Enthuse your muse with this writing prompt

Let the following random sentence chosen from a book on my bookshelf inspire you. Don’t think; just write.

“‘That bastard. I’ll have to throw a security check on him. I wouldn’t leave any top-secret documents lying around here if I were you. At least not until I make my report.’”
Catch-22, Joseph Heller

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Enthuse your muse with this writing prompt

Let the following random sentence chosen from a book on my bookshelf inspire you. Don’t think; just write.

“She used to bring books there, to read where no one would disturb her, forbidden books like Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She remembered the way her eyes had danced over the pages, dwelling on the most delicious words, like pulsating and tumescent, and the way at the end she would look up and imagine her lover standing at the wheel, the wind pulling at her skirt as they churned through the uncharted sea.”
Emancipation Day, Wayne Grady

Enthuse your muse with this writing prompt

Let the following random sentence chosen from a book on my bookshelf inspire you. Don’t think; just write.

“‘It made me feel sort of light-headed and exhilarated. I can’t imagine why, But I wanted to tell someone. I wished I was with someone other than Bruce so I could whisper, “You see that man over there…” And then tell them the story.’”
Extraordinary, David Gilmour

Copyright fuzziness and that other excuse

I’m uneasy about sharing too much of my writing online. Partly, it’s because I’m not a lawyer.

This is what I understand about copyright:
Copyright is inherent when an original work is created and expressed in a fixed manner. This includes “text” which includes blogs which means that anything original I share on here is protected.

It certainly sounds like a secure legal shield against anyone looting my words for profit (though a better protection is… who could possibly profit from this?), but my expertise is limited to an hour of research, a two-day media law seminar four years ago, common sense, and anything I might have stored from a copyright-related episode of Boston Legal or Suits (which don’t exactly explain Canadian applications of the law anyway).

My legal apprehension would not stand up as an excuse to hide my work if it wasn’t for the other reason. You know the one. Fear.

Fear is a useful evolutionary development when it helps you to avoid dangerous, life-threatening activities like being thrown off/out of tall things without safety equipment or starting an argument with an angry person holding a weapon; it’s a stupid reason to hesitate over posting a short story on a blog.

That being said, here’s something for your reading pleasure, written in 2009.

Portage and Colony

1:00 AM

It’s nights like this that make people say the worst about the city. It’s brutally cold. Mother effing cold. It’s an aching, bone-deep, biting, piercing cold. With a north wind.

My scrunchy grey boots aren’t up to the challenge. It hurts when I wiggle my toes in their snow-stained points, and I knew it would when I wore them. But they’re my sexiest winter footwear, and I’m still trying to make Jack want me. Well, that’s not true. I know he wants me. I’m trying to make him act on it.

“Do you…ever think about that night?” I asked him tonight, too casually, too slowly, too carefully, with a would-be-lazy smile. I flicked my hair and rested my bright mismatched sockfeet on his coffee table.

He stared at me. Doesn’t know how well I can read him. He bit his lower lip – dead giveaway for trying not to say something. Turned back to the kitchen.

“I still feel guilty about that night,” he said. And walked away.

Ouch. But at least he’s still thinking about it.

That wind is vicious. My damn toes hurt and the guy in the bus shack is waking up. Lovely.

There are no cars on the streets. The occasional bus that is not my bus drives by, empty and dirty, eighties-patterned seats within, scowling driver pulling out ahead of the non-existent traffic to run a red. He’s too used to those bus-priority lights. Or maybe he’s lost all will to follow the laws imposed upon him by people that didn’t fall back onto bus driving.  Bitterness for his unfulfilled childhood dreams must’ve had a hand in running that red.

There aren’t many sounds. Just the hydraulic hiss of the bus gaining speed, the squeak-crunch of old snow as I shuffle my feet to fight cold, and the low hum of the garish light contraptions adorning the medians of downtown. No sounds of living. A dead city, cryogenically frozen.

It’s snowing now. I didn’t notice until I looked up at the streetlight, its yellow beams fuzzy at the edges as if my eyes aren’t quite working. Fat white blurs too close to my face made me jump. Bus shack man is looking at me as if I’m crazy.

Jack is probably asleep by now. Or maybe not. Maybe this time the four cups of coffee beat out the beer and pot and he’s watching something with Ricky Gervais or zombies.

Maybe he’s feeling guilty again.

My bus is coming. This hulking orange carriage is more law-abiding than the last one; it’s sitting patiently at a red two sets of lights away. The driver must have fewer regrets.

It crawls toward me, and I reach into my bag, trying to find my bus pass in the oversized pockets while maintaining eye contact with the driver to ensure he doesn’t drive past. My woollen mittens are not ideal for this kind of delicate work.

My phone vibrates against the back of my hand as I close my fist around the little blue folder housing my pass. With a soft, drawn out squeal the bus stops, doors opening with their chhh-shh-swish, and I flash the folder open, TV cop-style, and return driver’s nod before taking my favorite spot. Two rows back. Left side window.

I hold my breath before I check for my phone. Expectations down. Down. It’s probably Brandy, who never sleeps, or Justin with another thing to whine about.

Sans-mitts, lights on, sitting, things are much easier to find. My phone climbs into my hand. Snuggles into the palm. Nudges my thumb. Take a look. Come on. Don’t rush me, I’m fighting against inevitable disappointment. Stop stalling. Check me out. Stop being such a loser. I sigh, thinking of everyone who could be calling me. The phone vibrates again – its obligatory “something happened and you missed my first notice” vibrate. But angrier. I take a deep breath, pick it up.

One missed call – Jack Reiger.

I slide my thumb across the screen and press the tiny green icon. Calling. Ringing. Ringing. Ringing.

“Hello?”

His voice is a little growly. My heart bangs on my ribcage, trying to get my attention. Apparently it really enjoys a growly voice. Settle, I tell it.

“Hey Jack. It’s me,” I say.

A pause. Why is he pausing? What could he possibly have to pau–

“Hi.”

Calm. Be calm. Lower expectations.

“Hey. So, I saw you called,” I say.

“Right…yeah. Nevermind.”

Nevermind? Is he kidding? I look around at the empty seats and share an eyeroll with the bum-worn orange fabric across the isle. I certainly “mind.” I’m outraged and bemused.

I laugh. Joking. Joshing. Cajoling. “No. That’s not fair. You have to tell me why you called.”

Another pause. I send him my pleas telepathically. Do it. Please please please do it. Stop considering and just tell me, I think at him. I turn in the direction of his apartment, picturing my words, wisps of brilliance and influence, sliding through the air full speed. I bat my eyes and pout a bit, as if he can see me. I hope the driver isn’t watching the interior mirrors.

The balaclavaed woman near the back coughs, and I imagine she can hear what I’m thinking. I can’t help yelling “This is private” as loud as I can in my mind. I’m jealous of her power.

“You should have stayed,” he says.

Somehow, it echoes.

My heart can’t cope. With a final pound it faints dead away. I shake my shoulders to revive it and it flops and wiggles, seizing more than beating.

“Pardon?” I ask him. I heard what he said; I just need to hear it again. I can feel my heart glowering at me. Bracing for another impact.

“You should have stayed. I should’ve made you…asked you to stay.”

What to say to that? I’m certain I need to be careful with my words, my tone. Not too eager or too desperate. Curious, intrigued, with a hint of happy. The pause lengthens. My choice this time, not his. I imagine back in his apartment he’s squirming, slightly panicky, like me.

I can’t keep this up. I don’t know how he does it.

“Why?” I ask.

He clears his throat. I need him to talk faster so I can stop wishfully predicting his next sentence. And so the bus – moving much too fast for the first time in the history of public transit – would stop taking me away from him.

“Anna. Please.”

He sounds tired. And he’s pleading. But he said my name. I’m a sucker for that. My name sounds exotic, sexy, original from his lips.

“Please what?” I ask, and I don’t notice when my left arm snakes up, pulls the stop cord. I only realize when the bell sounds and my hand falls back to my knee.

I stand up, stumble down the aisle. At the front, beside the driver, I hook an arm around the pole and slide my mittens on, phone tucked under my ear. I listen to his silence, the occasional sigh. The bus is stopping, and my grey boots carry me outside. I’m crossing the street. There’s a bus coming this direction; no waiting this time. I’m already on it when he says, “It’s too hard to talk over the phone.”