Prompts IV: Epitaph and Gridlocked

Stephanie at BeKindRewrite provides five excellent weekly prompts, which are gaining momentum. In a fit of self-doubt I was ready to quit but she dispensed a much needed slap for which I am grateful. Here are my submissions for Inspiration Monday IV.

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Epitaph

Another giant MacMansion to clean today. Her shoulder was killing her—every vast floor mopped, every walk-in shower scrubbed, every floor-length mirror washed brought sharp pain down her arm. She was tough but life sucked these days. She wasn’t born a housecleaner, shit happens, and it could happen to anybody. She just figured you did what you had to. The snobby Old Lyme money treated her like a servant, but they left the check on the counter, so she tried not to complain.

She dragged her cleaning tray into her third full bathroom of the day and prepared to scrub down the Jacuzzi. She didn’t feel too good, but her motto was to shut up and get it done. She rooted around in her tray for the right spray bottle when she slipped and fell over, hitting her head on the fine Italian double-glazed tile.

“Oh shit,” she mumbled, “I’m out of Tilex.”

The owners found her that night and after calling 911, discussed the annoying problem of finding decent help.

The prompt was His final words were. I hope it’s not cheating too much to have made the adjustment to Her final words were.

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Gridlocked

My younger sister was an unpleasant bitch all her life but I overlooked that when she needed help. Drugs, bad men, no job, no car, no skills, nowhere to go but down. I taught her how to drive, gave her my car, got her a job in a factory, a room in my apartment, a kitten. I was still young enough to believe that family meant something. She was still a shrew, but I thought that with some care she might grow out of her taste for trouble. I learned to tame my own temper lest we regress back to the kind of vicious fights we had growing up.

But there it was, unlocked and untapped, lying carelessly on the floor emanating  the kind of karmic negativity reserved for conscience-stricken souls.

Hands shaking with shame, I opened it. I would recognize her childish scrawl anywhere. I sunk down on the floor with the kitten in my lap and began to cry.

She fucking hates me. Always has, always will.

The prompt was I wish I hadn’t read her diary.

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19 responses to “Prompts IV: Epitaph and Gridlocked

  1. the word of me

    Great imagery, keep it up and don’t get discouraged…you have it in you.

    • Thanks Bill. I have to give current events a rest sometimes or the news will kill me. Although writing about politics and religion can be therapeutic, sticking my head in the sand works even better. These exercises are helpful escapes, they allow me to write about life experiences in a cathartic kind of way. And, it’s fun. Sort of.

      Good to hear from you.

  2. I like the diary piece. It’s sharp and has the old moral: curiosity killed the cat; actually that’s a good writing task: to take a proverb and write a piece of flash fiction to illustrate it.

  3. Hi J. Leo, I didn’t even think of that. Good idea. Like “all things come to those who wait” or “better the devil you know than the one you don’t”? They seem generic at first until you think about them and the million times they’ve been said under the strangest of circumstances.

    If you think of any that would make a good story, let me know—or let’s both write one!

  4. Two great stories.
    Like you I am enjoying the weekly Inspiration Monday prompts.
    I particularly liked the diary story – very poignant . The words …”there it was, unlocked and untapped, lying carelessly on the floor…..” convey very well the idea of a temptation that can’t be avoided.
    PS I also like the idea from above of taking a proverb & using it as a stimulus for a piece of flash fiction.

    • Hi Mike, thanks. Maybe there are some temptations that you’re not supposed to avoid, because it’s the only way to find out the truth.

      We should start a “Proverb Wednesday” or something!

  5. I’m glad you didn’t give up! Great pieces, both of them. My favorite line from the first is, “…discussed the annoying problem of finding decent help.” Leaving in CT sadly I see too many people who would think just that if they found someone dead in their bathroom. That and they bitch that there was blood on the clean tiles!

    The second one reminds me of a woman I knew out in Seattle. She had a similar relationship with her sister. Loved them both!

  6. Ha! Just noticed I typed “leaving in CT” rather than “living”… Freudian slip perhaps?

  7. The voices of the characters are really strong here. Nice work!

    And yes, you are allowed to change the prounouns. He, she, it, they; it matters not.

  8. That you can put into words parts of you that you may have thought you left behind makes these pieces, especially the first, hard to stop thinking about. I really admire the edge in your writing. Frankly, I find it refreshing. An honest look at a dishonest world is pretty hard to forget.

    I have one piece of advice—keep writing.

  9. Thanks Bill. I guess my stories will never be cheerful, but this is life as I know it. I find writers of real fiction amazing, I can never seem to write about anything that I haven’t personally experienced (even though I didn’t actually die!). But that’s the beauty of these prompts, a way to reveal life experiences and hopefully exorcise them without actually coming out and saying this or that sucked. Really appreciate your comments, thank you so much for the encouragement.

  10. Pingback: Flash Fiction: Deletion | Indigo Spider

  11. Pingback: Inspiration Monday V « Be Kind Rewrite

  12. “….In a fit of self-doubt I was ready to quit…”
    Oh, my, I can’t imagine you quitting. Your writing is phenomenal and if I was even .0001% the writer you are, I would be satisfied my whole life. Self-doubt….WOW. It is amazing someone as good as you are could feel doubt. But, then, we are all there at times, aren’t we? Your writing amazes me, just to let you know!!
    Thank you!

    • Jeez thanks, wow that makes my day. The reason I get frustrated is because I think my writing is depressing, not uplifting. I don’t know how to write a happy ending, I guess because I haven’t had one yet, but I like happy endings in books. Tonight I will read your blog.

  13. sic em Debra. You’re a bundle of raw talent. My sister was a smug snob, I was a pest, she pissed me off because she was so perfect.

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