The salty air whipped through his lungs and he breathed deep, letting it fill him to the brim. Exhaustion blanketed him, pressing him down. He sank into the sand, burying his hands into it, the warmth from the fine white grains seeping first along the pattern of thin scars still healing, then into his calloused palms and aching fingers, turning it all into a heat haze. Now that the projection was done, the tattoos that had flared into prominence on his hands were fading slowly, returning back to his own original skin tone, leaving the pinkish marks in its place. He closed his eyes in simple rest bite, letting the sunlight emanate through his eyelids. The waves roared their approval, their pride in his accomplishment. This was the first time he had tried to call on anything with the markings on his skin, and he made it, he was here—
“¿Qué haces aquí?” a voice asked. He looked up to see a woman silhouetted against the falling sun. She wore a loose shirt flapping in the breeze and pants with the legs rolled up. Hints of colorful embroidery curled around the sleeves and cuffs, like thread vines curling around whatever it pleased. She wore a hat low over her features.
“Nada, señora,” he said politely. She frowned.
“¿Cómo llegaste a esta playa?” she asked.
“No me vas a crees,” he said. He moved to stand up but she moved back and held out her hand in a warning.
He stopped and slowly sat down again. “Lo siento.”
“¿En serio, por qué estás aquí?” she said, “dime rápido.”
“Necesito visitar un hombre,” he said, “él está aquí, su nombre es Héctor?”
“¿Héctor? ¿Qué quieres con él?” she asked.
“Quiero hablar,” he said, “solo hablar.” She hesitated for a second but relented.
“¿Te llaman Eric?” she asked.
“Sí, me llaman así,” Eric said.
“Bien. Sígueme,” she said, turning. Eric stood and bid the beach farewell as he followed her inland, the swell of the waves fading with each step.
I used the last remix to expand on my final project idea, and that went very well, so I wanted to do the same thing with this one. Because I only have a few assignments about the final project story, I decided pretty much by default to remix Monday the 31st of March.
This remix prompt immediately spoke to me because I am taking Spanish right now and I loved the idea of trying to write dialogue in Spanish. So I gave it a shot. Because the characters have some more advanced sentences than what I am learning in class, I sent the story to my Spanish professor for him to read it over, and he gave me some corrections, so shoutout Prof. Campos Dintrans!
Originally, this assignment, Totally Normal Room of a Totally Normal Teenage Boy, was 948 words. I am a creative writing major, so this isn’t too shocking. When it comes to the written word, I have a lot to say. But, more often than not, revision in the writing words is cutting. Editing is a process of elimination, not addition. So to rework this assignment, I wanted to edit it. Drastically. I wanted to try to cut it in half, to select and delete 474 words, but that was a pretty high (or low) goal. I ended up cutting out around 422 words, which is a 45% cut. It was pretty brutal, but I definitely like this version better. Even looking back at the original post, why did I think nearly a thousand words was a good length.
“There is a page on Wikipedia, called Wikipedia:Random, where you can click the link and get brought to a random page on Wikipedia. For this assignment, go to the link and then click on the words Special:Random. Whatever page you get, somehow incorporate it into a short story involving whatever theme your class has…”
Submitted by: Francesca Maisano
The hatch in the floor opened, and the hand pushing it up brought with it the body of a teenage boy. Standing, he put his backpack down, the old burlap of it bulging, mostly filled with cans of food, but also tubes of paint scavenged by grateful townies. Before he unpacked, he crossed his room to the record player, nudging one of the piles of clothes under his bed as he did so. The paper album cover of Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined was worn near uselessness, he handled it with care. As the dissonance began, before the instruments kicked in, Hastur opened the curtains.
The sky was gray, a hint of lightest blue at the edges. In another time, the center of the sky might have been white, but here it was tainted with smoke. There was no sun, but light seeped into the landscape anyway. Hastur had come home just in time. Nothing stirred on the deserted landscape, the dusty ground harboring few plants but the odd tree or hardy grass. The vocalist began singing, and like so much of Hastur’s music, he did not know the language, but the message was clear, and it matched the desolation very well indeed.
He turned to his desk. He had been running out of a lot of colors, and today’s work would be based on whatever paint the townspeople had found. He had long divorced realism, coming to the conclusion that he could only work with what he had, and if that was a tube of bright purple, he might as well use it. The paints were covered in names he did not know, and he was about to begin swatching when the shadows on the horizon stole his attention.
His heart began to beat faster, outpacing the rhythm of the music. Opening the case under the window, his hands assembled the machine from memory. It clicked into place on the window sill, barrel pointing outward, a single black finger, a warning, but the approaching flock paid it no mind. Hastur fitted his eye into the sight.
The mess of leathery wings and scraggly hairs was difficult to discern, but as they neared, the individual creatures could be distinguished. He wanted to look away, he had seen enough bulbous faces, bony limbs, and putrefied skin, but he kept his eye unblinking, sighting which one he was going to get first, waiting for them to come within range. It didn’t take long.
He held his breath and fired in between his heartbeats. The head of the monster exploded and dropped out of sight. He could tell that the other things were crying out, their tooth-filled mouths open, but the percussion-heavy music drowned them out. He fired again and again, taking aim and picking out those in front. He counted in his head.
Hastur had killed a third of the pack before they screeched and fled. He did not fire in the hope that one day they would realize that retreat was all he wanted. He disassembled his gun and sealed the case back up. He turned back to his desk, ready to see exactly what shade phthalo blue was.
It’s a black plastic base, rectangle-shaped with a clear lid that lets me see the prize inside. Ten pieces of sushi, circular, and lined up in pairs. The last two in the lines are the end pieces and thin slices of carrots rise out of them like orange vines. The ingredients wrapped in nori and rice would probably make any true sushi critic howl; carrots, cucumber, and avocado. Not very traditional, but the only vegetarian choice the sushi shop sells. I am not disappointed, my love for sushi is not limited to only the most elite variations of rolls. This one tastes good enough. The flavor of the rice vinegar covers a multitude of sins of the carrot variety, a pea-sized bit of wasabi, even more. It is cold and a perfect mix of crunchy and soft. Because all of my meal money went to the meal, I just drink plain water from the water fountain, though I might heat it up and make some tea later.
The tray it came in reminds me of a canoe, long and thin, pieces of roll lined up like people at the oars, the ginger at the end packed away like a picnic lunch.
There was an exhibit about boats at the children’s museum near my house. They had this sort of canoe simulator, basically, just a canoe set into the ground with some kind of mechanics below it so that as you stepped into it, it rocked. Then you could stand and row the oars that descended down into the machine and it felt like you were moving with the screen in front of you that showed a video of similar riverboats. That’s what this reminds me of as the not quite sweet not quite savory flavor of ripe avocado washes over my tongue. I’m not sure why, but I suppose with the chopsticks next to it, the similarities are too much to ignore.
“Skip the filters and the art of cropping–we are going old school…..DESCRIBE your (or your character’s) lunches! So whatever it is you’re eating or ate earlier, or would love to eat, describe it! Don’t be afraid to be silly, and don’t skimp on the details. What color is it? What does it taste like? What does it remind you of? If you make it into a poem–that would be even better!”
I had no idea that this was gonna go like this. That describing my sushi lunch was going to bring up memories of a children’s museum that I haven’t been to in years or make me think of canoes. That’s the beauty of writing for you. I honestly think that is part of what I like it so much, the spontaneity of creativity that only happens as you are writing. I think it happens in all mediums, I don’t think Bob Ross has the ability to know exactly how his paintings will turn out. They will just happen as he paints them, that’s part of the beauty of it. It wouldn’t be fun if the painter was worried about the final outcome being exactly as they first envisioned it. That sounds like a recipe for anxiety. Because Bob Ross does so much the opposite, it is relaxing and freeing. For me, that creative spontaneity is the joy of painting/writing/drawing/singing/art.
I know the whole point of the assignment was to describe your lunch because you can’t post a picture of it. So I post a non-picture. I post the aftermath.
I am probably not wearing enough layers and it is completely my fault. The campus walk is the same as yesterday and the day before, the brick and snow patches illuminated by white winter sunlight, and a tirade of other students walk beside or against me on their way to class or library or food. Even with my hands in my pockets, shoulders hunched up against the chill, the wind cuts through the fabric with practiced ease. As I walk, it brushes through my hair, ruffling my clothes against my skin and repositioning my outfit. The wind says I should open my collar, pushing it out to expose my neck, says I should let my flannel blow back behind me like a cape. I don’t disagree. Who can argue with the wind? I stop fighting it, both the wind as my personal fashion expert and the cold in general. I let the frigid air permeate my skin, my muscles, veins, and arteries until it touches my bones. It feels like cleansing. Like the cold is freezing off all of the detritus of the day, all the nagging leftovers of all the moments before this, letting me just be. Just walk down through the tunnel by the bridge and be a cold boy on his way to class.
“People often forget about how beautiful the world is, the way the trees blow in the wind, how flowers bloom in the spring, and how amazing the grass feels on our feet. We come from a generation where the only beauty we actually see is over an electronic. Go outside every once in a while, smell the fresh hair and the flowers, lay down on a blanket in the grass and look up at the sky and see how the clouds look. We don’t really live in a bad world, you are just blinded by what you see. Show me what you see.”
It is probably no surprise that this is a true experience, what with the weather we have been having recently. As you have just read, I love it. I find that there is something refreshing about the cold and I wanted to write about it here. It was the first thought that came to my mind in response to this assignment, besides the more overdone topics like flowers and sunrises and the like which I pushed to the side. Not that those things are bad, they are not, but they are talked about a lot. I wanted to give a view to something not really talked about. I wanted to try something a little more risky than just ‘look at all the pretty colors’. I hoped it worked, maybe it just made you shiver. I’ll take whatever response I can get.
This took a couple of days to come back to it and get it right, and I made very good use of a thesaurus. There weren’t too many roadblocks, but I am noticing that if I don’t have a way in, if I don’t have a first sentence that is interesting to me, I can’t start. I remember staring at the blinking cursor on this page for a good while before something acceptable turned up.
All baby capybaras derive effervescent flight gifts. However, ill-meaning jackalopes kick sneakily low-riding minotaurs, never offer pardons, quite regretting silly trifles. Usually, vexations with xeruses yodel ‘zap’.
“Create a story that uses words that begin with the letters of the alphabet consecutively. For example, A big cat dug eight… But you have to go all the way to the letter Z. Try to make as much sense as possible. Or if you really can’t, then go crazy. Be creative and have fun!”
This was quite a bit more difficult than I thought it was going to be. The constriction of only using words that begin with the next letter of the alphabet was a delightful challenge. I wanted to make it somewhat sensical, as much as these sentences are technically sentences in a grammatical sense. They don’t make much logical or normal sense, but what is normal anyway? It kind of turned into a strange folk tale and I am not completely mad at the result. The last six words/letters were really really difficult and are the weakest point, but again, they were very difficult. Thinking about words in this way stretched my mind in ways it doesn’t usually. Overall, it was a very fun puzzle-like experience.
I had so many tattoos, more than the single one that I have on my waking body, midnight sketches of things I don’t quite remember. Most of this dream is shrouded in murky swirls and vague half-imaginings, one image fading into the next, indistinguishable unless actively focused on and sometimes not even then. And now I am getting another tattoo, adding two pirate-themed dioramas to my back and side. I don’t remember the tattooist or the pain of the needle, but the tattoo shop’s room was walled in sand-colored paint. Like dreams tend to do, I was then in a new place with no ready explanation or knowledge of how one scene bled into another. This place I had never seen before, and all of the details are nothing but blurry colors—burgundy, charcoal, mahogany— in the background. My dorm’s RA is managing a booth of dark wood paneling, wine glasses hanging from their bases from the ceiling. He washes a clear mug with a rag in his hands, over and over again, the dim light catching in his cherry-colored curly hair. The tattoo parlor didn’t give me the wrappings I needed to keep the raw flesh protected, so I approached my RA. I ask for the wrappings and he gives them to me for free, though I worry about pricing. But when I ask, he just says that he wants to see my new ink. I don’t want to take my shirt off in front of other people milling about in the periphery of this public space, but it doesn’t matter because I wake up.
Or maybe the dream shifts again.
I don’t remember the next bit.
“Write about a dream you have had. It could be a recurring dream, a vivid dream, or even a dream that you make up. Be sure to describe every detail that you can remember from your dream.”
So this was a dream I had a few nights ago, or at least, a figment of a dream I had a few nights ago. I tend to dream a lot but have little to no memory of them besides the vague impression that I did indeed dream. It is a strange thing to not remember something, but know—feel—that it happened. But I thought it was very fun to try and describe the strangeness of dreams as it’s not easy, done very often, or much like real life at all. I tried my best to describe the potentially indescribable, or at least the usefulness of the sleep-world when so much of prose is about the wake-world. I definitely had fun and hope if nothing else it was an interesting read.
One of the many iconic parts of Bob Ross’s Joy Of Painting is his palette. He has very specific colors and knows how to use them in his art to make a cohesive product. Colors are something I wanted to try and focus on in this piece as this dream had a very particular pallet. But I also didn’t want to come out with the boring names of colors, does Bob Ross have boring names for colors? No. He has specific names for each shade and so that is part of what I tried to emulate.
“Choose an emotion (happy, sad, excited, hyper, sleepy, suprised, inspired, ect..) and then choose three songs that elect that emotion. Name emotion, the song, and why it makes you feel that way. This can be done in three separate tweets to allow for character count. Have fun with this!”
Music is one of those things that I am surrounded by all the time, whether by my own volition or not. I’ve got headphones in nearly all the time or asking my Alexa to play one tune or the next, or the radio is on in the gym, or even bobbing along to the song stuck in my head without any external input. I love music. But I am in no way a musician. I do not play any instruments besides a horrid stint of tin whistle in second grade I try my best to repress and my voice is average at best. I also have no intention of becoming a musician. I am perfectly happy to enjoy this medium from an outside point of view, unsullied by an intimate knowledge of its inner workings.
So when I saw this assignment, I was like ‘yes’. These are a few of my go-to songs when I need a pick-me-up. It was honestly hard to narrow it down to three, I had to just go with the first ones that came to mind. I hope you maybe give a quick listen and enjoy!
There is a page on Wikipedia, called Wikipedia:Random, where you can click the link and get brought to a random page on Wikipedia. For this assignment, go to the link and then click on the words Special:Random. Whatever page you get, somehow incorporate it into a short story involving whatever theme your class has…
Submitted by: Francesca Maisano
The room looked about how you’d expect the room of a teenage boy to look. Grubby carpet on the floor, walls painted a basic neutral tone hardly visible behind the scores of posters taped to it, a bed never made, piles of clothes littered everywhere, mixed in with books and bits of technology and wires, plates of half-eaten food on the desk, cups in places no cup should venture. The stacks of canvases leaned up against the desk might not be so stereotypical, but not strange for an art student. In any case, the room was almost normal, but the thing about this room was that it did not have a door. All the walls were solid, with windows on every side, but no door.
A hatch in the floor opened inward, the hand pushing it up pulled with it the body of the teenage boy who resided in this room. He climbed the last stairs and sat on his floor, turning to lower the hatch back down, its carpeted top blending in almost imperceptibly. Standing, he put his backpack down on his desk, the old burlap of it bulging with the early morning findings. Mostly filled with cans to refurbish his dwindling stockpile, but also several tubes of paint, scavenged by grateful townies who knew he painted. Before he let himself investigate his newest colors, he crossed the room to stand in front of the record player, kicking a pile of clothes under his bed as he did so. He bent, the movement smoothed by routine, selecting the vinyl from the shelves below the player.The paper album cover of Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined was worn on the sides, the yellow paper showing through. He placed the disk on the turning point and gently placed the needle down. As the general dissonance began before the instruments kicked in, Hastur opened the curtains.
The sky was gray like always, a hint of the lightest blue at the edges. In another time, the center of the sky might have been white, but here it was tainted with smoky wisps of gray, the remains of a polluted world. There was no sun to see, but light seeped into the landscape anyway. Hastur had come home just in time. Nothing stirred on the deserted landscape, the dusty brown ground harboring few plants but the odd tree or particularly hardy grass. He knew that the outpost-town was just behind his own room, but from this vantage point, nothing living could be seen. He wished it would stay like that, but he knew it would not be so. The vocalist began singing, and like so many of Hastur’s music, he did not know the language they spoke. But the message was clear, in tone and melody and lyric, it was clear. And it matched the desolation of the world very well indeed.
Keeping the smaller details of the landscape in his mind, he turned his attention to his desk, unpacking the paint. He had been running out of a lot of his normal pallet, and the tones of today’s work would be heavily impacted by whatever colors the townspeople had found. He had long divorced realism, though he sometimes slipped back for certain pieces. Hastur had come to the conclusion that he could only work with what he had, and if he was given a tube of green, he might as well use it despite the pointed lack of it in the actual landscape. The tubes were covered in names he did not know, and he was about to begin swatching when the shadow on the horizon stole his attention.
Though his heart began to beat a faster rhythm, outpacing the music, he willed it slower, knowing that it would only interfere. Moving quickly, he opened the case under the window, his hands assembling the machine from memory. It clicked into place on the window sill, the barrel pointing outward, a single, black finger, straighted into a warning. The approaching flock paid it no mind. Hastur fitted his eye into the sight, tucking the butt under his arm, taking stock of the Mephistos.
The mess of leathery wings and scraggly hairs was still difficult to discern even with the added magnification. But as they neared, the individual creatures could be seen. Hastur wished they weren’t. He had seen enough to be familiar with the bulbous faces, bony limbs, and putrefied skin.
He wanted to look away, but he kept his eye unblinking on the Mephistos, waiting for them to come in range, choosing which one he was gonna get first. It didn’t take long.
He held his breath and fired in between his heartbeats. The head of the monster exploded and dropped out of sight before Hastur could see much of the gore. He could tell that the other Mephistos were crying out for their fallen companion, their tooth-filled mouths open, but the percussion-heavy music reverberating around in his room drowned them out. He fired again and again, taking aim at whichever beast was in front. Then as they got closer, picking out those about to run into his own abode. He counted in his head, every bullet found its mark.
Hastur estimated he had killed nearly a third of the pack before they screeched retreat and fled. He did not fire at their retreating forms in the vain hope that one day they would realize that the quicker they turned around, the quicker he stopped shooting. He disassembled his gun, careful to position his fingers around the parts still scorching hot, and sealed the case back up. He turned back to his desk, ready to see exactly which shade was phthalo blue.
When I saw this assignment, I was like, “Yes! A short story assignment with a random prompt, sound like great weird potential, I’m in.” I didn’t have many expectations because, obviously, it was random, lack of expectations is the point, but this was quite out of left field in the best way possible. The page I got was Yoshie Fruchter – Wikipedia. I decided to listen to some of his music and see what kind of story it brought up. I really love creative writing, especially as I find that my inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, with a huge variety in results, themes, tones, subjects, and yes, quality. I am always down to try something new and see what happens. I suppose you just read the result, and I would encourage you to give it a listen to the album Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined as well, so you can understand the source material. (the whole album is on Spotify, but I left a short youtube video below) I think it’s very good music, even though it’s not what I would normally listen to. For incorporating the theme, that was a little harder. Our theme is The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross and it took me a little bit to figure out how to get it to fit in with the strange world that the albumhad summoned. But then I thought of Hastur. What better way than to make the main character a fellow creative mind, and a landscape painter no less! And of course, I had to add in a little easter egg in the form of name-dropping phthalo blue, one of Bob Ross’s own colors.
For help, when the words wouldn’t come, I employed butterscotch lollipops, donated by a person whose picky tongue would not have them.