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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Surprise! - Writing Prompt 3/31/10

By Amy Robinson

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Writing Prompt: Have you ever been surprised with something totally unexpected? For example, I was surprised when I found out my Mother-In-Law was coming to live with us. Write out a list of 5 times you have been suprised (good or bad). Pick one and write about it for 10 minutes. Then post it in the comments of this blog!

Comment on this blog! What was a huge surprise in your life (or your character's life)? Post a sentence or a mini-story. You could win a free class!


Writing Pad said...

It was like someone had clicked a light bulb over Jeff's head. That night I realized: he's cute, he's Jewish, AND he swing dances! I circled the Jewish Film Festival after party, looking for his tall, broad shouldered frame and Buddy Holly glasses.

I finally saw him, but he was talking to another girl. Darn!
So I turned around and spoke to the guy next to me. He was a dweeby software engineer in a sweat stained, Oracle Company polo shirt.

But then Jeff broke into our conversation and said, "You don't know who this girl is, but she's an amazing dancer."
"Uh, what," Mr. Dweeb said.
"Marilyn. When you swing dance with her, it's like this amazing partnership."
"Oh. Uh huh."
"But there's one thing I'm not sure about."
"What? What is it?" Mr. Dweebie asked.
"Well, I'm not sure if she's a lesbian or not!"

What?!!!! My jaw dropped to the pavement. No one had ever been confused about my sexual orientation before.

Later I would find out that Jeff was just being obnoxious to get my attention. He was trying to find out if I was single, straight and available so he could ask me out. I was tantalized and amused by his antics.


Stinky Junior said...

Christmas 2008 I was stressed out! My Dad was sick, my cat was sick and my job was fun but stressy. In my off time, to blow off steam, I wrote in my home office on a makeshift desk. It was a tiny make-up vanity that sort of held my laptop, but not much more.

I was working late on the day before Christmas Eve but my hubby had the day off. I called him a few times, texted him and it sounded like he was having a nice time relaxing and playing around with his guitar and the internets. When I walked in the door, he said "You want to see your pre-Christmas present?"
"Uh, Yeah! Bring on the presents!"
I figured he'd had a small piece of jewelry or a book or pix of us or something sweet.
He took me by the hand and led me to the closed door of my office.
"Okay," He said with a sly grin as he opened the door.
There, facing the window to the back yard was a beautiful oak and white desk. He had spent his day off at shopping at Ikea (the crazy day before Christmas Eve.) He purchased and assembled the thing that day, while I was at work. Then presented it to me with a big bow on it. It was so thoughtful and so unexpected, I actually cried from the sweetness.
I'm writing to you from it's spacious top right now.
Best. Surprise. Ever.

H.M.R. said...

The next day there is a knock at the apartment door. It’s my mom holding a hibiscus. She says: surprise! I audibly gasp. I haven’t seen her in about a year. We have exchanged emails and phone calls but I was unaware she had my newish address. Over white wine, she tells me that after the alimony checks stopped arriving from my father she was forced to take a job working for a fabric designer. She tells me she is in Los Angeles for business, isn’t that a hoot? She is thrilled. She says it’s like a fresh start with an old fling. I don’t think old flings sound very fresh but I understand her analogy. The job seems to have given her a renewed sense of self. It is good to see her smile. Maybe it’s the buzz I’m getting from the wine, but for a moment I am sad that she lives so far away now and that these mother/daughter chats can’t happen very often.

She asks me what I have been doing. When I remind her that I wait tables she looks deep into my eyes and asks what I really have been doing. She emphasizes really. I think she is asking about acting or something that I clearly am not currently doing. I want to force the point that the only thing of merit I’m doing right now is working in a restaurant. So I inform her that I am now an assistant manger. She looks confused like I’m not understanding her. Don’t I still live with the lip ring boy? I say yes, his name is Orin and this is his apartment. She tells me no honey, now that you are paying rent, it’s your apartment too. Then she asks when she will have a grandchild to spoil. She wants to know where his people are from? This abruptly ends any hope of a bonding session with my mother.

Julie said...

Between sophomore and junior year of college, I had a job at a summer camp in the Sierras. I was part of a staff who rotated between counseling one week and working in other areas of the camp the next. So, one week you might be cleaning toilets, the next, you'd be off to play capture the flag with a dozen eight year olds, then you would be baking hundreds of cookies in the kitchen. It was fun and unpredictable, and I got to know a lot of people I otherwise never would have met.
About halfway through the summer, after an eventful week in a small cabin with 13 junior high girls, I was placed in the administrative office. They stuck me in the back end of the building, in a dark room with a big pile of filing, and left me there all day. I didn’t mind. It was cool, quiet and right next door to the snack shack. I had a window with a view of the cedar trees outside.
One afternoon, a tall blond I’d had my eye on all summer appeared at my doorway. My heart fluttered. We’d played volleyball on the same team. We’d sat around a campfire or two. I liked the way he smiled. He was looking for the accounting office, which I told him was on the second floor. Even so, he stepped in and started making small talk. I chatted, smiled and flirted, just a little. He said he’d better go and my heart sank. As I mustered a cheery “bye,” he leaned over the desk and kissed me!

“Want to meet up for dinner?” he said as he headed for the door. I mentioned that I’d be off in an hour. “It’s a date, then,” he said, flashing that adorable smile. He left and I melted in my chair.

Writing Pad said...

Amy--What a fantastic story! I loved the dialogue. I also loved the husband's sly grin, and I loved the last lines: "I'm writing to you from it's spacious top right now. Best. Surprise. Ever."

Shenne said...

I held my husband's warm hand as the doctor spread the cold ultrasound gel over my rounded belly. "Would you like to find out the sex of the baby?" the doctor asked.

We smiled and shrugged our assent, confident of the answer, since we had already seen our baby's "equipment" on a scan seven weeks earlier, and been told by a different doctor he was "90% sure" we were having a boy.

The black and white screen flickered to life as the doctor moved the wand up and around, taking measurements and trying to get the best angle on our squirmy little alien. Aha, freeze image: "I'm 90% sure you're having a girl. Congratulations!"

Okay, one of you 90 percenters is 100 percent wrong. Looks like my five-year-old niece was right when, disappointed by the prediction of a male cousin, said "Well, you never know til they grow."

I think we'll be painting the nursery green.

Writing Pad said...

Halie--Great story! I love that the mother shows up with a hibiscus after not speaking to her for a year. I love it when the mother says, "isn’t that a hoot?" I also love it when the mother asks about the grandchild. The mother is a fantastic character!


Writing Pad said...

Julie--great story! I love the duties from cleaning toilets to baking hundreds of cookies. I love that the boy kissed her and when he said, "it's a date!" I was rooting for the narrator!


Writing Pad said...

Shenne--fabulous story! I love the warm hand and the cold ultrasound gel. I love, "one of you 90 percenters is 100 percent wrong," and "we'll be painting the nursery green."

Anonymous said...

"Okay, so when we get to this part in the bridge, don't be afraid to
just 'go off,'" said the piano accompanist, Melinda, from the piano
bench. She flipped over the sheet music and pointed to a bar of

"Um, I said. "I don't really know how to 'go off.'"

I knew that Melinda had made some assumptions about me at that point.
Because I was singing in this wedding, she would have logically
assumed that I knew how to sing. That perhaps I was a good singer.
That I enjoyed singing, even. In a wedding. In front of people. She
probably also assumed I knew this song that I was supposed to sing.

The truth of the matter was, I was shitting some serious bricks
hardcore time. I thought Shania Twain was a freak and country music
was for retards and yet I was singing a song called 'At This Moment'
that was apparently topping the country charts. I didn't really pay
attention to charts. I had very limited taste in music at that time in
my life. The Stones. The Sex Pistols when I was driving to and from
work. And more Stones.

Don't get me wrong, my singing voice is okay. I certainly enjoy
belting out Tina Turner B sides at karaoke night. But 'At This
Moment'? 'Nutbush' it ain't. And a wedding in a small community Mormon
church in Provo is no Big Foot Lodge on a sloppy Monday night. The
real problem was that I had been harboring performance anxiety ever
since I had royally messed up Fur Elise at my fourth grade piano
recital when I was nine and swore off musical ambition then and there
for the rest of my life.

Why my brother asked me to sing in his wedding is absolutely beyond
me. As Melinda and I practiced, my voice sounded thin in the heavily
carpeted church. My throat was dry. I felt like a load of laundry was
in violent spin cycle in the pit of my stomach. I watched my fingers
rattle as Melinda looked at me with a wavering smile. "Wanna try it
once more?"

My knuckles went white as I went blank for ways that I could in the
next 24 hours make myself legitimately sick and unable to perform at
the wedding. I looked around at the church and couldn't fathom why my
brother wanted to be Mormon. And why my total humiliation tomorrow
night was part of God's plan.

I looked at Melinda's clothes - long sleeve button down (buttoned all
the way down) over a cotton maxi dress. I had a flash of my spaghetti
strapped, form-fitting cleavageous dress that was hanging in the
closet of my room at the Extended Comfort Hotel across the street. The
word 'harlot' came to mind.

I nodded. "Sure. Let's try it again."


Kristina said...

My mom was in town last week. I told her that I wanted a pair of "real" earrings. I turned 30 this year, I was too old for the costume crap I wore in my 20s, I wanted something with diamonds. We jumped in my Civic with my mom's credit cards and headed to a nice, but inexpensive place in Westwood. After trying on many pairs of earrings, none of which were just right, my mom said, "We should do this when you have your hair fixed." I replied, "I did my hair this morning." She then said, "Oh well, perhaps it is because you forgot to put on makeup." I said, "I am wearing makeup!" She looked confused, and said, "Normally things look nice on you. You usually look pretty." We left and she bought me Diddy Reese. The next day (with my hair done by a pro and an extra coat of lipstick) we found the perfect pair on Montana in Santa Monica.

Writing Pad said...

Laura--I love this story! I love that the narrator thought that country music was for retards. I love that her voice sounded thin in the heavily carpeted church and that "it felt like a load of laundry was in violent spin cycle" in her stomach." And the humorous, sarcastic voice is great.


Writing Pad said...

Kristina--hilarious story! I love all the insulting things that the Mom says to the narrator. I love the comment about getting her hair fixed and her makeup and that "Normally things look nice on you. You usually look pretty." What a great character!


Anonymous said...

Her friends said he liked her, but of course they would say that. Everybody thinks any guy hanging around a girl must be interested in either doing it, or something more. She knew she liked spending time with him. Doug was a warm and fuzzy type of guy. Kinda bulky, but Caroline liked that. He could probably bench press her over his head, and that was a major turn on. The other day he even went shopping with her to the Gap. His guy friends gave him shit for that. "Do you like shopping," she asked, as they browsed around, touching all the neat stacks of perky sweaters.

"This is great. I love the Gap."

Maybe he does like me, she thought to herself.

Her pile of practical wear – sweaters, shirts, pajamas – continued to grow. Most of it was green, her favorite color. It was if the green pile in her arms attracted more green, because the pile kept on expanding. Eventually, they were near the register, and she laid everything out on a combination of Doug and the floor.

"I don't have enough money for all of this stuff, so I'm going to keep just three items. Which ones look best on me?"

"Uuuh, they all great. You look good in green. Matches your eyes."

"But which ones are best?"

"Uuuh, that one for sure."

"I hate this one."

"Oh." Doug was a bit confused but still tried to play along. In the end, Caroline picked her top three winner items and checked out. She dropped Doug off, and headed home. Packing up her car, she noticed a second Gap bag in the back seat. She opened it up – it was filled with the remaining Gap clothes she couldn't afford (minus the one she hated).

Oh crap, he really does like me, she thought. "How I am going to explain these extra clothes to my husband?"


Writing Pad said...

Whitney--Fabulous piece! I love that the narrator's favorite color is green and the description of the stack of green clothes. I loved that there were 2 surprises at the end--the surprise gift, and the surprise that the narrator had a husband! Thanks for posting!