Category Archives: Inspired by a word…

Stories inspired by a word sent to me via text. See a word you think might spark a story? Feel free to send it to me!

Zinnias, Zinnias Everywhere

As I ran down the dirt path through the wood my sneakers kicked up a slight dirt cloud, creating a simple map for them to follow. I certainly didn’t want them to lose me; after all, they were just children and couldn’t be left unattended in a forest so dense with trees. Plus, I had no clue where I was going – we had never taken this particular path before.

The density of the trees began to thin as I huffed. The backpack of supplies kept thumping against my back with each stride. I was not in shape for such a run, but I could hear the giggles gaining on me as their little feet clomped on the same hard dirt as mine. The sun began to strobe into my eyes, momentarily blinding me for split seconds here and there. The path widened into a field as the brightness of the sun’s rays made it impossible to see. I stopped and put my hands on my knees for support as I panted in an attempt to regain my breath.

As my eyes adjusted and the children gained on me, the random rainbow of colors started to come into focus. Where was I? The field came into focus as my irises adjusted, and I saw a huge field of flowers. Zinnias, zinnias everywhere, zinnias taller than me.

The children caught up and asked for a drink from my backpack. I decided this field, this beautiful, amazing force of nature, was the perfect place for our picnic lunch.

This story was inspired by the phrase “Zinnias, Taller than me” shared with me by my friend Kerri. This comes from a project I started where friends give me random words and phrases, and I write whatever comes out. Hope you like it.

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A Paradox and a Balloon

Sometimes it was difficult for me to remember Susie was twelve, especially when I noticed her scrunching her nose; this was always a sign she was deep in thought.

She looked up at the orange balloon tied to her wrist and after much deliberation pulled the loose end of the string. The newly-released balloon floated up and momentarily became stuck in a branch until a gentle breeze freed it from a leafy prison and it continued on a heavenly journey.

“What goes up must come down,” she whispered. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or thinking out loud.

“What hun?” I asked. I could see a hypothesis forming in her mind; I blame her scientist mother for moments like these. Well, maybe blame isn’t the right word since I adore our after-school hangouts in the park. Sometimes being a writer has its perks.

“I was just thinking about something Miss Rivers said in class today. We were doing a lab with eggs and she said that everything that goes up comes down. Do you know the saying?”

I nodded.

“Well, what about my balloon? It went up and won’t come down.” We both looked skyward at the small orange dot that was once leashed to her small wrist.

“Well, the balloon is going up now, but it won’t necessarily continue to go up, right? What happens to a balloon when you bring it home?”

She shifted her weight on the bench. “It floats for a day or two and then starts to shrivel, like a raisin. As the helium wears out it stops floating. So you’re right, the balloon will eventually come down. I guess Miss Rivers knows what she’s talking about.”

She looked at her chucks. “The statement doesn’t provide any kind of specific timeline. I thought of our eggs going up and coming down immediately after she said it, because it was directly in front of me when she made the comment. But I guess it doesn’t specify when objects come down. Maybe the saying should be ‘What goes up eventually comes down,’ hmm?” She sat staring at the balloon until she could no longer see it.

She reached out a small hand, her signal that she was ready to start the walk home. I got up and took her hand as we began the walk home. Her nose was scrunched again.

“Airplanes land, or they’d run out of fuel and crash.” I nodded to her. “What about satellites? Or other things we launch into orbit?”

I had no answer to that, and a simple “Ask your mother,” seemed inappropriate. “I’m not sure,” is all I came up with.

“It would seem I found a paradox,” she said, and I nodded. Again, I can’t believe she’s twelve. At that, the man who originally gave her the balloon appeared again.

“Did you lose your balloon? I probably didn’t tie it tight enough. Would you like another?”

Her eyes opened wide and innocent as she looked up at the bunch and chose a color.

“Red, please,” she said with a colossal smile.

*Inspired by the word Paradox shared by Ashley Smolnik

The Big Blue Toe

The big blue toe peered up at her from his flip flop.

“So what did you do to it?”

“I don’t know,” he said to her. “But it’s throbbing right now.”

“Maybe you kicked the leg of the bed again. You tend to do that when you make the bed. Did you make the bed?”

“Psh, I haven’t washed my sheets in weeks.”

“Gross,” she said, wrinkling her nose. He laughed in response. “So what DID you do yesterday?”

He looked away. “Nothing of consequence.”

“I know when you’re hiding something. Worst liar ever. You went out with her again, didn’t you.”

“Nope.”

“Yes you did. You know, most people think it’s rude to go out with your ex when you’re with a new girl.”

“I didn’t go out with her. You’re crazy.”

“Look at me when you say that then.”

He exaggerated looking at her, widening his eyes. “I didn’t go out with her.”

“Okay you’re not lying. But let’s see…did she come here? Technically that’s not going out.”

He didn’t answer.

“And if that’s the case, you’d be in bigger trouble than you would be after going out for something like coffee or a drink.” She got up and went to his bedroom, returning in a minute or so.

“Anything else to say?” Now she looked pissed, and her emotion was reflected in her voice.

“Nope.”

“I just Sherlock Holmed your ass. Your sheets smell like dryer sheet. So my only assumption can be you lied about washing the sheets, you had her over, had sex, and your dumb ass figured you’d better wash the sheets so I wouldn’t find out. Then you smacked your toe on the leg of the bed, like you always do, and got caught. Ass.”

She slammed the door on her way out.

Words given to me by Christina.

Verisimilitude

She and I were sitting each on one side of a statue on a park bench.

“What?” I asked her.

“Weren’t you listening to me?”

“Honestly, no. I am completely taken in by the verisimilitude of this statue. It looks so real.” I could not stop staring.

Her attention went from me (and anger) to the statue, one of a man in a suit styled from the 1960s, including a hat.

“Wow, you’re right. It looks so real. Lifelike.”

“If I didn’t know better, I would swear it was real,” I said.

She looked at it as if waiting for it to blink. It did not.

“Waiting for it to blink?” I asked with a laugh.

“No,” she said, a certain amount of defense in her voice.

“So what were you saying?” I asked around the statue towards the front. She looked behind the statue as if we were in some Abbott and Costello routine.

“Huh?”

“What?”

“What?”
“Who’s on first?” I asked.

“Shut up.”

“Meet me in front of the statue,” I called to her.

She did so.

“What were you saying?”

“I was saying…”

“You forgot?”

“Shut up.”

Her eyes turned back towards the statue. She started staring at it.

“Certainly does look real. Excellent craftsmanship, whoever made it.”

“Agreed,” I said.

At that the statue sneezed.

“Bless you.”

The word verisimilitude was suggested by Kate.

Sunglasses and Rubber Boots

I sat on the park bench reading, and she came up and sat next to me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed her if it were not for the rubber boots shooting into my peripheral view as I looked down at the novel.

They were bright blue, but that wasn’t what attracted my attention. I looked up at the shining sun and had to shield my eyes from it, even with my dark sunglasses on. It was a scorcher, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I looked over at her and smiled, she smiled back, but I couldn’t see her eyes through her dark aviators. She looked to be about twenty, wore a bright white and blue print dress and had nice legs. She had a vintage umbrella propped up against the bench next to her, and a little plaid satchel out of which she pulled a sandwich and an apple.

I tried to focus on my book but could not. Why the rubber boots? It was a perfect day, a bright blue cloudless sky backing up my thoughts as I looked around to see the other people in the park going about their busy lives. Not a single one carried an umbrella or wore boots; as a matter of fact none were prepared for any sort of rain at all.

I wanted to ask her, and was about to when a ringing came from her pocket and she pulled out a cell phone.

“Hello?” she said in a Danish accent, and I decided this was fate, I was not meant to inquire about her footwear. Instead I placed my book back into my messenger bag and went on my way, only to find that five minutes later, a sudden darkened sky opened up and rained down on me and the many other unprepared people on the streets. I pulled into a coffee shop for shelter, and before a minute passed the girl skipped by, dry under her umbrella, her boots protecting her feet from the massive flooding that was taking place, and her sunglasses nowhere to be seen.

Words sunglasses and rubber boots and photograph by Christina  Mølholm of And the Monsters fame.

The Translucence of Jellies

Enjoy the short film at the end of this blog for more photographs.

We stood there, mesmerized by the relaxing, almost magical movements of the hundreds of jellyfish in the tank before us. In slow motion her hand left her side and reached toward mine as the translucent creatures swam around in the large tank, and once I realized her hand’s destination I started moving mine toward hers as well without taking my eyes off the glowing ocean dwellers. The tentacles, like little legs, kick off against nothing as one of the jellies swims in our direction, unaware as yet of the glass keeping it at bay, and I reach my free hand up and press it against the glass as if I could share a moment with this creature. Meanwhile, her fingers grasp and wrap around mine and she pulls a little closer to me as the jellyfish continues on course toward my hand, only to bump up against the glass, turn and swim away.

The word translucent inspired this story, passed on to me by Elle.

Rhubarb

He’d just returned from the market, and she was rooting through everything.

“You’ve gotten everything on the list?”

He looked away as if he hadn’t heard.

“Hun?”

“What?  Yeah.”

“Okay, good.”  She placed everything on the counter: the artichoke hearts and cheeses on one side, and the baking ingredients on the other.

“Is there another bag?”

“Nope.  That’s it.”

She started sifting through the different items, searching.

“Hun…”

“Yeah?”

“Where’s the rhubarb?”

He looked down at the linoleum floor, avoiding eye contact.

“Where’s the rhubarb?”

He tried to look away, but she followed his gaze.

“Did you forget the rhubarb?”

“Can you stop saying rhubarb?” he asked.

“Where is it!?!”

“Okay, well, I didn’t want to tell you, but I have no idea what rhubarb is. So no, I didn’t get it. Can’t you make the pie without it? I’ve never even heard of it; how important can it be?”

“You want me to make rhubarb pie without the rhubarb?” Anger was in her voice. He looked away again.

“Um…yeah, that probably wouldn’t make sense.”

“Well? Why didn’t you just ask someone!”

“Ask them what rhubarb is? I didn’t want to look stupid, that’s why!”

“What is this, like asking for directions?”
“No,” he said defensively.

“Wait, you DO ask for directions!  What the HELL?  Why didn’t you just ask someone what rhubarb looked like! Or where they had it!”

“I looked all over the damn produce section, and couldn’t find it! What did you want me to do? Magically learn what it was?”

“Well, did you ask someone?”

“Yes.  I asked the man who worked there.  He didn’t know what it was either.”

She put her hand on her hip and gave him an angry look.

“Okay, that was a lie.”

“Wait, why didn’t you just call and ask me what it was?”

“I thought you’d make fun of me.”

She grabbed at her hair, pulling it a little, and growled. He tried to leave.

“Where are you going now?”

“I was going to Google rhubarb so I’d know next time.”

“Aren’t you afraid Google will know what a dummy you are?”

He stopped in his tracks and cringed a little.  She knew how to insult, that was for sure.

“No!” he said in a childlike voice as he ran from the room.

Inspired by the word rhubarb, sent to me by Elle.