Do not Resuscitate: Writing Prompt Fiction

An hourglass of death

Do Not Resuscitate: Writing prompt

9 pm and I got ready for the night shift, to relieve my brother who took care of Auntie Jane at the hospital all day.

I attacked my dinner of left-over casserole and salad, which was all Mum managed to rustle up after her day of chores and hours at the church. I knew it wasn’t the length of the prayers for her sister-in-law, but their nature that tired her.

But we had no choice on Auntie Jane, and we could not stop talking about it.

She won’t make it past tonight, you’ll see, said Uncle Josh, sprawled out on the sofa. He scratched the seat of his pants, took a swig of his beer. She looks terribly frail, John.

You never know, she’s getting enough fluids. You never can tell with cancer, said Dad, and our sister is tougher than a one-eared alley cat. But I hope something happens before we all go broke.

We can’t bring her here that’s for sure, no place for all those things hooked to her, said Uncle Josh, and my digs are a mess.

Do you have any idea how much it would cost to bring her home? And for nothing, rumbled Dad between drags.

He had taken to smoking cheap cigars which smelled like a combination of wet dishrags and stale tobacco. Everything in the house carried that stench, even the dog.

That’s Auntie Jane you’re talking about, I said, and left the table without waiting for a reply.

Before I left, Mum passed me a cross on a chain. It will make the end peaceful, she said.

I drove off, and through my tears I saw Auntie Jane as she was before, not shaven headed, not in a hospital gown, when her cheek had not sunk in, when her body was round and ripe, not a bundle of bones swimming in her skin. I saw her walking in the gate back from work, for the all years my brother and I stayed with her, because Mum and Dad could not afford to keep us. She smiled when she saw us at the doorstep.

I held on to the cross for the rest of the month.

One night when I reached her ward, Aunt Jane lay with her face towards the door. Her dull eyes peered at me from deep within the sockets, seemed to like what they saw. She smiled through her blackened lips. I smiled back, asked her how she was.

My brother hated my forced cheer, and loped off to his job at the railway yard without a word. In the few months at the hospital we exchanged dwindling greetings and smiles during the handovers. Now we simply looked at each other, and that was that.

That night Auntie Jane did not sleep at all. I want to go home, she said, take me home.

In the morning, Auntie, I told her, now try and sleep. She never remembered anything beyond five minutes anyway. I tried to follow my own advice, but that spoilt fruit and metallic smell of the poison they pumped into her to keep her alive would not let me relax.

That morning the doctor came on his rounds, and I made myself ask how long. Cannot say, he said, could be tomorrow, or another month.

We have our jobs, I said.

You could take a break, he said, we’ll make sure she’s comfortable.

I nodded and he passed me a form without a word. DNR, it said, Do Not Resuscitate.

I signed it, and gave it back to him.

I tucked the cross Mum had given me under Auntie Jane’s pillow, kissed her damp, musty forehead goodbye as she lay sleeping.

When my brother came in, I hugged him, and left.

U is for Under

Writing prompt: UNDER

Provided by: Claire Goverts via Twitter. Please visit her excellent blog, and drop me some prompts for V, W, X, Y,Z. I find I need them all.

Genre: Fiction


I don’t know about you, but when I look at me, I like what I see.

I like, for instance, the star that used to stop less than an inch above my cleavage. It stood out, blue and proud, the first tattoo I got me made, to remind me I could survive.

They marched me into and out of prison with a bunch of kids my age, which was twelve. Not the number of kids, my age. The star that time was at an innocent place, but it became a challenge to all that dared question my right to do with my life as I will.

That phoenix you see on my arm, I got it when first I fell in love. I had risen, I said, above all the hate given me and found it in me to love.

Each flower, each colored cloud, each letter, every sword, every petal, each verse, running into each other has meaning, some of which has escaped me.

I would not let the colors fade, I said, the primroses on my stomach would not wither and fall, the snake that crawls up my leg would not lose its way in a maze of wrinkles.

My skin is not a covering, it is what holds my body together, I said.

Now that my eighties are far behind and I no longer have a cleavage, when it is hard for me to swallow sometimes, when I remember each slow moment of what happened fifty years ago, but forget what I had for lunch, or if indeed I had one; I know not just my skin, but my body is a covering.

The colors of the tattoos have seeped into my soul, and even when the body is gone, the colors will remain.


I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

Rick Mobbs’ Writing Prompt: Yemaya’s Children

RIver fish swim in the air above the ocean
Kenny’s fish: Yemaya’s children


Blog-friend and fello-blogger Rick Mobbs has put up painting prompts for me, and if you want to really appreciate them and his other work, do visit his blog.

After the last one I’ve been travelling and generally going crazy with life. But today, I had no excuse other than  slow internet, so here goes.

(Rick, as usual, I’ve done a spur-of-the-moment thing, and beyond a cursory fact-check and spell check, this is pretty much scribble-practice. One of these days I’ll really hunker down and produce a long piece that does your painstaking work more justice. In fact, the character below is from one of my short stories set in an aquarium. The fish in your painting must have nudged him awake! Thanks again for being so generous with your excellent work.)

Quit swimming in the air, Kenny tells them, air is no place for fish.

But they refuse to listen.

During the day they forage amid the plants in their aquarium, driving him crazy most weeks because no sooner than he puts in a half-decent plant in their aquarium they set about ripping it apart. The Singapore Aquaria, set above the sparkling, man-made Sentosa beach, likes each of its aquariums to look as neat and well-groomed as Singapore parks, gardens, people and government. If Kenny, a Filipino, is to survive here he has to make sure the Blue Tialpia behave.

But the Tilapia do not know about the obsession for order that hovers about them.

Each moonlit night they rise from their aquarium, and before Kenny’s helpless eyes, they rise into the blue ether, taking their time.

Quit swimming in the air, come back here, Kenny orders them, or they’ll fire my ass.

The Yemaya will protect you, the Tilapia babble in a chorus, like precocious children. She is the mother of all us Orishas, the most powerful guardians of old, and of the lands, the rivers, and the ocean. She is our mother and yours, too.

I know who is my mother and she is back home sleeping in the Philippines, come back now or I’ll lose my job and she’ll starve, pleads Kenny, hiking up the pants that have slipped below his belly.

We’re the children of Yemaya, the now-faint fish voices rain down from the moonlit sky above the blue-black ocean, and the red-rimmed moon is our home.  Our job is to send dreams and desire to all creation, mate day with night, turn up in the dreams of newly-weds on land and in the sea, multiply the children of Yemaya.

If you’re so powerful, why do you swim about like a bunch of common fish in an aquarium? Come back down, air is no place for fish.

If fish do not belong in air, do you belong in this country of another, cleaning muck where you could have planted fields back home?

Kenny has no answer. The Blue Tilapia rise and fade till he can see them no more, they go home.

The next morning, Kenny does the same.

Writing about taking stock

Writing on a blank page can be scary on some days, which is why I’ve discovered a new trick. I write a few lines, any kind of lines, just before I go to bed, and in the morning all I have to do is find that page and write. Takes the struggle away from filling the blankness, removes the huge block that faces each creative effort.

I thought I’d also take stock. Exactly how well have I done on my word-count resolution?

I’ve come a long way from writing nothing for days on end, to writing 13000 words from 6th Jan to 2nd Feb. Horrible by any self-respecting fiction writer’s standards. 13000 in 28 days? That is 464 words a day, much below the 1000 words I had resolved.

But I’m looking at it this way: I have not really written an average of 464 words a day (excluding blogs, re-writing, editing, and work writing) ever in my life. So, that’s progress. What I have to do is push the figure towards 1000 this month.

Thanks to Sarah for pushing me, I could not have done it without you!  I promise to do better this month!

Writing about a Heart of Stone

Writing about a Heart of Stone

Writing about a Heart of Stone

Writing from a writing-prompt has become a part of my daily routine, a way to stretch and flex my writing muscles before beginning my work for the day. For today I picked up 5 random words from the dictionary, and they were:

Stone Blue War Heart Ice-cream

And then I wove a story around those words, giving myself ten minutes. Here is the result, after I corrected the grammar and punctuation, and generally cleaned it up a bit.

A piece of stone where her heart had been, only a piece of stone. That is what grief can do to you.

Suffering ennobles man…bullshit! Suffering and grief rend a person of feeling, like burning your taste buds when you eat something too hot or deadening them with cold like he’d done once on an ice-cream binge with her.

They’d eaten ice-cream like maniacs, daring each other, pounds and pounds of ice cream, till their lips were blue and their tongues no longer felt like part of their mouths. They could not talk, could not taste, could not feel their kisses on each other’s lips, which made them laugh a faint hoarse laughter that seemed to come from somewhere else. Sometimes too much of joy can take away your ability to feel as well, but then that is a good thing.

And then he’d gone and left her. Left her for the war, its promises of glory, for the stupid people who no longer cared that he has given his legs for them. He gave them both his legs while fighting ferocious strangers in an unknown jungle on foreign soil, while she pined and died.

While her body was buried, they’d kept her heart for him, for that had been her last wish. As if the dead heart, no longer beating, no longer within her, turned to stone, could bring him her love.

A pink stone, that is what it was, a soft porous sandstone and on it he was going to carve the story of her life, even if he had to lose an arm or both doing it—he did not care. That piece of sandstone was all he had. He dug his crutches in. He now has to find his chisel and begin his lifelong work, or perhaps the work of a lifetime.

Writing about Being Sad

Writing is often related to how you feel about yourself, and the world around you.

For some reason, I write best in dark moods. The work is usually pretty dark too, except perhaps a few of my poems. I have been told time and time again that embracing positivity, comedy, good cheer is the way to happiness and success. But my fingers wish otherwise. And ever since I have taken up speed-writing, my fingers actually do most of the work. This can lead to some pretty good stuff, but in my case, also to some pretty gory stuff!

Writing about being a lazy blogger

I have been writing a lot last week, only not at this blog or any of the others. A lot of that writing has been utter crap, but at a bare minimum I am showing up at the page every day and worrying less about the money I am making. In my book (pun not intended), that is progress already.

I am discovering the various joys of speed-writing, and at the very least it has been fun.