Wednesday Write-in #24


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

 

Prompts

cookie dough  ::  greeting  ::  slippery slope  ::  tin can  ::  bloom

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 12am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Get Involved

Look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Join our CAKE.writers group on Scribophile, an online community for writers to give and receive constructive criticism.

Read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

 

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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45 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #24

  1. Pingback: Cookie | Rebecca Dudley – Collected Stories

  2. Pingback: Wednesday write in week #24 : The game | Brassduke's Blog

  3. Pingback: WWIn 24: Greeting | beccaaudra

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  5. I hate winter, Charlotte thought as she struggled up the slippery slope with two bags of shopping. I can’t wait for summer when all the roses are in bloom. She smiled and nodded at the old man who was peering out of the window as she pushed through his gate. Maybe he’d manage to open the front door before she froze to death.
    She was in luck, she could hear him fumbling with the latch and the door swung open just as the handles of the carrier bags felt as though they were cutting through her cold hands. Arthur grunted a greeting and carefully steered his walking frame towards the kitchen.
    ‘How are you today, Arthur? Nasty weather we’re having, isn’t it. Still, you’re keeping nice and warm in here, aren’t you.’ Charlotte wasn’t asking; the house felt hot and stuffy after the cold winter’s day outside. Anyway she wasn’t expecting a reply. Although physically well recovered from a stroke Arthur’s speech was impaired. Nevertheless Charlotte kept up a stream of banal chatter as she unpacked his shopping and made them both a cup of tea.
    ‘Would you like a biscuit with that, Arthur? Bourbon or a custard cream? ‘ Arthur’s hand wavered over the tin then delved in and emerged with one of each. He looked triumphant and gave her a slightly lop-sided grin. He must have been handsome in his youth for there was still a hint in his face, but his bent wasted body made Charlotte think of a leprechaun.
    ‘You greedy young man! Well, I’d better hold off or you’ll run out before next week. Besides, I have to watch my figure,’ Charlotte put the lid on the tin and they sipped their tea, Charlotte chatting to Arthur about anything and everything, Arthur responding with a grunt every now and then, his eyes never leaving her face.
    From time to time Charlotte caught a gleam of something in Arthur’s eyes – intelligence, humour. What was he really thinking, she wondered. What was there trapped inside his head?
    Then the time was up. Professional carers bore the responsibility for Arthur’s welfare and Charlotte’s small contribution as a volunteer was to bring in some shopping and sit with him over a cup of tea for one hour a week. She could never know that at a certain time every day Arthur would be peering out of the window hoping that this would be the day she would come, the kind woman who took the trouble to have a conversation with him even if he only replied in grunts.

    • Hi Elaine. What a lovely story.
      Arthur sounds so adorable.
      I wonder. Should rhetorical questions have question marks?
      I reckon you could drop: “Charlotte wasn’t asking; the house felt hot and stuffy after the cold winter’s day outside. Anyway she wasn’t expecting a reply”

      • Thank you, I’m glad you like the old boy. I’m not sure about the question marks either. If anyone knows for sure do tell!

    • I like Arthur. ‘Then time was up.’ is an interesting line. She volunteers so she is generous with her time but that line reminds you of how limited it is and then this is backed up by how he stands at the window every day. Very sad.

      • Thanks, Elaine. It was initially all about Charlotte and I nearly made her a thief preying on old people, but I went back to give Arthur more body and went for poignant instead.

    • A corner of the world that could use more exposure in writing, that of the volunteer. To me, there is so much potential there for material, though the trouble is writing in what you think that person receiving care or service or time is thinking, or how they view it all. Personal experience helps with that–seems like you have it.

    • This is not only such a lovely story but it’s well written too. I love the pace at which the information unfolds, we literally warm to the characters (with Charlotte as she warms!). The ending is a lovely way of showing how one person’s small act of kindness can have such a profound effect. I also love Arthur’s cheeky nature brought alive by Charlotte’s presence. Well done.

    • I like Arthur and the mystery of what he used to be like before his stroke. Really good character and the story makes me want to go and sit with him too!

    • I found this quite touching – my grandfather suffered from a stroke that left him virtually unable to talk when I was very young, so I was never really able to communicate with him properly my whole life. It’s nice to see a story celebrating someone who takes time to communicate with a person even though they can’t fully reciprocate.

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  7. Pingback: Fallible Opinions - Wednesday write-in #24

    • This is an interesting look at power and necessity. Rings a little of Thatcher – someone who tears things up and incurs a huge amount of wrath for (some would argue) benefit in the long run. I like that you’ve chosen a woman as we don’t typically see stories about women in this kind of position. The only thing that didn’t quite ring true for me was how detached it feels for someone who seems to be agonising. I guess all those thousands of lives feel distant from the piece, so I struggle to sympathise with her as she makes this choice.

  8. Struggling with formatting and now trying a blog editor (MarsEdit) but a lot to learn. Any advice would be welcome. Managed all five prompts but with some damage to the English language. Here it is.

  9. #wednesdaywritein
    Hi everyone this is my attempt.

    I rolled out the pale dough and lined up the cutter. I felt it sink and sever as I pressed down. Clearing the doughy debris from the heart shape that had emerged, I wondered if I were being ridiculous. Did a grown man really want a chocolate chip, heart shaped cookie? I never judged these things correctly. Would I come across as sweet and fun, look how kitsch I can be –(the ironic girl who gets it) or would I look crass and needy (in a marry me, marry me, marry me kind of way – the woman nearing middle age who would never get it)? I should have used my magazine inspired foolproof way of making decisions on all things cool: imagine you are a witty, avant-garde guest retelling your story on a panel show. “Yeah, after the cookie incident he looked like I might show him my collection of antique dolls!” (Much laughter from well adjusted cool audience with a well developed sense of irony.)
    Anyway, kitsch or crass, I would need to go with it; time was running out. He would be making his appearance soon. The kitchen clock’s battery had packed up so I gauged the time by the second short burst of Corrie’s theme tune – quarter to.
    I had been seeing him for a while and it was Valentine’s Day: the sort of day when a giant heart shaped piece of confectionery is apt!
    I opened the oven door and placed it inside: “Tonight’s hostess just has time to pop upstairs and freshen up before her guest arrives.” The nerves really were getting to me I did need to stop making television references.
    Corrie’s theme tune told me it was approaching 9 o’clock now. I was finished reddening my cheeks and lips. Showtime.
    I hurried downstairs as he was always prompt. I needed to create the right atmosphere. As I reached for the button on the remote control, I decided the giant heart should go on the living room table before he arrived. That way there would be no Ta Da moment (just sweet, casual, ironic girl at play).
    He arrived dead on 9 o’clock. I took a deep breath.
    “Hi ,” I said.
    “Good evening.”
    “Come in,” I said.
    “… welcome…”/ “You look great!”
    We both smiled. “No, you first,” I said
    “…for you this Valentine’s night!”
    “Well, thank you,” I said.
    “Tonight promises to be special….”
    (So special! I couldn’t have imagined a better start to the evening.)
    “so sit back and relax with the one you love and if you’re on your own, was that your microwave that just pinged?!” (Much laughter from well adjusted cool audience with a well developed sense of irony.)
    “This week the team captains are joined by the beautiful…”

    “B-I-T-C-H!”

    • Hi Eileen. It cracked me up when I read “Tonight’s hostess just has time to pop upstairs and freshen up before her guest arrives.”
      I love the idea of referencing tv shows, plus hearing her chaotic thoughts about how she’ll come across.
      I’m a bit lost on the ending though, is it a tv reference I’m not familiar with?

    • This is so funny with the underlying still-single-body-clock-ticking female theme, but I don’t get the last bit. For me it would be perfect ending at ‘irony’.

      • Thanks Elaine and Rebecca. I was being a bit experimental at the end. Here’s what I was going for;She’s unhinged and she has made the cookie for the tv presenter. The dialogue does n’t match because it’s his intro – ‘Good evening and welcome, tonight….”- and she’s just talking to the tv. and she has a sinister side when he calls one of his guests beautiful. Thanks very much for the feedback. Much appreciated.

    • Really interesting approach here — I like it. I’ll echo Rebecca and Elaine and say that, if you make that TV thread that you mentioned a little clearer to the reader, esp. with regard to the ending, you’ve got something really good here.

      • I was relying on the line where they both talk over each other to do the trick as ‘welcome’ being said by her guest would be strange but I will look at it again and see what else might help. I still want it to be a piece that needs a little re reading (only because I like that kind of thing myself). Thanks, Anthony for helpful comments.

    • Very funny story. I loved the imaginary commentary as she goes to get ready. I did find the ending confusing, I thought it was just a continuation of that interior commentary. Having reread it after you explained it I can see what you were doing and it’s a great idea. It would just take a line or two to make it clearer, maybe a mention of the theme tune starting up or something.

    • I too was confused by the ending, but I like the mash up with tv and a couple of lines would easily fix this. I like the way you reference it earlier with the mention of Corrie, so it would be easy to make the theme come through more clearly 😀

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  11. Cookie monster.
    Competitive baking was something I had never foreseen myself doing. I’m a laid back person who enjoys a calm life, filled with simple human affection. Small things impress me and I have the same friends since I started school. I bake for pleasure, to relax and unwind.
    My favourite thing to do is to eat with friends. It was those “friends” who entered me into the competition. We all started school together and now even though we have families of our own we are still the girls. Baking is my thing. I think it started when I was seven. I’d invite the girls over to make the Cookie Monster cookies from my Sesame Street book.
    My plan was to evoke the judges’ early formative sensations. I was going to return them to the safety of their childhood fantasies and bring their self-indulgent desires to life. With my cookies I was going to tap into their deepest happiest memories and lightly dust them with sugar.
    It was my memories of the girls that inspired me to bake my special cookies. After we’d have eaten our fill the sugar high would turn us into a mob of wild animals. We’d swing around in circles outside, laughing and shouting. I was going to make the judges feel the freedom and innocence of our riotous celebration.
    The night before the competition, the girls had just left clutching lunchboxes stuffed with cookies after testing and approving my latest batch. My husband had his feet up in front of the telly. I should have joined him but I didn’t. I am a perfectionist and I decided to make one last batch, for good luck. Something went wrong and this time the cookie dough had a grainy texture it shouldn’t have. If this happened I didn’t know what I would do. I hadn’t even considered the possibility. I couldn’t let the girls down.
    The girls don’t know that my culinary history is peppered with atrocities. They’d never seen the failures back in the novice days. I wasn’t going to serve up those now was I? You’ve got to break a few eggs and all that. Nowadays such disasters were as rare as hen’s teeth but I was gripped by a horrible thought. What if? The possibility of failure was still there and the only way to eliminate it was to practise again and again, until perfect was the standard. The need for flawlessness sometimes corrupted the lens through which I view my life.
    The coffee pot had run dry, the last glug of it gurgled in my stomach. It had been a long hard slog and I needed something to stave off my rumbling baking-induced weariness. I could feel myself disintegrating. I decided to pop out to the garage. I left with a request for crisps for my husband.
    When I got there, I was thirsty, and craving something savoury. I needed salt to balance out all of the sugar running through my veins. Delirious and unsure of my own desires, my eye was caught by a display just inside the door. There was a special offer on energy drinks. The sign said “2 Xtra free” intentionally misspelling the word to denote coolness. I grabbed a crate of six. Energy drinks don’t exist in my universe. They are against everything I believe in but this was an emergency and I needed rescue. Breaking your own rules is a sure sign of an imminent descent down a slippery slope with all its attendant perils at the bottom.
    After gathering more cookie ingredients, I searched for the perfect antidote to my sugar over-exposure. I picked up three packs of tortilla chips, the ones covered in a resinous, assaultive orange powder that defies all efforts to remove it from fingertips. I opened the tortilla’s when I got into the car. The hue of the tangerine powder had been amplified since I last ate them. They tasted subtly sour, almost cheese-like. I began to scan the ingredients but it was too small to read and I didn’t care anymore. I clicked open the can of life-giving concoction. The liquid tastes acerbic but quenches my thirst. It swiftly courses energy through my blood. Like a greedy piglet suckling at the teat of ambition, I drank the rest of my first can on my way home. It travelled directly to my bloodstream. I felt my heart speeding up. Eager to embrace the power at my fingertips to accomplish tasks I drink the second can when I get home.
    By the time I’m facing my flour blanketed kitchen I feel a jolt of optimistic energy. I set to work immediately. I baked until my ingredients ran out just before sunrise. I got an hour of slumber and rose like a zombie in need of a fix. Unable to shrug off my sluggishness, my body felt wilted. I knocked back the second last can and skipped breakfast as my stomach heaved at the smell of my husband’s fry.
    I knocked back the last can in the car before I went in to the competition. I was a jittery bundle of nerves. My skeleton shivered and rattled like a tin can in a washing machine. Heartburn began to bloom in my chest. I decided tortured creativity is better than none. My long, sinewy arms dangled lifelessly. Their normally firm, supple grasp, withered to an apathetic grip. Making my dough was a truly visceral experience. It took fortitude to wrestle my body into action.
    The cardiovascular effort it took caused my gastric juices to churn into flamethrowers. I was taken closer to the limit of my physical capacity than I would have wanted to get. I was having trouble breathing, palpitating, my malnourished body unble to handle just how functional this energy becomes. My commitment to consistency pushed me on past the raw physical demands and the sensation of vertigo.
    The rehearsals had paid off I thought to myself as I cut the circles from my perfectly rolled cookie dough. I put my batch in the oven with a sigh of relief. I cleaned down my area and pulled out the stool to sit and check my list. I relaxed more with the satisfaction of each achievement ticked off done, done, and done. My head throbbed so I leaned the weight onto my open palm buttressed by my elbow on the table. Closing my eyes felt so nice. So nice that I let my blood-shot, oven-scorched, sleep-deprived eyeballs enjoy the relief some more. Nobody, including myself, noticed that I fell asleep. I looked like I was deeply pondering the presentation of my creation, pen still squatting in the numb grasp of my finger and thumb. It wasn’t until the smell of burning hit my nostrils and woke me that I realised I had nodded off.
    There was a communal gasp as the judge approached my station and eyes focused in on what I had to offer. His greeting was sullen and not very sympathetic as he looked at me and my dish with a mixture of reproach and disgust. I wanted to cry. The crowd cringed as the judge’s pearly whites curled themselves around my charcoal discs. The crunch sent a shockwave in all directions. Everyone seemed to inhale at once as silence descended.
    And then bursts of suppressed giggles erupted from the crowd. I recognised the laughter of my companions as it trickled out. The judge opened his mouth but closed it again as I sniggered in his face. He was obviously affronted by this but what could I say? I tried to apologise but that was undermined by the snicker that followed.
    We still laugh about it to this day. Yes I still break bread with my companions but these days it’s usually a steamy muffin. I haven’t baked a cookie since.

    • Really like how she recognises the laughter of her companions; it shows their familiarity . That rings true. It is a very amusing story and I like that she burns them as people in televised competitions are always ‘going on journeys’ and ‘striving to be the best that they can be’. Light heartedness does it for me.

  12. She was such a perfectionist so it was a lovely surprise that she was able to laugh at her humiliation. I particularly like dusting memories with sugar, and the greedy piglet lines. I initally thought the garage was part of the house so I was confused when she got in the car, but I soon realised my mistake. Maybe it could have been the ‘all night shop at the garage’ for clarity. I’d probably omit the friends all starting school together bit in the first paragraph as it’s repeated in the second. Really fun piece.

    • Thanks Elaine. I will change it to 24 hour garage/shop/supermarket to make it clearer. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll fix the school thing too. I did rush this and didn’t reread so I spotted a few other typos.Glad you thought it was fun. I decided to lighten the mood from last week; the first rule was no one dies; I guess that must have inspired the narrator’s attitude to her humiliation!

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