Writing Prompt: Day 221

221.jpgDay 221 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: What is your character’s biggest secret?

Shannon: I’ve never told anyone this before, but I did something terrible once. At the time it was a harmless lie. I was covering for a friend. She wanted a night of freedom from her parents, so I helped her out. When her mom called I covered for her. I said she was in the bathroom, and that she could stay over night so we could finish a school project. What I didn’t know was that she wasn’t getting away for the night. She was running away forever. And what makes that worse, is I still know where she is. I may be the only one, and I’ve never told a soul.

Erin: He’s the reason his dad lost his job.

What have you and your character been hiding from us?

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 221

  1. I was wheeling around in circles above the blue-green marble we called home, admiring the whirlpools of clouds that were gently gliding above the surface when we were summoned back to the classroom. Though it was very difficult to leave, not because it was physically difficult, but because I wanted to explore and understand the earth better, I managed to follow Jasmine back to the entrance to the stairs. With a fleeting glance at shining freedom, we headed swiftly up the million stairs in complete darkness without speaking, our laboured breathing the only sound in the void. As Jasmine’s world came into focus, I breathed in the sweet scents and took in as much sunlight as I could after soul-sucking darkness. Bounding across the green grass, Jasmine pushed off up into the sky and became a dot almost immediately. I rustled my wings tentatively and took off without a step, soaring up toward the clouds, keeping pace with the levitation trick she was doing.
    Once in the cloud plane, we were greeted by the other students all waiting around in a messy circle, each with various expressions of irritation and anger on their faces. As we approached, Faith stepped out from behind a particularly fluffy cloud and rolled her stardust eyes, “Thank you for finally joining us so we can return to our minds, you two. Dilly-dallying is your choice, but you shouldn’t keep all your classmates waiting.” She reaches a hand out to the nearest students, a shy girl with perfectly-braided locks of deep crimson, and thundered, “Everyone must hold hands so that we can all leave this plane at once and no one,” shooting a piercing glance at us, she ushered us all into a wonky circle, “gets left here. Quickly now.” Everyone quickly took each other’s hands, no one wanting to be the last one to form the circle, or risk being left behind.
    In the blink of an eye, I was sitting cross-legged in the light-filled classroom, wingless and flightless, among the other students. Faith stretched her long arms above her head, yawned loudly, stood up on her mat, and motioned for us all to follow her lead. Every person stood as they were told and began a short guided stretching session before our humble teacher stepped daintily from her position at the front of the class. As she strode through the mats and balancing students, she seemed to make eye contact with every individual in the room.
    Finally, she paused when she was near the front and called to no one in particular, “You may all take a seat again, relax and we’ll just be a minute. Please, do not worry,” she added, turning on her bare heel and strutting toward the gold-gilded doors with a purpose. I have a feeling that, before that comment, none of the students had been worried, but I could feel panic creeping its way into my mind like a vine. When I glanced around the room, there were wide-eyed looks, muttering under breaths, and a good deal of nervous fidgeting.
    Something in the back of my mind kept whispering, in that enticing way of villains, that I ought to flee before anything bad happened, but the logical part had already begun to devise a list of reasonable reasons for us being brought back early. I chanced a peek at Faith and found she was standing in the doorway speaking quietly to a gentleman whose appearance was obscured by the door itself. One hand was solidly on her hip and her jaw was set; from here, I would have said she wasn’t in the mood for any games.
    A few students on the far side were whispering behind their hands in low tones, while the people near them listened intently. All over, small clusters of people were turning to each other for theories and consolation in this surprisingly-tense time. When someone tapped my shoulder, I nearly jumped out of my skin, but I turned to find Jasmine’s molasses eyes smiling at me with those dimples. “So,” she spoke in a hushed voice, her eyes darting between me and Faith, “what d’you think they’re talking about? I’ve never been called back that early into a lesson so it’s gotta be something pretty important, eh?” There was an excited light in her cheeks and the way she kept looking at me under her lidded eyes as though she knew something I didn’t.
    Faith clapped her hands like a crack of thunder that rumbled through the stone floors and up into the ceiling, where the vibrations shook free dust, or perhaps snow, from somewhere above the cloud cover. With her usual stately enthusiasm, she skipped up to her rug and breathed in a few deep breathes, her students mimicking her as they all hushed. “Now, not to be alarmed, but there is an imposter among us,” she cried, her voice cracking badly. “Someone here ought not be here, learning about how to be an angel. This is not meant to alarm anyone, because they will be caught and punished to the extent of our abilities.” Though there was a certain level of assurance in her tone, I couldn’t help but shiver at the term, “punished to the extent of our abilities,” because, in my experience, it was only used when you intended to impose the harshest punishment anyone could think of on that particular individual. “We have a sure-fire way to test whether you are meant to be here or not, and that test will be administered by Matthew, who is just bringing in the text we use to test your worthiness,” she cooed over the animated chattering in the group.
    Matthew, as it turned out, was a short, round man who wore baggy pants, a golden sash across his chest, and some kind of gold-coloured leaves in a circle around his head. With the book safely tucked under his arm, he stumbled up to the front of the room, tripped over his pant leg and caught himself and the book in mid-air. Gasps popped up through the crowd as he righted himself and carried on as though nothing embarrassing had happened. When he made it to the first step of the stage on which Faith administered her lessons, he took in a few very deep breaths and opened the book; it hovered at arm-height before him as he paged through slowly.
    “Students,” boomed a kingly voice that could only be coming from the short angel, “this is a test of worthiness to become a fully-fledged angel and take on the abilities and burdens each of us has accepted.” Still flipping through the book, he muttered something under his breath that was muffled by the pages, before letting out a high-pitched giggle. “Aha! I shall be taking each of you in turn to the front of the class, performing a short ritual, and asking a single question which will prove that this whole witch-hunt is entirely unnecessary because there is no way someone snuck in,” he finished bitterly, grabbing the book in mid-air and levitating it out of the way with such force it almost crashed into a pillar. When there was a smattering of nervous laughter at the near-miss, Matthew gave such an irritated look that the entire room fell into utter silence. “Miss Faith, your seat, if you please,” he growled at the teacher, who rose stiffly and padded, a couple inches from the ground, to the side of the room to watch the spectacle.
    After a good deal of grunting and waving of hands in a pattern which manifested a shivering spider web of golden threads in the air, Matthew turned back to the class, pointed a wrinkly finger at the boy in the front corner and commanded gruffly, “You, come, now.” With a glance of horror at the rest of us, the guy stood, paced slowly toward the web and stopped just before it. “Come on, now, we haven’t got all eternity to stand around here waiting. It’s perfectly safe, see?” he answered the unasked question, shoving his whole arm through the fluid material with no affect whatsoever. “It just tickles a bit, kid.”
    As the boy stepped through, his figure became obscured as if by a heavy fog, and he turned around to face us uncertainly. He opened his mouth to ask Matthew a question, but no sound came out; he was like a fish blowing bubbles at us through a pane of glass. Some students might have laughed or pointed if not for the presence of the squat angel who was already irritated enough for our liking.
    “Yes, right, you cannot speak unless spoken to, literally. The spell inhibits your ability to both speak unless in direct response to a question of my choosing or tell a lie. This is how we catch cheaters here,” the angel explained as the boy stared around, possibly searching for a way out. “Oh, by the way,” he added, turned to eye us all in turn, “you cannot leave unless I say so, so there won’t be any funny business. Now,” turning back to the boy, he gave a short smile, “please take a seat. This won’t take a mo.’” In actuality, Matthew shifted a pile of meditation cushions that were stacked neatly in a corner adding to the ambience as he went through the book looking for who-knew-what for several minutes as the rest of the room held its breath. “Here you are. Sir, what did you do when your little sister told you she was engaged to her girlfriend of three years?” he asked, holding his finger on a line of miniscule text.
    Startled, the kid behind the spell cleared his throat silently and answered concisely, “I gave her the biggest bear hug and asked if she needed help with the financial aspect because our parents weren’t around to offer that to her.” After his answer, he started mouthing words again, but no sound came out.
    “Come on out, boy,” Matthew called, flicking through the book idly.
    When the kid rose and stepped back through, he shivered and eyed the old angel, asking in a small voice, “What was that question about? I thought you were checking for worthiness?”
    Looking up from his reading, Matthew fixed the boy with a harsh stare and replied shortly, “That was a pivotal moment in your life where you realized that, no matter who people are, they deserve love and for those who care about them to help them when they need it. Next!” His booming voice echoed forever as the boy took his seat, a little stunned, and the crimson-haired girl with braids down her back stepped forward silent as a ghost. Striding through the field gracefully, the girl took her seat comfortably and shut her eyes tight. “Ah, yes, when you were little and one of your classmates came in with bruises on her arms, what did you do?”
    Behind the glass, it was difficult to tell, but I thought I saw a few tears dribbling down her cheeks as she spoke in broken speech, “I, uh, I told her that, uh, she could come to my, my house, uh, my house anytime she wanted. And I, uhm, well, I told our, uh, I told the teacher.” This time, a simple nod from the angel was enough to let her back through; she twirled before going down the steps, having wiped the tears from her eyes.

    This continued on for a long time until it was my turn and all eyes were either on me or on the floor thinking about what they’d had to do in life. It was obvious that whatever was asked of me on the other side of that veil was going to be deeply personal, and likely not what I expected, so I did my best to keep my mind clear of leading thoughts. Stepping through the shivering field was like going through an arctic waterfall under the clear midnight sky, but then it was over and I sat quietly.
    His voice came through as though on a busted stereo system, “When you were twenty-three and you found your best friend was stealing money from your room to buy illicit drugs to feed his addiction, what did you do?”
    As the words sunk in, there was a war in my head fighting for my response because I really didn’t want to think about him, and I didn’t want to answer, but the words all fell from my lips before I had the chance to stop them, “I shot him dead and called his dealer to deal with the body.” Even though I figured I couldn’t hear much that was happening on the other side of the classroom, I could hear the deathly silence and I could feel everyone’s eyes resting on my murderer’s soul. That was a day I would have done anything to fix, even though only a handful of people knew about it in my life, and it hadn’t affected me going on. Perhaps, though, that was the fact that made it such a reprehensible action; I never did anything in my life because I’d killed my best friend in cold blood.


  2. “August, I should look at your back,” Heather states.
    “I was wondering if I should have stopped,” August asks, gently pressing his back a little. They go back to the house and August sits on a chair backwards. Heather gently presses on his shoulder blades, his lower back, along his spine, etc. He cringes a little.
    “Okay, you need to take your shirt off.”
    “I need to see if there’s bruising,” Heather states calmly. She leans over and feels the sides of his neck and up his spine again. “I should have had you come in right away,” she mutters. “That was a bad spill.”
    “Other than the a sore back, I feel fine,” August states.
    “August, shirt off. Now,” Heather demands. August shakes his head. She sighs, “It’s either this or I call the town doctor. If there’s something you don’t want people to see, might as well be someone you know.”
    August sighs, then starts unbuttoning his shirt. He pulls his t-shirt off after, revealing two rows of teeth scars on his right shoulder -one on the shoulder blade and one by the collar bone- as well as a similar bite on his right side. Heather traces the curve of scars on his back, then checks over his bruising from falling off Atlas.
    “You should be fine,” Heather says. August starts to put his shirt back on, but not fast enough, because Heather also sees slash marks on his chest. “Those are from your childhood trauma, isn’t it?” Heather asks.
    August nods, finishing with the buttons. “I don’t want to talk about it.” He stands, moving the chair back, “It happened a long time ago.”
    “…How about this,” Heather starts. “If you share what happened to you, I’ll… I’ll try to talk about what happened to me.”
    “No,” August decides, “if you don’t commit, then how will I know you will hold up the deal?”
    Heather bites the inside of her cheek, looking at his eyes, just off center.
    “You share what happened to you, I’ll share where I got my scars from,” August says slowly, “deal?”
    Heather then looks into his brown eyes, and nods, “…Deal.”


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