I wanted to make a writing prompt that’s different from those I’ve been working with as of late. As a reader, I always have a stack of books nearby. The top of the stack is oftentimes the book I’m currently reading. As I sat here searching for inspiration, my eyes landed on that stack. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Shake it up writing prompt
Grab the book you are currently reading.
For the title:
First word: Turn to page 127, Go to line 25, and Use the 5th word
Second word: Turn to page 8, Go to line 17, and Use the 2nd word
Third word: Turn to page 91, Go to line 32, and Use the 14th word
Fourth word: Turn to page 311, Go to line 3, and Use the 28th word
Turn to page 222, Go to line 26, The first full sentence is your opening line
Let the title and opening line be your story guide. Go wherever the words may lead you.
I am currently reading You Betrayed Me by Lisa Jackson. I found that some of my numbers meant going on to the following lines. I figured that’s okay.
So, Mirror Snowfall Away
Once parked, Sophia had climbed out of her car, keys in one gloved hand, and had walked in knee-high boots to her end unit. A bare bulb flickered and sputtered behind her. She fumbled with the key in the lock. It slid home, and she felt the tumblers tumble as she turned it.
The door opened, and she stumbled in behind it. She kicked it closed behind her as she dropped her purse on the floor. She stumbled to the couch and belly-flopped into the overstuffed cushions.
Just a small nap, she promised herself as she drifted off.
She awoke hours later feeling groggy. Sofia swiped at her gritty eyes as she pulled herself into a sitting position. She looked down at her feet, still trapped in those awful boots. She slid the zipper down and freed her feet. She pulled off her thick knitted socks and tossed them haphazardly aside.
She stripped off her clothes, tossing them along the path to the bedroom. She found a pair of comfortable sweat pants that looked clean and slipped into an oversized t-shirt. She pulled her hair into a knot as she headed for the kitchen to put on the kettle.
She’d had a long, cold day walking the streets in heels that were better suited to the office work she normally did. Her boss had sent her on what she was certain had amounted to a wild goose chase of a scavenger hunt.
She retrieved the small paper bag from her purse while she waited for the kettle’s whistle. She sat at her kitchen table and slid a mountain of papers out of the way before sliding the small item from the bag. She smoothed out the bag and placed the item on top of it.
The kettle whistled. Sofia pulled a tea bag from the canister and dropped it into a mug she grabbed from the drainboard. She poured the hot water. She returned her attention to the item she’d retrieved for her boss while the tea steeped.
She picked it up and turned it over and over again. It looked like a small makeup compact. It was tarnished silver. The hinges had rusted. She thumbed the clasp but nothing happened. It was seized shut from age and time.
She stirred a generous amount of sugar and a large splash of cream into her tea and carried it back to the table with her. She stared at the small compact, daring it to reveal its secrets. She sipped her tea. She contemplated.
Recalling that she’d once heard ketchup can remove both rust and tarnish, she retrieved a toothbrush from the bathroom cabinet and found a bottle of ketchup in her mostly bare fridge. She folded the now empty bag and slipped it back into her purse for safekeeping.
Sofia covered the table with junk mail and advertisements. She squirted a generous amount of ketchup into a bowl. She set to work scrubbing the compact with ketchup and a toothbrush.
After nearly twenty minutes, nothing seemed to be happening. She abandoned it covered in ketchup and headed to bed. She’d wipe it clean in the morning, slip it back in its bag, and hand it over to her boss as soon as she got to the office. He’d never be the wiser.
In the morning, the snow was piled high outside her window. The weatherman said that the city was snowed in and nobody was going anywhere. She wondered how he’d made it to the station to tell everyone else they couldn’t make it to work today.
Her phone was ringing. She began the hunt. It was muffled. Her purse, maybe? Nope. She glanced in the kitchen, but it wasn’t in any of the obvious places. She stuck her hands in the crevices of the couch. Nothing.
The ringing stopped. It started again. She dropped to her hands and knees and searched under the couch, reaching all the way back until her fingers wiggled beside the opposite leg. She felt around like Velma looking for her glasses.
“My phone,” she tinged her voice with just the right amount of panic. “I can’t text without my phone.”
She laughed at her terrible humor as the ringing picked up again. Was that coming from the kitchen?
She opened drawers and cabinets. She tossed papers around on the table, careful not to bury the boss’s antique compact. She finally found it in the fridge where the ketchup usually sat. Laughing heartily, she answered just as it began to ring again.
“Yes, sir. I have it here.”
She peppered in a few mmhmms as he droned on and on about how important this compact was to him. She half-listened as he warned her not to underestimate antique items such as that little mirror.
“I understand, sir. I’ll keep it safe with me, sir.”
She assured him that nobody but her was in her apartment. She reminded him that if she couldn’t leave because of the snowstorm then nobody could come over, either. She released a sigh of relief when he finally hung up.
She set the kettle to boil. Tea and some cinnamon raisin toast sounded like a cozy winter breakfast for a snow day. She dropped a couple slices into the toaster and pulled the butter from the cabinet along with a plate. She dropped a tea bag into her mug and waited for her breakfast to finish.
Once her toast had been buttered and her tea properly doctored, she took her breakfast to the couch and settled in in front of the tv. She found old reruns of Forever Knight and nibbled at her toast while she watched the hot vampire detective unravel the latest murder.
Sofia remembered the little compact when Nick Knight’s reflection appeared in a mirror. Her boss had called the little compact a little mirror while he was warning her about underestimating antiques. She shut off the tv and returned to the kitchen.
She snatched a roll of paper towels off the top of the refrigerator, set the kettle to boil for another cup of tea, and settled in at the table to scrub the ketchup mess off of her boss’s antique compact mirror. She wiped off the globs of ketchup. The pile of used paper towels grew into a mound. The kettle whistled.
While her tea seeped, she polished the compact with a slightly dampened paper towel. She was hoping to remove the smell of ketchup. To her surprise, it started to shine.
She cleaned the crusted ketchup from the bristles of the toothbrush with a little dish soap and hot water. She blotted them dry on a fresh paper towel. Using the bristles, Sofia knocked the bits of ketchup and rust from the hinges and clasp.
She doctored her tea and sipped while she flicked absently at the clasp with her thumb. It startled her when it popped open, and she snatched her hand away as if it had burned. She set her mug gently on the table and stared in amazement.
The mirror –was it a mirror?– reminded her of a snow globe. The flakes swirled and fell and stirred and swirled again. Sofia reached for it slowly. She hesitated. She pulled back.
What had her boss been saying while she hadn’t been listening? The snowflakes were mesmerizing in the way they lifted and fell and twirled about, almost as though they were dancing.
Sofia could feel herself swaying to the rhythm of the flakes. Soon, she could hear the musical notes as they fell and lifted to the same cadence as the flakes. She lifted the compact and brought it to her face.
It was just her reflection looking back at her. Before the disappointment could fully register, her reflection began to lift and drop and swirl as it became the snowflakes. She spread her arms wide and danced and twirled like a ballerina as the snowflakes swirled around her.
Twirl and dip and leap and swirl. The stage spread out before her. Her clothes fell away as a magical gown spun of silver thread fell in their place. Her feet were encased in silver ballet slippers with thick satin ribbons that wrapped up her legs and ended in a bow behind her thighs. Her messy knot tightened into a perfect bun and a diamond-studded tiara encircled her head.
Sofia danced and twirled and leaped and pirouetted. She lifted her arms to encircle her head. Around and round and round she spun, eyes always forward never leaving the audience.
She hadn’t noticed an audience before. Where had they come from?
Pirouette and leap. She felt strong hands grab her waist gently but firmly. Suddenly she was being lifted. She knew the moves and executed them beautifully.
The audience stood, applauding as they tossed roses with big beautiful bright blooms in an array of colors onto the stage. Sofia took her bows, scooping up armsful of roses with each dip.
She was flush with color and sweat glistened on her skin. Her chest rose and fell rapidly. Her smile –the first genuine one she’d donned in years– lit up her face from ear to ear. She felt exhilarated.
She was back in her kitchen, standing near her table, and gazing at her distorted reflection in an antique piece of looking glass ensconced in an old silver compact. The sounds of the audience and the scent from the roses were fading away.
Only the smile remained.
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