Opening Line Prompt #8

If I could change one thing, it would be hiring that lawyer. But to put it in perspective, if the lawyer was a mistake, filing that lawsuit was a disaster.  You’ve read all the stories – who am I kidding? You’ve read the tweets, watched the auto tunes. I’ve done countless interviews where I’ve bullshitted about what made me sue Brittney for breach of promise. I’ve never, not once, answered that question honestly.

I was asked the same questions over and over:

“How did you meet?”

“How did you know she was The One?”

“How did it all go wrong?”

I granted all of the interviews, smirked my way through every lie. No reporter ever asked me if I was telling the truth. That would have brought the interview to a screeching halt and they needed their clicks and views and ad revenue.  

I’ve watched my own face smirk as I lie about Brittney breaking my heart. About how I was there for her when she was going through her breakdowns. The truth is that I went to a few of her concerts as my little sister’s escort and my sister would drag me into pictures with her and the superstar – photos that I later used as evidence of the beginning of our relationship.

Of all entities, it was the paparazzi that backed Brittney up. If our relationship had been real, there would have been other photos. Photos of her and I alone. It wouldn’t matter if it was illegal to purchase those photos; they’d still exist. Multiple prominent and less prominent paparazzi testified on Brittney’s behalf. I lost track at 18 but we were there for days.

Then the questions changed, asked by the same glory-hungry reporters, now acting self-righteously injured not only on Brittney’s behalf, but on their own:

“Why did you lie?”

“Did you really think you’d get away with it?”

“Who do you think you are?”

It was that last question that slapped the smirk off of my face. Because I was just a guy. Just this dude who woke up every day, to get ready to spend the next 12 hours getting ready for, working at, and getting home from a job that he despised. That morning, Facebook reminded him of that first concert he ever took his sister to, and he got a crazy idea.

He laughed at that idea in the mirror as he shaved. He laughed at it some more in the shower, and then again over breakfast. Then he took one step out of his front door, and he was paralyzed by the thought of going back to that place for one more day. So, he told himself, it was do this crazy thing, or go back to that job.

“So why tell the truth now,” yet another reporter asks. This one is from Rolling Stone and I can tell believes that he’s more real than anyone else I’ve ever spoken to. Then again, so has every other reporter I’ve ever spoken to.

The truth is that I wanted to get money from suing Brittney but that didn’t work out. However, granting interviews did. I’m not interesting because I lied about having my heart broken by a celebrity or because I got caught lying about having my heart broken by a celebrity. I’m interesting because most people wouldn’t have the balls. And my lies have gotten old, so I’ve had to change tactics, in order to sell my tell-all book.

I pause meaningfully before I answer the Rolling Stone reporter’s question. “I finally realized that what I did was wrong, and I just wanted Brittney to know how sorry I am.”

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #7

By a sparkling and cool river, a porcupine dreamt of more. Hystricidae had reached middle age without settling down with a mister porcupine and raising a little porcupine family. She was okay with this. She’d always known that she wasn’t meant for that sort of domestic life.

She was an entrepreneur – at least, would have been, had she known there was a word for her ambition, or a way to carry it out.

Hystricidae wasn’t keen on foraging for food, but she was really good at building dens. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t build dens all day while other porcupines who didn’t like building dens but who did like foraging, could do that. Then there could be a system of trade, and everyone would be happy.

In her dream, Hystricidae dreamt of a world like this. She awoke at nightfall. She didn’t remember the dream but she meandered over to her neighber’s den, feeling vaguely dissatisfied with her life.

Natalie was just poking her head out into the night air, her little nose twitching with anticipation of the night’s adventures. “Good morning, Hystricidae,” Natalie said.

“Hi Natalie.”

“What’s the matter? You seem down.”

Hystricidae sighed. “I don’t know. I think I must have had a bad dream because I woke up in a foul mood. I just can’t face foraging tonight but if I don’t forage, I’ll go hungry and if I grow hungry enough, I’ll die.”

Natalie felt bad for her friend. “How about this? I’ll go out and forage and bring back enough food for the both of us.”

Hystricidae shook her head. “That wouldn’t be fair for you to do all of the work and for me to do nothing. Especially because foraging is so tedious.”

“Tedious!” Natalie exclaimed. “I love foraging! Stay here and I’ll go out and bring us back some food.” It took a little more convincing on Natalie’s part but in the end, Hystricidae felt so tired just at the idea of going out to forage, that she allowed herself to be convinced. “Just guard my little den, and I’ll be back in a few hours,” Natalie said, and scurried off.

Hystricidae didn’t really like visiting Natalie’s den because unlike her own spacious den, Natalie’s was just as described – little. Natalie was a larger porcupine than Hystricidae but her den was about half the size.

Hystricidae tried to settle in but a large rock dug into her butt, so she used her claws to dig the rock out and to knock it away from the mouth of the den. Then when she walked back into the den, the rock had left a noticeable dent in the wall, so Hystricidae scratched away dirt and soft stone until the wall was smooth. She carried out the bigger pieces of debris and then stamped the new dirt down, evening out the floor.

This made the den a bit bigger. Hystricidae hoped that Natalie wouldn’t notice the changes, as Hystricidae didn’t want to hurt her friend’s feelings. She even raised up her quills slightly, to take up more space, but it was to no avail.

“My den is so much bigger than when I left!” Natalie exclaimed as soon as she got back, dragging a large piece of bark full of twigs and berries. “It’s almost big enough for the both of us!”

“I’m sorry –”

“Sorry!” Natalie jumped up and down in excitement. “I love it! Oh, and the floor is so smooth!” she added, as Hystricidae moved away from the den. “How did you get it like that?”

Hystricidae flushed with pride and embarrassment. “With my feet,” she said. She looked at the pile of berries that Natalie had dragged back. “Goodness, look at those berries, they’re so juicy! The only ones I can ever find are always so dried up and gross. Are you sure you don’t mind sharing?”

“Mind!” Natalie bumped her friend’s nose affectionately. “I have half a mind to give you all of them as thanks for making my den so homey! You know, I want a family someday but I just can’t be bothered to make a nicer den. If you’ll help me make my den suitable for some pups and a mister, I’ll keep foraging for your food.”

Hystricidae felt lightheaded. She was so overcome with joy that all she could manage to squeak out was, “Yes!”

As she and her friend feasted on ripe and juicy berries, Hystricidae looked up at the night sky. This wasn’t exactly the dream that she couldn’t quite remember, but it was more than she’d ever hoped for in her waking hours.

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #6

Do you find me shy yet? What does that even mean? I’ve drunk too much, that’s what that means. I shouldn’t have shotgunned those first two glasses of chardonnay. But I had to do something to curb the impulse to march across the room and claim your lips with mine. But you like shy women. They make you feel strong and in charge.

I long to teach you the liberation of being dominated. I know you’d like it. But I’m trying so hard to be what you want. So tonight, when I got ready, I slid on peach lipstick instead of cherry red, swirled my hair up into bun and fastened it with a spanking new, freshly sharpened #2 pencil. I hid my hot-assed body behind a bulky sweater, and my frank stare behind a pair of prescription-less, black-framed glasses.

I plan to allow you to make slow, sweet love to me, to teach me all of the parts of my body that I already know are erogenous. But you won’t even look at me.

Smokey Robinson is singing, “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” and I start to move. Who wouldn’t? I set down my third glass of chardonnay on our mutual friend’s coffee table and close my eyes, my hips taking control. I feel a hand at my waist and I open my eyes, hoping it’s you. It’s not, but he’s okay-looking and he’s actually touching me, so I close my eyes again and sink into his embrace.

Matt Nathanson takes over for Smokey and I change partners – still not you.

When Bill Withers starts singing Lean On Me, I break away from my partner, and head toward the kitchen. My ex-dancing partner lets me go and starts singing along. Before the kitchen door swings shut behind me, the entire room has joined it. I don’t blame them but I’m feeling hot and out of breath, so am unable to participate.

The kitchen is blissfully quiet. The sign of a good party is that everyone ends up in the kitchen but this party is just okay so far, so I have a moment to myself with the ugly parts of the hors d’oeuvres – the sour cream and hummus containers, the half-empty bags of those really tiny bread loaves.

I pull the bulky sweater up over my head. My glasses get caught in the fabric and then the pencil holding my hair in place is knocked loose. In a series of panicked movements, my man-catching costume is on the floor. I take in deep breaths of the cool, air and then kick the crumpled up sweater. I won’t put it back on, I vow. I’ll try for you some other night. I give up.

I grab a nearly empty bottle of chardonnay from the counter and take a swig. I hear the door to the kitchen swing open, and when I lower the bottle, I see you.

I’m leaning against the kitchen sink, in a black lace tank top that I’d hoped you see at some point tonight. My hair is tumbling freely down my shoulders and my back. Natural waves make playful grabs at my waist.

I’ve been talking to you in my head all night, and now I don’t know what to say.

Opening Line Prompt: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #5 — Finished

The world is full of people who despise Jane Marchant. Thus, being Jane Marchant is not a comfortable thing to be. But I don’t have much choice. I could change my name and my face and my location, but, hell, that’s how I got to be Jane Marchant in the first place.

The dentist’s waiting room smells of the usual disinfectant and bottled-up terror. A small, blonde boy sits on the floor, coloring in a book that his mother had pulled out of a long-suffering tote bag. He alternates coloring with a blue crayon and a red crayon. He occasionally glances up, just to glare at me.

I can’t tell if it’s because he recognizes me from TV, or if it’s because every time he looks up to glare at me, I’m watching him.

Aside from the boy, not a person in the room looks directly at me, but every one of them is watching me. Jeez. You bring down one entire government (that anybody knows of) and all of the sudden; you’re the center of attention.

I can feel how many people in the room are secretly grateful for me, and how many of them are barely suppressing the urge to attack me. It’s 3-to-1 in favor of murder, with the boy a question mark. Just as I brace myself to defend a lunge from the dude to my left, the door that leads to the inner sanctum of the dentist’s office opens.

“Ms. Marchant?” The receptionist who calls my name is not a fan of mine; she is bristling with disapproval. She’s one of those people who believes that someone ought to do something but then then finds that person impertinent for doing that thing. I sigh, internally.

I stand, as Mr. Angry reins back his rage. After all, murder is still illegal, even without a government, probably, right?

The receptionist leads me through a hallway that is identically pristine and terrifying to every other dentist office hallway that has ever existed. We pass by three closed doors. The usual torture noises emanate from each of them. When we reach the room at the end of the hallway, the only one with an open door, the receptionist indicates with a jerk of her head that I should go inside. “The doctor will be right in.”

I smile and enter. I like a dentist who insists on being called a doctor. It’s cheeky.

I perch on the edge of the dentist’s chair, where my feet would go if I were actually here to get my teeth worked on. After about five minutes, I realize that no one is in a hurry to come to my dental rescue. I open up the little drawers and cupboards, one by one, looking for loot.

I snag a full bag of cotton balls and a package of tongue depressors and stuff them into my backpack. I consider what use I’d get out of a full set of dental tools, still shrink-wrapped, and after five more minutes, I add that to my backpack. Three minutes after that, I toss in a new pack of post-its.

I’m eyeing an oxygen tank when the dentist walks in. Even without the white coat and the clipboard, I’d recognize his profession by his air of martyrdom.

“Ms. Marchant,” he says, closing his door behind him. He takes a step toward me as I turn and stand. He knows who Jane Marchant is. He’s holding her dental records. The only physical copies. The digital ones have already been erased.

His gaze takes in everything. The post-it notes sticking out of my overstuffed backpack. My gun. My face. I wait for him to recognize me, and maybe it’s something about that expectation that makes him take a closer look. There’s no reason for him to recognize me, not with all of the plastic surgery I’ve had, but I see the moment when recognition registers, followed by disbelief.

“Katherine?”

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #5 — Draft

This is is far as I got tonight. Going to have to finish this tomorrow night.

The world is full of people who despise Jane Marchant. Therefore, being Jane Marchant is not a comfortable thing to be. But I don’t have much choice. I could change my name and my face and my location, but, hell, that’s how I got to be Jane Marchant in the first place.

The dentist’s office smells of the usual disinfectant and bottled-up terror. A small, blonde boy sits on the floor, coloring in a book that his mother pulled out of a large, long-suffering bag. He alternates coloring with a blue crayon and a red crayon and he occasionally glances up, just to glare at me.

I can’t tell if it’s because he recognizes me from TV, or if it’s because every time he looks up to glare at me, I’m watching him.

Aside from the boy, not a person in the room looks directly at me, but every one of them is watching me. Jeez. You bring down one entire government (that anybody knows of) and all of the sudden; you’re the center of attention.

I can feel how many people in the room secretly want to thank me, and how many of them are barely suppressing the urge to murder me. It’s 3-to-2, with the boy a question mark. Just as I feel an impending lunge coming from my left, the door that leads to the inner sanctum of the dentist’s office opens.

“Ms. Marchant?”

I stand, as the man to my left reins back his rage. After all, murder is still illegal, even without a government, probably, right?

The receptionist who calls my name is not a fan of mine, but she is bristling with the judgment of a woman who believes that it is impertinent to bring down a government. A pure bureaucrat. Believe it or not, you get a lot more of these than you do people who conform to any sort of ideal. Mr. Angry in the waiting room is the same way, just more intense about it.

The receptionist leads me to a room and indicates with a disapproving jerk of her head that I should go inside. “The doctor will be right in.”

I smile and enter. I like a dentist who insists on being called a doctor.

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Words on Words

Today is Tuesday. On Sunday, I got home from work, angry. My job right now isn’t the worst job I’ve ever had. There are definitely perks that I’ve never experienced before, like affordable healthcare and an almost livable wage. But when it comes down to it, I wake up at 6AM and get home a little before 6PM. Essentially, 12 hours out of my day is centered around being at a place I don’t actively want to be, and doing things that I don’t actively want to do.

And this is life. I get that. I’m an adult. But I’m also a person, and society doesn’t always recognize that these are two different things. An adult is an archetype; responsible, hardworking, conscientious. A person is a lot more dimensional. We don’t always do, say, and think the correct things. So, even though I accept that I should accept that my life should be drudgery, there’s a person in my head, screaming, “FUCK THAT!”

And that voice has gotten a lot louder over the past few years. Say what I will about the entertainment industry (and most of it is bad), being immersed in artists for almost 5 years taught me how indomitable a spirit really is. Like, it’s not a joke or a stereotype that a lot of comedians struggle with depression. The natural oversensitiveness that artists are subject to is exacerbated by an industry that is designed to overwork and undervalue them.

That spark that artists have within them can’t be blown out by the strongest wind, or quenched by the heaviest rain, or smothered by a mountain of sand — at least, not without that level of monumental effort. And the whole world feels it when that spark is finally destroyed, whether that artist ever “made it” or not. Because we ARE more than our khakis.

All of that to say that I came home from work on Sunday and realized that so much of my day, so much of my energy is stolen by a corporation that could and would replace me without a blink if I were to quit or get fired or die — right now. So, how is that I can always find the energy to make it there on time and put as much of myself into every call or email as I can manage that day but at the end of the day, I can’t be bothered pursuing the thing that I really want to do?

I want to be a writer. I want to make a living at it. I want to change the world with my words. I have a thousand creative hobbies and a soul-sucking job and those are all things that I use to distract or excuse myself from writing. Because writing may be the scariest thing that I’ve ever done, and it never gets less scary, no matter how many times I’ve done it.

If I make a necklace that comes out shitty, I take it apart and put the pieces of it away, knowing that I’ll make something better with those pieces when I come back to them. When I doodle a shitty sketch, I throw it away. I forget it ever existed. When I crochet something that I hate, I unravel it, re-ball the yarn, and toss it back in its basket. But just the idea that I’ll write poorly will stop me from writing, for months.

Don’t get me wrong; there are SOME stakes with other artforms. Of course, I want something that I spend all of that time and energy on to turn out well. But I don’t expect anything I make out of beads or yarn, or both, to change the world. I don’t need anything that I make out of beads or yarn to change the world. But words — words are what shaped me — not my body or my career or my khakis — but my personhood.

I’ve never been moved to tears by a purse or a bracelet. But I was recently purging some old papers that my mother had written on (it’s only been 9 years since she died, give me a break). These weren’t important papers. They were old receipts that she’d organized into envelopes. On the front of each envelope, she’d written the name of the month in bold, decorative letters in a myriad of colors. Green for March, pink for February, etc. with little doodles of shamrocks and hearts for those respective months.

October 2009 was written with a copper sharpie and highlighted with pink squiggles and underlines. In smaller letters, she’d written “Happy Birthday Crystal!” I peeked into each envelope to make sure there weren’t any hidden gems; poems or songs or letters to strangers, encouraging them to be the amazing people she already knew they were.

There wasn’t anything filed in the envelopes that didn’t belong there. But damned if the idea of throwing away all of that work didn’t hurl me into a hurricane of grief. So, I did the adult thing and deposited my snot and tears into a quick succession of tissues, and then threw the envelopes away. But I did the person thing first and took a photo of every single envelope in that old shoebox. Just like my mother did the adult thing and kept all of her receipts neatly organized, but did the person thing and made it pretty.

We can pretend like we are this civilization that goes to work and pays its rent and erects another skyscraper that nobody wants to work in. And we are. But we’re also this other thing that can’t help but make that skyscraper sparkly or blue or round or shaped like a crescent moon or built to support the world’s largest and most ridiculous swimming pool.

So, I got home from work on Sunday, furious that 12 out of my 16 waking hours is centered around having the same three conversations, over and over, all day, forever. And I said to myself, I have to be able to write for a living. It’s the only thing I can think of that I want to do with my life. So, I have to write. I have to be able to write on demand. I can’t let my creative energy be quenched by fear, before I’m ever asked to write anything.

I started this blog with the intention to explore every story prompt I could find. On Sunday, I wrote 3 stories. Yesterday, I wrote 1. Today, I realized that my rage from Sunday was all gone. All I wanted to do was settle back into my complacency, watching YouTube videos where people criticize other people who make art wrong.

So I thought, do I still want to be a writer? And I vaguely registered that I still did. And then I realized that I really liked the stories that I wrote Sunday and yesterday. And I wasn’t sure if I could keep up the momentum of writing well. And I realized that I have to give myself permission to suck. These are all determinations that I have made before. To write every day, to dedicate my time to pursuing what I really want to be doing, to let myself suck.

And maybe it’s not bad that I end up fighting the same battle every time I sit down to write. It means the stakes are still there. I still give a shit. I still need to change the world. It doesn’t matter how many times or how many ways I try to take the pressure off. The pressure is on, baby. We’re changing lives, here. Or, at least one. My life counts, too. So, it’s 9:43PM on Tuesday night. Bed time is 10:30. Let’s see what pile of crap I can come up with in the next 45 minutes. And maybe tomorrow, I won’t have to give myself an hour-long, 1300-word pep talk.

Opening Line Prompt #4

The Wise Princess

“I would have defeated the aliens if it weren’t for Lyla,” Princess Katrina said in an interview on one of the intergalactic news shows. Actually, she’d told the story a thousand times over the millennia, to anyone who would listen.

“A wall is a stupid idea, Princess,” Lyla had said. “Aliens can go over it, under it, around it. You can’t make a big enough wall to keep everybody out. Don’t waste your time.”

“What do you suggest,” the Princess had asked, annoyed at having had her most brilliant idea ever questioned by this – this — brunette.  

“I mean, you could invite them in, show them grace and magnanimity,” Lyla said, with the confidence of a woman who didn’t know that her hair was brown.

“Treat them like they’re friends? But how would that defeat them?” The Princess demanded.

Lyla shrugged. “They’d stop being enemies if you stopped treating them as though they are. Then you wouldn’t need to defeat them.”

The Princess was sure it wouldn’t work, and had only really done it to spitefully prove how dumb the idea was.

A couple of millennia later, the Princess’ own little corner of the universe was thriving and Lyla was the Princess’ most trusted advisor. Lyla was really just a head in a jar at this point, but that had always been the best part of her, aside from her heart, which the Princess kept in a separate jar.

At the moment, the Princess needed Lyla’s chilled head more than ever before. The doors to the jar room opened with a friendly whoosh. Her high heels clicked purposely against the metal floors as she walked past the jarred heads of her friends, advisors, enemies – anyone she’d wanted to keep around for sentimental reasons. Or to taunt when she was bored.

The Princess found Lyla snoozing, her forehead resting against the glass. Her snores were loud enough to rattle the jar she was in. Tiny bubbles flow out of her nose, as she breathed out the serum that kept her alive. She’d been sleeping more and more lately. The Princess feared that someday soon, she was going to have to grant the request Lyla had been asking of the Princess for centuries – to finally let her die.

But that day was not this day. The Princess tapped rapidly on the glass until Lyla’s milky eyes fluttered open.

“Lyla!” Sometimes Lyla didn’t recognize the Princess, but this day was a lucky day. The Princess was so overjoyed to see Lyla’s face settle into a wry smile, that she didn’t even mock the other woman’s horrific snoring. Though, she did make a mental note to do so, later. “I’m sorry to bother you,” the Princess said. “But I need your help. This may be the most important issue I’ve ever asked your advice on.”

“Alright,” Lyla said, with a gentle exhalation of bubbles.

“Okay.” The Princess backed up and twirled, letting the skirt of her ruby red dress float up. She lost herself in the movement but before she got too dizzy, she stopped, letting her dress settle in graceful swirls around her legs.

Lyla frowned. “What is it you need help with, Princess?”

“My shoes, of course!” The Princess said, pointing to her feet. “Black to contrast, or red to match?”

Lyla’s head hit the glass again as she angled her head to try to see the Princess’ feet. Everything about the Princess was a blur, but Lyla knew that the Princess wouldn’t stop asking until Lyla chose one of the colors. “I like the red?” she asked.

The Princess let out a contented sigh. “Thank you, Lyla. You have never steered me wrong.” The Princess turned to leave, and then spun back, the hem of her dress hitting her shapely calves. She’d chosen this body for that particular feature, after her last one had gotten too old to be attractive.

“Oh, one more thing, Lyla,” the Princess said. “I have a diplomatic mission first thing tomorrow morning. The fates of billions of people and aliens rest on the result of this mission. I need to know if, to open, I should compliment the super fat duke of Argona on his massive collection of chins, or if I shouldn’t bring them up at all. I know you’ve already answered this a bunch of times, but I keep forgetting!”

But Lyla’s eyelids had drifted closed again. The Princess frowned. No snoring noises shook the jar; no bubbles flowed from Lyla’s nose. Even though the Princess hadn’t given her permission to die, Lyla had stopped breathing.

“Oh no,” the Princess said, sorrow welling up in her eyes. She shook her head, shudders of grief impeding her own breathing. “I didn’t even ask her about my nail polish, and now I’ll never have the chance!”

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #3

He hadn’t been known as Neal for years. He hadn’t been known as anything. He’d been wandering around the Afterlife – for how long? An eternity? Two? And he hadn’t seen anyone else. He’d felt the time pass. He’d felt his loved ones die, but he hadn’t been reunited with any of them. He’d felt wars and famines and genocides. He’d felt babies being born, and innocent laughter and the depths of human generosity.

But he hadn’t seen anybody. Or heard anybody. Until now. At first, he thought he was dreaming, but the last time he’d slept was when he was alive. Still, there they were, six people – humans, all of them – he could feel their humanity – sitting around a table, playing poker.

“What’s your name?” asked a pretty lady with red hair and red lipstick who didn’t know and didn’t care that those colors were supposed to clash. And she was right. He liked the clash. It looked like the sounds his favorite band made when he’d been alive. Her husky voice was jarring in its normalcy, with Neal having existed in silence for so long.

Neal had to think about it. “Neal,” he said. “I think.”

“Good to meet ya, Neal.” This came from a boisterous Texan with a cowboy hat and everything.

“Have a seat.” The invitation came from a petite blonde with sharp eyes and short, clean fingernails.

And it felt like an invitation. It was like climbing into a buddy’s warm truck on a cold night, that mix of familiarity and anticipation in the air.

Neal sat in the empty chair and realized that his hand had already been dealt. “I don’t have anything to gamble with,” he said.

“We deal in souls,” a black man with a sweet smile and sad eyes said, breaking it to Neal gently. “You only have one, but that’s enough to get you in the game.”

In the middle of the table was a pile of chips. The chips were formed of a luminescent violet fog. The players had similar chips in front of them. The sharp-eyed lady had the most. The Texan had none left in front of him. He’d gone all in before Neal had sat down.

Neal hesitated. He’d walked into a trap but what was the trap, exactly? The empty chair must have belonged to someone else at some point. Somebody who had run out of chips. Somebody who had started out with only one? Perhaps. Many times, in fact, he could feel the truth of that vibrating through his body.

And everybody at the table had chips in front of them, which meant that they were comfortable taking other peoples’ souls. It also meant that they’d all taken the chance that they were now asking Neal to take. They’d all come to the same realizations he just had.

Neal wanted to rise, to walk away from the table. But the aeons came crashing down on him, paralyzing him. Who knew how much longer he’d be alone, if he got up and walked away now? What if another several eternities from now, he just came across another table – or the same one, with different players? How many tables could a man walk away from before he gave in and stayed, just out of sheer loneliness?

He looked around the table, and forgave them all.

Opening Line Prompt taken from here: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #2

“The key to a healthy lifestyle is making people think you are dull.”

“Huh?” I look up from my half-empty, lukewarm glass of wine. I only drink red in front of work colleagues to make myself seem more classy but I am a Moscato girl at heart. With each reluctant sip, this stuff tastes more and more like the feet that stomped it.

“See? It’s working.” Clark raises up his glass of water, indicating that he wants to toast. I clink my glass against his. “You already think I’m dull as hell,” he says with a grin.

He’s right. I don’t even know his last name because I’ve called him ‘Clark Kent’ in my mind for the past two years. He’s good looking enough; he bears more than a passing resemblance to Christopher Reeve, but he is supernaturally boring. I don’t even know what he does at the company because every time he opens his mouth at a meeting, his words flow past me, over me, through me, but they don’t connect to any of the synapses in my brain.

“That’s not true, Clark,” I lie.

“My name is Clint,” he says.

“Shit.” My answer is muffled by my glass as I take another sip.

He’s not offended. He just grins. He holds his glass up again. It’s about three-quarters full. He even drinks water at boring rate. He leans toward me. “This is vodka,” he whispers.

“Bullshit.” This is my second glass of foot juice, and judging by the loosening of my potty-mouth filter, it should be my last. “Prove it,” I say, a tinge belligerence to my voice.

Clint and I are standing near a window, at the edge of the room, both avoiding human interaction like the plague – at least, we were. Clint shifts so that his back is briefly to the room so that he can pour some of his water into my wine. He shifts back, and I take a sip. Hngggghhkh…so the red feet are on fire – yep, that’s vodka, alright.

“Who are you?” I ask. “I’ve known you for two years –”

“Three,” Clint corrects with a laugh. “Do you need me to prove that, too?” he asks in response to the involuntary shake of my head.

I cough. “I’m so sor—”

He holds up a hand. “It’s fine.” He shrugs. “I want people to think I’m boring. To tune me out at meetings…” he grins at my flush of embarrassment.

“Why?”

He shrugs. “Like I was saying earlier, it helps me avoid CrossFit and kale and whatever stupid crap people are overdoing at any given moment in time.” A grimace mars his suddenly much more interesting face. “These people don’t get to know me.”

“But I do?”

His gaze sears into mine, making me wonder how I’ve gone two – three – years, blind to his intensity. Heat blooms throughout my entire body. My grasp on my glass loosens, and he reaches out, his hand firm across the back of mine as he presses my fingers closed around the stem of the glass. He steps closer. “Do you want to?”

Opening Line Prompt from : https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/

Opening Line Prompt #1

There are only three things in life that truly matter: Harry Hamerton, sugar and chocolate.  So that’s what I wished for, from the genie.

She looked at me with an eyebrow tweaked, and then shrugged. “Okay. Here you go.” She made a graceful flourish with her hands and in a poof of smoke, she was holding three small drawstring bags.

She handed me the white one first. It was gauzy and its surface shimmered with tiny crystals. It was surprisingly heavy. She handed me the brown one second. It was smooth and satiny, and almost slipped through my fingers. The third bag was bubblegum pink, with a heart-shaped ruby rhinestone bead drawing the bag closed.

She hesitated, dangling the bag before my dazzled eyes. “Are you sure you want this one – in this manner – as a wish?”

I nodded. Why would she even ask?

“Alright.” I heard her shrug, this time, still unable to tear my gaze away from the bag.

The first two bags filled my palms, so she hung the third on my pinkie finger. The ruby winked at me, the sweetest promise of all.

I managed bring my attention – barely – back to the genie. “Thank you,” I said, gratitude spilling out of my pores and infusing my words.

She shook her head, her general air of mischief dimming a bit. “You seem like a nice kid,” she said, regret deepening her flute-ish voice. “I apologize in advance.” Then she disappeared in a puff of smoke that smelled like honeysuckle and tasted like cotton candy.

“I didn’t even get to wish her free,” I murmured, my attention already recaptured by the bags in my hands.

I’d watched enough movies to know that she’d handed me three curses disguised as blessings, but I couldn’t imagine how anything I’d wished for could bring me anything but the deepest joy.

I don’t know how I got home but I distinctly remember placing the bags on the coffee table that I’d had since I was a child and begged off of my parents when I finally got my own place.

I opened the white bag. Sugar spilled out, tiny diamonds glimmering against the dark wood and scratched glass inlays. The chocolate flowed up in chunks and nuggets – dark, milk, white. Some with nuts, with raisins, with pretzels, some just smoothest and creamiest dreams the angels ever breathed into existence. I had to close the bags again, to halt the conjuration, but I reveled in the luxury of having as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted.

With some trepidation, I turned to the final bag. Harry Hamerton was my boyfriend in kindergarten; my first and purest love. The genies with their tricky wishes – would multiple Harry clones spill out until I closed the bag again? Would it be just one Harry, but the version of him that I fell in love with in the first place; me in my early twenties, him still tying his shoes with the bunny-ear method? I hadn’t seen Harry in almost twenty years, what if he’d died young; his dead body was in the bag, half-decomposed, with teams of maggots crawling out of his orifices?

Was that the curse? To spend the rest of my life imagining worst-case scenarios, and never opening the bag? To hell with that! With trembling fingers, I slid the ruby heart bead down the lace ribbon holding the bag shut. I stood back and held my breath.

The bag dissolved and morphed into a cloud of musky smoke. And then Harry was there, holding my hands. And he was smiling and a grown-up and handsome and alive. I looked into his eyes and my heart stopped, and then sank, and then shattered into a million pieces when I realized the magnitude of my mistake.

Harry’s loving gaze took on a quizzical cast. “Are you okay, my darling?” he asked.

I nodded numbly, wishing I couldn’t see that red, heart-shaped sparkle in the middle of his left pupil. I’d wished for Harry, and I’d gotten him. But Harry hadn’t wished for me.

This post generated by Opening Line prompt from: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/