Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Prompt: 2nd sentence, include the word seagulls

I was still stunned as I walked out of the bank. I didn’t even thank the nicely dressed older black man who tipped his hat and held the door open for me. As I drifted toward the lift platform, I thought I saw seagulls swooping past the thick glass tower. I reached the edge of the platform and blindly grabbed a rideline as the warm thermals swept up around me. I stood numbly while a messenger lug flew up right in front of me, loaded with packages. My hands trembled and I could barely fasten the harness clips. Then, oblivious to anyone else around, I stretched my arms wide and leaned out into the thermals until I fell, like children do until we’re told to behave more like grownups.

As the rideline slowed my descent, I tried to see through the blurred glass and imagined I was flying with the birds outside. They were buzzards of course. No gulls this far from the coast. I squeezed my eyes shut, lost in the memory of gulls diving into the whitecaps in search of fish.

“Mommy! Mommy! I found a crab! Look!”

My eyes snapped open at a sudden shout of laughter. A couple of teens tumbled past, swinging around each other's ridelines and laughing freely. I felt the memory of a smile, but I couldn’t shape it on my face. I continued down and wondered where to go. I guess the loft wasn’t my home any more. The bank was taking it back. I didn’t really want to be there any way. It was too empty. Too quiet.

I closed my eyes again and heard the gulls crying as the thermals swept past me. I could almost hear the surf, feel the sand sliding against my feet, the sting of the cold water.

He loved the ocean. My water baby. He loved to chase the sandpipers running like little windup dolls along the wave line and to wave at the big gulls and pelicans soaring overhead and across the water. He loved to bring me shells. First any fragment, then whole shells, the smaller the better. He would run up to me with his finger outstretched and carefully press his fingertip into my open palm, dropping the tiniest white shell along with a quick kiss on my wrist before running off again.

In the hospital, I brought him a new shell every day. I went through all the ones we had at home, and then I found bags of them at a craft store. Even after the tumors ate into his eyesight, he would close his hand gently around each day’s shell, feeling the shape. He would trace it with his fingers, brush it across his cheek to feel the smooth or scratchy surface. Pressing it against his ear, he'd whisper, “Whoosh, whoosh”.

~ ~ ~

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle

"Coventry Carol", Celtic Christmas

January word count:


  1. Oh thank goodness, time’s up. Sweet Mary and Joseph, where do these things come from?! Excuse me, I’m going to go get a handful of tissues, I am a mess.

    I would have chosen a cheerier tone for my first post, honest folks! I am always amused by the gulls in the Big Lots parking lot, over 150 miles inland. They’re what I first thought of. This bit started off with the woman climbing into her car in the parking lot, hearing the gulls fighting over fries, and the rest just came out of nowhere. That’s what it’s like.

    Then, while I was editing, I thought , “How could I take this out of the everyday?” I have a vision of a vertical city, with people moving up and down these huge tubes like elevators, except riding thermals instead of standing on platforms.

    I like the out-of-the-blue creative process on this one, even with its tragic back story. I wonder if it would have turned out differently if I’d been listening to some cheery guitar music?

    OK, I would love to hear from you, either comments on this little bit, or your own prompt writing. Remember, “seagulls” in the 2nd sentence. 1-2-3, go!

  2. So, after looking at this for a day or so, I just realized a pretty significant editing error! When I edited the run-on 1st sentence into two sentences, I moved my prompt to the third sentence! No big deal from a story point of view, but for the exercise, a definite ding. If this were a contest entry, for instance, I would imagine that one of the 1st passes would be to check for the prompt in the 2nd sentence. Not there=disqualified. A good example of how tricky all the tiny details of editing can be!

    For the record, I would edit the opening like this:
    I was so stunned as I walked out of the bank, that I didn’t even thank the nicely dressed older black man who tipped his hat and held the door open for me. As I drifted toward the lift platform, I thought I saw seagulls swooping past the thick glass tower.