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  1. I always wondered if famous authors stare at a white sheet of paper or a blinking cursor, wrestling with the very first word, the first sentence, like me. There is a story somewhere, but how to begin? Or do the words just pour out of them? PT#77 Let’s borrow an opening line of a famous book and write a short piece of fiction or a poem. I’m pretty much f*cked. (The Martian by Andy Weir) All children, except one, grow up. (Peter Pan by J.M: Barrie) He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. (Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini) PT#78 Play with perspectives. Write the same story from the perspective of at least two persons.
  2. My latest short story That's Where You'll Find Me plays with the concepts of identity, reality, and memory. As many readers know, I am a fan of science fiction and these themes were made famous by authors like Philip K. Dick among others. Yet, I wanted to bring my love of science fiction into contemporary gay fiction. For me, I wanted to create a short story based on the concept of framed false memory from the perspective of an LGBTQ victim, who was traumatized and brutalized into forgetting themselves. Life can get really hard for folks in our community, but some of the worst issues are faceareby those who don't conform to the binary gender identity. It's not difficult to imagine someone who goes through a psychological break and becomes a different person with memories re-oriented, so the new reality fits their new life. A famous psychological issue called the Mandela Effect harnessed this severe psychological break with reality to rewrite history to suit personal needs. The Mandela effect, in short, was a phenomenon encountered by people, who claimed they had heard, seen, or witnessed the death of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s, when in fact he would not die until 2013 after serving as President of South Africa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory#Mandela_Effect It's a fascinating concept about how cognitive reasoning and personal views shape "perceived reality" versus "factual reality". My protagonist in this short story is a conservative Christian college student, who has spent most of his life, as far as he knows, being a devout Christian who crusaded against everything from abortion to LGBT rights to promoting Conversion therapy. Yet, his entire reality and structure of truth are put to the test, when he hears a girl play and sing the famous song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which seemed familiar to him and incites a deep-seated need for protection from him. As the story progresses, I show readers why this need to protect exists and break the multiple layers of false memories that created his reality. In the end, I wanted my character to reclaim their identity and reality, despite the trauma of accepting what had happened or what they have done in their life afterward. Not everyone is a strong survivor after a trauma, many people will look within themselves and change themselves to be something else to adapt. This happens to a lesser degree when people enter new surroundings like college or workplaces, but in my story, the protagonist had to re-orient their entire life history to make sense of their life experience. There's also a culpability factor in my story, for this illusion to continue, the closest people around the protagonist like his parents and best friend must accept his new reality as well. They did it out of guilt and obligation, but it actually compounds psychological issues from the protagonist's sense of reality and his self-identity. Reality is a tricky concept, there's factual reality, implied reality, and self-actualized reality. Some sidenotes: 1. The title is based on a line from Somewhere Over the Rainbow, along with the last names of two main characters being based on the names of the actual writers. 2. The fictional fraternity my protagonist belonged to has a famous Christian Greek prefix, "Chi" and "Rho" Greek letters combined in Christian iconography represent the cross in early Christianity. I know not many readers will know this little textual detail, nor care, but I did it intentionally. Most people know I have a grasp of Christian history and languages.
  3. Aditus

    Humor Me

    I know it really means don’t argue with me, or just do it (please), or even indulge me. What I’m asking for is to make me and everyone else laugh in my very special, weird way. PT #65 Explain why the MC of your prompt story is standing in front of their house in their underwear, with one sock on the left foot and a cooking spoon in their hand. PT #66 After a long flight, someone grabs their suitcase, marked with a bright yellow band to avoid any mix-up, from the luggage belt. At the hotel, they open it and find out it’s definitely not their suitcase. What do they find? And remember, make us laugh, no stinky socks, boring books, or lame leatherette boots.
  4. Aditus

    Prompt Us!

    We always tell you what to do. Write a story, a poem using this or that. I thought we could do it the other way around this Friday. You tell us what to write. For example, @Valkyrie Write a story beginning with a Valkyrie, an Erinys, and an Oracle meet at a spa, or @Cole Matthews Please write another sonnet. (He will probably kill me for this.) So, good-bye if you don’t hear from me anymore. If there is more than one prompt, we get to choose and the rest go into the guest prompt bank. PT #53 Prompt us. PT #54 It’s Pride month. Write a poem a story, whatever you want, and tell us what Pride means to you or to a fictitious character.
  5. Aditus

    Prompt May 13th

    Do you want to write a story, maybe for the upcoming anthology, but nothing inspires an idea? How about this? PT# 47 For weeks, someone has this uneasy feeling they forgot something important: a birthday, an anniversary, an invitation. Then a long-forgotten childhood friend calls them. “I just wanted to remind you about—” About what? I’m curious to read your story. Or, you send someone on a scavenger hunt. PT# 48 The protagonist steps out their door and finds several blue shimmering items that no one else seems to see. They follow the trail. In the end, they are able to assemble a wondrous machine. What can it do? I don’t believe in bad luck on Friday the 13th! Don't forget the Sub-Genre Rewrite the Prompt Contest - Entries due by May 22, 2022
  6. Sometimes the story is outlined on paper or in our head, but how to begin? The first sentence should engage the reader without revealing too much or boring them to death. This time we’ll do it the other way around. PT #41a Pick an introductory sentence from a favorite book on your shelf at home or a story on GA and use it to start a short story or vignette. And because it’s still April: PT#41b Choose the first line of any poem and continue to write a poem of your own. PT #42 Did you see the Sub Genre rewrite challenge? Your goal is to rewrite a given prompt to show it instead of telling it. You can focus on the scene itself or rewrite it into a new story. Add more that comes before or after but be sure to include these paragraphs in all the glorious five senses details to bring the story alive for readers. More than one author can pick the same prompt, as we all visualize scenes differently. Have fun!
  7. April is National Poetry writing month (NaPoWriMo). The challenge is to write a poem a day until May. Over the last years, we had several poets who took up the gauntlet. I understand that many of you can't or don't want to write a poem a day, but we are looking forward to every poem or poetry collection that will be posted during the next month. We are happy we could win AC Benus as a special guest to get us started with two brand new poetry prompts: Skyscraper Let's Write some Skyscrapers! Never heard of it before? PT#33a) Stand-alone Skyscraper – by this point, we are all tired of winter in the northern hemisphere, so write a Skyscraper thinking ahead to how eating your first slice of season-ripened watermelon will make you feel. Capture the moment and the undercurrents of emotions. Alternately, choose an animal of your choice to write about, be it bird, frog, ladybug, firefly, or anything that makes you reflect upon nature and the current season. PT#33b) Stanza-pattern Skyscraper – write a poem of at least three stanza-form Skyscrapers strophes. Base your poem on the feelings raised in you by listening to the following Karl Ditters composition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nRUxdA59yQ&t=339s https://youtu.be/0nRUxdA59yQ Alternately, go to the following image hosting service and write a poem based on any of the pictures that engage your creativity. Be sure to include a link to your inspiration picture with your completed poem. https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mist Whichever theme you choose, be sure to have your Skyscraper(s) consist of 7 lines of the correct syllable count. Also, carry your thought out through all of the lines, avoiding any hard-stops or one-and-done lines of poetry. The Skyscraper is verse, and all about how you turn the line beautifully from one to the next. Remember that. Ballad Let's Write an 8-10 Ballad! Never heard of it before? PT#34 Write one 8-10 Ballad (or as many as needed) to explore your feelings concerning the war Russia is waging against Ukraine. Perhaps start with remembering where you were the moment you heard Putin had actually invaded. This is an excellent form to tell the war’s “story” to this point in time, while also relaying how the fighting/defending makes you feel (i.e. the Narrative and Lyric elements united together). Alternately, choose a memory of a kid’s birthday party and write about it. Perhaps write about one you celebrated as a child in the context of one you have thrown or attended as an adult. Whichever theme you choose, be sure to make each 8-10 Ballad contain 4 quatrains for a total of 16 lines (and use as many 8-10 Ballads as you need, which you will label i., ii., iii., etc. – and title individually if you like). Be sure to only rhyme on lines 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, 12, 14, 16, for a total of 4 pairs; do not use any pair of rhymes more than once in the 16 lines of any particular 8-10 Ballad. Avoid repetition to keep the poems sounding fresh.
  8. A Round Robin isn’t a fat bird. It’s actually a lot of things, but the only interesting definition concerning prompts is that it is a form of storytelling. There are several variations. Let’s try two. PT# 27 Tell a story that begins at the same place as it ends. PT# 28 Find at least one fellow author and tell a story together. Write its paragraphs or sentences alternatively.
  9. Much of the Eastern United States is being hammered by a massive snowstorm as I write this. We're getting close to two feet of snow where I live. So it feels fitting to feature two prompts based on snow. What's it like where you live? PT Prompt #15 - Technical Describe a cold, snowy winter to a pen pal who has never seen one. PT Prompt #16 - Creative The Gay Snowman. How does a snowman find love?
  10. I was trying to use the search function in the Writing Prompts forum. I needed to find topic #597 to mention my new chapter. However, searching didn't work, whether I used 597, #597 or Prompt #579. It didn't matter whether I searched the prompt forum or everywhere. Is this a bug, or am I using the search function wrong? It would be really nice to be able to find the topic I need without having to scroll through several pages.
  11. I don't think anyone took the prompt last week, so without further ado this weeks prompt. Prompt du jour #4 – Creative Tag: Mystery There’s a killer on the loose, and everyone in your community is scared. This is startling to you because you sense that the serial murderer is targeting a select class of citizen. Who is he/she and why are they targeting them?
  12. Last week I proposed a prompt for Remembrance day, and I will say that I wasn't disappointed. Ron took the prompt and made it his own and made it into something fantastic. Look below to see a glimpse of his response. Now without further ado, this week’s prompt. Prompt du jour #3 – Creative Tag: first line “I know you love me no matter what, but …” Want to read more? Check out Ron's response Sandbox.
  13. Today, we're doing something a little different! This is the newest newsletter prompt writing game. So, play along with some other authors, have fun with any headline that catches your eye, and get a link to your story featured in the site newsletter! HEADLINE PROMPT GAME Happy Gay Pride Month, everyone! How are you celebrating? Does your city do a parade? Special event weekends? Ban celebrations? *boo hiss* Or are you not quite ready for the crowds? Well, how about GA celebrates together with a new game? Very loose rules with this game, just have some fun with it. You're going to google "Gay Pride" and then click on the (News) option. Then DON'T click on the results! All you're going to do is use one of the headlines that catches your eye to create a scenario and write from there. Any length, any genre is fine, but the theme is sort of obvious, lol. You can share your headline in the game topic, talk about your story/writing as you go along, but don't do a full reveal to anyone but your editing team so we can all enjoy them later! Fine print: Deadline is June 28th. Post story/chapter unpublished with no date. Send link to Cia via PM. Story release will happen with July 1st newsletter.
  14. This challenge was so popular two weeks ago and we have another open blog today, so I thought we'd have some more Halloween fun. It's almost here! It's a super simple challenge that helps get your creative juices flowing... write a caption for this image below that tells a story and share it in the blog comments. You have just 30 words or less to share what you think is happening in the picture. Narrate the scene, give a spooky reason why those jack-o-lantern's are clustered there, or give us a peek at the events about to happen... Are they about to get revenge for the carving? Eeek! You tell us! CAPTION THIS Remember, authors, you can get featured in the site blogs with several author features but you have to sign up for them! Story Critique: Open to all GA authors. Sign up here Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM your recommendation and why you recommend it to a Site Admin.
  15. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Note: See my opening remarks on the purpose and intent of this prompt series here. As always, feel free to alter the characters' genders or ages if you like. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- O. Henry Short Story Prompt 3 – Hour of the Dogman Urban life. A melancholy picture of a certain time of the evening comes into focus. Life in the big city means apartment living for most, and that goes for pampered pooches as well. More often than not, it’s the one not-so-in-love with Fido who has to take him out as soon as he gets home, before any mention of dinner is made. Sam Telfair is one such person. While his spouse's obese, precious little terror inspects every tree base, and snarls at every other dog – and Sam alike – his mind wanders over the scene. First he notes with sadness how he is hardly alone. Several young men walk dogs they obviously have no connection with. Primped dogs with bows, ribbons, and frilly pink leads. Next he wonders how his life got to this point. He never wanted to live in the city in the first place, but his partner snagged him in the Western town where they resided, and ambition to 'make something of your life' was forced down his throat; that and having to move to the city because that's 'where everything happens.' Sam is not so sure. He muses that perhaps he left a good thing behind – Sam has a romantic past too with someone, and regrets. While he's walking, he gets the surprise of his life. As if by some trick of fate, 'he' of all people is there. Jim Berry slaps the Dogman on the back and says, "There you are!" It turns out Jim is in town for the day and was on his way over to Sam's place for a visit. Sam says it's better if they go to a bar. So they sit outside and drink freely. They catch up, talk about their current lives, and of their past too. It's getting late. Jim has a train to catch; Sam regards the canine ball-and-chain he's tethered to – the dog's anxious to get home and be fed – and realizes he has a decision to make. The prompt: write your own version of this story. You decide what Sam does at the end, and why.
  16. I've been thinking about expanding one of my prompt responses and since I've had a lot of requests, I've decided to ask my readers who they would like to read more about. I won't make any promises as to when I'll get to it...my main focus right now is on writing The Hollow Hills, but I need something else to concentrate on when my muse is stuck. The links are found below, and please vote in the poll and let me know who you'd like to read more about! Jack and Rob Prompts 370 and 372 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2014promptresponses/36 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2014promptresponses/37 Jordan and Charlie Prompt 393 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2015promptresponses/7 Jonathan and Nate The Minor parts 1-6 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2015promptresponses/2 I won't post all six links. You can find the rest under 2015 Prompt Responses Seth and Tristan Prompt 397 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2015promptresponses/10 Jeremy and Vince Prompt 400 https://www.gayauthors.org/story/valkyrie/2015promptresponses/12
  17. Announcing the first entry in True's Prompts. The first was in response to Prompt #408. In this prompt we had to build a story based on the opening line: "If you threaten him again, I'll kill you!" Please enjoy my entry: Priorities https://www.gayauthors.org/story/atruefan/priorities
  18. Your regularly scheduled prompt has be hijacked by nefarious elements! ________________________________________________ A few old friends are talking. They all have history and have moved on. Then the inevitable question comes up: ________________________________________ "Why him/her?"
  19. I thought it would be fun to see how creative we can be... Remember 5/7/5 syllables... Nature’s beautiful Wind, trees, flowers and rivers man messes it up
  20. The latest entry for True's Prompts (third) is now posted. Please enjoy my take on this week's prompt: Don't be Late
  21. Priorities originally stared as a response to Prompt #408, but it's grown into a full length story, so I felt it proper to create it's own thread. Please, feel free to comment on the story here, in addition to your reviews. I'd love to see a discussion about the story started. Chapter 3 - Like WOW! has been posted, you can access it here. Thanks again for reading and all your feedback. It's through reader feedback that we as writers grow. True
  22. Poetry Prompt 3 – Lyrics Let's Write some Lyrics! I'm not talking about writing a song, at least not yet. But now that we have begun to think in terms of structure, and have been introduced to the concept of lines of poetry being made up of a set number of syllables, it's time to look at the most popular form in the western world. 'Lyrics' for my intents and purposes refers to a set of alternating lines of syllables - a discernible beat created through a repeating of line length. Like the rhythm we have seen from Japanese verse of 5 and 7 syllables playing back and forth, the most common equivalent in lyrical Western verse is an 8 and 6 pattern. A little birdie has told me Irritable1 has a fantastic prompt coming up talking about the internal rhythm within a line, but for now let's just look at how lines can form lyrics by using two different syllable lengths. Emily Dickinson had an innate way to construct poems. They are often very lyrical, as in this example: Nature and God—I neither knew Yet Both so well knew me They startled, like Executors Of My identity. Yet Neither told—that I could learn— My Secret as secure As Herschel's private interest Or Mercury's affair—[1] This is a perfect example for us to look at. For one, 835 (as it's known) is flawless as it alternates back and forth between 6 and 8 syllable lines. These lyrics also not no bother with rhyme, which we will get to in later prompts. For now, we can just read it and feel the connection to Tanka and Haiku, and we can build on it to write our own lyrics. And speaking of connection, I personally never feel I can understand Dickenson's poetry except in a queer context, and this poem once again reconfirms that for me as she speaks of feeling like Nature and God have never known her; that seems a very familiar doubt that every LGBT person has ever felt. Here's another Dickinson example (known as 551): There is a Shame of Nobleness— Confronting Sudden Pelf— A finer Shame of Ecstasy— Convicted of Itself— A best Disgrace—a Brave Man feels— Acknowledged—of the Brave— One More—"Ye Blessèd"—to be told— But that's—Behind the Grave— The prompt: write two stanzas of lyrics. Follow the 8-syllable/6-syllable pattern as you go. Base it on the first emotions you remember having when you woke up this morning. This is practice, so it is up to you if you wish to incorporate rhymes, and feel free to make the poem humorous if you like. [1] The analogy in the second stanza is an interesting one. Hershel was a chemist who published multiple papers on his experiments with mercury. The play of that science (i.e. Nature) with the mention of the god Mercury's not-so secret (and same-sex loving) love life brings in the element of spirit (or of God) to contrast it.
  23. Poetry Prompt 14 – Ballade Let's Write a Ballade! With the Ghazal we've seen how refrain can build and lend grandeur to a work with songlike attributes. Related to that is a complex form from Southern France. A Ballade is a song/poem that is also very like the Ghazal in being flexible in what type of theme the poet wishes to select. One of the greatest French poets, François Villon, used the Ballade to write of abstract things like the seasons, as well as a very emotional plea for acceptance and forgiveness on the day he was to be executed by the State. Curiously enough, another point of connection between the Ballade and the Ghazal is the "Envoi" (or, sometimes "Envoy" in English). This is a direct address from the poet to the person or abstract notion the Ballade is dedicated to. In it's way, it's very much like the salute of the poet in the final couplet of the Ghazal. The origins of this form are a bit obscure, but they are French, and seem to come out of the genuine Troubadour traditions of songs for entertainment. By the 15th century and the heyday of François Villon, the form had been perfected and was probably not expected to be sung anymore.[1] Its structure is demanding, but I think you will see it really is an extension of the Sonnet form we've already studied. Ballade requirements: - At least three stanzas of eight lines each - A concluding quatrain addressing the inspiration (either person or idea) of the poem, and known as the Envoi - Each of the stanzas, and the Envoi too, end in an exact repeat of the same line – this is known as the refrain - All lines are of a uniform syllable count, to be determined by the poet - The rhyme scheme is very strict and minimal. Every eight-line stanza uses the same rhymes, and goes: a, b, a, b, b, c, b, c. - The quatrain is rhymed: b, c, b, c, and uses the same rhymes as the stanzas. - This means you will need a whopping total of 6 a-rhyme words, 14 b-rhyme words, and 5 c-rhyme words (as the refrain rhyme is a repeat) Wow. I know; that's a lot to take in. But it's manageable once we look at some examples. Here is a poem called Ballade of Dead Actors by William Ernest Hanley. To help you, I will put the rhyme scheme designation before each line. a Where are the passions they essayed, b And where the tears they made to flow? a Where the wild humours they portrayed b For laughing worlds to see and know? b Othello's wrath and Juliet's woe? c Sir Peter's whims and Timon's gall? b And Millamant and Romeo? c-refrain Into the night go one and all. a Where are the braveries, fresh or frayed? b The plumes, the armours – friend and foe? a The cloth of gold, the rare brocade, b The mantles glittering to and fro? b The pomp, the pride, the royal show? c The cries of war and festival? b The youth, the grace, the charm, the glow? c-refrain Into the night go one and all. a The curtain falls, the play is played: b The Beggar packs beside the Beau; a The Monarch troops, and troops the Maid; b The Thunder huddles with the Snow. b Where are the revellers high and low? c The clashing swords? The lover's call? b The dancers gleaming row on row? c-refrain Into the night go one and all. Envoi b Prince, in one common overthrow c The Hero tumbles with the Thrall; b As dust that drives, as straws that blow, c-refrain Into the night go one and all. You can see the refrain becomes a powerful line, much as the repeated word in the strict Ghazal form is. The poet chose 8-syllable lines, and pretty much stuck to that as much as possible. You can also see how demanding the rhyme scheme is. Let's look at the master at work. Here is Villon's Ballade des dames du temps jadis, which is arguably one of the word's great poems. Dictes moy où, n’en quel pays, Est Flora la belle Romaine; Archipiada, ne Thaïs, Qui fut sa cousine germaine, Echo, parlant quand bruyt on maine Dessus riviere ou sus estan, Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine? Mais où sont les neiges d’antan? Où est la très sage Héloïs, Pour qui chastré fut et puis moyne Pierre Esbaillart à Saint Denis? Pour son amour eut cest essoyne. Semblablement, où est royne Qui commanda que Buridan Fust geté en ung sac en Seine? Mais où sont les neiges d’antan? La royne Blanche comme lys, Qui chantoit à voix de sereine, Berthe au grand pied, Bietris, Allys, Harembourgis qui tint le Mayne, Et Jehanne, la bonne Lorraine, Qu’Anglois bruslèrent à Rouen; Où sont-ils, Vierge souveraine? Mais où sont les neiges d’antan? Envoi Prince, n’enquerez de sepmaine Où elles sont, ne de cest an, Que ce refrain ne vous remaine: Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?[2] Again we can feel the power of the limited rhyme scheme and the way the refrain interacts will all the ideas in the poem. If you think you would like to see one more example, here is one I wrote from my novella, Unafraid. It's simply called Terry's Ballade. https://www.gayauthors.org/forums/blog/513/entry-14663-terrys-ballade/ All right, let's roll up our sleeves and write one. Where to start? With the rhymes. Start there because you need so many – 14 words alone for the b rhyme! After you've come up with a general concept, begin choosing 'power words' that speak to your theme, and see if you can come up with good, natural sounding rhymes for them. Consult a rhyming dictionary if you have one, or use one of the many online versions. Keep a running list, as ideally you will want plenty to choose from, and not feel obligated to make an awkward one 'work' simply because you run out of good choices. The prompt: write one Ballade based on images from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You decide how many syllables to use per line, and whether you wish each stanza to be about a different panel from the ceiling, or flow as an overall impression of the artwork. Include an Envoi and address it to whomever you like. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallery_of_Sistine_Chapel_ceiling -------------------------------------------- [1] The English word 'ballad' also comes from the Troubadour tradition, but can generally mean any type of storytelling song, usually but not always about love. 'Ballade' - with an 'e' - means a very specific poetic form and should not be confused with the other, more general term. [2] Here is a more or less literal, non-poetic, translation: Tell me where, or in what land is Flora, the lovely Roman, or Archipiades, or Thaïs, who was her first cousin; or Echo, replying whenever called across river or pool, and whose beauty was more than human? But where are the snows of yesteryear? Where is that brilliant lady Heloise, for whose sake Peter Abelard was castrated and became a monk at Saint Denis? He suffered that misfortune because of his love for her. And where is that queen who ordered that Buridan be thrown into the Seine in a sack? But where are the snows of yesteryear? Queen Blanche, white as a lily, who sang with a siren’s voice; Big-footed Bertha, Beatrice, Alice, Arembourg who ruled over Maine; and Joan, the good maiden of Lorraine who was burned by the English at Rouen — where are they, where, O sovereign Virgin? But where are the snows of yesteryear? Envoi Prince, do not ask in a week where they are, or in a year. The only answer you will get is this refrain: But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  24. Make a compelling short story without dialogue. Bonus points if you touch my heart. Or stomach. Monologues are accepted, but the challenge is to make it compelling and good without the characters explicitly saying something. So let's test your vocabulary. I wanna see if it can be done with such quality, so yeah.
  25. Hi All, Note: Just to review the purpose and goal of these prompts, let’s remember a Short Story is not just a story that’s short. As developed by American writers for over 200 years now, it has specific parts, and the form allows for nearly unlimited creativity. These prompts are here to help you build confidence in crafting your own Short Stories. The sections yours should include are: - Setup - Development - Climax/Twist - Denouement (which is the aftermath, and which is optional). For further details, see my opening remarks on the series here. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- O. Henry Short Story Prompt 4 – Witches’ Loaves Martha Meacham is a practical and pragmatic businesswoman. At age 40, her corner bakery and donut shop is the kind of urban gathering spot where everybody knows your name. She has money in the bank, but sometimes thinks it’s too late to have the love of her life walk beneath the tinkling bell attached to her shop’s door. One day she begins to pay more attention to a particularly offbeat client of hers. Immediately after the morning rush on Tuesdays and Thursdays, an unassuming man in his fifties, with wire-rim glasses, steps up to the counter to buy a pair of day-old dinner rolls, which are priced to move at two-for-one. His routine never varies: never a donut; never a slice of cheesecake; never a croissant. He’s neat as a pin in his attire, but Martha notes his business-casual clothes are a bit worn around the edges, like he hasn’t replaced them in quite a while. His manner is always polite, and the shop owner detects a German accent. Thinking about him at odd moments during the day raises pity in her breast. She begins to suppose the odd staining of sepia and black on his fingertips means he’s an artist. That thought makes her even sadder. She imagines him toiling the day away in some dingy attic loft, painting his heart out, to only sit down later to a meal of tap water and two stale dinner rolls. To confirm her suspicion, she brings down a small painting from her apartment upstairs. It’s a Venetian scene she’d picked it up at an auction because she liked the colors, but otherwise she knows nothing about Art. True to her suspicion, the next time he’s in, the German takes note of the painting and starts his first conversation with her. He says she has a fine picture there, and it sends her pulse racing. “Do you think so?” she asks. “Indeed, although the perspective is a little off.” Now a few more changes occur at the corner bakery. On certain days of the week, flowers appear on the counter by the day-old section. And though her regulars rib her about it, she takes to wearing a particular silk blouse a friend gave her long ago. She feels the blue and white polka dots cheer up the place. The German and she engage in friendly smiles and chitchat about the weather each time he comes in, but Martha does not know how to take their ‘relationship’ to the next level. One day while he’s there, a great parade of sirens sounds from down the street. Patrons rush to the front windows to watch the firetrucks go by, and Martha takes a notion into her head. Quick as can be, she rushes the customer’s stale dinner rolls over to the pastry cream gun – the kind used to inject donuts with the light and buttery filling. By the time the commotion dies down, she hands the man his rolls already bagged up. That day at lunch, she dreamily pictures her artist at work. Pictures how he’d stop for a bite, and encounter a surprise. He’d taste the sweetness and know it was from Martha…maybe he’d know more too. Her reverie is broken abruptly by the angry sound of her shop bell. When she goes to the front, the German’s pulling his hair out in frustration and fuming in his native language. The only word she can make out clearly is Hexenbrot, because he repeats it so many times. Fortunately, the man’s accompanied by a younger coworker who can translate. The Prompt: write your own Short Story based on this scenario, and what has happened to upset the dinner-roll client. If you want to know what O. Henry's twist is, PM me and I will tell you. Otherwise, try to devise your own. _
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