One More Writing Challenge!

You’ll find six paragraphs below taken from the middle of a story. If you’re in the mood for a challenge, copy these paragraphs to a Word document and print it. Put the document in front of you, grab a pen, and close your eyes. Now lower your pen onto the page.  That is your sentence. Build a story around it and post it for us to enjoy.

   The trail wound up the mountainside. Hardwoods of oak and maple shared space with evergreen spruce and pine as Amelia rode higher. Rocky outcroppings loomed around her, forcing the trail to arc and double back. The rocky boulders made Amelia feel small again, some as high as the trees, with their gray shoulders, roughened by jagged lichens.
   The boulders had frightened her as a child. Their looming weightiness had seemed coiled and ready to suddenly unwrap themselves, develop arms, lunge for her, and crush her in their embrace. When younger, she had been able to reassure herself by glancing at her father leading them on his fine gray horse or back at her mother, wrestling skillfully with her rambunctious black mare. Amelia had been fairly certain back then that her parents could prevent the boulders from revealing their threatening hidden selves, but she’d always been relieved when they’d reached the cabin refuge where her great-grandfather Tessor had spent much of his life.
   The rocks’ intimidation was a child’s memory. A much more real threat pushed Amelia and her thoughts along. Civil war raged over her empire. Better to be thought dead. Better to disappear until she could figure out what to do. What to do.
   Amelia shut down that thought and instead worked on tolerating the frustration that simmered inside as her horse picked its way slowly over the rocky path. She could only hope she had outrun the danger behind her.   When a child, she’d accompanied her parents on five of their infrequent trips to Tessor’s one-room hut. Each time she’d rejoiced that guards, advisors, and servants had been left behind at the foot of the mountains. She alone was allowed to accompany the king and queen.
   When they wound their way up the mountain trail, her mother’s shoulders always lost a bit of their rigid self-control. Her father grew less quiet, sometimes chatting or humming a tune. Her parents often pointed out landmarks to each other with smiles and stories, letting the memories of a happy past recapture their attention and reinterpret recent troubles.
   Amelia remembered how her own heart always soared when the cabin came into view. She’d opened wide to the wish that their mountain visit might work its magic on them all. Soon the stresses and strains of court soon drained away. Her mother and father held out their arms to each other. The war of words, the angry withdrawal, and cold reproaches over hurtful words dissolved like fog beneath warm sun.

15 responses to “One More Writing Challenge!

  1. Ann, This was great fun after a crazy day at the office. I could have gone on and on, but I didn’t want to be intrusive. Thank you.
    Amelia
    I was 3 when I realized things hide in shadows and crevices, and I was 17 when I realized my parents couldn’t protect me from hidden things. At age 3, I had been fairly certain back then that my parents could prevent the boulders from revealing their threatening hidden selves, but I had always been relieved when we reached the cabin refuge where my great-grandfather Tessor had spent much of his life. At 17, when I was alone at the cabin, I saw the boulders move, so I climbed the mountain’s grassy slope after my parents were killed because I didn’t care anymore what became of me.
    “Crush me,” I screamed at the boulders. The mountain rumbled and the boulders shook, but then the mountain relaxed.
    “I said crush me,” I yelled again and threw myself across the biggest boulder with the flat, smooth surface.
    The mountain rumbled and a boulder rolled toward me but stopped as it brushed up against me. Then all the boulders slowly rolled toward me and circled round.
    “I am Rafella,” said a boulder. We are guardians of the Weeping Willows.
    For a moment I forgot the pain in my heart.
    “Move ahead, young Ameila”, Rafella said. “Your parents love you and always will because love can’t die.”
    Then a great storm came and shook the mountain, and I woke in torrents of rain. The guardians were cold and quiet, as if they had never spoken. I had no choice but to move ahead and tell my story of love that never dies.

    • I love how you took the original story and created an awesome off shoot. Way to go, Pamela.

    • I love your talking boulders. Very original thought! Think how compelling it would be to have boulders circling you and sharing a message. I want to go on that mountain!

    • Pamela,
      You took up this challenge quite quickly and created a compelling piece. I loved it. I’m finding this one a real challenge for me. Nice work.

  2. She could only hope she’d outrun the danger behind her. She’d been running for over an hour, running no where but to save herself from herself.

    Rays from the afternoon sun lit up the three plastic 50-capsule bottles she’d left behind on the kitchen counter. Sunlight glinted off the single razor blade she’d placed beside the pills. She had been ready. Escape from her life had been within her reach.

    As she ran, the rhythm of her strides and her breaths cleared her mind. Her lungs and her soul absorbed the fresh air. Hope flickered where despair had been. She slowed to a walk and turned toward home. She passed homes decorated with Christmas wreaths and lights. She looked ahead and vowed that when she got home, she would dispose of the tools of her evil intentions. She’d turn on her Christmas CD and bring out her holiday decorations.

    • What an amazing moment you’ve captured here. Running as a path to perspective and clarity. That works for me. I like the phrase near the end, “She looked ahead….” Good contrast with the beginning where she’s trying to outrun danger behind her. You’re good!

    • Amazing, Shaddy.

    • I’m sitting here nodding in agreement with Ann and Pamela. And I’m still stumped by this challenge.

  3. Time out for another “Things I Wish I’d Written.”

    From Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell:

    “…I feel my honesty flitting away on the sweet breeze of my good intentions.”

    • I could compose a list of “Things I Wish I’d Written” from your creative writing and your blog, Gully. It’s great fun when as we’re reading, we’re stopped in our tracks and we just have to pause and savor the words put down by other writers.

    • I love your descriptive writing posts. I take it Red Mist is a worthwhile read.

  4. This exercise was irresistible. Much more fun than throwing a dart at the stock market. Here goes:

    FADE TO BLACK

    Logan sat at the piano in the gathering winter gloom. The Chopin nocturne in E-flat minor. It’s what she always played at times of grief, when she felt bereft and hopeless.
    She had known this day would come, had in fact dreaded it for years.
    When she came back to the house alone, the big old ebony beast drew her. Logan didn’t even change out of her black suit, just sat down, kicked off her pumps, and eased her stockinged feet into the gold slippers she always wore while playing. The time was about 3 p.m.
    It was almost six now, and the house was dark except for the spot of bright light from the piano lamp. Logan was exhausted, but calm. She had swung from searing pain to the wild abandon of chaotic anger, to a desperate longing that could never again be assuaged. At last, completely wrung out, she let the beauty and sadness of the Chopin nocturne bring her back to the present moment as she played it once again.
    Logan’s hands stayed on the keyboard for a long moment after the last tones faded and the room became deeply silent. She looked around at the beautiful room, the beautiful, empty room. She stood abruptly and almost ran to the bedroom, where she pulled down a hanging bag and a small suitcase, quickly packed a few basics from her closet, dresser, and toiletries from the bathroom, set the alarm and left the dark house.
    “Better to be thought dead, too,” she thought. “Better to disappear until I can figure out what to do.”

    • Setting that alarm suggests she’s going to fire the house. Scary times! You certainly drew me in. Loved the “big old ebony beast” of a piano. Would have liked to hear that Chopin! (I’m off to Itunes to listen to it.)

  5. “She alone was allowed to accompany the king and queen.” All their attendants were dismissed, including Amelia’s. The thick mahogany doors swung shut with a thud as the attendants left the room. The king motioned for her to follow them, and they walked behind the throne. “What I am about to show you,” the king said, “is not to be known by anyone else. Only your mother and I know of it, and other kingdoms will wage war to take it from us. It is the heart beat of our kingdom. It is the reason we are at peace and why God Almighty has blessed us. We are it’s keeper, but only we can know it exists, for men will kill and destroy in order to possess it. Do you understand Lady Amelia?”

    “Yes, my Lord. I will guard it’s secret with my life.”

    “Very well, Queen mother lead the way.” The queen walked to the back of her throne and removed her crown. She placed the jeweled cross on the front of the crown in a slot in her throne. A door opened in the wall directly behind the kings throne, the king approached the opening. “Are you sure Lady Amelia? Are you sure you want to shoulder the burden of the knowledge?”

    “Yes, father. You can entrust your daughter.” With her words the king took her hand and lead her through the door to a staircase that led down into the bowels of the castle. No windows, no torches, no source of light yet the stairway was brightly lit. After what seemed like a thousand steps to Amelia, the stairs ended at a solid wall. The king removed a heavy golden chain that always hung around his neck, at the end of the chain was a cross not unlike the one on the queen’s crown. The king inserted the top tip of the cross in a almost hidden slot in the wall, and another door opened. Light poured into the staircase, enveloping the royal family. The king stepped into the room followed by the queen, and then Amelia. Light seemed to come from everywhere, but at the same time nowhere. It was bright, but pleasing to the eye. A sweet aroma filled the air and all sound seemed to be absorbed. Amelia looked wide eyed at the room, then in the middle of the room she saw it, the thing dreams are made of.

    • Great suspense! Since I write this kind of story at times, I had to chuckle at your ending. What is “it”? That’s the hard part. You have to figure out what dreams are made of. I’ll await Chapter 2!

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