Writing Prompt: A Struggle

Back to some writing. A short piece for you. I’ll say more on the other side…


Why couldn’t she have a simple problem?

Lots of her friends’ parents were divorced. They shuttled between them like that little fake-feathered thing in badminton. Shuttlecock. That was it. Perfect. Back and forth. If it’s Tuesday, this must be Mom’s.

Her parents refused to be so accommodating. The back and forth required an actual shuttle. Mom was on Mars and Dad was orbiting Venus. She’d refused to leave Earth completely. “All my friends are here!” she moaned.

Her mom had met a Martian. Not a little green man, or woman. Well, a woman, but not green. Mom’s girlfriend had been born on Mars, therefore she was a Martian. They’d moved in together, Mom working as a mechanic. It was good work. Things broke down a lot on Mars. It was very dusty. Dust is bad for anything that moves.

Dad sulked by taking the job at Venus. That was even worse. A space station is no place to raise a kid, everyone had agreed, so she’d been left on Earth, at a boarding school, only going…well, not home exactly…on long breaks.

Summers she spent on Mars. Winter break on the space station. On the whole, Venus was a lot more exciting than Mars, which was a pretty desolate place. The biodome was okay, she guessed. It had gravity at least. Real gravity. The space station faked it by spinning. Made her dizzy just thinking about it.

The traveling back and forth could have been worse. In the old days, it took years to get to Mars. Now she could take the shuttle out to the moon and hop a transit through the wormhole. It wasn’t a real wormhole.

Was anything real anymore?

It was artificial, which was good because it was reliable. You can’t count on natural wormholes to not kill you.

But honestly, she was getting pretty sick of it all. This had been going on for three years now. Three Earth years. She didn’t even care to calculate what that meant on Mars or Venus. Two more years and she’d be out of school and on her own, able to make her own decisions. College? Job? Bum around the solar system for a year? A lot of her friends were planning that. Used to be you backpacked through Europe, but that was so last millennium. Now all the cool kids got their own ship as graduation presents and most promptly crashed them onto some desolate asteroid, needing rescue, their parents sheepishly paying the costs, which were enormous as you can imagine.

So many decisions.

Maybe a visit to Saturn would do her some good. She’d always wanted to go there, ever since seeing those rings through her telescope when she was four. That was the last time she remembered being actually happy. Mom, Dad, intact family, in a house out where you could see stars at night from the ground, without having to leave orbit.

But right now, she had a problem and she didn’t know what to do. Everyone was coming to Earth for her birthday. Mom, Girlfriend, Dad. Precisely so she didn’t have to choose. The perfect solution.

Except she didn’t want them to come at all.

How was she going to tell them?


What was I thinking?

As a reminder, I’m in a writing group where we get a prompt and have half an hour to write then we meet (either in person or on Zoom) and read what we wrote. So this is all very off-the-cuff, spontaneous writing, which is something I’ve come to enjoy. I used to freeze whenever someone said, “OK, now let’s write about [insert something here] for 15 minutes…” Flash froze my creativity. So it’s been a good muscle to exercise. And the fact that I do it among friends helps enormously. Not sure I wouldn’t still freeze at a random prompt in some workshop.

This was surprisingly tough to write. There are so many possibilities. I had no idea where I was headed from line to line. I keep a close enough eye on the clock to know that at some point I need to wrap up and that’s where it can get dicey.

As I went, I wondered about giving her a name (any of them—the Girlfriend did briefly), but felt that grounded it too much. When you only have 30 minutes, there’s no time to get to know people. That works for the writer. Not sure about the reader…

Now the obligatory sell. If you like my writing, check out my novel Endurance. If you like Endurance (or Wishbone or A Perfect Life), consider leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon. I have a lot of high ratings, but few actual reviews. They help readers decide what to read, so think about it. Doesn’t have to be much or stressful. This isn’t a book report (do they still do those?). And thanks!

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2 comments

  1. I really liked this piece. I do writing sprints twice a week and find them a fun break from writing novel. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

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