I am taking a step outside of my comfort zone and doing some writing prompt exercises with a few friends. I came across this book called “Write the Story” published by Piccadilly and thought it would be a good way to rejuvenate my writing as I work on book 3 of the “Another Lifetime” series (which, by the way, I am mid-way through ch. 5! It wasn’t exactly the easiest year, so I haven’t written much, sad to say. But that will change!)
The idea behind these prompts is that you must create a short story/scene using a series of words that are given to you. One word always seems to throw the cohesion of them askew, and one must think outside the box.
This is harder than it looks, and is–to me, anyhow–quite challenging. While the prompts themselves are not mine, the stories are, and I am hereby declaring them property that should not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without written consent from myself.
Getting the serious paragraph above out of the way, I encourage you all to try it for yourself! It’s super fun!
A Strange Request at a Piano Bar
carnival sprained mask oxidation awkward apple juvenile controversy twirl sassafras
The man walked into the bar, clouds of smoke creating a lazy haze in the joint, the sounds of an out-of-tune ragtime piano coming from the back corner. He had just come from the carnival—the traveling circus was in town, and having never been to one, wanted to see what all the hype was about. It creeped him out more than anything. The carnies seemed to be another breed all to themselves, awkward representations of normal human beings who tried to lure the innocent into their world of psychics, bearded women, and money-sucking charlatans.
He shrugged off the shiver and continued towards the back of the bar.
Prohibition has turned this place into a juvenile soda shop.
The controversy of legalizing alcohol was basically a joke. Back rooms existed everywhere, and many times the government cronies themselves were found greasing the palm of a goodfella.
But tonight, he was not here for a drink.
As he made his way, he took in some of the details of the place: the brass light fixtures tarnished by oxidation, the worn wood of the tables and chairs, the mask of a smile that the waitress wore as a man pinched her bottom. Patrons sipped on sassafras as they played cards, their games more subdued without the usual libations.
It’s the same as all the others—uninteresting and spiritless.
A twinge ran through his wrist and he rubbed it almost unconsciously. He had sprained it a few weeks ago, a would-be-pick-pocket getting a nasty left hook instead of his wallet. It still ached on occasion, and part of him wondered if he should have gotten it looked at—especially since it had the capability of ruining his chances of finding her again if he could not utilize it.
His heart ached.
Twenty years ago she was taken from him.
She was skipping down the country road, a freshly picked apple in her hand. She stopped to twirl in the soft breeze with her head tilted back and eyes closed, not a care in the world. He wasn’t that far away—he knew she could still hear him playing “Hello Ma Baby” on his cornet from the porch. It was her favorite song, and she loved dancing and frolicking to it.
Out of nowhere came a horse and wagon moving about as fast as it could be. Before he could act, one of the two men in the wagon scooped up his little girl and rode off with her.
Having no horse himself, his attempt to chase after them was futile. One of his neighbors who did have a horse heard him scream and made to chase the kidnappers. But by that time, they were too far ahead, and he lost them as they entered the big city. The police were no help, either. They closed the case after a few weeks due to lack of evidence. So he took it upon himself to try and find her the only way he knew how—music.
Though she was little when she was taken from him, he had faith that perhaps one day she would hear him play and recognize her song. Almost every night he played in multiple bars, hoping that fate would reunite them.
Twenty years and nothing came of it. Not one sliver of hope that she was still alive. Part of him wanted to give up. He was tired and weary, and after tonight, he would just have to make peace with the fact that she would never come back.
He stopped in front of the piano and held up his cornet case.
“Mind if I join you on a tune?”
The piano man eyed him carefully. “Whattdya know?”
“Can you play ‘Hello Ma Baby’ in E-flat?”
“Mister, these folk don’t wanna hear songs that are over two decades old. They wanna hear the modern stuff. Know anything else?”
“Please. Just that song. It really means a lot to me.”
The pianist crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “Tell ya what. I’ll play it if you give me your suspenders.”
“What? What kind of ridiculous thing…”
“Take it or leave it, pal. I can’t afford to buy another pair and these are pretty shot. Held up by pins, they are.”
Seeing as though he didn’t have much of a choice, he took his jacket off and undid his suspenders, handing them to the pianist. God help me if I lose my britches in the middle of playing.
“Okay then, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
He barely had enough time to take his cornet out of the case before the song began. But like every other time, he played his hear out, hoping that his daughter was there and remembered her song. It ended far too quickly though the song was played in its entirety, and once again it seemed like the chance to see her slipped through the hands of fate.
He was done.
After thanking the pianist, he packed his cornet, hiking up his pants a bit higher as they had slipped a bit.
“Excuse me, sir?”
He turned around and found himself face-to-face with a young lady, tears staining her cheeks.