Three Minute Prompts

This afternoon was spent with a pile of writing prompts we generated, and here’s what I came up with. I think there are a number of these I can work with (we were only given three minutes for each idea, after all).

Two people meet at a rest stop…

She’s driving a dark blue Kawasaki Ninja, and he’s intrigued by the way she guides the thing, like a missile, into the narrow space he left between his rusting Toyota pickup and the Coke machine. He watches, holding the end of Steinway’s leash, as she feeds five quarters into the machine and jabs with a closed fist the button for Diet, listens as the can makes its way through the chute, and falls to the door. She lifts the can, pops the top, and takes a sip before she notices him standing there.

Pick your favorite cartoon character and don the person:

(I came up with nothing for this one; I tried to write like Hobbes, and then I thought about trying to write like Mushu from Mulan, but I still came up with nothing…)

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans…

Before they knew it, they’d been married 14 years. Of course, they’d planned that – they didn’t go into this exercise thinking it’d be a short-term thing – but it seemed like all of a sudden they looked up and had two teenage daughters and were nearly halfway through their mortgage. Not bad, when they stopped to think about it , which they almost never did. Neither of them longed for any other view out their window, in fact, they joked that their marriage had a fifteen year warranty and that they needed to renew that sucker next year. Oil change and tune up, they’d say, new spark plugs and tires.

This is where I want to go…

“Life isn’t the destination, it’s the journey,” they say. Yeah, whatever. After so many years of setting goals – finish high school, get into college, Master’s degree – after so many years of working toward something, it’s nice to, you know, finally BE here. I can appreciate that everything that happened before leads us to our places – whatever those places are – but I don’t get the people who can’t be happy. Why do we use the word “settle” like it’s a bad thing; “you get what you settle for.” Settling for what you want is kind of the point, isn’t it? If you can’t do that, you’re always waiting for the next thing, always hoping it will be better after the next milestone, always seeing greener grass. I like my lawn just fine, thank you very much.

Write about a fear….

I fear the monster that may or may not be in my closet. I fear whatever it is that sends my heart rate racing and my insides clenching at something stupid and trivial; something that doesn’t matter a bit in any scheme of things, grand or not. I fear the day when I go to the door, expecting a Girl Scout or the kid across the street, and come face to face with my biological mother, unprepared for whatever she comes bearing, olive branch or club. I fear that my words won’t be sufficient to convey the enormity of my feeling, that my message won’t get through, that I won’t be enough.

It was a cold fall, and the wind came down from the mountains…

As he pulled the cord that hauled the garage door closed, he saw the kitchen light turn off. She had finished the dishes while he cleaned up the leavings of the long overdue oil change, and as he walked in rubbing grease from his fingers on a rag that used to be his favorite shirt, she called to him from upstairs, “don’t forget to latch the screen door; it’s going to be a windy night.” The downstairs smelled faintly of smoke blown back through the stove pipe, the black hulk in the corner merrily radiating waves of comforting heat that were just intense enough to keep the cats at bay. One of them, the orange tiger, got up, stretched, and followed him as he left his coat on the hook by the door and made his way up the stairs.


I don’t understand people who eat to live. I mean, sure; I get the idea of healthy diets and balanced meals, but it seems to me that the people who are most concerned about those things miss out on the sheer joy of eating. I remember the scene in Ratatouille where Remy is trying to explain to his brother what real eating is; the mixture of taste and texture, the subtlety of the perfect flavor, and I wonder how people can live on salad and energy bars. I wonder at my children in this way, too; glorious little gluttons, I’m often amazed that they can taste anything, and I’ve spent most of their whole lives trying to teach them the meaning of “savor.” I don’t waste the good chocolate on the kids; Hershey Kisses will do until they learn to really appreciate their food.


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Filed under about writing, Mrs. Chili as Student, writing

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