitch.”

    “Yeah, I hate it when teachers do that.” I said, trying to laugh in that cool offhand way, but letting out a giggle instead. I was glad he couldn’t see my obvious cringe in the dark. Thank God for small favors.

    I looked down and realized that my cigarette was toast. My stomach tightened. As awful and uncomfortable as this was, my heart was beating so fast and I had adrenaline pumping through my veins. I didn’t want it to end. Why was this so hard? “Ok,” I said, “I guess I’m done and should head in.”

    “Yeah, later” he replied, “have a good one”

    “You too” I said over my shoulder as I walked away, my heart beating in my ears.

    Had that really happened? Had I really just survived sitting alone with him for those epic five minutes (which seemed like an hour)? Regardless of the fact that our encounter was painfully uneventful, I found myself almost skipping through the shadows back to my dorm. Giddy with excitement, I threw open the door and walked down the hall, my head in a cloud, with cigarette smoke clinging to my clothes as the girls I passed wrinkled their noses in disgust. Bitches. They didn’t even bother me. I was on top of the world.

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      The emotion in your piece is raw and real. A few suggestions/feedback:
      1. I was confused as to why, in the first paragraph, you wrote “someone (he)”. Since you are going to tell us right away that the person you are meeting is a he, really no need for the parentheses. Maybe you could write something like “I prayed that he would be there. The one who held every thought captive. Should I tell him? Nah, that would be just creepy. I sat down, trying to appear to anyone happening to walk by that I belonged. But I sure wasn’t fooling myself. Pretender.” But use your own style.
      2. Some of your sentences are really long. Like this one: “I knew that I wouldn’t be able to come back
      for another few hours, lest I be pegged a chain smoker, which as cool as
      smoking in high school was, chain smoking showed you had a problem.” Or this one: “Giddy with excitement, I threw open the door and walked down the hall,
      my head in a cloud, with cigarette smoke clinging to my clothes as the
      girls I passed wrinkled their noses in disgust.” The content of your sentences is relevant, but few authors put that many thoughts in one sentence.
      3. Keep up the clear descriptions! I love “my heart beating in my ears”, “the whisper of the flint”, “awkward, uncomfortable silence.”
      4. I hope that my suggestions aren’t too out there. You did say that you were looking forward to feedback, so I felt compelled to deliver:) Keep writing.

  58. chrishadsell

    First post, 20 minutes, unedited and nervous to submit:

    I didn’t want to go.

    In fact, I had spent the better part of a week filling my
    schedule with everything else, anything else. The last time we talked about
    going, I sabotaged the whole thing by pretending to have a stomach bug. The
    only bug I had was avoidance.

    There was no one even there. It was just an old house
    perched in a high-walled garden, it’s chalky white walls juxtaposed to the
    green Kenyan grass and the sky-high palm trees. I can’t say that it was
    haunted, that would be far too easy.

    Truthfully, I was haunted.

    Haunted by broken relationships and unmet expectations, my
    anger with others and my obsessive need to avoid confrontation. As we pulled
    up, I felt my heart beat a little faster, not like race but more like a swift
    walk. Bum Bum Bum. There’s no one here, she’s not going to come in while we’re
    here.

    I hopped out of the van on a mission, get in, get out and go
    home. Approaching the door, I heard him say “we forgot the key, let’s wait here
    for the guard.” My anxiety turned to defiance, she wasn’t coming, I was allowed
    to be here, I practically found this place.

    It was supposed to be beautiful, a place of healing and
    rest. Instead it had become a exercise in failure and I had somehow become the villain.
    This place had been off-limits, despite my relationship with its tenants. All
    because of her and what power she still possessed over me from thousands of
    miles away!

    As the guard approached with the key, innocent of my own
    anxiety and fear, he welcomed me back to the place they call beautiful house as
    if I owned the place. His welcoming calmed me and flooded me with pleasant
    memories of first seeing this place with it’s clay roof peaking above the wall,
    knowing that this was it. Entering the vacant home there were remnants of art
    still hanging on the walls, signs that children lived here, all pointing to a
    better time.

    The boxes and bags were right where we left them, untouched
    by the vagrants who had come in the days before to steal and violate this
    precious place. Not much different than what she did, I thought.

    As we pulled away and the big African sunset beyond the
    mango trees, everything sunk into sadness. My heart was heavy for her, she was
    just young and ambitious, not malicious and conniving. When she drove away, I
    wonder how she felt, confused and alone, empty and hurting?

    It was over. There’s no one there.

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I was a little confused the first time I read this, but when I reread it, (mostly because of the sentence about the big African sunset beyond the mango trees), things made more sense. I can feel the trauma, the hurt, the loss. I was intrigued by the story taking place in Kenya.
      If you started the piece with the sentence “truthfully, I was haunted,” I think it would be even more interesting.

    • chrishadsell

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • Twinss R.

      Wooow, this is amazingly written! :O
      I… I sort of wish I had found anything “negative” in order to make a constructive criticism but it’s hard! It was really beautiful! 🙂
      The overall emotion in it (and even the change of your feelings and contemplation while you were facing the situation) is just amazing; it is really beautifully written and in an order as to not confuse the readers.
      And I’m glad you finally dealt with it. 😉

  59. Elise Martel

    For the record, this didn’t actually happen to me. It is based off of a bunch of random things I read about/conjured up. My mom is amazing:)

    “Mom, I can’t wear this,” I pleaded. “Don’t make me. I’ll die.”
    Mom shot me a cold look laced with weariness and hurt. “Well, I wouldn’t want to be arrested for murder, would I?” she said. She stuck her little chin out as if she was daring me to sock her with another criticism. “I go out and buy my daughter a dress, and I am accused of trying to kill her.”

    She turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, ignoring my remorseful attempts to take back my words. I could hear the buzz of the party outside my room. I didn’t need open the door to know that the pouts and betrayed looks she gave me disappeared already.

    She was mingling, being a hostess. Ms. Charming. Cue staged laughter and patient listening to sonorous lectures on the worth of the Cullinan diamond. Everyone worshiped her.

    And here I was in my room, staring at the ugliest dress of my life. They got worse each year. Last year, a bubble gum pink Marilyn Monroe monstrosity. The year before, I had to parade around in a Mantis green debacle with puffed sleeves. She eclipsed herself each year.

    This year took the cake. Each frilly piece of the dress hung downward like a leaf of the world’s largest cabbage. Dye them bright yellow, add lace to the edges, and sew
    them together, and you had my dress. I would take the green or the pink or even both together in a heartbeat over this. I would dress up like Spumoni ice cream any day over looking like a cabbage with banana yellow leaves.
    I squeezed into it, hoping that maybe it wouldn’t look as bad when I was wearing it. Nope. Who was I kidding? I weighed out my options. A, I died, or B, I wore it and then died.

    I chose B. Either way I was dead, but at least option B wouldn’t be because my mother physically murdered me. I peeped into the box containing my shoes. Brown with corduroy stripes. The chocolate sauce on top of this banana split I was wearing.
    I ventured out of the safety of my refuge, not even bothering to wish that no one would see me. It was over. My life. Gone.
    Great Aunt Ethel was the first to catch a glimpse of the Banana Cabbage Split, her grand niece. She hustled over to me, jiggling in purple velvet. “What, my dear, is that?” she hissed in my ear, jabbing at my train with her cane.
    “A fashion statement,” I whispered back with a devilish look. “They are all the rage in Paris. Renowned for a bold approach in mimicking the simple beauty found in nature.”
    “How poetic,” she sniffed. “Just because cabbages grow in nature doesn’t mean that people should wear them.” She hurled a contemptuous look and me and sniffed again, the long hair sticking out of her nose sucked in with her breath.
    I felt decidedly wicked and oppressed. Since I was going to die tonight anyway, I didn’t bother to curb my tongue. “How could you be so oppressive?” I challenged. “I thought that you, of all people, would recognize a piece of art when you saw it. At least my dress doesn’t have faded spots from the sun.”

    Seething with rage, she withdrew her eyes from me as if she suddenly discovered that I was leprous. I swept by her, headed for the stairs. At least then I could get something cold to soothe my burning throat and feverish cheeks.
    As I dismounted the stairs, the guests roving the ballroom below froze in place and stared up at me. If looks could kill, I was long dead. I felt blood rush from my stomach to my neck, face, shoulders, arms. If my dress was dip dyed yellow, the rest of me was scarlet. Great, I thought. Now I look like a giant Easter egg with a doily attached to me.

    It felt a little breezy. I looked behind me. My train was at the top step underneath my uncle’s foot. The rest of me was at the bottom step. I curled my legs together.
    “Well, at least now she looks all banana,” my father bellowed from across the ballroom.
    I fell forward. I’m dead.

    Reply
  60. Horris

    First post so go easy please. It’s really made me realise I need to think about grammar and sentence structure. I hand wrote for 15 mins and then typed making a few adjustments as I went.

    It was already pitch black despite it really not being that late. Long winter dark nights had that effect. I was glad the bus I was waiting on had just pulled in. My interview outfit
    couldn’t protect me from the bitter chill in the air but at least I could be thankful it hadn’t rained. There was a queue to board. I never understood why people were so pedantic about it when there was always plenty of room on the buses. ‘No, you are first,’ they would say and jostle you on board before them.

    The driver opens the door as soon as he arrives and for that I am grateful. I’ve
    already had to wait ten, long, cold minutes. Today, there is only one young
    girl before me. She must be colder than I am dressed only in sportswear, no
    coat over her hooded top. She flashes her pass, mutters a thanks and climbs the
    stairs to the second deck. The driver checks my ticket, I thank him, then
    follow the girl upstairs. I don’t think you ever grow out of the magic of the
    front seat of the bus. I take the front seat on the right and smile at the
    girl.

    I start flicking through the free magazine I have picked up but I am still too wired from my job interview or perhaps an overload of caffeine earlier in the day, to actually
    focus on any of the articles. I flick through it, taking in the headlines and
    nothing more. The girl opposite me is tapping away at her mobile phone texting
    or Facebooking. I can hear voices behind us starting up a conversation. I must
    have been more absorbed in my magazine than I thought, as I hadn’t heard anyone
    else come up stairs. ‘Hello James. Been a while since I’ve seen you,’ says the first voice. A second voice joins in, another man’s voice but there is something a little odd about this one. I turn in my seat and take a peak. Sometimes I listen to the voices for longer and try to imagine in my mind what they look like before subtly turning around. James is probably in his late 20s, wearing a shell-suit that looks almost as old as he is, it’s zipped right up to his chin. He has dark short hair that is greased by some kind of gel. The man who spoke first is older, his face wrinkled and hair greyed. I class him as retired as I really cannot fathom how old he is actually is.

    As the bus trundles through the town their conversation seems harmless enough. Reminiscing about days gone by, asking if they have seen this person or that person. ‘So why have I not seen you?’ The man with the grey hair and wrinkled face asks again. I don’t think any of us were expecting his full brutal honest answer.
    ‘I have been in Cherrydale. They pumped me full of drugs and told me I was insane, Dave.’ The girl opposite me catches my eye. I can tell she has been listening as well.

    Reply
  61. Betsey Heffron

    I’d lived here my whole life hadn’t I? Isn’t this the place where I felt safe and warm on the coldest and saddest of days of my youth. The place where the best thing that ever were had been shared and congratulated?
    As I stood in my parents kitchen, whose walls if they could speak, would reveal my place here. I couldn’t help but feel lost. This was where I had always been able to find myself but today…nothing.
    I had come here to discuss an idea with my parents. This was the moment I had been searching for (looking back) my whole life. I was about to stand up and make a true decision for self preservation. Independence at last. Isn’t this what we all want for our children? This I was sure my parents would openly support as I had been speeding down this road for some time. ( I thought I’d been driving a fire truck with loud sirens everyone heard, apparently it was more like a scooter with sound proofing on the wheels) I may have been expecting too much. As it turns out they weren’t thrilled.…” Mom, Daddy I’m telling Dean I wanted a divorce.”

    Reply
  62. Kate

    Ok, first time, first prompt. I don’t own a blog or share any writing ever, actually sometimes I do, in the form of letters but they generally remain unsent. Really nervous, I know my grammar isn’t up to scratch but here goes… Extreme awkwardness revisited for 15 minutes…

    It was a sunny day,
    really bright and invasive. Surrounded by an aura of perspiration I
    entered the front garden which was manicured to the extent of
    resembling a small wasteland. An archway lead into the back garden.
    A hive of social activity interrupted the seemingly innocuous
    pathway. No back entrances…

    I suddenly became
    painfully aware of a tear in my skirt. I saw two peers from my high
    school days. Their dispositions were haughty and indignant on first
    micro-expression followed by stiff, forced smiles. I spluttered
    vowels and syllables which resembled a greeting and escaped quickly
    into the kitchen. As I made my way through a maze masquerading as
    the interior of a house towards what resembled a bathroom I heard
    plastic music blaring from a popular radio station. The bathroom was
    dark, cool and quite. A small but easily disrupt able safe haven.
    Knowing I could not stay there forever I wearily ventured into the
    garden.

    Small screaming
    children were the focus of everyone’s attention, there was an
    invisible line separating the men from the women. Somehow I knew I
    did not belong there. I ventured back into the kitchen under the
    false premise of needing a drink only to be cornered by one of the
    father/husbands whose small talk dripped with gut wrenching sexual
    innuendo. I stepped fast towards the freezer as he deftly
    intercepted me with an ice-bucket and an expression of heroic pride.

    Reply
    • JamesterLee

      The descriptors in this are great. There is definitely a sense of being out of place, so much so, in fact, I couldn’t initially identify where it was. A possible next step would be helping the reader to understand what’s taking place a little more. Maybe some backstory or clarifying why the narrator is there in the first place? Great Job!

  63. JamesterLee

    Just a practice to the first prompt. No editing, written in 30 mins. I hope it’s not too rough!

    Mandy looked at everyone around her from the corner of the room. It was like a ritual, a dance processional of misfits shouting and jumping as each person moved on their queue. It was a game she didn’t understand with people she barely knew. Rather than participate, she volunteered to capture the events on camera, validating the amount of fun they were having. Obviously it had only happened if all their friends on every social network knew about it. Being the camera person was the perfect job for an onlooker who had no intention of joining.

    “What do you mean you don’t drink?” One of the athletically built, sandy blonde haired fraternity brothers asked with so much confusion in his voice, Mandy felt, for just a moment, truly abnormal.

    “It makes me ill,” Mandy responded, thinking the explanation was perfectly adequate.

    “And?” The frat boy apparently disagreed.

    “So I don’t like to.” Mandy decided short remarks were the best approach.

    “How are you going to play then?”

    “I won’t,” she dug into her pockets and pulled out her phone. She held it just between their faces, which she believed were a little too close to begin with. “I’ll take the pictures.” She batted her lashes and smiled.

    “Sweet,” the frat boy grinned. This he found to be an adequate answer.

    So here Mandy stood, in the corner of the room, playing the documentarian of a drinking binge masked as a game with complicated rules and aggressive players.

    Mandy didn’t typically attend these sporting events. She preferred a quieter night, filled with personal interaction and long dialogue. She had been tricked into attending by her roommate, Sarah, an equally athletically built, sandy blonde haired girl with more zeal in a night than Mandy had ever mustered in her life. At times, Mandy felt inadequate next to Sarah. Sarah was bold and adventurous. She was the girl every girl wanted to be, with so much spirit and radiance that she was enviable, but never hate-able.

    Mandy looked to the center of the ritual dance. Sarah was the lead, the composer, and the director all at once. Everyone followed her queues. Mandy looked on.

    I really shouldn’t be here. It was apparent in every way. She had been dressed in the guise of a sociable female in Sarah’s clothes, but her jet black hair, large framed glasses, and insistence on wearing her military boots with the dress Sarah had picked made it clear that she really wasn’t one of them.

    “I like your look. It’s exotic,” Sarah once told Mandy this in the early stages of their friendship. Exotic.

    “Exotic?” Mandy answered skeptically.

    “Yes, exotic. This is a small college town. Most people who go here, were born, grew up, and plan to die here. We have the same backgrounds, same histories. Honestly I think everyone is related in some way or another. But you, you’re different.” Sarah loved the novelty of her exotic. Mandy cringed at the idea of different, but it was true. No one else of asian descent lived in town. No matter what clothes she wore, or how she wore her hair, there was no escaping that she was different.

    Reply
    • Lucy Crabtree

      Great job! I don’t drink much, either, though a lot of my friends do (just socially, we’re all well past the college stage of frat parties and the like). They’re so nice about it and don’t really care that much, but I still feel silly ordering a Shirley Temple. 🙂 So I can relate to the narrator feeling a little out of place with the drinking, even though you don’t have her spend a lot of time on that part. You capture Mandy’s discomfort well – great description of her clothes, with the unexpected “exotic” twist at the end. I want to know more!

    • JamesterLee

      Thank you, Lucy! I appreciate the input.

  64. Lucy Crabtree

    Not expecting any critique since I’m late to the party here, but trying to do a better job of pushing myself.
    ———-
    She parked and walked in. It was a bleak building. Tan. Nondescript. Two guys waited at the elevator with her. Evie balked. They all avoided eye contact, looking to the side, up and down, but never at each other. Finally, mercifully, the elevator came, but none of them made a move to enter the carriage. One of the men gestured for her to go first, so she smiled — grimaced, really — her thanks and went in first. She didn’t ask, but punched the button to go down to the first floor. It was the only place the elevator went. The three of them rode in silence. It was just one floor, but it felt like 100. The elevator was so slow, she wasn’t even sure they were moving.

    When the doors finally opened to a dimly lit corridor, she bolted, relying on her memory to remind her how many turns to take until she found the office she needed. The two men weren’t far behind, and checked in with reception not long after she did. The lady at reception had told her to sit in the corner opposite the full waiting room. Better chance of hearing the nurse that way.

    She settled in next to an older lady who looked and smelled like a chain smoker. Evie cough and tried to discreetly cover her nose and mouth. A few chairs away sat another women, this one with a blue mask over her face.

    Wish I’d thought of that, Evie told herself.

    She watched the clock. It was 10 minutes before her appointment. Her doctor’s usual nurse came out, but didn’t call her name. Instead, the chain-smoker got up and followed the nurse down the hall. Evie could breathe again.

    She rifled through her phone — Facebook, Twitter, her blog reader. Over and over again, for something to do. She checked the time. Now it was 10 minutes past her appointment. Evie frowned. She hadn’t seen Nurse Amy anytime recently. Other nurses and assistants had come and gone, but she didn’t hear anything that sounded remotely like her name.

    The clock kept ticking. Twenty minutes. Then 30. Reception Lady walked by, saw Evie and turned back to the desk to confer with her co-workers. Evie wondered what they were saying. Were they talking about her? Were they looking at her? She couldn’t stare and eavesdrop. Not this time. Had she missed something? Did someone call her name and she didn’t know? Where was Nurse Amy?

    She kept her eye on the reception desk, just in case. Reception Lady waved her over.

    “Which doctor did you have?”

    “Hm? Oh, um, Dr. Gordon.”

    “Let’s see …”

    A few clicks on the computer. A few words with yet another co-worker. “She should be with you soon.”

    “OK,” Evie said. “Thank you.”

    Finally, a rotund man came out. He was dressed in scrubs, but Evie had never seen him before.

    He glanced around the room.

    “Evie?” he called.

    Great, she thought. I have to tell a him about my period.

    She stood quickly, dropping her purse in the process.

    “Oh, that- that’s me,” she said, leaning over to pick up her bag.

    “My name is Lewis,” the man said. “I’m helping Nurse Amy out today.”

    “OK,” Evie said. “Then you might not know that I’m hard of hearing. Could you look at me when you talk?”

    “Sure thing,” Lewis said.

    Reply
    • Eliese

      Hi Lucy. My favorite part of this story was the elevator. I could feel the tension as Evie went down to the first floor. Also the worries that she had when she saw the doctor were funny.

    • Lucy Crabtree

      Thank you, Eliese!

    • JamesterLee

      I love Evie. She’s so relatable. You can feel her discomfort. I especially enjoyed the series of questions in that close third person. It made the scene that much more tangible

  65. Eliese

    The day has arrived after months of waiting. Every night for the past 12 weeks I would cross off the date on my business sized calendar before I fell asleep. Then I would dream that I am in your arms. Soon I will no longer have to miss you.

    I am next in line. The customs officer beckons me forward. Through the glass window he asks me something I can’t comprehend. When I don’t answer he switches languages.

    “Documents?” he asks with a bored expression. I give him my blue passport. He examines it and, after a tense moment, he stamps a page and I am free. I walk through the corridor with my luggage and into a new world.

    Everything is different. The people rush by looking foreign. Children run laughing and screaming while their mother calls behind them in words I can’t understand. They answer back in their native tongue with ease. I spent a month’s practicing the language and I will never be as good as these tiny humans are.

    “Taxi. Taxi.” men in funny clothes advertise to ignorant travelers. They hope they will make an extra buck of off american like me.

    I ignore them and scan the crowd looking for you but you are nowhere to be seen. I must be in the wrong area. I examine the signs in confusion. The words seem upside-down and backwards at the same time. They are put together using the Cyrillic alphabet which I know very little of. I step forward to begin my search. I make it to a café before I decide to turn around and ask someone where to go.

    Out of the crowd the best option for help I can find are two supermodel flight attendants.

    “Can you help me?” I ask in English. They keep going so I try out my poor Ukrainian language skills.

    “Dopomha boodlaska?” They look down on me and stroll by. I am alone in an exotic country.

    I head back to the point where I arrived. I begin to panic.What if you aren’t coming? What will I do? Will I have to take another three planes just to get back home?

    I search the fluorescent lit airport one last time and there you are. I let go of my large black bag and it falls onto the linoleum floor. I don’t care. I run into your arms and squeeze has hard as I can. You smell like winter and man. I have missed this scent. I am in a land I have never seen before, but when you hold me I am home.

    Reply
  66. Guest

    Rome was only 30 kilometers distant. I
    was in the train for Rome Termini, with my mother, my cousin and my
    uncles in a hot August day.

    The hot was unbearable like my cousin’s
    small talk. We finally arrived at Rome and when I finally escaped
    out of the train I saw around tons of people in the train station.

    A big mass of people huddling each
    other. So many colors, so much confusion and so many countries that i
    didn’t believe what i was seeing. The spectacular and chaotic Rome,
    like every cosmopolitan city, where you can’t even breathe because
    other people breath your air.

    Yeah, the Roma Termini station seems so
    big, but it wasn’t. When you can’t even walk without hurting someone
    you realize that it isn’t so large and comfortable. No air, no space,
    and no movements, but your brain is full of chaos. I hated it.

    I get out the train station but i
    continued to feel like this wasn’t my city, neither my culture.
    English, Germans, Japans, Americans, Chinese and many black people
    selling gadgets. Cars and traffic around the Colosseum and fake roman
    centurions asking for a photo with them.

    That gave me a headcache, as i
    continued to see this city. I was just about to kick my chatty and
    silly cousin in the head to make her shut up!

    Oh my, oh my. Keep calm, take a deep
    breath.

    The worst part comes. In the tube, I
    never been in a tube and i come from a small city.

    I think that more people lives near,
    and more homicides will be committed. The feeling of being surrounded
    by fifteen people in a very small tube, well, it speaks alone. Just
    terrible.

    Not to talk about when I went to the
    old ruins of a roman house. They looked so weird, weird because…
    because they were our ancestors houses but, I didn’t felt them from
    my culture.

    Like I was catapulted into another
    dimension, of two thousands years ago. Maybe is Internet’s fault or
    maybe it’s just me, I can’t explain…

    And so, they day passed. I return to
    home fortunately at the end of that day, and I still remember the
    chaos, my noisy cousin, my boring uncles, my irritated mom and the
    hot of an August sunny day…

    Reply
  67. Bibi

    My first time writing in english… and i’m only fourteen. I hope is not so bad 🙂

    Rome was only 30 kilometers distant. I was in the train for Rome Termini, with my mother, my cousin and my uncles in a hot August day.

    The hot was unbearable like my cousin’s small talk. We finally arrived at Rome and when I finally escaped out of the train I saw around tons of people in the train station.

    A big mass of people huddling each other. So many colors, so much confusion and so many countries that i didn’t believe what i was seeing. The spectacular and chaotic Rome, like every cosmopolitan city, where you can’t even breathe because other people breath your air.

    Yeah, the Roma Termini station seems so big, but it wasn’t. When you can’t even walk without hurting someone you realize that it isn’t so large and comfortable. No air, no space, and no movements, but your brain is full of chaos. I hated it.

    I get out the train station but i continued to feel like this wasn’t my city, neither my culture. English, Germans, Japans, Americans, Chinese and many black people selling gadgets. Cars and traffic around the Colosseum and fake roman centurions asking for a photo with them.

    That gave me a headcache, as i continued to see this city. I was just about to kick my chatty and silly cousin in the head to make her shut up!

    Oh my, oh my. Keep calm, take a deep breath.

    The worst part comes. In the tube, I never been in a tube and i come from a small city.

    I think that more people lives near, and more homicides will be committed. The feeling of being surrounded by fifteen people in a very small tube, well, it speaks alone. Just terrible.

    Not to talk about when I went to the old ruins of a roman house. They looked so weird, weird because… because they were our ancestors houses but, I didn’t felt them from my culture.

    Like I was catapulted into another dimension, of two thousands years ago. Maybe is Internet’s fault or maybe it’s just me, I can’t explain…

    And so, they day passed. I return to home fortunately at the end of that day, and I still remember the chaos, my noisy cousin, my boring uncles, my irritated mom and the hot of an August sunny day…

    Reply
  68. Elizabeth Towns

    Here is my response to the first prompt. Be gentle.

    Initially, the ride through the lighted hallways was almost happy, lighthearted and cheerful. The walls were lined with pictures of people who had been there before or who had left a contribution to the institution. A baby grand piano was in the lobby surrounded by comfortable pretty seating. As we rolled past, I remembered seeing the pianist take his seat on other occasions. He played contemporary jazz that filled the atrium with reverberating lingering notes.

    The hallway seemed to stretch before us further the longer we rode. We passed others, walking quickly to their own destinations. Most were not concerned with my journey — they had their own personal destination in mind. A few smiled that secret smile at me, as if they were in on the secret. I tried to return their smiles, but I was beginning to feel a little terror pushing forward from the back of my mind. I was starting to slip on the edge of no return.

    There was no turning back.

    I couldn’t stop this now, it was happening. I could hear the faraway voices of my sisters and my Mom bantering and talking amongst each other as if at the far end of a long tunnel. I was starting to slide into the place of no return.

    Finally, we reached the room. It was a nice large room, big enough for all of the people who would come and go throughout the process. There was a television with a DVD player, a rocking chair and a round table with two chairs. We had a CD player for the music we chose to play. There was a small sofa. And the Bed.

    The women began to prepare me, talking to me the whole time. Then he came in with his familiar smile and mellow brown eyes. He was calming and professional, putting me at immediate ease, allaying the tension he could see in my eyes, in my posture, in my grip on the bed rails.

    The women gathered a little away from the center of the room, while he assessed me, checking out every bit of me from head to toe.

    “Are you comfortable? Nervous?” he asked, standing where he could look directly into my eyes as if to verify my answer through my soul.

    “I’m comfortable. I’m nervous now. I can’t stop this from happening. I’m scared.” Here I was telling him everything I felt. I was laid bare, with my hair pulled up in a tousled ponytail, lips with just a bit of vaseline on, and a thin gown between he and I.

    “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. I’ll be here every step of the way. You are ready for this. We’ve worked on the plan for a while now.” He said these things while holding my hand and speaking to me like nobody else was in the room. And I believed him. And so we began.

    THIS IS THE STORY OF HOW LABOR BEGAN WITH MY DAUGHTER. MY FIRST BIRTH STORY.

    Initially, the ride through the lighted hallways was almost happy, lighthearted and cheerful. The walls were lined with pictures of people who had been there before or who had left a contribution to the institution. A baby grand piano was in the lobby surrounded by comfortable pretty seating. As we rolled past, I remembered seeing the pianist take his seat on other occasions. He played contemporary jazz that filled the atrium with reverberating lingering notes.

    The hallway seemed to stretch before us further the longer we rode. We passed others, walking quickly to their own destinations. Most were not concerned with my journey — they had their own personal destination in mind. A few smiled that secret smile at me, as if they were in on the secret. I tried to return their smiles, but I was beginning to feel a little terror pushing forward from the back of my mind. I was starting to slip on the edge of no return.

    There was no turning back.

    I couldn’t stop this now, it was happening. I could hear the faraway voices of my sisters and my Mom bantering and talking amongst each other as if at the far end of a long tunnel. I was starting to slide into the place of no return.

    Finally, we reached the room. It was a nice large room, big enough for all of the people who would come and go throughout the process. There was a television with a DVD player, a rocking chair and a round table with two chairs. We had a CD player for the music we chose to play. There was a small sofa. And the Bed.

    The women began to prepare me, talking to me the whole time. Then he came in with his familiar smile and mellow brown eyes. He was calming and professional, putting me at immediate ease, allaying the tension he could see in my eyes, in my posture, in my grip on the bed rails.

    The women gathered a little away from the center of the room, while he assessed me, checking out every bit of me from head to toe.

    “Are you comfortable? Nervous?” he asked, standing where he could look directly into my eyes as if to verify my answer through my soul.

    “I’m comfortable. I’m nervous now. I can’t stop this from happening. I’m scared.” Here I was telling him everything I felt. I was laid bare, with my hair pulled up in a tousled ponytail, lips with just a bit of vaseline on, and a thin gown between he and I.

    “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. I’ll be here every step of the way. You are ready for this. We’ve worked on the plan for a while now.” He said these things while holding my hand and speaking to me like nobody else was in the room. And I believed him. And so we began.

    THIS IS THE STORY OF HOW LABOR BEGAN WITH MY DAUGHTER; MY FIRST BIRTH STORY.

    Reply
  69. Mich

    My first post – nervous!

    Too many people! Too much noise! Too much sun! Crowds irk me. I prefer my comfort zones and this loud swirling pool of hyped children and exhausted parents was definitely not one of them! But I have no choice you never do when you have kids. It is the annual harvest carnival and my boys wanted to go.
    It is all a crazy merry-go- round of candy floss, taffy apples and rides. As usual I am the pack horse.
    “Mom can you please hold my bag while I go on the swings?” One of my boys shout
    as he shoves the overflowing plastic bag filled with sticky sweet s and prizes
    into my already cramping sweaty hand.
    My head is swirling and buzzing. It is all I can do not to just throw the packets
    hanging from me off my panicked body and run shouting out the front gates arms
    flailing in the air like a crazy cat woman!
    I look round searching desperately to locate my so called better half. It amazes me still how he always manages to not be
    there when I needed him!

    Reply
    • DRB2930

      Great imagery … too many people, noise, sun, hyped children and exhausted parents, candy floss, taffy apples, and rides. The quote also gives me a sense of your reality.
      Good job on the metaphor: I am the pack horse.
      See if you can push yourself on finding an equally novel way of expressing your frustration in substitute for “flailing in the air like a crazy cat woman”
      Lastly, for a bit of polish, take care of the grammar details.
      But overall, good job.

    • MCD' Alton

      Thank you!

  70. Lee Grey

    First time writing here. Tried to write from a decent female perspective, but I’m not sure how I did on that part. I’m posting it raw from writing with the timer.

    I burrowed back behind my desk and tried not to glare in their direction. Did she have to invite people to our room? I was tired, and cranky (though I wouldn’t dare show it) and now, in the place that I try and try to make feel safe, my roommate brought intruders, who would look me up and down, then dismiss me as nonexistent.

    I sighed. I had been doing a lot of that lately, since I moved in with the perky girl. It WAS the Superbowl, and it wasn’t like we were close enough that I could argue or complain to her.

    I had given up on the idea of being the best of friends with my roommate ages ago, and she seemed to have done the same. We had tried twice. Once on her terms, out with her mother to go to the mall and then out to a nice steakhouse to eat an overpriced meal accentuated by awkward conversation on my part and seemingly easy chatting on hers. And then once on mine, a night in, watching a unique, yet mostly unknown, movie and trying to talk to her about how wonderful the plot and execution was as she simply smiled and nodded, checking the time on her phone at frequent intervals.

    We just weren’t compatible. So we cohabitated. She would tolerate my getting up as the sun rose. I was obliged to tolerate her bringing people who only seemed to look at me with disdain into the room.

    But why did they have to be here? I thought, as I anxiously tried to make myself look like I was doing something productive or important. I grabbed a Spanish text and began to make notecards of the new chapter’s vocabulary. My roommate and her friends were at ease, idly chatting about the commercials with their Music Theory books open. I was the alien. They did not want me there and simply accepted my presence as I desperately wished they would leave.

    If I haven’t made it obvious enough, people make me nervous and self-conscious. Or rather, I become nervous and self-conscious in the presence of people. I had come to the room to escape after a long day following a longer week of trying to fit in among them, trying to please them and prove that yes, I’m human too, but the closest thing to a sanctuary that I had was filled with girls who seemed to be trying to prove the opposite to me. Was there any place for me? Not the witty, happy person I try to be in public, but just me, without jumping through all of these social hoops.

    I was upset with her, and if I dared to show it, I would become the villian, her mind exaggerating my faults just as mine exaggerates hers.

    I got a lot of homework done that night.

    Reply
    • Scarlet Ferya Ma

      I love the opening paragraph of this and I like that you call the roommate ‘the perky girl’. I think in the second from last paragraph you needn’t have explained what her neuroses were – you were making it obvious enough with your great writing. But you really got across a feeling I identify strongly with, and definitely did the female perspective well. Really enjoyed reading this.

    • Sidney

      I’m not good at finding the words to ‘critique’ or review others’ writing, so I’ll keep it simple – I really liked this. I like the story and I love the sense of compromise and the coping strategy for dealing with the presence of unwanted guests. And the last line made me laugh, which is what it’s all about, I reckon.

    • Magz

      I like this and immediately liked and could identify with the main character. Great job with setting a timer

    • Tapiocaqueen

      Hi! I’m a seventh grader and I’m trying to improve my writing so could somebody give me suggestions on how to improve this?

      Even when I was a young puppy I was the always the last one. The last one to be born. The last one to be fed. The last one to have a name – Runt. The last one to be adopted. I stayed at the shelter while I watched longingly at my brothers and sisters being carried away by their new owners. Every time a possible owner came to pick out a dog I behaved my best – I put on my big-eye-floppy-ear-tilted-head-wagging-tail-cute-dog look, happily bounded along the adoptee, and sat and rolled and jumped whenever the shelter owner, Loren, told me to. But they never took me home in their big warm arms. They always got the small fluffy dogs or the big and friendly golden retrievers, or those snobby poodles. Even when Loren tried to persuade them to adopt me because I was “friendly and in need of a home”, they just shook their heads and said, “I’m sorry, but a cripple would be too much work.” That’s what they saw when they looked at me, a cripple. All of them except Loren, who always loved me. Even when I chewed her slippers, or shed fur on the bed, she just laughed and said, “What am I going to do with you, Runt?” And now, ten later, I finally have a home.

  71. Michael

    The six of us filtered into a room much bigger than what I had expected it to be. In the middle of the room was a very large table surrounded by six chairs. Usually I would be the first to notice a chair shortage but all things considering, I’m surprised I was able to attend fully clothed.

    After staking claim to a spot at the table and making sure mother was seated first, I finally convinced myself to take a look around the room as I removed my coat and hung it politely on the back of my chair.

    Our host entered the room and said “Oh it looks like we’re one chair short. I’ll be right back.” As she walked back towards the door she motioned to the quaint shelf hanging on the wall holding an array of coffee mugs, glasses and water jug.

    “If anyone would like coffee or water or tea, please help yourself”
    She quietly left the room, sliding the door closed behind her.

    My brother-in-law browsed the room as he waited patiently for our host to return with another chair. He took off his coat, respectfully took off his hat and shoved it into the arm of his coat so he wouldn’t forget it when we left. The room was eerily quiet except for the ruffles of jackets being unzipped and taken off. It wasn’t any colder than any other day in Northern Alberta in February but it sure felt like it that day. We were all pale and tired and restless.

    Three quaint knocks came out of no-where and startled my mother. The room door opened as our host wrestled another chair into the room. She gracefully slid it over the worn pale green and beige carpet, placing it beside my sister sitting across the table from my mother. My brother-in-law immediately sat down and wrapped his arm around my sister. She nestled her head into his chest, trying to hide her face.

    I looked over to my other sister sitting to their right. She seemed comfortable while cradling a cup of tea beneath her bottom lip with shaky hands, glancing down at her phone from time to time to await word from her husband who was flying in from Ontario.

    My baby sister sat at the end of the table to my left looking confused and slightly overwhelmed. She caught me looking at her and smiled that fake smile you give someone to say you’re ok but clearly she wasn’t.

    I looked back towards the center of the table not really seeing anything but staring at the grains of wood that leaked into each other. Without looking, I reached over to my mother who hadn’t taken off her coat and gave her shoulder a firm but gentle squeeze. She responded by reaching up with her hand lovingly squeezing it back.

    Our host went back and closed the door effortlessly; quietly. Something she has probably done a thousand times before. This time it was for us. And although it seemed like such a trivial thing to witness, I felt as though it symbolized the ultimate closure we were about to deal with.

    Our host took her seat at the head of the table, opened her binder and said “Ron is here now. We received his remains this morning…”

    Reply
    • Sandra

      I could really feel the atmosphere.

  72. Liz

    I’m here because I am not a writer. I struggle with it. I don’t want to struggle any more. Here is my first attempt at writing. This is a true story and a fairly recent event.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Away from home and on my own. My work for the day was finished. My brain was full and I was tired. It was about a 15 minute drive to get to the security of my hotel. The air was crisp and cold. The wind cut through me as I stood on the sidewalk waiting for a cab. There was none. I wondered if I should begin walking. Should I venture out through the streets? I hesitated. The cold wind prevented me from moving.

    Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone approaching. He called out to me. “Come here, Come here” as I saw his arms encouraging me to go to him. I stood in the cold, bundled in my coat, and with a nod I declined his request. He was a tall man in a dark overcoat. The hat he was wearing shaded his eyes but I could see his dark complexion. As I was taking inventory of his face a cab just whizzed by. I became frustrated I didn’t see it in time. Again I heard, “come here, come here, I will take you”. My voice told him, “no, I am will wait for a cab”. With his deep voice, in broken English, I heard, “There will be no cab for a long time and you will be out here in the cold”. “I have a nice car, it is warm inside and I will take you to where you want to go”. “This will be much nicer for you”. I hesitated. I looked around and did not see any cabs. I felt uncertain. He looked at me and without speaking, waved me over to him. He nodded as if all would be fine. And there I was, walking toward him, the wind so sharp and cold. I eased myself into the back seat and there I was sitting in this large black vehicle. I quickly looked around and noticed the tinted windows. Then “boom”, the car jolted as he closed the door. I sat in silence in the back seat and he drove off. I thought to myself, “What have I done?”

    I asked that he take me to the Park Plaza. “Please, the Park Plaza on Arlington”. No words from him, he just drove. I looked out the tinted windows. I was in an unfamiliar area. If I just got closer to my hotel I would know the streets. I was too far to be familiar with this area. I tried to converse with him. “How long have you lived here?” He replied with short one word answers. I thought to myself, this didn’t feel right. Intuition? Instinct? I became anxious as he kept driving. No one from the outside could see me. I was alone in the back of this large, dark SUV and no one knew I was there.

    He spoke, in his deep voice, broken English “I need $50.00”. I told him I wouldn’t pay him $50.00 as that isn’t what the fare would be in a cab. His deep voice became louder, I told you $50.00. “You are in a nice vehicle and you need to pay me $50.00”. I became frightened and raised my voice, “I didn’t want this vehicle, I wanted a cab and I’m not paying you $50.00!” My own loudness startled me. My mind began racing… what am I doing? I want out. I watched the streets. It was getting dark. In the distance I saw a familiar street. I was relieved. But then he turned. He turned this large black SUV away from where I needed to go. I panicked. I yelled. “Let me out!” He kept driving. I yelled louder “Let me out of this fuck’n car!” He kept driving. I saw the amphitheater. I knew the area. I have walked there in the past and I knew it was in an isolated area. I can’t go there. Not with him. Not alone. Why is he taking me there? Oh my God!

    I grabbed my phone. I yelled. I was very loud. “I’m calling the police!” “You fucker!” “Get me out of this fucking car!” “You are going the wrong way!” “Don’t take me there you fucker!” He stopped. It was abrupt. He turned around and looked right into my eyes. He looked panicked. His deep voice told me “Do not call the police”. “I do not want trouble.” We were stopped. All of a sudden there was silence. I could hear the wind whistling. His voice, “I want you happy”. “I want you to be nice”. I was frozen in my seat. I wanted to open the car door. I wanted to run. But I couldn’t move my arm. I so desperately wanted to open the car door but fear took over. It was dark outside. Cars whipping by. No one could see me inside.

    I looked him right into his dark eyes. I didn’t blink. I spoke very calmly and with conviction. “I am going to give you $20.00. I will then open that door and get out”. “You will then drive away.” “I never want to see your fuck’n face again”. He just stared at me. I laid $20 on the seat. Slowly moved over to the door never taking my eyes off of him. Slowly I pulled the handle back. My heart was beating so strongly. I slid out of the car and stood on the street. It was dark. I was out. I gently closed the door and heard the click of the latch. There was finally distance between the two of us. Did he have a gun? As I stood there I wondered if he was going to shoot me. I couldn’t move.I was cold. It seemed like an eternity before he drove off into the darkness.

    I made it to my hotel on my own. When I walked into the safety and warmth of the lobby I approached the Bell Captain. I began to shake as I explained what occurred. He was aghast and told me women are getting picked up while waiting for cabs. They are robbed of their money and jewelry, sexually assaulted and sometimes murdered. He told me how lucky I was. I told myself how lucky I was.

    Reply
    • Sandra

      wow that is really good writing. What a scary story that is!

    • Liz

      Thanks Sara. I struggle so much with writing and appreciate your input.

    • Liz

      Sandra thanks for your input … yes it was scary.

    • Elissaveta

      I agree with Sandra, great writing and a story that flows. Sorry this happened to you but glad to see that you channelled it into a great piece of writing.

    • Liz

      Elissaveta.. This was my first attempt at writing.. thanks for the encouragement.

    • Anna

      I was terrified reading this, it’s sooooo amazing I wish I could write like you!! That last line just topped it, sent shivers down my spine too my goodness :O

    • Liz

      Anna .. Thanks!

    • Magz

      That was very good and could grow into something.

    • Nisha Uchil

      you are very good writer… make career as your profession..i loved this piece… keep up the good work..

    • Nisha

      i mean make writing as your profession 🙂

    • Liz

      Thank you Nisha!

    • Justine

      I read that you struggle with writing. Writing is clearly not your problem, that was an amazing piece of prose. You need to start telling yourself that you are good and get out of your own head (easier said than done for us writers). Keep writing and keep posting.

    • Liz

      Thank you Justine I really appreciate your comment. 🙂

  73. Maymunah Rose

    I tried, but couldn’t quiet place my feelings in things on this one. I’ll have to try again.

    It was the first day of Eid. Everyone is supposed to have a wonderful time on the holidays. At Eid prayer everything opened up to me embracing me in loving arms. Then my brother’s friends wanted them to come to the Eid party at the park. It was a bit shaky at first because we were told we had to call someone, you were supposed to let the people know before, blah blah blah. We ended up just having to bring drinks. Smiles and hugs were given. The area was decorated. We entered and the boys started playing immediately. These were all the people I knew from my old home school group. I tried talking to some of these people, but it was very shortlived. Everyone was running around joining in the activites around them. Though it was cold, water balloons were being tossed around in that giggling strategic matter when you are just having a fun time. I was doing face paints as these things surronded me. I do not like getting wet when not prepared to. I tried to join, but no team was really welcoming me and kept running off in there little circles. Their looks, the way the smile just was fake, something around me and my old friends had changed. I accepted it. The relationships just weren’t the same.
    When it came time to eat I went to a table in the distance and munched on the food myself. Not a single person came to sit with me. One boy came and asked why was I here alone. I merely replied, ” I do not like eating in front of many people.” That is true, but it was more of those jealous stares that kept me back. Jealous? For what reason? Or just haughty? Has something happened while I was away from this homeschool click? What made me feel unwanted?
    People can be weird sometimes.
    I spent the rest of my time with the younger group who seem to be the only creatures who are naturally always open to people. Only the drooping willow trees and obeying face paints were sympathetic. Alien around these people I knew, or used to know.
    My brothers were having fun, and so was my sister. I was happy for them.
    When I left my car soothed me with it’s familiarity. My family was always there for me. And like everything, things pass and change…

    Reply
  74. Jay

    I am so sad that I just saw this now! Amazing advice throughout the 14 steps… I will get on the bandwagon though, however long I have to run after it.. watch this space.

    Reply
  75. Jay

    Unedited

    I knew straight away that my gut had been right. The bright lights
    hurt my eyes and the smell of expensive cigars took my breath away.. or
    maybe it was that of cheap perfume.

    As I took in the room around me I felt more and more uncomfortable.
    The women looked as though they had fallen straight out of a music
    video… or maybe I had fallen into one. That made more sense. Even the
    building seemed to ooze ego. I looked down at my chuck tailors and baggy
    jeans and felt my stomach lurch. How had Eric not warned me? How had he
    let me out the house looking like his, knowing we were coming to a
    place like.. this.

    If Wealth had a business card it would be a photo of this club.

    I walked up to the bar and even the staff were dressed better than me. A young guy came towards me with a skeptical look.

    “Can I help you?”

    I took my drink without tipping him, the small act of defiance felt like a victory and the bourbon started to take the edge off. I started to look for
    Eric. That was when a woman so beautiful I questioned my sobriety,
    spilled her drink on me.

    Reply
    • Scarlet Ferya Ma

      Love this.’Ooze ego’, that’s brilliant. That’s how I’m describing the next prick I meet to my friends… Also love ‘falling into a music video’. The overall piece reads really well and gets across a good sense of unease. I take it the beautiful woman takes away your anxiety in the next chapter??

    • Jay

      Scarlet thank you so much for your comment. 😀 Glad I gave you a new phrase to use. You are on the same wave length as me :’) The beautiful woman turn out to be really down to earth and sweet and leads the character further in a much better mental space.

    • Sidney

      I swear I used ‘oozed’ in mine before I read this 🙂 My first attempt at writing in public and I look like a person who does plagiarizing (is that a word?) already.
      I like this story, especially the ‘If Wealth had a business card..’

    • Jay

      Haha it’s okay Sidney we can share it! Glad you enjoyed reading my piece 🙂

    • Kirsis Concepcion

      This was fun to read! I like a sense of humor and a strong personality shinning through what I read and it definitely does here. I love the uncertainty in the beginning with the “…or maybe it was that cheap perfume…” “…or maybe I had fallen into one.” It really makes me want to know where it is that he ended up. That one line “if Wealth had a business card…” is pure wit, personifying wealth as a person and giving him a business card that would be a photo of the place is a fun short and effective way of communicating to the reader how lavish the place is and why the narrator doesn’t fit in. Awesome job, totally keep expanding this it would be delightful to see what it becomes.

    • Jay

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my piece. You’re comment has made my day. I will definitely not let this end here 🙂

    • Nisha Uchil

      Lovely piece. Felt professional. by the way, you started with ‘I knew straight away that my gut had been right’. But what was that about?

    • Karlie

      This is beautifully written!!!

  76. Sandra

    I step in the room. It’s full of desks and chairs. Bell rings. The sound of foot steps and shuffling, 30 or students can’t do anything quietly. Everything is wild and noisy. I look around the room looking for a spot. Finding the right seat to sit in is no easy task. Other people have someone they know from another year together and they bunch together like bugs to a light. I know only one person here, and she vowed never to talk to me at the end of summer vacation. So that leaves looking around the room hopefully. Someone sitting alone with that won’t you sit by me look. But the spaces that are open are in the middle of the classroom, dangerous for me.

    Finally I see a place on the front corner, as far away from the life of the class as I can get. I walk gingerly to my seat, practically tip toeing. That alone catches a few unwelcome stares towards me. I try and talk to the girl next to me. She has two neat braids of hair and is wearing a purple shirt and jeans, she seems to look neat and nice. Too cute for me, she could end up being popular. But then again, she does look somewhat approachable. “Hi.”

    “Hi.”

    “You ready for 6th grade?”

    “Yeah. Are you?

    “Oh yeah I think so.”

    The teacher steps to the front of the class. The class is now a rumbling river of chatter. “Excuse me” she says. No one notices. She then rings a little bell that chimes in a mystic sort of sound like buddha’s monks probably have played in their temples. And the class, inspired by it, quiets themselves. I won’t tell you all about her lecture to us. The general lecture on the first day of class that seems to be the same in every class of every school except which jokes they choose to tell to make them likeable. These lectures with catch phrases like, “These are the rules and we take rules seriously here. Be polite to each other. No running,” etc. She was very round, like a walking snowball. She wore bright colors all year long, and often wore festive pins for the appropriate occasions. When she spoke, she often smiled or laughed. And perhaps she was Santas wife, who really had a day job as a 6th grade teacher. A big merry laugh. And every one liked her despite that she looked more like a cartoon than a person, or maybe because of it. Because despite that, she was fun. Serious at times, but fun.

    Her room wall was blued out with a giant blue construction paper ocean, and in it were cut out tropical fish of all sorts. She had octpi and scuba divers wading in her tropical scene as well. She was like that, a tropical party. And so were the students, it seems as a whole, everyone was a big merry bunch of tropical fish. Like class was a grand party they all got to go to. She valued socialization. Saying being able to communicate affectively, while isn’t a grade in school, was a skill that would be valuable your whole life long. So not surprisingly groupings would be common. Right now she wanted us to find someone to partner up with and interview each other for music preferences.

    The ruckus of children escaping their chairs echoed and chorused around me. Bright happy kids, loud almost seemed like they were shouting to each other their names and other somewhat relevant information. I didn’t fit in to it though. I could not be that way. Loud and free like that, I could not even pretend. I stayed in my seat and peered over the room, I looked at my neighbor, hoping she would want to partner with me, but the seat was already empty and she had found someone else.

    To my horror I found that the people left was swiftly diminishing. My stomach twisted. I got up and wandered around, hoping to find someone. There was no someone. And then the teacher asked if everyone found a partner and who did not have one. I raised my hand only as high as I had to. The room appeared monstrously big all of a sudden and the friendliness of the room and the kids and fish had a new tone of malice behind it. Like it was not okay to be someone who was not a part of the big party that was happening. For what seemed like forever the teacher started asking for a group to include me. And finally someone took me in. Sheena. She sat at the very center of the class. I liked being a part of her group. I liked just listening and not being looked at. My stomach relaxed.

    Reply
  77. ampriverside

    Hello, new to this, would appreciate some feed back..

    With a flush face and fifteen minutes to spare, I make it to the
    front lobby where two heavy set women sit behind their workstations;
    one, fiddles with her computer, the other reclines on her chair, both
    reveling in uncontrollable laughter. Having no time to wait until they
    compose themselves, I press close to the window that separate us, both
    women still squirming in breathless hysterics jerk out of their reverie
    at my presence, turn to face me and smile. With a residual chuckle and a
    glare, one of the women greets me with a, “what can I do for you” but
    really meaning, “Why did you ruin the best thing out of my long day”!
    With an apologetic look and a panic in my voice, I anxiously tell her
    that I have an appointment 2:15 with a doctor at this hospital, but do
    not recall where. Perhaps it was the edginess in my voice or their
    desire to get back to the hysterical gossip that I interrupted, both
    women resolve to get me out of their hair. Whatever the reason, they
    inform me that my appointment is downstairs in surgery. Considering why I
    was there, the idea of surgery make my heartbeat quicken. As I make my
    way downstairs, I can not help but think the worst, kicking myself for
    letting it get to this point, and wishing I could be anywhere else but
    here.

    Until this very moment, I really did not notice my surroundings.
    Faces and things are in a blur sequence, registering only peripherally. I
    cannot even recall details from events before this time. My short-term
    memory compromised by fear and anxiety. Yet, one word, artifact,
    encounter can draw a polar affect on the senses, making everything
    hyper-real, reaching a state of self- awareness and euphoria, a
    conscious awakening. With every step I take, my skin react, my ears
    perk. I feel my stomach tighten and my throat thirst. I am aware of
    every slight transition the chipped paint on the staircase rail forms,
    and the moisture accumulating in the crevices of my palms. I cringe at
    the thought of all the numerous hands that have clung for support. The
    clunking of my clogs on the tile sound like horse hooves announcing my
    arrival, making me wish I had worn sneaker. I make my way to the
    reception desk, a sterile cubicle with no evidence of ownership, only
    stack charts next to an outdated computer, a box of tissues, half filled
    bottle of hand sanitizer, and a pen taped several times to what was a
    white string, looking as pathetic as the scene before me.

    I plop myself onto the nearest chair and wait, until a man in light
    gray scrubs walking by, asks in Spanish if someone has helped me, in
    which I reply in English, somewhat annoyed at the presumption, “no, my
    appointment is at 2:15 and I need to sign in”. Aware of his mistake and
    my irritation he makes himself available, forgoing his previous
    destination. We begin a ritual of questions and answers without any real
    investment for each other’s approval. That is until; he sees what my
    appointment is for, at that moment, we hold each other’s gaze. At that
    moment, looking into his eyes, I could see him really looking at me. I
    am present; I am real, not another chart to stack. Locked in a silent
    exchange, his dark brown eyes, with specks of black, reverberate with
    empathy. I feel my skin flush, pulsing at the intimacy. The breeze of
    someone’s stride cools me, and for a split second I am not in front of
    this man. I am not in a place where every other sound is a cough and the
    aroma is anything but artificial.

    Thrust back to the present by some unknowable sound, we nervously
    look down and finished the paper work. I signed my name and he coughs,
    “ok Miss Perez, your all signed in”, as if nothing transpired. I am once
    again revert to a series of numbers on a piece of paper. I shyly looked
    up at him, searching for the softness in his eyes but find only a blank
    stare. I do not fault him though; one must protect one self from
    feeling too much, especially in this line of work. I grab my things,
    turn in search of distance, as if that will some how erase the
    awkwardness. I find a spot near the payphones where I arrange my things
    in a sort of fort, creating a barrier between them and me. Waiting, I
    want so much to retreat to that place his eyes took me to. Frustrated at
    my failure, I pace the room, when the urge to protect myself further
    has me making a beeline towards one of the many sanitizers in the
    waiting room. I squirt some on my palms, working it into my skin, and
    once again I fade into myself, Into a place that feels warm and safe.

    The smell of rubbing alcohol and a poor attempt at a flower’s aroma
    engulf my senses. The fragrance similar to that of a particular lotion
    you can always find at the local swap meet, with its gold lid and round
    pastel color jar comes to mind. The kind my mother wears. I smile at the
    thought of my mother and her warm inviting hold. Her red sweater and
    her gold earrings that stretches her earlobes, salt and peppered hair,
    always in a tight bun. The ticking of her artificial valve and warm
    pillow breasts sooths my soul. My eight-year-old self lost within the
    folds of her embrace. I inhale with urgency, I do not want to leave, and
    my breath desperately suck in the smell; the sound of my pleasure
    escapes me. I am in another place, a safe place. I smile again as I open
    my eyes, only to find myself sitting on a dirty chair, next to a man
    who enviously stares with slightly perverted eyes. Upset, I glare at him
    for trespassing, turn my body around and wish I was anywhere else but
    here!

    Reply
  78. C.A. Violeta

    ((First time doing this. Will appreciate all comments. Thank you! Will do this with no edits.))

    Almost stumbling out of the public transport vehicle, I straightened pulled down my black pencil skirt as I tried to regain my balance on my four-inch black stilettos. The building before me was gray in color, years of rain and dust evident on its walls even from a distance. Sweat broke through my face, seeping through the foundation that I used generously in an attempt to hide and prevent the stress of riding and transferring vehicles for three hours just to get to my destination. I fished out my handkerchief, modestly wiping the buds off of my nose and forehead, realizing that my palms were sweaty as well as I made my way to the entrance. Sweaty palms. Not a good sign.

    There were others as well entering the building. Despite the raging heat, they looked fresh from the shower as they stepped out of their private vehicles. Lucky. Some would pass me by without a second glance while others stared at me from head to foot, sizing me up. I looked away, a squeezing sensation strangling my spirit. Collectively, we were a mass of black suits entering the building. Invisible chains were on my feet as I tried to regain my self-confidence as I walked. I had every right to be there as the next person in the crowd! My lips curled up in determination though it disappeared quickly as a young woman three inches higher than me – yeah, I checked the heels and it was just two inches high – passed by. She was stunning. Period. She was a crushing boulder to what little pride that I had.

    After what felt like an eternity, all of use were already settled in our seats. The room was large enough to fit all of us without looking too cramped. I wish I felt the same. We were seated in five rows of twenty seats each. An aisle was made in between separating the rows in half. In front of us was a single desk hiding two chairs behind it. I made sure to sit at the back, not wanting to draw too much attention to myself. Fishing out my mirror from my bag, I glanced at the girl looking right back at me. I thought she was beautiful but now? After seeing all those glorious faces and slim forms? I felt like mush.

    The front door of the room opened wide. Two women around their forties arrived and made their way to the two empty seats in front. They looked at us with vulture-like eyes dressed with perfectly-line eyebrows. One of them pursed her lips, blood red in color as it brightened up her already bright face. Dang, I wish I will look like that when I get old. Red Lips looked down at the sheet on the desk through her half-moon glasses, I could see her eyes run up and down the long piece of paper. Oh please, not me. Not me. Not me. “Jessica Jayme.” She called. Of course, it had to be me. If I was not scared to death, I would have been fascinated by her foreign accent. Rising up clumsily as the chair made a loud, screeching sound, I made my way towards the aisle. Trying my best to ignore all the narrowing eyes locked on me, I smiled. Here goes nothing.

    Reply
    • Twinss R.

      Wuaaah, what happens next??? 😀
      Your story was amazing! 😀

      I really really like how you wrote your emotions and movements, what your eyes were seeing… You wrote everything in a way as to not be tiring or extravagant, and I also like how you used more “common slang” like the word “dang” or when you say “yeah, I checked the heels and it was just two inches high”.
      Through this way you managed to make your story “friendly” towards the readers (young audience), so it’s really nice. 🙂 I felt like I could easily read a book from you. 😀
      You wrote in a way that intrigued me, I was reading with intense, desiring to see what was going to happen… and then you ended it like that! I guess the 30 minutes time was up? 😉 Still though, really beautiful! Keep up the amazing work! 🙂

  79. Eileen B

    Just started 14 Prompts. Would love any feedback you guys have to offer!

    I raced up the stairs as quickly as my legs would carry me, hoping I wasn’t too late. The rusty metal steps shuddered under my feet as I climbed, their echoes bouncing off the narrow enclosure that surrounded me on all sides. Seconds ticked by, and my breaths grew short and ragged. The cold air stung my face and dried my lips as I rapidly drew it in and out of my lungs.

    At last, the ground leveled off and the staircase opened onto a wide, open platform. Without the protection of the enclosure, a surge of bitterly cold air hit me in full force and a violent shiver shot through my arms and chest. The day’s overcast sky did little to stave off the piercing November chill. I hastily shoved my exposed hands into my pockets and bowed my head away from the wind. A few fellow passengers waited on the platform beside me, their faces obscured beneath bulky winter coats and hats. A man to my left stamped his feet aggressively to keep warm, the force of the movement sending vibrations through the wooden planks beneath me. Several long moments passed. A woman behind me coughed. Finally, a pinprick of light appeared in the distance. The train was coming.

    As the doors opened, I stepped into the car and took a seat. The dingy fabric was threadbare and faded, but otherwise unsoiled. A few scraps of paper and a fast food wrapper lay scattered across the floor at my feet. My only companions — an elderly African American man and a middle-aged Latina woman – sat apart on the opposite end of the train. The gentleman’s eyes were closed in an uneasy doze, his heading jerking periodically as he nodded off. The woman’s eyes passed over me without seeing, then stared blankly out the window, watching the city pass by in a gray blur. I could hear the heater whirring loudly in the background, but it couldn’t keep the chill that seeped in through the steel wall beside me at bay.

    Eventually, the train entered a part of town I recognized by name only. I extracted a crumpled piece of paper from my pocket and unfolded it. Nodding to myself in confirmation, I returned the paper to my pocket. This was my stop. I stood up again and made my way toward the door, almost losing my balance as the car jerked and swayed to the side. When the doors opened, an icy chill blasted my face and I braced myself to step into the wind.

    Though the sky was overcast, it took me several seconds to adjust to the light after the dimness of the train car. I squinted and looked around. My eyes landed on an old staircase at the far right end of the platform. The large white sign posted above it read “EXIT” in faded red letters. I made my way swiftly toward it.

    When I reached the bottom of the staircase, I found myself at street level beneath the tracks. The light was dimmer now in the shadow of rusted metal girders, and the air smelled faintly of garbage. I glanced left and right, unsure of my next move. Some ten feet away, a man in tattered clothes sat leaned up against a nearby building, muttering to himself as he sifted through the various belongings that lay in piles on the frozen ground beside him. Abruptly, I turned to my left and began walking, pulling my scarf up over my mouth to warm my face. At the end of the block, I peered at the address on the building beside me. The small black letters on the store’s barred door had begun peeling away from the glass. 500. I clutched my bag closer to my side and kept moving.

    When I arrived at the front door, I hesitated, once again unsure. The building’s high glass windows and sterile appearance contrasted so sharply with its surroundings, it looked like the only remaining survivor in a city ravaged by time and weather. I checked the address again to be sure. The number 573 stared back at me in my own handwriting. I re-folded the paper once more and stuffed it in my pocket. Taking a deep breath, I reached for the polished gold handle in front of me and stepped inside.

    Reply
    • Twinss R.

      Woo, this is really beautifully written! 🙂
      (it was quite long though; did you seriously manage in 30 minutes? I guess I must be writing slow :P)

      I must confess that by the end of the story I had started feeling chilly myself haha 🙂 You did a really good job at describing the weather and I also loved the simile you wrote about the building towards the end (which was your final destination).
      I could also see myself in the place of the protagonist (well, “your place”) as I always re-check a million times the addresses and the like when I go somewhere I haven’t been to before.

      Anyway, all in all it was really beautifully written, but for some reason I didn’t feel all that much the anxiety (or whichever hesitation/stress etc) you were feeling while heading towards your destination (unless there wasn’t any?). I don’t know exactly why, maybe it feels like you emphasized a bit more on the weather than the worries that you might have in mind while heading towards your way. I’m not saying to mention your “thoughts” but, like it says in the prompt, to write how you feel through your surroundings (project your feelings onto the things around you).

    • Eileen Briar

      .Thanks so much for the feedback! It was really helpful and constructive. I definitely see your point about focusing more on the feeling of anxiety versus just overall bleakness and how that changes the tone for the reader. Perhaps if I were to do it again, I would focus more on jarring noises or other parts of my environment that created more stress/adrenaline. Thanks again for the feedback, and if you have anything you’d like me to critique, let me know! My email is eileenbriar@gmail.com.

    • Twinss R.

      Hm, if I respond here and do not send you a message to your email, will you receive it…?
      I’ll take my chances. 😉

      Yes, I would actually love it if you could critique something that I wrote… 🙂
      However, I do not want to force you into it, so if you start reading it and get too bored right away, at least tell me what made you bored and unable to continue reading. 😛 (I know some stories are less interesting than others)
      Ah, I have actually posted my story here (the 1st prompt: Out of Place) but I don’t know how I could “link” it to you though? >,<

  80. Emily Vanderhaul

    Hello! This is my first write up that I have just finished. Please let me know your views and whether you like it.

    Hunger! It is the state of a being which compels him to devour food helplessly. On a summer morning, just out of bed, I gulped down a cup of hot coffee, just to realize
    that my stomach needs more than coffee. I walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator
    door and my eyes lay upon this unusually big box occupying too much space. My
    curiosity got the better of me and I opened the box. And voila! There you were –
    the most delicious looking cake I had seen in months. I took you to my bedroom
    and softly moved you onto a glass plate. Ah! I surrender to the joy you have to
    offer me. I take the first bite off of you and you just ever so lightly melt in
    my mouth – oh, but wait! You’re not just a cake, you’re a cheesecake! I immerse
    myself in the ecstasy that is your blueberry jelly, to your cream cheese body,
    to the fine crumbly crust. I love the way you feel against my tongue – soft,
    yet firm. Blueberry Cheesecake, you are The One! In moments, you have given me
    the ultimate – a deep satisfaction.

    Reply
  81. nswinters

    I was sitting at a table for seven at the Snooze Café on
    Broadway. As a rather big metropolis there was no shortage of snooty brunch
    joints around, but snooze was the worst. The plush chairs were upholstered in
    soft pastels that made me wonder why the restaurant dreamed of serving
    strawberry topping on their French toast. The crystal chandeliers twinkled at
    even intervals from the ceiling casting a sparkling reflection throughout the
    dining room which in combination with the large store front windows gave the
    whole place a light and sparkly air. Looking around at the pressed and polished
    ladies I realized they all matched the decore, pretty hues of light pinks and
    greens adorned their summer dresses or their snazzy blazers. Catching my own
    reflection in the mirrors behind the booths lining the inner most wall of the
    restaurant I realized what I must look like sitting with all these prim looking
    ladies.

    No pastel pant suits for me, no soft colors. Instead I was
    wearing my favorite black slacks, and my dark midnight blue blouse. I had
    closed toe and short heels on. Very conservative, very plain, very solid, very
    bold colors. I stood out among this gaggle of women the way a fresh bruise
    stands out on fleshy pink skin.

    The girls around me chatted busily in a way that reminded me
    of birds. Flittery and fluttery and noisily. Unlike birds though, the sound
    wasn’t musical and it wasn’t pleasant. I felt like I was being barraged by wave
    after wave of sound and speech and the worst part was none of it seemed
    remotely relevant to me. I mean who cares?

    Suzane and Paulette were deep in conversation about the
    benefits of this macro-biotic something-or-the-other diet vs the latest paleo
    or vegan trend.

    Bobbi with a y, and Sandi with an I, were discussing the horrible
    decision of Celebrity X when he decided to cheat on Celebrity Y and how he and
    Celebrity Z will never make it since their relationship began in such a
    deceitful way.

    Christina and Sara were having a heated debate over Dior vs
    Valentino in the upcoming spring collection.

    Since I had nothing of value or interest to add to these
    conversations that left me to smile at the waiter as he approached. Clearly not
    used to being noticed as more than a prop in a restaurant such as this he blushed
    only slightly before smiling back.

    “Good morning Miss” he greeted me, “my name is Marcus and I
    will be your server today”

    “Thank you Marcus, I’m Connie, these are my friends from
    highschool, we’re having something of a makeshift reunion, “ I half shrugged as
    I indicated the other ladies whom were still so absorbed in their conversations
    that they hadn’t even acknowledged the handsome mans prescense.

    “Very well, can I start you ladies with something to drink,
    we have bloody mary specials this morning made with fresh clamata juice, as
    well as mimosas made with our best champagne”

    The ladies quieted at the mention of high-priced booze,
    Bobbi indicated to the entire table and said “mimosas it will be”

    Marcus made a quick note on his pad, “wonderful, I’ll be
    right back”

    Touching his elbow lightly as he turned to leave, “Just
    orange juice for me, I’m not much of a day drinker” I said

    “Very good Ma’am,” Marcus chuckled, “I’ll be right back”

    Looking back at the table of women whom had resumed their
    exclusive conversations I couldn’t help but picturing a different table in a
    different time. Only six short years prior the seven of us had sat around the
    cafeteria table in the High School cafeteria discussing our life that was to
    being in only 3 weeks when we graduated
    and would take on the world.

    Reply
    • nswinters

      This ends abruptly as I realized I had gone over my 15 minutes and had yet to make my point as to why she’s feeling out of place… Perhaps I’ll continue with this story, or maybe shelve it for now.

  82. Yass

    It’s totally figurative. I’m more of a poet than a storyteller, that’s why. But really, it’s been a while since I last wrote, so I hope you bear with this.

    “I often felt like a lost crow among the eagles.

    They graced their wings with full nobility and pride. Every stroke on their feathers made them a living canvas of royalty. That’s how everyone saw them- the glorious kings of the sky.

    Knowing I was different, I always knew them otherwise.

    I was just a smaller bird dipped in their colors. Though I was part of their brotherhood, I was not one of them. On other days, I believed in the pretensions when my dyes felt real. But before I sulked myself to sleep, the truth always recollected.

    Their wings and colors were nothing. They were just cannibalistic predators who had, if none, little mercy on anyone below them. Greatness only ran through their bloodline. They were great as themselves, but they weren’t great for the world. If they were kings of the birds, they wouldn’t feast on their subordinates. I knew that they were rather feared than honored, but I opted not to say a word.

    I resented the system. I denied my ‘brothers’. I don’t want to take part in the brotherhood anymore, but where else could I go?

    I’m just a pained blackbird deprived of true home.”

    Also, it may sound like it’s about racism, but it isn’t. It’s about me being a part of an organization with a messed-up system. I do appreciate it if you comment down or email me your criticisms, thanks!

    Reply
    • DJ Liu

      Nice job! I didn’t think racism. What would be interesting to see is what happens after “but where else could I go?”…did you find a new organization (if it’s a job, a new job?) or what did or didn’t you do to ease your dilemma? I also entered a short passage about a similar topic…the time I was working at a company where everyone was out for themselves and put up a false pretense as if they were interested in helping me out…luckily i found a new job:) cheers

    • Yass

      Thanks so much! And ooh, haha you have a point there. Prob if I wasn’t too time-bounded, that could’ve been a good addition. But yeah, in my situation, I just waited for our entire term to finish so that I could be free (I couldn’t quit, and also a little part of me didn’t want to quit haha). It’s a love-hate relationship really. But it’s all over 🙂 I’ll honestly miss it hahah

  83. James Alfred

    This is my first short story. Not really sure what I am doing yet. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

    James

    It was time
    to go to the party. I was dressed for a nice night out with friends as was my
    wife too. We had been fighting a lot and just at each other all week long. We
    both just needed to get away and kick down a few drinks. I drove like I always
    do, I know just how many I can have and when it is time to stop, so that I am
    okay to drive us back home. We got there around 5:00pm she headed right into
    the Jacks house. He was a good friend, a little goofy looking. He had long hair
    down to the middle of his back, super big glasses.

    I stayed
    outside for a bit to smoke and then went in. I came around the corner and there
    she stood running her fingers down Jacks long hair. I just stood there didn’t say
    a word. Then she opened her month. “Oh yet James, I been have sleeping with
    Jack.” It was really rough standing there in the room with ten of the friends.
    It got so quiet you could of heard a pin hit the floor. Talk about disrespect. I
    could feel the tears starting to build up and knew I need to get out of there.
    I looked over at Jack “Make sure she makes it home tonight please.” I turned
    around and walked out.

    Reply
  84. DJ Liu

    I couldn’t stop shaking. This wasn’t my first tour as they say in my profession, and wouldn’t be my last. I did everything within my power but think about how it would actually feel to face my oppressors on day one. This wasn’t planned. In a cold alien environment where the faces of what I thought were my allies, I was dead wrong. The language was nothing of this world. The interactions between these beings seemed plastic in nature yet all with the familiar roots of human greed and selfishness in tact. Although they made it appear like their goal was to help you, the weight of their true motives could not be kept from my senses as if I were in a vice of unrelenting pressure.

    ~~~

    “If you wanna survive in this place, you better make sure you process those tar balls as soon as they get to you,” demanded the man without emotion. Odd, yet as he said this I felt as if I was trapped in a manufacturing assembly line forced to process human brains that I might have once done in a previous life.

    ~~~

    “Ok, but…I got it” I replied catching myself before showing any sign of weakness. I was new to this place, a foreigner in my own world but I needed to prove my competency so that I could execute everything that was given to me without hesitation.

    ~~~

    I spent 3 months in this hell-hole. As I looked around on my last day on what felt like a room fool of androids facing the Hudson I remember the feeling of being rescued…my phone rang. My new captain was working to get me out of there and transported to a completely different battle station. This was my time.

    Reply
  85. Lola

    I shouldn’t have agreed to this. I looked next to me at the waves easing past my feet and crawling back into the depths wishing desperately it would drag me away. I keep walking with him. I look into the faces of everyone we pass. They can see how odd, how dangerous this pairing is. Why had I listened to him? We are too far now for me to turn around. He asks me questions and I answer. Each question makes me writhe in fear wondering why on Earth this strange man needs this intimate information. I can feel a chilling ulterior motive with his every word. I am too scared to not answer. I am only 15 and I guess he is in his 20s. What is he going to do to me? My body is in autopilot mode while my mind is paralyzed with fear. I keep walking. I no longer recognize where we are and it is getting dark. I think of my family. Are they looking for me? Thoughts of a news anchor describing my disappearance fills my head and I stop walking.
    “I need to go now.”
    “Please don’t.”
    “No, I am going.”
    I turn around and start walking back. I see his steps align next to mine. I try not to panic. I look at the beach houses and hotels as signs of how close to safety I am. With each step, my feet sink into the hot sand and I can almost hear my legs telling me to slow down. After 30 minutes of walking back towards my hotel, I can see it.
    He could try to follow me into my hotel. What if he figures out where I’m staying? I tell him I have to go and dart into an elevator of the hotel 3 doors down from mine. I ride to a random floor and look out over the beach. I see him lingering for a second, then he walks toward the hotel. My heart is pounding. But for some reason, he stops, turns around, and walks back along the shore. Probably looking for another girl to lure away. I watch him until he’s far enough away I can go back down the elevator and onto the beach without him seeing me. The elevator doors open and I sprint towards my hotel.
    I go up the elevator, down the hall, turn the corner, and I’m back. I pull my key card out and open the door.

    “Hey, pizza’s here. I was starting to worry about ya.” My dad says.

    —–
    I wrote this in about 20 minutes. It’s about when I was 15, this Haitian guy told me he was writing a book and needed inspiration for a character and wondered if he could interview me. I agreed. We walked as he asked me some pretty vague questions but when we started getting farther away he asked some rather off the wall, personal questions. I could tell something was weird.

    Reply
  86. Juan

    I turn my head,
    just in case. I know its unreasonable to be this nervous, but my gut tells me
    otherwise. It’s supposed to be the nice part of town, lights shining over the
    renissanse buildings and luxurious shops. But those lights are just masks,
    covering the darkness that lies within. I walk in a straight line. I’ve got no
    idea of where I am as I got separated from my group while looking for a nice
    place to eat, which are apparently scarce. So I keep trotting, steadily
    increasing my pace, and glancing behind more and more.

    I don’t really
    have the money to afford one of those expensive restaurants, so I end up
    settling for a small salad bar down a dark alley. It’s dirty and badly illuminated
    the people inside obviously as desperate as I am for some food, or maybe their
    grimace is just their normal expression. I walk up to the counter, and, using
    what would pass as nothing more than a broken variation of their language, I’m
    able to order what I think is a Caesar salad.

    I wait for the
    black lady hand me my order, and go upstairs to find a place to sit down. The
    upper floor is nearly deserted, but for a hooded man in the back, seemingly
    asleep and a bottle of wine in his hand. Just in case, I decide to seat in the
    front facing the sleeping thug, and under the white, clinical tube lights the
    whole place is lit with, I gather the courage to actually start eating my
    salad.

    It’s tasteless,
    the lettuce soft and gummy, and the chicken, or what should be chicken, is rock
    solid. I munch at it for a while, my appetite completely vanished. I really was
    in no hurry, given how I still had about an hour and a quarter for my group to
    re-gather, and it was virtually impossible to find them in the milliard of
    shops and houses and buildings that was the city. And so I wait, sitting still,
    detailing in my mind every nook and cranny of the plastic like room. A
    cockroach walks by my feet.

    Half an hour
    goes by, and the same black lady comes upstairs and kicks me, and the sleeping
    guy both from the bar. Apparently its closing time. “Just great” I think to
    myself. I’ve walked through the whole of the main street at least thrice
    already, and I’m not courageous enough so as to go wandering off through one of
    the side roads. And so I wait sitting in a bench; thinking of what anecdotes I
    should make up, of why, when I was so far away from home in a once in a
    life-time trip, I was just waiting and fearing, fearing like I’ve never feared
    before.

    Reply
  87. Walker

    All I could see was lights. The place was hot. It smelled like sweat. It even felt like sweat. I hated the place, and yet here I was, once again. For so long, the only thing that kept me coming was the pills. Now there was no excuse.

    X-heads are an odd bunch. They like to ramble on about feelings they couldn’t hope to understand if they were sober. They’re just chic lushes. All their feelings are bullshit.

    “I love you” is a phrase you’ll hear often at a rave. But it’s hard to take someone seriously when their eyes are rolling into the back of their head.

    Ecstasy is a purely visceral experience. But it feels so good that people make it spiritual. When I was really into it, I thought about devising my own religion. I thought clubs would one day replace churches. It was only after getting clean I’d realize they already had.

    People need community. That’s why they come to raves. People need love, that’s why they take ecstasy. Because it melts away all your fear. Because it makes you feel gooey inside.

    People form “cuddle puddles” upstairs in the lounge area. This is where you go when you’re “floored”, because downstairs is a mess of sweaty bodies dancing and shoving each other to get to the stage. Or the bathroom.

    One dance floor is dedicated to “Electro House”, a pulsating, grinding sort of music with repetitive bass lines and catchy synth patterns.

    The other floor is “Dubstep”. Dubstep is disjunct, chaotic. People don’t even know how to dance to it. They assume they know where the tune’s going and turn out looking like morons.

    I’ve been out of place here for months. I don’t know why I still come. Looking around the deck, everyone’s smoking cigarettes. That’s about the only thing I have in common with these people anymore.

    I can see Andrew. I fucked his fiance for two months, a few times in my car while he was inside the club.

    I can see Corey, a tatted-up industrial kid who thinks he’s a DJ. I’ve never heard him spin.

    I see Darren, the cocky fuck who got me into this mess. He’s got a big, gregarious smile on his face as usual. He laughs louder than anyone here. He’s got a drink in his hand with a black straw, but he acts drunker than he is.

    Truth is, I stopped enjoying this shit when Shaun went to jail. After that, this place started to look like a circus.

    Reply
  88. Trent

    Names changed for privacy reasons.

    We drove through the parking lot, weaving past obstacles until we reached our spot. Kyle, the driver had been driving recklessly. He had been texting and boasting about
    how he was going to fuck the new SGA president. She had a boyfriend but of
    course he didn’t care about that. Douche, I thought. No matter what I thought
    about him, I dare not say it. After all, he was my ride home. We walked up to
    the restaurant, the cold air nipping against my skin. It’s April, for fuck’s
    sake. How is it this cold in fucking April?

    The Theater Club members were standing in a circle, with the two biggest guys smoking their cigarettes. Nate was the Alpha Male of the group. Even though he was no longer Theater Club President, many members still deferred to him, including me. His long black hair was slicked back and the left side of his face was paralyzed into what seemed like a mini-scowl. James was a big guy with puffy hair on the top of his head and
    on his face. I liked James, maybe it was because he was one of the few Theater
    Club members who didn’t scare me. Same goes for Charlie. He had a childish
    attitude which made it easy for people to like him. There were also two girls,
    Emma and Kelsey, neither of whom talked to me that much.

    We were at Friday’s which I had grown to like throughout my first year of community college and which was also a favorite of the group I was with. We sat down at the corner booth which was routine for them. I ate earlier but my stomach was growling and I had a craving for mozzarella sticks. I needed something to get my mind off of this situation and
    my loss in the SGA election. I could tell that they didn’t want me or Kyle there.
    I kept mostly quiet while Kevin kept up his immature jokes and his obnoxious
    laughing. Whenever Kyle opened his mouth, the table grew quiet and everyone
    gave each other annoyed looks. Shut up, douche. My stomach was growling and
    twisting. I don’t want to be here. They don’t like me. They barely talk to me.
    I deserved that SGA position. I just want to go home.

    The plate of mozzarella sticks was placed right in front of me. That smells delicious. I took a bite. Hot gooey cheese filled my mouth. I felt a little better. Food was always an easy comfortfor me. The size of my stomach was a testament to that. I polished off my mozzarella sticks and my water. When they were gone, I felt empty again. I had no excuse for being here. Any conversation topic I tried fell flat. I slumped down in my
    seat. I just want to go home.

    Reply
  89. K8

    Out of Place

    I reach up and touch my neck, its empty. All around me the women are wrapped in
    pearls, diamonds and chokers. Not
    me. I’ve never felt self conscious about
    it before. Youth needs no decoration.

    I’m fifty and youth isn’t my friend any longer. The only thing that will help my sagging skin,
    wrinkled neck is a choker.

    Youth wasn’t the only thing that kept me decoration. My husband could afford it but doesn’t want
    to. I’m sure that my best attribute when
    he met me must have been my simple, more modest background. “She comes cheap” he thought. He brought me to his country and I learned
    the language, the customs, when to open my mouth, when to simply smile. “When in Rome, Kate.” And yet, he never
    treated me as Roman where it counts.

    So I am sitting among the wealthiest in the country,
    millionaires, ex presidents, defense ministers and celebrities, but now I’m
    invisible. He is happily laughing with
    them all. He is dressed as they
    are. He is calling one “Uncle” and
    another “Cousin” and I am a spectator.

    I smile at her comment, hoping to be included in the
    conversation. I’m asked a question, here
    is my chance, “Yes, the crime is very worrisome. I am hoping that the new admiration does
    something to rectify the situation. My maid
    has been worried about traveling back home by bus everyday. I really don’t know how much longer this can
    go on.”

    “Ah, listen Sophia!
    How cute Kate talks, I love her accent.”
    The smiles are imitated around me and the conversation moves on.

    I look over at my husband and touch my neck again, this
    time, feeling the choker.

    Reply
    • farhad bordbar

      how beautiful you write….honestly.

  90. David

    The banks were closed.

    Reply
    • David

      The bank was next. I pulled my daily limit from the ATM.

  91. Twinss R.

    This took me exactly 31 minutes to write (I was stuck in the last sentence :P).
    I will truly appreciate your feedback. 🙂
    A small note: when I write sentences in between ‘this symbol’ then it is a thought. I would have used italics if I could. 😛

    I was standing still, waiting for God knows how long… Conversations were taking place around me, yet the words seemed almost foreign to my ears. The dim lights that gave life to the place felt neither warm nor cold. It was as if they were trying to welcome me to their world but without much success.

    After an uncomfortable amount of time, the man I had been waiting for finally approached me, his wide smile silently asking me to calm down and try to enjoy what was ahead of me. Well, this experience wasn’t something new for -him-, he had already turned this place into his second home but I was far from feeling that way.

    With a simple “Follow me” he lead me deeper into that place, that soothing smile still plastered on his face and after greeting a couple of his friends, who were also comfortable at their second home, he asked me to step on one of the devices which, unlike the dim lights that were trying to make me feel at home, didn’t seem all that welcoming towards me.

    I had some difficulty since the decide was somehow trying to throw me out of its back but eventually I managed to position myself correctly. Two men passed in front of me, carelessly discussing of matters insignificant to me and not once did their eyes turn around to glance at me, as if my victorious feat of sitting properly on the device was almost comical for them to care.
    ‘Well, that’s a relief…’
    I sighed weightless, my subconscious slowly realizing that the hostility I was feeling wasn’t based on any facts.
    “Hm, this is no good.”
    I hear a feminine voice stating troubled and then I see the woman I was previously introduced (and whose name had completely slipped through my mind) looking at the device with a questioning look.
    “Get up.”
    It could have been an order if she hadn’t voiced it in a kind tone and as I did as I was told, she made some rearrangements to the machine, changing the seat’s height and reducing the weights on the back.
    “Try again.”
    She told me with a smile and another internal sigh was emitted into my mind, finally consciously seeing through the lie of my delusion.

    I sat once more on the device and the cold steel under my hands felt a bit warmer at my second touch. I moved my body again as I was told for the device to properly train my body and I could almost sense a mute acceptance from all that surrounded me at that moment; the device was cooperating happily with me, the woman that was watching over my movements suddenly reminded me of an old friend, and even the men I didn’t know, who were roaming around the place, trying the different devices and chatting with no worries in mind, had taken the form of a needed background scene to a movie -as if there was a constant rhythm that was supporting each of my actions.
    “You will repeat this fifteen times, then have a small break and then repeat it again. Okay?”
    The man asked when the woman left and I just smiled in response; happily embracing what would shortly come to be my second house without any reservation.


    This was about my experience on the first day when going to the gym. 🙂

    English is *not* my native language so if you see any spelling or grammatical errors don’t hesitate to correct me.

    Reply
  92. Penny Darcy

    “We’ll begin with an icebreaker!” says the perky sorority
    sister. I cringe inwardly. I came to this gathering for the
    campus tour and the superficial friendships; I need someone to eat dinner with
    until I make some real friends in my library science classes. I did not come to
    make a fool of myself.

    “This first one is called ‘move your butt,’” says the
    sorority sister. I think her name is Kayla or Kaitlyn or Kaylee. Some with a “K.”
    “I’ll start off by saying something
    about myself. If it’s true for you, move your butt and switch places with
    someone in the circle. If you’re left out, it’s your turn in the middle and you
    have to say something about yourself.
    Okay. Ready? My favorite color is green!”

    There is a flurry of movement and the weakest, slowest member
    of our group is stuck in the middle, thinking of the next asinine statement. I pull
    my long hair around my face and try to avoid eye contact.

    The next game is worse. Kay-something demonstrates several
    ridiculous motions and sounds reminiscent of a day at Sea World. I have to
    stifle a giggle when she lays on the dirty floor and proceeds to bay like a sea
    lion. I glance around our circle now, searching for someone who shares my
    exasperation.

    When the game starts and I refuse to move, Kay-something
    bounces up to me and says in a sing-song voice, “If you don’t do it, you have
    to sing us a pirate song!” She seems to speak in exclamation points. This is such an extrovert activity.

    Everyone ceases being sea creatures and gazes at
    Kay-something and me. Apparently I said that last thought aloud. I’ve broken
    the icebreaker. Kay-something is no longer smiling. Oops.

    “These games help form a sense of community,” she says. She
    sounds like she’s quoting a handbook at me.

    “How?” I ask.

    She seems to be at a loss for words for once.

    “I’d much rather get to know these people-really get to know
    them. I don’t want to roll around on the floor making sea lion noises.”

    I walk to the door, feeling more confident in front of a
    group of people than ever before in my life.

    “I’ll be in the library if any of you decide you would
    actually like to talk to each other.”

    I note a few scowls scattered throughout the group and I know
    I’ve made several enemies today. But I still feel a glow of pride when four
    people sit down across from me at a table in the library, coffee in hand. We
    glance shyly at each other for a few moments. Then, we begin to talk.

    >>>>>
    This is my first bit of writing on this website! I wrote it out on paper first, then typed it, so this piece has had one minor re-write. I appreciate any feedback. Commas are a tricky subject for me, so help me out there especially. Thanks!

    Reply
  93. xchelsealeigh

    First attempt at writing, in 15 minutes without editing. (true story) I havent written much, so any critiques welcome! 🙂

    He left me. How could he just leave me here in a city I don’t
    know, without any way of getting back home? I began to walk without any idea where
    I was heading. I could hear noises all around me, the loud gusts of wind
    blowing my hair across my face making it hard to see. I kept walking, thinking
    to myself over and over again “everything will be okay” in hopes it would calm
    my nerves, but then I heard the noises again. I looked around, there was no one
    to be seen anywhere. I began walking faster I was desperate to get to a main
    road or somewhere public. Then I felt it, terror rushed through my body as I
    looked down at my right arm to see a man, holding my wrist. He looked me dead
    in the eyes and whispered to me “don’t you dare fucking scream, or I will hurt
    you” I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest, I didn’t know what
    to do. I was horrified. He left me there and let this happen to me, and now I’m
    going to pay for his stupid mistake. Why me? But I kept my mouth shut and did
    what the scary, tall dark figure told me to do. We kept walking, him holding my
    wrist as if I were his, and for that short period of time, I was. We passed people walking down the main street
    and I so desperately wanted to scream out for help but I knew it wouldn’t end
    well for me if I did that, so instead I tried to attract people with the
    horrified look on my face. People looked, and they kept walking. How could no
    one notice my current emotional state? It was plastered across my whole face. Tears
    streaming down my face, god I hope he doesn’t notice me crying.

    We got to a secluded area in the cities park lands, he told
    me to lie on the grass, so I did. He began taking off his clothes. I didn’t want
    to even look at him, the thought of him touching me made me want to vomit, and
    I felt disgusting. He sat down next to my face, leaning in to whisper into
    my hear, before he got the chance another tall figured emerged from the
    darkness of the trees surrounding us. “You better step the fuck away from her
    right, or so help me god I will kill you” a sudden sigh of relief when I heard
    those words from that strangers mouth. He glared at me before jumped up to a
    stance ready to take a hit, and he did. The stranger struck him, so hard he
    fell straight to the ground and didn’t get back up. I stood up and started
    running towards the tall figure, he grabbed my arm and we began to run. We ran
    for a while before stopping at a taxi rank. We had been running for so long, I
    needed to catch my breath. “Thank you so much, I don’t know to know what he
    would have done to me if you didn’t come along” I managed to get out in between
    my deep breaths. The kind stranger just smiled, handed me money for my cab and
    wished me a goodnight.

    Reply
  94. disqus_y1lYz5pVbN


    hi to all here, this is my first post and would love to hear on suggestions and comments. i have always wanted to write but i always get stuck many times. hugs
    _____________________

    It was still a dawn. The birds have just started to chirp a
    little. There was clam mistiness around. Sounds of people rising to the early morning
    could be more heard gradually. Sun was
    about to appear soon now. in the everyday
    mundane early morning of everyday, a little child aged around 6 slowly appears
    peeking out of one of the house gate in that neighborhood. Wearing
    a worn out faded blue shorts, a bit grayish t-shirt, a bit fearful he looked as the eyes scanned his surrounding from right
    to left. He slowly brings his body out of the gate and stands in their timidly carrying
    fear inwardly. He looked as if he was
    not sure which direction he should be heading. He looks left and then to the
    right and then holds his glands looking down to his feet, closely placed
    together as it was supporting each other to make his body stand there for that crucial
    moment. Somewhere the dark circles underneath his eyes were visible in the light
    of the glowing dawn. His long and think lashes where slugged with morning sleep.
    He needed someone to hold him, give him some care, or maybe for now a
    direction.

    The roads were getting a little crowded that early, as he
    looked thoughtful. A cycle suddenly halts in front of his small body, he looks
    up and the milk guy hands him 3 packs of
    milk saying – “kancha , here. Sorry I am little late.” He looks at the milk man
    with a smile that was trying hard to come out, hiding something that was just his’’.
    Takes the milk packs and pretends to go back inside the gate and the milk guys
    curves his other leg the paddle and cycles away.

    The boy waits behind the closed gate or the milk guy to go. Then
    the loud shouts comes from the house. “ KANCHA, KANCHA….ABHAYA…KanCHA….where
    the hell is this boy.”

    The voice makes his head turn suddenly toward the house, he
    drops the milk packs right there and runs outside the gate. The voice of his
    owner, his heartbeat rising, his eyes filled with tear and shivers of fear runs
    his body. Without deciding his destination, he had chosen to move to the
    unknown direction. He had just plunged into the unknown without knowing his
    brave heart.

    Reply
  95. disqus_y1lYz5pVbN

    i would so appreciate the critic or anything that would help me be better:)
    ________________________________

    I had not received that call
    for more than a decade now. ‘ you have to come!!..u must, it doesn’t happen
    often you know that!!’. That voice was playing in my head coming from the other
    end of the phone. I was feeling a bit anxious, tensed also I suppose. Then I
    thought ‘well, ill just face it when I reach there.’ Then I let the thought
    pass by as I cuddled myself in blanket, with a big sigh I turned and switched
    off my night lamp. It was few of the twists and turns before I really made it
    to sleep. The flashes of bloody letter, ‘ he is not a bad guy Riya!’ ‘ Just
    talk to him once’, me walking back from the school, all these flash backs and voices appeared just like in movies.

    I woke up quite early the
    next morning. 12 at noon was the high school reunion. They had organized a
    brunch and it was the first that I was going after I missed the last one which
    was 5 years agao. I hadn’t seen anyone since I left high school and specially
    Ray. Ray had perused me desperately in high school. But somehow I was never
    attracted toward him nor I ever liked him. And end of it all was that bloody
    letter I received and a slap from me that followed. I wondered if he would be
    there as well, would he still look at me in the same way? I’m sure things have
    changed! Was it wrong for me to treat him the way I did?? All the voices were
    chattering within me, as I was getting ready. I realized I was getting a bit of
    goose bumps and nervous. Maybe it was a thought of encountering him again or
    maybe it was cause I was scared to be treated like a celebrity, as I have
    become a famous actor now. At present I have become this person who all have
    started to idealize, living in that world for more than a decade now I fear
    maybe I’ve lost my ordinariness. Maybe I feared being treated like one. I got
    ready hours before needed, looking at myself in the mirror, enacting how would
    I behave when I meet all, what I would say, and revising my body language. Then
    I just sat by the corner of the bed, looking dazed out the window for a while.
    It broke with Dad screaming from downstairs. He was drooping me off to this
    park. Quite I was through out the way, wondering if I was dressed appropriately
    on my jeans and hunter neck top.

    ‘Have a great time darling’.
    I smiled at him as I shut the car door and started to walk toward the place
    from where noises were reaching me. Giggles and laugh of girls, shouts of the
    boys. I realized my nervousness more vividly now. Heartbeat was faster then
    normal, I was oblivious to the green grass on which I was stepping. I couldn’t celebrate
    the joy of the crispy sunlight piercing its way through branches of the tree
    making its way in the spaces between the shadows, the floating smell of the
    barbeque. I was meant to enjoy but nothing was affecting me. But the wind was
    the savior, offering relief to my perspiring heated and nervous body.

    As I got visible to all of
    them, I realized almost all were there from high school. Then I heard someone
    screaming my name ‘Riyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ and a smile broke on my face as it
    breaks in every formal event I mostly attend. Then came the hugs. I tried to hold my breath thinking maybe it would slow
    down my heartbeat. Then slowly questions popped up from the school friends, on
    my thoughts and feeling on becoming a celebrity, how I handle my private life,
    and then I realized I was being treated like a celebrity yet again. The very
    thing I feared. It felt very welcoming but they were welcoming the Riya who was
    a celebrity now. Forgotten as the Riya from the high school who use to have fun
    with them. The drinks, food were all
    brought to me, I was not even asked to help myself. I was placed just right in
    the brunch. I was a guest like. It was a very awkward moment. The moment where
    I was lost and I was someone who everyone else wanted me to be. Sadness was there
    in my heart but a constant smile accompanied me through out which I have gotten
    so use to. As I was I the midst of it sharing what was being asked, nodding an
    smiling, I happen to glance over shoulder of a friend. A guy. Leaning against
    the big pecan tree, looking toward my direction, holding a drink, causally
    dressed, smoking a cigarette. ‘RAY’ the voice shouted within as he has stared
    to walk toward me. This time the wind was not even helping me. I had started to
    perspire holding my breath would suffocate me this time.

    Reply
  96. Anastasia

    This is my first attempt writing and please excuse my english cause it’s my second language:

    I can’t wait to get out of here, that’s the only words shouting in my mind. I keep my eyes down to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, as I hear my so called best friend ignoring me in the corner of class. I see her in the corner of my eye, talking with my other classmates like there’s nothing between us, like I’m invisible or sort of quiet loser sitting in the table. Nobody wants to talk to me, which is a good and also bad thing. Good thing is I don’t mind trapped between Gus and Hazel’s love story without being pulled back to reality, but also at the same time, there’s a part of me that makes me wanna cry and jump off from the 5th floor building where my class is.

    Reply
  97. Michael

    Here is my first shot. This kind of just popped in my head when i heard of stance places. I would love to get some feedback. Happy writing!

    I told the large 6 foot 5 doorman that could have been a black viking with a shaved head and a braided goatee I had a meeting with Mike. He wasn’t expecting me. He looked me up and down and decided i was telling the truth and he took my word for it because he thought he heard they needed a new guy. He walked me down a trash smelling hallway to what he called the “front room” of the bar that was unused for the night. Most of the lights were off, so it was hard to get a good look around and It smelt of old beer and bleach. The floors seemed to be washed but there was still a small sticky feeling from past spilt drinks when you walked across it. He had me sit on a stool and wait while he went up a steel staircase that ran along the wall to notify the manager I was here. I watched him climb the stairs and noticed the dropped celling over the bar was made up a mesh steel and you could see fans and some storage above. I heard the doorman open a door and the room was illuminated slightly trough the ceiling when the door opened and closed. The room was long and narrow with a long bar across the side of the right of venue with a unlit stage at the back. The whole place was party weathered, paint peeling, and splintering wood. If walls could speak… Meanwhile, another room of the venue had some type of heavy metal band that could be heard clear as day despite the wall between us, it was even making the wall of booze behind the bar buzz a little when the bass was strum.

    I sat in the front room alone for about 15 minutes listening to the metal band scream when the opened from above and seemed a bit brighter since my eyes had adjusted to the darkness.

    Reply
  98. Lulubelle

    This is my very first stab. Here goes:

    I feel confident. I’ve got this. My qualifications are impeccable. I sit down and begin writing out responses to the question prompts. There is a test. We must write a letter for the assistant principal telling a parent what school policy is and how what
    they’ve done is in violation of such policy. And write it as the assistant principal’s representative. Whom I’ve yet to meet. About a policy I know nothing about. Got it.

    They call me in to the interview and there are seven people sitting around the table, including the office manager, who introduces me and states the name of my son who is a student at the school. It is quiet. Do some of these people know my son? The principal exchanges a glance with the office manager.

    Who are the others in the room? How do they relate to this job? There is no time for me to ask.

    The questions begin. The format is that each person around the table reads one of the questions I’ve been working on in the waiting area. What’s the rush? As soon as I answer a question, the next one is read. The assistant principal is reclining in his chair and gazing out the window.

    The office manager, who I know through our professional group, seems awfully professional. Why did she mention my son? I finish the questions and am excused. Seventeen minutes have passed since I entered the room.

    The next applicant is in the waiting area. She smiles at me and says “hello.” She is wearing a designer dress with a linen jacket and heels….

    Reply
  99. Mariam Mahmoud

    Drowning in the river, the sweet river of love.Shouting for help, but no one answers. It’s a one way road, no turning back.My heart is leading me to my destination. It was a dark day when i first met him. He gave me hope, when i was rejected by everyone, He accepted me and gave me chance. I loved him.His smile could make a rainy day becomes sunny. His touch makes feel safe and warm. But he brings out the dark in me.
    The day i confessed my love to him was unpredictable.
    “I love you”
    ” You know i’m married ”
    It was the shock of my life, i have never felt this way before.
    “But you know i love you too, i can’t leave my wife, i can’t destroy my home, i can’t promise you with a future, but what i really can’t do is to live a life without you, to imagine my life without hearing your voice or seeing you infront of my eyes.
    He said these words and made me forget the idea of loving a married man. I imagined a future with him. I felt that he was created to be my destiny, even if he wasn’t mine yet. I have never thought i would take a man from his wife even if he doesn’t love her.But you can’t choose your destiny. He’s my love and i’m in a rocky road which has one ending. I can’t decide if it is happy or sad ending. But love can make miracles, and this could be my miracle

    Reply
  100. Mariam Mahmoud

    Drowning in the river, the sweet river of love.Shouting for help, but no one answers. It’s a one way road, no turning back.My heart is leading me to my destination. It was a dark day when i first met him. He gave me hope, when i was rejected by everyone, He accepted me and gave me chance. I loved him.His smile could make a rainy day becomes sunny. His touch makes feel safe and warm. But he brings out the dark in me.
    The day i confessed my love to him was unpredictable.
    “I love you”
    ” You know i’m married ”
    It was the shock of my life, i have never felt this way before.
    “But you know i love you too, i can’t leave my wife, i can’t destroy my home, i can’t promise you with a future, but what i really can’t do is to live a life without you, to imagine my life without hearing your voice or seeing you infront of my eyes.
    He said these words and made me forget the idea of loving a married man. I imagined a future with him. I felt that he was created to be my destiny, even if he wasn’t mine yet. I have never thought i would take a man from his wife even if he doesn’t love her.But you can’t choose your destiny. He’s my love and i’m in a rocky road which has one ending. I can’t decide if it is happy or sad ending. But love can make miracles, and this could be my miracle

    Reply
  101. Elissaveta

    Ellie here, new to The Write Practice. I followed the book and wrote for 30 minutes. Not exactly the longest text – I am a slow writer – but I hope it’s enough for a feedback/critique of some kind – Thank you!

    **********************************************************************************************************

    It was a big gathering. Hundreds of eager, young graduates, beaming from ear to ear, proud and confident. People chattering, drinking cheap red wine that stains your teeth, glasses clinking. All in all, a loud brouhaha of confusion tainted with nostalgia.
    I did not belong there. Not anymore. I looked at all those enthusiastic faces and for a moment, I felt as though I was looking at a mirror, in the past. I had been one of them once. Eager, young, beaming from ear to ear, proud and confident. But it was all gone now. Washed ashore like a myriad of worthless pieces of trash.
    A stranger walked up to me. A tall, slender girl with skin as pale as alabaster. Her lips – painted with a garish orange – spread to form a smile; she raised her eye brows and let a squeal escape from her mouth.
    “Oh my god, it’s you!”
    It was me. However, I had no clue as to what version of me she was referring to. I felt a tingling sensation spread across my chest, like a hundred little knots forming all at once.
    “So… Mrs Architect! How is it going? How successful have you become? ” She asked with a grin.
    I wasn’t successful. I wasn’t an architect, either. They all assumed I was, because that is what my diploma says. My diploma, framed behind glass, hanging on the wall, gathering dust. But the real world was different. In the real world, a diploma is just a piece of paper with some words spat on it, they may or may not make sense, they may or may not have a purpose but the fact of the matter is that they are just words. Powerful for some, insignificant for others.
    “I… well… I can’t complain” I mumbled, feeling like I have just swallowed a clump of dry mud.
    Lies. It’s all lies. Deceitful words that we use to fool society into thinking that we belong. When in fact, all we want is to do crawl away unseen, find shelter somewhere silent, somewhere quiet, and do what we really want to do. Not what a piece of paper on the wall says, not what our parents think, not even what that deafening voice in our head echoes relentlessly, but rather what we love. And do it somewhere where we belong.

    Reply
  102. Harry Pehkonen

    Thanks for using my photo! Because of this post, when I googled “Film Noir,” my photo was the 23rd one.

    Reply
  103. Scarlet Ferya Ma

    Hesitantly, I climbed the steps up and was plunged into a
    blue darkness. All around me there were
    flashing lights, as if a police car were parked outside and sending its
    distressed flare into my eyes and mind.

    I was jolted forwards and stumbled through a narrow corridor;
    hands with menacing talons reached out to keep me upright, and the scratchy
    clawing made me shiver as much as the ground I was standing on.

    My ears filled with an endless screeching, repetitive and
    high-pitched. All around me, faces
    laughed. Faces that were tinged green by
    the ever-revolving siren lighting. Grotesque
    faces, with toothy smiles and dark, heavy eyes.

    My heart was pounding – was everyone looking at me? Suddenly, a glass was in my hand. Drink. DRINK! the faces seemed to say as
    one. Afraid, I placed the glass down. As I was jolted forwards once more, I sprang
    forwards to save it from spilling, but it was safely confined in one of
    hundreds of holes cut into surfaces so that they might shackle the draughts of
    toxin without anyone losing a drop.

    I felt behind me – there was a seat. I could just sit here, keep my head low and
    my eyes closed. I could probably endure
    this journey, as long as I could be sure it would end.

    The faces continued to whirl around me, and it seemed they
    were getting closer and closer to each other.
    They were forming a multi-faced crest on which one chosen face could
    surf. They chanted a name over and over,
    they put the chosen face in the middle of them all and they lifted her. She grinned a wide grin and screamed out to
    the rhythm of the high pitched screeching that had been blaring since we
    embarked.

    The faces cheered and moved as waves, lifting and lowering
    the chosen face. It was hot and dark and
    the rhythm of the ritual seemed to be creeping into my blood. I felt compelled to rise, to glide towards
    the faces, to join them and throb with them and chant, chant, chant…

    Another jolt. The
    flashing and the screeching stopped. The
    many faces turned suddenly away from the chosen face and scrambled, chattering,
    for their handbags.

    I knew I would never get on a boogie bus again.

    Reply
  104. Fachow

    Columns of smoke rose up to the ceiling in the bathroom
    at the deserted wing. My coughs echoed throughout the stalls and shadows. I stood
    in front of the mirror and inspected my face. The face I was born with stared
    back at me, but everything around started to have that hazy feeling.

    I walked back to my room, my pace not unlike the turtle
    at the race. Only I had no hare to follow and try to beat. I did not allow any
    eye contact with the familiar faces flitting by me, a foggy tunnel vision
    closing in on my sight. My sole focus was to relieve all focus and displace my
    ego.

    The room was empty and silent; a perfect setting for my
    state of mind. But it was not to be. I grabbed my bag and headed out again.

    Out in the field that separated the dorms from the office
    complex, the sun’s bright figure shone from behind the clouds. The chirping
    birds were flying around and resting on the peaceful trees. The picturesque landscape
    put a smile on my face that I would take throughout the day.

    Inside the office, my greetings raised some suspicion, as
    I have never been that excited to work for the day. At least I never showed it.
    As I sat down at my table preparing my things for work, I knew that it would be
    a good day.

    And it was.

    Reply
  105. Miles To Go..

    I walked into the classroom wearing a cream-coloured blouse with a printed line across the buttons and a dull red skirt. My feet must have had some plain shoes on – I can’t remember exactly, but since I didn’t particularly own a very large variety, it was definitely
    something unnoticeable. I carried a canvas backpack – one of those horizontally wide ones – on one of my shoulders. Just one because using both straps on either shoulder made one look ‘uncool’ and very childish. This was middle school, after all.

    My aunt (‘Maasi’ in Hindi) was with me. We went directly to the teacher sitting on a chair at the front of the room. She was wearing casual clothes and had her hair in a tight bun at the back. Apparently, Maasi had already spoken briefly to this teacher earlier, with regards to my admission in this class.

    While she was exchanging a few words with the teacher, I stood with my side profile towards the class. On the outside, my eyes were looking at my new teacher but on the inside, they were flitting crazily in anxiety. I was conscious of about forty-two people staring at me, albeit not silently. Their stares were interspersed with whispers, chatting, remarking and idle-talking. As their voices grew louder, the teacher took her eyes off us and faced the class squarely before yelling, “No Noise!” in a purely phonetic accent. The noise subsided. She directed her attention back to us and almost immediately, the noise started again, making the atmosphere feel ‘normal’ again.

    I was also conscious of how unattractive I was, especially my side profile. I mean, I was about to be thirteen. If there was an age to start having self-esteem issues, this was it! My rough, wavy hair tied into a loose ponytail and my moderate height and shape did not add
    anything remarkable to my personality. My pounding heart, jittery nerves and an
    inexplicable anticipation summed up my existence in those moments.

    Soon enough, the teacher faced the class again and yelled, “Who can she sit with?”. Assumed in this question was my introduction, the announcement that I was a new addition to the class, the fact that I needed a place to sit and the admonition that someone better be friendly! All of this simply in “Who can she sit with”! In fact, I wondered if even these five words would have been said at all, if Maasi wasn’t standing right there next to me.

    Now, while every child would like to think that there would be a mad scramble in the room as soon as the offer to have me as a partner was made, no such thing happened. After a few embarrassing moments that seemed a lot more than a few, a girl raised her hand, while shoving aside her backpack with the other. An invisible sigh of relief seemed to vibrate through the room. Most eyes were now averted from me. Maasi left and I traipsed
    along to the girl who said ‘hi’ in a tone that was more condescending than
    friendly. I would soon find out that she was the most popular girl in the class
    and to some extent, in the school too! Lucky me. Now, to fit in!

    Reply
  106. Andrew Shaw

    Saw somethings that I wanted to change while writing, so I edited while I continued my story. So I humbly wait for your critic:

    It was an early morning wake, and an early morning drive. There was no rush or fuss. Just a feeling of solemn excitement. We all piled into the van, food for the hunger, hoodies for the cold, and games for the boredom. At the first rest stop, I got
    out, stumbling out as if I were drunk. It took a moment to learn how to walk
    again, but I wasn’t focused on that. So far upstate, the freshness of the air
    took me back to a small island in the Caribbean.
    I haven’t had that feeling since I was four. Heck, I didn’t even remember I had
    that feeling until just that moment. When breathing, one of the simplest things
    you can do, stopped all thought in my head. My guardians beckoned to me. Having
    exhausted our food thus far we needed to replenish.

    When you visit fast food places long enough, you tend not to notice anything. You know what you want, you order it, you pay, you wait, your number gets called, you
    check your receipt, you take it and you go. It’s funny though how visiting the
    same place, with the same menu, same color scheme, same logo, becomes
    absolutely foreign. I felt like a tourist in the state I grew up in most of my
    life. I turned my head, slower than usual, to take in my surroundings like I’ve
    never been in a McDonalds before. Now that I reflect on this moment in my life,
    over four years ago, I realized what it was. The pace. New York City is know for the rushing demanding customers, the quick and almost robotic employees and tempers so
    short, Gordon Ramsey would look on in disbelief. What made that moment,
    traveling upstate to start my college career, so distorting to me was that I
    could take my time. No rush in or out. No dead look form an employee trying to
    get the line down. No tempers flaring wildly. Just a warm smile, some small
    talk, an order taken, a wait time that wasn’t noticed, and if we weren’t on our
    tight New York City schedule, maybe we could have enjoyed the scenery.

    We scrambled back into the car and made our way again. Waiting for me at an
    institute for higher learning would be a mountain of moments that would make me
    turn my head, slower than usual, to take in my surrounding, like I haven’t been
    in New York before.

    Reply
  107. Guest

    I must admit I made edits while writing. I humbly await your response.

    It was a early morning wake, and an early morning drive. There was no rush or fuss. Just a feeling of solemn excitement. We all piled into the van, food for the hunger,
    hoodies for the cold, and games for the boredom. At the first rest stop, I got
    out, stumbling out as if I were drunk. It took a moment to learn how to walk
    again, but I wasn’t focused on that. So far upstate, the freshness of the air
    took me back to a small island in the Caribbean. I haven’t had that feeling since I was four. Heck, I didn’t even remember I had that feeling until just that moment. When breathing, one of the simplest things you can do, stopped all thought in my head. My guardians beckoned to me. Having exhausted our food thus far we needed to replenish.

    When you visit fast food places long enough, you tend not to notice anything. You know what you want, you order it, you pay, you wait, your number gets called, you
    check your receipt, you take it and you go. It’s funny though how visiting the
    same place, with the same menu, same color scheme, same logo, becomes
    absolutely foreign. I felt like a tourist in the state I grew up in most of my
    life. I turned my head, slower than usual, to take in my surroundings like I’ve
    never been in a McDonalds before. Now that I reflect on this moment in my life,
    over four years ago, I realized what it was. The pace. New York City is know for the rushing demanding customers, the quick and almost robotic employees and tempers so
    short, Gordon Ramsey would look on in disbelief. What made that moment,
    traveling upstate to start my college career, so distorting to me was that I
    could take my time. No rush in or out. No dead look form an employee trying to
    get the line down. No tempers flaring wildly. Just a warm smile, some small
    talk, an order taken, a wait time that wasn’t noticed, and if we weren’t on our
    tight New York City schedule, maybe we could have enjoyed the scenery.

    We scrambled back into the car and made our way again. Waiting for me at an
    institute for higher learning would be a mountain of moments that would make me
    turn my head, slower than usual, to take in my surrounding, like I haven’t been
    in New York before.

    Reply
  108. Jeffrey Whitney

    I’ve never been in war; I’ve never picked up a gun, pointed it
    at somebody’s head, pulled the trigger, hoping for a soft squish. It would have
    been better to have something to compare it to, something to say ‘I’ve been through worse than this,’ but I came up empty that day at the party. My knees were twitchy when I stepped out of the car, and I couldn’t seem to get enough air. So this is Beck’s new house.
    Not bad. Better than what I’ve got. Several pairs of eyes see me coming down
    the block. I wonder if you can feel it when someone has you in their
    cross-hairs? I wonder if any poor sucker ever knew? Beck’s whole side of the
    family is up there, out on the lawn and up in the garage. Everyone is stiff;
    they talk in groups, but they’re not looking at each other. Everywhere my eyes
    scan, people are turning their heads away, so I can tell that they were
    looking. Jesus, where is she? I see Hopie coming out of the garage door. I’ve
    got a cheap-ass gift for her, a worthless bauble that she’ll say she loves.
    I’ll be gone by the time she opens it. “Hey, Dad,” she says, and she hugs me. I
    know what her loyalty is costing. “Hey sweetie,” I wheeze, wiping the moisture
    from the corner of my eye. “Happy Graduation.”

    Reply
  109. Sidney

    They don’t smile at me when they turn. The bar shrinks away into a wedged corner, surrounded by a net of bodies, a lobster pot. Sport noise blares from tinny speakers while nobody looks at the screen; they’re all watching me.
    The glasses are milky fog stained. The tables have too small chairs. There’s no air.
    “Onde esta a casa de banho?” I try.
    The reply comes fast, a nasal schlurrr. I still don’t know where the toilet is. I look at him with the best beseeching eyes I can do as, again, he machine guns what might be directions at me.
    “Desculpe, nao compreendo. Fala mais lentamente? Por favor?”
    Why couldn’t he just point. His head shakes while his hands shuffle glasses.
    The ceiling fan whirls smoke at my face. Posters, notices, signs, pictures, butter the walls, oozing foreign. The door’s blown closed; I can’t remember whether it’s a push door or a pull door. Windows on the far wall. To the left a saloon door swings, wafting dirty chip pan smog. A cigarette machine blinks red code. Then a portal glows in a distant corner, a shimmering light that beckons, just as I feel the seep and creep of hot red onto my left thigh.
    “You not eat or drink, pay 2 euros for use bathroom.”
    I thrust my hand into my pocket, clutch at coins, stop them from hopping and sort their oddly indecipherable little forms, extend my offering. Both thighs now sticky red. Flies zoom in from all around, drooling, gasping, slobbering down their chins.
    “I play with you, English Girl, put your money away.”

    Reply
    • Wolf271

      Awww cringe. That must’ve been a seriously uncomfortable situation!
      You should be more confident-you write really well. The whole situation was awkward and uncomfortable and you made the atmosphere and your surroundings match that. 🙂

    • Sidney

      Hi, thanks for your comment – as you can imagine I’m just sitting here waiting for some feedback! It’s not a true story, thank goodness, but a combination of some regularly felt anxieties 🙂

  110. Jeffrey Whitney

    I’ve never been in war; I’ve never picked up a gun, pointed it
    at somebody’s head, and pulled the trigger, hoping for a soft squish. It would
    have been better to have something to compare it to, something to say ‘I’ve been through worse than this,’ but I came up empty that day at the party. My knees were twitchy when I stepped out of the car, and I couldn’t seem to get enough air. So this is Beck’s new house.
    Not bad. Better than what I’ve got. Several pairs of eyes see me coming down
    the block. I wonder if you can feel it when someone has you in their
    cross-hairs? I wonder if any poor sucker ever knew? Beck’s whole side of the
    family is up there, out on the lawn and up in the garage. Everyone is stiff;
    they talk in groups, but they’re not looking at each other. Everywhere my eyes
    scan, people are turning their heads away, so I can tell that they were
    looking. Jesus, where is she? I see Hopie coming out of the garage door. I’ve
    got a cheap-ass gift for her, a worthless bauble that she’ll say she loves. I’ll
    be gone by the time she opens it. “Hey, Dad,” she says, and she hugs me. I know
    what her loyalty is costing. “Hey sweetie,” I wheeze, wiping the moisture from
    the corner of my eye. “Happy Graduation.”

    Reply
  111. Wolf271

    I wasn’t sure what to write about as I haven’t really been in many uncomfortable situations, but I did remember this from primary school.

    It was just as bad as I’d imagined. I examined the other kids’ uniforms and yes-they were all from some snobby private school or other. Great. Just great. The teacher/supervisor man came towards me.
    “You’re the last to arrive. We were just about to start. Please take a seat,” he said, obviously trying to ignore the school badge printed on the front of my jumper. I sat down at the closest available space and pulled out my pencil case. I was painfullt aware of the girl sitting next to me shuffling closer to her friend. The two of them immediately began a whispered conversation, throwing unfriendly glances at me. Trying to ignore them, I looked around the room. The walls were grey and splattered with marks, as was the grey carpet. The teacher/supervisor began to talk,
    “Today we will be writing about… transformation!” he said, excited, waggling his hands about. He was looking at the private school kids, completely ignoring me. I looked down at the table. It was nothing special, just plain wood but I was sure there were scratch marks on it, lookinf suspiciously like words. Engraved into the wood were the words ‘SAVE ME’. Glancing quickly at the other kids, I pulled out a pencil and added an ‘SOS’ and ‘GET ME OUTA HERE!’ I looked up and realised everyone was staring at me. They were starting to look more like wolves than people, wolves who were very hungry.
    “What?” I asked, reflexively.
    “If you weren’t interested in writing then your school or parents should not have signed you up for this workshop and you shouldn’t have agreed to come,” snapped the teacher/supervisor man. I blushed to my roots with humiloation. I hadn’t agreed to come! It was my mum’s fault-she thought that being with other kids who had similar interests would be good for me.
    “Why don’t you tell us what you were thinking? What would you transform into?” he asked.
    I looked down at the desk. I could’ve easily made something up but I figured he wouldn’t appreciate it.
    “She wasn’t thinking about anything,” piped up the prat sitting next to me, “I saw her writing on the desk!”
    “Not to mention she doesn’t have the brain capacity to think! She goes to a /state/ school!” sniggered her friend, quitely so the man wouldn’t hear.
    “Oh, really?” asked the man. “Would you like to share?” All the kids were staring at me now. The exit was suddenly looking very welcoming.
    “Do they not teach you how to talk at state schools?” he added, smirking. I could’ve died of embarrassment! I knew what I wanted to turn into now: a chamelion, so I could camoflauge into the background.

    I suddenly wondered if my mum’s wrath could ever be worse than the rest of this writing workshop.

    Reply
    • Annie

      Nice job! I am sitting here actually cringing!

    • Wolf271

      Hahaha thanks! 🙂

  112. rellik4life .

    I looked in the mirror one last time before walking out the door. I wanted to make sure I looked presentable for my first dance. It was about six in the evening , and it was started to get dark. “Mom I’m heading out!”
    “OK son, be careful and have fun!”
    “I will, see you later mom”
    I shut my apartment door and ran down the stairs. I was wearing a green and brown sweater and some green corduroy pants. This night was really important to me, I even got a haircut after school to make sure I looked good. I was hoping this would be the night that I finally get my first kiss.
    When I finally arrived at school, I could hear the music thumping from the lunch room. My friend Gary greeted me, and we heading inside together. Everyone was dancing in the middle of the floor and I had to squeeze my way through to get to the refreshments. I wanted to dance so bad but I was a little nervous to ask a girl to. My friend Victor must of gotten tired of seeing me sitting and asked a girl to dance with me.
    “Hey what’s your name?”
    “Rhonda”
    “Hey Rhonda, I’m Victor, do you want to dance with my friend”
    “Where is he?”
    Victor pointed in my direction and told me to come over. I walked over to him and the cute girl he was talking to.
    “Here he is, he’s a little shy but his name is Taurean.”
    ” Oh, well I’m kind of tired from the dancing I did earlier, so maybe later.”
    Rhonda gave me a kind of “Yeah, I’m not dancing with this guy” look
    That really shook my confidence and I felt as if she thought I was ugly or something. I asked a few more girls to dance that night and not one of them gave me a chance.
    I couldn’t wait for the damn party to end so I could go home. “This was a huge, freaking waste of time!” I said to myself.
    When the party ended, my friends ask me why I didn’t dance with anyone. I honestly couldn’t tell them that all the girls I asked turn me down. So I told them that the girl who I wanted to dance with wasn’t in attendance that night. When I went home, I spent a few hours staring in the mirror, wondering why no one wanted to dance with me. “I’m I that ugly?” I asked myself, as I wiped the tears from eyes. What made it worse was, I knew that I wouldn’t hear the end of it when I went to school on Monday.

    Reply
  113. Allison Reed

    First attempt – 30 minutes
    Out of place and out of time. That’s what I was thinking. I was at a party with people I
    didn’t know. The people I arrived with had long since either left or disappeared into the dark confines of the huge building. Now that I think about it the place did seem eerie, haunted even. Sure haunted by the souls of those who had gone before. I was in the “Tombs” in New York City. The holding cell was small and filled with a number of young women that I did not know, nor did I want to.
    The day started out as any other. I was visiting friends and listening to music. Scotty got a call from his ex-girlfriend and we all trouped out the door. We were all going to help Scotty save his ex from her latest tribulation. It was early summer and the trees were light green and swaying in the breeze. The sun was in tune and we were all laughing and joking. During our two plus mile walk to his ex’s home, Scotty handed me a gun and said, “Here, put this in your purse for me, so I don’t have to carry it. Oh and here are some bullets too.” I put the bullets in the change compartment and the gun in the main part of my stylish crocheted purse. When we got near to the ex’s house, a Volkswagen pulled up next to our group of six. We all glanced at the scuffed blue beetle as two men jumped out with guns drawn and started shouting. “FBI!! Everyone show us your hands. NOW!” With gun pointed at me, the taller of the two shouted, “Put your bag on the hood of the car!” If you have ever seen a beetle, you know that the hood is sloped. Had I put my purse there it would have slid off and hit the ground, specifically a large oil stain. This was my new white crocheted purse, so I said “No. I can’t do that. I will open the purse and let you take what you want.” I was nonplussed, as though I had guns pointing at me all the time. I wasn’t on drugs, so I can’t really account for my total calm. As I attempted to open my purse they both started shouting at once to drop the purse, and I heard this strange clicking noise. I found out later that was the sound of their guns cocking in prelude to shooting. OK, I finally got rattled and dropped my purse in the oil. The zipper was open by now and the gun fell out. They jumped on the purse like ugly on ape and pulled everything out onto the ground. At some point while this was gripping my attention, a couple other vehicles arrived and they actually looked like authority figures from some police-type agency. They cuffed only the guys and pushed Scotty and me into the back seat of the VW. I guess they had already determined that I was either mentally challenged or just stupid. As soon as we got in the car, Scotty asked me not to tell them the gun belonged to him. Hmmm. Odd.
    We arrived at the police station. I guess the FBI had a satellite office there. The two agents proceeded to question me, while the police officers put the five boys in holding cells somewhere in the building. They wanted to know where I got the gun. I told the
    truth just leaving Scotty’s name out of it. I stuck with that story throughout the afternoon and evening. I did get breaks from the questioning, like when I had to type my own police report. I got frustrated watching the officer two-finger my info into the
    typewriter. I offered to do it, and he accepted. I think by now they realized that I was a victim of circumstance. They also sent me across the street to get donuts and coffee. I think they were taking bets as to whether or not I would return. I was law abiding, of course I returned. Finally,a Perry Mason look-alike informed me that the ballistics report came in on the gun and it had been used to rob a liquor store, in which the owner had been killed. Yeah, I told them what they wanted to know.
    I was then taken to the Tombs aka Manhattan Central Booking,
    which is where this story starts. The rest is public record. I served no time,
    nor probation. I was charged and the charges were dropped. I think I was
    really released for being stupid.

    Reply
  114. Laurie Berke

    Unedited as well, 15 minutes, here goes:

    I hardly knew any of these people. They looked like strangers to me. Children all grown up with children of their own. I used to know the people, but that was long ago, and far away, a whole different time warp.

    The middle aged people had been much older, but contemporaries of my daughter, who had married into that family while she was quite young. She had her first child while they were having their third, fourth, fifths. My son had played with the older boys. So this is the age he would have been now…

    Most of these people didn’t recognize me. I’d never been close, except thru my daughter. Some gave me querulous looks, as if I was vaguely familiar to them, but they couldn’t place me. I was just as glad, if they recognized me, they’d talk to me, and I really didn’t have the energy to socialize.

    I gazed at the pictures hanging throughout the memorial site, and dreamed of better times. My daughter’s face, my grandchildren’s faces, eerily my mother’s face, all peered back at me through the dappled sunlight. How quickly time passes. How close to us still, are those who are gone. How slippery our memories. How sad we’re alone.

    Reply
  115. Selene Garcia

    Unedited, this is my actually first writing assignment that I’m sharing with anybody. i hope you guys like it :).

    Gathering my things getting ready to sleepover a friend of mine house, she was very outgoing, she was in love with life and also curious. Lying to my mother telling her ill be going straight there made me cringe since I’ve always lied about going places with my friend because almost everywhere we’ve been to was mostly dangerous and adventurous. “Selene where are you I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes why do you always take your time?” the loud girl sound of my friend screaming because she was so impatient.
    “Im heading there now i had to run errands for my mother, I’m sorry.” i murmur grabbing my bag running out the door, i obviously lied about running errands even though i did run errands for my mother, i just wanted tot take my sweet time because i was starting to second guess everything.
    Walking up the stairs to the A train was truing and i was obviously second hguessing everything the whole way there, i listened to arcade fire and wanted to go home, but i also didn’t want to seem like a baby so i ignored my instincts and went up the stairs. When i sat on the train my mother sends me a text ‘Have fun and be careful i love you:)’ Her sending me that text made me definitely want to go back, tonight i was either going to get drunk or get pressured into hooking up with a guy i literally just met. I smile warmly sending ‘Love you too and i will’ My phone goes off again from my friend “Selene what is the deal, where are you?” i rolled my eyes the people started to look at me weird because they heard how loud she was yelling. Feeling embarrassed i flushed and looked down at my hand, “Ill be there in five okay?” i hang up feeling annoyed I’ve done so much with this girl it makes me upset.
    I start to play some calming downtempo songs and start to read my book off of my phone. Feeling calm i started to drift the train became dark, all i can hear was the music nothing else.
    I woke up to hearing the doors open loud, i jumped up at my stop nervous and feeling queazy from the party that was about to start. i pulled out my ear plugs and walked to the entrance where she said she’d meet me. While walking up the stairs in broadway junction, the station filled with tons of people heading in many directions, they’re either loud, smelly, or they try to hit on you. Passing through crowds of people i see her standing against the wall her nose into her phone, her hair looked beautiful always, her makeup done as if she were a model, her outfit so different yet so unique and gorgeous, she poked her head up showing her beautiful smile. she shoved her phone in her pocket running to me for a big bear hug, even though i think i saw her the week before she always showed she missed me.
    “WEENIE! Are you ready to get some tonight?!” i hated that nickname, my mother and father called me that when i was so young its made the back of my neck hairs prickle.
    “Yeah, where is this ‘party'” i shoved my phone in my bag throwing my duffle bag on my shoulder in a comfortable way.
    “Well its in bedford my friend from the bar is throwing it, liquor, weed and i guess a lot more.”
    She showed her evil grin and winked, great. We started talking about work and our majors, the new people we’ve met, i only met one person and me and her barely spoke. She bragged about how many guys wanted to date her and take her to have fancy dates, showing me hot guys on her social website showing the comments.
    I’ve always hated this about her trying to make me jealous, i felt uncomfortable and insecure, when she would gossip and talk about herself i blocked her voice out. Sitting on the train i didn’t listened the train was dark she faded out with the rest of the people and across from me was a large mirror that showed my imperfections but magnified 100x more.
    I began to start biting my nails and tears started to prick the sides of my eyes. when i came back to reality from her
    “Selene? Are you okay?” she had a concerned look on her face.
    “Yeah I’m just really tired” throwing our a fake yawn i through a fake smile after.
    “Well let me finish telling you about this guy named chris.” I bit my tongue and held my breath literally not listening to what she had to say through out the whole train ride.
    After that long train ride of agony we walk off and start walking out of the train station and head into the streets of bedford. We start to walk towards I’m not really sure what avenue but it wasn’t that far from the train, we start to walk down a quiet street and hear music from the corner. “Look who decided to show up!” A tall attractive guy stands outside of his house with his arms folded, i flush and start to get nervous since I’m not that pretty and i probably look ridiculous.
    We start to walk up the small steps into the house, opening the door the music escalates, and theres numerous young adults drinking, laughing, dancing, on there phones, taking pictures, and smoking weed and cigarettes.
    MY friend starts to pull me towards the bar they have and forces me to take 4 shots then her friend brings a joint to my mouth and i have no choice put to take a pull. All of these people i don’t know start to talk to me grab me My heart starts to thump, i began to feel light heading, the room gets dark, and i begin to wander until i find a bathroom. I throw myself in a locking the door behind me feeing anxious, all i hear is my thoughts i can’t even hear the music the fact that I’m here starts to fade away. i stare at myself in the mirror, my hair is a mess my eyeliner smudged, i begin to fall to the floor.
    The feeling of this is uncomfortable, i hate it why am i even here? I start to get up slowly since I’m dizzy and my face is extremely hot, i wash my face grab my duffle bag and start walking to the door. Before i leave i see my friend standing in the arms of that attractive guy, her hair frizzy, her face sweaty and red, her lips plump and ready to kiss him. He grabs her and they begin to make out. I scoff and open the door, walking slowly down the stairs i start remembering how i got here to get on the train to head home. I might be able to sober up by the time i get home.
    Before i start to walk down the stairs my phone vibrates, the screen shows her face, 15 missed calls, i ignore it and walk down to the train. Never again, I’m going home where i belong, yes i will look like a baby but i don’t like this, and i don’t want to be under pressure yet again.

    Reply
    • Wolf271

      I think we all have that annoying friend who wants to do exciting things while I just go hide in the corner! Your writing is very descriptive and you set the scene well. I really like this post! 🙂

    • Selene Garcia

      Thank you so much!

  116. Annie

    3..2..1… Lift off…unedited right from the tip of my pen..

    Bitter is not a color I wear well. It clashed with the jewels tones I prefer. The mustard green reflect so poorly on my skin. So why do I wear it so frequently?

    Bitterness swells as I look around yet another social encounter with my best friends. Its seed are sown by my inability to laugh at some poor joke, to join in desiccating others, or in the ceaseless congratulatory tone for having amassed so much stuff we all look like gifted hoarders.
    Don’t get me wrong. I love my stuff, I earned my stuff. I worked hard at a job for 35 years, never moving up the food chain to give my stuff a home. But why do I feel so awkward, unable to fit in anymore with people I have known for 40 years, so isolated in an insular group. I can no longer find comfort here, my well worn sweater now has holes and cannot protect me against the chill. Why do I hate that I have to be here again? I look at their faces, to seek beyond the brittle skin to seek the youth of our carefree years.
    There it is, a spark, a kindness, a genuine smile as they share a grandchild story.
    Why do we wear our children’s accomplishments as diamonds? I didn’t get any diamonds. All I got was was used lockets, tarnished and marred by the world. The group looks at me as mundane, so dull and staid. I have become the tarnished locket in their sea of diamonds and pearls.
    I smile, I nod and caress each locket I wear, each charm on my wrist for I know away from their tiny eyes lies a treasure hidden from their view. I sit quietly as the leadership of their country is trashed, as their abysmal state is denigrated, wishing once again I had excused my self from their presence.
    “What about you?”, they ask.
    My kid lived through another week. Its been 3 months since the last ER visit, a new record. My other kids didn’t get the promotion, and the other kid faces so many roadblock after detours that’s she’s about to become her own Donner party.
    Its all for the best, they quip. Another door will open, they offer trite empty phrases that off no comfort. My sweater has holes and that mustard green threatens to shine through. Why do I feel so alone?
    I reach for my heart where my lockets lay hidden. I open each and see the path my children take and the light that shines on their journeys.
    Maybe diamonds are cold, devoid of color in their perfection. Maybe my lockets with treasures hidden, with each scratch well earned will sustain me.
    Maybe I need a new group of friends.
    Or even an ice cold beer.

    Reply
    • Wolf271

      I love this! I love how you capture the atmosphere so well, I love how you have contrasted the diamonds with the lockets, and I especially love the ending. Great!

    • Annie

      Thank you!

  117. Deanna Brooke

    Unedited. Taking a gander at this. Been a while since I’ve written anything, and needing to get my creative juices flowing. Feedback is always welcome. 🙂
    * * *
    It had been about fifteen years since I had been to this city. As I was clumsily driving down the highway, desperately searching for my exit, I felt the traffic wash over me, like a wave washing over a stone. “Breathe,” I reminded myself, as I accelerated a bit more, hoping that the feeling of being boxed in would dissipate. It did not. Luckily, my exit fast approached, but my triumph was short lived. I had no idea where I was going. My Garmin announced where to go and what direction to turn, but I ended up driving my little green Mazda in circles.

    Frustrated, I dialed my friend. “I have no idea where I am, or where to find you,” I blurted into the phone the minute he answered. He was able to guide me on where to pick him up. As I pulled up to the curb, I spied him waiting there in his geeky t-shirt and fedora. He put his stuff in my backseat and hopped in.

    “Hi!” he smiled, half hugging me awkwardly across my bucket seats.

    “Hello,” I hugged back. “Have I ever told you how much I hate this city?” I half-heartedly laughed.

    We made it to his hotel for him to check in. It seemed more like an old dorm than a hotel, but since he was only staying one night, it didn’t matter. It smelled of bug spray and fresh paint. That, coupled with the heat, made me long for the comfort of my own place.

    “I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” he said. “Let’s go eat, we can walk somewhere so you don’t have to drive on these crazy streets.”

    I nodded, and we ventured on to the main walkway. There were so many people walking about. The gum-stained, paint-splattered, trash-littered sidewalk felt like some kind of side-scroller video game I had to maneuver through as we made our way down the street. I wondered if I looked like a tourist, I certainly felt phony. Like any minute someone would point accusingly at me and proclaim, “FAKE!”, thus outing me as a non-local forever. I didn’t at all feel like I authentically belonged in this place. There was a rawness to it, like a scraped knee when you fell off your bike and onto the asphalt as a kid. You wanted to wipe the dirt off the wound, but it hurt too much to do so. Yeah, it was kind of like that.

    Reply
  118. Kieran Meyer

    This is an unfinished draft of this prompt, written in about half an hour. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    It was loud and surprisingly hot. My feet stuck to the floor, and the
    concrete walls of the windowless room felt like a prison, or a cage- a fitting metaphor, since I felt trapped.

    During orientation week my freshman year of college I didn’t
    go out every night partying like a lot of the kids. I was perfectly content to
    take it easy and make the adjustment to college without throwing in new things
    like booze and drugs. Besides, social skills weren’t my strong suit.

    A couple people I knew from high school asked me if I wanted
    to go out partway through watching a crappy movie- I think it was Robin Hood or
    something- and I thought “why not?” What’s the worst that could happen?

    I didn’t immediately regret my decision. John thought we had
    to take Park Street a ways, but the rest of the group thought the house was in
    a different direction. I was just along for the ride; there was no point in
    chipping in to the conversation. After a couple wrong turns we began following
    the pounding bass. That had to be the right direction.

    Butterflies started dancing in my stomach. I lived a
    sheltered life, and everything I knew about college parties I learned from my
    friends and the media.

    The first thing I noticed was the house: the source of the
    pounding bass It wasn’t really a house, more like a stylized dorm. One half
    looked nearly identical to my floor: a narrow, carpeted hallway with easily a
    dozen doors on either side. Some dude in a t-shirt and backwards hat let us in
    and mentioned something about the basement. I can only assume he did, since
    that’s where my group started meandering.

    Three tables were set up with red cups on either side. It
    wasn’t terribly crowded- more dudes in backwards hats were flirting with
    attractive girls while they played pong. Some people were sipping on beer, some
    were throwing their drinks back. Me, I just stood to the side with my friends.
    I couldn’t say anything to anyone, it was so loud, nor would I have known what
    to say. That’s when I started to regret coming.

    A big guy with light brown hair and jeans walked over and
    started talking to us. The rest of the group engaged him with no problem. I
    continued to awkwardly stand there, answering questions when he asked me
    directly. My awkwardness wasn’t entirely my fault- more often than not the
    music drowned out everyone’s voices. Since joining a fraternity, I realize he
    was probably rushing us and asking us the basic questions such as “Where are
    you from?” or “What are you majoring in?” It also explained why he offered us
    all shots.

    My heart raced. The last time I tried alcohol was when I was
    twelve. It was a sip of beer, and my uncle joked that the sheriff was going to
    arrest me that night.

    Reply
  119. Nikki Riley

    Here is my first attempt of putting something out there for critique. Not going to lie I am nervous about it 🙂 I did this in a little over 15 min. I hope someone likes it!

    The ten minutes before ascending the creaky old wooden stairs was the worst. I felt the butterflies in my stomach rapidly turning into full blow waves of turmoil. They were making me uneasy on my feet, so i reach over and placed my chilled clammy hand on the matching wooden banister. As soon as the surge of fuzziness left my brain I started back pacing in the contained area I was being forced to wait in. With the lights dimmed low and the musky smell in the air I felt like a neglected childrens toy thrown in an old toy box and forgotten. If only I could see someone everything might calm enough for me to shove air into my pinched lungs. As I am looking up at the mint green metal door at the top of the steps a parade of words kept scrolling through my head; over and over and over again. It is almost as if I had a song on repeat except I could not make sense of which words belonged where. Heaving another staled breath of air into my lungs I re-positioned my hands and forced them to still at my sides; breaking them from rigorous ritual they had developed of sliding along my legs. If only i could creep up those stair, avoiding all of creaky spot that I knew like the back of my hand, and open the door to search for a pair of familiar eyes, then maybe I could gain some control. I just needed a glimmer of hope to keep these rolling waves at bay.

    “Two minutes, two minutes everyone” a harsh whisper slid along the back of my head waving over me like a soft caress on my shoulders.

    I quickly turned to see who it was, only catching the back frame of a lanky person dressed in black walking away. There probably went my last chance for some comfort and reassurance from a familiar face.

    Sure, I have been constantly encouraged and told I would ‘knock it out of the park’ by numerous people who had caught sneak peaks. I had even been told everything was perfected and I didn’t need to tweak a single moment of it.

    A moment, that what this is; someone else moment not mine. I would just be portraying it from my own viewpoint, How easily could I have forgotten this? As that soothing thought started to take root in my head, I felt my inner turmoil start to calm, allowing me to supply more air to my yet again light headed and fuzzy brain.

    “Thirty seconds”, someone whispered along with tapping me on the shoulder this time. I cast a sidelong glance in their direction while nodding my acknowledgement; finding a pair of light green eyes truly smiling at me in encouragement.

    “Break a leg.” He whispered his superstitious luck phrase; yet it was just the encouragement I needed. At that moment the cheerful first chords of the opening number rang out filling my confined corners and I quickly transcended into my role. I might not be comfortable being up there as myself, but this story needed to be told……by her through me

    Reply
    • Nikki Riley

      **Not edited by the way. I just sat down and started writing so please excuse the errors**

  120. Anna

    First post, nervous! Still working to improve my writing since I stupidly stopped for ages. Feedback is much appreciated; I know it doesn’t really fit any sort of form either sorry guys!

    Reply
    • Anna

      First post in my picture above, nervous! Still working to improve my writing since I stupidly stopped for ages. Feedback is much appreciated; I know it doesn’t really fit any sort of form either sorry guys!

      It’s incomplete, or possibly just short and sweet: about that feeling when you’re young but you’re a lot farther in life and have been through a lot more than your “still growing up: friends have. It makes you feel left out I guess, lonely. But it’s always lonely at the top isn’t it? Just a way I’m starting to learn gratefulness I guess. Anyway, enjoy! – Anna

  121. Anna

    First post, nervous! Still working to improve my writing since I stupidly stopped for ages. Feedback is much appreciated; I know it doesn’t really fit any sort of form either sorry guys!

    It’s incomplete, or possibly just short and sweet: about that feeling when you’re young but you’re a lot farther in life and have been through a lot more than your “still growing up: friends have. It makes you feel left out I guess, lonely. But it’s always lonely at the top isn’t it? Just a way I’m starting to learn gratefulness I guess. Anyway, enjoy!

    ***

    Here I stand

    redeemed, saved, unashamed

    even after I have wronged in the darkness.

    Along with guilt, I guess comes salvation.

    My reflection at the back of my mind,

    not as strong as I perceived myself to be.

    Lost love, lost hope, lost myself

    so I’ve resorted to my narcissistic,

    materialistic pool of elated self-worth.

    So I’ve resorted to loving my career more than I could ever love any man

    – as it should be: persevering day in persevering day out .

    Strength is not so unless you beat the world’s weight alone.

    If this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,

    then my life must be so wonderful after all.

    Reply
  122. Audrey

    The walls were closing in; not literally of course, otherwise this would be a lot more serious, but the hallways were suffocatingly tiny.The sterile white that shone down the hall projected like an an arrow to the nearest exit, but I wasn’t going to let that get the best of me. I closed my eyes, a comforting blanket of darkness washing over me, and I took a deep breath. Then another. And another. And continued the cycle about thirty times before I conceived that continuing along was likely a good idea. When I opened my eyes, the blinding qualities of the light had died down, and it seemed the school building itself had taken a breath, as any claustrophobia that it exhibited had vanished.

    Reply
  123. simplymajaa

    The sliding door at the airport opened at the approach of steps, prompting the sensors to react. Sudden coat of southern heat brushed my unexpected face as I made my first step onto the land of free. The unusual temperature shift and until then unacquainted humidity lingered on the skin. A brief walk to the car followed in that unknown climate that took months to adjust. The car sped onto the highway taking us into the darkness of the night passing through the emptiness of the interstate. Once we took the exit, nothing much has changed in a scenery. The hollowness continued all the way until we reached the desired destination. A duplex in a color of red brick became our home where we could start a new life, a life in between.

    The expectations of the next day failed to meet the standards and slowly started to develop a sense of disappointment. After all, this was not what a sixteen year old girl had expected to see. Nothingness stretched everywhere, with few houses along the way forcing me again to experience that melancholic sensation of home never rediscovered. This place lacked streets where I could walk under the street lamps; the place was a destitute replacement of any city I had visited before. The bare roads, and only occasional car would be a companion if one chose to cruise the streets at night with the possibility of being approached by cops. This new life lacked the glamour and at the same time simplicity of spatial movement, it lacked heart and soul of people mingling next to each other on daily basis. In big cities, one is never truly alone, all one has to do is take a walk to feel a part of the larger humanity, a significant particle in the universe. Here, the quiescence prevails and forces one into the darkest abysses of mind.

    Every day became easier and more comprehensible, yet the desolate surrounding harmed the progress of the soul. One adapts, adjusts, shapes according to the environment to preserve, to survive. The extrinsic influences aid in shaping the surrounding and one sooner or later succumbs to those forces. Yet, those are only temporary occurrences because luckily our conscience awakes at the moments of a dire need and presents itself in a shape never imagined before. Eight years later I found myself in front of a different set of doors that welcomed me in and I instantly knew that at least for now, I found home.

    Reply
  124. deborah ellery

    It took me by surprise,her words ringing in my ears. I fumbled with my coffee cup, tears threatening at corners of my eyes. “Mom,” she said softly.
    The only sound in the room was a clock ticking softly over kitchen sink. My hands were shaking as I tried to hang onto my coffee cup. It tumbled from my trembling fingers, hitting the floor with a shattering crash,hot coffee pouring over my bare feet.

    I lost control and began to sob,deep convulsing sobs. My daughter, Elizabeth reached for my shoulders but I turned away from her,burning my head in my hands.The arguements had become too much between us, harsh, ugly, cutting words.

    What had started as minor disagreements between us months earlier had become an all out war of words. Blow by blow words that cut deep filling me with anguish and breaking my heart.

    Elizabeth,being my eldest child was always my most head strong, determined child. She grown from a somewhat testy, challenging but manageable child, to an angry, unhappy young adult. It was breaking my heart.

    Reply
  125. Neatmia

    I’ve just joined The Write Practice and this will be my first post/prompt. Unedited and fresh off of the handwriting method (hoping to get the creative juices flowing more freely). Love some feedback.
    ———————-

    It wasn’t in the best of places. More a seedy side of town, with old cars from the 70s, souped up and decked out on large rims and hydraulic systems that gyrate their bodies like Jamaican hips. I parked next to Honda Civic, figuring it was the safest bet, since they’ve been around despite the decade or side of the tracks. Sluggishly, I dragged myself toward the entrance and opened it after a short countdown to get ready. 3, 2, 1, open.

    No “ta-da” or “voila!” Just all eyes on me. By the bugged out eyes and swiveling neck rolls, i went. Toward the receptionist counter. The heat of the eyes on me, cemented my feet in place.

    “You got an appointment?” she questioned with smirked up lips, a loud teeth-sucking smack, and just as much attitude drenched in her tone. I guess it was service, but it had nothing to do with the customer.

    “No. I’m a walk-in,” I felt myself shrink down with lowered eyes.

    “It’s gon’ be ’bout fiteen minutes, but you could take your hair down while you wait.”

    I scurried over to an empty seat, haphazardly smiling at a woman in the waiting area, whose face contorted quizzically, as if I’d just told her she had ugly kids. To pass the time, I took the first magazine atop the pile and gave my best impression of someone actually interested in the content. I mean, hair is hair, right? But, I needed someone qualified to handle mine. It isn’t fine or flat, but big and full. Massive and wild. Beastly, even. And, it requires taming. Someone to whip it into shape with two hands and all the right tools. You wouldn’t eat a steak with a spoon, so hair like mine could never be maneuvered with a regular comb, brush, or plug-in curling iron. It needs pressing combs, mar cell irons, and blow-dryers with fierce combs that sometimes get the teeth knocked out them. Super relaxers, oil, and grease–the clumpy, gooey, hardcore petroleum stuff. If I didn’t need such a specialist, might not have been in such a cavernous den.

    Sitting there with my bushel of hair nestled in a hot mess, I peered above the top of the magazine at the women who’d stopped talking since my arrival. They could’ve easily been a paint sampler strip with their complexions ranging the full spectrum of browns–Ebony dew all the way to Sand Dunes. I saw Ebony Dew look over at me and take in my whole get up from head to toe. I figured my regular Saturday uniform of jeans and tee would be up to par, but a scan around the room let me know I hadn’t got the right memo. Apparently Sunday’s Best was weeklong attire.

    I’d never been to this place before, but I’d been here. A place where there was always a competition between light and dark. “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” my cousin would always say. But my berry wasn’t that dark. It’s more of a dark-challenged berry. So, did that mean I couldn’t be sweet, I always wondered. Where I came from, I wasn’t light enough to be white, or dark enough to be black, so I lived in a complexion purgatory.

    This place was no different. Only the geography had changed. Swap out the wind in the city of the palms and beaches. New coast, same skin.

    The stone-faced stylist waved me over, “what are we doing today?”

    “Relax and style,” I muttered lowly.

    As her fingers combed through my roots, she lingered in my new-growth. She was more of a Hazelnut Butter with honey-colored eyes. I couldn’t tell where she was from, but as she massaged through my tangled troubles, I could tell she was familiar with my struggles.

    “So where are you from?” she asked softly, spreading genuine interest over her sharp edge.

    Reply
  126. Wendy

    I know it probably needs a little elaboration and perhaps better vocab words, but over all did you get the point of what is going on or does it seem a bit confusing? What do you think is going on? Thanks.

    ___________________________________________________

    I threw the blankets that just a few seconds ago were wrapped around me like a burrito. They landed on the floor. I crawled to the now empty but still warm, left side of the bed and scooted out. Gently walking to the closet, I threw on a white tank top, no bra and a pair of “No Fucks given” jeans. Then, I walk towards the bedroom door where you are sleeping.

    “Brenda,” I whisper.
    “I’m awake.” you respond.
    “Let’s not go to work today. I’m still too drunk and it’s way too far to drive.”
    “Okay.” You say.
    “Going to make coffee. I’ll be downstairs.”

    I’m now shuffling through the cabinets as my mind recalls the night before.

    “You and I were enemies.” Your face didn’t seem to believe the words that you were saying.

    “Maybe rivals.” I reply. We chug our drinks at an unusual rate. Well… unusual for MOST people.

    I pour the water into the coffee maker and turn it on. It immediately begins to brew. I should probably eat something but I have no desire to.

    You walk into the kitchen and ask for some water.

    “Tap water.” I said.
    “Thanks.”

    You and I awkwardly exchange words here and there.
    We were two sober strangers. Sober. That word is strange enough.

    As we sit on the couch watching “America’s Most Wanted”, my mind kept going back to the night before.

    “Let’s call James.” You laugh.
    “Okay.”

    Being as discreet as possible so as to not wake up my new current, we tip toe to the back yard, through the rain and into the gazebo.

    “Don’t say anything. I don’t want him to know we are together. I want you to hear him talk about you. ”

    I nodded.

    You begin to dial the number, with your finger pressed against your lip. I smile.
    It rings. Twice.

    “Brenda! Hey how are you?”

    “I’m great. I’m just hanging out at home.”

    “Oh yeah. It’s so great to hear from you. Did you go to Wendy’s?”

    “I did. She’s doing great. She really is a nice girl. You were completely wrong about her.”

    “I know I was. And I’ve given it a lot of thought. Wendy will probably never get back with me. She has Mark. I do love her but I love you too, Brenda. I know you are with Brandon, but I can’t help but to think you are still willing to be with me.”

    “James, when we were together, before you met Wendy and before I met Brandon, I wanted you to marry me. I wanted you to move me in. I wanted you to build a future with me. And Wendy told me that she wanted the same thing with you before she got with Mark. You’re never going to change.”

    James took a breath.

    “Well.. I think it was going to be too difficult to keep Wendy happy. She wanted too much.”

    I laid my head on your shoulder and began to cry. Call us rivals or enemies. As I sat there in the cold rain listening to the desire in his voice as he spoke to you, I felt like I finally had somebody that understood.

    “James, I wanted the same things she wanted and you couldn’t give them to me.”

    The conversation didn’t last much longer .. and I realized you were asking if I wanted to order pizza. “America’s Most Wanted” was suddenly on again and you were suddenly sitting next to me. My Enemy. My rival. My friend.

    Reply
  127. Lorey Lyons

    I woke to darkness. My eyelids heavy and thick, temples pounding, ears ringing. I tried to sit up, but nausea forced me back down. I tried to take in my surrounding by I didn’t recognize anything. My mind felt heavy with a fog of confusion, where was I? What was the last thing I remembered?

    Coffee. I remembered being at the coffee shop to grab a smoothie and I ran into that guy who spilled coffee all over my jeans. I unconsciously reached down to my thigh and then I did sit up. Nausea and dizziness punching me in the gut like a prize fighter. But I didn’t care about any of that because I wasn’t wearing any pants. I squinted hard at my naked thighs and tried to remember, but there was nothing. I pulled at the oversized shirt I was wearing, it was grey, the band logo almost faded away. It wasn’t mine.

    My breath caught in my throat and choked me, why couldn’t I remember? I stumbled up, barely holding my balance. I tried to close my eyes, but the spinning was worse. Terrifying. I pushed myself forward until I slapped into the wall, I was shaking. I couldn’t grip the handle, my palms sweating. I tried again and again, and I moaned, choking back a sob. I leaned against the wall forcing myself to breath. The spinning of the walls and floors finally starting to slow. “Stop it.” I ordered myself, my voice rusty with disuse. My throat raged at me.

    I put my hand on the door knob and straightened my shoulders. False bravado or no, I was opening this door. I gripped the knob tightly and felt it give as I turned it. My body sagged in a breathless type of relief. Anxiety like a starving animal clawed at my insides. I pulled the door open and saw them. 2 young men and a young woman, sitting on an old, beat up couch. The cheered at the players on the television screen, and I gasped. Then I laughed. Then I sobbed. A tear slipped down my cheek, and I felt a bubble of hysteria pop inside of me and I laughed again.

    Katy, an old friend whom I had ran into after leaving the coffee shop last night sat on the couch with her boyfriend and brother. As soon as I saw her my night flashed before my eyes… It was the last time I would ever play Vodka Pong.
    ___________
    Totally grungy draft, straight of the timer! Just came across this site today, so I’m behind everyone else, but here’s hoping I can still get some feedback!

    Reply
  128. Magz

    OK. I only just found this site yesterday and would love to exercise and improve. Be gentle but I truly appreciate any feedback at all. THANKS

    I only saw grey with squiggly lines as though I was looking
    at a television with no station. I heard
    a loud, constant buzzing in my ears. I
    opened my eyes slowing trying to focus on anything other than the constant
    buzzing and spinning sensation that made me feel the need to vomit. The floor was cold, cement or concrete of
    some sort. Sounds filtered back into my
    head first before the visualization of my domain. There was loud banging, yelling and metal
    rattling sounds, somewhere further was a
    woman screaming for help, metal scraping along the floor and heavy boots
    falling. I was lying on the floor of
    somewhere in a place that was load and unfamiliar.

    I propped myself up onto my elbow and slowing with great
    care tilted my face upward. Shit, I thought. I slowing return my head and arms horizontal
    to the floor and closed my eyes. I was
    cold and just wanted to drift back to unconsciousness. I
    pictured myself lying on my bedroom floor and tried to slow my breathing. Now I could feel the fuzzy softness of the
    plush carpet and hear the crackling of the fireplace that was recently
    installed in my bedroom. Off in the
    distant the constant tick and tock of the Grandfather Clock that was received
    as a wedding gift.

    The wedding should have been the warning. I should have realized I was heading for
    something dangerous. The guests groom
    and even my mother had looked the other way as it was my wedding day. It was a once in a lifetime, fairy-tale
    celebration and a very convenient and rational assumption that my behavior
    would be once in the lifetime not the remainder of my lifetime.

    Reply
  129. Nush

    My first post – Written for fifteen minutes. Looking forward to feedback. Thank you ! 🙂

    Pushing the glass door slightly forward,i crossed the threshold of the restaurant. I found myself in a quite large room where tables and chairs have been neatly arranged on the shiny parquet floor. At first glance, i knew at once that i did not belong over here. The atmosphere was filled with aesthetic luxury, sophisticated attitude and enticing perfumes. I could notice that the guests present were somewhat exhibiting some common behavioral patterns that drastically narrowed my self confidence and self esteem. The ladies, with the hair neatly brushed and dyed, seemed to relish the complex words they were using. They were trying so hard to be in the spotlight that the beautifully dressed children opted for silence. Whether they felt intimidated to get involved in the conversation or they simply preferred to savor their delicious meal, it was hard to tell. The men, handsome and smart, resembled much like their female partners. Some were engrossed in the middle of a passionate argument while others were openly discussing about their lucrative businesses.

    No matter where i turned my head to, that insecure feeling kept on swelling inside of me. Suddenly i heard my name being called from the table found in the right corner of the room. I took a deep breath and made my way to my colleague. It was a dinner invitation that i had no other choice than accepting it.

    Reply
  130. Kirsis Concepcion

    I awoke to the warm faint sunlight that seeped through my window–stirring my hot soaking eyes, head pounding synched with my heart, coupled with a deep loud ringing in my ear while dark dream images aroused my mind’s eye.

    I dragged through the day clouded with melancholy, fighting the hot tears that burned to break through. I saw yet saw nothing, I smelled, yet smelled nothing. The day felt lethargic. All seemed foreign for I watched my day-in-a-life tick by without grasping where or even why… just knowing I’m here and alive.

    *****************************************************************

    This took me 20minutes. I’m a very slow writer so I most definitely need practice. I am also very critical about my own writing and this is also my very first time posting online something I’ve just written.

    Reply
  131. Aayush

    How’s this for my first try? Its only a paragraph i tried writing. Suggestions to improve would be highly appreciated

    I wake up bewildered. I turn around and find nothing, I see
    nothing. Where am I? I ask myself. But my mind is empty. I don’t know where I am
    and suddenly it occurred to me that I don’t know who I am. I feel strange. I sense
    a sparkle of fire inside me barely alive, trying its best not to go out. I can
    sense a thirst inside me that cannot be quenched, but I cannot figure out what
    it is. After what it seemed like an hour of pointless thinking I ask myself, “Am
    I dead?” No I can’t be dead. But what if this really is death? What if there is
    no hell or heaven like people imagine there to be after death but only this
    emptiness and loneliness’? What if I am bound like this forever unable to do
    anything but to stare at the white emptiness above me trying to figure out who I
    am? The thought sacred me, so I try to dismiss it from my head but I can’t.
    Slowly I realize I am losing consciousness, “What if I never wake up again?” I whisper
    to myself and try as hard as I can to stay awake but in the end I fail.

    Reply
    • Tapiocaqueen

      I like it!! 😀 It gives you a lot of questions but not a lot of answers. Also, at the end, maybe you could write “…as I can to stay awake but in the end I fail and fall into an endless sleep” or something like that. Can you look at mine to?

  132. Tapiocaqueen

    Hi! I’m a seventh grader and I’m trying to improve my writing so could somebody give me suggestions on how to improve this?

    Even when I was a young puppy I was the always the last one. The last one to be born. The last one to be fed. The last one to have a name – Runt. The last one to be adopted. I stayed at the shelter while I watched longingly at my brothers and sisters being carried away by their new owners. Every time a possible owner came to pick out a dog I behaved my best – I put on my big-eye-floppy-ear-tilted-head-wagging-tail-cute-dog look, happily bounded along the adoptee, and sat and rolled and jumped whenever the shelter owner, Loren, told me to. But they never took me home in their big warm arms. They always got the small fluffy dogs or the big and friendly golden retrievers, or those snobby poodles. Even when Loren tried to persuade them to adopt me because I was “friendly and in need of a home”, they just shook their heads and said, “I’m sorry, but a cripple would be too much work.” That’s what they saw when they looked at me, a cripple. All of them except Loren, who always loved me. Even when I chewed her slippers, or shed fur on the bed, she just laughed and said, “What am I going to do with you, Runt?” And now, ten later, I finally have a home.

    Reply
  133. Mahnoor

    ” ‘Imagine a car that just won’t start. You check the fuel gauge and it’s full because you’re always careful enough to keep it full. So you open the bonnet and check if something is out of place but on the surface, everything seems to be alright. Frustrated, you bang your fist on the door but regret it a moment later as pain shoots up your arm.’

    This is what she always felt like when it came to writing something. Oh sure, she wrote really good essays for school assignments but that wasn’t the same thing. She wrote a few short stories for the school’s blog and an article or two for a local magazine but that was it. The irony was that she was a voracious reader. She loved to read ever since she could and that was what aroused her interest in writing in the first place. Friends and family also encouraged her but when it came to actually writing anything, she felt as if her hand had turned to stone and her mind would go numb. She just couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have any good ideas; she had plenty of them! But she just couldn’t write and it was frustrating as hell because she knew she could write well. Even with all the encouragement, she was unable to, and gradually her family stopped pestering her to write anything. She felt like a talentless loser. After all, she had no other hobbies except reading and she wanted to write so that there could be SOMETHING that she’d be good at.
    ‘People have blogs and they post everyday’, she used to think. ‘Why can’t I do it?’
    She never found the answer to that question. “

    Reply
  134. Ranconteur Wannabe

    Clubs aren’t made for introverts. That was the thought I had as I walked into the dimly lit club with the bar illuminated as if it were the only oasis in the sea of sweat and wall to wall bodies. I followed my co-workers leas as I did the sideways shuffle and two-step to find an available table. At the least, now I didn’t have to be a wall flower, sighing as I plunked down on to the chair of a nearby open table.
    I glanced around the room performing my favorite past time – people watching. I wondered how long I had to stay before I could beg off for the night saying, “It’s late…I’ve got to get up early…I got a long drive so…” The one thing I knew was if I didn’t at least stay till midnight, I’d never hear the end of it.
    “You want a drink?”, my girlfriend asked as she leaned into me, grabbing my arm for to gain my undivided attention. I glanced from my arm to her hand with a levered eyebrow I raised my eyes to me hers only to be met with a glassy stare. Her normally bright alert eyes were dulled and droopy. I had no idea what she had taken from the office to the club but one thing was for sure, the party had started before we’d ever reached the bar.
    I flexed my arm and twisted effectively sliding out of her grip and answered, “Yeah, rum and coke.” Dear God, this was going to be a long night.

    Reply
  135. MargS

    My daughter can crawl and say 100 words. I have them written on a crumbly piece of yellow legal pad paper, so I know. Duck and mama and house and love. I could stare at her all day but I need to find other baby friends for her.

    I meet a fellow mom at the grocery store and we exchange numbers. She’s blonde and clean and has a group – a baby play-date group up North. North Dallas where I rarely venture.

    I drive with my baby in her car seat listening to catchy baby tunes, her little voice chattering along happily.

    The bright green grass is short and even. The house is brick and looks like the others in the cul-de-sac. The smooth sidewalk leads me to a door with a big window. I peak in and tell myself to breathe. Remember, my baby needs playmates. I lug in her bag, my bag, and a community snack. I smile. I try to meet their energy.

    Lots of couches. Seven babies on the floor. Brightly colored plastic toys surround them. Moms are saying, “share” and “no”. I hear snippets of conversation – about pediatricians and sleeping through the night and colic and bottles and husbands.

    I start up a conversation with my couch mate. I tell her my baby loves grapes.

    “Oh my, you can’t feed your baby grapes. That’s terrible,”she says.

    “Well, I cut them up small so she can’t choke,” I say.

    “That doesn’t matter, I’ve read you never feed baby grapes.”

    “Oh no,” I explain, “that’s only because it’s a choking hazard and if you cut them up, it’s fine.”

    “No, you can’t do that,” she says and begins talking to another mom.

    I get brave and declare to the group, “babies are amazing and don’t you just love watching them learn and explore? I am high on babies – I think I’ve found the meaning of life.”

    Wide eyes look at me and a couple of moms nod slowly. It’s quiet for a moment. Then I hear talk of church families and juice boxes and teaching kids to share. I smile and get quiet.

    Someone hears my baby talk and says “how did you teach her that?”

    “I didn’t teach her,” I say, “she just loves words.”

    The carpet is gray. The babies are well-behaved and disciplined. Mine doesn’t want to sit on blankets. She wants to explore. I keep apologizing. Babies have to stay in the blanketed area. She’s bored and wants to nurse. No one else is nursing. Maybe I should go. I search my mind for an excuse. I can’t find a good one.

    I keep grabbing my baby in mid-escape and returning her to the blanket. My chest is tight, my jaw hurts, I feel the beginning of a headache.

    I get three messages asking when I would like to host at my house. I don’t respond and they quit asking me. I make excuses when I’m invited back to their group. Finally the host gets angry with me for never coming and says if I’m not interested to just tell them I won’t be participating.

    I finally say I’m just too busy. I can’t be honest. I don’t fit in to this baby group. I’m not sure how to be a mom.

    Reply
  136. Markie

    I don’t know how I talked myself into this. A date with a stranger! I’m not ready for this. How the hell can I tell him about my life? He won’t understand and will only thing badly of me. Ugh!! I’m not going to do this. I have really had enough stress and emotional turmoil in my life that I just do not need this!
    It’s ten till 7 and he should be here soon. I am early which obviously shows I am desperate! What is wrong with me? I put my coat back on and start to get up. “Are you Kristen?” My heart skips a beat and I say yes.
    “Hi, I’m Ben.”
    “Hi Ben, nice to meet you.” I swallow hard and sit back down. I guess I’m doing this. I order a glass of wine and smile like I’m happy to be there. Just don’t talk too much about yourself! I start asking him benign questions about himself and he seems very happy to tell me all about his business, his family, and his goals. Wow! Great guy and nice looking too! I better not get too excited about the prospects.
    “So what do you do?” I hear him ask. “I uh, I work in HR for a big firm in town.”
    “Do you have any children?”
    “Yes, just one. She is 22.” Okay now I’m out of here! “I’m sorry Ben, I have to go” I start to put my coat back on and he actually looks hurt and confused.
    “What’s wrong? Something I said?”
    “No no you seem to be a great guy. I just can’t talk about my life. It’s too depressing. You won’t want to stay if I told you. So I’m just saving you some time.”
    “I’m sorry” I picked up my purse and headed towards the door without looking back. Tears started down my face and I told myself to wait. Cry in the car, like usual. I breathe in through my nose and focus on the task at hand, getting the hell outta there!
    I find my car and can’t get in there fast enough. Help me get out of here! I just want to be home in bed. I open the door, throw my purse in and sit behind the wheel. Ahhh, the click of the lock combined with the permission to cry make me feel safe. More tears fall and I turn the ignition. Home bound. Where no one can judge me. No one can hurt me.

    Reply
  137. Chris Jay Becker

    It was a well-lit, airy, faux Irish Pub in an underground shopping mall in downtown Los Angeles. A woman I’d been “talking to” online for a month or so had recommended it because she lived nearby with her husband.

    I’d texted her when I’d come up from the bowels of the 7t St. Metrocenter Station, but she must have been busy.

    Oh, well, I told myself. I was used to drinking alone.

    My iPhone had about half a charge. That was good because it was just the two of us tonight, me and the white iPhone 4.

    The host sat me at a single table next to a pillar facing the bar. I could see all of the TVs behind the bar.

    I don’t recall exactly what I ate or what I drank, but I was drunk as a lord in short order. The bright, shiny couples to my left and to my right kept laughing way too hard in that kind of exaggerated, touchy-feely, pawing way couples do on first dates.

    Fuck. Just my fucking luck. Me, the drunken, depressed, writer/comedian surrounded by shining happy people. Like that REM song.

    There was no juke box. Too bad, I could use some Black Sabbath right now… something doomy like War Pigs to bum out the Perky People.

    I started writing one-liners in my Moleskine reporter’s notebook. The new jokes made me laugh, but I knew that it was because I was ‘faced.

    I thought about that woman who lived nearby with her husband. They had an open marriage. It sounded… interesting. But I also knew that I wasn’t built to handle adultery well. The booze didn’t make me happy, either.

    I was still hungry when I left the shiny pub.

    There was a McDonald’s across the hallway.

    I only like Mickey D’s when I’m drunk.

    I smiled. “Then it’s a good thing ah’mm drunk…”

    Reply
  138. Christopher Faulkner

    Unfamiliar Places

    Is it haunted? Our voices echoed back at us and seemed to mix with the awkward shadows cast by bare lightbulbs on ceiling lights. The floor creaked and cracked with evry step. The old, naked windows stared bleakly into the unlit night. A pit started to form in my stomach. No furniture. Bare walls. No pictures. If it wasn’t haunted, it should have been.

    We were to camp out here tonight. Of all reason, we had to protect our recent rental from homeless people who had been breaking in while it was abandoned. A handyman was fixing locks and windows as we set our stuff in one of the empty bedrooms. There were no beds, so my wife and I would be sleeping in a sleeping bag on the cold hard floor.

    As we lay down to an imperfect rest, freezing cold (did I mention no heat, either) made the spectral shadows and hard floors even more inhospitable. The nightly trips to the bathroom were excersizes in courage. With the lights turned off, the weak yellow light from the streetlights outside cast long grizzly shadows on the wall. Around every corner (and there were lots of corners), we expected to see a wraith staring back at us.

    The night strecthed on and on. every noise made us instanty alert.

    “Was that a window sliding open?”

    “Did you just hear a door close?”

    And on it went through the long winter night.

    Salvation came in the form of the morning sun and birds chirping! Goosebumps just seem to melt away when birds are hapily singing just outside the window. In daylight, the house didn’t look much better. It was still drab and old and creaky. But at least we could see! And as we checked all the doors and windows we happily found everything secure; there were no visitors, real, or imagined during the long night. There have been few times in my life when I was more happy to go to work, where the familiar surroundings made me feel human again.

    Reply
  139. Faye

    The twinge felt painful against my chest that December, 5 years ago. I feel its ghost right now, as we speak.

    It was such an easy, small action what set it off. After being away from my family and friends for almost a month and sent to a cold culture, this was the first time I felt like crying.

    It was, after all, just a hug. A hug from my host mother to my host sister after dinner. It was a warm, loving embrace that matched perfectly the yellow walls, the reds and maroons in the Christmas decorations and furniture, and the strong light above the dinner table. But unlike them, blue got over me. Cold and sneaky like the snow raging outside our window.

    Those were the kind of hugs my mom gave me and my siblings. Love-filled embraces in a tropical country, thousands of miles and a 12 hour flight away.
    It had already been confusing to adapt to a cold culture and an even colder weather. But then in front of me was a reminder of the warmth back home. A lit house and a strong hug, all in the middle of France. I wanted to partake in it.

    I didn’t want to be cold anymore.

    Reply
  140. Laura Evans

    There are about eight people in the upstairs area of the bar, all seated in a semi-circle making idle chit-chat with each other. In the area before them, a sheet is spread across the floor with a few scattered cushions, all illuminated by an upright lamp. I am the only one not participating in the conversations. Instead I am standing on the periphery. I suppose I could approach and maybe introduce myself, but really
    that is not necessary and may even be deemed strange behaviour. After all, I’m not here for the same reason as everyone else. Quite the opposite. I resolve to
    remain invisible for as long as possible.

    However, the man in the middle calls my name, and it is suddenly my cue to step in front of the crowd and be noticed. Except it’s not really me they’ll be observing. They’re not interested in my name or how old I am or where I come from or what I do for a living. They are not concerned with my thoughts or feelings at that moment I stand before them in nothing but a sheer satin kimono. The man nods and the only item of
    clothing obscuring my body from public view falls to the floor.

    I am instructed to make my first short pose, which I had pre-prepared mentally. The only thing required of me at this moment (apart from the necessity for me to be nude) is to remain as still as possible; any movement could ruin the works of art being created by the diligent pupils with their sketch pads. In order to do this I fix my gaze at
    something directly in my line of sight, which for this pose happens to be a particularly ornate mahogany chair. My eyes follow the curves of the pattern calved into the backrest, the smooth edges and the way the light bounces off at certain angles. I stare so intently I could memorise every grain, every shadow and every almost imperceptible imperfection.

    This must be what the artists see when they look at me.

    Reply
  141. Heather McNamara

    I had let my mom talk me into coming to the pastoral center to help wrap the gifts that were for the parishioners, but I knew I’d be out of place, which turned out to be true. There were only three other women there, all middle-aged like my mother, and I tuned out of their conversation as though it were a radio station I wanted to change. Their chirps and chatters were nothing I could relate to since I’ve never had kids, haven’t worked in over ten years, and have never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner. Pushing their small talk aside, I took to the task of wrapping the gifts. I would take a book from one of the boxes in the center of the long table, wrap it up in the appropriately festive paper, tape it up, shove it on the pile, and repeat. It was a comforting, soothing process. The motions of folding, wrapping and taping helped me forget that no matter where I went, I would always be a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land, even in my own hometown.

    The rustle of the wrapping paper drowned out the ceaseless chatter of the other women and my own thoughts. When I taped the packages shut, I felt as though I were wrapping up my worries and getting ready to ship them off to Abu Dhabi or some far-distant place where could be of more use. I drank in the good cheer of the patterned paper; the ruby red poinsettias, the fluffy teddy bears in Santa Claus hats, the glinting gold and smirking snowmen. I lost myself in a Christmas wonderland, where all problems could be solved with warm hugs and hot chocolate. I forgot my worries, for a short while. For now, I was Santa’s little helper, and that was all I needed to be. It didn’t matter for once that I was a 34-year-old virgin on disability payments who couldn’t converse her way out of a paper bag. All I had to do for now was wrap presents like a good little elf and it would be all right. If my life had ever taught me anything, it would always, eventually, be all right.

    Reply
  142. Alfredo Jimenez

    Out of place

    A. Jimenez

    Now I am preparing my coffee
    and slides of bread with peanut butter (as my wife like it) at home. But five
    months ago, Oakland, San Leandro and San Lorenzo were strangers to my eyes.

    I have arrived to the Oakland
    international airport around 5 O’clock. Always with the incertitude of a new
    adventure. I was coming to teach, but for a while, my feelings were a little
    bit opposites, some excitement but some incertitude too. I have been an address
    in hand, but incertitude any way. It would be the right place for me? Could be enough
    money in my pocket to survive my next two or three months?

    I took a taxi to the address,
    but in the same taxi I have almost come back to the airport. Taxi driver brought
    me to a motel 6. Until next day I were able to know about the address in hand.
    For good or for bad, there was not any place to lease.

    I walked for a while
    looking for apartments available. Soon I realized the difficult it was to get
    an apartment!! With a need of something in my stomach I went to Panaderia Guadalajara. I ask the women about spaces to rent. She was
    Mexican, then we spoke in Spanish. I she told me his son was looking to rent a
    room. It was the best thing happening to me in my second day with incertitude.
    She gave me his phone number. I had been just bought a cellphone, and then I
    have contacted him. That lucky coffee has saved me to face the difficult business
    to look for an apartment as a new arrival with no papers to prove my identity!

    In addition, went I
    came back to the Motel, my stuffs were out. I didn’t pay for other night. I
    just waited for that confirmation of rent. Around 9 O’clock. Miguel was calling
    me to confirm they were be able to rent me the room. I was lucky to receive his
    help too for bring my stuffs to my new room.

    Reply
  143. Lizzie

    Hi. Writing and editing took about 20 minutes.

    I knew something was going to go terrible wrong, from the top of my ponytail to the bottom of my converse. I forced myself to get out of the car.

    “See you later, Mom,”

    Oh crap. My own stupid pride wouldn’t let me pretend to be sick, or not-so-accidently brake my leg.

    I closed the car door and turned to face the public school. It didn’t look *that* bad.

    I walked in. It smelled like popcorn. Weird.

    First left. Door on the right. Quite a large part of me wished it would be the wrong room. I could go home and tell them there hadn’t been a class that day.

    But nosuch luck. I could hear people talking inside.

    “No time like the present,” I muttered to myself. Actually, I would have been happier with anything *but* the present. Reality sucks that way.

    I took several steps forward and entered the driver’s education classroom.

    “Hi, Lizzie,” the instructor said. The walls were white. The floor was tiled. Almost every single seat was taken, and a lot of people were looking at me.

    Suddenly, I forgot what normal people do. They smile, right? No, not that much. Too much smiling was creepy.

    “Are you new?” A girl asked.

    “No. I’m homeschooled.”

    There went her interest. I caught sight of it flying out the window. I turned on the spot, and saw an open chair near the front of the room.

    “Can I sit there?” I asked.

    “Sure,” a different girl said. She was wearing glasses.

    I breathed a sigh of relief and sunk into the chair. I looked at the white walls, adn tried not to draw any attention to myself. I didn’t say anything. Facial expressions were out of the question. I looked at the table in front of me, or the floor, or the instructor. Once in a while, I stole a glance at the other kids in the room. About thirty of us.

    8:30 to 11:30. Two breaks. One test.

    I shoved the manual in my purse, pushed in my chair, and shot out of the classroom. I still didn’t talk to anyone. The sunshine was white when I made it outside.

    “How was it?” Mome asked later.

    “It was good.”

    Nine days left.

    Reply
  144. Heather D.

    I smoothed out my dress, the first one I’d worn since the birth of my son, three years earlier. It was snug in unflattering places, which had been hidden behind sweatpants and my husband’s oversized shirts, now exposed to the crisp air whisking around my face, tangling the mess of hair I had tried so hard to tame that morning. One last deep
    breath and I rang the bell, about to enter a world I no longer knew and subject
    myself to the stares and hushed whispers that were about to swallow me
    whole.
    Emily greeted me at the door, with her bright, cheery smile and heels so high they dwarfed me in my flats and slouched shoulders. I sunk a little lower into the floor, and envisioned how lucky that Persian rug would be to have me snuggling with it in a far corner. The fragrant flowers on the table were beaming brightly and had clearly quenched their
    thirst in that tall vase of gleaming water. I contemplated slurping it up right from the vase to save my suddenly parched lips from cracking. Another fake “hello” from Victoria and she pried the wedding gift out from my clutches, the last line of defense before my baby
    stained diaper bag was revealed, and behind it, my protruding muffin top that
    had been following me relentlessly since I had last seen these girls.
    The City Girls. My childhood friend’s group of poised, single, sophisticated ladies that I’m sure were nice in their own right, but in their presence I was but a mere gnat in their champagne. A married mother of two boys, living in the ‘Burbs and nothing like these women, who still partied til 2 am and knew nothing of burping babies, scrubbing toilets after dirty little potty-training boys, or eating pureed carrots because it happened to be the first thing you saw in the fridge.
    But it was Jen’s day to shine and be the light of her shower, so I gulped down my wine spritzer and sunk into a corner chair, praying I would go unnoticed, at least until after dessert!

    Reply
  145. JD

    New and approaching this with some trepidation–and eagerness. Responding to the First Prompt with an autobiographical piece in close third person…

    The van driver assumed that Jordan knew his way around and dropped him at the Boy’s Entrance. New boys were deposited at the imposing Main Door—once, and once only. Returning boys got dropped outside swinging doors at the bottom of a long, steep stairway at the side of the Tudor building.

    Jordan stair at the wide stairs, endless it seemed, the opp quite out of sight. Suitcase in two hands, he climbed. Each step was edged in metal, a stratagem to prevent wear under the polished shoes of boys, grades eight to twelve. His own new brogues clumped noisily on each step, echoing into the void. Trying to keep his grunts low, Jordan heaved the suitcase, one step at a time until he could pull it up and over the last step.

    He looked around. No one. He was at the centre of a cavernous lobby, hallways stretching into the gloom in three directions. It was unreal, a scene from or slasher film, or more appropriately, from Tom Brown’s School Days which he had the misfortune to watch before leaving home. Jordan could feel the brown battleship linoleum shifting under his feet, the walls throbbing as he shuffled down the hall. “What do I do now?” he worried.

    Nervous at the sound of rapid footsteps approaching, he watched as a dim figure in a uniform strode through pools of light, blond hair flashing and momentarily reflected in the polished oak paneling before disappearing into darkness, only to reappear a couple of metres closer. I looked as it the figure grew with each reappearance—a trick of the eye but one that startled. Then he was right in front of Jordan.

    “You must be Chambers. Dickson, House Prefect. Follow me.”

    And with that, Dickson flipped a switch to reveal a stair where there had been a black pit. He climbed up and was out of sight at the landing before Jordan had lifted his bag again. Clomping up the stairs, he tried to catch up.

    “Shhh!” He looked up to see Dickson’s frown peering over the railing. Then he was gone again.

    Reply
  146. theinkquill

    The waiting room walls were covered in framed images of professional athletes who I didn’t recognize. I adjusted my frames on my nose and checked my slacks again for any lint. Dammit, I thought, I should have worn lighter colors. In black dress pants and a black top with ruffled, short sleeves, the outfit looked better on the hanger. Under the fluorescent lights and among the bright sports magazines surrounding me, I was a blackhole of plainness and nothingness.

    Vanessa stepped into the room and greeted me without using my name. I guessed I was the hundredth person she had spoken to so far that day and it was barely seven o’clock. As she opened the door, dance music blared from somewhere behind her. I followed my new Field Manager into the executive suite, made up of a few annexed offices that branch off of a main conference room.

    “I like your shirt,” Vanessa said as she set a stack of pre-employment forms in front of me.

    “Thanks,” I shrugged with a sleepy smile. “I found it at a thrift shop.”

    “I usually just tell people I got my clothes at Ross,” she said.

    My face and armpits heated up. Had I come off as resourceful or lower class? Was that just small-talk or was she giving me advice on how to present myself, now that I was in the big leagues? I decided to keep my responses short for the remainder of the day.

    After I finished filling out a stack of legal documents, Vanessa returned and asked, “Are you ready?”

    “Yep,” I said, remembering to keep my responses short. Ready for what? I didn’t know. But I was a fast learner, as my cover letter had boasted, and I needed to show blind enthusiasm.

    Reply
  147. Mark_Hark

    I could shuffle comfortably enough around the kitchen floor,
    knocking into the “island”, as they called it; “they” being” wife,
    daughter-in-law, her friend Tanya and her little boy Ely with his hair chopped
    off roughly, his parent or guardian or someone they had hired had donned a
    blindfold and with a rusty electric razor that ran strictly on direct current
    (supplied by an auto battery) laid waste to the poor kid’s hair.

    The kid didn’t give a damn, I sure as hell did not but his
    image way beyond me was the only one open to me; he sat cross-legged on the
    fireplace rolling a toy truck on the carpet, in back of the others in the
    living room, their images closed off to me. Their moving mouths shot words to each other, the family of others whorode on byways in a small lonely county north of Fort
    Worth.

    None of their verbal bb’s scratched my skin or popped my ear
    drum. Then one of them pulled a real gun with bullets out of his pants pocket,
    pointed at my head which I knew I had but no way could he see it. To prove that,
    he fired at that groove under my nose and above my mouth, and since I was not
    there it went through the ectoplasm that was my head and penetrated the door of
    the refrigerator behind me.

    Reply
  148. JD

    The First Prompt (hoping there may be others participating as it looks like about a year since the last post…)

    The van driver assumed that Jordan knew his way around and dropped him at the Boy’s Entrance. New boys were deposited at the imposing Main Door—once, and once only. Returning boys got dropped outside swinging doors at the bottom of a long, steep stairway at the side of the Tudor building.
    Jordan stair at the wide stairs, endless it seemed, the opp quite out of sight. Suitcase in tw hands, he climbed. Each step was edged in metal, a stratagem to prevent wear under the polished shoes of boys grades eight to twelve. His own new brogues clumped noiily on each step, echoing into the void. Trying to keep his grunts low, Jordan heaved the suitcase, one step at a time until he could pull it up and over the last step. There, he looked around. No one. He stood at the centre of a cavernous lobby, halls stretching into the gloom in three directions. It was unreal, a scene from or slasher film, or more appropriately, from Tom Brown’s School Days which he had the misfortune to watch before leaving home. Jordan could feel the brown battleship linoleum shifting under his feet, the walls throbbing as he shuffled down the hall. “What do I do now?” he worried.
    Nervous at the sound of rapid footsteps approaching, he watched as a dim figure in a uniform strode through pools of light, blond hair flashing and momentarily reflected in the polished oak panelling before disappearing into darkness, only to reappear a couple of metres closer. I looked as it the figure grew with each reappearance—a trick of the eye but one that startled. Then he was right in front of Jordan.
    “You must be Chambers. Dickson, House Prefect. Follow me.” And with that, Dickson flipped a switch to reveal a stair where there had been a black pit. He climbed up and was out of sight at the landing before Jordan had lifted his bag again. Clomping up the stairs, he tried to catch up.
    “Shhh!” He looked up to see Dickson’s frown peering over the railing. Then he was gone again.

    Reply
    • Ayse Nur

      • I think there was just too much info-dump in the story as in “Each step was edged in metal, a stratagem to prevent wear under the polished shoes of boys grades eight to twelve**.”

      • The first paragraph felt out of place; probably because the focus abruptly changes from the driver to Dickson.

  149. Jordan J

    Here we go:
    It was a Sunday morning just as any other. I had woken up to the vibration of my phone beckoning me to open my eyes for the new day. Needless to say, I don’t really much like my phone in the morning. I sat up and stretched my arms above my head like in the movies to seem dramatic- an emotion I thrive at betraying. As I followed the normal Sunday routine of jumping into the shower, brushing my teeth, and throwing on some fresh clothes for the day, I began to feel uneasy.
    “Oh no.” I thought, ” I’m going to a new church!”
    Now to any normal person this would seem like no big deal, but believe you me, it was, in fact, a BIG deal. New people freak me out especially in a church setting. It’s like a bunch of try hards stuck in one room feeding on any fresh meat that might have wandered off the beaten path…well, to me at least.
    I was in the car now with my grandmother, who so graciously decided to bring me along with her, at the front wheel. Left and right there was a never ending vortex of strange sights and new people.
    “Where are we?” I mumbled silently under my breath. We couldn’t have gotten that far from my house and yet, we were well into new terrain. It had only been about thirty minutes when we pulled up to the lovely place of worship. Well, I wouldn’t call it “lovely”. It was located in the back roads of the inner city, where I suppose the head of the church decided to rent out a building. As we made are way in I suddenly felt myself being stampeded by compliments and greetings that I never bothered to take into careful consideration. I don’t know these people. How would I know if they’re being sincere or not? Maybe, I’m just awkward.
    Once the music began to bounce off of each of the four walls surrounding the congregation, I couldn’t bare it anymore. I wanted OUT. I could barely muster more than a few simple phrases and kept a badly etched smile plastered across my face the entire time. I was a happy face swimming in a pool of discomfort and watching eyes. The whole situation was unbearable. I even considered trying to enjoy myself at one point, but all I wanted was to be back in the comfort of my own home. Luckily, I soon got my wish and was back on the road again.

    Sad to say, this moment wouldn’t be soon relived.

    Reply
  150. Briana

    When I first started Middle School, I felt very out of place. Walking down that long auditorium, which reminded me of Fifth grade graduation. Seeing different people, seeing a new beginning it was a lot to face. While I was walking this teacher with this check-board asked me my name and I told her. She told me which class I was in and which row I was, so I followed her orders leading myself to this teacher who had a bunch of paper. I was like OH GOD NO! Right then and there I knew I wasn’t in that class. I definitely wasn’t mainstreamed. While walking away I asked a different teacher in fear of looking stupid which row am I in? A cherry bright voice said, “Right here darling!” And I followed it to see the teacher of my dreams. To see my old classmates in Elementary school. To see this is a new beginning for me.

    Reply
  151. hmarieb9

    “Children, boys and girls, we have a new student. Margaret, would you please go sit
    in the empty seat in the third row?”

    I smiled my automatic please-be-nice-to-me smile and walked quickly, head down, to my new seat. This class seemed huge. Twenty-six staring faces all attached to similar looking blue-grey uniforms and white blouses. Once again, I was the new kid in school.

    My father was in the military, and every year like the Christmas infant, I arrived on the doorstep of a new educational dwelling. No glorious angels or wise men to pay me homage though. Instead I would be doing the best I could to figure out the pecking order and then paying homage to the reigning clique. I had learned this survival tactic in my previous years.

    Miss Brown, my new sixth grade teacher, returned to the lesson at hand – order of
    operations. Gradually, the children’s eyes left me and settled on her presentation.
    I pulled out a notebook and busied myself with taking notes about parenthesis, exponents (what is an exponent?!) and so on. When all heads seemed bent in similar
    concentration, I glanced around the room eyeing the charts, the math posters,
    the bookcases full of textbooks, the pencil sharpener (good to know) and the
    teacher’s desk (stay far away).

    Next, I observed my classmates. Unfortunately, as I turned my head to the left, my neighbor had turned her head to the right. Caught! She snickered quietly under her breath and rolled her eyes. Great! I looked at her notebook page and saw it was
    covered in doodles of cats and dogs chasing each other. I giggled. My neighbor followed my eyes and turned to the previous page – more cats and dogs! Only this time, they were chasing their own tails. I giggled again.

    Miss Brown cleared her throat, her eyes on my neighbor and me. “Did everyone get ALL these notes down?”

    Ducking my head behind the red-headed boy sitting in front of me, I finished writing
    down the information. Luckily I understood the math and was able to work on the practice worksheet with satisfaction.

    The red-headed boy in front of me stretched back, way back, until I couldn’t see my
    paper. Then he yawned loudly and asked to go to the boys’ room. I looked at my
    neighbor. She rolled her eyes again. Her warm brown eyes made me wonder if perhaps she would be a potential ally. My neighbor held up her worksheet. This one
    was covered in little puppies with large, sad eyes, begging for a treat. I shrugged my shoulders, and she reached for my erasure. Her own tooth-marked pencil’s
    erasure had been completely annihilated. I handed over my erasure and smiled.
    She rolled her eyes again. Then she grinned. Not at all a bad beginning for this time around.

    Reply
  152. Simon Kelly

    Criticism welcome! Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.

    The party started at ten thirty, so I left home at eleven. I didn’t want to go, and I surely didn’t want to be the first one there. I always seem to be the earliest out of everyone. I was convinced by Kristine to go to the party. She said there would be food, drinks and good people, but I didn’t know anyone who was going to be there except for her.

    I walked into the apartment around eleven fifteen; I got lost outside but eventually found my way. Inside, Kristine was cooking; she even had on an apron. She looked like a cartoon of a suburban housewife from the projects in the fifties. Not like herself at all. As much as she contrasted with what I thought of her, she blended into the apartment. All the furniture and accents pulled together to fool you into being in the presence of well thought out, creative design, but somehow in all its order the apartment looked skewed. Almost like the set of your favorite TV show, and I was the fourth wall. I was simultaneously a part of and detached from this fantasy.

    “Hey! You made it!” Kristine said as she smiled and opened her arms to hug me.

    “Of course I did!” I said, trying to emote comfort with my inflection, “It smells great in here. What are we having?”

    “Tacos. I’m finishing up the meat now. Sit down! Put on some music.”

    Did I mention I had somehow managed to be the first guest to arrive? Why can’t I ever release control and just let myself be late?

    I fumbled for the remote and searched for music. Whatever I chose would inadvertently be an exclamation of my private thoughts. They would be conveyed in the subtlety of the key or the tempo. It was powerfully overwhelming so I pretended not to know how it worked. Caught in the act, Kristine’s friend Melanie entered the room. She, too, resembled a disfigured Stepford Wife.

    I had remembered seeing her once before, at Kristine’s birthday dinner. She was harassing the waiter about why it was taking so long to get the food. She seemed to transfigure into a creature with three heads, each with a different grievance. She was demure and poised when she was sitting still and listening to the conversation, but when she went to speak, everything else seemed to shrivel up and fall away. All that was left was her and her disdain.

    Melanie and I exchanged hellos and she proceeded to ask me what I thought of the dress she was wearing. It looked like it had been vacuum sealed by Satan; it hugged her in all the wrong places. Don’t get me wrong, she was in great shape, but it twisted and mangled her figure. She more resembled a young girl dressed up as a Bond vixen than a young woman hosting her first adult party. And don’t even get me started on the icky color.

    “It’s beautiful,” I lied. “Is it designer?”

    “Are you kidding? No, but it was expensive.”

    “I can tell.”

    I should have stayed in, luxuriating in the comforts of my own home where every piece of furniture and accessory was actually set in its right place. I should have been in my Monet instead of being trapped inside of this disfigured Dali.

    Reply
  153. Frank Faine

    This is my somewhat edited response to the first prompt. Comments and feedback are welcome. Thanks

    I met him at The Mermaid Room, a seedy gay bar in downtown Miami, just
    one block over from the YMCA. Go figure. After getting my drink I ambled over to the jukebox. He was standing there; his eyes reflected the glaring, garish neon light. Intent muttering under his breath, he thought aloud, ‘Strangers in the Night’, that’ll be a good one”. He plunked in a quarter and pushed the buttons.

    Glancing at him and then around the bar, my stomach tightened. I gripped my glass a little tighter, my mind a whirl of questions. “How did I get here?” “What was I looking for?”

    As these questions kept piling up, he looked up.His rugged, handsome face, model –like, a bit past its prime, smiled at tme. We began to strike up a conversation, exchanging the required opening lines first exchanged in bars.Things like our names, what we did for a living, what brought us here tonight,the usual wisecracks about we really didn’t belong here.

    But,something about his gaze, his sexy, unkempt hair, the basic uniform of faded
    jeans and tight white tee shirt beckoned me beyond lingering uneasiness. Without thinking I told him I was a college senior, home on summer break, just out for a night on the town and decided to stop here. He shared he was recently discharged from the army, was a model, but was between jobs.

    I don’t remember how our conversation drifted there, but he invited me back to
    his place, just north of 79th street. Getting off the bus, since neither of drove that, night, we walked around the corner of the Midtown Federal Bank building. Unlocking a side door he motioned me up narrow stairs to his cramped studio apartment.

    Flipping on the pole lamp by the door, he motioned over to the unmade bed over against two partially open windows to the street below. Sitting next to him, holding
    hands, backs to the windows; fragments of our separate tales began to emerge.
    Pointing to a faded snapshot on a nearby rickety dresser, his visceral grief of
    this lost love hung like tattered curtains as he squeezed my hand. I tried to unpack my struggle between family obligation and my sexual desires as I started to rub his leg. Secretly I prayed each of us could physically escape into the other, and leave these stories behind.

    Abruptly,he took my right hand from his leg and holding it in his left again. Announcing
    in a quiet voice, “I’m lonely, not horny”. Reaching under his pillow with his free hand, he pulled out a pistol,waving it around at the picture and toward him. “This has been my companion now that Doug is gone”,he added almost whispering.

    I can’t remember how long I froze in panic at this surreal scene. Sliding the pistol back under his pillow,dropping my hand he stared at me. I took this as my cue to leave. Pushing myself off the bed, I stammered, “Maybe, I’ll run into you again the next time I’m at the bar”.
    “Perhaps you will,” he said.

    And run I did for the two blocks to get the next bus home.

    Reply
  154. Valeria

    So here it goes my first attempt at memoir writing, thanks for the space I will be reading and commenting too!

    Not in my shoes

    I had been spending my first days settling
    down in this city new to me. Cleaning up a sub-let apartment, buying furniture
    and building it, supplying myself with proper winter gear for this weather, all
    in the aim for getting ready and feeling in place at my first business meeting
    in New York.

    And there I was, the subway station was
    farther away than I expected from the meeting place and it was probably the
    worst weather since I arrived. It had been snowing very hard and just that day
    began to rain and rise temperature. The street corners were flooded by the
    melted snow and ice was still at stake on the sidewalks making it slippery and
    harder to give each step. But this was not enough: in my attempt to dress not
    only warm but according to the circumstance of a business meeting (never before
    experienced), I also bought high hilled ankle booties (which later I learnt are
    not meant for winter in NYC). I thought I would be ok on them, but not in such
    weather and with the natural stress of that day.

    I took the walk as a meditation, each step
    was a challenge and meanwhile … sweating was not an option. I was lucky to be
    on time for a slow walk, which took me actually half an hour to get from Union
    Square to the Highline, under the rain.

    I did get myself an umbrella on the way,
    and just before going in to the meeting I stopped under a roof to clean my
    glasses and blow my watery nose… using a shop window to align myself, putting
    my hairs in order after getting rid of my hat.

    God, if at all existing, knows how I looked
    as I entered the office, but luckily enough that woman was kind and patient,
    she reminded me the mother of some primary school friend: they look at you with
    sweetness and care.

    As I began to get rid of jacket, pullover and
    backpack, She offered me something to drink, to which I made my first mistake
    by saying yes. Once on the table that glass of water had to be touched, and I
    could barely swallow my own saliva since all of my attention was on performing
    the gentle, intelligent, practical and moderated sales representative of this
    real estate marketing provider I work for.

    But the glass was on the table and it was
    part of the performance to not leave anything unattended, so when I thought I
    could handle it I did take the glass of water and … no way, I didn´t mange to
    coordinate hand and mouth and water was dripping off through me towards the
    table. I naturally took the glass away as if nothing had happened but it was
    obvious that my hands and chin were wet, so I simply apologized… and she,
    playing her kindest role said: – no problem please!, which I completely
    believed, as I normally do.

    I still have some cards to play with this
    client and I tend to comfort myself thinking she probably appreciated my
    spontaneity…

    But never again shall I accept any drinks
    or wear new shoes at a business meeting.

    VP

    Reply
  155. Valeria Primost

    So here it goes my first attempt at memoir writing, thanks for the space I will be reading and commenting too!

    Not in my shoes

    I had been spending my first days settling
    down in this city new to me. Cleaning up a sub-let apartment, buying furniture
    and building it, supplying myself with proper winter gear for this weather, all
    in the aim for getting ready and feeling in place at my first business meeting
    in New York.

    And there I was, the subway station was
    farther away than I expected from the meeting place and it was probably the
    worst weather since I arrived. It had been snowing very hard and just that day
    began to rain and rise temperature. The street corners were flooded by the
    melted snow and ice was still at stake on the sidewalks making it slippery and
    harder to give each step. But this was not enough: in my attempt to dress not
    only warm but according to the circumstance of a business meeting (never before
    experienced), I also bought high hilled ankle booties (which later I learnt are
    not meant for winter in NYC). I thought I would be ok on them, but not in such
    weather and with the natural stress of that day.

    I took the walk as a meditation, each step
    was a challenge and meanwhile … sweating was not an option. I was lucky to be
    on time for a slow walk, which took me actually half an hour to get from Union
    Square to the Highline, under the rain.

    I did get myself an umbrella on the way,
    and just before going in to the meeting I stopped under a roof to clean my
    glasses and blow my watery nose… using a shop window to align myself, putting
    my hairs in order after getting rid of my hat.

    God, if at all existing, knows how I looked
    as I entered the office, but luckily enough that woman was kind and patient,
    she reminded me the mother of some primary school friend: they look at you with
    sweetness and care.

    As I began to get rid of jacket, pullover and
    backpack, She offered me something to drink, to which I made my first mistake
    by saying yes. Once on the table that glass of water had to be touched, and I
    could barely swallow my own saliva since all of my attention was on performing
    the gentle, intelligent, practical and moderated sales representative of this
    real estate marketing provider I work for.

    But the glass was on the table and it was
    part of the performance to not leave anything unattended, so when I thought I
    could handle it I did take the glass of water and … no way, I didn´t mange to
    coordinate hand and mouth and water was dripping off through me towards the
    table. I naturally took the glass away as if nothing had happened but it was
    obvious that my hands and chin were wet, so I simply apologized… and she,
    playing her kindest role said: – no problem please!, which I completely
    believed, as I normally do.

    I still have some cards to play with this
    client and I tend to comfort myself thinking she probably appreciated my
    spontaneity…

    But never again shall I accept any drinks
    or wear new shoes at a business meeting.

    VP

    Reply
    • Valeria Primost

      I really look forwards to critics! anybody our there? best.v

  156. Virginia Winterstorm

    The place I felt awkward and out of place is when my immediate family are all in the same room. We are blood related. I given birth to them yet they have come strangers to since they have become adults.
    I am the elephant in the room. The atmosphere is filled with fear as to what someone might say that would trigger a bad chain of reactions.
    I feel as I do not belong any more. I fee as I have been pushed out and pushed back. They have out grown me and succumb to the mentality that when you are older than them, you don’t know anything. We know what you are going to say or do based on who you were when we were little.
    Granted, when they were little they were under the influence of a generation who thought as they do now.
    Strangers, co-workers, long distance relations, you would expect to be in a position of awkwardness and out of place. The people don’t really know how your are or care as much as the immediate family is intended or expect to know you. The strangers and coo-workers giving you a welcoming atmosphere vs. the family.
    The immediate family surroundings should be accepting, encouraging; discipline to help you stay on the right path and grow. Setting your foundation for when you go out into the world that will make you feel awkward and out of place.
    Though I consistently feel this way, I truly try to find that happy place where we can laugh ask questions without judgment. However, I leave an emotional protective wall up to block the negative vibes.

    Reply
  157. Lisa Dean

    My first go at presenting my writing on this site! I read the prompt from the eBook which recommended a 30 minute writing period instead of 15, so my entry is longer than others. I’m looking forward to feedback!

    The car seats smell of stale sweat and musty cologne. Dewy early mornings usually evoke a sense of hope for the hours that will follow. Today is different. The taxi speeds along city roads. Visions pass outside the window: palm trees, busted store fronts, and dirty buildings with window air conditioners that threaten to leap from their lofty heights.

    I open the map on my iPhone to watch the blue dot draw closer to my destination, and I look uneasily at the back of the driver’s head, hoping that he does know where he’s going. The traffic light blinks green, indicating a soon change to yellow and red. I breathe a sigh of relief as the driver moves into the left-hand turn lane. I’m almost there. Indian men lie on the grass beside the road, faces covered, each clad in a blue long-sleeved coverall indicating their duties as street custodians. In the suffocating heat, I look at them with sympathy.

    The taxi turns, crossing the road, and stops. Adding a tip to my fare, I pay the thankful driver. I exit the car and adjust my t-shirt, suddenly conscious of my bare arms. As I walk to the entrance, the sidelong glances and questioning looks are palpable.

    Entering the building, my eyes shift across the scene, seeking someone to help. To my left, rows of chairs bolted to the floor face me. I meet the eyes of men—all men. To my right, a security officer leans against a table but offers no welcoming words or assistance. Beyond him is a doorway with a sign that reads “waiting room: men” followed by indecipherable arabic characters. I walk forward across the dingy tile floor and approach the centrally-located desk. Two men talk across the desk in arabic. While waiting, I pull out my papers and check for the third time since leaving my apartment—do I have everything?

    The man behind the counter is wearing a white garment that covers him from neck to ankle and shoulder to wrist. A white scarf adorns his head. He turns to me and smiles. Thank God he’s smiling. I present my papers and tell him my purpose.

    “I’m here for the medical tests required for residency.”
    “Do you have copies of your passport and temporary visa?”
    “No,” I hesitate, “just the originals.”
    “He will make copies for you,” he says pointing to a young man. “One dirham for each copy. Then take your papers upstairs.”
    “Thank you.”

    I turn aside to the boy who is presently surrounded by outstretched hands offering papers. I wait until the crowd is gone, and he accepts my money and documents without making eye contact.

    Copies in hand, I find the wide staircase and reach the women’s waiting area. I take a number and pick a seat. The room of 100 chairs is nearly full meaning my wait won’t be a short one. I hear sharp vocals behind me and turn to find that a man is being prevented from entering the room; he’s likely in search of his wife or maid. I settle into my seat and pull a book from my purse. I can relax for a time, for now.

    Reply
  158. Cat

    Someone get me out of here. I should be having fun. Everything about this situation is angled toward good times. It’s summer. I’m in Beijing. I’m on a rooftop. There is a hot guy playing the guitar. But there is a mist of unease. I shoot my friend a sideways glance – she feels the same, I can tell by her focus on the door instead of the hot musician guy with the long hair whom she would usually have been gawping at.

    It’s not that I don’t want to meet new people on this trip, but there’s just something about this crowd, you know? Something untouchable, something Abercrombie, something that screams “we are so comfortable with ourselves, why not join us?” But I can’t, not these guys. They’re Just Not Me. I know it instinctively. No one has made a self-deprecating joke or even had a brush with sarcasm since we’ve been sitting here. There have been at least 3 song requests for songs I have never heard of. And everyone is doing that serious head nodding thing that people who take music too seriously do.

    One guy wearing too many fabric bracelets asks me if I’d like another beer. I say yes a little too enthusiastically. The hyperactive Jewish guy lights up a joint. They pass it around delicately, dragging, squinting. Aren’t we all having a great time? My phone rings – it’s the nervous girl from our hostel wanting to join us. I send two of our ‘gang’ to meet her, as if I have known these people, and indeed her, for more than 3 hours.

    That’s the thing about travelling. Friendships are forged hastily, hungrily, with the vague hope of shaping a life-changing experience, or at least an amusing anecdote for the folks back home. So the guy you met yesterday who shares your bunk becomes your life-long companion to onlookers. The woman you sat next to on the overnight bus? She’ll be the one explaining your allergies to the doctor pumping your stomach after a heavy night.

    More often than not, exploring the unknown can be life-changing. But sometimes, you just wind up perched on a precarious stool on a precarious rooftop swaying precariously to music played by a guy whose grasp of a tune is for the most part…precarious.

    Reply
  159. Cat

    Someone get me out of here. I should be having fun. Everything about this situation is angled toward good times. It’s summer. I’m in Beijing. I’m on a rooftop. There is a hot guy playing the guitar. But there is a wave of unease. I shoot my friend a sideways glance – she feels the same, I can tell by her focus on the door instead of the hot musician guy with the long hair whom she would usually have been gawping at.

    It’s not that I don’t want to meet new people on this trip, but there’s just something about this crowd, you know? Something untouchable, something Abercrombie, something that screams “we are so comfortable with ourselves, why not join us?” But I can’t, not these guys. They’re Just Not Me. I know it instinctively. No one has made a self-deprecating joke or even had a brush with sarcasm since we’ve been sitting here. There have been at least 3 requests for songs I have never heard of. And everyone is doing that serious head nodding thing that people who take music too seriously do.

    One guy wearing too many fabric bracelets asks me if I’d like another beer. I say yes a little too enthusiastically. The hyperactive Jewish guy lights up a joint. They pass it around delicately. Dragging, squinting. Aren’t we all having a great time? My phone rings – it’s the nervous girl from our hostel wanting to join us. I send two of our ‘gang’ to meet her, as if I have known these people, and indeed her, for more than 3 hours.

    That’s the thing about travelling. Friendships are forged hastily, hungrily, with the vague hope of forming s life-changing experience, or at least an amusing anecdote for the folks back home. So the guy you met yesterday who shares your bunk becomes your life-long companion to onlookers. The woman you sat next to on the overnight bus? She’ll be the one explaining your allergies to the doctor pumping your stomach after a heavy night.

    More often than not, exploring the unknown can be life-changing. But sometimes, you just wind up perched on a precarious stool on a precarious rooftop swaying precariously to music played by a guy whose grasp of a tune is for the most part…precarious.

    Reply
  160. Devan

    This is my first time ever doing this. Feedback is appreciated. Sorry if it’s chalk full of typos and run on sentences. 🙂
    I look a round. I don’t look like these kids. I don’t feel like these
    kids. I suppose we aren’t kids. We’re young adults. I hate that phrase
    young adult. Either you’re an adult or your still a child. In my mind
    there is no in between. Except for maybe right now, and the inbetween
    is me, feeling awkward.

    I desperately wish I hadn’t worn pink. Why did I think that was a good
    choice this morning. All the other counselors look like they spend
    their life eating bark in a tent somewhere. They’re all wearing
    Jersulalem cruisers and pants made from the same material as
    parachutes. For some reason I thought pink under armour was a good
    choice. Just because I bought it at Dicks sporting goods does not make
    me outdoorsy.

    I’m already getting glances as I sit criss cross applesauce on the dry
    brown grass. It scratches the backside of my thighs and I wish that my
    shorts were longer. The sun over head is sweltering. I wish they would
    just let us go to our cabins, that way I can be alone, and people won’t
    be staring at me anymore. They know I don’t belong here, they know I’m
    a fraud.

    I’m not at a university like most of these “young adults.” I’m at a
    community college. I’m not a tee totaler that thinks drinking and sex
    are a one way ticket to hell like most of these kids. I wear bikinis, I
    smoke Marb red 100’s and I party with my friends on weekends.

    Crap. This is going to be a disaster. Any minute now they’re going to sniff me out and declare me unfit to care for children.

    That brown haired woman who looks about 10 years older than everybody
    else is already looking at me suspicously. In fact, oh no, she’s
    getting up to come over here. I squirm, my arms pits feel extra sweaty.
    Surrpetiously I give them a sniff. It’s that awful stress sweat that
    smells worse than any other kind.

    Oh thank God, someone intercepted her. Some extra wholesome looking guy
    with brown hair, birkenstocks and a WWJD braclet. I feel her eyes leave
    my face and as they do my whole body relaxes. I heave a sigh, blowing
    the hair out of my eyes thats sticking to my forehead. Whew. That was
    close.

    Reply
  161. Martin

    First post:

    I sat in a yellow cab as it headed north. Perspiration moistened the underarms of my polo shirt as I looked out the window upon my new neighborhood. The sight was bleak. Tattered Storefronts and worn apartment buildings dominated the landscape.

    The cab reached my destination and I swiped my credit card to pay for the trip. My right leg began to shake as I sat waiting for the payment to process. The transaction completed and I took one final breath in the air-conditioned car. My shirt was already drenched as I opened the door and entered the June heat.

    The sun beat down on my pale skin as I grabbed my two suitcases from the trunk and carried them towards my new home. As I walked, I made eye contact with an elderly Dominican man sitting in a folding chair that was expertly positioned on the street corner. He looked tired and beaten down, much like the buildings of the neighborhood. His soft brown eyes hardened as they connected with my blue pair. He held his gaze as my eyes shot towards a nearby fire hydrant in search of refuge.

    I accelerated my pace as more pairs of eyes fixated upon me. My pasty skin reddened and my heart began convulsing. Beads of sweat formed on my neck and scampered down my back. I approached my new house and attempted to open the gate. It was locked. For the first time in my life, I was a minority. For the first time in my life, I was acutely aware of the color of my skin.

    I was stuck in the Bronx, with nowhere to go.

    Reply
    • Madlen

      Having been a foreigner in every place I’ve lived for the last 20 years, this really caught my attention. I know what it’s like to know that everyone is watching you even when you can’t see them doing it. You did a good job of describing how uncomfortable it can be to do something as mundane as getting out of a taxi and walking up to your own front door, and the big question that this evokes, which is how much of that tenseness comes from the outside world’s reaction to us and how much from our reaction to them.

  162. jessica

    Very good question. There are two answers. One is quite simplistic and one is developing. Taking the prompt at its word, I sought to view my experience through an object that was in the room. Since the curtain was the largest thing in my line of view, I chose to make frequent reference to it. As the scene began to unfold the curtain became more than just a hospital curtain to me. It was a theatrical metaphore where the ER becomes the stage, the nurses and such players, and myself a backstage actor waiting for my cue. If I should have continued through my whole experience in the hospital we would still find the curtain playing a roll everywhere I went, sometimes blocking me out and sometimes hiding me, but always there.

    Reply
  163. Meghan

    Great points, Claire! Thank you so much for the feedback!

    Reply
  164. Madlen

    I can totally relate to this experience, and I like the way you write about it. I love the awkward tension running throughout the piece that just builds up until the end, and then lingers. I can’t help but want to know more about the character and the circumstances.

    Reply
    • Claire

      Thank you for taking the time to give me such encouraging feedback Madlen.

  165. Madlen

    Love the ending because I never expected it. Up to then the whole piece had a ‘happy ending’ vibe and I thought it was going to end with a group hug. The understatement with which you present the complete change in atmosphere, when contrasted with the detailed preamble, is very powerful.

    Reply
    • A. Royall

      Thank you, Madlen! I sure thought it was going to end with a group hug too. You win some, you loose some- Ha!

  166. A. Royall

    Thank you, Claire! It was the church I attended that brought the silence. I should have made it more clear in the beginning that the support group was offered by a different church than I attended.

    Reply
  167. Kaitlyn Winterton

    Thank you Claire. It was really something to attend and now I love what I do and I love helping people!

    Reply
  168. maya c

    Claire, thank you so much for giving me my first feedback on my first share ever. It’s great to hear your words of encouragement – thank you!

    Reply
  169. Kiki Stamatiou

    (First Prompt) Upon Our Arrival, Everyone Who Entered The House Was Stamped
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    It was back during the fall of 1990. My college roommate and some others on the floor of our dorm hall were excited to go out for the evening. They asked me to come along. even though I was hesitant, I agreed to go out with them. Like them, I got dressed up semi formal, wearing some blue dress pants and a colorful knitted sweater I bought
    at Hudson’s two weeks prior to that when I went shopping with my brother and my cousins.

    My college room mate and some others got into the car belonging to the boyfriend of one of the girls on our floor. He drove us to the party.

    My stomach was in knots the entire time.

    Upon our arrival, everyone who entered the house was stamped, so those who gave the party knew who belonged at the party, and who didn’t.

    We went downstairs into the basement. The folks I came with went off talking to some other people at the party, while I ended up sitting on a seat by myself, sipping my bear from a plastic cup, feeling bored and anxious.

    This guy came over to me and sat down next to me, discussing his bodily functions. He says to me, “When it happens, it happens.”

    “I guess so,” I said, while getting up and walking away from him.

    On the other side of the room were some foolish guys who tipped each other upside down, taking turns on after the other, guzzling beer from a huge keg, clapping and shouting, “Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!”

    Moving right along, I walked up to the corner where my room mate and a couple of the girls from our dormitory floor where talking to a couple of guys. The one girl hung onto the one guy with her arm, while holding her cup of beer in the opposite hand, saying,
    “That’s so cool. I never knew anyone can go that fast on a moped, or a motor cycle, without crashing.”

    “Why would anyone want to drive above the speed limit in the first place. First off, it’s not smart, because accidents can occur. And second, a person can either end up killing themselves, or worst yet, they’d end up killing someone else in the process for their foolishness,” I shouted to be heard above the noise of the loud music and their voices.

    “I believe the young lady was talking to me,” said the loud mouthed punk, while dangling his arm around her with one arm, and clumsily holding his plastic cup of beer with the other. Clearly, he and the girl were drunk.

    It made me wonder why any of them would conduct themselves in such a manner. Although I took a few sips of beer at night, it wasn’t much in my system where I’d be drunk. I approached my room mate who was talking to some other people nearby. She wasn’t drunk, although she was half way through with her cup of beer and headed over
    to the keg to get some more. Noticing me behind her, she said, “What do you think of the party so far? Are you having a great time?”

    “It’s alright. I appreciate you and the other girls inviting me and asking me to come along. Believe me, I do. It’s just that some of the guys here are strange. This one guy approached me, and started discussing his bodily functions. I wasn’t impressed, so I got up and walk away,” I sighed while taking a sip of my beer.

    Getting some beer from the keg, she said, “I’m so sorry. It’s obvious he’s an idiot, and most likely drunk. Some guys have no class,” while filling her plastic cup, and walking back to the crowd she was socializing with earlier.

    I went back to the chair I was sitting at when I first entered the basement, seeing as how the disgusting young man who talked to me about his bodily functions had already left from that spot, and I started taking some more sips of my beer while observing the rest of the crowd.

    I thought to myself, What the heck am I doing here? Clearly, I didn’t want to come here tonight, because it didn’t feel right, at least not for me. It just isn’t my thing to be around folks who were drinking, especially to be around those who drank to get drunk.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    Reply
  170. Patty

    Feeling uncomfortable in situations has been a part of my life since childhood. Puzzled as to why I would repeatedly put myself through the experience of feeling uncomfortable? Puzzled as to why it never gets easier? It does get easier for some situations. Like when you live in a town/city for many years. You visit the same market, stores, post office, bank, restaurants, and coffee shop. You get to know the workers and they get to know you. That first experience in a new place fades away to familiarity.
    I was the oldest, so there were many times that I experienced feeling uncomfortable in situations during those years. Most of us experience the first day like the first day of kindergarten, where you are separated from all that is familiar and safe. There is another adult, if you are lucky is nice, but still this adult is a stranger. Being that kindergartener is scary, you are expected to do things that you have never tried before and follow a routine that does not match up to what you did at home. Its is all strange and like other times, it becomes familiar and your teacher is no longer a stranger.
    Many times as the oldest I was asked by my parents to check the deepness of a river or lake just because I was the oldest and knew how to swim. We camped a lot so this happened many times. This does not seem so bad, now add in a fear of snakes and things that might crawl or swim by your leg. Those times were very uncomfortable. I would keep telling myself that there is nothing there, there could not be anything cause there is too much noise and splashing. Then I feel something brush past my leg. My heart starts racing, I twist around, then back and forth, searching the water. Nothing is there. I am always looking till after a time the brush on my leg is forgotten as I play and swim with my sisters.
    Later years it was that first interview, first time leaving home, first job. These all can be uncomfortable. You worry about the impression you make, will they like you, how you look. Your mind is racing with questions and wondering what you will say and then there is that moment when your mind goes blank and you have been asked a question. You panic inside, hoping that your outward composure does not give you away. You feel yourself growing warmer, the sweat building up under your arms. You hope that your sweat