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This is Write_Away's Monday feature, where you are presented with a word and asked to write a short story or poem that contains or relates to that word. Sometimes there are more specific challenges or instructions, sometimes there are not. I have linked the original prompt entry to each response if you are curious, though in most cases the word alone is probably enough. Please remember, as with all prompt responses, these are free-written, un-edited pieces! Don't judge me too harshly by them!Verisimilitude
You said it was lonely, so I thought I'd write a little something, but it snowballed into crap... But, since I spent the time typing it (I'm a horrid typist) you get to read it, anyway! Hooray, crap! :)
A Conversation about Nothing
“She has verisimilitude,” Sarah said, nodding sagely at the television screen.
“Word-a-day calendar?” Rebecca asked, not looking up from her bowl of popcorn.
“Yeah, they can be a real pain, you know? You’re supposed to use each word at least five times each day, and they recommend ten,” Sarah sighed and shook her head.
“Oh, yes, I remember the day you had ‘autodidact.’ That was a fun one.”
“Dude, I spent so much time explaining what it meant I will never forget. Too bad it wasn’t a more useful word. No, I think the worst day was the time I had ‘hemorrhagic.’ Seriously, how do you work that into polite conversation? ‘Gee, Mrs. Tipton, that beet sauce reminds me of…” Sarah trailed off, shaking her head.
“Thank you, I am eating here!”
“Ironically, I ended up getting into a conversation with James – you remember James? – about how Richard Preston’s book The Hot Zone is a highly challenged book and that led to more instances of the phrase ‘hemorrhagic fever’ than I can count. So that one, at the end, was easy. But I was sweating until after the dinner party – I think I’d only managed to say it once, and I’m not sure it even counted.”
“You know it’s not like the Word-A-Day Calendar Police are going to come and get you if you miss a day, right?” Rebecca shifted in her seat to face Sarah. She held out the popcorn bowl, but Sarah shook her head.
“Popcorn bits get stuck under my bridge. Though it smells good, it’s too much of a pain. And, yes, I realize I don’t have to, but I like to try. Actually,” she paused, looking thoughtfully at Rebecca, “my new challenge is to try to use the word without you knowing it’s the word.”
“Every time I use the ‘Word-A-Day’ word, you know. And you call me out on it, like you just did. So, my new goal is to be able to slip it into conversation without you realizing it.” Sarah smiled triumphantly.
“Just because. You were always so smart, it’d be nice to pull one over one you!”
“This isn’t a competition, silly,” Rebecca rolled her eyes at her.
“Maybe it should be!”
Rebecca sighed and slumped in her chair. “Does everything have to be a competition?”
“Okay then, what are the rules? Is there a prize?”
Sarah sat back, and Rebecca returned her attention to the television. She had almost forgotten about it when Sarah spoke again, startling her.
“I’ve got it!”
“The rules. And prize.”
“Oh, that…” Rebecca groaned.
“Right, that,” Sarah pulled a face at her. “No backing out now.”
“I won’t, don’t worry.”
“Okay, so each day you can guess that it’s ‘the word’ up to five times, but each time you’re wrong I get a dollar. If you’re right, you get a dollar. How about that?”
“Uh, it sounds like a losing proposition for me, since I know you’ll be using all sorts of words you wouldn’t normally, and it’d be impossible for me to guess which one was from the calendar and which ones you picked out of the dictionary. So, what if I don’t guess at all?”
“You have to!”
“No, I don’t!”
“Hrmph,” Sarah said, slumping back in her chair and crossing her arms across her chest. “You’re no fun.”
“I’m tons of fun,” Rebecca said, turning her attention again to the television. “Now, gimme my dollar for today…”
Um, don't have much to say about this piece. It's off the top of my head, since we've had so few prompt responses lately I wanted to contribute. Also, we're getting a little poetry heavy, so I just had to slip in a prose piece! And thanks to 'you-know-who-you-are' for the idea about the juggling bit.
“Well that was much ado about nothing,” Sarah said as she flopped down on a couch in the teacher’s lounge. “I tell you, those committee meetings are nothing but a waste of time.”
“They do quite get their feathers ruffled, don’t they? Very much a … a… storm in a cream-bowl,” Josh chimed in.
“Storm in a cream bowl? What in the hell does that mean?” Lily looked up from the folder she was holding. “Is that one of your funny British sayings?”
“No, m’dear,” David chimed in, “the correct British term would be ‘tempest in a teacup.’ I think Josh is just trying to show off his knowledge of old sayings again.”
“What? Me show off?” Josh grinned. He strode over to the community refrigerator and pulled open the door. He stared intently at the contents.
“Are you waiting for something to reach out and grab you?” Lily asked dryly.
“Who bought eggs to keep here?” Josh asked with a frown. “It’s not like you can cook them. We don’t have a stove.”
“But we do have a coffee pot,” Sarah said mildly.
“And your point is…?” David arched an eyebrow at her.
“I like hard boiled eggs in the morning, so every morning I put an egg in the filter basket. When the coffee is done brewing, I have a nice, warm, hard-boiled egg. Convenient and energy-efficient.” Sarah said, shrugging her shoulders slightly.
“That actually works?” Lily asked.
“Yes, yes it does. I was surprised – I had heard it on the radio, and decided there was no way it could work. So I tried it.” Sarah said.
“Let’s see,” Josh said, grabbing the carton of eggs from the refrigerator and walking over to the coffee pot. He stared at it for a moment. “Um, how do you work this thing?”
“You don’t know how to make coffee?” David laughed. “How on earth do you survive?”
“I have many other talents, my young friend,” Josh intoned in his best Star Wars impersonation.
“Right, you’re a regular chick magnet,” David scoffed.
“Dude, I am. Ask anyone. Sarah? Lily?” Josh glanced at the girls, but they all evaded his eyes.
“To impress the ladies you have to be smooth,” David said.
“And you are?” Josh quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Quite. Allow me to demonstrate. Ladies?” And with that David grabbed three of the eggs from the carton and began smoothly juggling them. At least, for the first few seconds. Then, suddenly, one of the eggs arced away from him and hit the edge of the counter with a sickening ‘splat.’ David had been leaning out, trying to grab it, and consequently one of the other eggs landed squarely on his head. The last egg dropped to the floor, splattering egg goo all over his shoes.
“Yeah. Smooth, real smooth,” Josh said, edging away quickly.
Just then the door burst in and Ben, the Principal, came in. He took one took at David’s egg-splattered face and began one of his legendary rants. The occupants of the room, by and large, tuned him out, only catching a few pertinent words. ‘Fiscal,’ ‘reprimand,’ ‘responsibility,’ ‘duty,’ ‘walrus,’ and ‘cutbacks.’
“Now THAT,” Sarah said after he had wound down and stormed out of the room, “was a tempest in a teapot. What I want to know is, what was that about a walrus?”
The Seven Deadly Sins Have Lunch at the Food Court
“Are you going to eat that last onion ring?” Sabrina asked Marilyn, her hand already edging toward it.
Marilyn pushed the tray at her without looking over. “What I want to know,” she said to Janice, “is how I can get him to notice me!”
“Certainly not by cramming fattening food in your face,” Janice replied with a scornful look at Sabrina. “Your skirt is already looking a little snug, there, and we don’t have time to order you an even bigger size before the competition. Though I can’t say that you pushing a size 6 doesn’t make me – still a perfect size zero, girls – look even hotter.” She primped and preened and struck a model-like pose.
“Yes, you’re so wonderful,” Heather muttered snidely.
“What’s your problem?” Janice said, tossing her long blond hair.
“My problem is you – you’re such a bitch. I’m pissed at you for saying those things about Sabrina, I’m tired of your constant preening, and I’m sick of the way you look down on everyone,” Heather shot back, slammed her tray down and stormed off.
“Someone’s a little PMS-y,” Janice muttered.
“She’s been cranky,” Tabitha said.
“Better cranky than lazy,” Kelly said, “You haven’t shown up for the last three practices! And I only wish I could be more like her.” She stared wistfully in the direction Heather had gone.
“I’ve been tired,” Tabitha said snottily. “It’s the new medication.”
“Whatever,” Tina piped up. “You think you guys have problems? My dad’s threatening to cut my allowance in half! I can barely survive on the pittance he gives me, let alone less! I need more money so I can keep up my wardrobe!” she whined.
“You could wear a potato sack and the men would swoon,” Marilyn said. “I, on the other hand, couldn’t get Todd to notice me if I was the last woman on earth. And I love him so much!”
“Love,” Sabrina snorted. “Yeah, that’s what that is. You should just shag him and put the rest of us out of our misery. ‘Oh, Todd is so handsome. Todd is so hunky. Todd is perfect,’” she mimicked Marilyn’s slightly nasal voice.
“Shut up, you pig!” Marilyn snarled.
“Oh, calm down, everyone,” Tabitha yawned, rolling her eyes. “No reason to get all worked up. We’ve got lots of shopping to get done, and we need to find Heather and practice.”
Grumbling, they gathered up their shopping bags and wandered out into the mall.
It's really silly. You were warned.
Pop fly; but the umpires don't signal
Infield fly rule, so the runner jumps.
Caught off-base, he's suddenly trapped.
Kicking up clumps of dirt as he paces,
Leans, desperately attempting to
Evade the sweeping tag.
Silly? Why, yes! When am I not? Okay, other than when I'm backed into a corner surrounded by crazed killer wombats... That is a situation you should completely take seriously.
A romantic and a literalist fell in love, but had to split up because they didn’t speak the same language...
“I feel my heart swell whenever you’re near...”
Maybe it’s just an aneurysm, dear
“My heart misses a beat when you walk in the room...”
That Atrial Flutter will lead to your doom!
“You are so lovely you take my breath away...”
Dyspnea’s dangerous, get checked out, I say!
“My heart races whenever we kiss...”
Tachycardia’s not something your doctor should miss!
“I nearly swooned when I saw you smile...”
Your Syncope symptoms are clear from a mile!
“You are so hot, I felt my heart stop...”
Myocardial Infarction’s no joke, you sop!
So he left her to her flowery, romantic language, but with one parting shot:
The Angina Pectoris you feel when I go
Could just be the giant burrito, you know!
DOES NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. I'm pretty sure that was on one or more of my report cards as a kid. It applies here. I did write something in response to the word "filemot," however, as I do not write poetry as a general rule (though I am still quite proud of my football poem) I wrote a short bit of prose. However, as I did actually take a whole ... ah, 20 minutes or so to write it, I think I'll post it anyway. :) I am very unsure as to my "style." I don't have the attention span to write novels, and I'm no poet. That would leave me as a columnist? If I had to make a living as a writer (should engineering ever fail me) that is what I would probably attempt. That, or technical papers. I can write a mean essay on concrete superplasticisers...
I will not preface this with qualifiers and niceties, such as “in my experience” or “most,” rather, I will tell you flat-out that the following ramblings are blatantly sexist. Utterly, totally, completely sexist. This is not said by way of apology; I stand by the following rant with the full and utter knowledge that it is a generalization of men. How true it holds, well, that I will leave for you to decide…
My husband and I have a standing argument. Not a knock-down, drag-out blow-up of an argument, but a quiet, exasperating, persistent one. We own a stuffed dragon named Snodgrass. He is, in my opinion, a fuchsia and periwinkle dragon. To my husband, he is pink and purple. I have tried, on many occasions, to enlighten him about color; to explain that you have to say fuchsia in order to invoke the image of a very bright, vibrant pink, and that the rest of him is on the blue side of purple, hence – periwinkle. He looks at me and sadly shakes his head, saying “Pink and purple.” There is no possible argument that I haven’t tried to convince him that there are more than, oh, thirteen colors in the world. Men only see about a dozen colors. There are the primary six “rainbow” colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple (they skip indigo, and you never hear a man say “violet,” unless it is being used as a proper name). Then there are the non-colors: black, white, gray, and brown. And, of course, men know pink. That’s eleven. Then there are the “precious” colors, silver and gold, which most men will get fairly easily. There’s the thirteen. Sometimes men will find another color or two that they will admit to recognizing, but not often.
Coral? Sea creature.
Turquoise? Native American jewelry stone.
Lime? Fruit again.
Salmon? Fish, of course.
Aquamarine? Semi-precious gem, suitable for “make-up” jewelry after minor arguments requiring more than flowers, less than diamonds.
And those aren’t even the tough ones. Ask any man if he would wear a chartreuse shirt. Or a puce tie. How about an ecru sweater? Or filemot corduroys… It’s fun to watch them cock their head in that confused puppy way. Some may call it cruel, I consider it free entertainment. Because have you priced movie tickets lately? I have to amuse myself somehow without sinking deeper into debt!
Oh! Even better, try to explain colors in shades they recognize, but in combinations they can’t quite understand. I once mentioned that a particular shade of green had a reddish tone. My husband gaped at me. “But, green is yellow and blue – there is no red!” Still, I had said, there was a definite reddish tone to this particular green. And I stand by that. I see colors far differently, evidently, than most people. I can see a hint of yellow in purples, or a bit of blue in an orange. I am unbelievable good – yes, tooting my own horn – at selecting colors that compliment each other. I’ve been told by plenty of people that I have that knack.
And yet, I still cannot convince my husband that there are more that thirteen colors in the world. It reminds me of the color setting on computer photo imaging software (note the lack of product placement!): he is set to 16 colors, and I’m set to 256 million.
Here is something I tossed off (read: not terribly well edited, though I did try...) in response to the last two Monday word prompts. I tried to throw in a dash of dissonance and a touch of tautology, and a big ole can of pimp for Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19!).
~Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum~
Jeremy sat on the rolling deck of the ship, watching the sun sink toward the horizon. It really was going to be a lovely sunset, he thought. He drew in a deep breath of cool, salty air and closed his eyes, feeling the gentle breeze caress his face like a lover's gentle touch. The sound of the waves lapping against the side of the ship and the gentle rocking motion began to lull him to sleep. It had been a long and tiring day, and despite his best efforts, he felt sleep begin to claim his mind.
"Er, now, don't ye be gettin' too comfy," a harsh, dry voice broke his revere. "The Cap'n'll be wantin' a word with ye."
When Jeremy did not open his eyes, the owner of the voice responded by kicking him sharply in the head. This sent him sliding sideways, the rope that bound his hands behind his back digging cruelly into the flesh of his wrists. Grudgingly, he opened one eye to glare balefully at the man.
"So?" he responded haughtily.
The man gave a shriek of laughter. "Do ye know who ye be captured by? Cap'n Basingstoke is the toughest, meanest, most bloodthirsty pirate to sail these here waters. Haven't ye heard the tales?"
Before Jeremy could respond, Captain Basingstoke appeared, striding towards them across the corpse-strewn deck.
"Here, now, mate - I'm feelin' all generous, see, on account of the lovely bit o'cargo I just acquired, so I'm givin' ye a choice. Ye can walk the plank, or ye can die. Which be it?" Basingstoke asked, a hand on the hilt of a still-bloodied sword strapped to the wide black belt.
Jeremy stared at the Captain, tilting his head to the side like a confused dog, a frown pulling at his lips. "Well," he said thoughtfully, "that's not really a choice, is it?"
Basingstoke arched on eyebrow and leveled a cool glare in his direction. "What be ye meanin' by that?"
"Well, you see, it's a tautology, really, because while it's phrased as a question and there appear to be two possibilities, in reality there is only one." Jeremy babbled, unable to stop himself. "If I walk the plank, I die. If I don't walk the plank, I die. Now, I grant you that there is the minute chance that I would survive the whole plank ordeal, but it's so slim as to be a non-factor. Even if I managed to stay afloat with my hands bound - you were going to leave my hands bound, were you not?" He paused for a breath, and Basingstoke gave a slight nod. "So, even if I didn't drawn because I managed to, oh, float on my back, well, what would the chances be that another ship would come by to rescue me before I succumbed to hypothermia or became shark food? Practically zero. So," he drew in another deep breath, "you haven't given me a choice at all!"
The crew stood staring at him, slack-jawed and confused. A murmuring began as the Captain continued to assess the prisoner with a critical eye, weighing all he had just said.
Suddenly, the Captain smiled and began to chuckle. "Well, then," Basingstoke said in a cool dry English accent, the harsh pirate lingo gone, "as I did say I would offer you a choice, how about this one..."
"And that, dear children," Margaret said, glancing at the three youngsters gathered around her, "is how your Grandpa Jeremy and Grandma Rose first met."
I'm posting this here so fewer will be subjected to it, but after clare_dragonfly called football un-poetic... I had to respond! So here's my attempt at non-parody poetry (a first for me). You were warned. There's still time to turn back...
The little yellow hankie
falls to the snow-dusted turf.
The small bundle of fabric
holds our fate.v I jump, I scream
it was him! HIM!
HE flinched. HE moved.
I simply… reacted,
my momentum carried me
he moved first.
huddled little zebras.
I hold my breath.
There you go, football as poetry! :)