Deceptions Challenge: Music Prompt

06 May

The Challenge: On Episode 8 of our Deceptionists podcast Paul provided a writing prompt around a piece of music. The goal was 500-800 words about an encounter between two people. I did not get to 500 words, because I felt that the piece was “over” for me once I got past the first moment. It’s rough, because I’m trying to challenge myself to move on and not focus on mistakes.

The Story:

I am sitting on the bench watching the power-walkers plow by in their business suits and tennis shoes while munching on their energy bars and waiting for you. I’ve been waiting for almost 20 minutes even though you are only 5 minutes late. I always arrive early. That’s something we obviously don’t have in common.

Or maybe it is. Maybe you arrived early, too, but instead of sitting down where we agreed to meet, you’ve been lurking behind a tree. Maybe you’ve walked by several times, deciding whether or not you’re going to join me. but I haven’t noticed because I’m too worried about looking too anxious in the moment we finally do meet to move much at all or look around.

I am the very picture of a young woman waiting for nothing on a park bench during her lunch break. I am waiting. I am playing with my phone and trying to look interested but nothing has changed on Facebook or twitter since I checked ten seconds ago.

I can sense someone approaching the bench. It must be you. I look up. Casually. Ever so casually.

“Madeline?” you ask.

“Jessica?” I answer.

You nod. I nod. We both smile, but they barely stretch our faces.

“It’s so nice-”
“Thank you for-”

We start speaking at once. We both stop with a nervous laugh.

It’s the exact same laugh.

We both smile. For real this time. It stretches up to your eyes and suddenly I’m looking in a mirror. You see it, too.

After that, it is easy to get to know each other.

The Process: It’s been a month (or more?!) since I’d done any creative writing. I’ve mostly been focusing on reading and work-related projects, and there was a bit of a hesitation in writing because I felt so out of practice. Knowing that the podcast had the prompt, I put it on while I was doing some chores, with every intention of writing after I was finished. When I heard the piece (which I recognized the melody of, but had not heard this arrangement) my first image was of a very old man who has a happy reunion with a (much) younger descendant. I felt my idea was so solid that I risked listening to the next podcast (I was so far behind, yo), but I got about 5 minutes in before I could feel the effects of their comments.

So I stopped mid-writing and wrote until Jessica appears. I finished it up two days later (nowise).

The Reflection: It’s second person. And present tense What’s up with that? On the follow-up podcast Paul talks about how both he and Dave focused on present-tense, which I did as well. It’s not something that usually do, and I hate second person perspective, but some how, this is what came out. I thought that was neat.

On some level, I’d like to continue, but I’d have to decide who they are to do that. I like them as enigmas.


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  • Caroline

    Oh, that’s very nice! It captures that sense of hesitancy but then instant connection upon meeting that I think a lot of us got out of the music. And I think the voice/person works for a short piece. . .