Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #180

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. It’s been so long
  2. You never know
  3. Why should I?
  4. Original
  5. Odd
  6. Humor
  7. Influence
  8. Sense
  9. High
  10. Luck

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.)

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


84 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #180”

  1. margaret says:


    It’s been so long
    since I’ve been wrong,
    but you never know when my luck will blow!
    Why should I fret? It hasn’t happened yet.

    My sense of humor? Not caused by a tumor
    that twists my brain, making me insane.

    And contrary to popular opinion…..
    I never get high, from birth till I die.

    I’m influenced by quirks and original thought,
    and that is just something that can’t be taught!

    So those who think I’m weird and rather odd,
    might just be boring and up their butts have a rod!! 😉

    • Influenced by quirks and original thought, loved that line.  Very nice poem, really enjoyed it.  The unique stand out for sure.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Margaret. “up their butts have a rod!!”  LOL!  This was too funny.  Thanks for making me smile today 🙂

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ma: That last line read as if an English butler and Yoda co-wrote it! ;)   I laughed through every word.

    • LOL, you said Rod. This is fun stuff, Margaret. I like how you “let it ride” – it’s very important to have complete faith in the ol’ noggin.
      As for getting high, I wonder how many creative people simply used their inspiration as an excuse for addiction? Scary stuff!

  2. KathleenL says:

    Margaret — Wonderful “…So those who think I’m weird and rather odd,
    might just up their butts have a rod!!”
      Yes, yes they would dear.

    • margaret says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. Some people just don’t get me, but that’s ok….I came across a Dr. Seuss quote yesterday:

      “I am who I am and I say what I feel,
      because those that mind, don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind”.
      Love it….that’s always been my philosophy!

  3. Today is my birthday and I was looking forward to the CCC this morning, it is unfortunate that the entries today prompted a rather sad poem from me, BOOOOO!


    It’s been so long now
    There just is no sense of humor
    An odd influence of loneliness
    Why should I?
    Keep gambling my luck
    Lost high of original affection
    You never know
    Things could get better perhaps
    when do we call it quits?

    • margaret says:

      Whoa…that’s really a doggie-downer way to feel on your birthday! I think you need some sugar!! A nice piece of birthday cake ought to fix that right up! You are young and future is what you make it! Have a great birthday with good things to come.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Justin. Happy Birthday!  It’s always interesting where the words take you.  I’m the same way, I could be happy and write something sad and read it and go “where did that come from?”
      It’s a great introspective piece.

      • Yeah, very often when I write I am not drawing on inspiration from my own life but merely from reading articles, stories, movies or other works that inspire me to create my own.  Not saying I don’t draw from my own life for inspiration, but sometimes I use poetry as therapy too.  If I am in a depressed mood, sometimes I will deliberately come up with a fun poem or some other thing that lightens my mood a bit.
        One of my most famous poems I wrote when I was about 20 (14 years ago) which got published at the time was about a mother feeling the loss of a miscarriage.  I came up with it out of the blue, I was 20 at the time and this poem had captured the hurt, loss and confusion so well that it resonated.
        I don’t actually know what happened to this poem, I have never been able to find it since or I would have published on my poetry blog at some point.

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          Happy Birthday, Justin!
          Thanks for giving us the gift of your poem, and I’m glad that the mood therein doesn’t reflect how you’re feeling today!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin G: I think your character that wrote this should have a Schlitz with Bobby and Billy.
      Well done.

    • Happy Birthday, Justin! Glad to know you weren’t really down when you wrote this. This does sound a little sad.

  4. Jeanette R. says:

    “C’mon where is your sense of adventure?”

    She peered over the ledge and gently dragged her toe across the water.

    “Why should I? It’s too damn cold.  Why don’t you jump in?”

    He seemed a bit agitated all morning and she attributed it to their tough travel schedule. 

    “I think you should do it cause I booked this trip in advance and paid a lot of money for it.  I know it’s just our luck to get cold weather, but whatever. Let’s just make the best of it.  If I jump in first, I know you’ll leave me in there like an ass.  Look at those kids over there. They aren’t bothered at all by the temperature.” 

    She glanced past the boat and noticed a cluster of kids splashing each other near the shore.  It made her think of her son and she shook the thoughts before they clouded her day.

    “It’s been so long since we’ve dived.  I can’t believe they let you take out the boat by yourself. Just because we are certified doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen. You never know, right?”

    He rolled his eyes and walked over to the oxygen tanks.  Ever since the accident, he had lost his sense of humor. She wished she could grab the mouthpiece on the tank and inhale the oxygen into her lungs to help her feel alive again.  She used to love the sensation of feeling high as a kite when she inhaled a little too much on a dive.  Her head would feel weightless and odd, totally numb from feeling.  

    “Alright, alright.  Let me go in before I become another Original Lifetime movie.  Jeez.”

    She sat down and crossed her right leg over her left to put on her swim fins.  She felt slight discomfort at the incision.  The doctor had done an incredible job of cutting and her scar was barely visible.  She shifted her weight and waited for the sensation to subside.  It felt like a thousand butterflies fluttering their wings. She noticed she had closed her eyes and when she opened them he was staring at her. 

    “Listen, if you don’t want to go in it’s fine.  I don’t want to influence you to do something you’re not ready to do.  I can go in by myself. It’s ok.” 

    She held up her hand to block the sun from her eyes. He looked so tired.  Exasperated.

    “It’s fine.  Let’s go.”

    She put on the remaining equipment and dismounted the boat. She took in a long drag of air and jumped in.

    • Frank Ruiz says:

      Wow, wow, WOW!  So powerful!  So much going on beneath the surface!  I felt like a fish in that cold water that you put a hook in and reeled in!
      “She wished she could grab the mouthpiece on the tank and inhale the oxygen into her lungs to help her feel alive again.”  That was my favorite line!
      Such a grabber!

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Frank. That was my favorite line too.  I wanted to leave it open to allow people to form their own opinions to the scene.  CCC is like Christmas..the words are gifts that open your mind to new challenges.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jeanette: You’ve just helped me unearth a 31-year-old memory of scuba diving at my father’s pool. We used to put the tanks on and swim around the pool. Such great fun it was, although I never fully got over the fear. Super job with this.

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Shane. I have never scuba dived.  I have no idea where this scene came from.  I just went with it.  But I’m glad it triggered some positive memories for you 🙂

    • Jeanette, no matter what you write, you pull me into your world. This is seriously compelling. I feel like I opened up a mystery novel in the middle, at random. Now I have to go up to the cashier and pay for the thing.

  5. Cathy Miller says:

    It’s been so long since we knew a peaceful time
    A time of innocence and grace
    You never know what tomorrow is going to bring
    So why not enjoy what you can?
    Why should I?
    Because I am blessed as an original
    Odd as that might be
    My humor sees me through
    Its influence is what makes me see
    There is no sense in looking for what’s bad
    Rather get high on all that is good
    And share the luck that you have made your own

  6. Frank Ruiz says:

    My heart was racing.  I couldn’t stop my hand from trembling with excitement as it moved up her thigh.

    “It’s been so long since I felt this alive!”  I told her.

    “You never know who you’ll meet on your way to the office, huh?” she replied.

    “This beats the Hell out of my original plan to spend another boring day at work!”

    “Not a fan of your day job, huh?  That’s odd.  I love mine, most of the time,” she said through a smile.

    “Shit, is your company hiring?” I asked.

    She laughed, and it sounded delicious.  “Looks and a sense of humor.  Check and check.”

    “You keeping a list?” I asked.

    “Sort of…  Y’know, you should really make your way back to the office, though,” she suggested.

    “Huh?  Why should I?  I’m ‘under the influence’ and having the time of my life with you!”

    She shot me a sympathetic look.  “About that.  I’m actually a consultant for your company’s HR department.”


    “Yeah, for folks lined up to step into executive positions, this is common practice.”

    My high was definitely blown.  “Common practice?  What, entrapment?”

    “Listen, we’re a publicly-traded company, and the press is all over us, always sniffing for a scandal.  Sometimes, they want to catch us so badly that they’ll manufacture situations to set our leaders up.”

    “Is that what this is?”

    She chuckled.  “No, this is much tamer.  Problem is, you jumped at the chance to go wild with me, so who knows what you’d do when folks try to seduce you into bringing our company down.”

    I panicked.  “Listen, I get it, okay?  I’ve learned my lesson!  I won’t do it again!”

    She looked like she’d been through this dozens of times.  “I know you won’t because there’s no way in Hell you’ll become our next CEO now.”

    “Damn it!”

    “Don’t worry, you can still have a job with this company, as long as you have the sense to accept our counter offer.”

    She had me by the balls.  “What is it?”

    “Thing is, you men keep falling for this shit.  I’ll never get used to how much you all are willing to risk for a piece of ass.”

    “I hope you’re proud of yourself!”  It was all I could come up with.

    She winked at me.  “Oh, I am, and it’s quite a boost to my ego, but we’re thinking of interviewing women CEO’s at this point.  That’s where you’d come in.”

    I couldn’t believe it.  “Wait.  You want ME to be a seducer?  I’m no gigolo!  I’m a married man!”

    “That wasn’t stopping you a minute ago, now, was it?  Truth is, this is the only position we’re willing to offer you at this point.  If you take it, your wife will never know about today.”

    “And if I don’t?”

    “Then you’ll have to explain to her why you’re out of a job you were in line to be an executive for just a few days beforehand.”

    She tossed me a dossier.  An offer letter was inside, pre-filled with my name.  Some faith they had in me!

    “So what’s it going to be?”  She knew the answer before she asked.  That’s why she tossed me a pen.

    I’m completely at her mercy.  Why did I think my luck would be any different that day?

    “Where do I sign?”


    • margaret says:

      Yep, sorry to say, Frank…that’s what happens when men think with the wrong head. Good job!!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Frank: What a plot! Loved this because you surprised me twice in this one submission. Love when that happens. That has enough to make a book with. Hell, I just read Larry Brook’s Bait and Switch book. Similar to yours, but you have enough of a unique angle to stand on your own with this story line.

    • I couldn’t believe it.  “Wait.  You want ME to be a seducer?  I’m no gigolo!  I’m a married man!”
      “That wasn’t stopping you a minute ago, now, was it?  Truth is, this is the only position we’re willing to offer you at this point.  If you take it, your wife will never know about today.”
      That was priceless. A triple-twisted hook in that poor schlub’s cheek. A fantastic piece of writing, Frank.
      You know, when I watch movies that feature entrapment, seduction and extortion, I always ask my wife, “Why doesn’t he just tell his wife what happened?” Oh, because the movie would be over in 14 minutes. LOL

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Frank. I’m catching flies in my mouth over here!  What a twist!  This would make a crazy movie.

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Thanks for your great comments, everyone!
        @Margaret: That other head is an idiot, but ends up winning way more arguments than he should!
        @Shane: Thanks for letting me know about Brooks’ Bait and Switch book.  The summary is compelling!  I’ll have to check it out.  Thanks for your new post with the StoryFix.com links too!  Awesome stuff!
        @Mitch: Great point about the truth setting such Protagonist’s free… from a story lasting longer than a few minutes, heheh!
        @Jeanette: Thanks, and maybe we’ll see a low-budget version on YouTube someday, if I ever get off my butt one of these days 🙂

  7. Ribbie and his two hundred siblings skittered madly across the slick linoleum. Contrary to what he’d learned in Cupboard, the littlest giants were chaotic clompers. Most of the time, they didn’t even have the courtesy of tripping the warning beacon. The Wizened had taught Ribbie and the others to respect the beacon and respect the feet. Right about now, though, the chubby clompers were invisible as their owner made an unexpected, pre-dawn raid on the refrigerator.

    “Aauugh! I’m squished!” Pootie squeaked. She had sought shelter beneath a tear in the flooring. In fact, she was in luck, as the clompers stomped just to the left of Pootie’s head. The bad news was this: Pootie was never gong to have babies. Of course, this was not on her frantic mind while the thunderous limb storm raged all around her. And then, an odd beacon swept across the floor, bearing an icy cold draft. Pootie froze to the spot – figuratively as well as post-squishedly.

    “Quiet! Don’t move!” Fert, the leader, hissed in his most authoritative voice. Of course, his influence didn’t extend to his sac mates, most of whom had the good sense to crawl up onto the nearest vertical plane when the first thundering foot announced the cataclysm.  His oldest sister had warned him to avoid the land of plenty. “You never know when the Cupboard owners will come clomping in. Best to forage on the Formica plateau.” Fert had scoffed, “Why should I? That’s too much climbing when all the good stuff is down in the land of plenty.” He wished he had listened to sis.

    Sadly, Fert had been lugging a Doritos crumb and was damned if he was going to waste it. He’d been ecstatic that the Cupboard owners had gotten the Original flavor after experimenting for weeks with that vile ranch flavor that always made him sneeze. When the foot storm hit, he was dead in the center of the land of plenty. His only hope was to blend in with Dead Dottie. It’s been so long since her untimely squishing that her lovely carapace had a dusting of mold spores and Cupboard owner dander. Fert was afraid that his shiny little ass would stand out in stark contrast.

    Without warning, a horrendous crash drowned out Fert and every other sound. Ribbie stopped, instinctively turning toward the noise.  Right at the narrowest point of the beacon, a container lay smashed. Its shards were thick with a heavenly green sweet smell of slow water. Ribbie almost went mad trying to resist the urge to plunder the bounty. Evidently, several dozen brothers and sisters, too close to the siren smell, succumbed.

    As they raced toward the beacon, hundreds of beady eyes observed from relatively safe hiding places. First in horror, then in high humor, the siblings watched as the clompers stepped back hastily from the mess, seemingly from the menacing advance of the entranced horde.  The comic relief was far too brief for, suddenly, the little giant screamed: “Ahhhh! Roaches!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: Whenever I forget what the joy of writing looks like, you remind me. Thank you.

      • LOL, you’re welcome, though I can’t imagine you forgetting. I’m still trying to get through “Story Engineering”. I fear I’m an unrepentant pantser. Although I get what Larry Brooks is preaching, I’ve never really been able to plan out a story (Sisterhood being my first attempt – midstream.)
        Any suggestions? It’s not like I don’t want to plan them – I just can’t see how.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Mitchell.  Why do folks hate on the Ranch Doritios? LOL!
      This was incredibly inventive.  Cupboard owners, Dead Dottie, Pootie…how do you come up with this stuff?

      • Jeanette, I love Ranch Doritos. Fert’s the one with respiratory issues – how ironic, huh? To try answering your second question, all I can say is that, when I look at the word list, I think of the cliches, first. In a conscious effort to avoid those, I start free-form thinking.
        In this case, Original made me think of food.

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          Awesome story and perspective, Mitch!  Now I’m feeling more guilty about the roach bombs I used to set off in my old apartment!

          • Poor Fert, between Ranch Doritos and those roach bomb, how’s a kid to breath?!
            Thanks for enjoying my icky story, Frank 🙂

    • Is it wrong of me to want to see these characters again – maybe in the form of a children’s book?
      This line: “It’s been so long since her untimely squishing that her lovely carapace had a dusting of mold spores and Cupboard owner dander” brought to mind memories of hunting specimens for my son’s “bug box” biology project. He was not allowed to BUY them, but could trade – and did not have to catch them, live, himself. Provided they had all their parts, and could be mounted, they were fine. So we went to our pest control people for help – they have all manner of insects, bugs, arachnids, and what have you. But to get enough variety, we had to clean the carcasses out of their light fixture overhead. And we acquired many specimens that looked just like poor, Dead Dottie.
      I love this, Mitch. You made me fall in love with a cast of COCKROACH characters. That, right there, says it all.

      • Holly, you gonna make me blush. I’m thrilled with your reaction to Ribbie and sibs. It would be kind of cool to do something with them. Thanks for your encouragement!
        When I worked for a local radio station, one of my prospects was a pest control company. Their HQ included a bug museum. Although that seem rather morbid, I suppose it’s no worse than a hunter displaying his trophy buck. (Ellen deGeneres would disagree, though.)

  8. margaret says:

    Ewwww……great read, Mitch….Have you seen the movie “Joe’s apartment”. It’s a definite rental must!!

  9. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey Billy. It’s been so long since da women folk loved me for who I is, and not for da sexual-dynamo influence I have over their ginas. And I’m askin’ myself why should I fight it, but sometimes I just want to be loved for who I is and not for da love-tremors I can gives. I mean, I have a sense of humor dats just dying to dance.”

    “Bobby, it ain’t odd luck dat we’s studs. I thunk it’d da original DeeNA genes dat our kin folk done gave us dat gets gals high on us. Shoot. We could bottle up our sweat and call in cologne even. But, yeah Bobby, you never know how them gals is gonna be when the plumbin’ don’t plumb no more. But forget ‘bout it Bobby. You always gets too emotional when you drink too much Schlitz before breakfast.”

    • See what I mean? This is fun times all the way! “sexual-dynamo influence I have over their ginas.” That line just quivers. 🙂
      I didn’t even know Schlitz was still around. I used to be so confused by all the German-sounding brands when I was a kid.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Shane.  I guess if you get enough Schlitz in anyone in the morning they get soft on you ;)  I love how these guys get so much action.

  10. Anne Wayman says:

    was wondering where this was today, and finally…

    I can’t believe it’s been so long. You never know how fast time seems to pass. On the other hand I often don’t remember; why should I? It’s not as if it was original, or even odd or humorous. It had no influence, made no sense. I couldn’t even get high with it. Good luck to you – you’ll need it I’m sure.
    and I think that’s in order 😉

  11. […]       var eav_t = "HGJ"; var eav_s = 1; var eav_is_ssl = ("https:" == document.location.protocol); var eav_asset_host = eav_is_ssl ? "https://badge.empireavenue.com/" : "http://badge.empireavenue.com/"; document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + eav_asset_host + "blog/?t=" + eav_t + "&s=" + eav_s + "&l=" + escape(window.location) + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E")); 30 Sep Crossing Swords with Lady Luck Holly Jahangiri Inspired by Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #180 […]

  12. You never know when you’ll cross swords with Lady Luck. For Ricardo, it was the fourth of May, at the Carrousel Casino, third roulette table from the slots.  “Mmmm, it’s been so long,” she said, whispering softly in his ear.“You were supposed to come to the room an hour ago. I’d put my money on 31.”
    “Why should I?” he asked, without looking up. Between the adrenaline rush spurred by the spin of the little white ball, and the little thrill of fear he felt, hearing that husky whisper – feeling that warm breath on the back of his neck – Ricardo’s heart thundered in his eardrums.
    The woman chuckled. “31 is 13, backwards,” she said, as if that explained it all. What an odd sense of humor she had. Ricardosensed a trap. It was an odd feeling, a little like being high. “It’s alucky number,” the woman added. “But don’t let me influenceyou…”
    Ricardo pushed all of his winnings – well over $500 – onto 31. As the little white ball slowed and poised to drop, he knew that his original, more cautious strategy was either the smartest or the dumbest thing he’d ever done – well, maybe the second dumbest thing, if you counted coming down to the casino at all. He held his breath as the little white ball bounced and skipped carelessly from one little number to the next. It landed on 00. Green. Ricardo groaned and turned to face the stocky, middle-aged woman who stood behind him, smiling with smug satisfaction, her ample arms crossed over her bosom.
    “Now, you knew they’d never let a seventeen-year-old cash in those chips, son,” she said, shaking her head. “Let’s go back upstairs and get ready to join your dad for dinner, before he figures out what you’ve been up to.”

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Holly. I totally wasn’t expecting the ending. You kept me interested the entire time. Your attention to detail made this piece pop and sizzle in all the right places.  I’m a fan.

      • My mom always said it was her job to be my MOTHER – not my FRIEND. She ended up being both, whether it was her intention or not – by never forgetting that I could have many, many friends, but only ONE mother. I remember, as a kid, thinking how strict my parents were – and as an adult, their ability to let go of the reins and let me take risks took my breath away. Discipline was meted out, but usually with a healthy dose of understanding (my mom majored in Psych and Early Childhood Education, so that ought to explain a lot, right there) and plenty of good humor.
        In fact, they took me to Las Vegas when I was just shy of 18. And although this scene is wholly imaginary, I can well imagine this being how they might’ve have dealt with it. 🙂

    • Holly, you know I’m a fan as well. This vignette was perfectly executed – not a toe off the mat!

      • Mitch, it’s mutual – I have long been a fan of your writing, as well. I think I first discovered it right here.
        You know, though – that’s twice this week. If I win the WBB contest, I’m going to have to turn around and hire you as my publicist. Thank you for all the kind words. I’m delighted you enjoy my stories.

        • I see. You’re here. It’s been so long since I last noticed anything odd. Why should I? You two were always very cautious. But your luck is over. One of you left a link somewhere; you’re getting careless. But I’ve found your little writing nest. Conjunctions. Bare adjectives. Well rounded endings. It’s high time you learned I’ve no sense of humor.  Running off here to do it wasn’t very original. And I’ve influence. You never know what I might do. Maybe I’ll join in. Plenty of tale here, no denying it. Juicy.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Anthony: Sorry for the moderation delay. Was a birthday weekend for my son and I was keeping myself away from the computer. Excellent submission. I can tell the CCC folks will love your style. Sure hope to see you each Monday and Thursday.
            Everyone welcome Anthony to the addiction. I’m adding your name and URL to our CCC Community Links page now.

          • Cathy Miller says:

            @Anthony Smits – Welcome to CCC!

            It’s been so long since you’ve had so much fun. You never now what you will find at CCC.  I don’t feel guilty each time I leave work behind to visit CCC. Why should I?

            CCC is an original, and we don’t find it odd that it has such great appeal. There’s humor and drama and the mystical as well. It will influence your writing in ways you never dreamed. In a sense, CCC is what writing was meant to be.

            Soon you will be high on the CCC ride and marveling at your unbelievable luck that you discovered the CCC home.


          • Aha!! You’re EVERYWHERE! 🙂 NOW you’ve found the fun – @Mitchell Allen, if the world implodes tomorrow, I think the link was MY fault. Hi, Anthony! 🙂 Very well done. I consider myself warned.

          • Antman! What up, team mate? I see you’re a bit more adept at following crumb trails than our worthy opponent, @Holly. Those blasted neutrinos have confounded her all weekend.
            If you followed one of my links, believe me, I had no intention of being stealthy. I evangelize this place! Either way, you found it and … WELCOME!
            Let’s make it a goal to get the entire Surviving the Blog group over here! We’re going to need a place to relax after each grueling assignment!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Holly: YOu clever, clever minx you! 😉 I love when the carpet is pulled from under my feet like that. Well done.

  13. There’s always something unexpected in the morning mail. It seems my pen ran off with some words last night while I wasn’t watching.  New friends and another playground . . .
    Hmm. Thank you for the welcome, I think.  As if I didn’t have enough to do already. I suppose I can sit awhile and eat Holly’s choc while reading her book.  That should keep me placated while the pens play chasing.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Anthony: The group of writers we have here are so bleepin’ talented, it makes admining this site a pleasure, and an honor.

  14. Kelly says:


    Well, it’s true I’ve had a case of the C-C-C blue blue blues
    I’ve got writer’s block but it’s not your fault, I just let a story walk away with my muse
    I don’t know if everyone feels it this way
    I thought I’d be stuck a few hours or a day
    but it turned out this story that wanted to be told
    got 2/3 written then left me cold
    I was hung out to dry by an urgent address
    Crushed by the words that are here to express
    every feeling that anyone’s wanted to press
    on another
    But brother
    I’ve stared and I’ve cried
    I’ve begged it to die
    so I could get on to some other
    I tell you I’ve missed this
    and I’m gonna fix it
    The next time a story grabs me by the throat
    I’m tossing it out to the crocs in my moat
    No more will I sit and wait for a finish
    that may or may not be within me
    The CCC’s here to help us diminish
    not augment our blocks, or make us crazy

    Time to begin what I’ve nearly begun
    To catch up and love writing one-Challenge-by-one
    I didn’t use the words (that’s next)
    but in case you haven’t heard,
    we’re here to have fun
    (and Yes, I’m nearly done)

    Thanks, Shane, for checking in on me.

  15. Kelly says:


    “Y’ever have one of those days…?”

    You shook your head. I hadn’t finished the thought, exactly, but you knew where I was going with it.

    “Nah, me neither, really. I don’t know, though. Maybe today.”

    Not my most original thought ever. I stopped and skipped a pebble across one of the giant puddles that form in the back of the mall parking lot after a good rain. It had been raining for days, I remember. Guess that’s not good, exactly…

    “One of those years,” you said matter-of factly, grabbing a seat on the curb (still wet, oops!). “It’s been so long since I was up I don’t know where down is. One of those lives, I think.”

    “Aw, Mike. Don’t be so…” The sun was hurting my eyes so I sat down, too. Wet jeans be damned. “Yeah. Me too. I guess.”

    It was an I-guess kind of day, that day, and maybe you were right. You had been out of work forever, but somehow you kept your spirits up for other people. You didn’t like to believe in bad luck. “You never know when it’ll turn around,” you’d always say if people asked you how the search was going. You used to take on freelance work to pad your check but there hadn’t been any of that in forever, either. Ouch. But I think I was the only one you let in on your pain, when we took our walk at noon. “Sense of humor and strong legs to carry me,” you’d say, pushing me to keep up with you.

    I was way more willing to wallow. Business was shit. My ex—no, I do not care about him!—married someone younger and stupider than me (“Well, anyone smarter would have run away,” you said, to comfort me in your odd way). And yes, to cap off the Nashville song, my dog of 13 years did indeed die. He used to come for walks with us, sweet old thing that he was. One day he just didn’t feel like walking. The next day, kaput. But sunshine or rain, you were always there, smile at the ready, your no-self-pity attitude quite nearly infectious. Heck, you were an influence on me. I wanted to be able to keep my spirits high in the face of anything like you could, to make life happen instead of having it happen to me.

    “Sit a minute longer,” you said, when I felt my muscles getting cold and got up to continue walking.

    “Why should I?”

    “I have something to tell you. I… did something yesterday,” you said. You wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Maybe stupid.”

    I waited. Pretended I was looking on the ground for another pebble to skip.

    “I went down to the Marines office.”

    Run fingers on pavement. Insistently.

    “They said I’m a little older than their usual, but they need my experience.”

    Concentrate on the rough surface. Don’t. Look. Up.

    “They don’t get a lot of people with degrees, I guess. Listen, I haven’t been paid in months,” you said, words rushing out now, “and maybe it is one of those years or one of those lives but hearing someone say they need me was about the nicest thing I’ve heard in all this time.”

    “I need you,” I whispered.

    Of course I felt small and stupid and selfish even whispering it. I knew—of course I knew! how badly you must need the money. And the validation. You can’t stay in town for an old high-school friend forever, can you? I’d been expecting you to marry some chick you met on the Internet or catch a flight to Seattle for a job interview and never return. But I guess I didn’t prepare for this.

    I couldn’t see the pebbles on the ground through the tears sitting on the surface of my eyes. Weird feeling. If I looked up they’d stream down my face and you’d know, so I let them hang there, salty, crystalline pendants on my worldview.

    “Next week,” you said. You hadn’t finished the thought, exactly, but I knew where you were going with it. We know each other too well.

    “I think I am having one of those days, after all,” I said. I jumped up and took off at a run.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kelly: Write a book! Pretty please!

      • Kelly says:

        Shane—Okay. Right now my newest is a 170+ chapter book on this little site called Creative Copy Challenge. Now that I’ve shelved the story that was plaguing me for weeks and weeks, I should soon have it up to a 190-ish chapter book… that’s not too bad, eh?
        I should get a bumper sticker to wear ’round here that says My Other Book’s Hidden in a Drawer. But someday maybe a wonderful agent will find it in my drawer and publish it. So many pursuits, so little time and money…

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