Impromptu

A free-writing practice.


 

Now and then over the past couple of years, my work schedule has allowed me tie to do a daily free-write session in the mornings. Using a prompt, I set the timer for 15 minutes and write down whatever comes to mind. The resulting body of work has produced some interesting tidbits, each about 300 words long. Not quite flash fiction, they’re more like teasers, each one hinting at a story that is waiting to be told. Most of them are fantasy, but not all. 

I’ve started sharing these little exercises over on Instagram, along with some digitally-rendered artwork. Nothing has been added and embellished, and the edits are purely cosmetic (punctuation, spelling). Here’s the collection in progress! The title indicates the prompt that inspired each story.

watercolor render of sailing ship with text


  • No One Knows

    No One Knows

    “Can you see it yet?” the captain of the galley looked out over the rail but she depended on the eyes of her second mate to tell her what lay on the horizon. Her own eyes weren’t sharp enough anymore. Maybe never were. And maybe her mind wasn’t so sharp anymore, given the assignment she’d accepted.

    “Nothing yet, Captain,’ answered Eldex, his gaze fastened on the horizon. “Not so much as a smudge.” He cast a sidelong look at their passenger, a tall, dark-skinned man wrapped in the livery of the royal mage corps.

    “It’s there,” he said. His name was Forcaii Mor and, like most mages, he didn’t care that the people around him thought he was a prick.

    Captain Selden pursed her lips. “Tell me again what happens when we go through.”

    The mage elevated one eyebrow just a tick and looked at her. “No one knows. The best guesses of the corps are that we’ll end up someplace else, or we’ll end up dead. Of course, nothing might happen at all and we’ll just keep sailing, on towards the open sea.”

    “Fucking mages,” Eldex muttered under his breath. Forcaii Mor only smiled.

  • Someone Else's Wedding

    Someone Else's Wedding

    The flowers were beautiful, at least. That was something of a surprise to Mitch because Shelby had never shown much interest in natural beauties. She was all about minimalism. Slick surfaces and sharp edges .The rustic natural beauty of the garlands and bouquets didn’t seem to match his mental image of her. Perhaps it was her mother’s doing. Or a wedding planner.

    He chose his seat carefully: right side, towards the back, but not all the way back, which seem to lurky. He wanted to escape notice without looking like he was trying to escape notice. Dark blue suit, white button-down shirt, a tie pattern not at all eye catching, his hair combed back and tied in a subtle knot at the nape of his neck. “No one notice me!” his appearance practically shouted.

    He hadn’t decided yet about the reception.

    The groomsmen were starting to gather at the back of the church, the wedding planner pairing them off with the older family members for the long preliminary march down the hall. Scott, Shelby‘s little brother, who looked sharp in his gray-tailed tuxedo, glanced his way once but if he noticed or recognized Mitch in the crowd, he gave no sign of it. He exhaled quietly under his breath.

    “Can you believe this circus?” A woman had slid into the pew from the side aisle. As she plopped her substantial girth onto the vinyl covered seat, it exhaled with the resigned sigh. “This is so Shelby.”

    Mitch smiled politely because he wasn’t sure what else to do. “It looks nice,” he said. The woman, who was wearing a bold flower hat, snorted. “Are you a friend of the bride?” he asked.

    “God, no,” said the woman, and a wicked grin crossed her face. “I’m her arch enemy. I’m here to make sure this day is a disaster. Wanna help?”

  • Feeling Old

    Feeling Old

    I do not like this prompt, wrote the author. She was sitting in a coffee shop, one of the chains that were so ubiquitous nowadays. She didn’t even like coffee. She had a cup of tea sitting next to her on the table, slowly growing cold as she scribbled words onto the page.

    She could remember when coffee shops like this had not been a thing, and she remembered when they had become a thing. Only less plastic. A welcome enhancement to the community, not a necessary fixture.

    That’s why she didn’t like the prompt. Because she could remember that stuff. That shift. That double shift, really. She could remember too many changes.

    I’m not even 50, she wrote, but that number felt huge even as she wrote it down. Tried to downplay it in the immensity

    When did I stop being 25?

    She had tried in her late 30s to stop the progression of years. “I’m 36 again,” she said, and then, “I’m 36 again for the second time” and “for the third time.” After that, she started losing track of how old she really was. And maybe 40 wasn’t such a bad number, anyway. Plus it confused her kids.

    The baristas behind the counter probably didn’t remember a time when coffee didn’t come in tall, grande, and venti sizes, or blended with ice and sugar, and topped with whipped cream and more sugar. When the author had been that age, coffee had come in small, white cups with a container of sweeteners on the side. Pink, blue, yellow, white — pick your poison. Only then, no one really knew they were all poison.

    It’s not that she wants to go back. The knowledge she has now, the experience, she doesn’t want lose. It’s that she just wishes she had more time to make use of it.