Writing Prompt: Interplanet Janet

December 22:
You get to design your own planet: tell us all about your planet — the weather, the seasons, the inhabitants. Go.

Welcome to Planet Recluse!
We enjoy here, a consistent temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, with a clear bright blue sky and a warm streak of Sun. City-planning is impeccable here – it’s all set up in grid-style. Everything is systematic and you can navigate around simply by following basic logic. All food places are found within Column 1 – 3. All transport take-off points begin at Column 9. You’ll never get lost in the city!

Planet Recluse has lots of green space for those who prefer a reclusive lifestyle. Simply head out Column 9’s vicinity, and you will find yourself out by the suburbs! It is amazing here – most of us believe in subsistence living. We plant our own crops and make our own crafts.

The folks here are decent and very disciplined. You won’t ever have to worry about them not getting in queue or not giving in on public transport. They do all of that. Some might even think they are robotic, but that’s just a misunderstanding.

You’ll love it here. Join us! You can finally lead a life of your own, on Planet Recluse!

Writing Prompt: A bird, a plane, you!

November 21:
You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice: the ability to speak and understand any language, the ability to travel through time, or the ability to make any two people agree with each other.

Good to be back. No need for formalities; I know my way around here like the back of my hand…

This is 1945. It was April. Things were more or less set in stone. I knew how the day would proceed. The women were finding ways to slip back into their houses, praying that the men would be home in the months to come. Others knew that it was a time for payback. Soldiers decided on the order to shoot; victims plotted to avenge their loss. The place was in disarray. I watched as a General pushed a kid out of harm’s way, and in split-second, he had picked up the child and her pet. The General mumbled about how rare it was for them to not have killed an animal for food in such times. The child would live to grow up.

1980s. The General, yes, that same General, was in harm’s way. Someone was tailing him, awaiting the opportunity to put the needle into his nape. He seemed suspicious, yet lacking in vigilance, knowing that the war has ended decades ago. Oh, how the General has aged. A commotion rang through the streets behind him – an animal had gone wild in town, and was running into all the stores to wreak havoc! Startled, the follower abandoned his plans. The General saw the man slip away, and looked at the animal. How very familiar, this chubby creature that came waddling towards him.

2010s. There was a tribute made to the General, as one of the heroes of war. They didn’t talk about the story of him saving the child or her pet. They hadn’t mention his close shave in the town. I looked at the photo by the fireplace. We found a strangely-tame boar by our backyard twenty years ago, and Mother had adopted him, saying that it looked just like her childhood pet. We took a photo of that occasion for fear that one day the story would be lost, like all others…

But I knew I could revisit all of them as long as I headed back in time.


Writing Prompt: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

October 18:
You get some incredibly, amazingly, wonderfully fantastic news. What’s the first thing you do?

I looked at my phone. Who shall I write to now?
Maybe, maybe her.
Oh, right. She no longer uses that number.

I scrolled down the “Friends List”, flicked through the “Favourites” tab, and still found nobody to share this news with.
Maybe, maybe her.
Oh, right. She no longer has a phone.

Everyone around me was cheering with euphoria. I nodded and shook hands with them like I was expected to. I felt a need to tell someone how I felt – not just shout and holler.
Maybe, maybe her.
Oh, right. She is no longer around.

They say, when there is a will, there is a way. For how else would I have had this achievement?
I figured they were right.
I shall go home to say a prayer by the window tonight.
Right. This time she shall hear me even from the Heavens above.

Writing Prompt: Childlike

October 15:
Explain your biggest regret — as though to a small child.

Dear child, for each time you whine, “I want to play!” – know that you have put yourself before others who would one day not be able to spend another second with you.

Dear child, for each time you throw a tantrum, “But I’m tired!” – know that life has merely started for you and there is simply no way you could even comprehend the meaning of “tired”.

Dear child, for each time you think, “I can do that tomorrow” – know that you may have a tomorrow, but not everyone else.

Dear child, we have all grown up too late. If I had learnt sooner, I would have been different. Now, since you know, I pray you shall not have to repeat these lines to someone else another day.

Writing Prompt: Eat, drink and be merry…

1 Nov
…for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner – the food, your dining companion, the setting, the conversation.

“They say the world shall end when the sun rises tomorrow.
Finally. It’s been too long.”

The moon looked just like we used to see it. Buildings have sprouted from the ground, blocking some of the view that we used to enjoy. Such is life; everything changes beyond your expectations.

“The wine’s gotta go. The water crackers and cheese too.
I should have brought some other snacks that would suit your tastes too.
How careless of me, still. Even when the world is going to end.”

The winds rattled the railings of the palace-house’s balcony; atop a hill, the world was silent – so quiet, so tranquil. Sipping the wine, I felt the crisp air of the night kiss my face. It was cold, like invisible frost.

I took my seat, wondering how it shall come to an end, sleep creeping up on me as I settle into the steel-framed sling-back chair.

“I guess it’s time. If I fall asleep and miss it, at least I know that this time the dream shall become a reality. I’ll be there, with you, soon.” I whispered at the photo, capturing the last moment we had together, tightly in my chest; and for the first time in years, let out a smile.

(Squeezing in the overdue Oct) Writing Prompts: Eye of the beholder

Too much unpleasantness in life has deterred me from writing; I missed the entire October writing prompts, some of which I really liked, and would like to get back to it. have hence decided to slip them in wherever possible … (including today) :

October 5:
Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.

What are heartstrings?
Are they capable of being ripped apart?
Can they braid themselves into little knots, and in a near-asphyxiation situation, release themselves so brashly that the heart falls into an unknown vortex?

What are tears?
Do they determine when they roll out of your eyes, and streak across your face, in a morbidly-hilarious manner?
Will they cleanse the soul, or wrench it into an irreparable mess?

I’m not going to find the answers, until the music stops, and rationality returns.

Writing Prompt: A Friend in Need

July 25
Finish this sentence: “My closest friend is…”

“My closest friend is… wait. What’s a friend again?
Is it that jolly fellow who laughs with you when you’re filling your belly with that cheap happy hour beer? Or is it the empathetic girl who nods and pats your back when you mope and tell her about the hard times you’re through?

Oh! Maybe it’s the guy in a sleek business suit two sizes smaller than he really is, who says he knows all your schoolmates and business connections, and would love to ‘catch up soon’ every time you meet him?

I’ve got it, I’ve got it. It’s that over-supportive lad who tells you “just do it, the world is your oyster!” each time you contemplate a career move, major purchase, or anything that would change your life.

Did you listen to him the last time he told you it was great to join the competitor firm because you could get a huge pay raise? Right, I think he forgot to tell you about the politics there. I’m sure he knows you hate that decision, but he wouldn’t have time to hear you out. You’ll have to find the empathetic girl who would listen. But you’ll have to repeat your entire miserable life from scratch – she can’t remember a thing! Or you could find your drinking buddy – he’ll be there as long as you pay for the alcohol, and promise not to talk about anything unhappy.

Sorry, I’ve digressed, what’s the question again?
My closest friend is…”

I gave up and stepped away from the mirror.
Even my reflection hates the lies that fill my world.

Writing Prompt: Mirror, mirror

July 5
Finish this sentence: “When I look in the mirror, I . . .”

When I look in the mirror, I see reality.

Why is he here?

The portly man who is stern like a soldier, stares at my reflection with unforgiving eyes. He means no harm, but bears a streak of violence in him. He carries a Baselard wherever he goes, ready to lash at anyone who gets in his way. He wipes his hands on his grubby singlet as I push him away. In a flurry, I collide with the gentleman. His face reverberates with dashing masculinity and his eyes seem to bring you into a different universe if you look for more than a minute. I apologise as he helps me up from my clumsy stumble.

I didn’t want to make an audience, but they all saw.

The handsome lady, in her black and white checked shirt, stood watching indifferently, but with an air of sadness in her eyes.
The knowledgeable old man nudged his frameless glasses with the edge of his book and returned to reading.
The girl in her leather jersey tee-shirt and shorts drew patterns on the dusty floor, contemplating the solution to her problems.

Footsteps inched closer, closer, and closer. “Why the hell won’t you pay attention and do as I say, damnit!” The tyrant cussed as he saw me along the corridor.

I grasped for my stocky friend to stop him from whipping out his dagger, but my fingers clenched only the stale air of the room. The tyrant stared at my flailing arms and mocked before walking away.

When I looked behind again, they had all gone into hiding, vanishing into the air like magic. I guess no-one could help me – how silly of me to think they would stay to help.

I never knew their names, but each time I looked into the mirror, I would see them evolve from a mist and appear behind me, like a figment of imagination…

Writing Prompt: No, thank you

June 22:
If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

“I hereby pronounce the total ban of the word – GOOD.” the Chairperson of the Ministry of Words and President of the Wordsmiths Association jointly announced.

“For, what did you mean when you’d said he was a good man? Was he a man who brought the bread home, yet never spoke to his lady? Was he a man who gave his last pennies to the old man begging on the roadside? Was he a man who risked his life to save even those he did not know?” They questioned.

“And what did you mean, when you’d said that the situation was good? Was it one which promised a bright future? Or merely where risks were contained? What did he mean to say that the car was good – its performance, appearance, or brand and social status? What did she mean when she’d said the scones was good – was it in its taste, price, or simply because she had a liking for the memories it brought back to her?” They added.

“Tell me, what you truly felt when you told someone that ‘All is good’? Were you referring to your spiraling career? Or your miserable family life? Maybe hiding the lack of social and personal achievements? Wasn’t ‘all’s good’ such an easy answer to skip all that explanation of your difficulties?” They interrogated.

“I’m sure we’ve made ourselves clear, you General Users of Words. You shall, as of today, be attuned to the detailed expression of feelings and thoughts in your conversations. You shall, as of today, be adept with the choice of vocabulary that could replace that pathetic, deceitful, and overused word. If you have fully understood the passing of the bill, you shall now be dismissed.” They concluded.

And without further ado, the crowd chimed in unison before scattering: “Good!”

Writing Prompt: Never

June 5:
Tell us about a thing you’ll never write about.

Memories blurred; words slurred. This time, even all that alcohol was doing little to help.

She remained quiet, eyes fixed, but without focus, on the distant landscape. It was almost like her mind had wandered into a different space and time – somewhere detached from the miseries and sadness that enveloped her life.

Tears glistened in her eyes, occasionally rolling down her cheeks in defiance of the suppression. Her nose would sniffle, unconscious of the deafening silence. A strange calmness on her face masked the emotions that threatened to surge any moment.

Then, like a sacred ritual coming to completion, she released her clenched fists, gently touched the grails of the windows, and nodded, as if having found answers. She pulled the plug on her calming ‘antidote’; her composure resumed.

But what could cure her – what was like a film of olive oil to break the tensions of the ocean – even if only for awhile, she would never speak or write about.