Edited by Samantha Martin
Here at Wordslingin’, we hope to not only showcase the writing of JETs around the -ken, but also to inspire it! This last month we posed a prompt to provide a puzzle for your precious prose. In other words, exercise those writing muscles by getting a short story of 500 words or less in to us at GMA, inspired by a prompt put up on the Aomori group page. We’re eagerly devouring the current submissions, but we’ll always hunger for more so keep sending them in!
This month’s submission comes to us from Mr. Brian Hill, and it followed the prompt “Reluctant I;” in this, the author was not allowed to use “me,” “my,”or “I” more than twice in the entire story. Challenging? You betcha. Interesting outcomes, though? See for yourself!
The Wreath on the Door
By Brian Hill
The wreath on the door’s red ribbon was askew, he adjusted it. He hadn’t wanted to come, to endure the press and noise of merriment with unknown persons. What do you do with yourself at such events? He stood at the door, berating himself for attempting to navigate the social heights of the festive spirit. A Christmas party. If she hadn’t suggested, no, persistently needled and wheedled him about it. He would have never found himself at a stranger’s door. Laughter and the smell of roasted meats and baked goods wafted about him in the cold night air. He knocked again, more quietly than before. He knew he was just stalling. Pulling off his cap, and running his fingers nervously through his freshly cut hair, he stepped out of the winter night and into the foyer.
His heart started beating faster. He wasn’t afraid of meeting new people; honestly he wasn’t, as long as there was someone he knew to introduce him, as long as the persons were friendly, but not overly effusive, or too loud. As long as the person, who introduced him, didn’t leave him stranded with the new acquaintances, leaving him to try to keep the conversation afloat, afloat, even as their vastly divergent interests reared its ugly head, like a sea monster from the social waters and devoured any chance he had of feeling at ease. Just as long as he didn’t have to meet too many people and name after name, didn’t blur into an unknowable mess behind his eyes. He didn’t mind meeting new people at all.
He began to itch as he passed more and more people. He imagined their eyes following him, watching him, as he moved through the room looking for Dawn. He self-consciously adjusted his red vest with the laughing elf protruding from the chest pocket. His heart sank a little. He felt his attire wasn’t nearly as interesting as many of the other people in the room, who seemed to be bedecked in all their most fascinating and or fashionable festive flair.
He made it to the table filled with attractively arrayed edibles and unclenched his fist, to pour himself a bit of punch. Having a cup in his hand always helped alleviate some of the stress of figuring out what to do with his hands. “Pardon!” someone sang out, moving in beside him, to grab some refreshments. He jumped, startled, and stepped aside, realizing he was standing in front of the punch bowl. The fellow, dressed like an elf, all the way down to bells on the tips of his green slippers, laughed at his surprise, and smiling said “Nice vest, guy! and flounced back to his group, a cup in each hand, bells jingling.
He took a deep shaky breath. Maybe this had been a bad idea. He tried to spot Dawn but couldn’t focus on any faces, his vision was beginning to blur. He just needed to find somewhere, out of the way, to stand. Just needed- but people were moving to the refreshment table in more and more numbers and he was finding it hard to breath, if he could just find her. Moving to the edge of the table, where a large untouched platter of fruit cake was situated, he tried to calm his breathing. He closed his eyes as he breathed in. Slowly opening them again, he saw the sun. Her smile was exuberant and she flung it to him from across the room like a rope, an anchor for him against the pushing insistent waves of rising panic and confusion threatening to pull him under. She threaded her way through the crowd towards him, and the fruitcake he seemed to be guarding, and pressed her hand into his. She smiled up at him and his nervousness dissipated like a melting fog. Her voice beaming, she said, “I’m so glad you came.”
Are you a writer interested in stretching your comfort zone? Are you looking for inspiration for a piece? Watch out for Proper Prompting’s next prompt in Aomori JETs, and submit any prose, poetry, essays, or short stories you end up with to firstname.lastname@example.org!