Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prompt: The stories these walls could tell

Thanks to Luke Neff for his great collection of writing prompts!

Ana had been unpacking when she realized Sarah was being uncharacteristically quiet,. That was usually—always—a bad sign. Sarah crawling was harder to manage than the infant lying on her floor blankies, that’s for sure.

She had walked down the hall, peeking into box-ridden rooms, then moving on. She didn’t stomp or hit the walls, because she was curious to see what Sarah was actually doing. She came around the corner into the living room and found Sarah pulling the wallpaper away from the wall.

Ana stomped on the floor, and when Sarah whipped her head around, Ana signed angrily, “Sarah, stop that!” She rushed to pull the curious toddler away from her latest misadventure.

Oh great! She thought, as she swung the startled girl up onto her hip. More work to be done on the house. Remind me again, why did I think I could buy a fixer-upper?

Sarah was leaning to get down, and Ana bent to allow her escape. She tapped Sarah’s forehead to get her attention. “Leave the wallpaper alone, Sarah,” she signed again. True to form, Sarah crawled right over there and pulled on the faded, formal 1980s design. She pointed underneath and looked up at Ana with her raised eyebrows “come see” look. Ana sighed and kneeled down to take a closer look at what had captured Sarah’s attention.

Newspaper lining? There were typed pages under the wallpaper. That’s going to be fun to get off, she thought grimly. And then the line of text under Sarah’s chubby hand caught her eye.

…tapped Sarah’s forehead to get her attention. “Leave the wallpaper alone, Sarah,” she signed again. True to form, Sarah crawled right over there and pulled…

Ana snatched the paper from Sarah’s hand and pulled it farther away from the wall. She leaned closer and began to read…

Dogs in house

Time writing
15 minutes

December word count


  1. Prompt: The stories these walls could tell

    The room was empty save for the three boxes Marcie had already brought inside. Grace should be fine in here, just to let Marcie pop down the hall and the get the rest of boxes, right? She eyed the one-year-old, who toddled over to the space below the windowsill and stood on tip-toes. Sure, she’d be fine. It wasn’t like the hideously garish yellow wallpaper could jump off the walls and harm her, despite the affront it made to interior design, and Grace was too short to climb on the boxes.

    In less time than Marcie had taken shepherding just one box plus toddler down the corridor, she had brought the remaining five boxes labelled ‘nursery’ into the room and pushed them against the far wall. She collapsed below the window. Grace was in the corner, chewing on the mustard-yellow wallpaper.

    “Baugh!” Grace said, placing her palms together and then opening them.

    “Book?” Marcie asked, providing a crisper signing of ‘book’ for Grace to copy. “Would you like me to get out one of your books?”

    “No!” Grace said, one of her favourite words. She pointed at the corner. “Baugh!”

    “There’s not a book there, Grace,” Marcie said in her best be-patient-and-don’t-mock-the-baby tone. “And stop eating on the wallpaper!” Words clearly were not doing it, so Marcie pushed herself to her feet and went to the child. “Hey, what’s that?” She knelt and lifted the corner of wallpaper that Grace had pulled up. Underneath was a yellowed page printed in two columns, unmistakably page of a book. She grabbed the corner and pulled, revealing more pages pressed neatly beside each other. The child had been right.

    She stood and gave a good yank. They were going to remove the wallpaper anyway. The pattern of the pages appeared to repeat every...she counted, ten pages...with three inked images scattered throughout. Perhaps an older wallpaper? Yet the edges of each page looked loose, as if stuck there independently. Marcie got down on Grace’s level and pulled out her reading glasses. ’”I am sitting by the Window in the Atrocious Nursery.”’ read the caption to the image of an old-fashioned lady in a rocking chair beside a window, not unlike the window below which Marcie now crouched. Below said, ‘THE YELLOW WALLPAPER. By Charlotte Perkins Stetson.’

    Time writing: ~60 min, including research

  2. Oh, neat! I like how she is reading her own story. What happens when she gets to the part when she's reading?

    It was tough to come up with something in a prompt-writing length that wasn't just telling the words in the picture again with just many more words. I like yours better. Interesting how many contextual similarities there are between our pieces.