An Open Letter to Dignity (WP Prompt)

Oh Dignity,

…You ripe, ol’ bastard, creeping in on my day like this when I’d just like to let any chaos drift by me in a hurried mess, sweeping with it the tornado-esque madness of youth. I have too much to do to hold myself accountable to you with every passing moment of my day. I know I didn’t deserve to be called a bitch under his breath even if he thought my expectations of his writing quality were too high because of you. It’s all your fault. You seeded in me a sense of self-respect as a teacher to want a student’s personal best when he or she turns in work to me. It’s the end of April, after all, he’s lucky I told him he had to revise it instead of mark it an F and carry on. But damn you for putting me in that awkward position to decide if I should honor you in my profession and send him up on a referral, or just let him squirm with guilt and sit there, staring me down, shredding his half-ass work into tiny pieces of paper while I deliberately ignored him. Okay, so maybe that might have made me an even bigger bitch, but, sorry dignity, you lost that battle to my stubbornness. At least he threw the confetti that he had made away, and, wouldn’t you know, he even waited and held the door open for me when class was over. He didn’t say a word when I thanked him as I walked by. He didn’t have to.

PS. After lunch, he came by and told me he was going to write another draft, but I already knew that he would.

Sincerely,

Mrs. ….

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Twisting a Bad Example (WP Prompt)

My twist on the writing challenge, Size Matters prompt, includes the passage in quotes below–a perfect illustration of monotonous cadence in writing due to a lack of varied sentence lengths. The prompt had asked that we write about the house we lived in when we were twelve. I started messing around with the passage instead and decided to make it my response to the writing task.

“The man rode hard through the woods. The black horse’s effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from high overhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned. The land baked, and dust hung suspended.”

My revision of the passage:

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Naked branches tore at the man’s shirt, gnarled and twisted, bending their claws in desperation, as he broke free from the parched woods. They were closing in. A merciless heat beat down on the wasteland. Desolate. Wrought with lifeless wreckage caused by the blistering sun. His black horse, never faltering once, pressed forward upon the scorched riverbed. Hot breath burst from the beast’s flaring nostrils. Closer still. Men’s cries rang out. Their gunshots shattered dark birds against the stark white sky, once drifting in aimless circles. His freedom neared. He could see the border just over the horizon. Sensing the man’s adrenaline, his horse bore down, and dust hung suspended in the wake of their escape.

Saturday in the Park (Short Story)

WP Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

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“I’m sorry,” Sam uttered, releasing his wife’s hand to wipe his tears away.

“It never ends, does it?” she comforted him, as the tears he shed tore open her own heart with searing pain once again.

Cora tugged him onto a bench with her across from the elderly woman, who glanced at them with deliberate, nonchalant reserve, as her twisted fingers worked with great fury to crochet a little, red sweater. She had seen them before, but they had never bothered to acknowledge her with even a simple nod of their heads, always wrapped up in their own little world.

“Not a day has gone by that I don’t wonder where he is or what he’s doing now after all these years.” A twisted smile curled Sam’s lips as the last memory of his baby boy, bundled in a bright red blanket, washed over his face.

“Me, too.” A halfhearted laugh escaped her, as she held in her anxiety, avoiding looking directly at the red flag flying in her face from across the path.

The elderly woman’s knitting picked up the pace as her eyes wandered down the path in search of her friend. She spotted him coming towards her walking his Scottish Terrier, sporting a tattered, yellow, crocheted sweater. Her heart leapt inside of her with joy. It had been weeks since they had rendezvoused in the park together.

“We had to do it,” Sam assured them both, glancing at the little, red sweater again, as the elderly woman cleared her throat.
“I know,” Cora agreed, hating herself for knowing that he was right. “How could we? I couldn’t even drive a car, and you were still in foster care.”

She clung to the same excuses with robotic apathy, reconciling with her guilt once more as she recalled how empty her life had become when they had handed their son over to his new mommy.

“I know you said to never bring it up again,” he began, “But, Cora, it’s just that it’s been over nineteen years now. We survived. It didn’t destroy us. We didn’t destroy him.”

“What if he hates us?”
“What if he doesn’t.”
“The agency refused to help us find him. Remember?” She couldn’t face the fear of crushed hope again.

“I remember, but it’s different now, besides, he’s an adult. There are other ways. We could even use social media.”

“That’s true. We didn’t have that option back then when we decided to stay together.”

“So does this mean you’re willing to try to find him again?”

The elderly woman rose from her bench holding the little, red sweater with outstretched arms towards them. She inspected her craft with pride.

They both stared at it in awe.

“He deserves to know,” Sam insisted, rubbing his hand over his wife’s swollen belly, “that he has a sister.”

Cora sighed—a trembling smile spreading across her face.

“He does.”

THE END