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From Underneath (Writing Prompts)

Writing Prompts

Truly, if you don't come back here every week to see what others have written for a prompt, you're missing gold. Each week I see them (both here and later in the week at Improbable Press), and each week I'm grinning like a fool at the magic made with a few words.

From Underneath (Writing Prompts)

It takes so little to imagine so much and whether the stories are 50 words or in the case of last wee 580 perfect jewels, they're proof positive again and again and again how unique and precious is creativity. We can all hear the words pride parade and flag and between twenty people there will be twenty wildly different imaginings even if every single person was handed the same set-piece for their story.

What I'm trying to say is look, read, enjoy the prompt fills in the comments each week. And if ever they move you, if ever they bubble up fifty words or five hundred…let them. Share 'em if you like, don't if you don't. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy what these prompts create in the minds of others because each week I'm charmed, amazed, tickled, surprised, and those are wonderful things.

Writing the Story Behind the Words—Last Week's Prompts

Here's a few tastes of what we saw last week for the never have I ever writing prompt. Feel free to read back, to fill any prompt that calls you, and as soon as I clear out the bots, I'll approve 'em as soon as possible.


They saw the hand-painted sign in the window: Tell us your ‘Never have I ever…’ when ordering your coffee and you get a pastry for free. At first people were hesitant to share their secrets…
“Crime, eh?” Mira raised an eyebrow. “Is there something you want to tell us, Daze?” “Not me. Are you scared of spilling your secrets?” Daisy countered.
“Betcha don’t think it’s just fluffy nothin’ anymore, do ya?” Kl’yd’s grin got bigger, “I think I’ll call this one… Kel’s Fire.” He ducked too late to miss the flying zoochberry that was thrown at his head.

And may your week be a good one, one and all.

More writing prompts
Never have I ever… (Writing Prompts)
Red Tide (Writing Prompts)
The Burning of the Ribbons: A Crime Writer's Glee
Always dreamed of writing crime fiction? L.A. Larkin wants to help.

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  • Anarion on

    She comes to bed smelling of sulphur, ashes and burned hair again.

    I try to push her away.

    “No. We agreed. Not coming to bed smelling like that.”

    “I showered!”

    “You still smell.”

    But her body is warm and familiar and by the way she softly curls against me I know she knows that she has won.


    The next evening, I find her in the living room with an inverted pentagram painted on the floor. In the middle of it she has placed several items as offerings. At least that’s what I presume. I never pay too much attention when she talks about summoning her first demon.

    “That’s my grandma’s throw pillow!”

    “I know!”

    I hate that thing!

    “You hate that thing!”

    And that’s why I love her.

    She hands me an umbrella and then proceeds to ignore me. I watch her light some candles and pour some liquid onto the pentagram that I’m not even gonna ask about. She murmurs soft incantations the whole time.

    After a while I realise I am still holding the umbrella.

    “Why am I carrying that umbrella in my own living room again?”

    She waves a hand for me to be silent, but right at that moment the pillow in the middle explodes and rains all kinds of disgusting things on me and yeah, the umbrella makes sense now. Other things, not so much…

    “Why are we doing this in our living room again?”

    She waves her hand again and points at the middle of the pentagram, which by the way is now apparently permanently burned into the carpet.

    The tiny demon sitting in it has horns and its fur has the same pattern as my grandma’s throw pillow. Now that I think about it, it seems to also have her temperament of being constantly angry.

    “I expected something… bigger? Fiercer?”

    “It’s my first demon.”


    “Plus, he has teeth. AND horns!”

    “Also true.”

    We look at the very tiny, very angry demon for a while.

    “Okay, I have to get up early tomorrow, I’m going to bed.”

    She pulls out her notebook and hums an affirmative. I am already forgotten. I kiss the top of her head and leave the two to whatever it is they are doing.


    She wakes me several hours later.

    “He is not leaving.”

    “Hm? Who?”

    “The demon.”

    “What do you mean, he is not leaving?”

    “I tried every banishing ritual I know. He just sits on the carpet and hisses at me.”

    I pull her onto the bed with me.

    “If you actually did summon my grandmother, you know we will never get rid of him, right?”

    She yawns.

    “Shouldn’t have used the throw pillow.”

  • The Honeyed Moon on

    (More about Kel and Kl’yd’s trip to the beach during the red tide…)

    “Wanna go in?” Kl’yd asked Kel. “The little critters in the water won’t bother you none. They’ll just mind their business and leave us be.” The night was warm and a swim would feel lovely.

    “I don’t have anything to swim in.” Kel replied.

    Kl’yd looked at her with a raised eyebrow, “Swim in? Whaddya mean? Don’t you swim wherever it is you’re from?” He was pulling his tunic up and over his head, revealing his toned body – a sight that always got Kel a little hot. Okay, a lot hot. Why be coy? He was hot, he made her hot, the night was hot. It was all hot.

    “I can swim, it’s just that on my home planet there weren’t any bodies of water you’d want to swim in. Too many big things in them looking for an easy meal.” Kel shuddered a bit. “So, no. ‘Swimwear’ is not a thing I own.”

    “That’s alright,” Kl’yd tossed his tunic aside to land in the sand, and started to unbutton his pants. “C’mon. Strip off your clothes, we’ll go skinny dippin’.” He pushed his pants off and left them in a crumpled heap on the sand.

    “We’ll whatty-what now?” she asked, but Kl’yd was trotting away across the sand towards the churning blue-tinted surf. He stopped at the edge of the water, letting the retreating wave flow back out to sea over his feet.

    Turning back, he shouted his answer at Kel, ‘Swim naked. Dippin’, in just your skin!” The moons of Boone’s planet lit up the surface of the water and highlighted every muscle in Kl’yd’s strong back and shoulders, making him look like a god of the sea. He’d waded out and was now knee deep in the run of the surf. The little critters, as he called them, outlined his legs in an ethereal blue glow. “C’mon! The water’s real nice!”

    And it must have been, because when he turned back to face the water, Kel caught a peek of the other thing on Kl’yd that was so impressive; Kl’yd was both a shower and a grower.

    ‘Oh seven hells’, she thought, ‘if there’s anything out there that’s going to eat us, they’ll go for the bigger meal first.’ She pulled her dress off and ran towards the water just a Kl’yd dove under a crashing wave and vanished.

    “Kl’yd?” Oh, kriff, where’d he gone? “Kl’yd!”

    She swam out till she couldn’t touch bottom and shouted his name again, “Kl’yd! Don’t do this, it’s not funny!” Surely he couldn’t hold his breath this long, could he? She couldn’t hear anything but the breaking waves and her own blood rushing in her ears.

    Just when she decided she had better go back to shore and find help, she saw a blue glow moving towards her… ‘This is it’, she thought, ‘This is how I die. Kl’yd was dinner and now I’m to be dessert.’

    From underneath her, something was surfacing, all blue terror and sharp teeth. Kel said a prayer and braced herself for the impact and immediate transition to the astral plane.

    Kl’yd popped up out of the water laughing, but stopped when he saw the look of panic on Kel’s face.

    “Whoa, hold on darlin’. Stop flappin’ at me or we’ll both go under!” He finally gathered her to his chest and she realized that she wasn’t about to be devoured by some leviathan of the deep.

    “You. Scared. The. Life. Out. Of. Me.” She smacked him on the shoulder with each word as punctuation. “Stop laughing at me!”

    He did, a little. “Oh my stars! I thought you were gonna get up and walk on water to get away from me! I’m sorry, I thought it’d be funny.” He hugged her tight and started to move them towards the shore.

    “Yeah, well. I thought, when you went under? I don’t know what I thought.” She wiped salt water and tears off her face, “And then when you came up at me? I was sure whatever had eaten you was going to eat me next.”

    “Naw, nothing in these waters is gonna eat you,” They’d reached the sand and Kl’yd was carrying her now. “Except for me.”

    Kel rolled her eyes so hard she heard them creak. “You’re a horrible man. Why do I stay here?”

    “Because I’m interestin’ and you love me.” He kissed her.

    ‘Stars’, she thought. ‘I do’.

  • Kaz Langston on

    Peel me open. Split my skin, the pasty white paper thinness of it, the freckle-scar-sunburn of it. See the flesh; strip me down to my bones.
    Beneath all that.
    Beneath the ugly trappings of mortality.
    Underneath it all is magic.
    It burns in me, smoulders low at night and stokes into a bonfire in the day.
    It didn’t used to be like that, I used to just have blood and regrets and ambition in me, same as anyone. Apparently turning thirty (it’s not even old!) isn’t as boring as everyone says. The world doesn’t end. Yes, the messages on dating apps get even weirder. No, your mother still won’t stop asking about grandkids.
    But the day I turned thirty, I was reborn.
    Baby. Child. Teenager. Adult. And now mage.
    I still live in my apartment. I still work at the same pointless desk job I’ve had for six years. But every weekend I go out to the country, and I find a field or a mountainside or a valley, and I set up my tent and my campfire, and I howl at the stars and the moon and the night, and let the magic in me sizzle harmlessly into the velvet sky.
    I used to.
    I’ve been inside for ten weeks now. No weekend visits to the middle of nowhere. No lightning strikes from cloudless skies, no fireworks bursting from my fingertips.
    I can feel it bubbling under my skin, the barely contained power of it all. Static shocks on everything I touch, the cat won’t come near me after I stroked her tail and the static cracked loud enough to make us both jump, and I’ve blown out the electricity twice this week.

  • Narrelle Harris on

    ‘It’s not really umber, is it?’

    Didi, pressed closed to Galatea’s side, ceased peering at the sea to blink her bemusement at her new companion.


    ‘The umber ella. It’s not umber. Perhaps like raw umber, but more like bone. And white, of course.’ Galatea’s dark eyes were open wide as she considered the pretty damask canopy over her head. The sunlight streamed through the thinner white fabric of the pattern, dappling Galatea’s milk-white skin prettily.

    Alabaster skin, thought Didi, and an hysterical giggle bubbled up. She almost asked how Galatea knew what to call damask fabric, since the Middle Eastern weavers who first created it came long after Galatea’s time, but honestly, that was the very least of the questions that arose from Galatea’s presence.

    Didi decided to stick to the basics. ‘It’s not an umber ella. It’s an umbrella, or more exactly, a parasol.’ The Greeks had parasols 4000 years ago. It should be a no-brainer. ‘Parasols are for the sun, umbrellas for the rain.’

    Galatea absorbed this clarification about the not-umber, bone-and-white coloured parasol. She flicked at the little strip of cloth that wound about the body of it when closed.

    ‘I don’t like this piece,’ she said. ‘You should cut it off.’

    Didi side-eyed the fastener, then Galatea, then looked back out to the horizon.

    ‘Why don’t you like it?’

    ‘It looks like the bindings that held me prisoner beneath the sea.’

    ‘It only binds the parasol so it doesn’t flop around the place when it’s closed. It’s useful.’

    Galatea scowled. ‘Polyphemus found it useful in his jealousy to bind and keep me, so that I may only partially live and not breathe and watch the world from underneath the waves.’

    ‘Well, Polyphemus was a creeper and he’s not here, and you are, so sucks to be him and you win, so do you think we can decide what we’re going to do now?’


    ‘I know you’re a nymph and marble statue and a myth come to life, so maybe you’ve had some experience with this shit, but it’s all new to me. I’m just a cannery worker and I’m not even that any more since they closed the factory. All those goddamned men in charge pushing the fish stocks to nothing, foreclosing on the mortgages, setting us all up to fail. I’m unemployed, I’m homeless, and I’m desperate. All I’ve got in the world is my car, my clothes, this bloody parasol because it belonged to my gran, and fuck-all skills. I’m nobody. ’ She remembered the disdain of the bank manager refusing to negotiate a new payment plan; not a shred of pity or kindness in him.

    Galatea gazed at Didi as though she were mad. ‘You rescued me.’

    ‘I found you.’

    ‘You unbound me. Thank you.’

    ‘You’re very welcome,’ Didi replied. ‘But I still don’t know what to do next.’

    The nymph who had been a statue who had been bound and trapped and hidden in the ocean depths until time, tide, erosion and seismic activity had washed her ashore at Didi’s feet – this Galatea of myth and unexpected reality bent to kiss Didi’s cheek.

    Galatea slipped her soft, slender, white fingers between Didi’s brown ones. ‘Let us hold hands,’ she said, ‘and be friends.’

    Didi looked at their entwined fingers and squeezed. Galatea’s hand was warm and small in hers. ‘I’d like that.’

    Galatea’s beautiful face broke into a smile that was wholly human. No longer marble, flushed pale pink now with the sea air, one of her canine teeth a little crooked. She was lovely. Lovelier than the statue could ever be.

    ‘And then we shall find a purpose we can share,’ Galatea declared, ‘and never again be imprisoned or discarded by men who wish to keep all good things to themselves.’

    ‘Smash the patriarchy,’ muttered Didi in agreement.

    Galatea’s next grin was less human and it caught at Didi’s heart, made it grow with hope and fire.

    ‘How do we begin?’ asked Galatea eagerly.

    ‘Do you mind if we take your bindings with us?’ Didi asked.

    ‘You mean to use them on our enemies? Then yes!’

    ‘Great. Let’s visit the bank.’

  • Daisy on

    He stood watching her, watching him from under the umbrella. The faint sunlight filtered through the white in the gold and white pattern, the drizzle still collecting on the smooth surface. There was just enough of the washed out light to make her as pale as a ghost.

    He had known her his entire life, and most of hers. His big sister. And he had never seen her so open, so terrified. So stripped down to the truth of what she was.

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