Not because it’s the end of my work week. I retired a decade ago.
Not because I’m heading south for a week of surf and sunshine. No chance of that. My only income is old age pension and some pennies I’m paid for reviewing books.
But T.G.I.F., because that’s the day that Reedsy teases me with 5 new writing prompts and I feel myself coming alive again. No, I’m not kidding. You see, after not writing anything but reviews for 7 years; after being bored stupid during covid and too scared to attend writer meetups; after convincing myself I just didn’t have what it takes to interest anyone in anything I might write anyway, I subscribed to Reedsy prompts.
And now? T.G.I.F. I feel alive again. Stay with me, please. This isn’t going where you think it’s going.
With renewed pep in my step, I head downstairs and dig through a moldy box in the basement. The yellowing notebook pages hold years of scribbles, ideas, poetry, and songs of teenage angst that I wrote a lifetime ago. I’m hopeful there’s some gem in there that didn’t suit any of last week’s prompts.
I peruse abandoned half-finished stories in which the characters occupying space in my head at that particular time stopped talking to me. Maybe, since I feel alive again, I can revitalize them too?
Sneezing from my dust allergies, I almost…but not quite…race back upstairs. I’m still rummaging through rusty memory banks for ideas. Perhaps I’ll find something in the filing cabinet. Here’s one. Can I use that story about our children when they were little? Ah…maybe not. It might be better suited to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Ooh, what about this one? Does it suit one of the prompts? Yes, but if I choose that prompt, how many other Reedsy writers will use the same one? Does it matter? Not really. Now that I’m writing again, I need to keep writing. I feel alive when I write. I need to stay feeling alive because lately, death has been happening all around me.
In February, on the day he was born 38 years ago, my neighbor’s beloved and blind son, Benjamin, passed away from a brain tumor. I can hardly look at his grieving mom and dad when I speak with them now on my daily walk. Joan has aged 10 years in the past 10 months. Pain fills the creases in her wrinkling skin and her clothes hang like rags on her thin body. She doesn’t want to eat and she can’t afford not to. She’s a decade younger than me but looks a decade older.
How much time do I have left when someone like Benjamin, only 38, is already gone? I mustn’t think about that now. I must keep thinking about being alive, staying alive.
What was that Bee Gees’ song about staying alive? I think we still have that L.P. in the basement but no turntable to play it on. Doesn’t matter. Like a needle, that “staying alive” refrain is stuck in a groove in my head right now. Let me look at those prompts again…
Perhaps this prompt here will work for another episode of the bickering Banters? Are my Reedsy supporters sick of them yet? Maybe some writers, readers and the judges on here don’t consider my Banter dialogues “stories” as they don’t follow traditional story structure. They could be looking for plots with that anticipated rising action, a few crises on the way up to that whopping climax, followed by a quick denouement. Like I said: traditional…the way I learned to write. The way I spent years teaching others to write stories. Same old, dame old. (No, “dame” isn’t a typo). Now, if you’ve noticed, even I fracture some of the rules of writing if it suits my mood. Like it does right now.
I make my second cup of coffee since breakfast, sit and cogitate. Good word that. But as I cogitate, I remember that I have to drive hubby to the doctor today for a colonoscopy. Poor guy. He looked ragged at bedtime after having to live on only chicken bouillon, unsweetened apple juice, and lemon jello yesterday. On top of that, he had to drink 4 liters of some horrible stuff to clean himself out. Talk about a crappy day. Literally. We joked about it but it wasn’t really funny. His dad passed away from colon cancer at 83. Hubby is 81. I’m scared. So is he.
Nope. Don’t want to think like that today. It’s Friday. Reedsy prompts day. But my hubby has just come downstairs to drink what’s left of that dreadful-tasting purgative. He reads the paper for a bit, rushes to the toilet, then sits down again. Tells me that was number 22. I roll my eyes. He looks ashen. He sighs and puts his head in his hands. I go over, hug him, and kiss his neck. He pats my arm.
I think of my sister-in-law. She and our family in Australia buried my husband’s younger brother a week ago today. On a Reedsy prompts day. It was impossible to think of writing any story that day. Impossible to think about being, or staying alive because Kip was gone. So suddenly, so unexpectedly. He was a mad keen surfer all his life. He’d had a hip replacement in the past 6 months and heart surgery in the past year. He was 5 years younger than my husband. But he was determined to keep on doing what he loved most, no matter the cost.
So on that Reedsy prompts day, he and his son, Cory, went for a surf at Currumbin Beach in Queensland at 6 am. During his heart-breaking final tribute to his dad…being in Canada, we had to tune in on Zoom…Cory told the congregation that the waves were breaking beautifully that morning, with perfect winds under a quickly rising sun. It was going to be another gorgeous, hot Aussie day. Except Kip never got to enjoy it. Neither did any of us. Cory had to drag him out of the water after Kip collapsed on a sand bank. But Kip had died doing what he loved.
Kip shouldn’t have been the first to go. He was the younger brother. Now, I keep picturing my sister-in-law waking up…if she’s even slept yet…without the greatest love of her life beside her. She can’t kiss his neck like I did hubby’s. And Kip’s not there to pat her arm.
Hubby and I are just on our way back from his colonoscopy. The news is good. They only had to remove a couple of polyps. Now he’s craving a hamburger and chips, so I drive him to Wendy’s. As I mix some sour cream through my chili, I grin as I say to him,
“You mean I get to keep you around for a few more years to inspire more episodes of the Banters?”
“Are you going to keep on writing them?”
“I have to. When my time comes, I want to go like Kip, doing what I love till the last minute of breath.”