Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #172

Note: Today’s words are tough. If you’re doing a series and can’t work them in, skip your series and do a regular submission today.

Larry Brooks of Storyfix choose today’s  words. Show him how to crush a challenge!

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. Resolution
  2. Arbitration 
  3. Masturbation
  4. Matriculation – admission to a group (especially a college or university)
  5. Saturation 
  6. ExacerbationThe act of making a bad situation worse; intensifying
  7. Stimulation 
  8. Fixation 
  9. Personification – A figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities
  10. Elation – joyfulness or exaltation of spirit

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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117 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #172”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “As I stand here before you hopeful Lamda Oyster-Omega Moo Matriculations, I’m noticing a fixation with this here cattle prod stimulation. Let me assure you there will be no elation to what you will experience, no arbitration, no resolution — only exacerbation, masturbation, urine saturation, and the personification of evil through this most glorious of hell weeks.”

    “Hey Billy, what’d Pledge Master Arthur just done said? It’s like he’s talkin’ greek or somethin’. And why’s we covered in vasoline and pigeon feathers?”

    “Bobby, what he said was, before dis week is done, we’s gonna wish we was one of them tied up goats over yonder.”

  2. Jeanette R. says:

    “Don’t trust them. You can trust us.”

    I stared into his eyes before he dropped his gaze.  He promised a resolution within less than a month.  His accent with thick and I tried to place it.  Russian? Israeli? His gold Star of David charm shimmered under the kitchen lights.  He stared at my chest the entire time he talked to me and I wondered what his fixation was.  My husband later told me that he stared at his chest as well so maybe this guy had a thing for print t-shirts.

    My elation of waking up on a Sunday morning having no chores to do quickly died when the sound of running water echoed inside my kitchen. From one tiny hole in a plastic tube leaked gallons and gallons of water, saturating the living/dining room and foyer.  The stimulation of the freezing cold water caused the floor boards to bubble and buckle within minutes.

    After several attempts of calling various water damage companies,  I stumbled across a legit looking website.  Being a new homeowner, I don’t know the first thing about what to do with house damage. My exacerbation led me to sign whatever papers they gave me.  What do I know of getting estimates, deductibles, and adjusters?  These things are always explained to you in five minute segments from someone who just wants to get you off the phone.

    “So how much do you think this is going to cost us?”  

    I sat leaning my head on the couch waiting for the two Advils to kick in.  My matriculation into homeownership was definitely harried. After living in a one-bedroom apartment for over 9 years, the leasing office was my saving grace.

    “It will cost you nothing. That is what insurance is for. Don’t worry, we fix it for you like it was or even better!”

    The Swiss Army knife he laid on the kitchen counter personified a sad grin. It stared back at me, mocking me for my lack of preparedness.

    “Well, I see you have the state homeowners insurance.”

    He shook his head and grabbed for his cell phone in his back pocket.  He yelled something in his language and wrote a bunch of notes on the paper.

    “I’ve had to go into arbitration with them but it is ok.  They take a long time but eventually they pay. The guys must sit around in their offices all day and masturbate.”

    I open my mouth to comment on his inappropriateness but I decide against it. He doesn’t flinch and proceeds to walk throughout the house checking for water damage.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jeanette: That’s a great submission … unless it’s true … and in that case … that’s terrible. 😉

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Shane. Unfortunately, it is true 😦 This was my weekend adventure.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Jeanette: Oh boy! That’s terrible. Hope everything works out. I’ve had my present house for 11 years and I’ve gone through several insurance related incidents. Luckily for me, I’m a organizational nut with regards to paperwork so I had all my binders labeled and all my paperwork hole punched and filed away. Years later, someone always wants to see something, so I could turn to each years folder and voila. Same thing with car titles. Man! You never need them until you need them, and you always know where they are until you need one. 🙂

    • Awesome description from both sides of the broken pipe.
      You sure made those words flow like water. LOL
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Wow, it’s amazing how you used this week’s challenging words to describe your own real-life adventure this weekend so well!
         
        I hope this real-world story has a happy ending soon!

        • Larry says:

          Really amazing how this came together, and without the slightest sense of being prompted, much less forced into place.  Confess… this is really Kathy Reichs writing as Jennifer, right?  It’s that good.  Larry

          • Jeanette Ruiz says:

            Hey Larry,
            Thanks for your compliment!  I’m reading your Story Engineering book and I’m learning A LOT. Shane gives you plenty of kudos.
             

    • margaret says:

      oooh, that’s a terrible story, Jeannette, but well done. Sorry for your emotional and financial distress! 😦

      • Jen says:

        Been there. Excellently written on a really big pain in the butt. Also, it reminds me of the plumber who helped us with our FIRST slab leak. He told me he was the VALVADICTORIAN at his high school.
         
        yeah.

        • Jeanette R. says:

          @Jen ‘Valvadictorian’  umm, yeah ;)  We haven’t had our house for more than 8 months and this happens.  And everyone tells you to trust them and I don’t trust any of them.  People just want their money.  What ever happened to compassion?

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Margaret: Thanks, Margaret.  My mild case of OCD has kicked in to overdrive and I have to force myself to calm down.  My house looks like a construction zone 😦

  3. I imagine ‘dem boys will have received a valuable edumacation before this is all over. Love that new Greek society’s name and the word-play in Bobby’s dialogue.
     
    A pleasure to decipher per usual, Shane!

  4. With the resolution finished, the arbitration could finally dissolve. Regulations on masturbation would limit the amount of members admitted into the program, but the matriculation could now carry on. Previous saturation of entries into the program had worried administrators, and the exacerbation of complaints of those not admitted led to the stimulation for need of a resolution on those with a fixation on masterbation. And the negative personification of the arbitration gave much elation to many of those denied admission.

  5. Sara Robin says:

     

    Vitrolic accusations
    No relief, just exacerbation
    Of a hateful, fear-filled true fixation:
    Constant dread of retaliation.

    Unending war, no resolution.
    Headlines yield headaches and pollution.

    Smoke doesn’t always mean there’s a conflagration –
    Sometimes the haze is obfuscation
    Of secret manipulations.
    Bullshit talk of arbitration
    When we know that domination
    Is your only source of elation.
    Each missile a perfect personification
    Of macho male masturbation,
    Each weapon launch an imitation
    Of your tight-fisted self-stimulation.

    My soul’s reached a point of saturation.

    I’m gonna need some more sedation
    If you expect matriculation
    In your curriculum of devastation.

  6. Health Care Package

     
    Vast the span is gratification
    Anchors man to ardent elation.
    Drags him down with obscene fixation.

    Vortex-sucking matriculation
    Assuring gross exacerbation
    Drowning him in outright saturation

    Vicarious in arbitration
    Amative personification
    Deceptive over-stimulation

    Resolution for ruination:
    Palliative care masturbation!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: You dog you. Loved that last line! 🙂 #chuckleAloud

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        I’m loving where folks are going to the theme today!  Taking aim at the institutions that need it.  Great work, Mitch!

        • Thanks, Shane and Frank.
           
          The funny thing, believe it or not, is that I wasn’t targeting health care at first.
          I needed a strong finish and I was torn between a Puritanical view and a Hedonistic perspective.
          I didn’t want to come off as judgmental, so I went for the “cure”. When I actually looked at how “palliative” is used in a sentence, the serendipity of triple-entendre arose.
           
          Cheers,
           
          Mitch
           
           

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Mitch: He said arose!!! hee hee.

          • Only a fellow who spends time with Bobby and Billy would see that – as that.
            LOL, you nut. (oops!!!)
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Mitch: chuckling out loud even more now.

          • Sara Robin says:

            @Mitch isn’t it remarkable how in taking on the “formal” limitations artistic task (incorporating the words, the limitations of a color palette, whatever it may be) surprising content can emerge!  I suppose that is at the heart of this site’s success.
            Now I’m gonna sign off before I inadvertently feed into the above “that’s what she said” cycle of comments!  😉

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Sara: The CCC infection is spreading within you! It’s too late for you now. Just surrender and see you on Thursday. 🙂

          • Sara Robin says:

             
            @Shane and all — thank you for the invitation!  I’m resolved to to secure my matriculation into CCC’s world of verbal exploration.  The community’s remarkable saturation of writers, alone in verbal masturbation, craving that moment of creative elation, then exposing the results for third party consideration and/or as needed arbitration, has stimulated a new fixation – no need of further exacerbation to ensure my ongoing participation in this Web-based personification of the artistic process. No hesitation, just impatient anticipation!

            See you Thursday!
             

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Sara: Oh yeah, you’re a CCCr for sure! 😉

          • Sara, I agree! And Michael would have heartily approved.
            I like the way you replied to Shane’s welcome, pure CCC.
             
            Magic, indeed.
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Sara Robin says:

            @ Mitch — I think I am missing your reference to “Michael”?
            Thanks for the CCC welcome!
            Sara

          • @Sara: Michael Scott, from The Office, would have approved of your “That’s what she said!” comment. 🙂
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Jeanette R. says:

            @Shane Well, hello there.  This was great.  Very, ummm, manly? 😉

    • Well done, really liked the resolution for ruination, echos the impending desolation.

    • margaret says:

      Great, Mitch!  I went to the ER in April and was there for four hours (no insurance) they did some tests, told me I needed surgery and sent me home without doing anything to help me. I received a bill for $12,000! I have a friend who is into holistic medicine and she got me through the crisis without surgery for around $85 in restorative supplements and some coaching over the telephone. Go figure!

      • Jen says:

        tee hee. you might be on to something here….

      • Margaret, we had a similar experience with one of the kids. It’s terrible what they charge. Like you, they didn’t a thing for my son. That was an expensive muscle pull – our guess – and it went away after using an 8.00 reusable heat pack!!!
         
        Thanks for finger snaps 🙂
         
        Cheers,
         
        Mitch
         

  7. Anne Wayman says:

    Might be better as real sentences, but….

    Stimulation of course
    caused exacerbation of my fixation.
    I wanted resolution which took some self- arbitration.
    I reached saturation when I stopped mental masterbation
    I risked 12 Step matriculation.
    and  became the personification of elation.

  8. Shane Arthur says:

    Thanks to Vernessa, I fixed the spelling in word #3.
    Not the best word to “bend out of shape” was it! 😉 Thanks.

  9. Frank Ruiz says:

    (That’s awesome that Larry Brooks provided the words to today’s challenge!  We’re enjoying his Story Engineering book now!)

    Personification is one of our most endearing qualities.  It allows us to transcend our minds and bodies so that we can see ourselves in things that may not be like us at all (animals, inanimate objects, etc.).  It’s how we relate to most Disney and Pixar movies with talking animals, singing teapots, and the like.  Despite this near-ubiquitous quality we share, I’m always amazed at how little we can extend our personification-grafting onto our fellow human being.

    The very route to “Nirvana,” “Yoga,” “Heaven,” “love,” and the unified peace that so many religious schools cite as their highest ideal could be as easy as “Namaste” (“The one pervasive God manifest within me salutes the same one pervasive God manifest within you”).

    If we could look at others as mirrors reflecting back the best within each of us, I believe that the stimulation of such activity would open us to universal compassion.  In so doing, our commonalities could then lead to eventual resolutions for most of our long-standing struggles between peoples.  Instead, though, our constant fixation on viewing our human family members as foreign, alien enemies only brings the exacerbation of our current global conflicts, and this is in spite of our circular, ineffective arbitration efforts that only treat the symptoms rather than the disease.

    To see our best in our fellows, however, means we have to first see the best in ourselves.  Far from egotistical masturbation, such a practice is a necessary prerequisite toward greater peace in a society where we’re saturated with messages teaching us to hate ourselves until we buy the latest consumerist bauble.

    Our matriculation into the elation of a unified global family begins with ourselves, without the aid of a shopping bag.  Only from there can we extend our egalitarian community of love to those around us.

    • Nice, Frank. This is seriously thought-provoking. Do you have a blog?
      I’d love to read some expositions of yours.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Frank: Awesomesauce! My whole life I’ve been blessed with a certain quality. I’d see the good in most people, when most other people could not. I guess I saw similarities in our shared imperfections and always remembered my own before commenting on others’.

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Shane I am going to have to steal “awesomesauce”. Heheheheh.

        @Frank  Every time I pick up a book, or read an article, etc., I look for that moment when I say “wow, I never thought of it that way.” This piece made me do just that.  The correlation between Disney animal characters and our need to personify them with our ‘best’ qualities and not being able to acknowledge those same qualities in others is very profound.

        I may not try to see the good in everyone I meet, but I do give them the common respect that any living human being deserves.  They have to prove me right or wrong beyond that.  Loved this!

    • Sara Robin says:

      @Frank: lovely and elegant.  I agree that our compositions are two sides of a coin…. When we find the right poetry slam, you can intone yours as a soothing refreshing yogurt relish of meditation after my spicy hot curry anger attack!

    • Larry says:

      At the risk of seemingly missing the serious context and intention of this entry, which was wonderful… just let me say that “egotistical masturbation” always requires a mirror, which is a whole new level of exacerbation of stimulation saturation.

      How do we stop this?  Larry

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Thanks for the comments, everyone!
         
        @ Mitch: Just as I never thought I’d end up being a member of the “CCC” (but am now happy I was wrong), so too do I hope to join you all in posting to my own blog in the future.  I still have the local-machine WordPress installers and video that Shane put me onto, so now I just have to install them and start tinkering around!
         
        @Shane: I think that wonderful outlook is how you ended up helping all of us with this blog!  We’re indebted to you for your gift!
         
        @Sara: We could be the “McDLT” of the spoken-word circuit, keeping them hot, then cool 🙂
         
        @Jeanette: Even though some see common respect as a baseline, it’s so rarely given that you’re making new people’s days by giving them that!  Hopefully folks honor your gift and show you it was worth your efforts.
         
        @Larry: Great to see your comments on here!  I’m loving your book so far!  As far as your comment itself, hey, you have to use a mirror!  How else can we tell if we’re doing it right? 🙂

    • margaret says:

      Excellent message, Frank….I personally would like to be personified as a happy little squirrel wearing a wreath of flowers and holding up a peace sign 😉

  10. Okay, here we go.
     
    This poem was whipped together, I would like to see how readers interpret it.
     

    Twisted
    In a market filled with saturation
    resolution of twisted fixation
    found with seedy stimulation
    elation wrought with personification
    the banished sought matriculation
    while society was stuck in masturbation
    and humanity locked in arbitration

    • Justin, since I know you also as Dragonblogger, I can’t help but interpret this as a smack upside the collective heads of Internet Marketers who sell their snake-oil “Internet Cash Machine”s.
       
      The part about the banished makes me think of the desperate newbies, getting online looking for a quick hit of cash.
       
      Of course, this is all necessitated by society’s continuous self-gratification of the instant variety. (Credit card debt.)
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin: My guess is a porn shop wants to open in a nice neighborhood but everyone is protesting it. 😉
      As always, rockin’ poetry.

    • margaret says:

      I think FedEx just brought a blow up doll 😉

    • Sara Robin says:

      hey Justin,
      I enjoyed this as a critique of our material-obsessed culture, with specific call-outs of certain aspects of this — locked in arbitration capturing the litigious nature of our society, perhaps the banished seeking matriculation speaks to the student loan scandals??  Sara

  11. margaret says:

    I do not feel any great elation or artistic stimulation
    when I must face matriculation for a juried show with arbitration.

    They seem to have a great fixation with preventing over-saturation
    of same-type art and mundane creation, but we’re a diverse artistic nation.

    Exclusion is fascist personification and intellectual masturbation
    and until there is a resolution, boycott these shows is my solution!

    Creating with anticipation results in frustration exacerbation
    and all artists should feel joy from presenting their art,
    and not be excluded by some old fart!

    • Well done Margaret, even the message was similar theme to my own contribution except you pretty much covered the basis of reality TV which I can’t stand so much.

      • margaret says:

        Thanks, Justin…I was actually making reference to juried art shows, where a panel of people decides whether your art is good enough, or has the “right vibe” to be allowed into the show. Many times they take the artists $$ as a deposit
        while they decide…holding up the deposit for a month or two, only to decline the artist who has worked so hard to prepare samples for the show. They turn away many talented crafters and artists because it is not the aesthetic of somebody on the panel. I have a circle of artist friends and know how disappointing and upsetting this rejection can be.

    • Interesting poem, Margaret! I was reading this as if you were talking about American Idol.
      I never knew about juried panels. That does sound elitist.
       
      Your final stanza says it all.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

      • margaret says:

        Thanks, Mitch, I myself was victim to this once because my work was not “dark enough”…I was irritated, but just laughed it off and just ignore them now when they send me notices of upcoming shows. It is a very elitist practice.

    • Sara Robin says:

      hi Margaret,
      My mom and a lot of her friends are artists, so I immediately recognized the “juried show”!  All that money to get slides photographed that never quite capture the work, all the hours choosing which slides to use and in what sequence, the adrenaline-fueled trip to FedEx to get it in under the submission deadline…. it is definitely draining!!
       
      Sara

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Margaret: That was awesome. I have 30 paintings I did but I never hung them. They are sitting in bags in my basement. Your submission made me think of them and want to hang them.

      • margaret says:

        My goodness, boy, what’s the matter with you?! Art is to be enjoyed and a true expression of your sprit! Get out your hammer and nails and let your family share in your work! 🙂

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          Hey, Margaret,

          Awesome poem, and a definite middle-finger to the art-world gatekeepers who make most contributors feel like crap.

          Here’s my favorite line, and advice:

          “Exclusion is fascist personification and intellectual masturbation
          and until there is a resolution, boycott these shows is my solution!”

          Let the gatekeepers know they can be “turned down” just like the artist’s work they lord over!

  12. Martha says:

    The resolution that was put forward pleased no one. It forced arbitration to a higher authority which we often described as an exercise in mutual masturbation, leaving no one satisfied even with the stimulation of extra incentives and the promise of elation on completion. No, they may as well have diverted the funds for a group matriculation in a course on cake decoration for all the success they would achieve. They were reaching maximum saturation for acceptability leading to the exacerbation of an already tense and unpleasant environment.  We found that the group’s fixation on consensus of the sort where everyone had to agree was the personification of mulishness to the nth degree. Why we always had to discuss where we would eat Christmas dinner was beyond me, but I was convinced the UN had an easier time of it than we did. Everyone knew that Mother would make the final decision depending who was highest in her favour that year, and luckily that was never me.

    • Oh, my! Martha, you got me good! I was really in the corporate boardroom until that last sentence. LOL
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Martha: Love what you did here with this Christmas twist. So cool!

    • Sara Robin says:

      ha!  very clever!

    • Martha says:

      Thanks everyone. You are very kind. There’s so much talent here, along with incredibly warm and welcoming people. It makes the CCC a fun place to be. And for the record, we have lovely Christmas dinners in my family. I was really struck though by a friend’s experience in negotiating for a turn at hosting and these words just brought back that memory of how quickly something simple turned into a big deal.

  13. Jen says:

    I’m posting this before I read other entries…but I’m curious to see how these words were used.
     

    It was clear after months of talks that the teams and the owners would not reach a resolution through arbitration. Fans were ready to offer masturbation stimulation for the two sides if it would relax them enough to come to an agreement. To the public, the players and the owners both seemed the personification of greed; hearing about their million dollar deals was exacerbation to the swarming masses with a fixation on having a football season. The deal finally got done, but without much elation. The players wanted more time, and they saturated the media with their message. Now that preseason has started, those fine young rookies who were drafted have reached matriculation to American’s real game; that of entersportment.

  14. World Building

    At first, there was nothing but elation – pure joy in the freedom to form concrete reality from the void, using nothing but imagination and fingertips. My matriculation from apprentice to creator, and from creator to god, was complete. This was my world, and mine alone. If I wanted to create majestic, purple mountains, they would unfold beneath spacious skies of green – resplendent in their crushed velvet, amethyst foliage. Gems really could grow on trees, to be plucked at ripeness and delicately faceted by elves. Except that there were no elves. There were no trolls, ogres, fairies, humans, or wraiths – just me. There was the Word, and the Word became form. For a while, that was stimulation enough. But creating the world, alone – devoid of people – was an exercise in mental masturbation. I developed a strange fixation on a giant chasm that rent the trunk of a massive redwood tree, and went on to create a vast, subterranean compound of downward spiraling staircases that went only one way. Down. Not up. You could descend, but I removed all the upward treads and fashioned the materials into odd rock formations. I did it so well that after a while, even I couldn’t find my way back to the sunlit surface. The ground above was undoubtedly littered, by now, with dazzling piles of amethysts, and no one to pick them from the heavy-laden tree branches. Exacerbating my deepening depression – personified by the endless, ever-changing maze of underground caverns I formed with nothing much but a whim and the tap-tap-tap of my nails – was the fact that I felt none of that initial brain-saturation and excitement for this world that I once felt. The act of creation – of carving caves and corridors – had started to bore me. Was this how God felt – did we bore Him? I swung open the heavy, metal doors at the other end of the corridor and I let the people in to explore. It was all beta code and plot holes – a beautiful, unstable mess. Already, interspersed with the “ooohs” and “ahhhs!” of adulation, there was bickering. As the personification of their god, the players would look to me for arbitration and resolution. I smiled to see my world, new again, in their eyes.

    • Sara Robin says:

      vivid descriptions — I felt like a fly on the wall watching you (alone) descend from the amethyst surface down the one-way-only stairs to the caverns below, unfolding only as you created them!

  15. Cathy Miller says:

    With the resolution of the human soul, our arbitration is a masturbation of wills as we take on this matriculation known as life. The saturation of love is there to be found among the exacerbation of our daily struggles.

    The stimulation may be in a the form of a fixation, but it is the personification of all we treasure, this elation we know as life.

  16. KathleenL says:

    As if matriculation isn’t enough to worry her auburn covered head about ….

     “How are they going to like me?” the 18-year-old bemused silently. “This sure is a testosterone saturated environment…. Most of whom look like they have a fixation with Quarter Horses being the only Cow Horse alive,” she sighed knowing she was going to stand out, but for all the wrong reasons.
    “Okay, so the AQHA stickers in all of the back windows of those Chevy and Ford trucks are a dead giveaway,” a nervous chuckle escaped from her lips.

    She sat in her own truck taking mental notes for the 15 minutes while she drank her coffee, observing her new classmates. There were guys — Wrangles covering their tight backsides and legs, many of them with the distinctive well-worn circle from their chew-can on the face of one of their back pockets. She was grateful not to see chew-can halos on the girls’ pockets.

    “Blondie is right handed; Want-to-be-Tex is too. Oh … oh… what is that… is that a left-handed boy there?” She thought as she took note of which cheek pocket had the chew-can circle on it. “Wonder if he throws a rope lefty too?” she asked herself.

    All of this visual stimulation filled her with a fair amount of elation, as she knew the biped scenery would help keep her making the 58 mile drive to school each day. Thus adding an air of ease to her resolution to obtain a higher education. But her voyeurism had to come to an end as it was coming up on eight o’clock. She took a deep breath while opening the truck door. Her 34-inch inseam made it easy for her to cover ground quickly without much effort. The guys stepped aside as she approached the double doors. The lefty opened the door for her.

    “Thank you,” she said with a quick smile, a light southern drawl, and a millisecond of eyes contact as she crossed the threshold.

    Locating room four was not difficult in this one story building, especially as there were only eight numerically tagged classrooms to choose from. The Professor began outlining the program and the classes at five minutes after the hour. She listened, even when the words became frustrating.

    “… We encourage yah’ll to bring your own horses when you can, but we will not be allowing any of the students to bring stallions onto grounds or to any of the competitions….”
     
    “Great,”Isabelle grimaced at the uneducated saturation of ignorance that was being perpetuated here on campus as she listened to the Professor detail how she would not be allowed to even bring her own personal mount onto school property.

    “Let me tell you,” the Professor caught sight of her disappointment, but addressed all, “we used to allow stallions on school grounds, but too many accidents and their unpredictability have changed that,” he explained to the Equine Science Majors.

    “Well… a couple years back… Rick … was in the breeding barn and he got picked up by his shoulder by the stud they had here. He was shook like a rag-doll … so it’s been told,” a male student could be overheard saying during a break between classes.

    “Wow, sounds like he was pretty lucky,” one of the barrel racing gals said.

    “Sounds like he was not watching his Ps and Qs, let alone training horses to know he was the boss,” Isabelle said half under her breath.

    She got a couple of sets of raised eyebrows lifted her way.

    “So what kind of horse do you ride … Isabelle is it?” the burley brunette gal asked.

    “Well… it seems not the kind yah’ll will be able to see me on.”

    “Why’s that?” a perky blond asked.

    “Well…” she said lightly shrugging her shoulders, “because my Mustang-Morgan stud does not seem to be welcome here and yah’ll don’t look like you are too receptive to Arabian mounts.”

    “Oh… you ride one of those small things do yah?” Jayson said just before spittin’ like a camel.

    Isabelle sat with an unwavering confidence she had come to embody at moments like this. There was no use of allowing someone to goad you into a match of wits. She bit her tongue, the art of valor and knowing when it was best to avoid arbitration while not being a party to the exacerbation she was being baited with.

    “Why don’t you go try masturbation… you might actually have more success with that then trying to prove how little you actually know about the Arabian horse.” No, she knew better than to say that too. She just smiled as she lifted her coffee cup to her lips.

    Oh wait… maybe Dead Head here is actually the personification of Dumbo,” shecould not help but chuckle lightly.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kathleen: Fantastic look into a world that few of us will ever see. Your best yet.

      • KathleenL says:

        Shane — Thanks. Yah… it is something I will be able to share more of… with yah’ll… as the words and life allow me to see back further than a year.

  17. Kelly says:

    JILL & ME

    Jill was the personification of cool. If she invited you out back during lunch to have a smoke and hang out, you went. Happily. Even if you didn’t know the butt from the lit end of a Virginia Slim, you went. You’d spend hours that night in mental masturbation, imagining how filling your lungs with poison would finally catapult you into the elite group of girls who could converse flippantly with the hockey players, dreaming of the elation you’d experience when one of them asked you to wear his sweater to practice, how this would be the resolution of all your geek longing to morph from a shy caterpillar into a black-turtleneck-wearing butterfly.

    Or something like that. Getting to hang out with Jill outside our high school cafeteria was nerve-wrackingly awesome, anyway, and rare—she didn’t invite new people into the circle very often. When she invited me I went.

    (Thanks, Jill, for making me a smoker.)

    I was a lowly junior, the only one out back that winter, freezing cold but never noticing because the company provided such heart-pounding stimulation for my adolescent dreams. I was an awed student of Jill’s looks, from her lipstick to her construction boots; of her easy swagger; of her sneering voice.

    (Thanks, Jill, for the exacerbation of all the usual teenage problems at home. Mom and Pop didn’t care much for the swagger or the tone of voice when I brought ‘em home. They probably didn’t like the deep, purple lipstick, either, but Jill’s influence meant they had bigger fish to fry with me.)

    Most of all I was fascinated by the way she gathered more coolness to her. She seemed to feel entitled to that space out back, as if she were the queen holding court. Teachers (they’d seen it all before, no doubt) never broke up our group, eyeliner-caked girls and testosterone-laden jocks, disdainfully talking about the parties they’d crashed and their plans for next weekend, about guys who didn’t get it, and girls who needed a talking-to.

    I felt woefully out of place and confused by all the attention I got from Jill and her court, but grateful. Sometimes it seemed there was a bit of saturation in problems that were more mature than I was ready for, but my existence had been pretty sheltered up ‘til that point. To tell the truth, any trouble they conjured up was pretty mild, compared to now.

    Me? I was the honorary “little sister” without a history in the group, someone who could step in for arbitration of petty disputes, the token geek who could (carefully, disdainfully!) answer a question or two about some point in Chem that one of them couldn’t grasp, the social virgin who let them pat me on the head and carry me along on their weekend mischief, eyes wide (when I forgot my carefully-practiced disdain).

    Some folks might think they were using me, but if they were I never figured out how. If anything, I felt protected by our little band. I think… well, I think Jill just genuinely liked me. Maybe she had a hankering to mentor someone in be-your-own-woman cool.

    She came back a couple of times when I was a senior. Hung out in back of school at lunch, had a couple of smokes with the new rulers of cool. We had fun, even though her court had all moved on. (I guess it might have seemed a bit quiet to her, but we kept up the purple lipstick, the testosterone, and the air of disdain.)

    After matriculation into State U, I never heard from Jill again, but she was always with me. I put down the smokes after a couple of years—maybe because she cured me of my teenage fixation with cool, or maybe because I found out I didn’t need those appendages to be cool.  

    She gave me a gift in my junior year of high school. Jill became part of me. It wasn’t the purple lipstick or the Virginia Slims. From that first day when she invited me out back during lunch, Jill had been teaching me to stand tall and command the room.

    (Thanks, Jill. I’ve still got the black turtleneck, and the sweater my hockey player gave me. And I’m still my own woman… carefully, disdainfully… geekily cool.)

  18. Pam says:

    His fixation on masturbation was the personification of his frustration at inability to complete matriculation into the arbitration hearing to find a resolution to the saturation of housing caused by the exacerbation of the jobs market in the town. Stimulation caused an elation which dulled the pain of rejection.


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