A writing-group prompt for an exercise in which the pencil never lifts from the paper for ten minutes produced this from Kay Vreeland, working from the prompt: “Where did she come from—how long would she stay?”
She came in, all dandelion fizz and pearl sugar, heads turned and she ignored them beelining to the old man in the armchair by the fire whose oiled-walnut face cracked with pleasure, then the chatter began, like snowdrops losing their petals and gladdening his heart, in fact, once he laughed and she realized then and looked around the room at last, and saw him, and he didn’t see her and that was a disappointment since he’d said she was like a sunbeam wherever she went—she’d hated that—sunbeams were insubstantial and above all she wanted to be very substantial, maybe not supper-gong-voice substantial, but looked-at substantial but the sunny blur of her did not mass together into something he had to keep looking at, so, mindful of the old man starting to get restless, she began the bird chirps he loved so much, little snippets of gossip were his favorite, so she made up as many as she could, always tying them to some real moment, even in another life, another place, just to see the delight spurt about until someone finally thought to bring the champagne over and that was welcome since why did people always forget to pass the champagne, so she gave the old man some, in a shorter, squatter glass, and he was delighted, delight being something she found she was never short of and no one thought to wonder why she stayed at his side, the fire must be too warm, the chair too uncomfortable, the repartee so sadly absent but the bubbles from that corner of the room were as frothy as the champagne sparkles everywhere and no one could ever figure out how she did it and more than one wallflower was so intensely jealous it nearly upset an entire table, but the spoiled-brat smile of the envious one just curdled a few glasses of champagne and the girl and the old man became sorts of magnets, the cluster of chatter around them thickened and the party was a resounding success, a party that had no right to be, being thrown for all the wrong reasons like a tea bowl on a brand-new wheel, not the right thing to do at all, but at least someone had thought to invite her and almost everyone was glad that she had come and most of all, of course, the old man, who ….. TIME’S UP!
Have you ever tried this writing exercise?
Kay spent her 35-year university-teaching career in Kobe, Japan, and once back in the U.S., she was a book marketing manager for a couple of years, and now coaches authors who are hesitant about book marketing. She uses other hours in her day as president of a large women’s group running multiple activities, on the board of the local Timebank and on the board of our local EPIC Group Writers. Kay hopes someday to add “published author of a popular novel” to this list.