Tag Archives: kid

Writing prompt: The enchanted dollhouse

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The enchanted dollhouse”

The attic, a place of gloom and terror that Lillian only went as a last resort to hide from chores, was the last place that Lillian expected to find a dollhouse. It was under a dusty old sheet, and when she pulled it off, she had the greatest sense of delight. The little dolls were tucked in their beds, and all the details were just so—victorian wallpaper, delicately carved stair railings, a tiny loaf of bread on the table. Lillian sat all the dolls at the kitchen table and arranged plates with forks and knives, and it was amazing.

Why hadn’t mom told her about the dollhouse? Well, sometimes mom was weird, so Lillian decided not to say anything about it after she came back down from the attic. All evening long, she wanted to go back up and play, but mom would ask questions.

The next afternoon, Lillian went straight to the attic after school, and straight to the dollhouse. Oddly, the dolls weren’t at the table, they were in bed again. Hmm, mom must have come up to play with it herself or something.

So Lillian asked her mother about the dollhouse when she returned from work.

“What dollhouse?” her mother said with intensity. She could be so weird.

“The one in the attic. The Victorian one. I found it yesterday.”

“You didn’t play with it, did you?” her mother’s face grew pale.

“Of course I did,” Lillian said. “Don’t worry, I was careful and I didn’t break anything.”

Her mother rushed out of the room. “Mom,” her mother said, “Lillian found the dollhouse. What do I do?”


Writing prompt: the spongy place in the yard

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The spongy place in the yard” (As a kid in the northeast, this happened in my backyard. I thought there was something under there, which made a perfect launching point for a prompt.)

Every spring, after the snow melts, the backyard gets spongy. I always knew why, and though I told mom, she laughed and smiled in that patronizing way. I knew there was something underground. The ground just sagged too much, the way the ceiling sagged and my grandmother’s abandoned childhood home. I could tell by the way it looked that it was a sagging ceiling too. I was just seeing it from above.

Then I noticed that the neighbor spends a lot of time in her shed. Hours. She must be about two hundred, hunched and always walking with a hand against the small of her back. Summer or winter, she walks with a throw wrapped tightly over her shoulders.

So last night, I went into her shed. Sure enough, under a sheet of plywood, I found a staircase downward. I turned on my flashlight, and I went down the winding stairs. There must have been fifty, I lost count. At the end of the staircase, I found myself in a huge earthen room, taller than any room in my house. And on the ceiling, they hung, dozens of little people like my neighbor. They were all wrapped up in throws like the woman. Then they noticed me, and I discovered they weren’t throws. They were wings. And they were flying after me.

I panicked, and I ran down a corridor into the darkness. I dropped my flashlight, but I kept running, because duh. I hear the rustle of their wings in the darkness, searching, like the sound of a sheet being snapped again and again.