365-Day Challenge: Highlights

Now that I have finished up my writing prompt challenge, I wanted to go through all my stories and see what came out of it. Naturally, the prompts were all scrappy little first drafts, very loose, but nonetheless there were many that I kind of liked.

For anyone wanting to read through my stories: I understand that 365 flash fictions is a big ask. I had family members tell me I wrote too much to keep up with (funny, considering how long I spent writing versus how long one would spend reading!), and, to be fair, there were only so many worth taking the time to read.

Therefore, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourites, as well as assembled lists that took place in particular genres or shared worlds. While there were many prompts that shared continuity, I’ve only put together the more substantial collections. If there were any more recurring worlds or characters you wanted me to gather and add to this list, let me know in the comments!

The prompts will only be available for a limited time (no, seriously), so read ’em while they’re hot! Here’s a list of titles, links, and story descriptions by favourites, genres, and shared worlds.

Personal Favourites (Regardless of Genre):

One Last Smoke – A John learns that his prostitute is more than she appears.

Born in a Maze – A man is born with a maze-like birthmark and soon finds that all his major life decisions–good and bad–can be traced along the maze.

Rising from the Fall – After a nasty fall that leaves him paralyzed, a broken man finds redemption with a fateful saviour.

The Gym Dwarf – Allen Kaminski always goes to the gym alone at night. Tonight he’s not alone; a very tall dwarf insists on being Allen’s spotter, whether Allen wants him or not.

The Hanging Gardens (Part 1, part 2, part 3, and epilogue. Bonus: Prequel.) –  A boy and a will o’ the wisp team up to escape a magical forest–but the forest has other ideas.

Dreamy Eyes – Bo comes out of the closet just for Geoff, who doesn’t realize he’s on a treasure hunt for the man of his dreams.

A Midnight Dance – A scientist and her lab assistant dance the night away. But does the assistant have a choice?

Hunt Me – Jennifer uses her family’s hunting cabin as a quiet place to paint. Unlike the rest of her family, she hates the very idea of hunting. Someone wants her to change her mind.

Chasing Shadows – In a world where the shadows of the dead continue to walk the Earth, one man chooses to follow the shadow of a hanged criminal.

Sponge or Stone – Allen starts a call-in advice line where people call to give him advice. Sometimes it’s more than he wants to hear.

The Exotic Dish – A woman orders an unfamiliar menu item and begins to suspect she’s been served human flesh.

The Family Tree – Audrey wants to build a complete family tree. But it can only be complete if no one is left to reproduce.

The Jolt vs. The Hanged Man – A self-styled superhero attempts to find a disappearing suicide victim.

Fantasy (Not Including Shared World Stories):

The Hanging Gardens (Part 1, part 2, part 3, and epilogue. Bonus: Prequel.) –  A boy and a will o’ the wisp team up to escape a magical forest–but the forest has other ideas.

Nail Delivery – A mage detective uses divination to find a killer.

Fire At Will – A huntress discovers her quarry is far more dangerous than she ever hoped.

Tooth and Flame – A trucker is stalked by a great winged beast. Can he make it to the city–and safety–in time?

A Fight for Memory – Two young psychics fight in a world of memory. Whoever loses may be forgotten forever–even by themselves.

Red Red Rosecarver – Rose stumbles into a dream world, and only a talking hedge flamingo knows the way out.

The Queen Bee’s Sting – A dying queen listens to the voices of her fallen empire.

The Midnight Star – The dwellers of the Nighthouse face a deadly bringer of light.

The Glowing Mountain – A couple mountaineers see a glimmer on a mountainside. It’s not gold.

Fate’s a Bitch – An assassin of superheroes is contracted to take out a poker game full of superhero sidekicks.

Science Fiction:

Disappearing Stars – A soldier contemplates the futility of ground combatants in an age of space-faring combat.

Narcissistic Self-Destruction – A scientist wants to live ten lives at once, and so makes himself ten clones. Basic math isn’t his strong suit.

Eyes in the Vending Machines – Human consciousness is now able to be uploaded into machines. But not always the most advanced machines.

The Glass World – Privacy is a thing of the past. Good luck trying to hide.

Rechargeable – He can kill with a touch. He has to in order to live. That doesn’t mean he wants to.

Holes in Space – A woman looks down on Earth and wonders why she left.

The Storyteller – When people live as robot surrogates, they forget what they lose in the translation. The Storyteller reminds them.

Family Legacy – A man goes back in time to meet his famed ancestor. Turns out, a legacy can be bought.

Surrealism:

Snails in the Sky – It’s raining snails, and Jonesy’s stuck in playground quicksand. His beard is his only hope now.

Sleeping on the Job – A man gets paid to sleep full-time. Sounds great, but what happens after the job is done?

The Girl who Ate Herself for Supper – A young lady refuses to eat her supper and is sent to her room as punishment. Turns out she was hungrier than she thought.

A Queued Chase – While standing in line at a department store, a man realizes that every day he trusts a lot of people not to kill him.

One Last Smoke – A John learns that his prostitute is more than she appears.

Obscura – Two cops pull over a strange-looking VW Bug. It’s a lot stranger on the inside.

Friendship – A lonely girl makes her first friend.

Claustrophobia – A man believes he’s getting too big for his house. His house seems to think he’s just the right size.

Literary:

Maturity – A man awkwardly attempts to catch the interest of a far younger woman.

Invisible Words in the Sky – A couple lay by a campfire and think about new beginnings.

Death’s Apparition in Converse Sneakers – The gonzo tale of a suicidal mallrat.

The Bluejay Calls – A writer recalls his aunt and her bluejay best friend.

Crash Landing – A child’s first flight on an imaginary rocketship.

Sunspot – After a violet spat, a couple discusses fault.

Fisher of Men – A fisherman relates his life to that of a doomed fish.

Rising from the Fall – After a nasty fall that leaves him paralyzed, a broken man finds redemption with a fateful saviour.

Hand Me Down – An adopted boy realizes his graduation clothes once belonged to his adopted mother’s now-deceased biological son.

Spellslingers (AKA Cowboy Wizards):

Blood Magic – An apprentice cowboy wizard follows an aloof mentor to a dangerous battle.

The Cowboy Wizard’s Tiny Caper – The people of Avernus believe tiny creatures called “fleapeople” are infesting the camp. Spellslinger Antony Magnus is on the case.

Pioneer of Nowhere (Part 1, part 2, and part 3) – Magnus investigates a mysterious map that causes local prospectors to disappear when they follow it.

Four-Eyes – A spellgun duel between two ‘slingers.

The Spellslinger Cometh – A spellslinger’s first trip to Avernus.

The Meta Detective:

The Library of Doors – A girl stumbles into a strange library where there are no books on the gigantic shelves, but doors to other worlds.

The Meta Detective – Two detectives meet. One of them doesn’t belong.

Meta Procedural – The two detectives resolve to solve a crime, even if the methods are a little strange.

A Shortcut to Eagles – Gavin Hume, meta detective, attempts to “solve” The Lord of the Rings early using the deus ex machina known as eagles.

The Fiction of Love – Hume ponders whether love is real or just a storytelling trope.

Facing the Music – Meta detectives venture into many different fictional worlds. This latest one provides a unique challenge.

Silvertooth – Hume and his assistant, Coraline, are invited to dinner. You know what that means. Or at least Hume does.

Stuck in a Rush – Usually the stories Hume ventures into are finished. But sometimes the writer makes a lot of edits.

Villain’s Ball – A very different sort of meta detective introduces himself to the villain of the story.

Sky Trek:

The Tower Between Sea and Sky – Ex-Captain Razo Corbeau sits upon a spire and dreams about returning to the great blue.

To Sail Beneath the Stars – The crew of the Revenant is recruiting. This time for the night shift.

Island of Ice – Landing on flying islands can result in popped ears and a nosebleed. But sometimes the islands are so high up that they freeze over.

Hedgehog Island – Living on a flying island may feel isolating for the residents. Especially if there’s an overpopulation issue.

The Scarred Brothers – Razo’s job is to pretend to be a pirate. His brother doesn’t have to pretend.

To Drown in the Sky – When the Revenant’s blue matter engine springs a leak, Razo has a very hard choice to make.

The Soaring Land – Most flying islands match the Earth’s rotation. This one doesn’t.

The Magic Scholar:

The City of Leeches – A scholar attempts to document the magic systems of the world, only to find himself stuck in a slave city run by life-stealing sorcerers.

Life in the City of Leeches – The scholar begins to plot his escape from the City.

The Scholar and the Pugilist – The scholar believes he should improve his hand-to-hand fighting so as to not always rely on magic. It doesn’t go well.

Mesmerism (Part 1, part 2, and part 3) – The beginnings of the scholar’s skepticism of magic.

The Pillar of the Sea – Our hero finds himself imprisoned once more, this time in a prison for illegal magic users.

Hunter’s Traps (Part 1 and part 2) – The scholar has become the master. And he is hunted for his knowledge.

 

 


 

 

 

And that’s it, dear friends. The last of my writing prompt-related posts for the foreseeable future. My next project is a full re-design of Hubwords. I’ll be putting up a portfolio of my best work, and return to blogging rather than flash fiction. I’m excited for what’s to come!

Bring on 2017. (Yes, I know it’s already here.)

– H.

6 Steps to Doing Your Own Writing Prompt Challenge

Last post I talked about my experience doing a 365-day writing prompt challenge. To sum it up, it was tough, but incredibly rewarding.

Writing every day for a year helped me ignore my inner critic and just write like crazy without needing to spend minutes (or hours) staring at a blank page. It also results in a heck of a lot of little stories ripe for the ol’ polish-and-publish (I’m sure it’s an industry term).

If you’ve found yourself stuck looking for something new to write, or you just want to have a day-to-day writing warm-up without constantly searching online for specific writing prompts, this post is for you.

So, without further ado…

How To Do Your Own “Hat Trick” Writing Prompt Challenge

1. Make a huge list of situations, settings, character archetypes, items, or whatever else comes to your mind.

At first, I used a physical hat full of paper slips, but that method got unwieldy after awhile. Later, I wrote them all up digitally.

If you want an example of writing prompt categories, feel free to look at some of the ones I’ve used. Alternatively, if you’re interested, I could post my writing prompt list in the comments. Let me know if you’d like me to show my hand!

2. Prepare a timer for 15 minutes.

Or however long works for you. Later in the challenge I stopped using the timer because I just felt natural in my ability to write for approximately 15 minutes. That said, there were certainly days I wrote for a shorter time, and some days I wrote and wrote and wrote.

You can use any kind of timer to keep yourself accountable. I used online-stopwatch.com on the count down setting.

3. Pick your three prompts at random.

You could draw three slips of paper from a fancy writing hat (hence, “hat trick”), or write the categories digitally, randomize them with a random list generator, and pick the top three. Either method works like a charm, whether you’re an analog or digital type of writer..

4. Start the timer (immediately!).

Don’t sit and think about the categories or what you’ll write about. Start the timer and go. The stress of the deadline will pull your Muse to the fore.

5. WRITE!

Just do it. Do it! Don’t let your dreams be dreams! Etc.

6. (Optional) Post your shiny new story online.

I recommend doing the challenge publicly because it worked for me, but if you’ve got the discipline to do it offline, go for it. Your story won’t be perfect, but it’ll be yours, straight from your beautiful brain. And who knows? Maybe it’ll be something you want to explore in a longer story or a novel. I know I’ve got more than a few of those in my archives.

There are dozens of blog-type platforms you could do this (WordPress works just dandy for me), or you could use social media like Facebook if you’re not worried about scandalizing Grandma with your sexy mummies in space prompt.

 

That’s it–simple as that. Now get out there and PROMPT. You’ll be happy you did. I sure am.

 


 

 

In my next post, I’ll provide a big list of some of my favourite prompts, as well as group together some of the recurring worlds that have cropped up over the year. We’re talkin’ cowboy wizards, sky pirates, meta detectives, and more.

Stay tuned, readers and writers!

– H.

365-Day Writing Prompt Challenge: Post-Mortem

On December 17, 2015, I started a 365-day challenge. I would write a 15-minute writing prompt every single day for a year.

And I did.

It all started when I read this article about people doing tiny challenges once a day for 365 days, blogging about them, and rocketing to fame and fortune (or at least a link in a Washington Post article). I wanted to try that. No, I didn’t care to build tiny furniture or eat a lot of tacos or braid my hair (maybe my beard). I was a writer with very little writing that existed away from notebooks or offline files. It was time to change that.

Sure, I could have waited until January 1st to even things out, but I was too excited to get started. And why wait? It was 14 days until New Years 2016, and that was ample time to change my mind. So I didn’t give myself that chance. I announced my challenge on this website on December 17th in order to make myself more accountable. And I got started.

I was in university at the time, occasionally running a writing circle for some fellow students and me. We mostly did readings and workshops of our creative writing pieces, but as a warm-up I devised a writing prompt method that didn’t require me to Google good writing prompts.

In a nutshell: I wrote lists of character archetypes, settings, props, and situations, chopped them up into slips of paper, threw them in a hat, and got everyone to draw three at random. For whatever three things you got, you’d have to write a little story that incorporated all three. I’d typically run it for 15 or 20 minutes. Then we’d read what we wrote and reveal our prompt categories last.

A colleague of mine named it the “hat trick” writing prompt method.

It was perfect for a daily challenge.

It’s easy to get carried away when writing. You second-guess yourself, you edit as you go, and half (or more) of the time you never get it done. Some of my best work at the time came from writing prompts I wrote during creative writing classes. Why? The atmosphere? The academic setting? Maybe. More likely it was the rush to finish (class time is limited) and the pressure to have something you can read in front of the class and not be horribly embarrassed by.

I needed a time limit, and I needed to post publicly.

You can find 15 minutes somewhere in a day, even if you have to get up a little bit earlier. For some reason, 20 minutes sounds like a lot more. So I made it 15. At first, I was strict about cutting myself off at the 15-minute mark, but after awhile I relaxed that rule.

Some days were tough. It’d be 11:30pm, I’d be tired, and I’d have been too busy during the day to do my prompt. But I’d push through. (All credit goes to my girlfriend for encouraging/threatening me to get them done). A couple times there, I let myself fall behind a day or two (or three in one case), but I always caught up, doing two in a day when needed (thankfully, such a need was rare).

Many of my prompts are garbage. Hell, they’re all first drafts—every one. But there are many of them that I love. Stories I’m excited to polish and submit for publication. Stories that would have never ben conceived, let alone written, before I did this challenge. I made whole worlds and explored them throughout the year. I had recurring characters. Sequels. I wrote stories I thought up a decade ago that I never thought I’d write for real, played in fantasy worlds that got lost at the worldbuilding stage years prior.

I went from having a small handful of stories online to more than 365.

It was a good year for writing. Onto the next challenge!

 

 


 

 

Interested in taking a similar (or identical) challenge? In my next post, I’ll do a step-by-step, clickbaity list where I’ll outline my writing prompt method.

Stay tuned!

 

– H.

Post Traumatic

“I had a really bad dream last night.”

“Oh no. What happened?”

“So I was at this veteran’s hospital listening to a couple guys talk about the war. And through some kind of dream logic I was suddenly transported into the war, and it’s happening in episodes like a demented game show.”

“Okay?”

“And all the soldiers are these anthropomorphic animals like out of Five Nights at Freddie’s.”

“Whaaat.”

“And there’s all these horrible things happening to them, and at the end they all jump through a window onto a trampoline.”

What.”

“And I go back to the hospital and I realize there’s only two of them there because the rest have killed themselves due to PTSD.”

“Jesus.”

“Yeah it was bad.”

“You should write it.”

“No. Definitely not.”

“It sounds like something I’d write…”

“You have my permission.”

“I had a dream that I met Bob Dylan.”

“You dreamed that you met Bob Dylan.”

“Yeah.”

“Was he nice?”

“Oh, super nice. I was going to ask him for a photo but I figured that’d be lame.”

“Bob Dylan probably wouldn’t understand the concept of a selfie.”

“He probably would. He’s still alive.”

“Oh…”

 

 


 

 

Day 284’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Bob Dylan,” “Nonfiction,” and, “Dream world.”

A virtual transcript of my conversation with my girlfriend this morning. I really do want to write her demented carnival war story.

(Bob Dylan IS still alive, right?)

– H.

Lost in Limoges

Nathan and I had been overseas for two weeks at this point. We came from Paris by way of London to arrive in the little French town of Limoges. Our money burned quickly in those two big cities, so we scoured our European travel book for somewhere to stay that would be less flashy, and less expensive. Limoges came highly recommended, so we decided to settle there for a few days and give our budget some breathing room. We bought groceries instead of going to restaurants, walked to our destinations rather than commute, and stayed in a hostel that was surprisingly spacious for its low cost.

The town itself was beautiful. There was no glitz or overcompensation that Paris reeked of–a city that felt pressured to be magical and was too exhausted to keep up the act. Tourists just didn’t excite Paris the way they used to. Now the City of Love is just going through the motions, devoid of passion. Limoges, though, was refreshingly unashamed, quietly confident. It had nothing to prove, and so there was still life there. Nathan and I walked along freshwater streams, through sculpted hedge trees, over bridges and between wedge-shaped houses. Everyone living there was beautiful–I didn’t fully realize it until we left. I looked out the window of the train that would take us away and desperately searched for one unattractive person. It’s possible Nathan and I narrowly escaped being turned into Stepford husbands.

But if there was something that Paris had that Limoges didn’t, it was that everyone in Paris seemed to speak English. Limoges, being a town less known to the world as a tourist must-see, didn’t need to be anything other than itself. So, naturally, we were lost in translation and unable to ask for directions. Not that we didn’t try.

You’d think that if anyone in this town could speak English, it would be the guy working in the hostel we stayed at. You’d be wrong. The old cliche that everyone in France speaks English but just pretends not to so you won’t talk to them still tickled the inside of my skull, but even if the clerk could understand us, he did a good job convincing us otherwise. Nathan and I not knowing a lick of French and he not knowing a lick of English, it was a wonder we managed to get our rooms at all.

As you might expect, we frequently emailed our family and friends whenever we happened upon an internet cafe, which, up until then, were commonly found less than a block away from any hostel. In Limoges, however, we had trouble finding any. So we decided, for some reason, that it would be a good idea to ask the solely-French-speaking hostel clerk where to find one.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know the French word for Internet–if there even was one, and it wasn’t just “le internet” or something. And cafe was a French word, wasn’t it? No luck–he had no idea what we were talking about. So Nathan drew a picture of a computer for him–and this idea was particularly stupid because Nathan can’t draw a straight line to save his life and I was applying to art school, yet it was he that decided to do the sketch. The drawing ended up looking more or less like a monitor–a square inside another square, really–but the clerk didn’t seem to understand. Our next brilliant idea was to play charades, tapping away at invisible keyboards like secretarial mimes. The clerk smiled and began to dance on the spot. At this point I was pretty sure he was just making fun of the absurdity of the moment, but he seemed to come to some revelation and took our map from us and marked down a location. We asked if this was where “le internet cafe” was. If he did speak English, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hated us. He nodded in affirmation, however. With no one else around to get a second opinion, we set off to find the hard-sought cafe.

We reached the marked location, peered in all directions, but couldn’t locate that iconic @. After a moment, we realized that he did lead us to exactly the right spot–it just wasn’t an internet cafe. It was a piano store. Clearly Nathan and I were not cut out to be mimes if we couldn’t manage to differentiate between a keyboard and a piano.

This is why I’m still half-convinced the clerk really spoke English–or, at least, he understood what we were asking. It’s an extraordinary series of coincidences not only for a small town to have a piano store, but for a clerk to know exactly where to find it on a map. I like to imagine a he kept a checklist behind his desk for all the tourists he sent hunting for a piano store.

 


 

 

Day 258’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Nonfiction,” “Lost in translation,” and, “Seedy underbelly.”

I guess the seedy underbelly of Limoges is that it converts tourists into Stepford robots? I don’t know. Anyway, true story.

– H.

The Ears of Dogs Part 3

“Josephine” dropped Walden off at 7:17 pm on a Monday, and she checked out another book right after. This meant that in approximately three weeks’ time, she’d return to deposit her new book. Obviously, I couldn’t just assume she’d be there in three weeks at the same time. No, I’d have to check in every day.

And so I did. Being unemployed (temporarily, of course), I had nowhere special to go. And isn’t there a romance to spending one’s day (after day after day) in a library? Like the protagonist in Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. (The protagonist’s name might have been Kafka, but since I only read the dog-eared pages, I didn’t fully know.) The romance was doubled, in fact, since I was waiting to speak to a woman who, through shared literary experience, I believed, yes, I was falling in love with.

During my time in the library, I poured through the dog-eared Walden pages several times. Here was another insight into Josephine’s character:

It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. […] The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!

A non-conformist to the core. A taker of the road less traveled by. My Josephine could teach me so much, and I her. She knew roads, I knew souls. Souls like hers. A wandering spirit, an independent mind. I imagined her preparing to work on an organic farm or teach English to monks. Or perhaps she’d travel the Americas in a yellow van with solar panels on the roof to power her little mobile kitchen, stocked with wine and coffee beans. Or if she’d settle in the city, be a spinster in a tiny house with succulents hanging from the balcony, a cat in the window, and chickens in the backyard.

For days I dreamed of her, day and night. How I’d speak to her, how effortless it would be. It would be like seeing an old friend at a restaurant. Like striking up a conversation with a family member after a silent stint at the dinner table. Comfortable, calm, effortless. I knew her, I had known her my whole life. Days of dreams, weeks of dreams. The world was her Walden Pond. No–I was her Walden Pond–something natural, something to live off of and for, something to build. Maybe she would write a book about me. Was she a writer? Yes, I thought she was. Ha! Of course. I knew that. Always.

She didn’t show up, though. Not for three weeks. Maybe today? Maybe today? No. But I didn’t have anywhere to go. I stopped reading dog-eared pages–how could I imagine someone else when I had spent so much time imagining Josephine? And I knew she hadn’t returned her book, because I knew what it was: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A book about a strong, independent woman. No surprise there. But the book hadn’t returned to the shelf, which meant she had not come back to the library.

Weeks turned to a month, and I was nervous. Didn’t she care about late fees? No, probably not. She didn’t care about wealth in the sense of dollars and cents. She cared about memories, experiences, self-reliance. I began to worry she was already off to find her metaphorical Walden Pond, never to return.

But I couldn’t let that happen. I wouldn’t lose her. I came up with a plan.

“Excuse me,” I said to the librarian. She gave me a curious expression, as though a bookshelf suddenly spoke to her. I had been such a long time fixture that she saw me as background. “A-hem,” I said. “Yeah. I put a hold on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I’m the first one in line, and I need it for a class, and it’s not in, and I was just wondering if you could track it down, or, that is, give me an idea of when it might be in?”

The librarian blinked. Then she turned her eyes to the computer, tapped furiously for a while, then said, “It’s checked out. No telling when it’ll be back in.”

“Why not?” I asked. “When is it due back?”

“Well,” said the librarian, and my toes pressed into my shoes, hoping she’d spring my trap, “it was due back a couple weeks ago. It just hasn’t come in yet.”

“Why not?” I asked, showing impatience. “Haven’t you followed up?”

“We don’t really–”

“It’s your property, and you provide it as a service to the public. I need that book.”

Her lips flattened. She wanted to tell me I could just buy the book, but I was always right, so she said nothing of the sort. Instead: “I can email the account and request a return.”

“Is that not automated?” I asked.

“Yes, but–”

“A phone call is in order, then. It’s easy to ignore an email, but phones are more insistent.”

She sighed. What a difficult customer I was. And it wasn’t as though I would tip her or keep the library from earning money. But she had a job. So she picked up the phone, rang Josephine. A pause. No answer. I looked expectantly at the librarian as she moved to hang up. She lifted the receiver back to her ear and left a message. Suddenly: “Oh, yes. Hello. This is the Edmonton Public Library… Yes, it is. … Yes, we would… Sounds great, thank you so much. Buhbye.”

She hung up. “Should be in right away. I’ll put it on hold for you–”

“Right away today?” I asked.

“Um, yes.”

“I’ll wait here.”

I sat nearby, ignoring any further response. My stomach imploded in slow motion, but my mind felt calm. I knew her, after all.

There she was! And she–well, she was now wearing Lululemon leggings and a North Face jacket, but clothes didn’t speak to her spirit.

“Ha!” I said, walking up to her as though she were my budding fiancee. “I’ve been looking all over for that book!”

She held it to her chest and stopped walking. “Sorry?” she said with, I think, a French Canadian accent. How exotic! I hadn’t heard the accent in my mind, but it wasn’t an unwelcome discovery.

“I’ve had a hold on Dragon Tattoo for forever,” I said, laughing at nothing and everything. “How funny you’re the one who had it.”

“How is that funny?” she asked me, a little frown line appearing between her blonde eyebrows. Oh, so she wasn’t a natural brunette? Interesting…

My smile twitched. I could feel it. “Oh, it’s just funny because…” I stepped forward, but she recoiled, her body arching back but her broad legs remaining planted like roots. “…because I saw you drop of Walden a while ago, and I picked it up right after.”

“Oh,” she said. She wasn’t smiling. She looked around me, where the librarian was. I followed her gaze. The librarian was helping someone.

“Anyway,” I said, “I really loved Walden, so I suppose you’ve got a pretty killer, y’know, bitchin’ kinda… y’know, like,” (the word wasn’t coming to me, and her brown eyes bore into me, doubly so because I imagined her with green eyes) “uh…”

I smiled.

“…taste? In books,” I finished. She nodded backwards, pausing with her chin pointing up. “So what did you think of Walden anyway?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, hooking her jaw-length hair behind her ear, “I didn’t actually read it. The style, the, ah, ho-ho-manliness of it?” She wrinkled her nose. “Anyway, this Dragon Tattoo is better. Not as good as the movie, but… Anyway, I must return it.”

I didn’t respond. She stepped around me, and power-walked to the return bin. She maneuvered wide around me the second time in order to leave the library. Across the parking lot, I saw her enter a Tim Hortons. From then on, I only read books new from Chapters.

 


 

Day 200(!!!)’s three random prompt categories were, “A dog-eared page,” “Gym equipment,” and, “Maybe this time.”

You expected a happy ending? From me? Pshaw.

200 prompts done though! Only 165 left. Can’t believe I’ve stuck with it this long. Hoo boy. Totes worth.

– H.

First Day in the Mountains

So I drove to the mountains and I didn’t die, which was super ideal. When I got to Banff I parked as near to my hotel as I could, which was along a street with 2h parking. The streets were busy with people, mostly on two legs or two wheels, but a few cars too. I was nervous about leaving my car: the lady at the park entrance said I could get a parking pass for the town (rather than paying for the yearlong pass for non­residents) once I proved my residence and employment to the information centre, but I hadn’t done that yet, so I left my passless car on the road, surreptitiously covering my valuables with various coats and hoping I wouldn’t return to a ticket I couldn’t afford.

When I hoisted my essentials bag over my shoulder (filled with my necessary documents to get hired, my laptop, chargers, and about a billion books), I immediately regretted using all my newly­-discovered Sherwood Park Mall gift cards at Chapters and Chapters alone. Especially since I already had weighty tomes like Infinite Jest along for the ride. But my pop always said I had football­ player shoulders (probably in the hopes that I’d play football), so I put them to use and carried on.

It was easy to forget where I was­­–other than in a lovely little town–­­until I walked around the corner of a building and had the scenic mountain view revealed. It almost looked like a green-screen movie effect. Blue skies and cream-­topped mountains. But it was real, and I was there. I am there.

The hotel I’d be working at seemed rustic and charming, and the workers appeared to enjoy their work, which was a good sign. They set me up with a room for the night, saying that they’d get me my necessary documents for parking as well as show me to my full­-time living space the following day. For now, I could park in the hotel underground lot, hidden from ticketers.

And so I dropped my too-­heavy bag off in my room, re­parked my car, and immediately went exploring on foot.

I strolled by numerous fun little shops, a community greenhouse, tennis courts, walked over and under a bridge, and attempted to identify the building I’d be living in. I also, of course, found my way to the local library in search of a card. Same deal as the town parking pass. That would have to wait until tomorrow. Or maybe until I finished the twelve books I brought with me.

After working up an appetite, and since there was no sense buying groceries until I moved into my accommodation, I browsed for a reasonably­-priced local food joint. I found one I thought looked okay, but the menu outside their doors that I looked at turned out to be the lunch menu, and the dinner menu was a lot more pricey. Lesson learned. I didn’t order dessert, but after seeing so many people with ice cream cones, I had to get my own.

There was this moo­cow place I forget the name of that sold ice cream and was apparently famous. The line went out the door, for context. So I waited, and when I got inside I discovered they didn’t have cookie dough ice cream(!!!), but I had put time into that line, and they had Oreo anyway, so I soldiered on. Around the store was, strangely, a lot of branded clothing featuring cartoon cows parodying pop­-culture favourites. “Moocraft” (with a Minecraft-­inspired blocky design) was cute, but “Orange is the Moo Black” was perhaps too much.

At last I reached the front, and discovered that the menu had lied, and they did have cookie dough! All was right in the world.

And, so far, still is.

Day 180’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Nonfiction,” “IN THE MOUNTAINS,” and, “New kid on the block.”

I lucked out again with these prompts pairing with nonfiction. I ended up writing about my first day in the mountain town I’m now living in.

– H.