I was just flitting through my entries at Diaryland, where I share work with my online writing pals Cecilia Brainard, Nadine Sarreal, Susan Evangelista, Erma Cuizon, and Marianne Villanueva. We usually take turns offering up prompts, and then we write something—anything, sometimes even just a paragraph—and post it over the weekend. I went through a phase where I was giving prompts from different poems because I was attracted to the possibility of a poetic image sparking a short story (hey, that sounds kinda dirty). I remember that the first few lines of Jamie Jacinto's "Heaven Is Just Another Country" produced some fine writing from our little ragtag group.
Anyways, I'd completely forgotten that I used Oliver's Names Above Houses one week! Though I only produced two less-than-stellar paragraphs, I thought it might be fun to show you how I responded. Or maybe it won't be fun. Maybe it will be incredibly painful. In which case, I'm sorry, but it's too late to turn back now.
So, the first sentence belongs to Oliver:
All day he would gather twine from his mother's frayed skirts and braid them into wreaths of darker hues.
Years later, when he was no longer a young man, he would find the lumps of cloth in his attic in a box marked "Memories." He turned them over in his hands, impressed by the weight of some of them, but unable to remember how they came to be or what they represented. He held them to his nose, then against his cheek. He threw one at a mouse that scuttled out from behind a suitcase.
Eventually, he brought the box downstairs to his wife. Being a practical woman, she used them to block the terrible drafts that snuck through the cracks beneath the doors in the house they both hated. It was winter in Chicago, and they were such a long way from home.
And, well, that is all.