Sooo when quarantine hit, I, like so many others, was feeling torn between productivity and loneliness. It was a tricky place to be! Since I wasn’t seeing any of my friends in person and didn’t know what was coming ~next~ for all of us, I came up with an idea to solicit writing prompts from friends and help keep us distracted.
I put out the call on Instagram, asking for three emojis, so that I could write a story inspired by the emojis. It took about five weeks to write all of them. I shared some in Instagram stories, posted all of them on my portfolio, and got to elaborate with the recipients who wanted to know more.
It was a really fun project and it kept me distracted from that nagging “what the HELL is going on?!” feeling. I wrote over 50 stories, so some of them are quite silly.
@Meghanross: ????, (crossed fingers!), (cupcake!)
I wrote the worst story that I’ve ever written when I was 19 years old and in love with The Teacher from my fiction writing class. His last name was beautiful and he had a PhD, but he nevertheless asked us to call him by his middle name. This seemed like a discount, but I still cherished this unearned intimacy.
I had no idea what it was like to have a boyfriend, much less to pout and crawl into his bed with the sexy confidence of a girl who was so coupled that she was mad at her boyfriend. But for unknown reasons, I decided to write a story about such a knowing girl living such a life. I knew that if I wrote about this world as if I lived it, he would think of me as the kind of experienced person whom he could look at in the morning light, walk to a bakery and grab bagels with (saw this in a movie).
Before I wrote this cursed story, though, and the even more cursed (drunk) email that proceeded it, I turned in a short story about a set of doors that led into my dorm hallway. This story was actually well-written, despite my best efforts to make it verbose. The doors were old and wooden and the stone beneath was shiny and smooth from years of access. Part of the story included a reference to the “single-toothed key” I imagined fitting into the door’s lock. The Teacher called this out, telling the class that he liked this description because of how it evoked the imagery of a skeleton key.
This acknowledgment divided my life into two timelines. His tender recitation of my singular, remarkable diction, followed by a smile in my direction, set me on fire. All I wanted from that moment on was to string words together in such a way that real men (the kind that were near me in life and not in movies) would look at me like they wanted to eat my words.
@Mandarina_sharrow: (Face palm!), ????, ????
A life descended from and destined for farming meant growing up with more light and warmth and water than anyone else in Quad 8. When the other Rotundas went dark to conserve power, R18 maintained a yellow glow that even the edges of R17 & R19 could see.
Sam grew up in Pod 58, Rotunda 18, Quad 8. If she were holding out for 8’s, this assignment was the jackpot. And it wasn’t just the 8’s that indicated good fortune for Sam. Everyone on Kobalt daydreamt about what living on Rotunda 18 would be like. Sam was too young at 12 to appreciate how fortuitous it was to grow up a farmer. She could have been born in R11, whose Function was purification, or on R20, which processed modified construction materials. Even the colors of these Functions made you want to take a nap.
Pod 58 was the Nightshade Pod, and Sam’s family spent their days tending to peppers. A funny thing about a life around peppers is that you had to learn to never touch your face (or anyone else’s for that matter), or you’d inevitably find your eyes burning. It’s as if Sam was born with a poison in her hands that she resented living with, but couldn’t live without.
One of the only real burdens of the R18 Function was the predictable need to lobby for the continued classification of peppers as a Kobalt essential. If you grew up around potatoes or rice, you’d know your entire life that what you grew had a direct correlation to Life Maintenance. Peppers, however, weren’t quite so obvious. It’s a strange thing to have a life that’s the envy of an entire planet, but to also have a chip on your shoulder that leaves you feeling like you’re at a disadvantage. It makes you feel ungrateful, and then grateful, and then you just sort of get stuck between the positivity and negativity.
Sam woke up on Spring Day 24, Cycle 178, and decided that she was going to ask the question that had rattled around in her head her entire life. She’d ask her best friend Jerry first, because he always let her say things that other people made her feel bad for saying without one single smirk of judgment.“
Jerry, what if we were better at working in a different Rotunda? What if we were born in the wrong Quad? What if this isn’t the planet we’re supposed to be helping?”
Jerry dropped his pepper basket. He gasped loud enough that Q-7 heard and began to roll over to see what had caused the disruption.“
Sam! You know I’m tired of these peppers, too, but I am NOT going to work in a factory.”
“That’s not what I mean!”“Look, you’d better not let anyone hear you.”
Once Sam said it out loud, it could never be unasked. This question was already ripping at something delicate. Sam knew it. Jerry knew it. Now they’d have to decide what to do with a question that takes up more space than they can provide.
@ Darrinhasinstagram: (werewolf!), ????, ????
“This Is My Pitch for Queen Wolf, an Animated Kid’s Show”“Queen Wolf” is an animated kid’s show that takes place in a universe unlike the one you and I live in. Princess Priscilla Werewolf approaches her 13th birthday with only one care in her life; to own a pet snake bigger than the one her best friend, Ernestine Elf, has. But, on the eve of her big day, Priscilla learns that she is expected to take over the kingdom of Cypress Bend, a responsibility that means she will have to leave school and train for the next three years. “Queen Wolf” follows Priscilla as she rebels against the expectations of her family, meets new friends in the kingdom, and encounters a snake trainer she thought was merely legend; all while trying to convince her Mom to let her wear lip gloss and hunt down her own dinner.