We’re stumbling off in a different direction with this “Park”, and I forswear that I will keep things short and tidy, a promise that we all know is a lie as I simply lack the ability to arrive at my point in an expedient manner and then gracefully recede with the tide. Still and all, I’m gonna give it a run.
I’ve noticed, dear readers, that some of you are especially fond of “writing prompts”, embracing them with a gusto and then proceeding to churn out voluminous missives that enchant one and all. In the spirit of such, I’d like hurtle myself into the fray with a quaint little exercise. How about I offer ten opening lines for your perusal, you then select one or several that speak to you emotionally, and then you continue the story in one of your own blog posts. An exquisite opportunity, yes?
Now, based on past experience, your response to this proffering will fall into one of three categories. Firstly, some of you will immediately retreat into your fortresses of solitude and deny any part of this sordid affair. Secondly, others will moderately consider the opportunity, possibly providing supportive commentary but, in the end, resort to other means of personal expression. Finally, and thirdly, we have the small continent who will leap into the void with gusto. This post is for you. Here we go…
Hugo approached the final room slowly, his heartbeat flickering along with the one remaining candle he held aloft…
Candace picked up the remote control and punched the power button, hoping the evening news would have more information about the man who had been arrested in the village square…
As morning broke at the campsite, Elton remained in his tent, staring at the worn fabric above him and waiting for someone else to stoke the fire and prep the battered coffee pot. He knew that no one wanted to be in charge of today’s expedition, now that they were this close to the cabin, and showing the first signs of life might be the only thing needed to tag oneself as the reluctant leader…
Eloise turned the last yellowed page of the dusty journal, nearing the end of the rambling and cryptic poem, heart sinking. She was yearning desperately that the mystery would be solved with these lines, but now that hope was barely floating. Then she read the last two lines:
“It’s all right here, dearest Weezy, the things you wish to know
But too fast you were, peruse again, and this time much more slow”
Eloise was stunned, a tingle scampering down her spine. Was the writer talking to her, with that echo of a childhood nickname? Surely not. She flipped back to the first of the verse…
A lone cow wandered into the clearing, eyes wide and taking it all in, though not necessarily comprehending much, which was the way of cows. He chewed his cud lackadaisically for a minute, reflecting in a dim-seeming way, then he appeared to reach a conclusion. He turned to the others behind him and said…
Roderick slowly folded his newspaper, carefully measuring up the edges to make sure they aligned, and quietly set it beside his half-attended bowl of morning grits. “Could you repeat that, poison apple of my eye?”
Celestine sighed rather dramatically, stretching it out, as she didn’t have any props handy but wasn’t about to let Roderick steal the spotlight with his impromptu origami antics. “Well, Rod of my life, I wouldn’t have to repeat things if you had any inclination of my existence.”
Roderick was tempted to release a matching sigh, but sagely recalled that sometimes less is more in the art of relationship theater. “Let’s not go there, my aging dowry. The butter on my grits is congealing, just like this conversation.”
“Fine,” snipped Celestine, noticing, far too late, that she could have used the abandoned napkin ring, twinkling covertly from beneath the overhang of her own bowl of grits, minus the butter, as a prop. Perhaps there would still be time to use it, in a pinch, especially if she suddenly required just the thing to bean Roderick smack in the midst of his smug forehead. “Well, if you must know, I received a telephone call from Delilah Ripwitch this morning.”
Roderick picked up his spoon, a preliminary act of dismissal. “The town gossip? Why would you pay any heed to her wretched lies?”
Celestine grinned in what she hoped was a pending-triumph manner, unaware that the presentation was somewhat marred by the trio of unnoticed toast crumbs populating the left crevice of her lip-sticked mouth. “Mais au contraire, my pet, she wasn’t lying, not this time. Every word she squeaked in that inbred nasal voice of hers was absolutely true. And guess who’s starring in this week’s crop on the sordid grapevine?”
Roderick’s right eye suddenly sent out warning signals that it was rather invested in a round of twitching. To cover the tell of the turbulence, Roderick placed his right hand partly over the rambunctious eye but mostly on his forehead, rubbing gently, as if a wee bit of migraine was brewing. (Unbeknownst to Rod the Pet, his fingers lined up perfectly from a targeting perspective, with his large middle finger pointing to the perfect landing spot, should someone wish to fling a napkin ring for a satisfying ding.) ‘Go ahead,” muttered Roderick. “Hit me with it.”
Celestine smiled at the delicious options now before her…
VII. Mona scrolled down the weather forecast that had just blinked onto the phone screen. Her eyes lit up as well as she realized the rains would be ending in a few days, and that Friday promised to be sunny and warm, with a gentle southern breeze. Perfect. She would call Pippy and they could finally finish their project.
Then Mona’s eyes zeroed in on the actual date. It was the 17th. May 17th. Oh no. She did a bit of quick math in her head and, dang it, that day would be the 10-year anniversary since-”
Mona’s phone began ringing, the weather forecast whisking away, replaced by a snap of Pippy and her annoyingly-glorious red hair. Mona stabbed at the green button, dispensing with any greeting. “We’ve got a problem, Pip. A big one…”
I was in the midst of editing a story, so it was understandable that my reflexes were a bit dulled when the song began to play on the radio. (It was always the radio that tripped me up, as I had long since purged the house of any personal copies.) On a good day, I can react with startling alacrity, slapping the radio dial and changing the station. This was not one of those good days, especially since I had foolishly turned on the family stereo and not the small personal box perched on my desk.
I popped out of my creakily-worn chair and raced to the console across the room. As long as I got there before the lyrics actually started floating in, I was golden. The music was trigger enough, but the words, oh, those piercing words, written by and for someone else but clearly meant for me, words of promise and ache, words that… damn it, I’m too late, words that are here now and I am there, me sinking into the couch as the clock resets and I’m falling through the watercolors and the sounds of that summer so long ago…
Cleopatra the Cat woke up from her seventh nap of the day, instantly aware that something was amiss. She slipped out of hiding place 47-C and trotted into the living room, deftly hopping onto the clever writing desk placed in front of the large, floor-to-ceiling window. (The daddies never used this desk, as it was “for show” or some such, and thus feline hopping was tolerated.)
From this vantage point, Cleo was able to survey both of her queendoms, inside and out, although, truth be told, the official map of the Outer Queendom was a bit murky. The daddies, in their inexplicable and short-sighted desire to tamper with Cleo’s matriarchal heritage, did not allow her to lead actual expeditions into The Land Beyond the Sliding Glass Door. Still and all, there would come a day when one and all bowed down to her supremacy over the dual lands.
Suddenly, there was an intruder in her midst, somehow slipping past security and appearing beside Cleo in the Royal Viewing Chamber. She turned to berate the interloper, but she changed her tune rather quickly as her eyes fell on a surprise. “Scotch?”
“But I thought you crossed the Rainbow Bridge?”
Scotch nodded. “Oh, I did do that. I didn’t want to, of course, but you know how it is in this dump. The daddies lie a lot about a lot of things. It was supposed to just be a vet visit, and next thing you know some gal in a white coat handed me a golden ticket to some place that doesn’t smell like here.”
Cleo eyed him suspiciously. “How did you get back? That Rainbow Bridge is a one-way road from what I’ve read on the Caternet.”
“See, that’s another lie the Two-Legs tell you. If you’re really good over there, they give you day passes to come back and visit.”
Cleo’s eyes remained narrow. “But you’ve never been a good kitty, so I’m not buying-”
Scotch sighed. “Okay, fine. I sort of stole it. You know, like you stole this desk that used to be my viewing box. Anyway, somebody’s going to figure out that I’m gone, so I need to hurry. I came here to tell you everything you need to know to keep the daddies in line so they don’t jack up your right to world domination.”
Cleo was affronted. “I already know everything I need to know.”
“Oh, girl, no you don’t. I thought I knew it all until my ticket got punched. Now, get out your Hello, Kitty laptop so you can take some notes.”
Cleo did so, her emerald eyes gleaming brightly. “I’m ready, Brother Cray-Cray.”
“Okay, there are 10 reasons why the Two-Legs lie. The first one involves…”
As the scattered applause died down, Granny Mae approached the podium, took out a small stack of note cards, flipped through them briefly, made an unappreciative face about the results of the flipping, and promptly tossed the whole mess into a nearby trashcan that still smelled like last week’s Catfish Fry. She looked out over the audience and cleared her throat. “Hey, folks.”
“Hey,” said most of those assembled, because that’s what you say back in Oklahoma, if you mean to be polite and all.
“I know that we need to discuss the sinkhole that swallowed Old Man Longbuck’s farm, and we should probably get around to the sudden price-gouging down at the Piggly Wiggly, but I wanna talk about somethin’ first that ain’t on the agenda.”
This surprised no one, as veering from the agenda was one of the hallmarks of both Granny Mae’s term as mayor as well as her life in general. The mere fact that she had entered the stage with prepared notes had been quite shocking, implying as it did that there might be some structure to this evening. It was actually a relief when she tossed them into the fish bucket.
Granny Mae continued. “I was on the social media the other night. No fault of my own, mind you. I was just tryin’ to do my taxes, eatin’ a Moon Pie at the same time, when that dang pie got away from me and plopped on the keyboard. Next thing you know, I got a big-ass screen of Fakebook lookin’ at me. I tried to close it, but my mouse had gotten sticky from that Moon Pie floppin’ around and I hit something else wrong.”
Many heads in the audience nodded in sympathy. They’d all been there, sure had.
“Now I’m lookin’ at some post from… well, I won’t name names, but this town is small enough that most of you can do the figurin’ on your own. So this person really had their underwear in a twist about a new law that was bein’ considered on up there in Washington, D.C. Now, y’all know how I stand on most things, and I’m happy to let you know if you don’t, and this is what I gotta say about that post…”
And there we have it, ten twisted little avenues for you to explore, should the spirit move you. And if you do have a movement, please let me know with a linkback or a comment. (The current plan is to feature some of the resulting stories here at Bonnywood, but we all know I have focus issues, so there’s some degree of emptiness with that promise.) Oh, and feel free to share this post with others that you think might be interested in participating. As with all writing extravaganzas at the Manor, such as the 3-Word Challenge, there are no deadlines and no rules, other than everyone should be supportive of our fellow writers. We all rise when the bubbles are filled with compassion…
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