Creative Copy Challenge #105

Today we have Linda Formichelli, blogger at The Renegade Writer choosing the words for our writing prompt challenge. If freelance writing is your dream, read Linda’s site. 

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Fastidious – Possessing careful, meticulous attention to detail;  Difficult to please
  2. Polo 
  3. Hungarian
  4. Robot
  5. Fail
  6. No pain, no gain
  7. Smoothie
  8. Smithereens
  9. Preschool
  10. Smooch

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

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Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there

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78 Comments on “Creative Copy Challenge #105”

  1. Some would say I’m fastidious. That little fact would certainly be overlooked to the first-time observer. I looked down – my Polo shirt, ripped and hanging was the only thing holding together my Hungarian goulash of a body.

    I could feel the waves pushed me back and forth in the surf like a robot, continually dragging me in and then out. There was a line of people on the beach, and for some reason, nobody moved to help me. Maybe they thought there was no way I could still be alive! Vaguely, I knew I was tossed pretty good. The thought of those massive great white teeth zip-lining through my flesh… The fact that the surf was so shallow here was surely the only reason the shark could fail.

    A short, ironic phrase flashed through my mind: no pain, no gain. Here was proof positive that saying is a crock.
    Finally someone jumped towards me to try to help, and it was like everyone was waiting for someone to move. About a dozen of people rushed forward, trying to carefully remove me from the surf. I looked down; it was surging around like some evil smoothie that had tried to grind me into smithereens.

    All the blood, all the blood. This couldn’t be the end. I felt small, alone. Like the first day of pre-school, my Mum giving me that last smooch before I, for the first time, walked out into the light of the world alone…

    ~Graham

  2. Shane Arthur says:

    No pain, no gain!

    Come on, don’t you fail me! It’s only a one-arm pushup!

    “When I was in Nam I could blow one-arm pushups and Commies to smithereens while smoochin’ on a cig, drinking a smoothie, and reading a newspaper.

    “You want to be replaced by a robot or harder working Hungarian when you get older, you lazy snot? I guess you want to be some sort of a pansie polo player or weak desk-jockie huh?

    “What’s that, son?

    “Stop saying I’m Fastidious. Your mom taught you that. I’m not hard to please. I’m a hard-ass.

    “Yeah, I know you’re only in preschool. Now stop crying and finish that pushup.”

  3. “You fastidious idiot.” Naomi sucked back on her cigarette as she eyed James with contempt. “It’s a smoothie, for god’s sake.”

    “Hey, hey, no pain, no gain,” James quipped as he prepared the blender. “If you want perfection, you don’t aim to fail.”

    “Yeah, well, I bet your kid could do a better job than you, and she’s in preschool.” She eyed the way James had set the lid on the blender. “You better fix that thing or you’ll blow us all to smithereens, y’know.”

    “Will not.”

    “Will too,” she snorted. “What, you think you’re the grandmaster of robot cuisine now? Jesus, James.”

    He pursed his lips in a fake smooch and blew it her way just as the people on TV burst into loud applause. Some Hungarian had scored a goal in the polo game and the crowd went wild. “See? They’re cheering for me.”

    “Oh. My. God.” Naomi rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe I’m friends with you. Please. Tell me why I’m friends with you.”

    James grinned and hit the power button of the blender. “Because I make great smoothies. Want one?”

  4. Ironically I wrote this without even reading the other players comments yet, so my theme is similar to yours @Shane, but is more focused in a gym setting.
    No pain, no gain” was all the trainer said as he demanded another round of push ups from your severely out of shape body.  Feeling like you were participating in fitness preschool, you consider a fastidious retreat as your willpower is being blown to smithereens.    Instead of giving in after all, you smooch the sweaty mat on the floor and decide you absolutely will not fail.  With a slow repetition akin to a decaying and rusting robot you finish the last set as muscles quiver and ache.  Polo shirt drenched in effort and feeling like a Hungarian gypsy, you muster up enough strength to wander the gym looking for a protein smoothie to recover.

  5. Marlee says:

    Last year I had the rare opportunity to attend a Hungarian polo match. Held in the school yard of a local preschool, it was clear that this experience was going to be a sporting event FAIL. The fans fastidiously watched the match and chanted “No pain, no gain” in a robot-like tone. Finally, it was the last chukka and the underdogs were down by one. The crowed was silenced with anticipation as the underdog team took possession of the ball. Racing to the goal, the ball holder swung for the game tying shot but upon impact the ball exploded into smithereens. To my surprise I had become so captivated by the game that I threw my smoothie in the air out of excitement and ran over to give congratulatory smooches with players of the winning team!

  6. Anne Wayman says:

    Well, this is a bit weird, but it is in order 😉
     

    Fastidious polo is impossible even with the Hungarian robot. Failure is sure; no pain, no gain and a smoothie won’t solve it. Smithereens are the results of preschool kids smooching that Hungarian robot. Keep ‘em out of the water!

  7. margaret says:

    From preschool to their teens
    and old age and in-between
    women are spoon-fed the current syles
    to enhance our charm and guiles.

    I’m really not fastidious,
    but think most couture is hideous!
    I can live with Ralph and Polo
    but Versace?…you go solo!!

    Designs by some obscure Hungarian
    are usually quite barbarian.
    and they’d have to make me smithereens
    to pour me in those skinny jeans!

    fail to see allure
    in those models immature
    who like robots on the catwalk
    make me prefer to fat-walk!

    no pain, no gain ,is my refrain
    when breakfast is a smoothie.
    But I would rather comfort have
    than a dress that can’t hold booty!

    So let the fashion world dictate,
    to those who won’t admit they hate
    the crazy stuff they’re told to wear

    but me?…..I’d rather smooch a bear! 

  8. Thanks for the words Linda. I read your excellent book awhile back. You live in a nearby state.
     
    I looked everywhere for Uri, my new Hungarian hottie, at the Polo match. His “no pain, no gain” approach to body building had more than paid off. When he gave me a smooch last night behind the preschool where I worked, I massaged his ripped upper torso until my hands went numb.

    This guy blew my libido to smithereens.

    Yeah, the relationship would probably fail — Uri seemed more like a fastidious robot at times than the free-spirited artist I normally went out with, but frankly I was in this relationships for his body – plain and simple. My last beau didn’t even have the strength to unscrew a jar of spaghetti sauce. Time for something superficial.

    All of a sudden, I felt a delicious kiss on the nape of my neck. I turned into the moistness. It’s Uri.

    “I bought you a smoothie made with whey powder, acai berries and cacao powder,” he says with that to-die-for accent.

    “Come here,” I demand planting a long fruity wet one on his big, rubbery lips.

    Nothing like sharing a healthy snack.
     

  9. Oh my goodness, these are amazing so far! I’m so impressed — I thought the words I picked were doozies, but you guys are crushing it. I wish I could comment on each one, but all hell’s breaking loose here today! Keep ’em coming…can’t wait to read more!

  10. Cathy Miller says:

    Some would call him fastidious, with his carefully pressed polo shirt and his sharply creased Dockers. But, beneath the facade was the wild rebel soul of his Hungarian forefathers.

    His coworkers laughingly called him Robot Man, in part due to his stiff gait and his vacant stare. He clocked in every morning, without fail, by seven a.m. and was clacking away on his keyboard with an unwavering focus. Robot Man, yes, it fit.

    It happened on a Friday night. Darkening shadows swept across the office in a ravenous attempt to swallow the now empty workstations. Empty, except for one. Hunched over his keyboard, the one they called Robot Man, slowly raised his head.

    Gone – finally. How he hated their constant nattering. Pushing away from his desk, he rose with silent resolve – no pain, no gain might have been his thought. If he had a thought. If he had any pain.

    A loud explosion rocked the building as flames spewed from cable lines and raced across the floor. Sprinklers spilled their response, as extinguishers burst in an oozing smoothie of hopelessness. All inside was shattered to smithereens, looking like the tortured remains of a preschool playroom.

    Outside on the street, chaos reigned. The burning building illuminated the darkened sky with the horrific scene. Car alarms wailed in symphony with the fire trucks on scene as first responders tackled a lost cause.

    A lone figure stood like a silent sentry to the destruction as his lips form a sardonic smooch to his past.

  11. Nice one! Kind of like an apocalyptic Office Space.

  12. Cathy Miller says:

    @Shane @ Linda-thank you-that was fun-I wasn’t quite sure where it was going until I got there-God, I love CCC! 🙂
     

  13. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note:
    Going off grid until late tonight folks. If someone new submits, hold tight, I’ll moderate the comment then, AND comment on the others.
     

  14. Liz says:

    We met years ago at a Hungarian restaurant. Back when his daughter was in preschool and I was living off a small inheritance trying to write poetry. The restaurant was where that coffee shop you like is now. The one with too many choices and fruit smoothies.
     
    He was fastidious. His napkin neatly folded across his lap. Always in half. Always with the crease facing his waist. Knife and fork always neatly balanced on the edge of his coffee cup’s saucer.
     
    I was the opposite. Still am. My napkin was always crumpled next to my plate. I was always scrawling bits of poetry in a rumpled little notebook. Always had a stain on my shirt.
     
    I’d noticed him before when I would stop in for lunch and coffee. I liked the place. It was quiet – it wasn’t very good – and the coffee was sludgy. He spoke to me for the first time when I broke the little blue coffee cup. Just smashed it to smithereens on the gray tiled floor.
     
    You know how I am, never sitting still, always crossing a leg or throwing an elbow around. Something of the sort was going through my limbs and the coffee cup didn’t stand a chance.
     
    He moved very precisely, with purpose and intention. He laughed while he helped clean the mess. He was the only other person in the place besides the little waitress. I noticed one of his arms was bent and immobile – like one of those robots from the 1950s. You know. He claimed it was an old injury from when he played polo back when he still lived in Europe. He liked telling the story, always ending with “No pain, no gain.” He liked that saying. I think he thought it was a big joke, him reciting English aphorisms with his foreign tongue.
     
    I always remember thinking about how happy he was. I was – still am – the kind who can’t help but worry about the next way I will fail, or have failed. Nervous, twitchy, unsteady, breaking coffee cups. He didn’t worry about failing or going broke or where the money would come from or what was happening at home. I was too intrigued by him to think of his family.
     
    He was always demanding a smooch from a waitress or telling tall tales of bar fights and bravado. He always smiled while I always frowned.
     
    We spent a few months together while I was still rambling about on paper and in my life. We’d meet at the restaurant to eat and drink coffee, we’d jaunt about the city at night. Then he stopped showing up. I only knew his first name and while everyone remembered him, no one really knew anything about him either.
     
    If he wasn’t dead then, I’m sure he’s dead now. He was a good decade or so older than me and I’m sure he never slowed down. I’m glad I never found out what happened to him. Never tried. I like remembering myself as his only friend for a time.

  15. Without realizing, that afternoon Josephine had stumbled into a misdirected international espionage scheme while picking her daughter up from preschool.

    The toddler emerged from the generic brick rectangle that constituted Tiny Tots Preschool, running to meet her awaiting mother.  A list of playful nonsense poured from the child’s mouth, “Hail, bale, sail, pail, flail, fail, mail, nail, whale . . . Hi Mommy!  I’m rhyming!”

    Josephine scooped up the little girl in her arms, and responded, “Yes, Ellie, you are quite a poet,” laying an affectionate kiss on her daughter’s forehead.

    “Thanks for the smooch, Mommy! . . . pooch, mooch, ooch . . .” said little Ellie, beaming, and then abruptly wrenched her minute body away from her mother’s embrace.  “I left my robot inside,” she said, beginning to whimper.

    Josephine soothed the diminutive but agitated girl, and entered the preschool, determined to retrieve the errant robot toy.  She made her way through the usual chaos of the playroom, half expecting to find the plastic robot in smithereens, smashed by one of the school’s more unruly attendees.  Through the jungle of small children, displaced toddler shoes, plush toys and plastic balls she spotted Helga, the preschool’s Hungarian headmistress.  

    This fastidious woman always seemed somehow out of place to Josephine, who thought that her upright posture and reserved demeanor would have been more consonant with the genteel sidelines of a European polo match than the general bedlam of the Tiny Tots playroom.  Helga spotted Josephine and Ellie in an instant, and began walking toward them from across the room.  In what seemed to Josephine to be a miraculous gesture, the headmistress held a small blue and red plastic object in her hands; it was robot shaped, and she slipped it gently into Ellie’s awaiting grasp.  

    “Robot! . . . blot, hot, got, knot, tiny tot!” exclaimed a radiant Ellie as Helga gave Josephine a knowing wink.

    “Why, Helga, you old smoothie.  How did you know Ellie had forgotten her robot?” Josephine asked.

    “Is my job to know all things about children.  Is hard sometimes, but is no pain no gain as you say,” Helga responded.  “Enjoy robot, Ellie, and we see you tomorrow, no?”

    “See you tomorrow, Helga,” Ellie smiled, waving her plastic robot in the air as her mother carried her back to the car.

    ***

    Later that evening, Helga sat transfixed before a bank of blue-glowing monitors, directing her attention toward one in particular that showed a grainy, black and white Ellie seated on the floor, playing quietly with blocks of various shapes.  As a large dark object came between the child and her robot camera, Helga briefly questioned the purpose of her assignment: gathering intelligence about the play habits of American children.  But duty won it’s battle with curiosity that night, and she directed a sweeping gaze toward a host of grainy, gray toddlers.

     

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jessica: Welcome to the CCC. Outstanding submission. What an ending. YOu have to tell me more about what you planned with this! Unfortunately, your comment landed in the spam folder. I’m glad I looked closely in there.
      What did you think of the challenge? Sure hope you liked it. We have them every Monday and Thursday. Hope to see you then. Perhaps you can continue this story.
      Everyone welcome Jessica to the CCC addiction. I’ll add your name to the CCC Community Links page now.

    • Ooh, intrigue! And you’re the only one who used “smoothie” to mean anything other than a drink.

  16. Shane Arthur says:

    @Linda: I want to thank you for being so involved with this challenge. I appreciate that, and I’m so glad to see the interaction. Love when that happens. Now if we can only get you to try it, too. 😉
     
    ps. Everyone, we are currently at 198 CCC submitters! Would be so cool if we could break 200 by tomorrow. Perhaps we can all send out some tweet invitations.

  17. Cathy Miller says:

    @Jessica-Welcome to the CCC!

    We take fastidious care here to welcome all at CCC. With the sweetness of polo mints, our welcome is nonetheless sincere. Our challenges mix up a Hungarian stew of words that rival Dr. Who’s Robot serial and the greatest Shakespearean sonnet. You cannot fail at CCC because there are no real rules – just the sheer delight of wrestling with words.

    There is no pain, no gain at CCC, except for the satisfaction of creating a smoothie comfort of sharing in a community that understands. So shatter any inhibitions to smithereens as you resurrect the joy of preschool play and the freedom that acceptance brings.

    We offer a virtual smooch of welcome and hope you visit again soon.

  18. Thanks! This was fun and I’ll try to do some more.  Wishing you all a happy new year. 🙂

  19. He was so fastidious, if you blew him to smithereens you’d find the pieces of debris were numbered and color-coded. We first met in preschool. He was wearing a Polo shirt. I don’t think robots play polo, and they certainly don’t need shirts.

    What a smoothie, too! He could steal a smooch from a girl and then sell it back to her. Never saw him fail at anything, either. One day the teacher accidentally uploaded our Weekly Readers in Hungarian. He could read it. I remember it clearly, the scrolling headline was “President Schwartzenegger signs historic No Pain, No Gain Act of 2025, changing the country’s official motto; total recall of all currency expected in 2026.”

    Yes, little J1m was one slick operator. But I haven’t seen him in years. Why do you ask, detective, is he in some kind of trouble?

  20. His name is Ambrose. He claims to be hungarian but none of that makes any difference to me. Perhaps he will see Budapest and smell goulash when his life flashes before his eyes.
     
    I first met him while picking up Eddie from preschool. He was in the park jogging by the pond. The torn polo shirt accentuated his chest and biceps magnificently. Michelangelo could not have sculpted a more beautiful homage to the masculine body. I almost dropped my smoothie in the water as I ogled his figure.
     
    It is hard being a single mom in today’s world. I am always exhausted and the worry of trying to make ends meet weighs on my shoulders. Everywhere I turn, I feel the absolute terror of failing at this life.
     
    Abruptly my ogling was disrupted as the mysterious man stopped in front of us. He wiped his brow and my heart skipped a beat. I tried to regain my composure. “Warm day for jogging, isn’t it?” I asked, trying not to trip over my tongue. I wish I were one of those people who always had something witty to say but I seem to be socially challenged at best. “No pain, no gain” he responded smiling.
     
    “Mom!” Eddie squealed in delight, “look at me, I’m a robot!”  He walked at the water’s edge  trying not to bend his knees or elbows, resulting in nearly falling into the drink. I grabbed him quickly and gave him a big smooch. Eddie giggled, “You’re the best mom in the universe!”
     
    “Hi, I’m Ambrose” the hunk introduced himself, holding out his hand to Eddie. My 4 year old looked at me and then hesitantly shook the man’s hand. His tiny fingers were lost in the massiveness of this adult’s hand. “I think robots are the coolest thing.” He winked at me. The rest of that afternoon was like a dream. Ice cream and laughter, bowling and burgers. Eddie had the time of his life and I thought I had fallen in love. I had never believed in love at first sight before but this blew my theory to smithereens.
     
    The next few weeks were incredible. Ambrose spoiled Eddie and I during the days and well, I won’t even go into how I was pampered at night. Within 3 months, Ambrose had moved into our little two bedroom apartment and became enmeshed inseparably into our lives. I was no longer waking up with the dread of how to face the day. Eddie had a father figure, I had someone to love and it all just seemed too good to be true.
     
    On a sweltering night in August, the tide turned. The heat in our little apartment was stifling. Eddie was overtired and whining. I worked a double shift at the bar and came home tired and cranky. Ambrose came stumbling through the door smelling of some other women’s perfume and reeking of booze. Normally I was fastidious about keeping my house clean but it was a long week and I was at the point of exhaustion. Eddie’s toy firetruck was on the floor in the kitchen despite me telling him a hundred times to pick it up. Ambrose never saw the truck until he was flat on his back in the middle of the kitchen floor. I have never seen rage like that boil and erupt out of a grown man. He grabbed the truck and threw it as hard as he could. Eddie never even saw it coming before it connected with his temple. He was gone from this earth before I could even call 911.  The next few days were a blur of pain and grief like no mother should ever have to experience.
     
    Ambrose was awaiting trial and out on bail. I don’t understand how someone who could so quickly snuff out a child of God is allowed to walk free, even if it is only temporarily. Today, he is sitting at the park, throwing crumbs to the ducks.
     
    The weight of the revolver in my hand feels right. It feels like justice. Coming up behind him silently, I whisper in his ear, “No pain, no gain” as the shot echoes through the park.

  21. aleekwrites says:

    With pride, the ever fastidious mother fastened her daughter’s waist bow at the gates of St Edward’s Private Preschool.
    “Ow! It hurts when I breathe!”
    No pain, no gain. A woman must always make sure her appearance is flawless.”
    The girl was nervous about today’s arithmetic tournament.
    “Just remember, sweetie, you can never fail in our eyes.” Her mother cooed, with a smooch suffocating her daughter with overpowering Hungarian perfume. “And, after that tournament of yours, you can have the avacado-and-strawberry Smoothie I made, I know it’s your favourite.”
    The girl’s eyes lit up at the prospect, and an unmistakable glint of determination could be seen in them.
    “I’ll do great at maths, Mummy, I promise!” She smiled with irrepressible enthusiasm.
    As the girl disappeared into the school buildings, the mother walked back to her car.
    “I just don’t understand it,” she said later to her own friend since preschool over champagne, watching her husband at the Polo game. “It’s the 21st Century – robots and machines are there to do the calculations, that’s even more reason for a beautiful girl like mine not to overtax her pretty young brain to smithereens.
    “I hope she sees sense when she’s older.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @aleekwrites: Super 1st submission, and welcome to the CCC. I loved your style; I’m sure everyone else will, too.
      We do challenges every Monday and Thursday so hopefully the addiction is already set in you and we’ll see you then.
      I’ll add your name and url to our CCC Community Links page next.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @aleekwrites-Welcome to CCC!
         
        While some might say it’s fastidious to welcome each new submission, we say it’s the CCC way. Each week we smack out a polo shot of words with the precision of the finest athlete.

        The submissions are a Hungarian smorgasbord delight, ranging from the short to the long and the funny to sad. It’s that variety that takes words from robot-like to the beauty that is the human touch.

        The submissions never fail to impress in a no holds barred, no pain, no gain effort. The smoothie result shatters any sign of struggle to smithereens, as we revel with preschool glee.

        So any time you need a boost, smooch on over to CCC and release your inner child.

        Welcome!
         

  22. Kelly says:

    PAIN AND SUFFERING

    Smooch. “Don’t forget your breakfast smoothie, I know you won’t eat anything else all day. Remember, no pain, no gain, honey,” was Rhonda’s send-off as Joey was leaving this morning for the lab.

    Easy for her to say. In a half-a-century of progress in Artificial Intelligence, robots have only become as smart as a preschooler, and frankly that depends on the preschool. Here he was—he’d spent three years making grand promises about the total redesign he’d created for his grad-school thesis, his fastidious methodology and his brilliant strategy, and weeks from the finish line he knew the project read Fail, Fail, FAIL.

    Like a preschooler, he was longing to get credit for trying hard.

    Like the 27-year-old that he was, he was sweating through his clean white polo shirts every day as he worked these last weeks, doubting whether he really had tried hard enough. What had gone wrong in all his burnt-up midnights? Who was he to think he could create a being, with feelings we could recognize, from a pile of metal and wires? Why not smash the thing to smithereens years ago? Why did he bother with the pain—where was the gain, when he could have been home, enjoying evenings with the Hungarian beauty who’d fallen for him in engineering classes and was crazy enough to consent to be his bride?

    “Marco,” he yelled from the closet door, as he put away his jacket and grabbed a lab coat like a geek version of Mister Rogers.

    “Polo,” G-7-ME-ME called back at him, hurrying over to the closet like an eager puppy, waiting for some love.

    Joey bent down to the robot’s level and patted him on the head affectionately. “You’re supposed to hide, silly old thing, not race right over to me. Well, come on. Let’s get to work. A thesis on playing Marco Polo with you isn’t going to get me my Master’s.”

    Buoyed and chastened, G-7-ME-ME followed behind in silence, sadly wondering if he’d ever learn to please his demanding Mr. Joey.

  23. Laurie says:

    Polo is a sport that requires fastidious attention to detail. It is not something that a Hungarian should be taught by the robot even in Hungarian preschools where the children fail if they don’t get the lesson no pain, no gain. Smoothies and smoochies are abandoned by the time the children arrive here and their toys are smashed to smithereens as they learn to be machines.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Laurie: I can’t get over how many of these challenges you’re doing so quickly. And each one is great to read. I think you are addicted already, no! 😉


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