Writing prompts

Over at the Arlington Writers Group last night, we had one of our “hybrid” meetups. This is where a portion of the meetup is spent on a critique, while another portion is spent on some kind of exercise. Last night, the exercise was writing prompts. We were given a bunch of prompts that came from the opening lines of various travel stories (it being summer and the season of travel) and we had a limited amount of time to write something based on the prompt. I floundered away my time with nothing coming to mind. In fact, it wasn’t until people started actually reading their stories out loud that I started to write mine. While I don’t ordinarily post fiction here, this one is so short, and I am so unlikely to use it for anything else, that I figured what the heck. So what follows is the story I wrote five minutes before I read it to the group last night. We were supposed to start the story using the prompt. I’ve italicized this part to make it clear what my prompt was.

You can find the story below the cut (or if you are reading this on a feed, immediately following this line). And keep in mind: this is not science fiction:


“‘Assumptions are the things you don’t know you are making, which is why it is so disorienting the first time you take the plug out of the washbasin in Australia and see water spiraling down the hole the other way round. The laws of physics are telling you how far you are from home.’

I paused for a moment in my reading aloud and then said, “I’d bet dollars-to-donuts whoever wrote that there passage had never been Down Under; never watched water drain out of a basin–really watched, I’m saying. They only assumed what they’d been told by others. If they had watched, had experimented instead of assumed, if they’d been an active observer, they would have seen that, all things being equal, water spirals down a washbasin counterclockwise as often as not. Down Under or on the north pole. Never assume: it makes an ass out of you and me.”

“Did you pick me up to talk? You’re paying me by the hour, honey, let’s get on with it,” Jasmine said, “What are you looking for?”

I told her and she smiled lustily. “Can do, sweetheart. Let me see the cash.”

I pulled two Ben Franklin’s from my wallet and said, “And can you do a Southern accent?”

“Anything you want, baby.”

I handed her the cash.

At that moment, she pulled out a badge, her smile as sweet as ever. “You’re under arrest for solicitation.” Two other officers stepped into the small hotel room.

It wasn’t my day, I guess. I shook my head and said, “Seriously? You’re a cop?”

And “Jasmine” smiled at me and said, in a rich Southern accent, “What was it you were saying about assumptions?”


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