Today is, of course, Labor Day and is a holiday for many. For me, it’s just my normal day off from work, but it’s a holiday for me all the same. So I’m “not writing” today, instead, posting a writing prompt exercise from a couple of years ago. I hope everyone’s having a safe and happy holiday!
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Make a list of ten verbs. Add “ing” to each verb. Before each verb, add “not.” Write whatever comes for 25 minutes.
Arimetha gazed down the empty dusty road. She’d stood by the front gate post for the past half hour, looking for the clouds of dust over the rise from an approaching car, truck or tractor. No clouds. Jason was not coming. She was sure of that now.
She turned and headed back to the house on leaden legs. She had been so sure he would get here this time. Her grandfather sat on the porch steps, chewing on his pipe. He didn’t ask about Jason directly, but instead asked, “What about the dance at the Grange?” She quickened her pace and said, “Not going,” as she tried to brush past him, not stopping to let him say any more. He reached for her hand, but she snatched it away and hurried through the front door.
Later, she went through the motions of preparing supper, putting out a bit of cold ham and potato salad for her grandfather. He looked at her quizzically across the table as she picked at her own food listlessly. “Not eating?” he asked. She sighed heavily and didn’t reply. After he’d finished, she rose slowly to clear the table, not jumping up energetically as she usually did. She was young and strong and usually flew through her chores, but today they seemed overwhelming, and she began them with a sense of dread.
She knew Jason had not been driving very long, and when he did, he drove like a wild man. She half wanted to feel sorry for him, wanted to think he’d had an accident. Of course that was why he didn’t show, she told herself, knowing that wasn’t the real reason. He’d tried to tell her the real reason weeks ago, but she wasn’t listening then. It was June. June Halverson. June with the blonde hair, the blonde eyes, the blonde voice. The June who could lure any of the boys to her house, and did. He was there now, she knew.
She stood at the sink, turning this over in her mind, not washing the dish she’d been holding for the last few minutes. She finally decided June could have Jason. She wasn’t interested in fighting for him. There were too many other fish in the sea. Of course, most of those fish, at least the local ones, eventually ended up spending time with June, so there was a good chance any other boy she took a liking to would probably cheat on her as well. But she would have none of it. Jason’s not barking up this tree anymore, she said, wringing out the dishrag determinedly.