December26 (2): Well, that’s awkward…

Prompt: write a story about a writer who reads/writes fanfiction of his own characters. Taken from /r/WritingPrompts (I didn’t actually know there were non-scary parts of Reddit).

It was always kind of funny when someone “yelled” at Rob, all in capital letters, telling him that Sirena and Michael would never have got together like that, and how way off base he was. He was well aware of that, and he wrote it as an experiment. There was never any telling how angry fans were going to get, though. He wondered how they’d react if they knew it was him writing the pairing they so despised.

He’d had to spend a fair bit of time on Urban Dictionary, learning the meanings of terms like “I can’t even!” and “My feels!” but he now knew enough that he could maintain a conversation while sounding like one of his own fans. He just had to remember not to mention too many things that weren’t actually specified in the books, or to at least frame it as an interpretation and not canon if he did mention it.

His only regret? Not learning what a “kink meme” is before he clicked the link…

December 26 – A Blind Date Gone Wrong…

Prompt: Your main character is an anxious 39-year-old woman. The story begins in a stately home. A blind date is the start of something big. The theme of the story is pride.

“It’s a… uh, nice place here, isn’t it?” Judy sat down in the chair the waiter had pulled out for her. She placed her hands on the table and tried to wring them too much. She didn’t want to show how nervous she was.

“A beautiful spot,” Eric agreed. “The house was built in the 1740s on the instruction of Lord Matheson.”

“I see.” Judy didn’t really know anything about the history of the stately home in whose restaurant they were eating, or who Lord Matheson had been. She wondered how much else Eric knew about it.

“Would sir and madam like to begin with drinks?” the waiter asked.

“Oh, yes, please,” said Eric. “Judy, what would you like?”

“Oh, um… red wine, please.”

Eric scanned the wine list and pointed to one. “A bottle, please.”

“Of course, sir.”

When the waiter was gone, Eric leaned forward toward Judy and it was all she could do to not lean back away from him. She bit her lip.

“So,” he said, “tell me about yourself.”

“Oh, well, there’s not much to tell, really. I work for an insurance company. I have an English major.” She shrugged, not quite making eye contact. “What else do you want to know?”

“Oh, come on, I’m sure there’s plenty more to know. What’s your favourite colour? Favourite holiday destination? What are your hobbies?”

He was asking the questions very quickly and Judy tried to remember them in order. This felt more like a job interview than a date.

“All right. My favourite colour is yellow. I… I don’t really have a favourite holiday destination. I don’t really go anywhere much.”

“That’s a shame. Why not?”

“Well, I… I don’t like going to places I don’t know.”

“You came here today.”

“Well, yes, but I’ve driven past this place before. It’s sort of familiar.” From his expression, Judy was fairly sure that he didn’t buy that reason, true as it was for her. “What about you?” she asked quickly, steering the conversation away from herself. “Where do you go on holidays?”

“Well, I’ve been quite a few places around Europe, recently. I took my daughter to Greece over the summer, for instance.”

“Greece. Lovely.” Judy was trying her hardest not to feel in adequate.

“Oh! I almost forgot.” Eric leaned down and picked up a small bag that he had placed under the table earlier. “I know we don’t know each other yet, but I brought you something.”

“Oh… you didn’t have to do that.” Judy wondered if that was customary, and if she should have brought something to. It was a blind date. Surely gifts weren’t expected?

“Give me your hand,” said Eric, drawing a silver bracelet out of the bag. Judy’s eyes widened. It looked expensive. She drew her hand back, not letting him slip the bracelet over her wrist.

“I’m sorry, Eric, I can’t accept this.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. Please, take it.”

“No, I…” Judy took a deep breath. She hated having to do this. “Look, Eric, I’m sorry, I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“We haven’t even been here that long.”

“No, we haven’t. And you’re already giving me expensive jewellery. I’m sorry, that’s just too fast.”

“Well.” Eric looked as embarrassed as Judy felt. “At least help me drink the wine we’ve already ordered.”

“All right. I’m sorry to be like this.”

“No, it’s… it’s all right. I suppose I should have thought a bit more.”

Thankfully, the wine arrived soon after, and they were able to distract themselves. The waiter did seem a little surprised when Eric informed him they would no longer be staying for lunch, but he didn’t ask questions.

Once they had finished, Judy pulled some money out of her purse and gave it to Eric before he could object. There was no way she was going to let him insist on paying. The wine wasn’t the cheapest, so she was certainly chipping in. As they stood before Eric went to pay, Judy held out her hand.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” she said.

“Better to nip it in the bud than let it quickly turn into something awful, I suppose.”

“Yes. It was nice to meet you, though.”

“You, too, Judy. Good luck.”

With that, Eric moved towards the counter while Judy made her way to the door. When she reached her car, she couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Perhaps now the people who had been trying in vain to set her up with someone would let up.

December 23 – Only for one night…

Author’s note: Prompt is the opening line. All my writing is becoming Christmas-y lately. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😀 I was actually hoping it would end up a little longer and deeper, but not to worry.

It was only for one night. Darren supposed he could manage that. Maybe earn some karma points. His girlfriend, Erin, had volunteered them both to help out at the local soup kitchen on Christmas Eve. She hadn’t consulted him, but how do you back out of something like that?

When they arrivead, they were each presented with a Santa hat and loud wished for a Merry Christmas. Since neither of them had been there before, they were introduced to the regular organisers, before being led around into the kitchen area, where three Bain-maries were full of various seasonal foods. Darren and Erin were put on stations there, along with two others.

It wasn’t very long before the recipients of the food began arriving. Those who volunteered regularly greeted several of the guests by name. Darren flinched at a couple of them. Their clothes were tatty, some had holes where you didn’t really want holes to be, and some of them really did smell like they hadn’t showered in a week. But he found that the other volunteers seemed to be able to ignore all that, and that once he got chatting, so could he.

Once the food had been dished out, the volunteers sat down with their guests. Toasts were made, grace was said, and then they all tucked in together. Darren was sitting next to a man who was trying to find a job so he could begin supporting his kids again. As they talked, Darren found himself thinking about how he might really help this guy out. He would certainly have wanted some sort of support if it were him in the situation.

When they got back in the car at the end of the night, Erin turned to Darren. “That wasn’t bad, was it?”

“Actually, it was kind of awesome,” Darren admitted.

“And who was grumbling all the way here?”

“All right, you win. Maybe we should come back in the New Year. Do this more often.”

“I like the sound of that.”

December 22 – On a deserted island…

Author’s note: I sort of gave up on the short story writing for last week. I just had too many things on, and reading was easier in the downtime. However, now that the Christmas play I was working on is finished up, and that the Christmas break is upon us, it’s time to knuckle down and complete a story each day for the rest of the year. The prompt for this one was the opening line.

~*~

She clung onto the piece of driftwood, praying for daylight. The water was bitter cold, and she had no idea how far she’d drifted. She didn’t know if any of her shipmates had survived. All she could do is hope there was shore in sight when the sun came up, and hope that it was land that she could make some use of.

She was starting to get tired. The adrenaline that had been coursing through her since the storm hit was starting to wear off and she was beginning to crash. She leaned her head against the driftwood, and closed her eyes, hoping that would provide enough respite and give her the strength to hold on a bit longer.

Time dragged on, and then finally, she saw a hint of gold on the horizon. And just in front of it, a small greenish-brown mound. She couldn’t believe her luck. She felt so relieved she nearly let go of her piece of wood, and caught herself just in time to avoid sinking. She’d held on for far too long for it to come to that. Slowly, she paddled herself around with one arm, and began making her way towards the distant shoreline. When she reached it, she pulled herself onto the sand and then sank down on her back, relishing the fact that she could relax.

She felt herself drift off to sleep and didn’t do anything to stop it. It felt far too soon when she felt someone shaking her awake. Grumpily, she opened her eyes. As her eyes focused, she realised there was a figure leaning over her. And as she focused some more, she realised she recognised him.

“Alec?” she said, her voice strained. She hadn’t realised how much she needed water until now.

“Mia! You’re alive!”

“So are you!”

She tried to sit up so she could embrace him, but her muscles were far too stiff, and she failed halfway up.

“Don’t try to move,” Alec said. “Here. I’ve got some water.”

“Is it safe?”

“Yes. It’s warm, but it does the trick.”

He held the flask to her lips and poured gently. She swallowed as much as she could before she started coughing. Alec put one arm behind her back and helped her sit up. She leaned over and spat out some of the water, along with any sea water that came up. When she had finished coughing, she turned back to Alec.

“Have you seen anyone else?”

He shook his head. “Not yet. Who knows where they got swept to?”

Mia looked around. “What are we going to do now?”

Alec followed her gaze. The island they had ended up on was barely more than a sandbank, with a few trees in the centre.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But we’ll think of something. We’re going to get home, Mia.”

“I hope you’re right,” she said.

“I know I am.”

December 14 – White Christmas

Author’s note: I didn’t like any of the prompts I generated today, so I just came up with something on my own. Another Christmas story, Yay! Sorry for any typos and such things, I wrote this on my tablet on the bus and I’m posting using shopping centre wifi before I head to a rehearsal for a Christmas play I’m helping out with next week.

“Pete! Pete! Wake up, wake up, wake up!”

Megan bounced onto the bed and shook her boyfriend. He groaned and pulled the duvet over his head. Megan immediately pulled it back again.

“Pete, it’s Christmas and it’s snowing! You told me I wouldn’t get to see snow on Christmas!”

Slowly, Pete opened his eyes halfway and stared out at Megan. “What?” he said when his brain finally managed to communicate with his mouth.

“Snowing!” Megan exclaimed again. “Come on, get your coat!”

Megan was already half dressed, and only needed to pull on another couple of top layers and her coat before she was ready. While Pete dragged himself out of bed and began getting dressed, she pulled her hair up into a ponytail that she then stuffed into a beanie.

A few minutes later, Peter found Megan by their front door, bouncing from foot to foot in anticipation.

“Haven’t you seen snow before, woman?” he asked, nodding towards the door to indicate he was ready and that they could go out.

“Where I come from, we start complaining about the cold when it hits ten degrees. Celsius.”

“Bloody Australians.”

The snow wasn’t very deep, but it was enough that Megan could mold snowballs in her hands and peg them at Pete. He was much adept at ducking them than she was, and she ended up with a few wet patches on her jumper where he managed to hit her. Other families, mostly children, were appearing in the their own front yards and joyful squeals abounded up and down the street.

Soon the cold was starting to seep through Megan’s several layers of clothing and her teeth were chattering. She squatted down long enough to make make a tiny snowman (his body was only four handfuls of snow) and stuck a twig in his head for a nose, then she and Pete headed back inside to begin getting ready for the rest of the day.

“Well, you got your snow, then,” Pete said, turning the heater on the crossing to the kettle to fill it up. “Do you actually need any other presents now?”

Megan grinned. “Not really,” she said. She moved closer to him and kissed him on the nose. “Merry Christmas.”

December 10 – Struck By Lightning

Author note: I wasn’t so keen on the prompt today, but I got there. I’m sorry I keep seeming to injure or kill people the last few days. Maybe I’ll perk up tomorrow. Also, disclaimer: no research was done on lightning strikes in the writing of this story.

Prompt: The main character is a materialistic 25-year-old man. The story begins in a penthouse. A sudden storm blows up. The theme of the story is risk-taking.

The storm came up suddenly. One second there had been blue sky and the next second the rain was bucket in down and the wind was howling. Christian had been pacing his apartment all day, waiting g for his brand new shipment of antique furniture to arrive. He had measured up his living room and decided on the best arrangement. All that was left was to actually put it there.

Not long after the storm blew up, he received a call from the courier to say they were on their way but they were going to be taking It slowly what with the rain that had just started. Christian sighed as he once again passed the window and looked out, attempting to see the courier van down below.

“Don’t you think you should call them and tell them to come back when the weather’s better?” asked his fiancee, Brooke,  who was sitting with her legs over one arm of the sofa.

“They’ll be practically here soon,” Christian snapped in reply. “Wherever they are, it’ll be easier for them to just keep coming at this point.”

“Won’t all your stuff get wet as they bring It up?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, it will all be covered in plastic. That sort of furniture would never be exposed to the elements like that during transportation.” His phone rang and he quickly answered it, putting the phone to his ear. “Yes?” He listened for a moment and then nodded. “Yes, I’ll be right down.” He disconnected the call. “They’re here. Finally.”

“Please tell me you’re meeting them in the foyer. You’re not going out in this weather, are you?”

“They’re not sure which apartment building it is,” Christian replied, slipping on his coat. “I said l’d go down and wave.”

“Well, if you catch your death, don’t blame me.”

A few minutes later, Christian was down in front of his apartment building, shielding his face from the rain as he looked for the white moving van. He could feel the wind trying to buffet him down the street, and took hold of a lamp post to keep his footing.

Too late, he realised what a bad idea that was in weather like this. Time seemed to slow down as Christian saw the lightning strike the top of the lamp, and soon after felt the jolt as the current moved through the metal and down his spine.

The next thing he knew, he woke up in a hospital room. Everything hurt, but he managed to turn his head enough to see Brooke sitting in the plastic chair near the window.

“Hey, you’re awake!” she exclaimed. “I’ll call for a doctor.” She kissed him on the forehead.

Christian grunted in reply. Something was praying on his mind, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He lay there quietly while the doctor checked him over and gave him some painkillers . It was only after the doctor had gone and It was just him and Brooke again the he was finally able to figure out what was bothering him.

“Brooke,” he said. “Did my furniture arrive?”

December 9 – Mountaintop Tragedy

Author’s note: this turned out rather darker than expected. I didn’t manage to include all then aspects not the prompt, but I think I was close enough.

Prompt: the main character is a 39 year old woman. The story begins on a mountaintop. The witness to a crime disappears. The theme of the story is: a journey.

It had been a hard slog to the top, but Rhiannon had to admit it was worth the effort. As she took in the view, she felt her muscles tingling as they began to relax. She still wasn’t entirely sure why her boss, Mrs Carlingford, had invited her to come mountain climbing with her, though she suspected it might have something to do with questions she had been asking about where some of the company’s funds were disappearing to. She liked to think she had integrity, but she was starting to think that an all expenses paid trip like this in exchange for her silence was a pretty sweet deal.

“Thanks for inviting me, Mrs Carlingford,” she said. She took a deep breath, and then continued, “I think I know what this has all been about and I just wanted to say…”

Mrs Carlingford reached out and grabbed her arm roughly, pulling her forward and making her slip on the snow. Her heart jolted; it was a long way down from here and she didn’t really want to find 8th how long it would take her to fall.

“You know, you really should have just kept quiet about the money,” Mrs Carlingford hissed, bearing down on her with teeth bared.

“I… what? Mrs Carlingford, please!”

“If the auditors come after me because of anything you’ve said, it could ruin me!”

“I know, and honestly, I can keep quiet about it, I swear! I hadn’t even said that much, the auditors would have nothing to go on as it stands right now, I promise!”

“Your face is far too honest,” Mrs Carlingford sneered. “Once they started asking questions, you’d be telling them everything.”

“No, I…”

“We’re the only two up here, you know. It’s going to be a terribly tragic story I have to tell when I get back down. You weren’t as experienced as you’d thought, and then climb proved too much. Towards the top you lost your footing and tumbled over the edge…

“I’m sorry, Rhiannon, truly I am. But a woman has to do what a woman has to do…”

“No, please…”

It only took a small flick of Mrs Carlingford’s wrist to throw Rhiannon off balance and for her to tumble over the rock face. Mrs Carlingford watched, satisfied, as Rhiannon’s body disappeared out of view. It w as a shame it had to come to this, she thought, but she really hadn’t been able to see any other option…

December 8 – There’s Always Overboard

Author’s note: In case you missed it, I explained on my previous post tonight why there is a glaring lack of Mirth and Music Monday tonight. Sorry again about that.

Prompt: The main character is a helpful 27-year-old man. The setting is a cruise liner. Someone is being cheated. The theme is: pride.

“Sir, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave the casino.”

Tim hated having to do this. He’d known when he landed this job that it would be a requirement, and he had hoped that the thrill of getting to work on board such a luxurious liner would outweigh the sucky parts.

“Just what are you accusing me of, boy?” asked the fat man Tim was trying very hard to civilly evict from the games room.

“My name is Timothy, sir, and it’s very obvious to everyone that you are cheating. If you don’t leave your own accord I will have to call security.”

“Well, of all the nerve! Don’t you know who I am?”

“No, sir, I don’t. I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to learn the name of every passenger even the important ones.”

Tim was aware he was starting to tread on dangerous ground now and mentally reminded himself to toe the line from now on.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this!” The fat man puffed out his chest and stood indignantly. He moved close enough to Tim that Tim could smell the garlic that was still on his breath from dinner. He jabbed Tim in the chest, a gesture Tim tried to accept with good grace. “I’ll be speaking to your superiors, boy.” With that he stormed out of the casino.

He had no doubt the man would go to his superiors. Cheaters often did. However, the rest of the gentlemen at the table could attest to the fact that the man hadn’t been playing by the rules, so he would have that in his favour at least.

And If worst came to worst, jumping overboard was always an option…

December 7 – Does he know about the baby?

Author’s note: Another opening line prompt. I’m on holidays at the moment and only have Internet on my tablet, and for the life of me cannot figure out now to embed videos properly from the YouTube app in order to post a Mirth and Music Monday post. However, you get two stories so I hope that suffices.

~*~

“Does he know about the baby?”

“Of course he doesn’t! And if I stick around much longer, there’s going to be no way to avoid him finding out.” Sarah continued moving clothes in a bag while her mother looked on.

“Do you think perhaps it would be less damaging to your relationship with Adam for you to tell him, rather than just packing up and leaving.

Sarah stood up. “Yeah, I’m sure that would work out.  ‘Hey, Adam, you know how we’ve always been best friends? Well, now, thanks to one stupid, drunken mistake on both our parts, wehe going to have to live together, put up with all the things we don’t like about each other, oh yeah… and be parents!'”

“You wouldn’t have to live together. You could still live here, but Adam would still get to be a part of his baby’s life.”

“And what if he doesn’t want to be?” Sarah asked. “I can’t deal with that, Mum.”

Her mother moved into the room and put her hands on Sarah’s bag me Sarah couldn’t put anything else in. “Sarah, tell him,”she said. “You’ve been friends with Adam for, what, twenty years? You owe your friendship to to tell him.”

Sarah sighed. “Why do you always have to be right?”

“Because I’m your mother .”

”Fine, I’ll go see him in the morning.”

~*~

”Hey, where have you been keeping yourself?” Adam asked as Sarah walked through the back door of the coffee shop he and his father co-owned.

”Have you got a minute? I’ve got to tell you something.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“You should probably sit down.”

Raising an eyebrow, Adam walked through to the dining area and sat in the nearest chair. Sarah paced in front of him.

“Remember how swore that we were never going to talk about that night ever again?”

“Yeah… so, why are you bringing it up?”

“We’re going to have to talk about it again.”

“Why?” Adam’s eyes narrowed.

Sarah wrung her hands, mentally telling herself to just say the words and get it over and done with. “I’m pregnant,” she finally blurted out. When a shocked expression crossed over Adam’s face, she sought to fill the void and so kept rambling. “Mum said I should tell you, and so I am. I was actually just going to leave because I wasn’t sure how you’d take it, but she persuaded me not to. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, I was just really scared of how you’d react.”

“Hey, hey!”Adam reached out and grabbed Sarah’s wrist to make her stop pacing. “This is huge,” he said, “and ltn not going to pretend I’m not completely freaking out right now. But you’re my test mate, Sarah, and if you’re keeping that baby then I sure as hell want to help.”

“Really?”

Adam stood and pulled Sarah into a hug. “Really.”

December 6 (sort of) – A First Christmas

Author’s note: Another “opening line as prompt” story, using the prompt I received yesterday. I have played catch-up with the writing of these little pieces, but I will catch up on posting a bit more slowly, so that your feeds aren’t full of A keyboard and an Open Mind. 🙂

She knelt on the carpet of her new house, carefully unwrapping ornaments. There had never been so much as a Christmas tree in the orphanage at this time of year, but Katie had always watched with fascination as decorations had appeared all over the city. Snow would catch on the tree in the middle of the main square and the baubles would frost over, making it seem like something out of one of the fairy stories the older kids would tell after lights out.

Now Katie had received a Christmas present far greater than anything she could have come up with if she had been given the chance to sit on Father Christmas’ knee. A lovely couple named William and Barbara had decided to adopt her. She had packed up her things, such as they were,  put on her coat, and then rode in William’s car back to their house. Her house, now.

It was only a week until Christmas, but knowing they would have a little girl living with them soon, Barbara had refrained from putting up the tree until they could do it together. Finally the last of the baubles were hung and there was only one thing left.

Barbara put her arms around Katie’s middle and hoisted her up so she could reach the top of the tree.
Katie placed the angel on the top branch, and then Barbara set her down again and they surveyed their work.

“Very well done, Katie,” Barbara said. “It looks as though you’ve been doing this for years.” She smiled and took Katie’s hand, giving it a squeeze.

“I’ve always wanted to,” said Katie, beaming.

“And so you shall,” Barbara replied, “every year from now on.”