I invite you to copy the paragraphs below and paste them into a document. They should be one page, single-spaced. Without reading the whole page, take a pen, close your eyes, and stab a sentence. Take that sentence and construct a story around it. I hope you’ll post your story!
Opal watched in fascination as the newborn baby was fed her first mouthful of food on the tip of the family sword, along with a speech in which, because they spoke slowly in keeping with the ceremony, she was able to catch at least two words she knew: “fight” and “death.”
After a moment of silence, the new parents rose and distributed presents to everyone around the fire. Opal received a string of red and blue glass beads. She put on her new necklace in imitation of the others who typically wore all their jewelry, all the time.
Hulgar reached inside his shirt and, to Opal’s dismay, pulled out a pair of her soft kidskin slippers, dyed a muted pink and trimmed with tiny pearls. Opal could hear everyone inhale, then hold their breath at the sight of the pretty, delicate slippers, a gift so precious she knew without being told that they would never be used, but only kept to bring out on the most momentous of occasions.
When people spoke again it was in whispers, and they stole glances at Opal, knowing that it was a gift that had come from her as well. Hulgar shot stern glances at her, as if daring her to be so rude as to object, but Opal had no heart to do anything but stare at the beautiful but useless slippers. Her chest grew tight at the memories of the life she had left behind.
After the meal, the ceremony, and some serious talk among the adults that Opal could not follow, a pair of dice was produced. Some sort of game began, accompanied by much shouting and teasing; clearly it was a gambling game. Men and even a few women took turns rolling the dice after placing small chunks of compressed tea leaves on a slab of rock and taking their share when they won.
When a woman first took a turn, Opal expected her to be heckled for participating in what, back home, would have been solely a man’s game. To Opal’s surprise, no one seemed perturbed. Thus encouraged, Opal shouldered in next to Hulgar so she could watch every throw of the dice, every bet, and the way the dice were passed until she was fairly certain she understood how the game worked.
After Hulgar lost several chunks of tea, Opal reached out for the dice before they were passed beyond her to the next person. All the faces looked up, surprised, but not displeased. Opal half-expected Hulgar to make a fuss, but she had already decided that if he did, she would ignore him. Other women were playing; she wanted a turn.
Instead, Hulgar slapped her on the back, grinning, and saying something that made everyone laugh. Hulgar roared even louder when Opal won her bets. She heard the boasting tone in his words when she completed her turn and passed the dice on to the next man. She sat back, giggling and happy at her success.
When the hour grew late, the game broke up. Hulgar and Opal rose, both awkward in their nightly confusion over sleeping arrangements. Hulgar pointed at Opal’s handful of tea chunks and said, “Good,” a phrase he was fairly certain she knew.