About Writing on Wednesdays: Writing Prompts and Memories

Writing prompts are fun and they get those creative juices flowing that sometimes lead to a great story. To Touch a Unicorn was created from a writing prompt Chuck Wendig gave on his blog. He has writing challenges every Friday I enjoy reading even if I don’t always participate.

This week Tracey and I decided we wanted to begin using writing prompts. We each picked a sentence from Daily Writing Tips last Monday. The goal is a minimum of 500 words and we have from Monday to Sunday to complete. On Sunday we’ll share our stories with each other for review. It should be fun.

Tracey chose ‘They came back every year to lay flowers at the spot’ for this week.  This is an interesting sentence because it can be creepy or sad. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. Maybe Tracey will let me put up what she writes. She should because she is a talented writer.

The story prompt I chose for this week is ‘It was the first snowfall of the year.’  This sentence is haunting but the why of it didn’t strike me at first. It was when I was going over my beginning sentences that I realized I was using childhood memories. Here are my first several sentences:

It was the first snowfall of the year but the shivers racking Scarlett Miller wasn’t from the cold, it was the tracks in the snow leading up the stairs to her back door. The same back door that was partly open when she got up that morning. She knew two things had stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books sitting in front of the door and Ginger.

A good start I think. I was eleven when the incident I’m drawing from occurred. Yes there was snow and yes there were tracks leading up stairs to our back door. Instead of a trunk of books there was an empty trunk with a large wooden cage on it that had two gerbils inside. I truly believe Ginger saved us that night. Her and her alone. It was just my mom, me and my brother because my dad drove a truck over the road and they knew it.  Ginger was a hero and deserves to be remembered for her love and loyalty. Ginger is why I always feel safer with dogs in the house to at least alert me they hear something.

Children are so naive and trusting. I was no exception. Looking back I realize I must have worked my guardian angel a lot during those years. Sometimes I want to cry for that girl because no child should see or hear some of the things I did but then I remember I am blessed because many of those things could have turned out so much worse.

One day as I walked home from school one of the new neighbors, an older woman, from across the street called to me from her front door, I walked over, she invited me to come in and I did. Inside there was another woman and two men. They were so friendly and when they asked questions about me and my family I answered them.

They said they wanted me to do chores for them to earn a little money, ironing and such. Excited I ran home to ask my mother if I could work for our nice neighbors. To their credit they did tell my mom about themselves, turns out the guys were just out of prison for rape and murder. Her answer was a resounding ‘no’ to me with a stay away from them added for good measure.

Not too long after that the incident with the back door occurred. Not too long after that the murderer killed the rapist. Yes, I saw that. Not the actual killing but the aftermath. I could see the police car and ambulance from the top of the hill where the school bus dropped me off. The paramedics rolled the rapist out of the house and just as I walked by they got to the ambulance on the road. The bullet hole between his eyes could be clearly seen. The murderer went back to jail and the wives moved away. So did we.

Do we know for certain who it was trying to break in our back door? No. But I’d say the odds were pretty good it was one or both from across the street, don’t you? I think I’ve mentioned how beautiful my mother was as a young woman. I think I’ve also mentioned how men stared and occasionally followed her around. My mother did not encourage them that I can recall nor did she dress inappropriately but something made men stop and look and then look again. Whatever ‘it’ was it also made a few of them act inappropriately.

There were at least five incidents that were truly creepy and scary that I remember. One in Maryland involving one of our neighbors stalking her (I don’t remember much except my mother talking with a friend about contacting the police, I  remember being afraid), an incident in California where my mother got money from a company because the man who worked for them actually caused her physical harm, two in Georgia (including the incident I’ve talked about) and one in North Carolina.  There’s more, I’m sure, but they didn’t go that high on the creepy/scary scale so I don’t remember them.

What I find interesting is that I didn’t consciously pick that sentence because of those memories. It kept going round and round in my head; I started putting together sentences before I remembered, “Oh, yeah. That actually happened.” It’s not like every time it snows I freak out or anything but it has always been in the back of my mind like a bug crawling around the kitchen floor. You try to stomp it but the thing is too fast and gets in a crack between the wall and floor before you can kill it. Well now the memory has some use as I draw on it to write an awesome story, I hope.



I didn’t even realize it a first.

The bed started to shake and our fan bounced around. Initially I wondered if it was an earthquake then decided it had to be the washer. We don’t have earthquakes that big in North Carolina. I yelled at Tracey to check the washer and went back to reading my book.

A minute later Tracey comes in and asks if I felt that. After verifying the washer wasn’t on I informed her she had just experienced her first earthquake. Even then I kept thinking it couldn’t have been that. We called my mother who didn’t feel a thing then turned on the news and sure enough. Earthquake!

The animals didn’t react either. It woke the lab up but she just went back to sleep. The cats didn’t seem to notice it at all. Daygan could have been reacting or it could be one of those crickets she likes to suck up was giving her indigestion. As a baby frilled dragon it could have been anything making him/her antsy, they’re nervous about everything with good reason I suppose.

It really wasn’t all that bad considering. Fox News seemed concerned that people were overreacting and California was laughing at us but hey, we southerners are used to people laughing at us. If it’s not the accent it’s the joy we take in the rare snowfalls we get.

I wanted to tell Shephard Smith from Fox news to stop stomping on our excitement and let us enjoy this little quake. Heaven knows from April to October we don’t have any excitement because there’s no chance of snow at all.

Now God goes and shakes our world and killjoy Fox wants us to ignore it? Hel-lo. We are happy because we just got us a real honest to God earthquake on the East Coast. We’ve got something else to talk about besides how frigging hot it is and Fox wants us to calm down, not use our cells and watch Libya who’s across the world. Hah! Not happening.

And really Fox? It seems they felt New Yorkers and other northern states didn’t react well to the quake and I can really understand that but we don’t all live in New York. I did call my daughter who was at school in Baltimore, Maryland but she didn’t feel anything. In fact didn’t know what was going on til she was on her way home.

 I don’t know if John felt the quake or not. He works in D.C. so he may have felt more than Holly did. I’ll ask Holly later cause I didn’t talk to her but a minute. I do have the right to check with her and make sure she’s ok even if I know she probably is. Sorry Fox. I did use the phone to call my daughter’s cell. Get over it.

Besides that I’m not sure if Fox was concerned so much about the people’s reaction to the quake so much as they were concerned about people on the West Coast laughing at us. I believe we can handle a few snickers.

The only thing Fox said right, as far as I’m concerned, is people should be worried about Irene heading our way. That’s true but it’s not gonna stop us from enjoying our own little earthquake for about a day. Irene isn’t due til this weekend and most of us can multi task.

I went to the convenience store to meet my heart sister, Ruth, who was in town. The clerk asked me if I felt the quake. I said I sure did and she was like I did, too. Then she says I thought it was the washer. Instant kinship. I love southerners. We bond over the dumbest things.

Ruth and her husband, Howard also felt the quake in Kannapolis, they live near Charlotte. She thought it was her grandson shaking the table til Howard told her otherwise.

What kills me is she and I should have known better cause we both lived in California. Hell, she was born there. I feel her blood or something should have recognized an earthquake was happening. Since it didn’t I felt better about thinking it was the washer.

We lived in El Monte and had some damage to our home when an earthquake hit. I can remember my mom grabbing me and my brother and shoving us under the kitchen table then going to find my dad. I really have no idea how she did all that with the world trying to turn upside down.

Think of a furnished doll house. Pick that doll house up, shake it hard, shake it up, down, and sideways. Hear the furniture and dolls crashing into one another? Hear the walls of the doll house cracking as they buckle?

Now think of that happening to a real house with real people and their things inside and you might have an idea of how a 7.2 earthquake feels. That was the magnitude that hit L.A. and the surrounding areas when I lived there in 1971.

We moved to California in about 1968? 1969? We weren’t there five minutes when we felt our first quake. After that it was fires so close we had ashes floating down on us, floods then finally the 1971 quake. My mom said she’d had enough and after a brief stay in Arizona we moved on to Tennessee, Maryland, Georgia and last North Carolina. My mom should have been born a gypsy. God knows she had wandering feet.

What about you? Any earthquakes, fires or hurricanes you want to discuss? Am I being too hard on Fox? I don’t think so.They were buttheads because while New York might have been nervous about the quake they weren’t out of control. I think it was more a case of Fox overreacting rather than New York. Or at least Shepherd Smith. He actually said turn the channel if you want more news about the earthquake. So I did.

Here’s an article about the 1971 earthquake if you’re interested:




Curio’s Past, Shhh.