Day 16: Write an ode to something ordinary.
Ode to Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
I didn’t realize your sublime utility
Until the first time I happened to tear a piece of you that fit over my baking sheet
And realized the thickness of your foil meant complete protection,
Saving me from having to clean one more pan and therefore
Offering me the oh-so precious gift
Of more time to spend with my family.
My dear aluminum foil, you are here to serve.
Whether I’m roasting vegetables, or making cookies, or submitting you to the greasy orgy of baking bacon,
You stay strong, and whole, and never complain.
Sometimes, like when I enlist you to cover a pan for pizza, your duty is extended
And after the kids have eaten half of the pie, you swaddle yourself around the leftovers
And keep them safe and contained for their school lunch the next day.
Usually, though, I crumple you up when the dish is done
And send you to your resting place in the recycling bin
So someday you can serve again.
Day 17: Something overheard. I was supposed to eavesdrop on a conversation and use it as a writing prompt, but since I write first thing in the morning, usually around 5:30-6am, I passed on this one.
Day 18: Inspiration: Ernest Hemingway’s Hills like White Elephants
Write a scene in which two characters want different things, letting their desires come across through dialogue.
“It’s good to see you,” he said, placing his hands on the table, close enough where he could reach out and touch her, but not doing so.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s been a while. I like the color of that shirt on you.”
“Oh, thanks,” he said, looking down at the mauve pullover. He looked back up and smiled. “How are things with Kevin?”
“Good. I like him a lot. It’s funny to be with him; he talks a lot. He helps to get me out of my shell.”
The waiter placed two glasses of water in front of them and paused slightly in case they were ready to order, but they didn’t look at him.
“So does this thing with Kevin have legs?”
“It’s too soon to know. I’m not sure.”
She glanced at the menu. “Do you want to split something?”
“I’m really hungry. Let’s order a few different rolls. Anything you want?”
“Ah, I’m good with almost anything, just nothing too chewy. I had a filling put in today. So, how are you?”
“Great! I just closed on the house. It was a crazy hassle to finalize the loan but it pulled through at the last minute.”
“That’s wonderful. Congratulations.”
“Thanks. It’s so peaceful there. And so much space! Plenty of room for you and your kids. I have a dream of you living there with me one day.”
“It looks beautiful,” she said, glancing at the photo on his iPad of trees and open spaces and brick walkways. The waiter stopped and took their order of two Rainbow rolls, one salmon roll, one spicy tuna roll and two orders of unagi.
She picked up a pod of edamame and popped the end into her mouth, squeezed the soy bean out and gently chewed it then swallowed.
“And what about you? Are you dating anyone?”
“Yes. Three women.”
“I think it’s good for me to help me really know what I want.”
“I’m surprised to hear that. I thought that what you want was…me.”
Day 19: Write a story backwards. Lead with the thing that happens. Use “Before that” to launch every paragraph as you write your way back to the story’s natural beginning.
Lainie scooped up the last mound of vanilla ice cream from the bowl her mother had given her. She let the sweet taste swirl around her mouth and down her throat as she swallowed. Feeling empowered, she asked, “Mommy, can I please have a little more?”
Before that, she rested the heavy white cast on top of the pillow next to her. It smelled sour and the top of it, under her arm, was digging into the soft flesh under her bicep.
Before that, the nice doctor laid the clammy, cold strips on her arm and told her she’d be feeling better soon.
Before that, she lay crumpled and crying on the sidewalk, her wrist tender and painful, and her legs bruised from her tricycle landing on top of her.
Before that, she paused, at the top of a short hill in the neighborhood, to take in the view. “This is what the world must look like to grown-ups,” she thought, as she felt the tricycle starting to move away underneath her.
Before that, her parents were fighting, and she couldn’t bear to hear them being so mean to each other, so she ran out of the house, jumped on her tricycle and pedaled hard, far away from that scary place where people who were supposed to love each other turned into monsters.
Before that, it was a bright morning, and Lainie lay in bed, hugging her teddy bear, wondering if Mommy and Daddy would take her to the park.
Day 20: Walnut, eyelash, curtain, bottle, scab: Write a piece that includes all five of these.
There was always a curtain between us.
You peeked out from it from time to time but then hid again.
I’d reach out and feel the shape of your face through the fabric
But you couldn’t feel the warmth of my caress.
I remember the times I’d watch you sleep
And count the smile lines that frame your eyes
And the eyelashes that would flutter while you dreamed
Translating your beauty into a sum of numbers that in the end added up to nothing.
Our love was so simple at first.
Smooth like the shell of a walnut, hiding the knotty nut underneath that emerged with time
Complicated and fascinating upon closer inspection
Maddening to contemplate how we got to this place.
I can’t continue to bottle up my feelings for you.
You told me I was the love you had always hoped for but had given up on finding.
I wish I could let you go but the connection we had was so intense that it lingers on
But then I remember to consider what you’ve done rather than what you’ve said
The years you made me wait pierced my heart over and over, leaving it raw and skeptical
Friends, family, time, other lovers…they’ve helped me build a protective scab over the wound you made
So my heart could heal and love again
But you keep coming back, with your words, your long gazes
And gently pick the scab away.