Chester is my aunt’s new twelve week old puppy, a mix of golden retriever, lab, and wire-haired terrier. He loves people, and he’s remarkably patient and well-mannered for a puppy. He’s very inquisitive; when I was playing piano the other day, he patiently sat and watched. Right now he’s making the transition between living teddy bear and small dog.
Time: 7 minutes. I then set it aside for about 30 minutes, and then edited the piece for ten minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
“preparing for a long trip”
The first run: 7 minutes.
Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It wasn’t the one that would accompany him on his journey, but it was the same size. That suitcase was in a sterile environment, and everything that would eventually go into it would have to be sterilized as well. He would have to be scrubbed and cleaned up as well. But looking at this empty suitcase, not even the one that he would take, lent an air of finality. Whatever in the world that was his from now on would fit in this small space. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again. This said nothing about all the people that wouldn’t fit into the box.
Lily panted in the doorway. She seemed to sense her master’s discomfort, but feared suitcases and other boxes for reasons Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister. She might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. He couldn’t look at her, and he couldn’t look at the suitcase. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.
He tried to tell himself what an opportunity lie ahead. But it was hard not to feel the weight of all the opportunities closing behind him. Many a master lost a beloved pet. But where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again. Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility.
The edit: 10 minutes. I tried to eliminate unnecessary text while still preserving Dale’s emotions. I removed scifi-ish stuff that didn’t seem to contribute to that end, regarding the suitcase, and tried to give more time to Lily and Dale, which to me ended up being the best part of my first run.
Dale looked at the empty suitcase. It had an air of finality. This space would encompass his life until this point. Any memory, and hobby, any cherished treasure would go into this space or he would never see it again.
Lily panted in the doorway, unable to come closer due to a fear of suitcases and other boxes that Dale still couldn’t fully explain. Lily would be going to his sister, Eva. Eva might send letters with Lily’s picture, but one can’t do much with the picture of a dog. The picture of a dog can’t startle you with its wet cold nose, or rest its rest in your lap when the day was nearly too much. After a few years, the letters would grow sparser as the separation from Earth grew. If Lily was even alive by then.
Dale could not deny his excitement for his future, the opportunity of a lifetime. But it was hard not to feel the weight of the opportunities closing behind him. Where he was going, there would never be a Lily ever again, never a new puppy, never an old companion. His eyes burned.
Soft fur brushed against the back of his bare leg. Lily whimpered, her eyes uneasily fixed upon the suitcase, but determined to be near him. It was time to go for a walk, but Dale fancied some deeper sensibility. He grabbed two tennis balls. One he put into the suitcase; hopefully the decontamination process wouldn’t destroy the scent of dog drool. The other he kept in his hand as he and Lily walked toward the door.
Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
“The special box of chocolates” (author’s note: I am apparently a terrible Valentine. This was the less horrifying of the two prompts I wrote today. You were warned.)
We’ve come a long way with chocolates, I mused to myself, leaving the confectionary with a gleaming heart-shaped box full of truffles. I’d had the old versions, with just sugar and caffeine as their chemicals of action. They tasted nice, but it was a letdown compared to the modern thrills. I pulled out the guide on the walk home. The one with the ripple caused increased *ahem* blood flow, the one with the white stripe caused relaxation, the triangular one caused a sort of numbness that increased stamina… my favorite was certainly the square dark chocolate one that sort of made you feel like the other person, especially if they had one too. I slipped the guide back into the box, and grinned at the knowing leers as I walked.
My husband’s eyes flickered when I arrived home. “Ha, really John?”
“I get it every year, I know,” I said sheepishly. “But I so look forward to it.”
“I do too,” he said, wrapping his arms around me. For a bit, we needed no chemical excitement at all.
I stumbled out of the bedroom, feeling pleased with myself. But then I saw the beautiful box of chocolates, chewed and gnarled. The dog. Oh my god, he could be poisoned!
The dog, a great, powerful bulldog, came around the corner, and then I realized that poisoning might be the least of my issues. He snorted, and he looked me in the eye. I dashed out the door, half-naked, into February.
Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
“Red” (this prompt was inspired by my science fiction group’s monthly theme. Red was chosen relating to February and Valentine’s Day, but we know there are other themes red suits as well.)
I woke to fresh snowfall outside my window, but it wasn’t the glittering field of white that caught my eye, it was the speckles of red in the white. I woke up and pulled on my robe and slippers and blundered into the brilliant glare. There in the snow, not thirty feet from my house, I found the red in the snow. It was clearly blood, and a lot of it. I felt a cold that had nothing to do with the snow. I kicked at the snow. Perhaps, somewhere, there was a clue to what had happened in the field, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to touch the sullied snow.
My dog, Clover, ran out from the house, through the door I’d left standing wide open. He bounded over, initially happy to see me, but after a moment concerned himself with the patch of snow as well. He didn’t have my compunctions about the blemished snow, and instead buried his face into it, seeking the heart of the problem.
He brought his face up, smeared with red and frost. And in his mouth was a pendant, with the sign of a saint I didn’t know.
“Good job, boy!” I said, and Clover dropped the chain in my hand, and proceeded to kiss me with his scarlet smeared mouth. I screamed and ran back into the house, someone or something’s sticky blood all over my hands. Clover cocked his head to the side and followed behind me. I washed my hands and then I went to the computer to look up this saint.
Time: 5 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
“Lights blinked off all over the ship”
Daisy watched as lights blinked off all over the ship. First at the front of the boat, then progressively to the back. Finally the whole boat was engulfed in blackness. After her eyes adjusted, Daisy could see the stars glittering off the ocean. She hoped that now, the enemy could not see them. She didn’t know how the enemy saw.
Her master approached. “Don’t worry, doggie. I know it’s dark, but dark means safe.”
She could hear the fear in the girl’s voice. She started to shake. This corridor was dangerous, even a dog knew. It was the only way to the fabled north sea. In the north sea, everybody played games all day long, and the sun never set. She licked the girl’s hand. It made Daisy feel better to try to please her master.
She heard the buzz of engines above. She cringed. Her ears were better than her master’s.
“What is it, Daisy, what do you hear?”
She wished she could tell her master to run, to hide. But she couldn’t. She could only hope. So she licked her hand and stared into the little girl’s wide, friendly eyes. She looked over her shoulder. She heard the engines now too.