A Wednesday Writing Challenge ;-)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Wednesday Writing Challenge ;-)

I love that I can say this is back by request!

The GGD writing challenge. Up to it? Need a reference? Previous challenges are here and here.

Starting points are provided below. You can use one or any combination of the three if you like. Whatever works.

Word: Muse
Phrase:"You were the first."
Image: A rain-soaked cobblestone street.

You write whatever you like using that starting point and see what comes. (Note, no rules on length, content, whatever. Just see what happens)


p.s. Tell a friend and make sure to read the comments. I'm always amazed by how good these are.

20 comments:

  1. The fifth stage of that year's Tour was set on a rain-soaked cobblestone street in Brittany. Always a challenge, routinely 20 bikes would crash, many never to return to the race. Would I finish the stage this year? he mused. Maybe if I use those new kevlar sasquatch imprint tires...

    "You were the first to use the highest technology in cycling" his obsequious toady of a roadie bleated.

    "God I hate that guy, I've got to fire him".

    Off the pelaton went that day. It was the day they reinacted the battle of the Somme on cobblestones, 250 miles west, with carbon fiber and aluminum shrapnel.

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  2. He stood alone in the rain, water dripping off of him into the worn cobblestones under his feet.
    "Where have you gone?" he thought. "Without you, I don't have the words to tell you how much I need you."
    Somewhere, far away, she heard his despair. "Beloved, I'm so sorry. I wanted to tell you I couldn't stay. Though I've been with others, you were the first and only one I will ever love."
    He walks home...the rain obscuring the tears that would never stop.

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  3. "You are the first."

    His voice, all gravel and whiskey-laden whispering, is barely audible over the speeding hisses of the traffic on the glistening main street just around the corner. I blink dripping lashes against soft falling droplets of rain, yellow streetlights casting swaying shadows through dancing leaves, drooping and pregnant and heavy with the wetness. The cobblestone of the side street is cold, slick stone beneath my back, bottom and legs. The water that collects in the cracks between the bricks soaks through my jeans, an icy creeping dampness. His hands are hot. His fingers burn into the skin on either side of my throat, my pulse throbbing and beating fiercely at the spaces between his fingers like crazed wings against the bars of a cage. His thumbs pushing up, unrelenting, tipping my head back on my neck, eyelids useless now against the slow, steady, falling rain. The navy of his windbreaker, black in the lamp light, slips through my grasping fingers, like trying to catch fish in the creek behind Grandma's house when we were kids. Heartbeat thundering in my ears, black blood rising behind my eyes, blind now to the street, steps from where we first met, first kissed. His lips against the cold shell of my ear, breath a warm mist, soothing in the night.

    "You were the first."

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  4. his muse stalks away
    footsteps on wet cobblestones
    raindrop in his eye?

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  5. Drip, drip, drip
    drip
    Background noise to the boy leaving through a side door.
    Background noise to the girl on the balcony watching him leave.
    "You..."
    unruly hair
    fingers tracing the wet iron bars
    "...were..."
    he doesn't look up
    she remembers opening the balcony door to let the sound of the rain into the bedroom
    "...the..."
    He turns the corner
    She sighs, knowing that no words or promises will bring him back
    "...first."
    He stops around the corner to catch his thoughts
    She whispers, "You were my muse."

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  6. (Mark and Jamie exit a theater and walk through a multiplex. As they both drift towards the refreshment stand, Jamie checks his cell phone)

    Mark: That’s it, James Cameron is my new muse.

    Jamie: (absently, still checking his cell) Yeah, that ‘Avatar’ trailer was… pretty blue.

    Mark: (smiling) Sort of vindicates all that sexy 'FernGully' fanfic I used to write.

    Jamie: (laughs easily) Ha. Right. I don’t know whether to watch 'Tron' when we get home or go right to making dirty alien things in Adobe Flash.

    (Both arrive at refreshment stand and take their place in line)

    Jamie: (shows Mark his cell phone) Look at all this money I have in "FarmTown."

    Mark: (shakes head) You know that’s not real, right?

    Jamie: (still studying cell phone) I cannot stop playing these Facebook games.

    Mark: You were a little easier to take when you were just playing WoW.

    Jamie: (grimaces good-naturedly) Augh.

    Mark: The Lich King expansion changed the whole game. You should come back.

    (Finally, they arrive at front of refreshment line and Jamie puts cell phone away)

    Jamie: (to cashier) Two cappuccinos, please.

    Jamie: (to Mark) Do they let you buy houses yet?

    Mark: No.

    Jamie: Can I have your blue armor?

    Mark: No.

    Jamie: Can I have your mount?

    Mark: No.

    Jamie: Can I go on raids with you?

    Mark: (hesitates) No.

    Jamie: (stares at Mark)

    (Uncomfortable silence. Jamie leans into Mark, begins to straighten his tie and resumes speaking evenly but slightly softer)

    Jamie: Well, maybe you should go to that party tonight with the Lich King…

    (Jamie pulls Mark’s tie tight)

    Jamie: (raises chin and whispers into Mark’s ear) …and then afterward, you two can fuck yourselves.

    (Jamie leaves. Mark turns to watch him leave then turns back to the just-returned refreshment girl)

    Refreshment Girl: (places two cups on counter in front of Mark) Two cappuccinos. $9.75.

    (Mark stares at drinks)

    Refreshment Girl: You could have let him have the armor but now you're gonna have to give him the mount.

    (Mark stares at Refreshment Girl)

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  7. looking down from her window, he looked so small. his shuffling feet made slight progress down the street, but the raindrops did little to mask camouflage the precipitation from his eyes.

    she bit back an urge to call out to him, to beckon him back. she knew it wasn't fair. it was his journey to take.

    if only he knew he'd been her world's inspiration, perhaps his steps would have been lighter.

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  8. He had been watching her for weeks. She had a routine. 9:30 p.m. every Wednesday she would visit a gray door marked #435 1/2, just around the corner from a small Thai restaurant. In her hand she clutched a small, embellished, antique pill case that was her great grandmother's. Upon entering the pill case was empty. Upon exiting it was filled with the only substance that brought her joy anymore. Her life source.

    It was evident she used to be beautiful. Full of life. Full of promise. Most likely someone's muse. The inspiration of beautiful creations. Creations that echoed love.

    Now she was his muse. They had never met, but she was his life source.

    This night was different than the other Wednesdays when he would watch. This night they would meet their destiny.

    He watched as she walked on the rain-soaked cobblestones, rounding the corner past the Thai restaurant. As she approached the gray door, he approached her. He gently grabbed her from behind, his gloved hands moving up her body, to her neck, to her head. With a quick, purposeful movement, he twisted her head sharply to the right. She fell limp into his arms.

    "You were the first," he whispered into his dead muse's ear.

    He walked off with an eery joy. A joy that would become his new life source.

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  9. She's watching the pools of water in the street outside; puddles made irregular, jagged by the cobblestones underneath, the occasional circular interruption as the rooftops shake off the remaining rain. It's a lot of grey outside. Luminescent light-grey, in the water, in the sky.

    "I mean, things have been going well lately, right?"

    That's Kate. She's trying not to look at Kate. Trying not to notice the way Kate has been idly fingering the rim of her coffee mug for sometime now. Trying not to feel trapped at the this tiny table at the back of the cafe. Trying to handle herself like how she has been informed an adult would.

    "I just... I just miss it, Diedra. All of it, y'know? We go so well together, we're always having fun when we're out."

    Kate wearing another damn white t-shirt, her hat is cocked just slightly to the side like it always is. Kate who calls you out of nowhere after five months of silence. Kate who's always broke, always well-dressed, always drinking. The sun comes out from behind the clouds at the exact wrong moment. This is is not what she needs, she needs more rain, she wants lightning behind her.

    Kate touches her hand.
    "You're like... an energy to me. You inspire me. I'm a better person, I'm more creative around you—"

    That's all she can take. Her eyes snap, don't move, but re-frame, and where there might have been cool apathy before, now there is uncomfortable heat.

    She speaks, so slowly, so carefully.

    "Two. Years. Two years, Kate. And I've seen the other girls just blow through your life like nothing. But you want to do this.., now??"

    Her eyes hit hard. Kate is silent. She lets it linger before continuing.

    "So why me, huh? Why did you decide to dig out all of OUR old fossils this month? Why not call Jess? Or the blonde one?"

    Kate sighs a losing battle, rubs her eyes in frustration.

    "Don't, Diedra. Don't be like that. You were the first. You were always the first."

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  10. The Muse,
    with a bespoke glance,
    a parting of the lips,
    a sprinkling of desire,
    would inspire symphony and masterpiece,
    performance and revolution.
    But the Muse,
    sleepless and alone,
    felt relentless emptiness.
    The Muse was not amused...

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  11. He walked down the rain-soaked cobble stone street, his hand held above his glasses in a mostly futile attempt to keep the falling mist, the last remnant of the storm that knocked out power to most of the town, from rendering him totally foggy-lens blind. From somewhere he heard the chorus of Cheap Trick's "The Flame" riding the cool autumn air. Probably some chump sitting in his garage strumming on a beat up old guitar. that would explain why the vocals sounded like they were coming from the bottom of a garbage disposal.
    "You were the first, you'll be the last."
    Lyrics like that, they belonged in a garbage disposal, shredded and washed away. Bunch of bullshit, anyway. Anyone who let someone get that far in, have that strong of a hold? A moron. Love, as another song states, is just a second hand emotion. It comes, it goes. there is no 'eternal flame', no grand muse to inspire for the rest of one's life. Nothing but the next one in line. Nothing more.

    He pushed thoughts of how her rain slicked body slid against his and how she shuddered in time with the thunder away and kept walking.

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  12. Pulling his coat tighter against the brisk night, he thought back to his fist muse. He recalled it was a wet evening on a cobble stone road in an old city. walking by a local coffee shop thinking about going in, then seeing her through the window solidified it.
    stepping in he ordered a latte and proceeded to introduce himself to her.
    "hello"
    "may I help you?" she stated, in a you are bothering me tone.
    "no, I was just saying hello. I don't think every time a man says hello to a woman that he is after something."
    "your mouth says that but your eyes say something different"
    "What do you think my eyes are saying then"
    "they tell me that you are looking for something, what I'm not sure of. and that you have seen more than anyone should ever have to."
    "you are very observant, but tonight I'm just saying hello, and maybe a conversation, if you wish." finally reveling his true intentions
    "let me guess you say that to all the girls, in an attempt to sleep with them later."
    "and I would tell you your wrong"

    That was the start of the conversation that brought her in to his life. from that night they had other conversations and discussions on various topics. In time she would see him for what he was an artist, a dark artist. an artist of death, and she would be his masterpiece.

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  13. In the paint-over-plaster-over-brick arches of this small number of rooms, she learned to love architecture. Much later, she would learn that the style was called, "Craftsman." These adolescent years were spent learning other things. How to hide in classrooms where being anything other than Benetton-bland could get you crucified in the lunchroom, mostly. She learned to be silent while the muse inside her head spun poetry through her fingers and songs out of lips she only opened when no one was there. She learned that sometimes when the phone rang, it was bad news. One afternoon as the March rain sluiced chips of ice out of the grooves in the cobblestone street, she stared at a photo. This face, these lips and arms that she would never see again. A seldom heard voice she doesn't recognize whispered, "You were the first."

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  14. She was my mentor, got me into this life. She kept me going when I wanted to give it up. She called me her Muse. Heh that's funny to me now, she drew her inspiration from me. I was just a small town P.I. And she was the big brass Detective. I wish I told her how I felt, I always wanted to say "you were the first women I ever loved". I wanted to say anything. But when I turned the corner that night to see her blood mixed in with rain on that cobblestone street. I knew that day I would never get the chance. *Sigh* even now 1 year later I still haven't removed her number from my phone. Still waiting to hear from her. I'm glad they got the guy who did it, punk kid. I'm glad I'm not on the job anymore, cause I don't know what I would of done.......

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  15. She finally turned her face away from the rainwater that she playfully had tried to catch on her tongue. After all, turkeys died from looking up in rainstorms, didn't they? And she didn't want anyone mistaking her for a turkey.

    She giggled as she walked along a rain soaked cobblestone street. She wondered how long it had been cobblestoned. She had somehow thought it was only something they did in movies, not in real life.

    It was one of those days. She would muse about the silliest things, whatever caught her eye, or her imagination.

    She thought back to the friend she would sit with over coffee until the wee hours of the morning and smiled: the friend who taught her to muse.

    "You were the first." She whispered as she splashed in the puddle, ala Gene Kelly in "Singing in the Rain." "Thank you."

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  16. "You were the first."

    The raven-haired woman stared down at the worn headstone standing slightly askew and utterly forgotten in a lonely corner of a potter's field. The worn engraving read no name, merely a date: 1763. Unnamed and unknowable, the grave had been forgotten by all save her, and she would never forget. A chill breeze played at the edges of her hair, and she shrugged deeper into her long coat, though there was really no need. She inhaled deeply and sighed, letting her eyes drift upward to the cloud streaked sky. The rain had passed, leaving its echo beneath the overhanging trees, and the moon peeked briefly here and there amid the clouds as they drifted by. Her thoughts joined them.

    The night they first met had been like this one, overcast, chill, damp. She could almost hear the street sounds echoing across the gulf of time. Raucous laughter could be heard from the tavern at the far end of the street, punctuated by thunder from the receding storm. Water had dripped and dribbled from every upright surface in soothing counterpoint to the gruff tavern crowd. She had watched, curious, from the shadow of the alley as the man had exited the carriage in front of the common house. "Could he be the one?" she had thought to herself. His attire spoke little of his station, but his mannerisms were not those of the landed gentry. He had shown proper, if unpolished, etiquette as he negotiated the fee with the driver. With a small snort and nary a backward glance, the driver had spurred his team, and the carriage clattered away down the rain-soaked cobblestone street.

    She had watched as he gathered himself, taking in the surroundings. He had paused, seeming to muse over some thought. With an air of decisiveness, he had looked up and seen her approach. A smile, slight but so genuine, had creased his face as she met his eyes. She had been dazzled. Her will had wavered in that moment but, no, the wait had been too long. She had locked her mind's eye on that beautiful smile, that single selfless gesture, and done what she had come to do.

    The body had been found the next morning by the owner of the common house as he had gone about his morning rounds. The man, victim of an apparent robbery, had had no papers and, without record of lodging arrangements, could not be identified from what few belongings could be found on him. A lonely stone in a potter's field had become the summation of his life.

    She stared down again at the grave marker. Ages had passed since she had felt any human emotion; the word itself held almost no meaning. Her existence now was defined by needs and urges: to hunt, to kill, to feed. But she knew longing and the hollowness of going without that thing which completes. It was the closest to sadness that she could get. Touching her gloved fingers gently to her lips, she stooped and placed them on the headstone.

    "In that second, I lived a lifetime. In a hundred lifetimes, I have never relived that second. You were the first and the only, my love," she whispered. Standing again, she turned and walked silently toward the gates.

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  17. “The muse is singing loudly tonight!” she quipped to her love.

    She knew the rain’s odd clomping patter on the cobblestone drive outside their villa inspired the old writer. In fact, she had once hired a professional sound engineer to come over in the rain and record the “plink-plunk” so he could listen when nature’s tears refused to fall.

    That night, no recording was needed. Indeed, the rain fell at such a perfect rhythmic pattern, you could play a song to the cobblestone drummer.

    The song played (plink-plunk) out of his mind as he furiously typed away. This work lingered in his head for several years, trying desperately to get out. Instead, the several other stories made themselves known in the meantime. Now (plink-plunk) the meantime had passed, and the time for his masterpiece finally arrived.

    As he typed the final sentence (plink-plunk), he realized just how long ago he first discovered these thoughts, these ideas, this story.

    “Of all my stories, in all my years, you were it,” he said aloud to this creation. “You were the first.”

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  18. "You should be waiting over there."
    "It’s raining. You wouldn't have seen me over there. It's too dark."

    "I see everything. It is my job."
    "It's night and there’s no streetlight over there."

    "Get in please...I would still see you."
    "I didn't want to get wet."

    "You are already wet. You are dripping everyplace."
    "This seat is already wet."

    “You were the first to get in tonight. Only you got it wet. Where would you like to go?”
    "OK. OK. Can we just go slow for a minute?"

    "You are the boss. We go slow."
    "Slower. Give me a minute."

    "A minute?"
    "Christ! A second then."

    "This is not good for the suspension these bricks. And please, can you please not curse?"
    "What? You said I was the boss. I can't cuss now?"

    "Please."
    "I'm just trying to find the address, you're talking...I’m fu-, I’m soaked. I'm getting frustrated. Wait, you speak English? How did you know..."

    "It is my job to know. I always know."
    "OK, OK. It's up here somewhere maybe on the right...about...hold on."

    "You want me to stop?"
    "Stop? No. Just...can you slow down under this light so I can see this address? Crap, the ink is all washed off!"

    "Sir, I asked..."
    "Dammit! OK, sorry. It's just that she wrote down the name of the place on this napkin…and the rain..."

    "It is on this street though?"
    "That's what she said. Or did she? I don't know. She said she was just going to a place down the street. Or shit, maybe she said nearby. Shoot, I mean. Sorry…um…Sahel is it?"

    "Yes, that's fine. No problem. May I see it?"
    "Yeah. See right there? Is that an 'N' or an 'M'? Nuge? Nuze? I can't tell. Is this even French?"
    "It is very hard to see this. Let me look at this. Oh no, it is ripped."
    "Hey, c'mon! Sahel!"

    "I'm sorry, sir. It is very wet paper. But I think I know this."
    "You know this place?"

    "If it is a bar…"
    "That's what she said."

    "…not a restaurant."
    "That's what she said. Come on, do you know it or not? It's getting late..."

    "Well if it is a bar."
    "I don't know, Sahel. I think so. A restaurant wouldn't be open still would it?"

    "In Paris, maybe. It is late in the night though."
    "Well, can we go? Do you know it?"

    "Yes."
    Is it nearby? Can we go faster?"

    "Not until we get off from this street. It ruins the car."
    "Great. But you do know it?"

    "I think so. Ah, here we go, now we go faster."
    "Wow. OK, slow down Travis Bickle."

    "Do you know this person who wrote this…?”
    “Sahel, is this it up here where the people are standing?"

    "Yes. But I have to ask you."
    "Ask me what?"

    "Well if your friend said she was going to a bar this might be the bar..."
    "I'm almost positive. She's not a friend though. I just met her tonight. Come on this has to be it though right?"

    "I only ask because...this is not comfortable to ask."
    "What?"

    "Are you here on business?"
    "What does that have to do with it? Yes."

    "American?"
    "Of course! Here take this...what is it 15?"

    "Yes, sir. Please wait."
    "Do you guys get tips? Here, $18...oh come on, the line is moving. I've got to go. I want to find her."

    "Sir, please do not leave for one minute. Do you know...?"
    "What? Sahel! It's raining out here, my suit is getting soaked..."

    "Your friend...this particular bar..."
    "Say it, Sahel, Jesus!"

    "It is delicate to say. Do you know of the word in English, 'transvestite'?”

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  19. Nice job everybody (you're all so creative). Love it when you do this.

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  20. Susan looked down at the bricks in the road and watched the water trickle over them. The gaps in the cobblestones created tiny rivers, and she felt her eyes glaze over as her thoughts widened.

    A tiny piece of flotsam caught her eye, and she followed it — no, rode on it — as it bumpily skated down the perpendicular rivers. She saw herself floating on that speck, the running droplets now wall-sized torrents, the pocked surface of the brick now an endless gauntlet of sluicing eddies and obstacles.

    The firm clack of a nut hit the ground, and snapped her back to reality, which was, at the moment, wet. A slope of gravelly road shoulder was her perch and the insistent burring of her open car door did little to add comfort. She reached down to her now-miniaturized riverworld and relieved it of the meteor-sized lugnut, putting it in a pile with the others.

    She wished she could go back to that little world, with its hazards and complete lack of free will.

    But, no. The only decision now was whether that arrow pointed left or right on her car's now water-soaked "emergency maintenance" chapter.

    20 years of owning a car, she mused. And I've never had to change a tire. The car, proudly jacked up, had a partially removed radial, which now looked temptingly full without the weight of the car bearing down on it.

    She thought briefly of her cell phone on the passenger seat. Push the down arrow three times, then the green button, and James would be on the line, then here.

    It would only make him too happy to help out. He'd fixed everything else in their lives. And she could still play if off — a trip to the store, or an afternoon matinee.

    "You were the first," they used to gleefully proclaim to each other, with that youthful obliviousness of the future. But over time, that proclamation became something said on autopilot, then something with a hidden malevolence. Until three hours ago. He probably didn't even know she was gone yet.

    She smeared a damp forelock of hair back and tucked it behind an ear. Not this time, James, she thought. Susan tugged on the jammed tire, then pounded on it with the tire iron. I won't give you that fakely chivalrous satisfaction of bailing me out yet again.

    A chunk of rust hit the bottom, and the tire wobbled, free of its bearings.

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