#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: M for My mind wanders every now and then..


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: My mind wanders every now and then..

Provided by: Jemima Pett,friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

#atozchallenge : M for My mind wanders

#atozchallenge : M for My mind wanders

Sometimes, when I lay down next to her, making lazy eights and circles and lines across her spine, I think of you.

             It is not a deliberate thought.

 

 I do not think, for example, of how you used to lie, spent, just like this, after we’d made love. Or of that afternoon when we wrote our names next to each other on the sand each time the waves washed them away.

              I do not think of the evening I came back home early to surprise you, and you surprised me instead, in our bedroom smelling of sweat and candles and musk. I would have killed him, had you not looked at me with those big scared eyes. I did not want to scare you, ever, not even when you ran a knife through my heart.

 

Much as I try to hold it back, my mind wanders every now and then, to you, and you snake through me like lightning.

             The feel of your dry, soft hand holding mine at my mother’s funeral and not letting go, not once. Your snorting with laughter at a joke on TV with all those tubes connected to you. The plopping sound the earth made as it dropped from my hand on to that smooth wooden box they put you in.

 

She asks me, what are you thinking of? I shake my head, drawing her up for a kiss. I do not tell her I wonder how it would feel, lying down next to you, letting the earth rain down on me. I smile, and let my mind wander again.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Write or read fiction? What sort of stories do you like best? Does this story being back memories– how do memories affect our present lives?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Lately he’d been feeling


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’m posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Lately he’d been feeling…

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

A to Z Challenge: L for Lately he'd been feeling         Saturday nights like this, Don returned early, and tried not to get wasted. Martha didn’t like it.

          But today they’d filled his glass each time he’d drained it, and he could smell whiskey everywhere, on his sofa, his clothes, even his socks and shoes as he tugged them off. He felt, warm, fuzzy on the outside, but the booze hadn’t dulled the shrapnel of pain caught in his chest.

         Not that he wanted to talk about it, but lately, he’d been feeling like a dinosaur at a fun fair– on display, paint chipped in places, no choice but to stay put.

          He’d tried quitting, but not very hard, because that might get him iced. In the last few months, on a job, when taking the stairs, he’d catch his breath after each flight. His hands didn’t hold steady on the boom stick no more.

         Slim, Nugs and Toddy eyeballed him every fucking minute, waiting for him to slip from his rung, so they could step up. He didn’t blame them. At twenty he thought the old papi running him a dick wad, who needed topping off.

            If he hadn’t fallen for Martha, taken the slow road because of her, they’d have made him the boss by now, his own plush office, what rum or whisky he wanted, two gun-toting fellas tagging him everywhere. Instead, here he sat, in his underwear, petting the boom stick by the bed. The steel barrel felt cold in his hands, but it remained his only friend, the one thing he could trust.

           The Mac Balla had taken Martha, popped her off at church, and he had to get the slick who’d done it. Each Sunday he was in town, he’d met her at the mass, for the last fifteen years. She wouldn’t marry him, she said, till he changed his ways.

          Now she was gone, leaving the ghost of a bullet hole in his chest. It was covered with skin on the outside, and full of fucking veins on the inside, gushing blood. Don unscrewed the bottle by the bed, tossed the drink down his throat. He willed it to find this bloody spot where Martha had been inside of him, pour whiskey on it, or burn it with hot iron, so the pain would come once, hard, and then be gone.

                 He heard the latch on his back door turn. One of the boys come to do him in, after drowning him in drink? The Mac Balla? He took the boom stick in his shaking hands and pointed it at his chin. He won’t let someone else’s bullet take him. He pushed the cold ring of steel in the jowl under his chin, felt his flesh spill around it.

                 Martha’s scent filled him, the smell of her hair when she washed herself after they’d ‘lived in sin’ each Sunday night. He listened for the next footfall, the whisper of cloth against curtains, the cocking of a pistol.

                He waited. He would find Martha, one way or the other.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? How would you connect today’s prompt and picture?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: K for Kiss me if you can


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Kiss me if you can…

Provided by: Samantha  Redstreake Geary friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : K for Kiss me if you can

#atozchallenge : K for Kiss me if you can

By then, I was too far gone.

I watched Susie paint her lips in a smudged hand mirror, sitting in my car. Her hair needed a comb,  she needed someone to stop her, and I needed to be that man. Call it drink, call it being newly wed to a woman I wanted nothing to do with, but I had made up my mind. Don’t go, not tonight.

Don’t be daft. She opened her mouth, her spice-red lips, in a circle then a pout, turned this way and that, examining those lips I’d kissed not ten minutes ago. Her lips had flamed up with my kisses, why did she need more color?

Come on, what would a night hurt?

What about your wife? And do you think I do this cos I enjoy it?

She worked a roller on her short black wool skirt, stripping away bits of lint. I’d laid her up on one of the white tablecovers in the pantry, too much in a hurry, too desperate, too scared someone would find us. But that was not the only thing that made my heart gallop so hard.

We watched the train tracks that would lead her far away, and the tall fir trees that flanked it, straight and solemn like soldiers at a comrade’s funeral.

A row of fir had watched over us as we played together, Susie’s cousins and I, at the church garden that summer afternoon long ago. We had all learned about a boy kissing a girl, and twelve-year-old Susie had volunteered to be that girl, as long as we struck to lips, no touching anywhere else.

I don’t remember our exact words, but I remember we asked why we would want that. Two years older than the eldest of us, Susie gave us a sly smile in response. Just like that, she said, but make sure you don’t forget.

And then she broke into a run, like a skittish colt across the green, Kiss me if you can, she sang, and turning, let out a shriek when we followed her. Did we catch her? Again, I do not remember.

But today, I wanted to catch her, hook her to me, keep her bound. I reached for her, but she had already opened the door. I could hear the rumble of the train on the tracks, its distant whistle.

She stepped out and ran, this time without looking back.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Kisses you’d like to talk about? :)

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: J for Just when she thought she was safe


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Just when she thought she was safe..

Provided by: Jemima Pett,friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : J for Just when she thought she was safe

#atozchallenge : J for Just when she thought she was safe

That morning, like any other, Martha stopped by the church instead of walking with her friends to the Starbucks where they picked up their donuts and coffee before work.

Should we get you something? they asked her, though they knew her answer.

I’ll only be a few minutes, she waved at them as she walked up the steps, drawing her coat close about her in the morning chill. You go on ahead, she said, but they had already left.

As she pushed the door open and began walking up the aisle to her regular pew a few rows from the front, she felt peace steal over her.

She bowed her head in prayer– and when she looked up and thanked the Christ for His grace, for the health and happiness given her, He seemed to look upon her and smile.

Martha kept looking into His eyes, and did not notice the gunman when he entered. The first shot that felled the priest she took for a cracker, and at the second, she turned but did not see the source of noise.

She bowed her head again to give thanks. The third shot cracked into the pew in front of hers, just when she thought she was safe, because who, after all, could hurt her in the house of God?

Roses blossomed all over Martha and burst the next moment, quite like the red blooms at the feet of Christ, who continued to smile through the noise, silent,  as if He’d just witnessed a Baptism, or wedding.

Martha lay on the floor in between queues, quivered  a few times like an animal long past its prime, then went still.

~~~~~~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Been to a place of worship lately?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: H for Having Nothing to Lose


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Having nothing to lose…

Provided by: Cheryl KP, friend, fellow writer, artist.

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#atozchallenge : H for Having lost all hope...

#atozchallenge : H for Having nothing to lose

     Having nothing to lose, she let her dress fall.

      It made no sound. The silk stroked her neck as she untied the knot. It pooled at her breasts, which, sagging, could not hold up the sheath of green.

       It peeled off in the flickering light, alive like an emerald snake, this dress he’d given her, it slid against her stomach, unraveling, and came to rest on her hips.

Her stomach had caved in, her navel a dark hole in a crater of sunken bones. She wanted to sit down, let her body fall, too. She wanted to curl up, touch her nose to her navel. She wanted to sniff out that enemy in her stomach hard as a tennis ball, with none of its bounce, or color, or playfulness.

It sucked out her life, into itself. It will not stop till it’s done, till it has sucked her in, skin, bones, what little flesh she’d left.

She would leave them behind, leave him behind, leave behind the dress. She didn’t need them. Because where she had to go, she would find no life, no green, no shame, no friendship, nor love, no hate, no pain, nor hope. Only a soft twilight, a dusky sameness, a shivering, soft-whispery jungle hugging her path. She would glide down the shiny road, the lines of which will lead her on, from darkness.

She could not see the end, not yet. She heard no sound, but what heartbreak makes a noise, what last breath explodes? The death of hope is silent too. No matter. She will stand, and watch, watch herself curl back to what she once was, and return to where she came from.

That path alone is real.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you lost a loved one to cancer?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: G for Goodbye Wanderer


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Goodbye wanderer..

Provided by: Samantha  Redstreake Geary friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

———————-

 

Goodbye wanderer

#atozchallenge : G for Goodbye wanderer

She came to me one morning, among the scattered dry leaves of a maple tree.

For a moment, I did not recognize her— her long- slow-fat slithering amongst the leaves. She lay there, in the dappled fall sunlight looking up at me as I looked down at her, unseeing.

I had dreamed of him again, the man with the yellow snake-like eyes, bearing down on me, pressing down on my face, tearing, clawing, hurting my throat, breasts. He had attacked my body, which had recovered well, as bodies will.  But he ruled my nightmares, and laughed inside my head by day. I needed to walk, run him out of my system, rinse him out of my eyes, my skin, my clothes today, just like on each one of the last ninety-three days.

She moved her head a few yards from my neon-pink sneakers, and that’s when I saw her body painted in patterns of butterfly or hourglass, depending on what you saw first, light or dark, her copper head raised lightly in enquiry, as if to say, what brings you to my home?

I had wandered further in the wilds than I had intended. This was not my backyard paved with bricks. It was hers, because under my dreamy feet I saw soil, light brown, a perfect camouflage. Be careful, my parents had hidden the worry on their faces as they dropped me to my chalet, oh please be careful, wouldn’t you?

 But I was determined not to be careful, not give in, not hold myself back, and now, I had met her.The cold morning breeze ruffled my hair as I came to a complete stop, but cold had nothing to do with the goosebumps on my legs.

Rest a while, follow my example, she kept her gaze on me, I will watch over you when you sleep, I’ll stand guard on your dreams. I’m your sister, you have skin and I have scales, but we are the same. We are still when left alone. Threaten us, and we strike back. We mean no harm, you and I.

I took a step back, then another. She did not move, as if surprised at my retreat, not wanting to startle me into flight. She lay her head back down, no hint of fangs or the venom they held. She had other uses for them.

I walked back towards my home, and she waited a few heartbeats before slithering away. Goodbye wanderer, she seemed to say, and fare you well.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you ever had a wildlife encounter, felt scared or disturbed by it?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Forever was shorter than she expected


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing Prompt: Forever was shorter than she expected.

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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A to Z Challenge: F for Forever was shorter than she expected

A to Z Challenge: F for Forever was shorter than she expected

‘They had warned me, but much too late.’ Mrs. Wallace tossed grain to her flock of lovebirds, ‘I had already married him by then.’

The lovebirds flew all around her in the cage, a whirl of peach and green and teal feathers and beaks, they settled once in a while in her curled grey hair with their tiny claws, screeched and called and tittered in a frenzy. In that moment I saw her, black tees torn in places and jeans spattered with bird poop, laughing, throwing her hands in the air like a mad dervish in ecstasy.

‘He used to do this each morning,’ she smiled as she scattered another handful on the floor lined with feathers and straw, ‘Close the door behind you, or they’ll fly off.’

Outside the cage, a wall stared at me, lined with shelves heavy with rows of books and knicknacks. A goat skull sat on a pile of dusty books, next to a Mexican painted pitcher. A bottle of amber liquid, a floating scorpion inside, pincers lowered. Weird–shaped stones in plastic bowls. Some hair braided with beads.

‘All his stuff,’ Mrs. Wallace had caught me looking, ‘go click them if you want. Things from everywhere you know, antiques.’

Antiques, really? I looked up at the Arizona Ash looming over the building that contained the reception area and a few glass cases with sundry bugs and a smattering of posters. Once I finished up with the interview, I would find myself a pint of stout and some of that shade.

From somewhere inside the park, a lion roared, making me drop my phone. A long, drawn out call, and then a series of breathy grunts, at regular intervals. ‘Don’t worry, it’s just their lunch time, is all,’ she smiled at me once I’d picked up my phone, fumbling over my camera bag in the process. Never heard a lion roar outside of a TV set before.

‘I married Nick because he was handsome, and big, and kind,’ she answered the question I had asked her ten minutes ago, ‘I thought it would last forever. We began with chuckwallas and rattlers, you know, and some of these birds, a desert tortoise and one lame coyote. I love animals and so did he.’

Forever was shorter than she expected. Nick Wallace’s lions killed and half-ate him the year before last.

I had come here to cover the story of the park’s struggle to survive, against litigation, against public opinion. The lion had gone quiet, but the bird noise behind me hit a raucous, hysteric note. I wanted to clamp my hands on my ears, run.

I had to stay and ask her questions though, so I made myself turn towards her and smile. ‘I’ll wait outside.’

‘Head to the big cats,’ Mrs. Wallace did not look at me as she spoke, ‘ I’ll find you. Go on, my husband’s inside with them. You might get a few good shots.’

‘Husband?’ I froze at the door of the cage.

‘I kept Nick’s surname.’ She bent to refill her bowl of grain from a small sack. ‘This is my second husband, Kevin Brenner. He’s managed the money side of this place these last twelve years.’

I had held the door open, and a few of the birds now flitted out, their wings whirring above my head. I began to close it back, but she walked up to me and opened it all the way. I turned without a word, and took off to find the lion enclosure.

I looked back once, to find her still tossing grain, as one bird flew out, then another.

———

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been in a Wildlife rescue centre with big cats?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Everything that happened afterwards


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Everything that happened afterwards…

Provided by: Jemima Pett, twitter buddy, fellow writer, and one of the magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

 A to Z Challenge: E for Everything that happened afterwards

It had sounded like hands rubbing together, her first snow.

 The flakes had come in flurries and gusts, turning the afternoon white. She’d wanted to feel them on her hands, check if they felt warm and soft like cotton wool. But Harry would have none of it. Mum was taking a nap, her tummy swollen with a brother or sister, and he wanted to find Dad, build the igloo he’d been promised.

She had walked, as fast she could in her new boots, holding hands with him, the two blocks to her father’s office. The wind nipped at her nose and lips, her eyes watered. The snowflakes melted in her hands. She wanted to slow down and look up, catch them with her tongue, but Harry wouldn’t wait, Giddyup, Pigtails!

The guard turned them away at the main door. Their father couldn’t see them, not just then, busy at a meeting.  Come an hour later, the guard towered over them with a whiskered smile, or better still, why not get back home for some hot chocolate and wait for him to return?

They nodded and ran off, but once out of the guard’s sight, Harry dragged her to the side of the building. We’ll surprise him, he shook her arm, come on!

In their last home in Florida, they’d gone to the beach each Sunday. Walking in the snow felt the same, but different. She wanted to linger in it, sit down on the fluff.  She’d pulled at his hand, My feet hurt. Why hadn’t she pulled him back harder? A few minutes, and everything would have stayed the same.

Later, he hauled her along, we’ll throw snowballs at his window, he showed me which one it is. He promised he would come out for the first snow.

They’d skipped up on a pile of bricks, kicking the snow off it, and peered into the tall dark window. Why hadn’t Harry thrown a snowball instead, made some noise?

 

Everything that happened afterwards had now become a blur.

Their return to Florida without their father, the birth of their dead brother, their mother growing silent and droopy, never speaking again, fading away from this earth. As she sat in her parked car across the Mayor’s office, watching another snowfall, she couldn’t remember much. Only the choir of her father’s funeral an hour ago, the stern voice of the priest. Harry hadn’t made it. Can’t get leave, sorry, Pigtails. See you when you get back.

But that one moment from thirty years ago, that stayed clear.

She remembered that they’d peered. Through the parted curtains, they’d seen their father in his unbuttoned shirt jerking backwards and forwards on the table, a blonde woman under him. Her bare legs wrapped around his waist, like a white snake. They couldn’t see the rest of her, only the red nailpolish on one foot and black pumps on the other.

She remembered the flakes of snow, falling around her, then, as now.

And she remembered the sound they made, that of slow, unhurried palms, rubbing softly, together.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you ever had a few moments change your life? What do you remember and what do you forget? Why?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: D for Damnation awaited her, if…


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

   Writing prompt: Damnation awaited her, if…

Provided by: Mary Wallace, friend, fellow blogger, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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Damnation awaited her, if...

Damnation awaited her, if..

     When Lilith opened the door, she wished she’d worn a better dress. The paisley she’d saved for the New Moon Day perhaps, cinched at the waist and flared below, which made her look delicate, a woman a man could smile at, ask out. Marry, even get with child.

What else was a man good for, besides making a woman with child?

He stood, left thumb hooked in the pocket of his jeans, smiling down at her. It fit him well, as did the smile on his shapely lips under his cowboy hat. Who wore cowboy hats these days? Lost wanderers in open-topped blue Mustangs, apparently. She saw it parked outside the gate. It stood like an obedient steed, shiny, as if it had just rolled out of the workshop. A car from another age, just like the man, who asked her whether he could use her phone.

They had those cellphone things these days, not that she had used them, but youngsters like him did. Odd. Not many lived in the old ways. It suited her though. She had just taken a bath, the house smelled good, of soup and incense, and her own fragrance.

She invited him in, giving her hips that subtle, extra, swing. Even in her plain cotton skirt, the drab garb she wore to hide her true self, she knew how to make male eyes stare– her long, shining hair that stroked her hips drew their gaze, and once they looked at her, they did not resist. Could not. Her body retained its shape from centuries ago, that was the way of her kind, and she was the mother of her kind. The Baalat.

Damnation awaited her, if she gave in, did not resist the call. But too long in her exile she had waited for just such a one.

After she was done with him, she would build another wall behind the house, lay him there in splendor, and build around him. She would give birth right outside the new wall, and her daughters would rise to fight again. She would not return to Adam or Eden, she had never bowed to an Adam’s son, would not start now. She would not bow to God’s will. God was a man, was he not?

 The farm boy stood making his call. Behind him, concealed with heavy drapes, loomed the old wall, its bricks gaping, mortar cracked in places. Lilith grinned, coiling her hair into a black-gold snake, waiting to strike.

She didn’t see that the man smiled too, into the phone. She didn’t see that his palm held a fist-sized, sapphire-colored, glittering rock. Lot’s salt, large enough to turn an Angel or Demon into a pile of ashes.

She did not know, and refused to accept, man’s dominion over woman.

And like all women, she paid for it.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you read of the legend of Lilith?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Clearly, it wasn’t going to happen


 

C for Clearly it wasn't going to happen

C for Clearly it wasn’t going to happen

   As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

   Writing prompt: Clearly, it wasn’t going to happen

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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So many things could have gone wrong with my son.

He could have perished in the womb– not a human yet, just a lump of cells, busy multiplying, abruptly stopped and flushed out.

He could have died with his mother, not taking his first breath as she took her last.

He could have suffered a birth defect, brittle bones, perhaps, and died of a fracture one too many. He could have drowned while I bathed him and rushed midway to the kitchen to rescue dinner from burning, leaving him alone for three crucial minutes.

He could have been strangled in the chokehold of a friend at school, during the break, in rough horseplay. He could have died of heat exhaustion if I forgot him in the car an extra quarter of an hour while I tried to get hold of a stock of nappies on sale. A kidnapper could have nabbed him while I let his hand go for a moment at the fair as I paid for the toy gun he wanted. He could have fallen down a cliff when we went camping, hiking, slipped off a path while walking right behind me, when I wasn’t looking.

 But I had allowed none of those things. I paid attention like a good parent should, see. Not for a minute did I lose my focus in all those years, not for a moment.  There stood my son, a strapping teen, his muscles strained against the gaping mouth of a Great White at the amusement park.

 We had a glass of wine each, later, at lunch. I drank to give him company for his first drink, you understand, on his sixteenth birthday. First time in seventeen years I touched drink, pinky swear, and that was hours ago. I’d never broken the oath before. I felt fine as we drove, the breeze in my hair. We had seat-belts strapped in,  just the way I had shown him, tugged one extra time to make sure. My sedan kept to the left, going far below the speed limit. I hadn’t given in when he said, Come on, Dad, none of the boys get driven around by their dads. I did not lose my focus, not once.

Clearly, it wasn’t going to happen, and yet it did. That truck came speeding down at an intersection, out of nowhere.  I still didn’t lose my focus, no, not for a moment.

I did all the right things, that’s all I’m saying, you know?

I did all the right things, and yet all I’ve left of him is this photograph, prying open the jaws of death.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Are you a parent? If you are, what did this story make you think about?