Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #345

Today’s words have been chosen by Kelly Erickson to tease, torture and tempt us. Thank you, Kelly.

This is a writing prompt. Bet you can’t do it! Take the 10 random words below and crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story! And remember: after (if) you finish entering your submission into the comment field, 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.) NOTE: Our bolding plugin is gone, so you’ll have to put and around each of your words if you want them to stand out, but NOT REQUIRED THOUGH.

  1. natural
  2. children
  3. services
  4. rights
  5. brandy
  6. associations
  7. valley
  8. main
  9. flaky
  10. pursue

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.


71 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #345”

  1. Anklebuster says:

    I Really Miss You Brandy
    Victor and Samantha vowed to never again visit his mother in the Valley. No one could blame them, after what happened last weekend.

    Their three children had discovered a dozen bottles of Nonna Grappa in her cellar. Claire, the eldest, explained to Toby and Sammie that those bottles contained the finest brandy in the world. She was only half-right. Naturally, the kids scarfed down all twelve bottles.

    When Victor and his wife arrived at Bergamo Child Services, their kids were running around the main reception area, as flaky as the walls of that decrepit facility. After calming them down, he hustled the kids into the family van and sped back to his mother’s house.

    “Mom! Dammit! Do you know how many strings we had to pull to keep BCS from locking you up? They were well within their rights to pursue legal action. We not only bribed the director, we also had to agree to sever all associations you had within the Instituto Nazionale Grappa.”

    Thus ended the Marciano family vacation and—not coincidentally—Nonna Grappa’s reign as the best-selling pomace brandy in Europe.

  2. Cathy Miller says:

    Kate considered herself a natural woman. A Carole King kind of natural woman. And that didn’t include children.

    She loved children. Really. But was it so wrong to build a life where children in her life meant nephews and nieces? Or a friend’s child?

    Why did everyone assume Kate’s biological clock kept her up at night? She admitted to herself that she was surprised that she had not married or had a bushel full of kids by now. But that didn’t mean she needed the services of a mental health professional.

    Had people questioned Mother Teresa’s rights to the title of mother? Did parents pity childless Oprah?

    So why did she get so much grief?

    Kate settled into her comfortable recliner. A brandy mimicking the warm touch of a winter fireplace’s charm. Trying to shake off the emotions from her friend’s call, Kate wondered if the associations formed between mothers and their childless friends could survive.

    Kate really was okay with her fate. She celebrated when friends announced the latest pregnancy. She felt no twinge of envy or desperation that her time was almost past. Her friends with children simply would not believe her.

    They knew Kate must be wallowing in the valley of despair. It was as if her main purpose in life was to be a mother. After all, she was a natural woman, wasn’t she?

    Well, life presented her a different path. Kate believed in embracing her reality and refused to get all flaky about something that was not in the cards.

    “We all have dreams,” she mused. “It’s time to pursue mine.”

  3. […] very short story inspired by the prompt: Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #345 to use the following words: […]

  4. “Of all the flaky…” Josh threw the morning paper down on the table in disgust.

    “What’s wrong, dear?” Lily continued wiping the kitchen counter, mentally ticking off all the things she had to do before the children came home from school today.
    “The Valentine Valley vintners’ associations are getting out of hand. It’s just not natural. They’re demanding the rights to add an X.X.X. designation, you know, for marketing purposes. Because it’s Valentine Valley and X’s stand for kisses. I might agree if they just admitted X’s stand for excess.”

    “If it were natural, it would be called vinegar, not brandy. And who cares?”

    “Well, mainly because the French care. The world will not take our brandy seriously if we try to make it a cheap, gimmicky knock-off of Cognac. I don’t want to live in the laughingstock armpit of the refined world.”

    “Why do you care what anyone in France thinks? Or anyone in the Valentine Valley, for that matter? You don’t even drink brandy.”

    “It’s the principle of the thing!” thundered Josh, turning red-faced.

    Just then, Annie and Joey padded into the kitchen, rubbing sleep-sand from their eyes. “What’s wrong, Daddy? Why do you sound like an angry bear?” asked Joey. Annie wrapped her arms around her mother’s knees and peered shyly at her father, who looked suddenly chastened.

    “If you pursue this issue with such passion,” said Lily, calmly, “I expect children’s services will come cart you away to the funny farm.”

  5. Kelly says:


    Out in the stocks, Helen didn’t usually muse much on the past. Making sure the few hogs and chickens she had left were kept happy was about all she had time for. The rights of dumb creatures came above her own desire to mope… even if the rough-built pens of a failing Montana ranch were perfect for, well, wallowing.

    Today the clouds were high and lazy over the valley, the animals were remarkably unified in their contentment, and by noon she was leaning on a fencepost she’d just repaired last week, with hours, if she chose it, to lift her eyes and pursue those clouds with some thunderbolts of her own making. Free associations never really come for free.

    Well, she goofed. Helen knew it, her children knew it (and told her so, via Skype and email and all sorts of things she’d rather ignore)… possibly the whole state knew it. That flaky lady who came out with a college degree to play Doctor Dolittle to a bunch of pigs and cattle. She read it on every one of ‘em, sure as if they held up signs, when she went into town for supplies.

    Her ranching skills, to be honest, weren’t that bad. No one would call her a natural, but she was a darned hard worker. Before she rolled into town she made a pact with herself that no matter how her career change went, she’d let no one, family or Montanan, think she was a flatlander having a midlife crisis. She had the services of the former owners, Jan and Mike Parker, to ease her into the life for the first six months, and she was, according to all, the best student possible—in her consciously-peculiar Toronto Blue Jays cap and filthy workman’s boots, out tearing into the day’s chores before all, still working up a sweat when everyone in the county had probably gone to supper, even forsaking her beloved brandy for whatever draft was on sale at the local bar now and then so she could share stories and master her new jobs even faster.

    So when their contract with Helen was up this past August, and the Parkers were off to a retirement of hot baths and cold air conditioning in Phoenix, they left their family ranch with almost no regrets.

    And who knows? Maybe if they’d stayed on, they would have made the same mistake.

    Helen was sure of her skills as a rancher who didn’t know how to say Fail, and was even becoming convinced that someday these locals (with roots deeper than the maple trees she’d left behind) might accept her as one of their own—when Joe Estry came back to town.

    Estry was a man with a golden tongue, but in a land where gold was hidden under the hides of your animals, most people would have no truck with him. His company will lease only a small portion of their vast lands, he said, in checkout lines and town meetings and the post office parking lot. You might even be able to retire on the proceeds. Most ranchers had told him to shove off more than once or twice. Sure, part of it was that they didn’t understand the difference between what Joe was asking and what people in Oklahoma had long learned to accept—oil filth, oil wealth—but mainly it was that these tough people wanted to retire (IF they wanted to retire) on their own terms, like the Parkers had—and their terms were to sell to another strong-willed career switcher from far away, to have a chance that family ranching would pass on to a whole new family.

    So Joe Estry was a man with a golden tongue and no place to ply his currency, until the Parkers left town and Helen faced her first Montana winter as a solo rancher. She was exhilarated, of course! This was her dream coming true.

    But she was also, to put it mildly, overwhelmed.

    Joe caught her, one of the slower nights at the bar, exhausted as usual and nursing a Miller Lite. The bartender shook his head to warn her, but Helen already knew how the town’s residents felt. She wasn’t going to do anything but listen. Where’s the harm in some chatter to go with your beer?

    It took a few weeks. she listened to all sides. In the end, Helen agreed to let the drilling go on, at the farthest corner of her land. She’d make a little money—enough for a new ranch hand. (Going it completely alone, she’d discovered, was insane.) Maybe she’d make a lot of money, but that didn’t play into her calculations. she only wanted this dream of hers, to be a successful rancher, to have a little push.

    And she got through that winter, the little stream of lease-money easing her stress while the drillers got ready for spring. March came on warmer than anyone expected, and Joe Estry’s company got started.

    First, the well water started smelling funky. And tasting worse. Helen bought bottled water for herself and her ranch hand.

    Then the animals wouldn’t drink. They’d rather find what they could, when they could after a rain, than have anything to do with that smell and that taste.

    Then the grassland near the drilling began to take on an odd color. She confined the cattle to a parcel farther away, so they’d have normal lands to graze.

    The machinery coming and going and at last working, began to interfere with the animals’ sleep. Helen’s prize rooster would call out his alarms day and night, sounding as forlorn as distant wolves had in January.

    And when that warm spring gave way to an even warmer summer, Montana entered a full-on drought. Still the animals would not drink from the ranch’s water supply.

    When new calves, their mothers helplessly miserable beside them, began to die, and Joe Estry waved signed papers to say he wouldn’t leave, Helen made the toughest call of all.

    The cattle went to a rancher she’d met down in Utah when she was still looking for a place.

    Some of the chickens died, too, but in an odd way that made it easier, since Helen was working alone again. (No call for a full time ranch hand, when the cattle were gone.)

    The lease money came in, sure enough. And she cashed those checks, though bile rose in her throat every time she headed to the bank, because she needed that money as she never thought she would. Nobody was crazy enough to buy her out with Estry’s company making her land a blight on their big-sky country.

    Those big skies!

    Time to get off the fence, literally and figuratively. Helen would have to work even harder for her dreams, now that she had stuck a red-hot poker into her own eye.

    Back to work.

  6. K says:

    Their harried departure following an invitation to a soiree leaves you and your brother the rights to the house. Of course, these occasions happen on a daily basis, but no parties mind. While the scent and taste of brandy intoxicate them as they release themselves from the associations of their children, you pursue another type of freedom.

    The clock strikes two, and by that time, your brother slumbers. You, left to your own devices, curl up on your bed, hiding behind the locked door. In your hand rests a pen dipping toward the blank page of the journal in your lap. The mournful chirp of the crickets solace you as your mind inches towards its main tendencies. In this valley of your mind, vivid colors explode, painting vast expanses of the worlds you envision. Its inhabitants- an agglomeration of people once seen on the streets, relatives, and fictional characters- roam these various dimensions. You record memorable scenarios in the journal, though none fit seamlessly with one another.

    In this silent moment, your lonely nights melt away, and you forget about your obligations and services, your dying relationships, and your flighty, flaky parents. You see an hour had passed and shut off the lamp on the nightstand. After lying down on the bed, you close your eyes, attempting to fall asleep, but you toss and turn. In the end, you sit up, turning toward the window. You hug your legs to your chest, your head placed on them. Your mind, though, never rests, feeding you glimpses of negligible memories and nonsensical scenes.

    This utter desolation, these thoughts that keep you up for most nights and consume you during the day: It is natural, isn’t it?

    • Anklebuster says:

      K, what an interesting introspective! I remember those soul-searching days of my youth, seeking release with typewriters, pens and paper.

      Carry on!



    • Kelly says:

      Oh, wow K. Very evocative. Like Mitch, I remember those days so clearly as I read this little story! I guess folks who wind up at the CCC probably shared the experience of those late-nights writing in a quiet house in our formative years.

      But now, as a grownup, I must say I got a big kick out of “release themselves from the associations of their children.” It’s good to do that now and then. 😉

    • bbanne says:

      K, I remember having ” the rights to the house” so well that the phrase still excites me. And yes, I’m another with the silent night and chattering notebooks. You bring it all back for me.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      Pure poetry, K. And it so appeals to the writer in me. Well done. 🙂

    • Excellent, K. A glimpse into the making of a writer.

    • Very interesting look from the kids point of view. I love the “pen dipping toward the blank page” image. Sounds like me.

  7. bbanne says:

    A touch of the Mills & Boon today. Oops.

    Jen’s services were no longer required. She had poured his brandy was now was free to do whatever she wanted for the evening. He had beautiful female company to enjoy long into the night.

    Sometimes Jen thought she should leave the valley and escape all the associations with her past. If everyone had their rights, she would have been the one with a servant and he would have been back where he belonged.

    It was all her mother’s fault. From the moment she had seen him standing in hall, he was what she wanted. She had thrown herself at him and he happily caught her up, one eye on the money and the other on the future.

    He hadn’t loved her mother. He hadn’t even cared about her. It was Jen that he really wanted and once he was married, he began to pursue her, not bothering to hide his intentions from his new wife.

    Absentmindedly Jen picked at the flaky paint on the verandah post beside her. Her mother hadn’t lived long after the wedding. Although her death was regarded as natural, Jen knew that it was pain and sorrow that had killed her.

    The scent of life whispered over the hills, smelling sweet. It was so tempting…

    But not as tempting as the man she wanted to despise. He promised her children. He promised her security. He promised her everything except the main thing she wanted – his love.

    Her brain lashed her heart every day yet so far she hadn’t quite reached the point where she was ready to leave.

    She finally understood how her mother had felt.

    • Anklebuster says:

      Anne, this is so sad. A great read always punches us in the gut – whether with fists of fury or flights of fancy.



    • Cathy Miller says:

      Love, love this line The scent of life whispered over the hills, smelling sweet. It was so tempting. What a heart-tugger this one is, Anne. Beautiful.

    • Kelly says:

      What an awful catch-22 to be stuck in!

      You know the writing’s good when you’re feeling for the character as if you knew her. Nicely done, Anne.

    • How very sad. I can feel the trapped sense of disappointment and longing, and feel the flaky paint on the verandah post – chipping away just like Jen’s hopes and dreams.

    • kathleenMK says:

      Anne ~~ Well, well, well! Such a powerful piece.
      I love: Although her death was regarded as natural, Jen knew that it was pain and sorrow that had killed her. I could nearly feel this feeling, or nearly do. You hit the nail on the head here.

      ..The scent of life whispered over the hills, smelling sweet. It was so tempting…
      This is a great description. I can see the desire building within her as the draw comes over the hills like a mist. Like it gives a smidgen of hope that it will one day get to her.

      And then you brought it home and my heart dropped with your last line.


  8. As we sat beside the campfire, the natural light scorching off the flame, the ice cubes clinking in our glasses of brandy, I began to speak. These words were not carefully planned or through though, they flew from my stream of consciousness right into the cold, dark atmosphere. “What do you think we should do?” I began. “Should we really pursue this?” I continued, hardly allowing time for a response. Stumped, as I always have the answers, never one to ask questions, she stood up and walked toward the valley.
    “Listen,” she stumbled, “we both want children and there are plenty of services out there that will help us.”
    “I know there are services, I know our rights are protected, I just don’t know if that’s the route we should go.”
    “What are you talking about? Adoptions are the main way, one of the only ways for this to work.” She was ranting now, once she starts, it’s hard to calm her back down. “Don’t use this as an excuse to be flaky, I thought we were passed this!”
    I walked back to the fire. The cold in my bones was causing more stress than her aggressive posturing on my spirit. As a last ditch effort to share my point of view, I felt maybe just blurting out my idea would be best. She started walking back toward me, she was close enough to hear me, but far enough away to keep a punch at bay.
    “Maybe,” I paused. “Maybe, we should do this naturally.”
    She stopped. The air felt as if it were stuck, frozen in the space between us, sucking the life out of the world.
    “Remember Jacob?” I fumbled as the words fell out. “I think he would be perfect.”
    “So, what?” She bowed up. “So, now you’re straight? You want Jacob?”
    “It’s not like that! Look, I just don’t think we need all these associations to help us adopt when we can do this on our own.” I explained.
    I started breaking down, “I want this baby. I want you to be with me until my last breath. I want to carry this baby, my blood, my life, sharing it with this tiny human. Sharing all of this, with you.”
    Surprisingly, she listened. She drew closer to me, I tried to step back but the space was still frozen around me.
    “Jacob, huh? I don’t like his hair.” She smiled and grabbed my hand. We held hands until our eyes were heavy, even though our souls were lighter. “I think we should go guy shopping next weekend,” she whispered as she drifted off into her beautiful snores of sleep.

    *Thanks for reading! This is my first post, so please tear it apart. Happy writing 🙂 *

    • Kelly says:

      Awwwww! Warm and very human. You won’t catch me tearing it apart. Glad to see you here, Lindsay!

    • Anklebuster says:

      There will be no tearing of parts up in here! LOL
      I enjoyed this vignette, Lindsay. Welcome to CCC!



    • bbanne says:

      Welcome Lindsay. You’ve started off with a cracker of a story, “We held hands until our eyes were heavy,” What a beautiful line.

    • kathleenMK says:

      Lindsey !! 1st and foremost .. Welcome to the fold. I really have found it to be an addiction that I choose to feed. :}

      I love the sentence: She was ranting now, once she starts, it’s hard to calm her back down. this made me laugh. Made me want to look to see if there was a mirror near as I am sure my kids would describe me just like this.

      The cold in my bones was causing more stress than her aggressive posturing on my spirit. wow. that is what I thought as I read this. Knowing the character is struggling, but having been cold before myself… and still having a struggling sole. This was well described. Bravo.

      …she was close enough to hear me, but far enough away to keep a punch at bay. okay, you had me laughing again here, before I even knew what was going to be said. Way to go. Keep up the good work. I hope you don’t let this be your last ditty.

      Write On,


    • Welcome to the CCC LIndsay! This was great. Not what I expected when I started reading, but what a real conversation. I do want to know more about this Jacob…..

  9. kathleenMK says:

    Things you can’t say in court, but it sure would be fun to….

    Your honor, what makes this bastard think he has the right to stomp all over the rights of anyone, let alone my kids! (Okay, your honor, it is reported his mother and father were married when he was born.)

    Having children and living with your sister, I don’t care if she is your half-sister… it’s not right … on oooh ssssoooo many levels!
    Are there associations for incestuous bastards? Bet there is where you are going! (Sorry your honor you asked me not to address the defendant. My bad.)

    Who thinks that it is okay to have a brandy with your sister, pursue her like she’s “just the gal next door,” bed her down, live with her as your wife, and father your twin nieces? Who? Who?
    It’s just not natural!

    The services I know you deserve are not allowed in this civilized nation we live in, but I have already volunteered to help with them if I could. Castration. Skinning, after all I am good at both, but I would work on not doing my best job, just for you. Torturing — I can learn, after all, I am inspired by your cruelty, I could learn to give you a life lesson: “and eye for an eye”.

    Wonder if I could find someone willing to violate you, repeatedly, against your will while you worried about a loved one? Hummm.

    There is a valley, a valley in your life that is covered in shale. That flaky slippery slope you have been traveling on is mainly covered in “oh sh**” and his name is Ethan. His name is Ethan! Did you hear me? His name is E-t-h-a-n, Ethan! You may have taken his life, cut it short, but now you have met your match.

    Bet you didn’t think that 19-year-old would get the best of you… did you, you orange clad blob?

    I bet you expected the son of my ex-husband to show up that day. But, you were wrong. Dead wrong. You see I have raised-up our son. Ethan may have had a lot of youthful looks that one could imagine the ex had in his own youth, but the boy, the young bourgeoning man that showed up to deal with you one-on-one as an adult … that was MY son! And he bested you.
    He became that which you denied would come – your equalizer. Because God decided you needed to be stopped.

    Remember that, you horse’s backside: a 19-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl were sent by God to stop you. And stop you they have.

    Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “an eye for an eye” – to others.
    I hope you learn this first and for years to come.

    Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not kill” – to others.
    Oh wait… were you out of class on that teaching day?
    Oh wait… that is not something that is only taught on one day of a person’s life. Did you show up at all to these lessons? Did she choose not to teach her own?

    Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – to others.
    But isn’t that just what you did when you lied and told the cops Ethan and his gal where there to “rob” you? Guess the good Lord saw to that being proven to be “false witnessing”.

    Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “not to covet thy neighbor’s house”—to others.
    Yet you killed Ethan over a piece of land he was selling you.

    Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “honor they father and thy mother” – to others.
    Do you really think your actions as a serial kidnapper, serial murderer, serial rapist, serial incestuous creep actually honor your parents?

    Maybe your momma didn’t teach you. Well, we can see she didn’t. You didn’t mom.
    She certainly knew you were a bad seed; you knew, dam you, you knew.
    She certainly knew that you accosted your own sisters. She should have stopped you. You should have stopped him!
    I wonder… did you, mom, really think that becoming a pastor would ensure any absolution for yourself, for your failings or absolve of your son’s bad acts?

    You were wrong. You both were wrong on many levels.
    Sorry judge. They were wrong your honor. They were wrong.
    Your honor, don’t you think there is a proper cell awaiting her too for her apathetic ways?

    • Oh Kathleen, this made me laugh. You could do a bunch of Laugh In type short sketches with these. Although some of it reminded me of a Game of Thrones episode.

    • bbanne says:

      Black humour, Kathleen? It is a dark tale with just enough funny lines thrown in to keep us off balance. Really well written.

      • kathleenMK says:

        Anne ~~
        Well Anne It is black humor added to a real life situation. Because the judge would not let me say all of the things, like this, that I wanted to… in court. on Aug. 15, 2013

        • bbanne says:

          I can imagine that there were things burning to get out. I hope getting them down here helps a little bit.

          • kathleenMK says:

            Thanks Anne.
            I will admit some of what i will be writing will be dark, sometimes sarcastically dark, sometimes stuff that will evoke a lot of emotion that will possibly make you feel some of the pain felt at the hands of others… I will apologize now for making you hurt. Please feel free to tell me “this is not the right outlet for this.”


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