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pets, Two-and-a-half-minute Fiction Prahject

Two-and-a-half-minute Fiction ‘Prahject’: Take 20

Lately I’ve noticed a few things I’m doing regularly now. The first thing is constantly checking NPR’s Three Minute Fiction Contest: Round 5, to see if they posted my story as “one of our favorites.”

(P.S. They haven’t. YET.)


My story's in the hands of this guy - author Michael Cunningham. His expression says: Go ahead, make my day. (No! Make mine, Mr. Cunningham!)


The other thing I have noticed I’m doing frequently is starting stories in my head at the drop of a hat. I’ll see something and my mind will break it down into one sentence that’s meant to float somewhere in a fiction story.

So this either means I was created to write fiction…OR I’M PLAIN SPANKIN CRAZY.

Jack thinks it’s the later…


You's just need to relax, yo. Like ME.


Sure, Jack, OK. You eat chicken giblets. Now who’s crazy.


Good thing @NAS234 gave me a line that had to be the first sentence of my story this week: “In the beginning there was only toast.”

Yeah, toast.

So here’s what I came up with. What kind of a story would you have written with that first line? And please let me know what you think!

Tea Time

In the beginning there was only toast. Dry, almost-burnt, white bread toast. She could hardly get it down. Then they let her put jam on it. Nothing with too much sugar. Nothing with too many seeds, like raspberries. Grape jelly had too much sugar. Strawberry jelly had too many seeds. And too much sugar. So she was given some low-sugar, neon orange apricot jam. A few days later, she could put butter on the toast, or more precisely, margarine. A one tablespoon packet of a whipped light yellow margarine.

She watched the nurse bring her food tray. She sat up straight in her bed and situated herself so she could watch the nurse bring it in. She laced her fingers and stretched her arms up over her head like she was warming up. Then she folded her hands on her lap and wiggled her shoulders to embed her shoulder blades into the pillows behind her.

“Miss Peggie,” the nurse said. “Tea is served.”

Nurse Adelaide set the tray down on Peggie’s lap. She knew Peggie got a real kick out of pretending she was being served high tea, but Peggie got a real kick out of everything.

The only way I can describe Peggie to you is to say she is round and soft. Her best exercised muscle is her laugh. She makes wine for a living and makes messes for fun. Her favorite kind of mess to make is when she is assembling her sparkling wine, Summit Mist, a bright pink carbonated combination of dark cherry, toasted coconut, and autumn apple notes. She once poured the carefully crafted brew for a sampling and someone told her it was like drinking cherry pop. Peggie laughed and laughed and laughed. She got a real kick out of that.

Today was the second day of margarine. The tenth tea in all. Peggie kept track. With each tea and with each added ingredient the doctors allowed, Peggie felt she was validating the institution of daily tea. Soon the whole third floor would have daily tea. And then the whole hospital. Surgeries would not dared be scheduled at 3 in the afternoon. And maybe not even until 3:30 in the afternoon if the tea biscuits were particularly good that day.

“Thank you, Adelaide,” Peggie said. And just like that her bed sheet became a lace tablecloth, her decaf Lipton tea, a fine Earl Grey, the soft rock on the hospital speaker system, Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. The margarine transformed into the richest of clotted creams, the jam, the purest lemon curd, the dry, almost-burnt, white bread toast, a delicately layered shortbread biscuit.

The tubes in her nose and around her neck pulled away. Her IV drip vanished into thin air. The heart monitor melted into the wall, which was now covered in a lovely shade of mint with gold fleur-de-lis stencils.

Peggie folder her napkin and assembled her biscuit: a nice smothering of cream, and just a touch of lemon curd on top on one end, and the other end free to be dunked into the just-right-temperature Earl Gray swirling in its delicate cup.

She held the masterpiece in her right hand and smiled at it. She closed her eyes. She took a hard, crunchy, nearly burnt bite. The soft rock came back onto the radio, the fleur-de-lis vanished, and the low-fat, low-taste margarine hit Peggie’s taste buds.

I watched my dear friend gleefully chew her toast. Her dry, almost-burnt white bread toast.

“It’s glorious,” Peggie said and smiled, still chewing. “Tea time is just glorious.”



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