Wednesday Write-in #54

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Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

Our weekly Write-in helps you stay productive, and get into the habit of creating regularly (even when you don’t feel like it!).

Prompts

academy  ::  pot of tea  ::  bunch  ::  snap  ::  vending machine

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 if you like, and comment with a link so we can read it.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you have time for (but we won’t shout at you if you don’t).
  • If you want to write a poem, a script, or something completely different, feel free.

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34 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #54

  1. Out of Service
    Mark thumped the vending machine. ‘Bloody thing,’ he cursed as it refused to give him either the polystyrene cup of hot liquid that passed for tea, or his money back. ‘Why did the Academy have to do away with a human being with a kettle? At least you could get a decent pot of tea when you wanted it,’ he grumbled to his colleague who was coming out of a door opposite. ‘Bunch of idiots; they probably call it progress.’
    ‘Snap out of it, Mark,’ George interrupted his rant. ‘You sound like a grumpy old man; it’s only a quid. Go out and buy yourself a coffee, for God’s sake, and get a Snickers bar while you’re at it; you sound like you need some chocolate!’
    As Mark disappeared round the corner heading for the lifts George gave the machine a gentle nudge at a certain spot. A pound coin rolled into the change slot. Grinning, he pocketed it. ‘Nice machine,’ he chuckled, patting it again. ‘Keep ‘em coming!’ And he walked back into his glass-walled office, where the Machine Not Working sign was hidden in his desk drawer, to await the next poor sod hoping for a hot drink.

  2. I’ve enjoyed writing this, but I don’t know if there’s enough in it. Is it a story? (A question akin to ‘what is art?’!)
    I’ve also had a cracking tangle with quotation marks, and whether punctuation should be inside or out.
    Here it is:
    Mona Lisa smile

  3. Hi, there. I thought of having these two characters go for a pot of tea at the end , but decided that was at least one prompt too far. Look forward to reading everyone’s.

    They arrived at the State Office of Commerce.The paperwork had been a long time in gestation and the enormous queues had dampened their enthusiasm. This was probably a test of their stamina they concluded so agreed to get on with it.
    The various queues were signposted at intervals: ‘fuel fees’, ‘school fees’, ‘military academy fees’, ‘death fees’ etc.
    At last, they reached the head of their queue: ‘birth fees’.They handed over the papers and were permitted through the automated doors.
    White zapped at their retinas.
    It took a few moments for their eyes to grow accustomed to the brightness of the maternity unit. When they did, they could see the two great vending machines that stretched the length of a wall.
    More signposts: ‘Male Humans’, ‘Female Humans.’
    They knew what they wanted and pressed their noses against the glass that the males were cradled behind.
    ‘H55 looks strong and healthy. Let’s pick it,’ said the woman wasting no further time. Her husband placed his plastic card in the slot and typed on the keypad.
    A robotic grabber shot out and across before attempting to snap its electronic fingers around H55. But the baby’s skin slipped like butter from its grasp.
    ‘Glitch,’ said the husband.
    Above the keypad, in red letters it read, ‘Technical difficulty. Make another selection.’
    ‘Pity,’ said the wife,’But P14 looks good too.’
    This time the robotic grabber secured its fingers around their selection. The baby was lowered to the mouth of the machine and given a firm push. When free of the soundproof glass, its screams filled the white air.
    ‘Good set of lungs on him,’ said the husband.
    They took the baby and the complimentary bunch of flowers and headed for the sign saying ‘Exit.’
    ‘Should we go to the food machines before going home?’
    ‘No, Dear,’ said the wife. ‘Let’s buy fresh tonight, by way of celebration.’

  4. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly Write-In | Tessa Sheppard

  5. Hi everyone,
    Here’s my offering for this week:
    The Machine
    “You lot should get something to eat.” The nurse broke the bedside silence. “I’m sure there’s a lot to discuss.”
    Three pairs of eyes looked at her blankly.
    “The hospital café is closing in a few minutes; if ye hurry ye might get something.”
    They hadn’t thought of food.
    ***
    Three siblings stared in confusion at the chairs turned upside down on the café tables, their brains unable to derive meaning from the world turned on its head. A cloud of steam rose from a dismantled espresso machine. A voice rose above the hissing and banging from behind the machine.
    “Sorry, we’re closing now at five.”
    “Oh right?” The three looked lost.
    “I’ve nothing left only boiling water if ye want a pot of tea.”
    “Ok.”
    “Take that table there in the corner.”
    They each took a chair by its legs and turned it over, dragging it on the tiles before sitting. The fourth chair teetered upside down on the edge of the table. Its legs stretched into the air and cast a shadow on them like prison bars. They all noticed it at the same time and froze.
    Even as the lady approached carrying a tray clinking with cups and cutlery their eyes didn’t leave the upturned chair.
    “There’s a vending machine on the corridor outside if ye want something to eat.” After she slid the tray onto the table, she flipped the fourth chair over and tucked it under the table without a thought.
    “I’ll go.” The youngest sister darted off in search of snacks.
    To snap out of the numbness, she inhaled deeply as a visitor passed by clutching a bunch of lilies but their fragrance was swallowed by that hospital disinfectant smell.
    When she returned, the mood of her brother and sister had changed from impassive to irritable.
    “Yuck! Gingernut biscuits.” Her brother moaned.
    Childhood bickering ensued.
    “Quit it you two. We’ve important things to discuss.”
    “There’s nothing to discuss. We all know what she wanted.” He was always the one to pop the balloon, to burst the bubble, to state the truth bluntly.
    “I suppose.” The sisters mumbled in unison.
    “We’d better contact her colleagues at the art academy. Some of them might want to come say goodbye before the machine is turned off.”
    “She’s already gone isn’t she?”
    For the first time since the accident the three siblings broke down and cried in acceptance, no longer able to support the delusional hope they had desperately clung to throughout that day as they watched their sister closely, willing her to blink, to open her eyes, to do something by herself.
    There was nothing left now but the soft beeping of the machine.

    • This was excellent, Emmaleene. A perfectly pitched, structured and written piece. Very well done indeed. I found it extremely moving and I loved the image of the shadows being like prison bars.

    • Very good. I love how the world is alien to them in their numbness. It definitely took me back to situations where I have felt the same. Good writing does that! I thought it was their mother so the ending was a gentle twist for me and it made the fourth chair even more poignant. Well done.

    • Very poignant, and so real how the siblings try to maintain their normal behavior and hold it together until the last minute. Excellent.

    • The first two thirds of this are fantastic, lots of really lovely/moving little images: the prison bars, the lilies (nice imagery there), and the slip into childish behaviour. After that, I have to say, I found it a little predictable I guess, maybe a little saccharine (even though it’s sad). For some reason, when they started to discuss seriously, I was really expecting it to go down a much more sinister route – perhaps they had tried to arrange someone’s death but not quite succeeded, or they had plans for the dying person’s estate, knowing it went against their wishes, something like that.

      Sorry, bit of a ramble. Lovely writing, as ever, just not quite my cup of tea 🙂

  6. This was a very moving piece. I had to go back and read it again.
    We’ve probably all experienced that awful moment when we’ve automatically done something for a loved one that’s no longer around, for whatever reason (I had a lot of trouble when my daughter went off to uni!), and this piece examines it. Great!

  7. Oops – must have typed in the wrong box. That was for Emmaleene’s piece.
    Well, now I’ve got the attention of the whole group, I’d like to say what an enormous pleasure it is to be amongst such talented people who write SO WELL! It’s a real treat to see so many fabulous ideas, so beautifully crafted into fiction.
    Well done all!

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