A few months ago I stumbled onto a drabble writing group online. Before finding the group I had no idea what a drabble was. Each week the moderator posts a new prompt. The prompts could be a song title, a single word, or even a picture. Then you use that prompt as a jumping off point to write a story in 100 words or less.
Drabble: A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.
I'm not much of a writer and I have never had ambitions to become one. Somehow the idea of the drabble wormed its way into my head and now I look forward to the new writing prompts each week. It is a small creative challenge that gives me a chance to practice writing just for the sake of it. There is no competition, no awards, nothing important at stake. Just the chance to flex your mental muscles. The pressure is off because you're not trying to write the next great American novel or an amazing screenplay or something that will shake humanity to its core. You're just writing small vignettes to convey some small meaning. There is something wonderfully freeing about the restriction of only 100 words.
I've submitted several drabbles to the group. There are several more that I haven't posted. Some because they felt too personal to share, others because they felt half baked or needed more work. Here's a few drabbles I've written in the last few months.
There are thousands of platitudes about forgiveness. In the years following the event she heard them all. Everyone meant well, but clichés couldn't erase pain. There’s no drive thru window where she could order a hot cup of peace, and drive away satisfied. In the end she decided forgiveness was building a cairn. Its purpose is to mark progress on your path. On good days you add a pebble as you pass. On bad days you kick it to pieces and start over, stone upon fallen stone. One day she started a new path and left the pain behind, forgotten.The prompt for this one was "Dialogue only" . That was a lot more difficult than I anticipated. But I think this one turned out ok.
“Scott? Where did you go just now?”The prompt for this one was "Present". I love words. Especially words that have so many diverse meanings.
“Huh? I’m right here.”
“Your body’s here but you were looking through me, I knew you weren’t listening.”
“Oh, um, I’m really sorry…”
“No, don’t apologize, I’m not mad, just curious where your mind was. Some place warmer than here I hope. Sorry, lame joke. I was just nervous babbling, I do that on first dates. Sorry, I’m not very good at this.”
“Don’t you start apologizing or we’ll start a vicious cycle. I really didn’t mean to get distracted. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“And go where?”
“Some place warmer.”
She fumbled about for her ringing cell in the dark. Muddled, only half awake, she didn’t check the caller ID.I think this is my favorite so far. It feels like there could be so much more, but I'm also happy with it as it is. I'll admit that the inspiration was only partially the prompt "Elysian" but more the poem "By Morning" by May Swenson. She's my hometown literary hero.
His voice brought her fully awake like an electric shock. She cursed herself for not screening the call.
“What do you want?”
“I miss you, I want to come back.”
“It’s been over for 4 years, the answer is still no. I’m sorry, goodbye.”
Years of bad marriage once again settled on her chest like a weight. The radio alarm suddenly crooned a Lumineers song “…the only gifts from my lord were birth and a divorce…”. She sighed.
She stirred, unsure why she had awakened. Slipping on her robe she looked over her shoulder at her slumbering husband. It hadn’t been him that disturbed her sleep. She frowned at the dark circles under his eyes, grateful and regretful that he had to work so much.
She padded to the window, air from heating vents billowed curtains. Looking out between the dancing fabric she saw the city had been turned into glistening canyons and mountains of white. “A snow day at last” she whispered to him as she slipped into bed, kissed his forehead, sighed, and fell back asleep.