Writing Prompt: Day 160

160.jpgDay 160 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character’s outdoor decorations.

Shannon: Mrs. Wilson was always a proponent of self-expression though decorations that spoke to her heart. I’d always admired the ones she kept outside. She had a modest little village of fairy homes located in her backyard garden. They were very intricate, and whenever I saw them I’d get this rush of childlike wonder, hoping the magical creatures were real and truly did need shelter from time to time. I found it cute how she’d place a gnome holding a walking stick nearby that seemed to be watching over them.

Erin: I never understood my neighbors. They had completely lost the character of the house when they moved in. They cut down the tree in the front yard, and removed the garden. All that was left was grass, and one statue. It was of a ladybug riding on a tortoise back. It was not substantial enough to stand alone. Yet that is what it had to do. I never got over there to ask them if the lawn ornament had any particular meaning to them. I would today.

How does your character make their house beautiful?

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 160

  1. Where my brother, Leo, and I are from, people spend more time outside in nature than cooped up in their wooden boxes. Ever since we were little, we explored the great outdoors beyond anything our parents expected, and learned more from our alone time in nature than most kids learned being taught to fear the very things that make us most alive. The forests surrounding out house taught us to be wary of unseen voices and to stand tall for what we believe in, while the woodland creatures which scampered about in the underbrush reminded us that keeping alert kept us safe. When I was alone, I swear the birds discussed matters of utmost import in crystal clear English, their clacking beaks chattering in a tongue no one could learn. Crouching deep in the forest, Leo said the cougars and stray cats bestowed knowledge of hunts and berries upon him in times of need.
    As soon as we boarded that hellish barge to Port Obscurity, we left behind the wild spaces and freedoms of our normal lives; even the seagulls wheeling about in the churning air above our heads were silent. Making my way, brother in tow, across the massive, manicured university campus, I shivered at the extreme lack of nature that one would have expected to peek out from the nooks and crannies of such an old establishment. Creepers had been trimmed carefully to avoid ruining the perfect brick façade on the main building and rose bushes were scarlet and emerald spheres sitting on stone pedestals on either side of the front doors. If there had ever been a still-beating heart of the university, it had long ago been cut back into a perfect shape to satisfy the destruction of nature.
    Leo left to find his room and I tensely lugged my humble canvas duffle bag through the first set of doors into a dorm building, checking my letter for a room number. Sighing at the designation of a first-floor room, I wandered down the first hallway on the left and found my door closed and, the room beyond empty. While I knew there were some students arriving on the very last day, I thought we’d waited long enough to arrive.
    Dejectedly, I stepped into the room without flicking the light on; inside, the floor-length blinds were closed so there was a murky quality to the air. I dropped my bag beside the bed on the left, which was identical in every way possible with the one on the right, and flopped down on the uncomfortable mattress, pining for my treehouse.

    I must have dozed off because I was suddenly awakened by Leo tapping my shoulder insistently, almost jumping out of his skin with excitement. “Raven, haven’t you looked out your window yet?” he whined like a puppy, tugging on my limp limbs as I glared daggers at his cheer. “Come on, get up, get up!” When he almost giggled with glee, I finally propped myself up, rubbing a sore spot in the middle of my back that, I figured, I’d have for the next two terms I’d spend in the lumpy bed. Unsteadily, I dropped to my feet, which were still encased in my damp runners, and was pulled toward the black-out curtains.
    After a moment, Leo rolled his eyes insolently, sighed with his entire being and lifted my hand to make me grip the rough fabric. Staring at me expectantly, he groaned. “Alright, fine!” I bellowed, tearing open the drapes and turning immediately back to him, “What did you want to show me that was so freaking important?” But, after a moment, I did a double take and realized exactly what he’d been so excited about through the rain-stained glass and mouldy frame.
    Instead of two enormous windows that looked out over the grounds like the dorm rooms featured in the pamphlets, my room had two small square windows and a set of sliding doors leading outside. Touching the cool glass with my hand, I leaned against it to peer outside before unlatching the lock and throwing the door wide open. A frosty breeze swept past us, ruffling the loose drapery and slamming the dorm door shut with a snap. Just outside my room was a tiny square garden with rotting beds around the edges and chipped paving stones in the center. A short line of cropped bushes hid the slice of paradise from the general student body; letting my little garden stay a secret, at least in my eyes.

    The sun’s first, drowsy rays were just creeping over the mountain as I stretched and yawned in my bed, the first couple feet of carpet around the door soaked through with salty rainwater. After several trips down to the local garden store I’d managed to create a small oasis in what little space I had outdoors.
    Along the far side was a line a brightly-painted birdhouses with down and twigs in a small pile below them to encourage the native birds to nest. Two of six were already full of chirruping birds singing their morning songs, while the others stood empty and waiting for the next bird to flutter by. Across the space, a small lean-to covered a trough with fresh, unsalted water for critters like squirrels and cats to drink, while beside that was a raised platform for cold and damp creatures to have a quick, safe nap away from prying eyes. Currently, a chipmunk was curled in a miniscule, fuzzy ball with its tiny body snuggled into a bed of rags. Another platform was perched atop the water dishes with a pair of stray cats nestled in, purring gently in their sleep.
    When I’d finally collapsed from the exhaustion of creating such a stunning and comforting place for the untamed wildlife here, I’d been too tired to notice that the door was still open. With only a threadbare sheet and lumpy pillow to comfort me through the night, I was frozen to the bone, but a smile still stretched my lips thin at the sight of creatures enjoying my oasis. Shutting the door softly, so as not to wake my slumbering guests, I padded softly back to my bed, idly wondering where my shoes might have gotten to, when I spotted a mottled envelope resting upon the desk.
    I picked the page up, unable to smell the stale salt that had diluted the crisp-paper scent, and examined the blue seal with intricate swirls and swishes to match the mystery of how it had gotten there without my noticing. With a fleeting glance at the innards scrawled in neat printing, I let it flutter to the desk and hopped back in bed; I could barely make out a single word in my current state. So I fell back into the land of dreams with the annoying tweeting of robins bragging about their perfectly-pruned feathers intruding on my tired fantasies.

    In the late morning, Leo came calling with coffee and scones picked up from the bakery, along with the promise of a fantastic surprise before breakfast. Though it took two tries, he managed to rouse me from the comforting warmth of my blanket and into the real world where we had orientation in the evening and classes the next morning. I got dressed sluggishly, sipping coffee and throwing on the first dry clothing I set my hands on, which happened to be a patchwork hoody with hemp pants and flip flops; I secretly vowed to find my shoes before classes began.
    Leo had rented a couple bikes from one of the village shops and was excitedly riding circles around me and looking like a doofus until a cute girl giggled in his general direction and he crashed into a tree. In retellings of that story my brother would tell people that the tree came out of nowhere, literally growing hundreds of years in a matter of seconds specifically to make him look like a fool. After I’d finally managed to pull myself into a standing position, having been painfully gripping my stomache as laughter had me doubled over, I agreed to get on the twin bike, complete with a second cup of scalding and highly-caffeinated coffee in the bottle holder.
    With his ego bruised and a minor gash across his forearm, Leo led me on a jaunty trek around the curving pathways that ringed the buildings on campus, skirting the foreboding forest without diving into it. As the deep grey clouds scattered throughout the morning, we raced each other across the great lawns before my brother finally showed me the secret he’d been talking about; a letter.
    We rode into the trees and turned a gradual corner until the school was lost behind us in a mess of bushes and tree branches weighed down with raindrops. Stopping suddenly, Leo leaned the loaner against a tall, rough tree trunk and pulled out a familiar-looking page from his pocket and smiled enticingly at it, as though it were the key to happiness. “This, Raven, is an invitation to the Dryad Society, which is a place where people with special gifts can find solace and council. It’s just amazing,” he laughed, appearing mad in his joy. Out of the two of us, Leo had always yearned for other people to be able to do things no one would believe, while I reveled in being able to do something special and didn’t want anyone to know about it.
    “That sounds great, Leo,” I sighed, picking apart the last half of scone and carefully placing them on a mossy branch within reach, my mood having fallen from the morning’s excitement. When I decided to go off to university, I hadn’t expected to meet anyone with my special connection to nature and wasn’t thrilled about the idea that other people might have better abilities than mine. Clearly he didn’t care if he was the least interesting person in this society, but I wasn’t going to be laughed out of something like that. “Well, I got the letter, too, but I don’t really care to join that kind of group. Sounds pretty cliquey to me.”
    It was his turn to be crestfallen, “No, but, haven’t you ever wondered what other kind of powers people have in the world? I mean, why us? Why can we talk to animals?” he shouted, unsettling a small cluster of songbirds that had been busily pecking apart my scone bits. Shoving the letter back into his pocket, he dropped his voice, “Haven’t you ever wondered if we could do more if we knew how?” Leo’s vulnerable expression took me back to the day he told me he could talk to felines; there was an openness about him all the time, but it was amplified to an extreme when he was wondering, I suppose.
    In the backwoods behind out house there was a tiny clearing where deer and squirrels haunted and flitted through with the occasional cougar leaving deep, clean tracks in the snow. One morning Leo had been bouncing on his heels with a stupid grin plastered to his young face and a dangerous gleam in his eyes. When we stepped out the back door into two feet of snow, he grabbed my hand and ran toward the clearing with all his strength. Finally creeping behind a bush, he hushed me as I was chattering about wanting to play as a sleek, low predator stalked just a few feet away from us. He’d purred low in his throat at the cat, making its ears swivel toward us and it turned searchlight eyes on us quivering behind the bare bush. Instead of lunging, though, it lay down, as he’d asked it to, and we pet the massive feline’s soft stomache.
    I was seeing that side of Leo again today; the one that took stupid chances just to prove his point right. Rolling my eyes emphatically, I nodded and breathed, “Yeah, I guess I have,” in a small, childlike voice. As it turned out, my inner child was just a cowering critter.

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  2. Nikki watches her father bring lawn decorations out for Easter. She’s seen him do this multiple times. She never understood decorating the house for any holiday, except maybe Christmas. But how people decorate for Easter makes no sense.
    All down the street, eggs hang from branches, bunnies are placed next to trunks, and pastel colors litter the gutters and windows. Nikki opens her mouth to ask her dad why they are decorating their lawn, but then sees the decoration he’s bringing out.
    The worn looking stone has ‘He is Risen’ on the front, along with a verse. He carries the lightweight stone to the thick tree in the front yard, leaning it against the bottom. After checking if the words are right side up, he looks at Nikki. She’s a little dumbfounded, but smiling all the same.
    “Don’t worry, cupcake, we’ve got some bunnies,” Mr. Dalton assures. Nikki giggles, covering her face.
    “Honey, what’s a rock doing on our lawn?” Mrs. Dalton asks, peeking out the open door.
    “We’re celebrating the resurrection of Christ,” Mr. Dalton explains, “why not?”
    The girls look at each other, then sigh at their husband/father’s antics. “It makes more sense than a bunny that hides eggs,” Nikki resolves.
    “True, sweetie,” Mrs. Dalton pats her daughter’s shoulder, “true.”

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