When working on writing projects and being all writerly, sometimes the inspiration eludes us. We find ourselves lost in an ocean of words, yet can't place them. One thing that helps is to do some "other" writing. And by other, I mean something other than what eludes you.
For this article, I want to talk about writing prompts. These are little pieces of information to get the juices flowing. With a prompt, there is a specific prompt given and you simply write from there. Easy right? Well, let's see...
For this prompt, I was to go to the bookshelf and choose a book. Done...Edgar Allen Poe Complete Tales and Poems. Next step open the book to a random page. Check, we are on page 221, "The Premature Burial." Now look at the page and the first full sentence you read is your prompt. Write the sentence and continue with a story.
Here goes nothing...
“Fearful indeed the suspicion – but more fearful the doom.” This sentence is from Premature Burial by Edgar Allen Poe
Fearful indeed the suspicion – but more fearful the doom. In the darkness, I could not help but fear the doom that would soon befall me. The air here is stale and lifeless, a scent lingers that is rancid. The metallic taste of blood is in my mouth from the oozing wound above my eye. A sense of dread overtakes me, and I have no idea of how I got here. I try to scream but nothing comes out. No sound can be heard from within this place. I now understand the meaning when it is said, “the silence is deafening.”
My hands are bound in front of me, but I can feel the small space around me. It is smooth almost like a pillow. Tapping my feet at something below me, still, there is no sound. I can feel that I have shoes on, why do they not make noise, I wonder? There is no sound, there is no light, what is this place and what lay beneath me? Something protrudes from beneath, it sits near to my spine in its ever-present annoyance. In my own arrogance, I surmise it is a joke, who would play such a sinister prank, again I wonder?
I hope it’s a prank.
As if by chance, images flash in my mind. A memory perhaps or a dream of sorts. A girl sitting on the tailgate of a truck, her lacy blue shirt shows the outline of a bra with its sheer pale flowers. The jeans she wears are ripped, but in the fashionable way young girls wear them. The breeze sways the blond locks that lay in curly tendrils about her face fancy-free the dance of those that escaped the clip atop her head.
She sits arms propped behind her looking up the sun lights her face. Pulling the clip from her hair she tousles it. The color shines as a halo around the head of an angel in the sunlight. Swinging her bare feet off the edge with their brightly painted toes, the carefree nature is intoxicating, and I cannot look away. A butterfly lands on that flowing blue shirt and captures her attention until it flies off. Following the butterfly, her gaze meets mine making me blush.
She smiles my way.
At that moment, her shirt begins to turn red. No, not red but crimson. Her eyes stare at me, wide and fearful. The color overtakes the front of her shirt and begins to consume her jeans. The crimson color of blood. Arterial blood that keeps pushing through her slender fingers desperately trying to cover the long gash across her neck.
I sit in shock unable to move. I can’t help her, I can only watch as the life drains from her eyes. The blood no longer pulsing from the wound. Released by the hand that holds her, she crumbles to the pavement. Her flaccid body lay facing me, her mouth open as though she would scream, yet silenced by the knife. Arms outstretched reaching for me, across the blacktop, but the lifelong gone from her eyes.
It is a man that now stands over her. His arms hang before him like pendulums, in one hand a lock of the girl’s hair and the other a long shiny knife. One last droplet of blood dangles from the tip in silent anguish. I sink lower into my seat to avoid his watchful gaze. He picks up the girl, looking at her, he lovingly brushes a lock of hair from her eye. Gently placing her into the bed of the truck, for what purpose I couldn’t fathom. I look down to find my keys, questioning in my mind, why kill her, I wonder?
Admonishing myself, I need to get away from here before I too am so unceremoniously dispatched. Looking up a shadow blocks the light, the figure stands outside my door, his bloody hands leaving prints on my window, the knife and lock of hair still firmly seated in each. I’d locked the door, but he would not be dissuaded. Fumbling for my keys, it is with a loud crash I’m stunned. The window succumbed to the force of the crowbar just before it struck my head.
Right above my eye.
I remember all this, I now know why I lay bleeding yet unaware of where I lay. I know my role in this, a witness to a horrific crime. What did the pretty girl… My thoughts trail to another place. Beneath me… somehow, I knew it was her. The smell, the feel.
I writhed, moving as much as I could my arm brushes against the cold flesh of another. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I saw those decisive moments of the pretty girl and now here I lay encased alongside her. Panic settles into my soul. Somehow, I know it’ll never be light again. Forever darkness, the silence is deafening.
The long slow breaths grow slower and it is my own heartbeat I can hear. The rhythmic thump getting softer with each beat. I lay here with the pretty girl, forever encased in an embrace that never was.
The darkness is here…
So... this is a writing prompt? Try your own and build your skills.