Last night Younger Daughter and I did Writing Challenges. This is a beloved family activity in which we sit around and write stuff. One person issues a friendly challenge, known in scholastic circles as a “writing prompt.” Then we write, and then we share what we wrote. Here is one challenge from last night, and our responses. Please keep in mind that there is no time for editing. YD’s composition was wistful, while mine was violent.
Challenge: Choose one thing that makes you happy, one thing that makes you sad, and one thing that makes you angry. Combine these three things to write one story, no more than one page long.
Feel free to try this challenge on your own and if you wish, put your response in the comments or link to it.
Younger Daughter wrote:
There once was an old house on Graham Street. It didn’t look old on the outside. It looked sweet, and modern, and like any other house on the block. However, when going inside the screen door to see the black and white carpeting, and the little raised step, the house felt old.
It wasn’t a decrepit kind of old, though. It was a comforting kind of old, a blanket kind of old, a hot tea with apple pie kind of old. There were spiral stairs to the right, nearly hidden behind the eye-attracting splendor of the dining table. It led to an attic with sock-sliding floors and a monster mat and a kraken that would come out at night. This was a very cozy little house.
A house so very little can have a little history, too. It had memories of new places, new sights, new countries, carried on from mothers and fathers long past in their children’s memories. It remembered children’s children, and on, and on, until future and past no longer seemed quite so separate any more, with all the memories floating about this so very old house.
It remembered a menorah, with chants and strict rules, and tradition handed down to a new felt menorah, taken from memories although never seen. It remembered frustration on what once was calculus, to be turned into a toy by a child at play. It remembered tragedy. It remembered love. It remembered loss.
It stood now quite empty, this old house on Graham Street. It shuddered, its old bones creaking, as yesterday settled into tomorrow.
The people on the stage, all clad in sharp black, sat at attention. Maestro slowly picked up the baton and raised his arms. Violins went to shoulders, clarinets to lips, tympani mallets at the ready. The audience of five hundred was expectantly silent. Then, just as Maestro was listening for that silent downbeat in his head, everyone heard, - Crackle – Crinkle – and “Would you like a Rice Krispies treat, dear?”
It was Seat 24D. Maestro spun around and glared. Every other member of the audience shone a laser pointer at Mrs Seat 24D. The orchestra members stood in unison and shouted, “Get her!”
I pressed the button, and the giant claw descended, picked up Mrs Seat 24D, and lifted her up to the ceiling. She disappeared through the hole in the ceiling, where she was rapidly liquefied and forced through the pipes. I smiled and returned to my post.
* * * * * * * * *
YD was thinking fondly of her Grandpa and Grandma’s house. She loved the attic there, where she could indeed slide around in her socks, and there was a “monster mat” rug with a friendly monster face on it, and an ancient adding machine that Grandpa used to use in his business. The thing that makes YD angry is math.
I guess it is a good thing I don’t have access to the button I imagined in my composition. Music makes me happy; the thing that makes me angry is when people whisper, eat, crackle wrappers, and breathe during music concerts. The thing that makes me sad is the hole in the living room ceiling, which is barely represented in my story. Now when I encounter someone talking during a concert, I will imagine stuffing them into that hole.