A few months back, Myra “Awesomesauce” McEntire and I were talking short stories. I had written one called “The World on Fire” (if you search my posts you’ll find it), and I gave Myra her own prompt. Little did I know she’d turn it into a book!!
Then the other day, we were chatting over fruit tea and cupcakes (that’s how we roll) and the topic came up again. We wanted to play, and we wanted to share some of our writing, our voice. We started talking about where we get our ideas (hence the title of this post), and decided to have some fun.
Here’s the thing: THE NEAR WITCH doesn’t release until next summer (yes it’s a long time please don’t ask me if I wish it would come out sooner <–I get asked that a lot, and it is giving me a slight eye twitch), and I’d love nothing more than to just post bits of NW here, but I CANNOT. It would not make my publisher very happy :(
SO, we’re doing a series of short stories. We both start with the same prompt, and go from there, and all the stories are contained within a very specific framework (we and we’ll tell you more about that next week).
If anyone can GUESS what the framework, or the inspiration is, I WILL GIVE YOU A PRIZE (and I won’t forget, just like I didn’t forget about the cookies, those will be in the Wednesday vlog, I promise!)…
We have completely different styles, and brains, so this should be interesting!!
The jail was all metal and murmurs and dirty light.
The bars divided the hall into a thousand gray strips of space, each just big enough for a hand, a jaw, a dark curl or a sharp glare.
It smells different than I thought it would. Not that I spent much time thinking about this place, about ending up here. I spent weeks convincing myself to kill Tal, wrote the whole story before I ever picked up the knife, dreamt about what I would say, what he would say, the way the bed would look without him calling me back to it, asking for the end. Demanding the end. I gave it to him.
The cell slid shut behind me. Too quiet.
I expected it to slam with the heavy clang of metal on metal the way you hear in movies, but there was only the hush of the a snug fit, and then the scraping sound of the bolts. And I was trapped again.
I tipped my forehead against the bars and closed my eyes. I was beginning to forget what freedom felt like. A sudden jarring sound and the violent shake of the bars against my face sent me backward into the cell.
“No leaning on the bars,” growled a guard with a few days worth of five o’clock shadow and a paunch. That was the one thing about Tal—at least he was nice to look at. I rubbed my cheek and thought about the kind of story I’d write this guard into. It would involve pain, that much I knew.
“Don’t mind Bob,” said a voice above me. I looked up to find two very long legs dangling over the top bunk.
“Bob?” I asked, the laugh stuck in my throat. “People still name their children Bob?”
A face appeared above the legs, large blue eyes, blonde curls and rose-red cheeks. If she had been wearing a dress she would have made a perfect goldilocks. In a prison jumper, she looked terrifying.
“His name’s not really Bob,” said Goldilocks (if Goldilocks had murdered the three bears for their porridge and been sentenced to a decade in federal prison). “He won’t tell us him name, so we just call him Bob. When he started working here, we liked to make up names.” She pouted. “But Bob doesn’t have a sense of humor.”
And then she hopped down from the bunk, and landed on the concrete without displacing a single curl. She was nearly a foot taller than me, and I was no short girl. Who the hell was she?
“Well,” she said, appraising me, “What brings you to my less-than-lovely abode?”
I cocked an eyebrow.
“Theft, arson, kidnapping, assault, or murder?” When she said murder, she smiled a little, her blue eyes glistening.
I cleared my throat. “Self defense.”
Goldilocks let out a sudden, perfect laugh and shook her head. “Please,” she said, leaning back against the bunks. “None of that. You’re in my home now, and I don’t like liars.” She kept smiling at me. With teeth.
Across the aisle a set of hands curled around the bars, and a girl who looked too young to be here came forward, a red headband pinning back dark hair. The red stood out like a candle in the gray prison, and I wondered for a moment how she was allowed to wear it, before she looked right at me.
“Do tell,” she said, in a voice just above whisper. Still it cut through the din of the aisle, between the bars and reached my ears without losing so much as the edge of a syllable.
Bob was nowhere to be seen, so I leaned against the bars and stared up at the stained concrete ceiling, trying not to think of how the stains got there.
“It started with a story.”
That’s the end of the first snippet. Next Monday Installment Two will go up, and that story will (hopefully) pick up where this one leaves off!
Make sure to go read what Myra did with the exact same prompt, and comment below with any thoughts, questions and/or guesses.