Lightning Rounds 61

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: the wrong socks

Jimmy didn’t feel like going to school today. It was raining and cold. He was going to have to slog through puddles and stand in it while he waited for the bus. He hated being wet.

His mom had gotten him new socks for school. She got these weird mismatched socks because of the anti-bullying campaign, and Jimmy was pretty sure that these would get him bullied. It was another reason to not go to school today.

He pulled the covers up to his chin and stared out the window at the grey skies as he listened to the quiet shush of the shower. He knew he had a few minutes to himself while his mom got ready for work, and he knew when the shower stopped, she would call through the wall to ask him if he was dressed yet. He spent his minutes thinking up an excuse to stay home. He knew it would be futile. There was no way he was going to make his temperature go up enough to convince her he had a fever and he didn’t feel sick to his stomach so there was no chance that he was going to vomit.

He sighed and pulled the covers over his head. Maybe if he didn’t answer, she would think he had left already, all by himself. Jimmy considered whether it was plausible that she would think he had eaten breakfast and packed his backpack and then gone out to the bus stop in the rain without her help. He sighed again and curled into a tiny ball, trying to make himself invisible in the mess of blankets and plushies on his bed.

The shower stopped. “You ready, hon?” His mom’s voice was muffled through the wall. He grunted, not loud enough for her to her. There was a long pause and his door creaked open. “Jimmy?” He felt her sit down at the edge of his bed. “Come on, hon. It’s time to get ready for school.”

He moaned and flipped the sheet off, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want to go. It’s raining!”

She looked at him in silence, her hair dripping onto the blue striped towel she had wrapped around her body. She regarded him quietly while he rubbed his face trying not to sniffle, then she looked out the window for a while before she turned back to him. She bit the inside of her lip. “OK,” she said finally. “Let’s make something hot to drink and we’ll take turns playing video games all day.”

Jimmy blinked. “What?”

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Lightning Rounds 60

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: 100 Years.

“Boobs,” Ellen muttered, then frowned at the floor of the subway car.

Ron’s eyes twitched over to study her ear. “Uh. What?”

Ellen shook her head slightly as she looked up at him. She shrugged, waving at a movie advertisement across the aisle from them. She read the byline aloud, “Where will you be in 100 years?” She laughed gently. “I was just thinking that in 100 years my boobs will be down to my knees.”

Ron was perplexed. “Boobs move?”

She sighed and tipped her head back to rest it on the window. “They sag, Ron. When your skin gets loose. Don’t balls sag too?”

Ron chewed on a hangnail as he considered the question. He resettled his hat on his head. “How old are boobs when they sag?” Ellen closed her eyes and let her head rock slightly with the movement of the train. Ron stared across the aisle, studying the movie poster. “Why would they make a movie about that?” He looked over at his sister, but Ellen didn’t answer. He frowned and started cleaning the remains of his fingernails on his jeans, wondering how old balls were when they sagged.


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Lightning Rounds 59

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: shopping related trauma

Erin stared at the long line near the Super Slide and gripped her daughter’s hand a little tighter. Her heart raced.

“Momma, you’re squishing my pinkie,” Laina protested. Erin let go of the little girl’s hand and dropped on her knees. “Sorry, baby,” she smiled briefly, hoping Laina was too small to see the pain in it. Erin put her hands up to her cheeks. “Momma’s feeling a little funny. Stay right here near me, OK?”

Laina sighed and swung her ragdoll, bumping it against her knees as she fidgeted, looking around the huge indoor playground with bored eyes. Erin’s eyes flicked over to the doll, watching it bounce, the same way it had looked when Erin had pulled it from the angry arms of another late-shopping mother. She closed her eyes and hummed ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ to block out the memory of the way the other woman’s nose had looked after Erin had elbowed her to make her let go.

“Momma, I’m booooored.” Laina gently thwacked the doll against her mother’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”

Erin flinched and hopped to her feet, her head buzzing. “Come on, baby, we’ll get McDonald’s on the way home. Let’s just get out of here right now.” She tugged at the doll, and her daughter followed.

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Lightning Rounds 58

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: hollow

The rain dripped down across the back of her neck and my eyes followed as a single drop slipped around her throat, curving into the hollow space between her collarbones. I was being obvious, but her mind was too occupied to notice. She dropped the compass back against her thigh and turned, her voice barely audible above the pattering rain. “We’re half a click from the LZ. It’s going to be hard to hear the choppers, and we’re going to take fire as soon as we poke our noses out. I need everyone one of you to stay sharp.” She looked at each one of us in turn. Her eyes pierced mine and she squinted slightly. I saw her shoulders hunch, ready to spring, but I had no time to prepare before she smacked me solid on the ear.

“Torrent. Seriously. Fucking focus.”

I ducked my head and tried to remember what the mission objective was. “Sorry, sir,” I mumbled. “Jungle’s fucking hot.”

The gunner behind me snorted. “Gonna get us all killed, moon-eyes,” she hissed. I felt the barrel of her rifle on my side. “Maybe do us a favor–”

“Enough.” Angeles locked eyes with Sistine. “We’re none of us going to die today. We’re all in, we’re all out. Got it?”

Sistine grunted and stepped back, but she didn’t seem convinced.

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Lightning Rounds 57

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: indubitably

There was no doubting that she was right and that was the real crux of the issue right there. She was so infinitely capable of holding conflicting viewpoints that she must have some kind of psychic yogi. Cognitive dissonance was painful for most, but not in her world, not in her existence, which kept her apart from us.

When I was twenty-seven, my own cognitive dissonance finally became unbearable. I opened my eyes then. I breathed in the world and let it wrap itself inside my brain, and lightness spread to the corners of my insides. I can’t imagine going back into that cave. I can’t unsee reality.

My doubt saved me. My disbelief saved me. These were the things — not the drugs, not the self-harm, not the constant effort to make reality conform — these were the things that saved me. It is obvious that I can’t control the world, and now I wonder why I ever thought it was possible. Or maybe more accurately, I wonder why I never doubted that the form of my existence was under my control.

She cannot see that. She still believes that everything obeys her thoughts. The world is magic to her and she is the magician, the one and only Real, the most important because there is nothing else but her.

I hate it. I wish I didn’t, but now I let myself feel what I feel because I know I can’t tell myself to feel it differently. Because my existence is like the beauty of a river flowing and not a painting in her hallway.

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Lightning Rounds 56

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: Compliance

Eddie looked down, shuffling his hands through his pockets. He pulled out a handful of fluff and old cheese stuck with bits of paper. He sighed. “It’s in here somewhere.”

The initiates sitting behind him fidgeted in their chairs, nudging each other and giving his back exasperated looks. The leaders of each syndicate waited dourly before him, and out of the corner of his eye, Eddie was sure he could feel his mother closing her eyes and trying to melt into the floor. He patted his jacket pockets, and drew in a quick breath of relief. He drew out the slightly crumpled playing card and laid it face up on the felt in front of him.

“I choose Unthinking.” His voice was bolder than he felt, yet still it was swallowed into the sudden silence in the Sorting Room. The leaders looked at each other askance, momentary confusion flickering across their features. Reginald cleared his throat twice before he opened his mouth to speak. “Unthinking is not a syndicate, Master Eddie, nor is the Queen of Hearts a token for any of the choices.” Eddie’s face flushed as Reginald extended his long fingers and snatched up the card that had been placed before him. “Since you seem completely unaware of how to behave in this — the most basic and fundamentally important of our cultural practices — we will make the choice for you.” He flipped the card back at Eddie, who blinked and let it fall to his feet. Victor reached beneath the table and drew out a tiny brass duck the size of his palm. Setting it on the table in front of Reginald, he intoned “This boy has chosen Remediation.”

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Lightning Rounds 55

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: Lament

It was a hot day, hot enough to feel it creep up over your sandals and up your ankles. I snatched off my crooked sunglasses in annoyance and squinted in the bright sunshine, shading my eyes with my forearm and trying not to poke my face with the remains of broken bow. Sweat plastered fine hairs against my neck. There had to be shade somewhere along the boardwalk, but the thought of pressing through a sticky crowd of people made my nose wrinkle. Instead, I dodged sideways down a narrow staircase, hoping there would be some relief beneath.

The shade was welcome, but the air was noticeably more humid and for a few short moments, I clung to the end of the railing, gasping like a fish. I blinked a few times and my eyes focused on the ice cream truck. It looked cooler there, but it may have been the snow-capped mountain that was painted on the side playing tricks on my heat-addled brain.

There is nothing nicer than a Drumstick – a sugar cone with vanilla ice cream, chocolate coating, and crushed peanuts. Nothing nicer on this day. And there is nothing more forlorn than a Drumstick smashed against the gravel path. Sadness.

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