Thursday, May 16, 2013

Prompt: Keeping company

“No, ma’am. I want to make sure you understand that I don’t do hospice. I have no license for anything like that. I just keep company.

“Why, that’s very kind of Ms. Keller. Her grandfather was a special man.

“So you spoke with my service already? Well, ma’am, that’s entirely up to you, of course. No, ma’am, I never discuss money with clients.

“I’ll tell you what. I have time tomorrow afternoon to go meet your father. I’ll keep company with him for a little while, and we’ll see how it goes. All right, why don’t you meet me there. Yes, 6pm is fine. No, don’t worry. I know traffic is rough then. Goodnight, Ms. Stephens.”


“Good afternoon, Mr. Stephens. My name is Hanna. May I come in? What are you watching? Oh, I know, I like that show, too. Although I liked the last doctor better. Who has been your favorite? Here, mind if I turn the news volume down for a bit so we can chat?”


“Why hello, Ms. Stephens, it’s nice to meet you. I’ve been having a good chat with your father. Oh, thank you, Ben. Yes, I’d love to come tomorrow. Yes, I’ll bring my tablet and we can find something to read. Oh, I’d love to join you for lunch, thank you. Goodnight, Ms. Stephens. Goodnight, Ben.”


“Was it remarkable? He seemed very lucid to me all afternoon, Ms. Stephens. I enjoyed keeping company with him. Yes, it will be my pleasure to go tomorrow. No, no, this isn’t to late to call. If you’d like, I can email you after each visit and give you a quick update, then we can chat further about any concerns either of us have. That’s fine, Mary. Yes, good night.”


“Good morning, Ben. It’s almost lunchtime, and I thought I’d come early and sneak in a couple of sodas for you. Look, do you remember the way root beer and ginger ale used to taste? This stuff is just like I remember. What do you think?

“Here, I brought my tablet. I know, isn’t it wonderful? I have hundreds of books, newspapers, magazines, you name it, all at my fingertips. Now, you said you liked old style mysteries. Dashiel Hammett and Sherlock Holmes. How about Rex Stout? Oh, I know, I love those too. Yes, I’ll start with the first one, and we can go through as much as you’d like…”

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Fudge

Gustav Holst, “Mercury, The Winged Messenger”

Time writing:
30 minutes, interrupted by dog play

May word count:

So, this is sort of an exercise, playing with storytelling through dialogue. How does it work?


  1. Prompt: Keeping company

    The dog had been there, in the little clearing across the stream from the new statue, since the start of the week. I was unsure if he was spending all his time there--I hoped not, it was still pretty cold at night--or just lunchtimes. But by Thursday I felt compelled to take my sandwich and join him in the clearing.

    He lifted his eyebrows in that disarming ways dogs do, all wrinkly and furry, but did not otherwise acknowledge me. He was some kind of lab mix, on the small side and straw-coloured with just a hint of russet in his tail and paws. I set my backpack down and sat on it, wrapping my skirt around my ankles. I offered him a crust of bread, but that did not even merit raised eyebrows. I decided I'd bring a dog treat tomorrow.

    He was there again Friday, and not interested in the treat. With nothing else to do, I joined the dog in watching the statue. It was unexceptional, and I did not entirely understand why they had put it up in the park. It was made of granite or concrete, something grey, anyway--I really don't know much about statuary--and showed a middle-aged woman. She wore what were probably jeans, some blousy-shirt thing, and a scarf. She was holding out a hand, palm up, and leaning slightly over the water.

    I froze with a bite of sandwich fresh in my mouth. I was pretty sure she had not been leaning yesterday. The dog growled.

    Time writing: 20 minutes

    1. Wow, great hook! I got chills!
      Good description of the dog and the statue. Nice interaction (or lack)!

  2. I like it! It feels very immediate. And I feel like I get a good sense of what is going on, even though it is not described.

    What paragraph breaks are supposed to mean, though, is confusing. I think at the start I imagined the other person was speaking in between, but by the last paragraph of that section, clearly the other person was speaking in between within a paragraph as well. I'm not sure quite what I'm saying here -- I think it would be too scattered to do a new paragraph after each 'unseen' response, so what you've done is probably right. Perhaps just be aware of the paragraph breaks and try to make them meaningful in some way (like in the last scene, I took the break to mean something more had happened in between, like maybe he finished the soda).