The word of the week is:




  1. a device that makes a loud prolonged signal or warning sound
  2. Greek Mythology each of a number of women or winged creatures whose singing lured unwary sailors on to rocks.
  3. a woman who is considered to be alluring or fascinating but also dangerous in some way.
  4. an eel-like American amphibian with tiny forelimbs, no hindlimbs, small eyes, and external gills, typically living in muddy pools.

An excerpt from The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

Clarissa swept up her boy, who was wailing like a siren. She held the back of his head against her and he slowly calmed. The scene quieted, and we stood there in silent tableau, but anyone coming upon us would have known that something awful had just happened. Clarissa approached where I lay in a clump on the ground and asked was I all right. I said yes. She pointed to the raven haired woman and said this is my sister Lorraine, and I said that’s Brian. And Brian stood there like Rodin’s Balzac.


Photo by Elizabeth 1986


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

Also, extra credit if you use the word of the week in your daily practice!

My Practice

In my dreams I see mermaids, sirens of the sea. They call to me wishing me a watery grave. I wake in a sweat not sure what to think, the phone ringing.

I got sucked into a world that ordinary people don’t know about. I am Mr. Average but I had a secret life. A friend at school asked to look after something for him and through that one act of kindness I became one of them.

They rang, I went, into a netherworld of crime and punishment. They told me tale of old and it sounded adventurous and righteous, I was hooked. But now I see it all in the cold grey light of a winter morning.

At first we threw stones at vehicles, armoured ones. We lit petrol bombs and hurled them at riot police. We made crude incendiary devices and put them under cars. We visited people with baseball bats. There was always a target, someone on the other side, someone needing to be taken care of.

For years though, I have heard nothing, we saw each other in the street, a curt nod of a passing acquaintance. I married, I moved away.

Tensions were rising again, I saw it on the news, the riot police were back, the armoured vehicles and Black Widow Marias on every corner. The old hurts, the old righteous offences. It was as if they had never gone away. Change the clothes to an early era, the rhetoric is the same.

I know before I answer that it is them. Calling me from my past. But things are different now, I have a proper job, a lovely wife and two kids, one on the way. Even in recession I can count my blessings. My past is not a blessing. The siren from my sleep, warning me; of sirens wailing in the streets.

“Get out!”

The only words spoken, in automatic, wake Mary, grab the bleary eyed kids and run. Check under the car and go. As we turned the first bend I heard the bang, in the rear-view mirror I saw the flames.

Old tales never die, we are alive because of an anonymous caller in the middle of the night. I drive to the city, to the authorities, we need protection. There’s always someone needing punishment and they had me and my family in their sights. I look at Mary, she is worth it, we married across the divide, moving made it easier but I knew too much for them to ever settle and the recent riots made them queasy for vengeance.

No one ever thanks the sirens but I do.

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).