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Writing Prompt — Tipsy Lit

ComfortZone.001As I get back into the blogging thing, I thought I’d precariously begin with a writing prompt from Tipsy Lit.

As I begin to take on the task of regularly writing (as I once did for just me), these prompts really do get the creative process going.  I’m writing more on my book and a short story I began months ago.

The rules say that it has to be around 500 words.  This is very difficult for me.  When I first wrote this, it came in at a hefty 700 words plus.  It’s not my usual, there’s barely any dialogue.  What’s great about this process is that it forces me to fiercely edit myself and go outside my comfort zone.

Me, getting out of my comfort zone.

Me, getting out of my comfort zone.

Though it was a kind of “paranormal” prompt the. . .story does not need to fall into the paranormal category as long as it reveals something more than ordinary about your person, place, or thing.  And. . . leave the reader with double vision – allowing them to see both the ordinary and the extraordinary at the same time.

I honed in on a “specific object.”  I think objects have essence, a kind of life, if you will.

Why not write one of your own?

Me, reading your prompt.

Me, reading your prompt.

I’d love to read it — I know how many talented peeps are out there that I follow.  Now, please read mine and don’t hold back, tell me what you think. (Also, go vote on Friday at Tipsy Lit for your favorite.)

C’mon write yours, it’s fun.

Enjoy and listen to some tunes while you read.  

Things Left Behind

An elevated coastal home sat atop a large garage that was slotted and open.  An antique chest sat in a corner of the garage.  Water stains marked its once regal appearance.  Its two doors were slightly askew, the hinges rusting.

***

Long ago, the chest was the centerpiece of a Savannah home.  A filigreed key stored inside a mahogany box unlocked it.  A gift from her husband, the lady of the home treated it as if it were a precious jewel.  When her husband died, she moved the chest near her bedside where it stayed until she joined him three years later.

Auctioned off in 1935, the chest moved to a New England home and acquired a new key for its lock.   The executors of the estate told its new owners that the original key had been placed in a mahogany box and buried with its owner.  Whether the story was true didn’t matter.  It gave the chest some history, romance, mystery.

Its wood creaked and breathed over the years as it was moved from this space to that, the New England winters retracting it as much as the Savannah summers had expanded it.

Decades later, it was sold to a dealer from Virginia.  Moved to a dank, dusty shop, it was shoved into a corner, forgotton.  Worn crocheted dollies, chipped china and a flowered pitcher were placed on top of it.  The key, stolen by a patron, caused its doors to yawn open.  Piles of stained linens spilled out of it.  Its splendor faded; no one noticed what it was or what it had been.

The shopkeeper tried to remove one its dovetailed shelves.  The shelf held, suffering only a three-inch hole at the back corner.  Frustrated, the man sanded the chest, sloppily painting it a dull pie-crust color.  He removed its metal pulls and tossed them in a bowl with a sign that read, “Vintage Hardware – Cheap!”

Sold “as is” to a dealer from Charleston, it was loaded onto a trailer where it was jostled and bumped by other bargain-ware; a rusted stove, grillwork from an old church gate, rotting rattan furniture and a salvaged beer sign from a burned down bar.  It sat among tarnished silver, cheap lamps and a linoleum-topped table at a weekend flea market, selling for forty-five dollars to a decorator who stripped it of its paint.

***

The decorator meant to restore it but it stayed in the corner of the large garage with slotted openings.  It expanded, retracted through hot summers and cool winters.

In a hasty move, the decorator left the chest.  Six months later a couple bought their first home and upon move-in, found an old chest in the corner of the garage.

“Beautiful,” the woman said.  She would restore it, treasure it.

She ran her hand along its classic lines and tested its weight by lifting it up on one end, groaning as she did so.  The chest creaked in relief.

About Brigitte

Writer/Editor/Wanderer

Discussion

85 thoughts on “Writing Prompt — Tipsy Lit

  1. Things do have a life of their own–this chest has certainly been on a journey but has now found its home–love this Brigitte–must remember to vote for you on Friday!

    Posted by on thehomefrontandbeyond | October 23, 2013, 12:05 pm
  2. Hey Brig, very inspired and poetic storytelling. Although I only “know” you from your site, having never met in that thorny place called Real Life, this piece resonates to me with writing about what you know as the springboard for this tale. Transparently lousy writing often strikes me as typing from an airhead too dumb to do research to realize that depth cannot be falsified. You did a wonderful job bringing this inanimate object to life. I could almost smell it but I think that’s actually toast someone here at The Grind made on the floor below. Anyway, nice work!

    Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 12:33 pm
    • V, thank you. I would love to read one from you. This is not my usual but I have some experience with making old things new and I love doing it. And yeah, depth cannot be falsified, as you write — (the fact that you write that says so much about you and I mean that in a GREAT WAY). Coming from such a talented writer as yourself, I’ll take your compliments as genuine and I’m very grateful for them. Now, enjoy your toast.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 12:41 pm
      • Paranormal’s not my thing and I just blew my Halloween load participating in the Remember The Time series for Emily at The Waiting. I had been writing that piece for LA all week so it conveniently fit. If it’s not convenient, fuhgeddaboudit. I’m fartish that way. Thanks for the return serve compliment.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 12:50 pm
      • Yeah, I know what you mean. I didn’t consider mine that paranormal as I’m not familiar with the genre. How did I not see this post you are referring to? I have to check it out. And you’re welcome. I mean what I say or I don’t say it.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 1:04 pm
      • I’m the same way i.e., meaning what I say or keeping my pie hole shut or typing fingers still. Maybe LA’s not showing up in your Reader? For 2-3 weeks I wasn’t getting Cathy’s Large Self posts. That was irritating. I’m glad you didn’t have a spirit leap out of the chest.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 1:15 pm
      • What I find so disheartening is that that genre seems to be gaining ground. I sound old. I just went over there (to your blog) and read your post. Hilarious as usual. Just AWESOME. No spirit leaping over here at the Banter. Uh-huh, never.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 1:18 pm
      • I think that genre has gained popularity because the paranormal really gained ground in film when “The Blair Witch Project” hit the movie theaters. It introduced the telling of a ghost story in a fresh way. Of course that quickly spawned sequels and imitators that just as instantly made what was briefly fresh, stale. As for writing ghost stories, the urge to do so amongst the genre’s legions if fans does not surprise me. People in this ADD age might be less motivated to try to write the great American novel in favor of the great American short story. In a few generations that could be watered down to the great American flash fiction.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 3:39 pm
      • Oh yeah, I remember the Blair Witch thing and actually thought it was kind of scary. I can’t take those really scary movies anymore. There’s some things you can’t unsee (like that scene from Deliverance — see how it affected me and we’re not even talking about James Michener!). And I was saying just that very thing to hubby the other day — about how what happened to just a good story without all the explosions, car chases, blowing people and things up? And I so hope you’re wrong about the flash fiction thing.

        On a side note, have you read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer? It’s great, I’m nearly finished with it.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 5:37 pm
      • No, I have not read The Interestings, but I have heard of Meg Wolitzer. I read the blurb about it on Amazon, but I don’t have a Kindle and I’d sooner lug a brick than a hardback. Thanks for the recommendation.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 10:54 pm
      • V, I go to the library and lug that book home. It’s a great book and great writing. Just a suggestion! xo

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:58 pm
      • That’s so much work!

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 10:59 pm
      • What hey? Even when I was in NY, I went to the library. The library rules. And seriously, woman, you need to read Meg Wolitzer. Good, great writing.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:02 pm
      • Okay, okay. Maybe Milton has some of her books in paperback.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 11:03 pm
      • Milton is obviously educated and has wonderful taste.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:05 pm
      • Put that opinion on ice. I haven’t asked him yet if he has any of her books.

        Posted by lameadventures | October 23, 2013, 11:07 pm
      • Whatever, woman. Just read it, it’s good. And you and I know good writing.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:08 pm
      • All of us need to start a writing group! I have friends from NYC, Boston, Paris and oh yeah, here in the South. What say you ladies…let’s do this!

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:11 pm
  3. I did get my email notification but I was busy staring at my monitor wondering why the hell I can’t write anymore. I LOVE this, LOVE it! I just brought a trunk home from my parents’ house that was my grandmothers. It now sits at the end of my bed and is warm and cared for. I’m happy the chest found you.

    Happy Blogging Dear Brigitte, perhaps we can spur each other on?!
    xo mag

    Posted by Maggie O'C | October 23, 2013, 1:57 pm
    • I’m right there with you. I had to physically go to another spot and write one day. I don’t know what the heck it is. So glad you liked it. Things do have an essence and it doesn’t surprise me that you have something you feel that way about and understand what I mean. What I’d like to do is get a round of beta readers (isn’t that what they’re called?? — people who read your stuff and send back what they like or don’t like about it, like a virtual writing group) and we all email each other our fiction stuff and get feedback.

      Now when are you going to write yours??

      And yeah, let’s spur each other on, Mags. Thank you. And xxoo right back at you.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 2:02 pm
    • come on Maggie .. just let it rip. You can do it

      Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 7:29 pm
  4. I loved this story, Brigitte. Ah, someone rescued the chest! Sweet ending. But not the chest’s ending, of course. I agree! Objects ARE like people. While researching yesterday, I found a Jean-Paul Sartre quote: “Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.” (I’m off now to try something outside my comfort zone. Bravo! T. )

    Posted by Theadora Brack | October 23, 2013, 2:01 pm
  5. I loved this story, Brigitte. It’s funny how easily we can humanize objects, even the most practical among us. A chest like that could have lots of history. Glad it was rescued. :)

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | October 23, 2013, 2:55 pm
    • Hi Carrie, thank you. Always nice to get some good feedback from other writers. I think we all do…those things we just won’t let go of because it reminds of us a good time or a person or whatever. Thanks again — glad you enjoyed.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 5:34 pm
  6. This is lovely, Brigitte, and I think you did a wonderful take on the prompt. I’d like to think the chest’s original owner is pleased with the new home that her beloved piece has found. I think objects can take on the “air” of the lives that surround them and relay those stories—if we just take the time to be still and hear them.

    Posted by jmmcdowell | October 23, 2013, 4:11 pm
    • Thanks, JM. I firmly believe they do take on a person’s “fingerprint,” if you know what I mean. Remember the scene in the Sixth Sense when the lady was thinking about buying an antique ring? That’s what I’m talking about. There’s good ju-ju, you know, when things are loved.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 5:38 pm
  7. I loved this, Brig. So got the ‘breathing’ thing. It was a great way of conveying life within that wonderful old chest. And I can just hear that chest creaking in relief!

    Posted by Cathy Ulrich | October 23, 2013, 4:53 pm
  8. Love, love, love!! I totally picked up on the ‘breathing’ and if I’m honest, going all out paranormal was the easy option for me, subtle is much harder….and yours is more in tune with what the prompt was I think?! Totally agree about the editing – mine was over 900 words and I nearly didn’t bother, I got it down to about 594 and it’s much better for it because you dump the weasel words, fillers and padders and get a lot more creative in your word choice so that you can still convey the same meaning. I sometimes write object poems, so this story really appeals to me :)

    Posted by wordswithnannaprawn | October 23, 2013, 6:03 pm
    • Hey, you know I thought that you were much more paranormal than me! This was a story I wrote a year ago and it was about a chest I found in a place that hubby and I rented. I found a beautiful chest that someone left behind and it was gorgeous. The story I wrote from finding that was fiction but I couldn’t understand why someone left that behind. I have it in my home now, that glorious piece of furniture which I restored and love. I try to imagine what it has been through. It was an antique and I treasure it. Thank you!

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:16 pm
  9. Lovely, Brigitte. So nice it came full circle! xoxoM

    Posted by Margarita | October 23, 2013, 6:32 pm
  10. I really liked this Brigitte. Things that make me go Mmmmm.. New England– retracts and the South — expands. Uptight(constraining) New England and Hippy South eh? (smile) You sure know how to paint a scene and make it all come alive lady. A real depth to the story– we are all really like that box… will anyone take the time to recognize our beauty and open us up to expose what lies inside? Key or no key.. it takes work.

    Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 7:28 pm
    • Audra, I don’t know about that. Hubby grew up in Boston, I grew up everywhere! I find it so wonderful that you, derive that from my little story. I love the North for the people and the incredible experiences I had there. I love the South for the laid-back feeling you write about. To me, there is no difference. I LOVE the fact that you picked up on the key thing that is so important to my story. You recognized that — thank you, my deep and poetic friend. xxoo

      Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:25 pm
      • I was kind of needling you a little in the New England thing Brigitte… All in good fun.

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 10:29 pm
      • Audra, I am married to a wicked good man. You are my good friend. And yes, it is all in good fun. xo. I so miss New England!

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:32 pm
      • Go Sox!!!!

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 10:33 pm
      • Hell yes! I don’t follow sports but Jeff says they are in the world series. So hell yes, Wicked good, go Sox!

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:35 pm
      • Oh my word woman I live and breath for this moment. Wicked good indeed. Fenway is the greatest place on earth. Ok I’ll stop here because I’m a lunatic with baseball. Cheers!!

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 10:37 pm
      • We’ve been there and you are so correct. There is nothing like it.

        Though I’ve been to UTK at football season and it’s crazy. There’s just this thing…the wave thing and being for something good and American. It’s great, eh?

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:41 pm
      • Yup I go to the games with my youngest daughter… Her face lighting up waiting for the wave … Awesomeness. Me screaming my head off? well a librarian has to let loose sometimes. Shhhhh

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 10:44 pm
      • Audra, you are so funny. I think the opposite of you. You think of the hippie South and I think of the liberal North! I think you and I should get together and write about what it really is. Whether it’s North or South, there is so much we share and agree with and disagree with. You are right about Southerners being laid back and “hippie” but hello, have you been to Woodstock?

        I’m telling you, you and I have soooo much in common, Let’s write a book together, what do you think??

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:52 pm
      • Yes I’m a closet hippie but never use the L word to describe me woman. Haaa.
        You and i are most certainly cut from the same rainbow tie dyed cloth woman but I think you’re the talent. Coauthoring…. Mmmm yes!!

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 10:57 pm
      • I am too, a closet hippie! Even now. We need to share our writing.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:00 pm
      • So send it baby. You have a place in my inbox :)

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 11:02 pm
      • Okay then, I’m getting a crop of peeps that I will send my book to. You are one of those.

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:03 pm
      • Excellent. I’m happy to hear that Brigitte because I am, sincerely, a fan if your writing. I mean that.

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 11:04 pm
      • And yeah, A, and why aren’t you writing??? Hello??

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 11:06 pm
      • Um….

        Posted by unfetteredbs | October 23, 2013, 11:08 pm
      • Oh and Cheers!

        Posted by Brigitte | October 23, 2013, 10:42 pm
  11. Hey Brigitte — good to read this post – great job on the prompt – as everyone else has said here I too loved this – felt transported to another time and place – on the journey with the chest. And thanks for the tip about Tipsy Lit – I love prompts – and may just do what you suggest and participate!

    Posted by Brinda | October 23, 2013, 7:41 pm
  12. I loved this. I have a tendency (or an issue, whatever you want to call it) with personifying inanimate objects so your story was right up my alley. I always feel so sorry for things left behind…. I often think perhaps it’s my own fear of being left behind that makes me ‘see’ these objects as things that have feelings of their own. In any case, I’m glad you’re transitioning back into the blogosphere. You’ve been sorely missed. :)

    Posted by lillianccc | October 24, 2013, 5:58 am
    • Hi Lillian! I know what you mean. I can let go of some things but a few things I’ve dragged around for years! And maybe you have something there. And I’m glad that I am just able to write something — anything — again. It’s nice to be missed. Thank you my friend.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 24, 2013, 9:40 am
  13. This is a really nice piece of writing. I like the slightly staccato narrative style, and the descriptions are very evocative; I like the repetition of the expansoin/retration of the wood.

    Posted by nobodysreadingme | October 25, 2013, 10:38 am
  14. Wow, you can literally follow the chest’s way through the years, any I wouldn’t have minded the story to be a bit longer ;)

    Posted by Hanni | October 25, 2013, 10:51 am
  15. I’m not one to look for imagery in tales, searching for hidden meanings and such. It’s the same with films and plays–I don’t care that much about discussing nuances and arcs and the use of language, I care if I’m caught up in the tale being told. In the end, that is the goal of the writer, isn’t it? To keep your reader/viewer wrapped up in the story and caring about the characters contained therein? You succeeded here…nicely done.

    Posted by Addie | October 25, 2013, 11:32 am
    • Hi Addie, I know exactly what you mean. If I have to think or guess too much, it kind of takes the enjoyment out of the whole thing, though some can do that expertly (the nuance thing). Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for stopping by to read. Good to see you here.

      Posted by Brigitte | October 25, 2013, 11:54 am
  16. Fun story Brigitte. I travelled right along with the trunk to see what would happen next. –Curt

    Posted by Curt Mekemson | October 25, 2013, 7:29 pm
  17. Great story, Brigitte. I could ‘see’ all those places you mention and sorrowed for the trunk itself. I was so happy to see you bring it back into the embrace of a loving couple. I also loved that I wasn’t the only one who ended up going with an object this go-round. ;)

    Posted by WendyStrain | October 25, 2013, 8:10 pm
  18. I also enjoyed the journey and the happy ending!

    Posted by The Good News | October 26, 2013, 5:04 pm
  19. Loved this!

    Posted by Arlene | October 26, 2013, 10:49 pm
  20. Loved this. Even “The Lucy” couldn’t detract from it!

    Posted by Smaktakula | November 23, 2013, 9:38 pm

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