Writing Prompts. Every writer has used them at some point in their career, (whether willingly or not.) They’re like an adrenaline shot to your muse. You know, usually.
Looking for a way to keep our writing fresh and versatile, my friend Anna and I are going to be starting a prompt inspired post that we call Writing Wednesdays.
Breakdown: Every first and third Wednesday of the month, on both Anna’s blog and mine, we’ll post a prompt that we’ve either found or come up with ourselves, as well as our own flash fiction or short story for that prompt. Please feel free to join us! Just make sure that when you post, you link your work back – and comment with a link – to one of ours so everyone can read yours too!
PROMPT: First Line – “It was the only road out of town but in retrospect, taking it was a terrible decision.”
It was the only road out of town but in retrospect, taking it was a terrible decision.
Adelaide thumped her fist against the propped up hood of her ancient Honda, holding her breath against the steady wisps of oily smoke curling out from the indistinguishable mass of engine parts. Her eyes watered as she tried to determine the source of the smoke, not that it would do her any good in the long run. Her father had taught her to change a tire and which hole to put the oil in, but apart from that she knew very little about how a car worked.
She should’ve known this was a horrible decision. It had been a rash choice, packing up her entire life and moving away from home for a new job. Honestly she had expected to spend the rest of her life in Cobble Creek, the dingy little rural town where she’d grown up. Where her parents and grandparents had grown up. People just didn’t leave Cobble Creek.
Except she did. Or had tried to, made it halfway down the stretch of highway that was her hometown’s only link with the rest of society, and then smoke had started gushing from beneath the hood of her car.
This is what she got for trying to escape the black hole.
Hopelessly, Adelaide checked her cell phone again but the triangle that represented her signal was still empty. Of course it was. She huffed irritably and shoved the mobile back in her pocket.
She was tired and sweaty from moving boxes, the humid air had made her hair a frizzy nightmare, and her hands and face were covered in grease and smoke. She was stranded in the middle of nowhere on a Tuesday afternoon, with virtually no passing traffic and no cell phone signal, and everything she owned was in the trunk of her nonfunctional car. Could things possibly get any worse?
And then it started to rain.
Cursing in a way that would make her mother have a heart attack, Adelaide abandoned her fruitless scouring of the engine and threw herself into the driver’s seat of the car, shutting the door against the sudden summer gale. She wiped the water droplets from her face, smearing her cheeks with grease in the process, and slumped back in the seat. Well, she could add ‘wet’ to the list of horrible adjectives to describe her day.
There was nothing to do now but wait until some passing commuter took pity on her and pray whoever it was wasn’t a serial killer. Closing her eyes against the well of helpless tears threatening to break loose, Adelaide leaned back and listened to the rhythmic tick of her hazards blinking on and off.
This is what she got for thinking she could be more. For thinking she could be anything other than Adelaide Brooks from Cobble Creek, the small town girl who was destined to grow up and write at the local paper and marry a local boy and have two-and-a-half little local kids. Taking the job in the city had been a stupid idea, a moment of fantasy when she’d thought that perhaps there was more out there for her than the same life her mother and grandmother had had. That she could achieve more than what tiny little Cobble Creek had to offer.
A tap on her window made Adelaide jump and squeak in alarm. She glanced sideways and through the streaks of water that turned the pane of glass into a kaleidoscope she could make out the warped figure of a police officer. Adelaide hastily wiped away the tears that had escaped and then rolled down the window.
The officer on the other side was bent nearly double to see through the frame of her low windows, and he grinned at her from beneath a wide-brimmed brown hat emblazoned with a gold badge. “Car trouble, miss?”
All of the panic that had been welling up in her suddenly burst forth in a wave at the sight of a friendly face. “I don’t know what happened, there was just smoke coming out from under the hood and I didn’t know what to do, and I don’t get any phone service out here, and then it started raining and I’m stuck and wet and dirty and I just wanna go home.”
The officer blinked in surprise, clearly not expecting the deluge of information, but he smiled again and nodded. “Alright, well we’ll get this sorted,” he said. “What’s your name, miss?”
“Adelaide,” she responded, trying to control the shake in her voice.
“Addy Brooks?” he asked, his green eyes widening in shock. “My God, I didn’t recognise you beneath all that grease.”
Adelaide finally took a good look at the man and gasped at the familiar features. “Kris Thacher?” she said.
“Wow, I haven’t seen you since high school,” Kris said, shaking his head as his grin widened. “Right, well lemme dispatch a tow for you and I’ll be right back.” Kris straightened up and headed back to his car while Adelaide watched him in the rear view mirror. Kris Thacher had been her best friend in elementary school, but with time they’d drifted apart. She had fancied him all through high school but by that time they belonged to completely different social groups and they never saw each other. After graduation they’d gone their own ways, him to the university in the city, her to the local college.
Now finally, years later, he is an impressive, handsome highway patrolman come to save the day and she’s a dirty, frizzy, greasy mess on the side of the road babbling about her bad day. Adelaide tipped her gaze upward and muttered, “If you could just kill me now, that’d be great.”
She was still stewing in her embarrassment when Kris’ face appeared in her open window again and he beamed at her. “Tow’s on the way, should be here in about twenty minutes,” he announced.
“Thank you so much,” she said gratefully. “I don’t know how long I’d have been stuck here if you hadn’t come along.”
Kris simply grinned at her. “It’s great to see you again,” he said. “I always wondered what you’d gotten up to. Mom said you’ve finished college?”
“You ask your mom about me?” Adelaide asked before she could stop herself.
A pleasant flush spread across Kris’ cheeks. “Mom always liked you,” he said evasively. “Even after you destroyed her tomato garden.”
Adelaide laughed at the memory. “You started it, if I remember correctly,” she replied.
“Did not,” he shot back childishly. His eyes drifted to the boxes in the back seat. “Moving day?”
“Was supposed to be,” she admitted awkwardly. “Course then everything went wrong and now I’m starting to wonder if it’s a sign.” She glanced up at Kris’ compassionate expression and the rain dripping off his hat. “You don’t have to stand out in the rain and chat to me, really, calling the tow for me is great.”
“Just wanna make sure you get where you’re going,” Kris replied with a jovial shrug.
Adelaide shot a quick look at the passenger seat. “You could at least come in out of the rain,” she suggested. Kris seemed to consider it and then nodded, jogging around the front of the car and slipping down into the passenger seat, setting his hat in his lap. He looked ridiculously out of place in his pristine – if a little damp – uniform against the backdrop of her chaotic, well-worn car.
“So Addy, what’s happened since high school?” he asked, completely unperturbed by the strange circumstances. He was so comfortable and so at ease that she couldn’t help herself as the truth came spilling out. They exchanged stories about college and jobs and their families and people they’d known growing up, and were still talking animatedly when a tow truck pulled up in front of Adelaide’s car.
“I always knew you’d end up moving to the city,” Kris said as they stood on the shoulder and watched the tow driver hook up her car. Adelaide glanced at him in surprise. “Oh yeah, you’ve got too much going for you to wind up stuck in the Creek forever.”
“I can’t help but think this is some kind of sign,” she said, grimacing.
“I like to think of them as tests,” Kris replied with a smile. Adelaide snorted. “No really, I think you’ll do just fine. And hey, in case you ever need anything,” he pulled a printed card from his pocket and scribbled a number on the back before handing it to her, “just call. I’m good for tows, heavy lifting, or you can even invite me to coffee as a thanks for saving you today.”
Adelaide’s heart leapt in her chest and her eyes flicked up to his face, looking for some sign that he was teasing. There was a playful grin on his lips but his eyes were sincere and steady. Warmth blossomed across her cheeks despite the chill of the rain and she smiled. “I might just have to do that,” she agreed as the tow driver signaled that he was ready to go.
Kris’ responding grin was dazzling. “I look forward to it.”
As Adelaide climbed into the passenger seat of the tow truck, she thought that maybe leaving home hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.
Anna’s post: here
Next Week’s Prompt: Flip to page 42 of the dictionary, take the first word, and run with it.
Please leave comments with suggestions, prompts, and of course links to your works. We look forward to seeing what you write!