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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Word Prompt: Restaurant

(Miss A intended to use this word prompt to describe a place, but it inevitably became a character study of a chef named Joe. :))

Every morning, Joe arrives at nine on the dot to open the kitchen and prep for lunch. As the others file into work at ten, he nods and grunts to each one while he pounds and grinds a mound of fresh beef bought from the butcher down the street.

The kitchen transforms into a medley of knives and spoons knocking and clanging against stainless steel as each member of the band arrives at his post around the long metal table wiped sparkling clean. Amidst the music, a dishwasher hisses and steams when crates of last night’s plates roll through its assembly line.

For an hour no one says much. Joe doesn’t mind if people talk, but being he’s a man of few words before eleven, the others tend to follow his lead. Sometimes, I arrive early to watch them slice onions and blocks of cheese, mix dressings, and toss tiny chicken wings in a bucket of homemade hot sauce.

Joe doesn’t like the wait staff lingering in his kitchen, but he makes an exception for me. I don’t whine or babble endless nonsense like the other girls. I keep to myself in a corner and swaddle silverware in white paper napkins, bobbing my head and tapping a foot to the rhythm circling around me.

Every now and then, when I work the dinner shift, I give Joe a ride home from the restaurant. He doesn’t have a car. Rides the bus every morning. It’s amazing he gets here on time. Public transport is always delayed in this town. Joe says he has a “system,” but he won’t share his secret. Thinks too many people might try to use it, and then he might face problems getting to work.

Joe has a lot of systems. Running a kitchen is one of them. Everything goes smoothly while he’s around. Customers rarely complain about the food, and when they do, it’s usually the picky people who’d gripe about winning a million dollars, too. Usually most complaints are about the flaky waitresses and clumsy busboys. Joe can’t help those things. The front of the house isn’t his domain to whip in tip-top shape, but when anyone steps into Joe’s kitchen, they better know he has full reign. Even my managers, who puff out their chests and patrol the dining room like sentinels, cower to Joe when they return a wrong order to his station.

“Waitress messed up,” they apologize meekly.

Joe scowls and grunts, then waves them away while he fills a new plate to amend the mistake.

– Written by Miss A



Word Prompt: Thunderstorm

Leaves whip around and show their backsides

Nerves shake and flutter in the winds picking up

Warning us a storm approaches town

Big and bad like the savage gray wolf

Bares sharp yellow fangs and ghoulish howls

It rides near on a sea of black clouds

Trailing the river, on the hunt for fresh meat

We see it coming but we don’t do a thing

Paralyzed by the beast’s electric paws

Grumbling and snarling before rearing its head

Roaring like a banshee on Hallow’s Eve

Raises cain and flails destruction

Pelts fat drops of spit across the ground

Spitting harder and faster with vengeance and hate

A sheet of rain whirls at us at torpedo speed

Erasing the bluebird’s sun, the rabbit’s clear skies

Better batten down the hatches

And find a safe hole to hide.

– Written by Miss A

Word Prompt: Beach

The world is my oyster. That’s what I tell myself every day. I believe it, too. One day, I’m gonna find my fortune and you’ll see my positive mantra has power. That’s what the man on TV says at 3am. I believe him. I looked him up on the internet. He has a big house and a pretty wife with a beauty queen smile. All because he told himself the world is his oyster. Just goes to show you his word is truth.

I got this idea that I’ll come across my good luck at the shore, so every morning I greet the tide and we both wave to the bright red sun as it’s starting to rise. Then I scope the naked beach with my beeping device. The old lady at a garage sale told me it detects gold. I believe it’s going to find me some precious jewels, or better yet, a lone oyster protecting the world’s biggest pearl. Now wouldn’t that be something? I bet that man on TV would have me on his show if I located that pearl with my metal beeper. And I’d let him know his mantra worked.

I got big plans when I find my riches. I’m gonna show up at my mama’s house and tell her she can have anything her heart desires. Maybe then she’ll be proud of me for using my simple sense to do something good. I’m gonna buy us a big house, like that man on TV, and I’ll tell my landlord that he can find a new tenant to rent his dingy room. And then I’m gonna eat in a fancy restaurant that serves triple-layer chocolate cake for dessert.

Some people, when they strike it rich, they quit their jobs. I’m gonna keep mine. It’s pretty easy – collecting trash from people’s bins at the tall sky-rise downtown. And the people are nice. Sometimes they give me a piece of cake when they have a birthday or retire. At Christmas, they give me pretty cards with kind wishes inside. Some of them have money. One man in a big corner office gives me a hundred-dollar bill. He says it’s because I do such a good job and I make people smile. He must be pretty important to carry around hundred-dollar bills.

I guess smiling is important to some people. I just think a smile looks nicer than a frown. I tell that to the sad-looking folks. Most of them nod and say, “you’re right.” I wish my mama was there to see that. Then she’d see her son was kinda smart. When I find my pearl, maybe the man in the corner office will let me bring her in so she can meet the people who I make smile.

And as I walk her around, I’m gonna tell each and every one of them that the world is your oyster, so you better go out there and find your pearl.


– Written by Miss A

Word Prompt: Tumbleweed

Across the desert it rolls and bounces, propelled by the invisible wind whistling over the desolate dry sand. A hollowed nest of brush and yellowed straw carried miles and miles, building mass and shape as it tumbles along, narrowly escaping the ornery cactus with its long nails drawn. No free hugs from this guy. He doesn’t like to be touched.

The tumbleweed shrugs and continues on toward the red rock fortress sprawled across the distant horizon. A shimmering basin pools around its rim. The weed isn’t fooled by the mirage. There are no pools of water in the valley where rain does not fall but one week every year. And then the earth sucks the moisture from the clouds before one drop has splashed on the cracked ground.

Wind gusts and gentle breezes nourish the tumbleweed and give it strength to travel days at a time with little rest. Under the watchful eye of the moon, it will slow and gaze at millions of faraway lights strung across the pitch-black sky. When the moon is full and coyotes howl their mournful blues, the tumbleweed’s browned muscles glow silver as it basks in the solemn peace of night.

Res, weary one, for tomorrow’s journey is long and fruitless. There will be numerous days before you bow at the great castle’s sun-burnt feet. And what then? Will your adventure across the desert reach its end?

Hardly so. For as long as the gods blow hot and cool breaths across the land, there will be an odyssey for the tumbleweed to run.

– Written by Miss A

Word Prompt: Rome

Though my vocabulary was limited, I understood the headlines on the front page. Public transportation was going on strike.

I clambered up two flights of stairs to the women’s hall and knocked on Paula’s door.

“Metro workers are going on strike, starting tomorrow,” I said when she appeared.

“You’re kidding me,” she said. The words leapt swiftly from her Argentinian tongue as she snatched the paper and scanned the page.

“What time is your train leaving?”

“At nine and a half.”

The station was seven kilometers from our youth hostel. Almost four and a half miles, I calculated in my head. But walking there wasn’t Paula’s biggest challenge. We’d been exploring the city on foot for two days. Lugging a suitcase almost two-thirds her height and size across the city was. It would take at least three hours for her petite, four-foot-ten frame to drag the bag that distance. Imagining that pitiful struggle prompted me to blurt.

“I’ll walk with you. Your suitcase is on rollers, right?”

Stunned at my offer, Paula stammered, “Yes, but you don’t have to – this isn’t your problem.”

“Well, I’m making it my problem. I’m almost a foot taller than you, so it’ll be easier for me to drag the suitcase. If we leave at 7:30, we should get to the station by nine.”

Paula opened her mouth to object.

“Paula, I was planning to explore that side of the city anyway. I’ll do it tomorrow. You need help. I have long legs, long arms, and I love a good walk, Let me do this for you.”

She relaxed and nodded.

“Yes, okay. Thank you. I don’t know how to repay you.”

“You let me tag along with you for the last couple days. It’s the least I can do.”

The next morning I rolled out of bed and dressed by the small locker sandwiched between two bunks. Paula waited downstairs in the lobby. Seeing her bags packed twisted my gut in a small knot. I was going to miss exploring Rome with my new friend. The next few days were going to be lonely.

“Ready?” I asked, masking my twinge of sadness with a bright smile. I grabbed the handle of her bag and rolled it to the door.

East of the Tevere, locals were strolling to school and work. The city was waking up, beginning its day as Paula ended her journey through Rome. Her short legs struggled to keep up with my long stride, but we couldn’t afford to slow our pace. Not until we were within half a mile of the Termini.

The rising sun brushed golden strands across antiquated moldings as it climbed down the concrete and stone buildings polished smooth and silver over a dozen centuries’ time. Rome breathed and thrived from it formidable history. All who walked her streets were rejuvenated by her ancient blood.

Even Paula and myself. Our momentary friendship was diverging as we embarked on separate paths, but in Rome, our recollections, our past, would always be reunited.

– Written by Miss A

Word Prompt: Lotus flower

Open slowly

Your petals gently

Blushing pink tips

Rise to the east

Embrace the glow

Caressing a breeze

Ripples in your bed

Fluid and strong

Nurturing the heart

Your soul at peace

From a seed born

One and whole again

Centered in now

Full bloom and grace.

– Written by Miss A

365 Things to Write About, Lotus flower, written by Miss A

365 Things to Write About, Lotus flower, written by Miss A

Word Prompt: Sunday

In the dark, headlights sweep the lot as cars pull in and find their spots – assigned by a hunchbacked woman patrolling the main gate. Front doors slam, sleepy mouths yawn, familiar faces wave and nod hello. Then rear doors open, metal feet scrape across the ground, cardboard boxes stacked atop the asphalt.

Silhouettes drag merchandise from trucks and set up tents side by side. Faint blue light warms the eastern sky. Morning is near, though hours from heating the shadows hard at work arranging handmade crafts for the Sunday shoppers soon to come. Forgoing church for art and bargain-sale prices. The new age way of life.

They’ll come in droves to wander aisles and rows. Sniff homemade candles. Admire jewelry and clothes. The blood and soul of each merchant is bared for all to see. And pay. When cash exchanges hands, it’s a successful day.

And day is fast-approaching, the sun driving vendors to finish their displays before the first customer appears. Here they come, pushing strollers, pulling carts. Another weekend at the Rose Bowl Flea Market begins.


– Written by Miss A