Category Archives: Prompt

Prompt: Pushing Stick Figures Around

Flying Stick Figure
Flying Stick Figure

My mind works in funny ways.  It always has.  If I had to explain it, I’d probably say something about that’s just how the creative mind works.  But since I don’t have to explain and I’m used to the idea of being what others consider quirky and odd, I’ll just say this, “Yup, I’m weird.”

A post on Facebook by author Baer Charlton, sparked an idea.  Proving, to me at least, that inspiration comes from anywhere.

Baer was discussing the lack of character development in a book he’d just read and listed all the things he didn’t know about the protagonist, including what color her hair was.  And I thought, “oh, her hair is electric blue,” like it was the most obvious thing on the planet.

I don’t much trust myself with fiction because I’m not sure I could bear the weight of consistency which fiction requires.  But Baer’s list struck me as an interesting exercise.  As did his quote about how bad the character development was in this book he’d read.

This book was the worst case of stick figures being pushed around in a story line.

What follows is my response to Baer’s post.

Her hair was electric blue, in a straight cut just below her ears.  She hated when it was long enough to cover her neck, but not long enough to pin up out of the way.  She also hated having to do anything other than wash and comb, so she kept it short.

She also kept her hair short so that it wasn’t awful to deal with when she hit the open road in her 1955  ruby red Thunderbird.  At least the last guy she lived with had been good for something.  His restoration job was gorgeous.  But when she caught him online having some sort of weird sexual orgy with people from all over the world, she knew it was time to pack up and leave.  Besides Nellie Belle, a box of books, a box of clothes and a laptop, was all she owned anymore.

Twiddling with the radio, looking for the comedy routine called church radio, which could only be found on the AM dial and was best enjoyed on the back-roads of Middle America, she heaved what used to be an ample bosom in a deep sigh.

The moonlight reflected off the deep burgundy color of her fingernails.  She still hadn’t figured out a great story to tell when people asked why she was missing part of her right pinkie finger.  Telling them her father thought it would be funny to see what else garden shears could cut was just too painful to relive.  Mostly, she shrugged and smiled when asked.

Hating that she was nearly 60 and there was still so much she wanted to do, the trip from Ohio to New Mexico was yet another attempt at sorting things.  She had a score to settle with her parents.  Her mother died before the score had even been tallied, and one of the things on her long list of things to do before she died was to settle up with her father.

Grinning as yet another preacher profaned the word of God while making a plea for money, her stomach rumbled.  “Oh, hungry,” she said out loud.  Didn’t seem that long since the last bacon double cheeseburger with onion rings, and the cherry shake had gone down.

And now she was out on a two-lane in god knew where Indiana. A night owl by nature, it’d be another couple of hours before she would be ready to bed down somewhere. It was unlikely there’d be a burger place open at 2 or 3AM. Damn, she was going to have to settle for an energy bar stashed in the Wonder Woman lunch box on the seat next to her. When she stopped for the night, she’d look for WiFi and figure out where the next really great burger place was. The internet was good for things like that.

It was also good for things like talking to people in murky places with even murkier morals willing to help one quirky older woman settle her scores. Her father would never know what hit him. Too bad it wouldn’t get her the finger and the years he took from her back.