For those of you who have just joined us, I’ve set myself a project for the month of March: Create 4 pieces of writing based on Charlotte’s writing prompts from Punch for Prompt.
On week 1 I posted the short story ‘Will You Help Me?‘ about a little old lady being asked for help.
Last week I posted ‘Obedient Tongues‘ about a family in Eyam during a plague outbreak in 1666.
Last week’s story was based on the prompt “She lit the candles on the table first,” to which my Creativity immediately added, “And then she lit the table!”
That story was a rather harrowing look at the past. To prove that writing prompts are completely versatile, I’m now going to take that same beginning and do something completely different with it.
Gemma lit the candles on the table first.
Then she lit the table.
Not deliberately. Her hands were shaking, there was a gust from somewhere and…and… Who knew it was so easy to set things alight?
She dropped the packet of vintage matches and darted about her quarters searching for something to put the fire out.
She needn’t have bothered.
“Warning,” enunciated the computerized voice through the smooth metal panel on the wall. “A fire hazard has been detected. Evacuate the room immediately. Atmosphere will be vented.”
The room’s lights flashed and an alarm whooped.
“Evacuate the room immediately.”
She grabbed her plant and rushed out the door. The panels automatically shut, leaving her standing in the well-lit corridor cut off from the chaos. The noise absorbing foam of the wall and floors made her feel dizzy, like she was floating alone in space instead of safely encased in a ship.
“Ah,” said the captain, as he sauntered around the bend in the corridor and saw Gemma. “What’s this? The welcoming committee?”
She heard the merest whoosh from behind the doors as the air within her quarters was purged.
“You shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of waiting out here for me,” he grinned, stopping in front of her. “I’m perfectly capable of using the bell.”
“Um,” was all she could get out. He was knee-weakeningly handsome. The sweep of his brown hair across perfect, olive-coloured skin set off his roguish features and chisel-edged jaw. The ensemble left her speechless every time she set eyes on him.
“Who’s this?” the captain asked, pointing to the leaves and flowers emanating from pot in her arms.
“Zander,” she said.
The plant stuck a tongue out of one of the blooms and blew a raspberry.
Gemma quickly swiveled the pot so the flowers were facing the other way. The captain wiped pollen from his face and uniform.
“Sorry,” she said.
The captain waved his hand in the air. “Never mind.”
They stood there, looking at each other. Gemma used her free hand to tug the collar of her uniform.
“So,” said the captain, rocking back and forth on his feet, “Are we eating in the corridor or are you going to invite me in?”
“Ah,” she said, causing a speck of something to catch in her windpipe. She coughed. The speck lodged itself, forcing her to cough harder. Her eyes watered. Her nose watered and threatened to overflow. “Would you mind holding Zander?” she said, thrusting the potted plant into the captain’s reluctant arms.
She fished a self-cleaning tissue from the pocket of her uniform and blew her nose. Not the most refined of noises, she knew, but when one had to clear the sinuses force was key. After carefully wiping the tears from the corners of her eyes, she folded the tissue and placed it back in her pocket.
She looked up at the captain and gasped, very nearly starting her coughing all over again.
Grabbing the pot, she pried the plant’s leaves from around the captain’s throat.
“I’m very sorry,” she said, offering another tissue to him as he coughed and teared up in his turn. “Zander’s a bit…”
“Psychopathic?” spluttered the captain.
The captain refused the tissue, sniffing instead. “Was there dinner involved in this invitation somewhere? Or did you just invite me around to meet the pet?”
“Dinner. Definitely dinner.” She turned back to the door and pressed the Open button with her thumb.
“Please wait a moment as the pressure is normalized,” said the computer.
“Normalized?” The captain’s eyes widened. “Did something happen?”
“Oh, nothing really,” said Gemma, shrugging her shoulders and trying to make her giggle sound natural. “Just a tiny mishap.”
The doors slid open. Gemma, the captain and Zander leaned in.
“How little a mishap?” said the captain.
What had once been a perfectly set table with salad, bread rolls, finely sliced chicken and baked vegetables was now a carpet of food which generously covered floor, furniture and walls. The grates through which the atmosphere had made its exit were clogged with food and a charred table cloth.
Gemma bit her lip and blinked back her disappointment.
“Did you cook dinner yourself?” he said.
“Yes.” She picked Zander’s tendrils out of her hair. “You said you liked ‘old style’ evenings, so I did some ‘home cooking,’ lit a couple of candles and…” She rubbed her eye vigorously.
He smiled and gently pulled her hand away from her face. “When I said ‘old style’ I meant 2D movies and popcorn.”
“Tell you what, why don’t we go down to the mess and get some good modern grub. What do you say?”
She sighed and smiled back at him. “Maybe that’s a better idea.”
“On one condition.”
Her brow furrowed. “Yes?”
“Plant boy stays home.”
She laughed. “One minute.” She stepped back into her quarters and replaced Zander on his stand in the middle of the room. Then, dusting her hands, she turned her back on the disarray and decided she was going to have a lovely evening.
The doors slid shut.
Zander unfurled his leaves and slowly climbed down the lattice to the floor. He surveyed dinner. Feeling thoroughly pleased with himself, he picked up a piece of chicken in his leaf and began stuffing it into the nearest flower.
So, as you can see, writing prompts can lead to anything you can imagine.
Now it’s your turn. Punch for Prompt and see what you end up with!