The word of the week is:




  1. (usually the plague) a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of buboes ( bubonic plague) and sometimes infection of the lungs.
  2. any contagious disease that spreads rapidly and kills many people
  3. an unusually large number of insects or animals infesting a place and causing damage
  4.   a thing causing trouble or irritation
  5. archaic used as a curse


  1. cause continual trouble or distress to
  2. pester or harass (someone) continually

An excerpt from The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney:

Now he is seventeen. His Irish accent is quite gone, but in some ways he is as much a stranger as ever. He looks like the changeling he is; they say there is Spanish blood in some Irish, and to look at Francis you would believe it – he is as dark as Angus and I are fair. Ann Pretty once made a laboured joke that he had come to us from a plague, and had become our own personal plague. I was furious with her (she laughed at me, of course), but the words stuck and barge out of my memory whenever Francis is storming through the house, slamming doors and grunting as if he were barely able to speak. I have to remind myself of my own youth and bite my own tongue.


Photo by Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine


Write for five minutes, using the word “plague” as fre­quently as you can. When you’re fin­ished, post your prac­tice in the com­ments section.

Kudos to Juliana Austen for using toxic in her daily practice

And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to a few practices by other writers.

My Practice

Grey was the colour of last year, even death became commonplace as one by one, each house divested itself of human life. She watched it happen from a distance, always the outcast, supposedly the weak one with her lame leg and misshapen head, according to them, scaring them to banish her to the edge of the village. Only old Missus Bledsloe spoke to her, but then she talked to crows and cats too, so didn’t really count.

Lydia spoke to no one, never did a word slip from her mouth, not even a whisper or sob. She lived in a silent world, so she silently watched as the plague overcame the village. At first the men buried the dead, then they burned them in a ceremonial pyre, finally they made a bonfire in the confines of one house pushing in one body after another until there were no strong bodies to do the work. At night Lydia, wrapped in scarves around her head covering all but to small slits for her eyes would go down into the village and push the bodies through the windows of the still burning house.

The village buildings joined Lydia in her silent world. This year as the first crocuses pushed through the snow she saw colour other than grey for the first time, she fancied she could feel a smile on her still covered lips but with no one to see it, it didn’t feel quite real. Alone she felt alive, as if reborn like the flowers bursting out of winter cocoons, she had no need of human judgement and she yelped for joy silently, embracing the new life.

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).