Opening Line Prompt #10

Miranda had grown accustomed to getting her own way. More than that, she had grown accustomed to the world being fair – at least, to her. Miranda had achieved massive success with a silly little app that some people said would eventually be credited with saving human civilization. She’d followed up with other apps that were less impressive on a global scale, but that were all useful to everyday life.

This meant that not only was she enormously wealthy but that all of her creature comforts were anticipated. She was surrounded by people who liked and respected her, and that she liked and respected. And that sense of well-being carried over into her overall worldview.

One morning, Miranda was getting ready for work when she realized that she hadn’t purchased her own morning cup of coffee in about a decade.

Feeling slightly guilty, she decided to duck out before one of her assistants could show up with said coffee. As she got behind the wheel of her BMW, she realized that the key fob she’d been carrying around had become largely ornamental. She briefly wondered with a mixture of amusement and alarm if she remembered how to drive a car.

As the engine purred to life, Miranda put on her seatbelt and then adjusted her mirrors. She took a deep breath before putting the car into drive. At the end of her driveway, she hit the remote that opened the gates – and realized that she hadn’t done that since she’d bought the house – okay, mansion.

She pulled out. She could hear her heart beating in her ears as she hit the remote to close the gates again. As they swung shut, she resisted the urge to turn the car around, reopen those gates, and wait for her assistants to show up and prep her for the day.

This was stupid. She’d graduated from high school three years early and had been living on her own since she was sixteen – not because her parents were terrible but just because she liked her independence. When had that changed?

She wasn’t even sure how to get to her own favorite Starbucks, so she just pulled into the first one she saw. She was grateful that the parking lot was empty enough that she could pull in an out several times as she attempted to park properly.

As she stepped out of the car, she felt shaky on her own legs. Could she even walk without being supported on each elbow by a competent assistant? She approached the Starbucks, her thoughts a jumbled mess. Did she even remember her own order anymore? Did she have money to pay? Yes, her phone was in her purse, she was fine. God, she hadn’t even gotten to work yet and she was already exhausted.

The Starbucks was warm after the cool winter air, and Miranda breathed in, glad to be still, for a moment. She stood behind a woman who tapped her foot rapidly as she waited. Miranda admired the woman’s sense of purpose as Miranda examined the menu. The woman moved up to order. “Finally!” she snapped at the barista. “Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”  

Miranda winced at the woman’s tone but still had some appreciation for her confidence.

“That’ll be $2.95,” the barista said, her smile barely faltering.

The woman inserted her credit card. “You really need to work on your long lines,” she said. “Every time I come in here, I’m waiting forever.”

Miranda looked around. There had only been one person in front of the woman when she’d walked in and there was no one else in the shop.

“I’m sorry about the wait, ma’am,” the barista – Cheryl – said, her voice warm, and her smile still sweet. Only her eyes gave away the injustice of this statement, but the woman wasn’t looking at Cheryl and didn’t notice.

The machine grunted.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, your credit card didn’t work,” can you try that again?” Cheryl asked.

The woman sighed. “Unbelievable,” she snapped, inserting her card again.

The machine grunted again, this time even more definitely.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, do you have another form of payment,” Cheryl asked.

Her eyes darted to Miranda, who smiled encouragingly. Cheryl smiled back.

“My card is good!” The woman shoved the card into the barista’s face. “Can’t you just use another machine?”

Cheryl jerked her head away from the woman’s card, and then stepped over to the second register. “Of course,” she said, her expression still sweet, but with a bit of strain around the edges of her eyes. She tapped the order into the second machine. “$2.95,” she reminded the woman.

The woman inserted her card. The machine grunted.

“Unbelievable! This stupid Starbucks never accepts my card! You’re such an incompetent idiot that you can never get your machine to work properly!”

Miranda, who had been about to offer to pay for the woman’s coffee, was taken aback by the woman’s sudden vitriol. She noticed that the barista didn’t seem surprised by the woman’s outburst. Tears welled up in her eyes despite the smile that was attempting to hold on to her face.

“I’m here every day! I can’t believe that you would treat a regular customer like this!”

“Ma’am, I’ve paid for your coffee every day this week,” Cheryl said calmly. “And the week before, Jane paid for your coffee. You may want to call your ban—”

She was interrupted by the woman’s angry shriek. “How dare you!” She reached out to slap the barista, but her arm paused halfway to Cheryl’s face and then the woman crumpled to the ground.

Miranda, who had barely been able to get her stun gun app open through all of the panicked texts from her assistants, breathed a sigh of relief.

She looked up at Cheryl’s shocked face and gave a rueful sigh. “I need to create an app that allows you to ignore incoming texts.” She took a deep breath and then said, “I haven’t ordered my own coffee in forever and I don’t even know what I like anymore. What do you recommend?”

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

Opening Line Prompt #9

If I’d become a dentist, then Vaughan would still be alive. Instead, I became a rodeo clown, and like everything else I ever did in my life, Vaughan had to do the same. Now, every time I climb into a barrel, Vaughan’s ghost creeps in, along with the tastes of sweat and battered plastic.

“Steve,” he whispers, like he used to late at night, when we still shared a bunk bed.

“Yeah.” I don’t want to answer, but I never could ignore him, no matter how tired I was.

“I’m lonely,” he whispers. “Why don’t you die, too, so that we can be together again?”

I hear the gate open and I pop up out of the barrel, as much to escape my dead brother, as to see what’s going on. The bull comes out fast, not pussyfooting around the gate. Johnny up top is holding on strong. The bull chases Clint over to the gate. Clint hops up nimbly but the bull slashes at his legs with his horns. I pick up the barrel and run, hollering at the bull.

The bull spots me just as the horn sounds and Johnny flies off of the bull’s back. Johnny lands on his feet, more or less, and runs back to the gate, while the bull heads for me. I drop the barrel and put my feet up on the plate and duck down.

“Steve,” Vaughan whispers.

This is a feisty one. He hits the barrel with enough force to send me flying. I land with a thud and wait out the roll.

“Yeah, Buddy,” I whisper back, as horn enters the top of the barrel, missing my face by less than an inch.

The horn disappears and I continue rolling as the thundering of the bull’s hooves move away from me.

“Can’t you do it, huh? Just die, for me,” Vaughan whispers.

“I don’t know, Buddy,” I whisper back. “I have Sandra and the girls to think of, and besides, did you see Ma’s and Pa’s faces at your funeral? I can’t do that to them.”

I can feel the barrel being tilted right side up. Cheering indicates that this round is over. This is my cue to stand up, revealing my intact head and torso, and waving my hat in the air.

But I stay where I am for just another second, waiting on Vaughan’s response. I can’t live with Vaughan haunting me like this, I know that.

Silence. Then, as Clint peers down in the barrel, Vaughan lets out a long sigh. “Okay,” he says. “But just don’t forget about me, okay?”

“You okay, “Buddy?” Clint holds his hand out to me. I don’t need it, but I take it anyway and stand. I take my hat off and wave it in the air. The audience that had grown quiet due to my delay in showing, erupted into applause.

Clint is the only one close enough to see tears smudge the painted smile on my face.

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

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 #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/