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spring 2024: writing relay

frog on the floor
aliasfreiheit, microwaved burrito
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pharaoh leapearned bits
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pharaoh leap
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i've been having some pretty dark thoughts.
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[attr="class","sing"]spring 2024[break]writing relay

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a cooperative writing event

[attr="class","post"]In addition to our Spring Bingo event, we will be running a collaborative writing relay event. Participants will submit drabbles based on the last writer's prompt, with the goal to write as many short works as possible before the end of the event. A quick shoutout to , whose beautiful template we used here! The event will proceed as follows:

[attr="class","uuuyee"]ONE[break][break]A prompt will be given at the end of each post for the next writer to use as a basis for their drabble. To participate, reply to this thread with a drabble based on the last given prompt, and remember to provide a prompt of your own for the following participant to keep the chain going.

TWO[break][break]Drabbles may be of any length - and though 'drabble' is the word used, poems and short stories are also welcome applicants. So long as it is a work of writing, and it in some way ties back to the given prompt, it's fair game! Prompts, similar, may be of any nature. If you're struggling to come up with one for your fellow participants, consider using a generator to come up with something simple.

THREE[break][break]At the end of the event, a total word count of all submissions will be converted into bits and divided evenly among all participants. (NOTE: Depending on turnout, the total number of awarded bits may be altered.) The three users who posted most often will be given an additional +10, +25, and +50 bits respectively, and all participating members will receive a symbol and special title.

FOUR[break][break]If you've started, or even finished work on a submission for a particular prompt only for someone to post their submission before you, don't fret! Hang onto that submission! At the end of the event, a free-for-all period of one week will open, in which any user may put in a submission for any previous prompt and post in any order.


The event will last through June 30th, after which a week-long free-for-all will be open, as described above. After July 7th, submissions of any kind will no longer be accepted, and the final word count will be determined / awards distributed accordingly.[break]

starting prompt:[break]THE FIRST SPROUT

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185written posts
travellerearned bits
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The sky groans, a metallic rasp like nails on a chalkboard. Aloetta tightens her grip on the rusted handrail as the walkway sways. Skydebris falls past her, down to the Undercity with its sprawling streets and billboards. From up there, their home looks small enough to cup in one hand, rot and decay and putrid stench and all.
   "You ever ask yourself what the Overworld's like?" Aloetta bellows. Her voice sounds uncomfortably loud even to her: the sky's fallen silent again.
   Mermot, a scrawny teen with a carefree grin, adjusts his backpack behind her. "People fighting over scraps while the lords feast, same old," he says.
    Aloetta snorts. "And who's to say they're not all lords up there?"
   Her companion shrugs and the two press on, Aloetta gripping the handrails like her life depends on it, and Mermot following along behind her. At some point Aloetta stops, curses when the sky groans once more, and Mermot makes some sort of quip. This repeats a few times until they reach a platform.
   Long, thick chains, coiled together rising ever upwards into the sky itself, while thick pillars root firmly into the ground below. Swaying walkways connect this platform to others of its kind, dotted around the upper reaches of the Undercity in a pattern no one understands.
   Or at least, not anyone down here.
   Aloetta lets out the tension in her legs and sinks to the floor, while Mermot puts down his backpack and fishes out their rations.
   "So whaddya reckon their food tastes like?" Aloetta asks.
   Mermot shrugs and hands her a small, grey tin. "Recycled sewage and bitter dreams, same as anything else."
   Aloetta spits but has no reply.
   "Fifty-three times," she says.
   Mermot pries some sticky paste from his tin and pushes it into his mouth. Recycled mystery meat, probably from their ancestors.
   Aloetta continues anyway. "You think we'll get something this time?"
   "Disappointment, if I had to guess. Yours, mostly."
   She knows he's serious. Mermot only accompanies her because it puts money in his wallet, not because he believes like she does. Believes that somewhere in that endless sea of grey, there's a speck of colour, a glimmer of hope. A promise of a better life.
   Aloetta glances back the way they came. The walkway swaying gently in the wind. A single misstep is all it takes to become one of the many on the human compost heap that is their home. What she won't give to have a life spent at home, far from the dangers of the Wastes.
   It's a life she wishes to pass on to the children.
   "I'll succeed. Even if I have to go down a hundred times, I'll succeed."
   
Aloetta's courage feels bleak as the grey sky above. Fifty-three times she's descended these rickety sky-chains, each descent a gut-churning plunge into the Underworld's festering maw. Experience doesn't ease her descent, and she grips the chain till her knuckles turn white.
   Mermot reaches the floor moments after. His expression is like he's amused at their routine self-inflicted colonoscopy. "Woo, best part of the journey over."
   For all the time they've spent together, his mind's still as mysterious to her as on the day they met.
   He reaches out with a rag--once, she had given him that handkerchief--and dabs at the sweat beading around her forehead. "Maybe you're getting too old for this."
   "I'll be too old for this when I'm in a damned cask," Aloetta growls.
   Either that, or buried somewhere in the rotten guts of the Underworld, feeding the lifeless mud and dreck. One of the countless others, forgotten by people too absorbed in their own suffering to look after someone else.
   Down here, life and death are like two sides of the same damn coin. What Aloetta wouldn't give for some change.
   "Suppose we should get started," Mermot mumbles.
   Aloetta nods. She reaches into Mermot's backpack and takes out a telescopic rod; fully extended, it just about reaches to her waist.
   The two move on. And although the dangerous part of the journey's done, the trek at ground level isn't exactly easy: their every step sinks them just over ankle-deep into the mud. Each time they drag their boots up, mud and something glowy is dragged along with it. Then their boots sink back into the earth, their every step a battle against the hungry earth, eager to swallow them whole.
   Aloetta taps her rod against the ground every so often. Behind her, Mermot follows along with a small booklet where he scribbles something every now and again. It almost feels like a personal insult--here she is, risking her everything on this venture, while Mermot tags along, whistling to himself like it's some science experiment.
   She wishes she could just march up to him, take that damn booklet, and hurl it into the mud. His youthful strength lets him traverse the Wastes with ease, while here she is, begging every part of her body to press onward, even as it protests and demands a rest, to just let herself fall into the mud and be dragged down to join the other forgotten hopefuls.
   Just as she's about to turn around and yell at Mermot, a shrill chime pierces the silence. Aloetta looks down at the rod, once lifeless, now chiming softly and slowly.
   Mermot looks up from his book. His face--for once bereft of his stupid grin--plastered with...surprise? Hope? 
   "What gives?" He could not sound more annoyed if he tried. "Malfunction?"
   When Aloetta doesn't answer, Mermot scrambles to catch up to her.
   "What's wrong?" he tries again. "Is that damn thing broken?"
   Aloetta can't speak. She points at the rod, fingers trembling. When she moves the rod, the chiming becomes louder, faster, faster, faster, until the rhythm matches the drumming of her own heartbeat. Fifty-three journeys and not a peep, and now the rod was producing a freaking symphony.
   There, straight ahead from where the rod is pointing, there covered by a thin layer of mud, a sliver of defiance.
   A tiny streak of colour. A string of green, barely the size of her pinky finger, struggling skyward. Weak, spindly, but undeniably alive, and here, and real.
   A tear streaks down Aloetta's face, carving out a path through the grime and muck.
   This isn't hope, or the promise of a better life. Not yet. This is a tiny miracle clawing its way out of the Underworld's rot-filled belly.
   Mermot approaches the plant with measured steps. When he's just over it, he squats down, fingers softly brushing the mud from the plant. He leans in closer, until his face is so close, he could kiss it. He whispers.
   "What are you doing?" she asks. It surprises her how hoarse her voice is.
   Mermot straightens back up, grin back on his face. No. This time, it reaches across his entire face and up to his eyes. He's smiling. "It's a finger, grandmother."
   Aloetta laughs despite herself. The sound has an eerie echo out here in the Wastes. "A finger," she repeats. It's true: a tiny middle finger, jutting out from the earth to flip off the Overlords, their decadence and rot, the hopelessness of their existence.
   There, in the bleak Wastes, where nothing ever lives and everything ever dies, she, no, they've finally found the tiniest spark of hope.
   After five hundred years, the Underworld has produced its first sprout.


NEW PROMPT:
FirstThird Kiss
last edit on Apr 26, 2024 14:15:48 GMT by traveller
"Someone's got to die today and you have got the final say. You? Or your crew?"
pronounsshe/any
57written posts
goldieearned bits
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goldie
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faster pussycat! kill kill!
(a poem about making out.)


the third kiss is venus fly trap open mouth, where it is the pinkest. teeth gnash against teeth. tongues touch, mucus slick. n something between our lips dissolves, prey maybe, bc we are just predators enjoying carnal kiss.

and in that—

he is mine and i am his and this is easy, and food is fun and with it we play and i am the sky and he is molten earth and all that space in between tastes so good bc nothing is as good as the concept of something and conceptually this just cant be beat

and maybe that is what dissolves.

that is the flayed meat of some sort of cosmic something. a beast between us, locked in lips. it growls and things swirl and he grows but nothing new can grow and i press further, i cant let anything go.

and hands grab at hair bc there is no way to breathe but we dont need to breathe bc conceptually it really doesnt work…

we are just cosmic space plants eating worlds off each others tongues.

next prompt: the first blush of new love

praise the cats!
aliasthomas, breezescodes
pronounshe/him
861written posts
bcearned bits
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bc
Summer '19 Bingo Completionist
bc Avatar
this is my murder mittens ^-^
pink is a pretty colour on your cheeks, a physiological phenomenon; proof of love is proof of life is proof of blood, and the debt of living. i try to match it in kind, because pink is happy and soft—and i think i am soft anyway, like a whip of cream and taffy, but it’s just not the same—plus, it’s bad for the environment, so, i’ll try to be pink, too.

but it’s prettier on you than me, and i still don’t like it much. i’d rather red, running between us, a thick river through the crest of the earth.


next prompt: the enchantress with green sleeves
aliasnao, paradisi
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so what, refrigerator?
(( a love letter to my friends ))

a woman is
a mystery

because there’s one in front of me and i can hear the sheen of her meadow green sleeves bewitching.

i think i’m looking at her and

i think she’s looking at me because her lips of glossy nectarine peels

curve?

at their most pleasant angle
and into a mesmerizing shape like

x²+ (y – ³√x²)² = 1

in my vision she’s so bright, science dictates pupils constrict but
the sheen of her meadow green sleeves that glosses with every sway
dilates mine.

there is magic in her fingertips, isn’t there?
nails polished cranberry red
on white willow fingers.

we’re close enough but also far away
all zoomed in but zoomed out, too.
the background is the foreground and the backdrop is the main focus
and for a second i’m a tertiary character playing the role of a hero or
a villain or
a love interest —
her love interest.

then she floats,
breezesurfing on winds waltzing with her meadow green sleeves
looking like charming meadow green leaves.
as she departs she trails behind
hints of spring’s spicy sichuan and sweet summer sweat;
garnet gaze crunching red apples and honeycrisps in autumn ombré’s winter wonderland.

she tiptoes arabesque,
spins on pointe,
jumps jeté and assemblé, assemblé and jeté and jeté and assemblé and
her footfalls scatter cloud-petaled snowflakes on this stage i call life where
they glisten, glimmer, shimmer because
she’s a spellcaster, spellweaver, spellbinder — while
i’m her rune, her hex, her abracadabra.

it’s true that
she’s hot, but cold, but warm, but chilled
dispersing clouds on a foggy midday evening.
clusters of stars lining up the horizon at early dawn;
sun-scented porcelain moon under pine tree branches
where their green colors the sheen
of her meadow green sleeves

for a woman
is the wonders of everchanging seasons;
the everlasting perfumed notes of the milkyway seeping into that one taken whiff of oxygen.
the smoke of cigarette menthol that bleeds into the atmosphere,
the dancing giggle of a sigh sung gentler than midnight aurora.

there’s nothing left for me to do but to gaze ever fondly at she whose meadow green sleeves sheen bewitching because

a mystery
is a woman.


next prompt: hear ye, hear ye

aliasAerie, badmin, insert profanity
pronounsShe/They
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Aerie
Full Member
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sometimes we ball, sometimes we fall.
hear ye, hear ye—the king is dead
shed no tears, peasants, for you have killed him
you lack vigor and you lay with vice
he has died with your sins; shall we call him christ?

no mortal nor devil may understand his burden
the church asks you why and your forked tongue answers
"please, father, i'm starving. this seems quite hateful."
so the church says to you: ungrateful, ungrateful!

hear ye, hear ye—the king is dead
but worry not, children; your soul may be saved
in communion, we may rise
so come forth, peasant, and submit your tithe

next prompt: the villain did nothing wrong
aliasirene
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you want it darker, we kill the flame
THE VILLAIN DID NOTHING WRONG (OR “THE FALL OF LUCIFER”)

I do not want to ascend.
I have no wish to fly and see the world from above;
why would I look down on those I wish to belong with?
I have no interest in mountain peaks or towering spires.
To see what birds see is to see as a hunter, not a man.
To see as gods see is to transcend,
and this is not the spirit of equality, I rebel.

I have no wish for life
beyond what is naturally within my reach
—what's more, I want what is below me.

I do not wish to ascend. I wish to fall.
I wish to fall and fall completely,
after all of the years roaming between Heaven and Earth,
through the sky and beyond.

I wish to fall through the earth to land in Hell,
to bait you with an apple dangled in my hand
until you too descend.

I wish to fall the way that Rome fell:
halved by the cleaver of a Goth,
pouring all the love I ever carried
into the world on a scarlet tide.

I wish to fall like the House of Usher.

I wish to fall like a limbless bird from the world,
the remnant of Mercy.

I wish to fall so deeply that the Romantics ask me
why I'm not invited to the eternal banquet.
I tell them because I’m the villain,
but they say the villain did nothing wrong.

Next prompt: everything is on fire

last edit on Jun 11, 2024 5:02:33 GMT by irene
aliasphimbolina
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PHIMBOearned bits
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PHIMBO
Part of the Furniture
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So, too, is Death possessed of infinite strategies and a gaunt nature.
Everything is on fire but you look hotter than ever.

Against the flame our love sheds like tired sheets: pulled back, charred rings. The leftover heart is ice-hot and silent—planetary—tinged with the immolation of some long-forgotten romance.

Fading — as lovers do when pulled apart, chilled in the absence of the other; as the stone does when the match leaves, crematorium nigh combustible.

Touch me, baby & hold me tight; let us both catch fire.

( It’s too cold to burn without huddling. )

Pour me a drink, at least it helps with the conflagration.


next prompt: venerated queen

23written posts
henryearned bits
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henry
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Don’t talk to me
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[attr="class","ayab-lyrics"]venerable queen

[attr="class","ayab-tagged"]writing relay



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They spent Nina’s ninth birthday in their new home—a tiny cottage, which neighbored a field of sunflowers. Never before did they have farmers as neighbors. And never did they expect that farmers would ever be the proud owners of a field of sunflowers. The farmer’s wife offered to take their photo, so that she could send it to Nina’s grandmother, her mother, who could never believe such a thing. [break][break]

– Does it make them money?[break][break]

Her mother asked, incredulously. She lived halfway across the world, so their calls never lasted for very long before her mother had to sleep, and she had to go to work.[break][break]

– Well, I can’t really ask them that, mama. [break][break]

She laughs, and looks out at Nina, who was sitting on the balcony, looking out at the sunflowers. She did ask the farmers about the sunflowers, when they invited her and Nina over for an afternoon snack. Not about whether it made them money, but why they had decided on sunflowers, because it seemed so strange. Oh yes, the sunflowers. They sprouted up out of nowhere, actually. And over time, with some care, a dozen stray sunflowers bloomed into several dozen, and from those, an entire field. Bright, golden flowers, all facing the sun, all summer long. It was a strange and sudden development, but one that they welcomed openly. There is no greater feeling in the world, you know, taking care of something, and watching it grow. And the stray cats did like them quite a lot, the farmer added. They were very good at catching mice, so he and his wife were happy to have them as well. [break][break]

Nina listened attentively, cradling a pair of kittens in her lap. [break][break]

– I just hope that Nina is happy.[break][break]

Nina was a transient, in every sense of the word. People never seemed to know what to do with her, and she never spoke, which made her even more removed from the world of the living than she already was. Her homeroom instructor—a young, nervous woman—had described Nina’s silence as reproachful, a sort of unwillingness to communicate. For Nina performed well in school, otherwise. Which meant that any perceived flaw in her behavior was perceived as intentional, or parental. [break][break]

But the cats never seemed to mind Nina’s quiet. They loved her daughter, in fact, and Nina seemed to love them just as well. She thought that there was only one or two, at first, until five differently-colored cats would follow Nina home in the evenings, and sit alongside her on the balcony, facing the sunflowers. [break][break]

– Of course she’s happy, darling! There is not a child in the world who wouldn’t be happy in the sun, with lots of fresh air. [break][break]

That was very true. Nina was spending a lot more time outside, now that they were settled. Her complexion had grown darker, and her cheeks and shoulders had grown more freckles. She was still the same quiet, unspeaking child, but there was a peace in her quiet that wasn’t present before. These days, when she put Nina to bed, she found that her daughter had grown more affectionate as well. She was hugging more, and she touched her mother’s hands, stroking the backs of them with a surprising tenderness. She laughed when Nina had done it the first time. Where did you learn such a thing? And Nina’s response was simply a tranquil smile, a gentle look. The cats, perhaps. She was certain that Nina was speaking to them, because she would sometimes catch a glimpse of Nina sitting outside with her head bowed towards the little group of cats that sat around her legs. The softness of her hands against their warm bodies, which rest on top of her thighs, sometimes even on her little belly. [break][break]

— Perhaps you’re right, mama. You should visit us some time, so that you can see the cats.[break][break]

— Cats! Your cats?[break][break]

It’s hard to explain to her mother, that the cats belonged more to Nina than herself. Mama, you’d never believe it. She has to peer out the window, because she doesn’t believe it either, sometimes. Nina with her saucers of cat food, held high over her curly head, while a veritable army of cats would dash across the grass and crowd around her feet. She’s like a little queen, mama. The venerable queen of the stray sunflower cats. The sun casts a little halo over the dark of her hair, which makes it look like she’s wearing a crown. And when she bends down to serve the cats their meal, she looks almost regal, so self-possessed and perfectly composed in her movements, as if she had always been meant for them.

[break][break]


next prompt: boys don't cry




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last edit on Jun 12, 2024 20:30:19 GMT by henry
the wheels are singing
aliasJen, DeJener8
pronounsShe/her
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Jenesis
Senior Member
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'For the lost and the damned, who have no other home'
it's long past your bedtime when you hear footsteps approach the front door. you scramble to let Dad in. the chill wind blows, biting your cheeks.

you look for the cupcake.

"Did... you forget?" you say. "Today's my birthday."

he shakes his head, leans in close. "There's no money this year, son." you smell the vodka on his breath.

"What about Mom? When can we go see Mom?"

"Next year."

you retire to the couch, hungry and cold. through the window, you gaze into the long and difficult winter ahead.

but you will be strong,

after all, boys don't cry.


next prompt: it's not brain surgery