Prompted - Petit mal Monday October 30, 2006, 0 comments

I’ve never written from a prompt before, but this one was sent to me, and it was so random that I decided to see what I could come up with. The prompt looked like this:

Write about: a cardboard box, three oranges, and an old book.

Admittedly not as random as, say, a lawnmower, the tooth fairy and three dollars, but still.

Petit mal

Karen wrestled with the front door of her flat. She hadn’t locked it when she left, but It was finicky at the best of times, and now, with a heavy box in her arms, it was of course locked. She could put the box down, but it was falling apart and she was worried it would collapse under its own bulk if she set it down. That was something she didn’t want to deal with.

Balancing the box precariously against her cheek and the frame of the door, she reached carefully behind her and into her purse. A few moments rummaging produced her keys. By feel, she tried to locate the key for the door. It’s the round one, she told herself. Her fingers ran over the edges of keys she didn’t even remember, until she felt the familiar smooth edge of the one that would open her door. Sighing with relief, she slid it into the knob and turned it.

She shouldered her way through the door and was greeted with the yelp of her cat Harvey as she stepped on his tail. Stupid cat, she grumbled as she slid the box onto the kitchen counter. Sure enough, by the time she had picked Harvey up to comfort him, the box had split down one edge and spilled its contents across the counter and floor. As if in a Hollywood film, all three of the oranges paused gracefully at the edge of the table before committing wet, juicy suicide on the floor below.

“No oranges tonight, Harvey,” she said to the purring cat.

She sighed and picked the undamaged foods up from the floor. A gentle wash later, and most of it was packed away into the refrigerator. The apple’s went in the fruit bowl on the coffee table, the pears in a paper bag on the counter. The oranges were picked up and thrown in the compost bucket.

She poured herself a glass of wine and settled down on the sofa with a book. It was an old book, by a Canadian author. She recalled it from her younger days, that it has been a bit of a cult hit among girls her age. She’d not read it, mostly out of spite, but now such feelings were silly, so she’d picked the book up when she had seen it in the cart outside the used book shop.

Boxes and oranges forgotten, she lost herself in its pages.


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If I had known I was going to live to 100, I'd have taken up violin at 60.”
- Unknown centagenerian, on her 100th birthday


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