I’ve wanted to write something for Chuck Wendig’s Friday prompts for a long time. During the school year, it’s difficult to eek out something in a week and during the summer I usually have a variety of other work going on. Last Friday, in honor of Anthony Bourdain, Wendig asked us to write about food with the idea that food is almost always more than that. I also wanted to experiment with second person. Hope you enjoy!

Stolen Moments
You sit and say water’s fine. You move the fork, knife, and napkin to the other side. A habit. You hear your palm sliding on the table. It reminds you of pans scraping across the counters in the bakery. You worked there with your mother. She always wore her hair long, but at the bakery she wound it into a top knot that reminded you of samurai or fantasy characters, the smaller ones like elves. You remember seeing her make pigs-in-a-blanket. She stood over the pan wrapping little red sausages in white dough. Plastic gloves. Apron. She looked fragile to you for the first time. You get your water. It’s cold and the glass is sweating. You order. You had moved back home and felt that failure in your core, eels twisting in your intestines.You worked at the bakery to save money, while it was the last time you spent regularly with your parents. You started learning alto saxophone. You learned bebop melodies. “Salt Peanuts.” “Body and Soul.” “Tempus Fugit.” “A Night in Tunisia.” You never played them at bebop tempos. You couldn’t. You would even slow the metronome to forty, thirty, even twenty beats per minute, and listen to how the notes connected. Or how you hoped they would connect. The spaces became larger. Grave, the tempo is called. Slow and solemn. The waitress pours more water with your order. She asks how everything is. You fork your yolk and watch its perfect weep. Everything’s fine, you tell her. Fine, like the end of a song.

 

In order to hone my fiction chops, I decided to join The Five Hundred, a site that presents a prompt every month with the outcome being some form of flash fiction between 400-600 words. Next week, I’ll have a ghazal (based on a “bonus” 100 word prompt) and flash fiction piece called, “In the Cup of the Beholder.” Once the pieces go live, the writers treat the site as a workshop. I may not be able to submit each month, but I think I’ll enjoy the challenge.

Jeff McLeod suggested The Five Hundred. Thanks, Jeff!

With a two-year-old and a week-old newborn in the house, my writing time and process changed a little over the past few weeks. One, I’ve been mostly writing on a computer rather than in the notebooks I’ve kept for twenty years. It feels faster and time is something I’m short on. I don’t know if the quantity improves the quality of the writing, but I always write a lot and throw a lot away. The process feels more streamlined now.

And two, I wrote with music. In the past, it was pure distraction from writing. Maybe it’s all the life changes, but composing with music felt right, but I could only listen to certain pieces. With that in mind, I thought I’d share those here.

The prompt for the fiction piece was “Tear it down and try again.” One of the things I like about writing is research. This can send me into a spiral that I have to get out of quickly or else I won’t write anything. Initially, the prompt pushed me into writing an essay about the self and zen and I eagerly pulled book after book from my shelves until I realized that the topic was interesting, but not something I was prepared to turn into fiction. I abandoned that and looked at the Book of Revelations instead, which made me think of this classic by Son House:

Even though I mostly listen to instrumental music, Clarence Ashley’s version of “Coo Coo Bird” was on repeat. Maybe the droning effect of old time banjo kept this track from being distracting:

Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies:

Frescobaldi’s Fantasies: Book 1:

Vandermark 5: “New Acrylic”

Secret Chiefs 3: “Balance of the 19”

Also SC3: “Tistrya”

These artists share no blame in what they inspired.