Extreme Writing Challenge #59: “www [dot] com”

One quick word before we get into today’s challenge and story:  please take a second to check out my recently-launched author website, www.hopemccain.com.  I have an additional blog there I will use for all of my non-challenge posts–meaning Impossible Words will now strictly be my stories and challenges, and all other writing/reading-related content will be posted on my other site.  :)

Today’s challenge is tied in to the theme of the story:  Every sentence contains at least three W‘s, and the story contains at least ten unique words beginning with com


Wendy was sure she couldn’t handle one more day of teaching old geezers how to use the computers their kids forced them to purchase. Admittedly, it was comical to watch their bony fingers hover over the keyboard while they searched for the letters they needed. Greta was the worst, scanning the keys once for twenty minutes looking for one labeled Enter.

Every day Wendy heard a new complaint she could add to her ever-growing list. These windows are too small, these keys aren’t wide enough, the click of the mouse is too loud. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for her to show up at work dressed for combat. These old wrinklies were whinier than a room full of toddlers.

And yet, all Wendy had to do was say the magic word. She’d tell them, “Now I’m going to demonstrate what you can do when you log on to the internet.” The complexities of technology that so far baffled them were nothing compared to the World Wide Web. Wendy opened a website, always a different one, and chuckled at the reactions. Jaws dropped and eyes widened during the ooh-ing and ahh-ing from a titillated crowd. They might as well be witnessing Halley’s Comet, they were so awestruck.

The web always stirred up the room until it felt ready to explode with commotion. The women wanted to shop and the men checked sports statistics and read the news and then griped about it. Wendy was proud to awaken them, no longer comatose in their dusty recliners and shouting numbers at the television while watching The Price is Right.

That’s why Wendy kept coming back when she longed to run for the hills. To share with these seniors the best part of life they’d been missing—where else would she find such satisfaction? With the few years they had left on the earth, they deserved the chance to enjoy the magical, wonderful internet.

Extreme Writing Challenge #58: “A Gift”

I can tell it’s fall by the fact that my fingers nearly froze as I was typing today’s story.  Brrrrr!  It’s almost the time of year where all of my free time will be spent curled up in a blanket with a book and a mug of hot chocolate.

The challenge today is: A story that contains at least 20 unique words containing all five vowels (a, e, i, o, u).  Hope you enjoy, and happy Monday!

__________

Maddie’s education ceased when she was 12 years old, the same year she became possessed by the beast called menstruation. That’s what her father called it—possessed—and every month he disappeared the day her cramps began, returning two days later when the hormonal pandemonium had settled down.

Maddie’s father had never been prepared for her mother to pass away. He read the obituaries in the newspaper every morning, like they were no different than the stories on the front page. The morning he read his wife’s, he vomited up his breakfast.

Maddie was homeschooled, her mother the teacher. She learned phonics, geography, and equations. Her favorite lessons were in writing: weaving together imagery and metaphors and dialogue to create a parallel universe. Maddie was ambidextrous and grateful for it, for when one hand got tired of writing she could give it a break and write with the other. She never wanted to stop.

When her mother died, Maddie’s father didn’t resume the lessons. He was unorganized and impatient, a man with a reputation as the person who never should have had children. Maddie approached the subject of her education often, always with precaution. But her father’s tenaciousness never faltered.

Maddie dreamed of writing for a newspaper one day, or possibly even a magazine. It was a revolutionary time for women. Maddie knew that, even at her age. Precarious as her ambitions were, they would not be stopped by her father’s stubbornness. She would not grow up to be a housemaid or a secretary. That was simply a facetious notion.

Every day Maddie wrote down a new thing she would like to write about. The Zodiac. Automobiles. Dentistry. Sequoias. When her father read her list and chuckled, she was not discouraged. He would never understand the euphoria of combining single letters to paint a beautiful portrait.

After her father perished in a car wreck when she was 18, Maddie auctioned off every item in his home. He wasn’t worth much, but it was just enough for her to enroll in the university. What he didn’t give to her in life, she took from him in death. With a small amount of change to spare, she purchased flowers for her mother’s grave. She placed them in front of the tombstone and uttered her appreciation for the gift of knowledge she’d always taken for granted.

Extreme Writing Challenge #57: “Of Gin and Bravery”

I swear, the first and last sentences of a story are the WORST to write.  To make matters worse, I put off writing the last sentence of today’s story until returning home from running a 10K–plus walking two or three extra miles.  My brain is a little unhappy with me.

Today’s challenge is that one word in every sentence contains two sets of double letters, and none of these words are duplicated.

Now, did someone say “nap time”?

__________

Tom tried desperately not to embarrass his new lover. He saw himself as another of her dazzling accessories. A man of success, Tom was as well-dressed as the president and didn’t look a day over 40. Yet his thirst for gin appalled even the thirstiest of the town’s drunks.

Tom’s motto was, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy gin.” Raised in Tennessee by two redneck uncles, Tom believed the answers to any of life’s questions rested at the bottom of a gin and tonic. He and his uncles would drink until one of them passed out in a wheelbarrow in the middle of singing a television jingle.

Lucky for Tom, Melinda had no access to the details of Tom’s past. His uncles were both long dead, one from cancer and the other from a woodchipper incident. As long as he controlled his sloppiness, Melinda saw him only as a businessman who unwound at the end of the day with a few drinks.

Tom was thankful that the pizzazz of their lifestyle served as the perfect distraction. He accommodated Melinda’s every desire, from their monthly cruises to their reserved seats at the opera. Tom pitied the penniless drunks who couldn’t compensate for their nature. Before Melinda, he was plagued by aggression and self-loathing. He could snap like a frightened raccoon, mope like a disappointed toddler. He was on his way to becoming his own assassin, before Melinda.

As they lie on his four thousand dollar mattress, looking out over the mountains, Tom feared it was only a matter of time before Melinda opened her eyes. He sipped at his homemade cappuccino and stroked her hair as she slept. The moment was bittersweet.

Tom had always assumed it was the gin that made him bulletproof. Now the blurriness of reality was sharpening, and he knew it was not the liquor, but Melinda. In the stillness of the morning, he whispered for the first time that he loved her. A buffoon he was, for she didn’t hear it, and he would drive her away before he was brave enough to say it again.

Break Time–or, a Story Called “Cat Nap”

Tonight’s writing challenge is…

Actually, there isn’t a challenge for tonight’s story.  As much fun as my extreme writing challenges are, sometimes a girl just wants to write with no constraints.

I’ve been asked before why I torture myself with my restricting challenges.  I always give those people the spiel about how they teach me about the flexibility of the English language and help me to convey single ideas in an endless number of ways.  But the truth is, most of the writing I do isn’t constrained like it is in my stories here.  I want to share a story I would write without any limitations.  So, enjoy.  Next post will be business as usual.  ;)

__________

There is no better napping place than Her stomach. Especially on the days she wears those wool sweaters. Nothing beats the moment she grabs a book and sits on the seat built into the window. The sun hits her just perfectly and I’ll lie on her stomach from the first page to the last.

It’s always been this way. The day she brought me home, she set me on her abdomen and introduced me to a warmth I’d never known. It was a drug I never gave up. Even when I grew and I could only lie on her stomach with my paws on her chest, reaching for her face.

Things changed, though. At first I couldn’t complain that her stomach was warmer than usual. Extra heat, yes please!

When my favorite napping place began to morph into a mound not fit for comfortable sleep, I grew a little worried. Was it a punishment? Did I eat one too many leaves off of the fern in the front window? Had I left paw print evidence of my midnight adventures on the kitchen counter?

Before long, her stomach was so big and round it wasn’t only uncomfortable, but it was impossible to lie upon it. When I tried, I either rolled right off or the lump in her shirt would kick me. I resorted to sleeping in the fresh laundry, no matter how much she scolded me. Fair is fair.

I barely noticed when her belly returned to normal. The return of my napping refuge came at the price of a new creature invading my territory. It was my size and kept low to the ground like I do, but it smelled suspiciously like a bath and elicited screeches that could break a deaf cat’s ears. The creature was almost permanently affixed to the warm belly I once napped upon. I was left to perch myself on the back of the sofa and look down upon the squealing thief in my spot.

For several years I endured the inconveniences of the creature’s presence. It stole my mousie toys and for a brief period even helped itself to my food. Only after it was locked in its bedroom was I free to curl up in my usual spot on her stomach, and only if I could catch her on the sofa before she found something to scrub or sweep or dust.

I accepted this new lifestyle eventually—against my will, of course. The creature began to grow, and the larger it became, the more belly time I seemed to procure.

On a winter night, she was cooking in the kitchen and the creature sat calmly in front of the television. Approaching with caution, I surveyed the creature as I cursed the cold air that had seeped in from the outside. The creature’s stomach looked almost big enough to lie upon. It was a risk, but it was one worth taking.

There is no better napping place than Her stomach. But in a pinch, the creature is just as happy to have me on his.

Extreme Writing Challenge #56: “Noise Complaint”

When I sat down to write tonight’s story, I wavered between a few different challenges.  I have a little handwritten list that I add to whenever an idea hits.  It usually comes in handy, but when it gets long (like it is currently), it’s really hard to decide which one I want to do!  It’s like standing in a donut shop.  Impossible.

I finally made up my mind and tonight’s challenge is that every other sentence contains exactly five words.

__________

Ted asked his neighbors five fucking times to quiet it down. It wasn’t an unreasonable request. Eleven o’clock at night was a really stupid time to set off bottle rockets while blaring Grateful Dead at full blast. Neighbors of the fucking year.

Ted called in a noise complaint, but the cops had serious things to worry about. Drunk drivers, rapists, car thieves. Never mind the people who need to fucking sleep and be productive members of society in the morning. At midnight, Ted lost it. He threw a robe over his boxers and marched into the backyard with steam coming out of his ears.

Were his other neighbors deaf? Between the music, the firecrackers, the hooting and hollering, and the three dogs barking at the booms and pops, there was no way anyone else was fucking asleep.

Ted kicked the wood fence. “It’s the sixth fucking time I’ve asked you to shut up!” he screamed. The response was hysterical laughter. A bottle rocket soared into the sky as a man shouted in a prepubescent cry, “And it’s the sixth time we’re ignoring you, asswipe!”

Lousy neighbors they were, anyhow. They never mowed their grass, always left trash on the walkway, and they painted their mailbox to look like that squeaky little robot from Star Wars. Worthless as legless fucking horses.

“I’ve called the cops, you know,” Ted growled. His threat was maddeningly ignored. Ted stomped back inside and tore apart his bathroom until he found an old pair of earplugs crusted in year-old earwax. They were little orange failures. The spongy pellets in Ted’s ears were no match for the ludicrous shenanigans of the world’s worst fucking neighbors.

Ted, a grown man, sobbed. He cried embarrassing tears for his doomed sales pitch in the morning. That’s when poor Ted snapped.

His old aluminum baseball bat was still in excellent shape. A shiny, metallic, reliable beast. Ted was anything but calm as he cradle carried the bat like a rifle and invited himself into his neighbors’ backyard.

Yeah, this was fucking war.

“Hey man, did you decide to join us?” asked the dickhead next to the cardboard box of bottle rockets.

“Kill…the…music,” Ted snarled.

When the response was a bottle rocket launched directly at Ted, he swung the bat at an empty lawn chair. “Don’t ignore me,” he warned. He swung again, cracking the white plastic arm. At this, the neighbors cheered.

Ted began swinging like balls were coming from every direction. He smashed the barbecue grill. He demolished the ceramic frog figurines that lined the flower garden. Oh yes, and the fireworks. Ted annihilated the box of dreadful fucking bottle rockets.

The stereo was up next. Ted raised the bat, giddy with excitement as he prepared to smash it to smithereens.

Then he saw the lights. The flashing red and blue lights, lighting up the street like some sort of rave.

Then he remembered the cops. The cops he’d called to lay down the law.

Ted finally slept that night. For half an hour, in the back of the cop car that transported him to the county jail.

Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment

commacover

I am so excited to announce the release of my memoir!  There’s really not much more for me to say than, I hope some of you indulge and enjoy this inspirational and moving story.  Paperback and Kindle versions are both available on Amazon.

Synopsis:
At six years old, Hope McCain learned how to make Kool-Aid—-not because she liked to drink it, but because it might one day save her father’s life. Her father was a type 1 diabetic with kidney failure, and from an early age she made it her duty to do whatever it took to hold on to him.

Now Hope reflects on the 25 years since her father became ill, and how even the simplest moments with him have shaped her life. She has watched her father endure type 1 diabetes, end-stage renal failure, a double-organ transplant, cancer, and organ rejection. His determination that has helped him to live more than 15 years beyond one doctor’s promise that he’d never see his only daughter graduate from high school, has given Hope a unique appreciation for the idea of never giving up.

Inspired by the Gracie Allen quote, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma,” Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment embraces that life is incredible because there is no telling what the next moment will bring. For anyone enduring a battle with illness or for those looking for hope and encouragement during a time of perpetual worry, Comma is a reminder that every second contains a glimmer of promise.

 

Prompts for September 8

Your weekly dose of pen-spiration.  :)  Have your own writing prompt to share?  Leave it in the comments and help contribute to the end of writer’s block!  Also, if you’re on Pinterest, please feel free to follow my Pen-spiration board for writing quotes and exercises!

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