Day 172 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story about making lemons into lemonade.
Shannon: “So,” I balled my fists in front of my chest in anticipation, hoping I’d get the answer I was waiting for.
He let out a puff of air, deflating his chest and face in the process. Shaking his head he explained, “They decided to go with the other play. We’re out of the competition.”
“What,” my voice raised an octave. “It can’t be over. We put all this work into it,” I couldn’t accept their decision.
“Well it is,” he snapped, pounding his fist into the palm of his other hand. He kept pushing them together and raised them in front of his mouth as he looked to the side. I’d never seen him so disappointed. He was a great director, but it seemed like every chance he’d ever come close to always managed to slip through his fingers.
I couldn’t let him give up. I still believed in him, and I believed that what we created deserved to be seen. “No it’s not. We can still run the show ourselves.”
He shook his head, still defeated, “Yeah, because we have the money pay for that.”
“We don’t need a lot of money. There’s that small amphitheater that no one ever uses in Garden Park. We can piece together cheap costumes from a thrift store. Spread the news to the town and family members, everyone’s always looking for something to do anyway. We could just have fun with it, no pressure,” I smiled, getting myself excited.
His narrowed his eyes on me, “I don’t know. What if people just think it’s a big joke.”
“So what? Whether it’s a big production on a TV show or a little, unknown park show it can still be a joke. You know that better than anyone,” I patted his shoulder. “What do you say?”
He smirked, “I don’t see why we can’t at least try.”
Erin: I tried to not let my tour group know how I found my passion for design. Massively failing in chemistry was daunting. It would scare them. It was true though, and in my experience, was present in many people’s college journeys. Going in confident, but then being blindsided was the norm. Wasting a year of life then growing up was a rite of passage. It was money down the drain and scary, but the lucky ones graduated with a dream and the really lucky ones were prepared by the end to accomplish it.
Make this prompt into a story.
I stared up at the blank ceiling, watching motes of dust mingle and break apart in the strips of sunlight that filtered through the window, though I longed to shut my eyes. As was the problem with a large percentage of the student body, I couldn’t recall in painstaking detail what had happened at the party we attended last week. But, just to be contrary with everyone else, or so the councillor told me, I was more than ecstatic to have spent several hours on Friday without any recognition at all. There was this long, blank section of my mind that was normally filled to the brim with images that made a comfortable rest period for me; it had happened a few times since then as well, though no one else appeared to be aware of those goings-on.
Lynn was particularly concerned about what had happened to everyone, herself included, and had been reading up on every scrap of information she could get her manicured hands on. There was also a lot of strange gossip surrounding the White Rose Society as it continued to hold regular meetings that no members remembered attending, but were odd bits and pieces floating around regarding those heavily-guarded gatherings. One such scrap of information was that there was a spy planted in the slightly-less-secret Dryad Society, who was the enemy of modern magick. While it was just a rumour heard through the thick grape vine, I would put a good amount of stock into the claim; I knew it was Dan who’d spread it and he wouldn’t pass something that important on if it weren’t absolutely true.
Several of our number had begun their own secretive strains of research on the two opposing sides in order to decipher the root of their quarrel and determine which side was correct in their mandate. Unfortunately, though I’d heard of a good half-dozen such solo missions, most of those students had kept their mouths tightly shut on the subject. Not a single text regarding the secret societies had been sent, no a further word spoken about them, which led me to believe there was information out there that was best left buried beneath the thin guise of the greater good.
All that had begun to eat away at the joy I felt to be rid of some hours of my life that couldn’t be perfectly recalled; my fellow students were becoming more despondent by the day and none of the staff appeared to have a problem with it. I couldn’t prove either society was up to no good, but I could feel it in a place deeper than my bones.
When Lynn slammed into the room, having struggled with our crappy lock for a few terrifying minutes as I lay perfectly still, she huffed about noisily on her side of the room. A cold front crept across the carpet and snaked its way up the legs of the desks and bed frames as she angrily fussed; she never noticed when her power was getting away from her, which I thought a dangerous position to be in. Breath coming out in frosted clouds that hovered above my head as though they were uncertain where to go, I sat up slowly. Not wanting to risk a fire on my comforter, I sat at the edge as I rubbed my hands together, sparks flying about my burning fingers like a firecracker.
After a few minutes of bustling around in the freezing dorm room, Lynn finally noticed the clouds forming between our opposing temperatures and gasped. Nervous that the fluffy white mist might turn into a storm cloud and drench us and our belongings, I cut the fire and waited patiently as Lynn calmed herself enough to release the room from an arctic front. It took a few minutes of silence to let the room go back to normal, during which I leaned back on the bed and imagined the ceiling was a blank canvas I was about to sketch on. My brain latched onto that intoxicatingly illegal idea where it festered into a full-blown disease as my roommate breathed calmly in her chair.
“Sorry, Cari,” she whispered as I was rolling over to reach my sketchpad. Turning around, I smiled understandingly and nodded as I clutched the book to my chest and flipped it open. Doodles ran rampant on the first twenty pages, filling every inch of space between and around the borders as vines laced their way through clouds and woodland animals. On the next twenty pages, both sides, were patterns in every style I’d ever seen from mandalas and paisley designs to symbols and pictographs. Lynn broke through my intense concentration as she noticed me pause before the blank pages. “I was just talking to a couple of the other members,” she spoke with a husky note to her voice and her breath a little frosty, “and they’re worried about whatever is going on with all of us. They’re too afraid to look into it, but the yellow spell has us all jumping when Mira sends us a text and forgetting about attending meetings, and they’re worried how far this could go. I mean, I hide my phone under my pillow on silent so I can’t look at a message while I’m asleep.”
I was paying attention with my ears, but my eyes were scrolling through years of images to pick out the perfect one to adorn our dorm’s ceiling. “Yeah, well, I don’t really have a problem with the memory-altering part of it. As for the rest; I don’t remember what I’ve done, so, why should I care? Not a mark on my conscience,” I spoke in an unconcerned tone that was completely my truth. In practise, this impediment for everyone else was helping me to focus more on the here and now, instead of the past; I’d noticed some memories were fading away as the spell’s influence wore on. Why would I want to remember everything I’ve seen when it weighed so heavily on me?
Unable to reply, Lynn sat staring as I began to trace around the edges of my page until something occurred to her suddenly, “Okay Cari, I get where you’re coming from. I can’t imagine what it’s like having a photographic memory, *story note – this is actually how I feel writing Cari* but what if something happened that was really bad, and you weren’t there to know exactly what happened. I mean, it’s like someone’s stealing your memories,” she almost shouted, rage boiling behind her bright eyes. Breathing hard, she exhaled and turned in the chair to fix her hair.
I ignored her completely; I thought about that exact thing all the time. For my entire life I had known what happened to me at all times, and while the freedom felt so good, it was a terrifying, uncertain feeling to not know what I’d done for any amount of time. Where I’d been using audiobooks to imagine the world around me as whatever I wanted instead of facing reality, I was being forced into that fantasyland now, and it didn’t feel good. Now, though, I was focusing on the present and attempting to think only of the positives this spell was bestowing upon me. Before we knew it, the spell would be lifted, as all magick couldn’t last forever, and I would be stuck back in my augmented reality again.
Sketching a copy of a photograph hanging in the museum of Port Obscurity taken from the very top of the mountain, I kept peering over the page at my seething roommate. If it were me, the bedsheets would be singed around the edges by now, but Lynn was making spectacular icy webs in the soft fabric. I watched as the lacy crystals crept to the opposite side of the bed as she fixed her hair with gently fingers. “I suppose you’re right,” I threw across the room, shattering the icy and melting the frosty silence between us, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it while it lasts.” Furious pink blush shot across my cheeks as I realized how self-centered that sounded, but I didn’t want to think about that when there was art to be made. As I finished the rough sketch, I flipped the page and began to draw up some specific locations I’d been to around the island to superimpose onto the map.
Without glancing up at Lynn, who crossed the room and began scratching in her own workbook, I stuck my tongue between my teeth and finished up the planning in no time. Years of practise had taught me how to sketch with precision and in a timely fashion, though the skill didn’t get much practical use. When I put the book down and glanced around, I realized there wasn’t anything in the room tall enough for me to reach the ceiling with and I sighed deeply. “I have to go find a ladder, but I’ll be back,” I called, glancing over my shoulder on the way out.
It took three days from the end of school until well into the night, but when I was finished the ceiling looked like a map out of a fantasy novel with neutral colours around the edges and sketched of the docks, main building, forest camp and other locations of note around town. Roads wound around the map in steel grey while the shops were denoted with their logos in painstaking detail. All in all, I thought the effort was well worth the work, though Lynn was skeptical about what the school was going to say when they saw it. The worst they could do is have me paint over it; it would be a travesty, but I would likely have my memory working in pique shape by then so the image would be safely filed away in my mind forever and ever.
Skipping around the room, admiring my masterpiece from different angles, I was just squinting at the school’s façade from the far side of my closet when a heavy knock came on the door, followed by gruff muttering. Lynn glanced up from the tell-all letter she was writing to the school explaining how she had nothing to do with the spectacular graffiti that was covering an entire surface in the room as I strode to the door. With her pen hanging from her limp fingers, she nodded lightly, poised to freeze the intruder if they be unfriendly; that was another unfortunate side effect of the uncertainty the society was causing, paranoia was rampant.
But, pulling the door open, I blinked into the yellow eyes of one of Mira’s minions, who blinked blankly back at me. When he held out a letter with the official red seal of the White Rose Society, I took it and was about to shut the door, when the man threw his arm out to stop it closing. If anyone had done that in a fully-aware state, they would have shouted in agony, even the super-strong bulk of a man, but instead he just spoke in a dim voice, “She needs you to read it. Just you. Before sundown.” With that, he turned and sauntered down the hallway with his great arms hanging limply at his sides like the buffoon he was.
Gently closing the door and locking it securely, I turned back to Lynn with her concern plainly across her face. “Well, guess that means I have to read it, right?” I asked, shrugging as I placed it on the desk and stared at it from a distance, just to be on the safe side. That was, apparently, the trigger for the spell to activate; one word from Mira in any direct form and we were powerless to resist her. “Damn, I really don’t like that you can’t read it,” I laughed in a too-high tone and grinned widely at my stunned roommate.
“You, you really don’t-” she stopped at my stoic glance, “-you don’t have to read it, you know.” Her normally-strong voice failed her as a sob tore from her throat like it had a mind of its own.
Laughing gently to settle my own nerves, I replied, “Of course I do. I don’t want her to come here and do whatever it is she’s capable of. Look, it’s probably just a mission or something. Come on, Lynn, I’ll be back before you know it,” I smiled as I broke the seal and set my blurry eyes on the black and white letters Mira had written to me.
(Does this count? Oh well.)
“I don’t think I can do this, Jacey.”
Jacey turns to listen to Josh as he sits down.
“August makes it seem so easy.” Josh shakes his head, “I’m not a leader, not like him.”
Jacey smiles, “Josh, did you think that August did the leader thing alone?”
“He had us, his team, to help him. You can come to us, and we can make the decisions together.”
“That’s not how August did it.”
“You don’t have to be the same leader August was.” Jacey perks up, and then gets her phone, “Let’s get the team together. I don’t think anyone’s doing anything too important.”
“And do what?”
“Call August and Heather. Everyone could use some cheering up,” Jacey finishes dialing Nikki. Josh smiles at the idea, then finds his phone to call Rick.