Flash fiction challenges such as Five Sentence Fiction has kept me writing and improved my craft, so I serve up some here every Tuesday. Since every one likes choices I’m providing you with two weekly writing prompts. You can participate in either one, or double your pleasure by trying your hand at both. Submit your efforts any time between now and next Tuesday.
The Standard Prompt will always consist of a two-word prompt to be used as inspiration. The Non-Standard Prompt will change from week to week. Sometimes it will be a visual prompt, sometimes a first sentence or phrase, sometimes a scenario, etc. The limit for the Two for Tuesday Standard Prompts is 200 words and the Non Standard Prompt has a minimum of 200 words but no limit allowing for more in depth explorations. Use the little blue link thing below to submit your link or leave an entry in the comments section.
Don’t forget to check out the other entries.
Here is this week’s two-fer:
You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:
- simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
- they can be included exactly as provided
- or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).
This week’s alternative prompt is a call to channel your inner Gregory Maguire (the author of Wicked). Retell a familiar story from an alternative point of view. As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.
If you like to write first and read later, be forewarned that my personal effort follows.
I decided to write to the Non-Standard prompt and if the title doesn’t clue you in to what classic story I used as my inspiration, I hope you will quickly pick up all of the hints.
Gail knocked on her father’s door and poked her head in. “Hi Daddy. Ready for an adventure?” That’s what she called all of his outings: adventures. He looked up at her from his wing back chair with a puzzled look and after a heartbeat or two the recognition set in.
“Oh, hi Sweetheart,” he said with a waver. He called both of his daughters ‘Sweetheart.’ The Alzheimer’s made it difficult to dredge up their proper names. She could understand why he couldn’t remember her sister’s name, she hadn’t bothered to even call, much less visit, in over three years. Gail had reached out to Ruby, her older sister, numerous times, via texts, emails, phone calls, letters and never gotten a response, so she finally gave up trying. If the witch wanted to live her life in her own little bubble out there on the West coast, she’d let her have her wish.
The old man stood up and crossed the room to give his younger daughter a hug. He was still a tall and slender man. He had lost some weight recently and his clothes hung on him like a scarecrow.
“We’re off to see Dr. Osbourne, Dad. Do you remember Dr. Osbourne?”
“That’s right. Dr. Oz. He wants to see how you’re doing and maybe give you some medicine. Help you remember.”
“My brain doesn’t work.” He slapped at his head with both hands. “All gone.”
“Not all gone, Dad. You just have trouble remembering things.” She gave him another hug so he wouldn’t see her eyes tear up. “Grab your cane, and let’s go see Dr. Osbourne.”
“Oz?” he asked.
“Yeah, Dad, Dr. Oz. We’re going to see Dr. Osbourne.
As they headed through the lobby of the Goldstone Assisted Living Center, she heard her name called out and turned to find Nurse Glendale chasing after her. “Gail, Gail. Are you going to Emerald Medical Center?”
“Yeah, I’m taking Dad to see Osbourne for the etanercept injection. They say some amazing things about it but I’m trying not to get my hopes up.” The reason Gail had chosen Goldstone to house her father was because Gail worked there, she could see him every day and she thought that the staff might even give him a little extra attention because of their relationship.
“Can you take Mr. Timmons with you?” Nurse Glendale pleaded. “He needs to go to the Cardio unit to have his pacemaker checked.” She put her hands together palm to palm beneath her chin. “Pleeeeeease?” She gave Gail’s dad a friendly pat on the shoulder and asked, “How’re you doing Mr. Storm?” He smiled back at the nurse and nodded.
“Fine. I’ll get the van,” Gail acquiesced. “Dad? You stay here with Nurse Glendale and Mr. Timmons while I get the van.”
“No, Dad. Mr. Timmons. You stay here with Mr. Timmons.” She hurried out the door before her eyes misted over again.
Gail pulled the Goldstone shuttle van up under the front canopy and slumped against the seat. Waiting at the curb was her father and Mr. Timmons as well as a third resident. Nurse Glendale had added Mr. Rhoar to the travel party, who was a timid little man and slightly paranoid to boot. He was shaking his head saying, “No, no, no, no,” while Nurse Glendale was trying to reassure him that nothing bad would happen.
“Don’t be afraid, Mr. Rhoar, Miss Storm will take good care of you.”
Gail leveled a look at Nurse Glendale and said, “You better find someone else to come with us. I can’t look after all three on my own. See if anyone can be spared.” Nurse Glendale returned with Todo Shiro in tow, a big puppy dog of a Japanese, who worked faithfully as an orderly at Goldstone and was a favorite with the residents.
The gentle giant, conscripted to help, was smiling and bowing to the three men and immediately began to help them all on board. Gail Storm closed the door after everyone was seated and buckled in and headed for Emerald Center.
The trip was largely uneventful except when they passed a billboard advertising a marathon screening of the full Planet of the Apes franchise showing next month at the Strand Theater. Mr. Rhoar began whimpering and rocking saying, “No monkeys, no monkeys” over and over until Todo was able to quiet him.
When they got to the medical center Gail took her father in and the other two went with the orderly to their appointments. Dr. Osbourne saw her and her father after only a ten minute wait and he seemed excited. “Many other trials have produced some astonishing and nearly immediate results,” he had explained but went on to stress that it was still considered experimental and that he could not guarantee similar results. “Mr. Storm? We’re going to give you an injection and tilt you upside down. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Dad,” said Gail. “Feet up, remember? We talked about this yesterday.”
“Oh. Feet up. Okay, feet up. Yes, okay…”
Behind a curtain, the doctor worked as described. It seemed a little like quackery to Gail tipping him head downwards to get the anti-arthritic medication to try to flow to his brain. It all had a bit of Frankenstein about it but she was open to anything at this point. She wanted her father back.
In less than 45 minutes the motley crew had reassembled beside the white shuttle van with the Goldstone logo splashed across the broadside of the vehicle. Gail used the remote lock to open the van as she and her father approached. Todo helped Mr. Timmons and Mr. Rhoar into their seats, both happy as pre-schoolers.
Their excitement was infectious and Gail smiled. Mr. Timmons was proudly sporting a happy heart sticker on his shirt from his pacemaker check-up and Mr. Rhoar sat smiling with a small brass statuette in his lap that he must have received from his therapist. It depicted three monkeys in the classic ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ pose. Mr. Rhoar held it up. “Not scared of monkeys,” he announced.
Her father had been quiet since the injection but his eyes looked clearer and sparkled as Gail backed the van out of the handicapped spot. Dr. Osbourne had come out to see him off and Gail’s father yelled, “Stop!” and she obeyed. The old man slid the window open and motioned the doctor over to the bus. He poked his gangly arm out the window to shake hands. “Thank you Dr. Osbourne,” said Mr. Storm. “Thank you from the bottom of my brain.” Gail watched with amazement. Complex sentences and the use of the doctor’s full name. She was astonished.
“My pleasure, Mr. Storm. My pleasure.”
He pulled his arm back into the van, turned to his daughter and said, “Okay, Gail, let’s go.” She could no longer hide the tears, it had been more than a year since she’d heard her father address her by her proper name. She jumped from her seat and threw her arms around her father’s neck. Through the open window she called, “Dr. Oz, you’re a wizard!” He smiled broadly and waved back. Gail kissed her father on the cheek and said, “Welcome back, Daddy. Welcome home.”
He kissed her in return on the forehead and replied, “There’s no place like home…”