Oya everyone! It’s October! That means a lot of things but the thing that is most relevant to this blog post is that it is Tober time! You know, when social media explodes with all manner of daily art posts and short stories and poems labeled with tags like Inktober, Amongtober, MCYTober, Preptober, Doctober, Sirentober, Musinktober, Spooktober, and many
I’m doing one, despite my better judgement, because I have a master plan. You see, you guys enjoy reading short stories. At least I’m getting the impression that you do. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna do the Promptober, okay, I’m gonna write a short story every day based on a list made by somebody else, and you guys are going to get to read them every Monday.
And while I’m doing that
I’m going to set up the coolest collab posts you guys have ever seen. I’ll have a whole month to do them. You know how I said I didn’t have time well I’m MAKING time because you guys deserve it. So November is gonna be fun, okay?
Also this is the prompt list. I found in on Instagram.
And here are the first five stories. Enjoy!
Day 1: Milk
Nathan opened the fridge. He wanted pancakes. Nice, warm, crispy, airy, buttery, chocolate-studded discs of heaven, stacked and artfully draped in ribbons of syrup. Yep. That was what he wanted.
He saw eggs, check. He knew there was flour and baking powder and sugar on the counter. Check. Chocolate chips, a whole bag of ‘em, in the cupboard. All he needed was milk.
He stared into the fridge. Were his bleary eyes just glazing over the jug of milk that he knew had to be in there, or was it not in there?
It was not in there.
“Davey,” he yelled over his shoulder. “Why is the milk gone?”
“Dunno,” his brother yelled back from across the house.
Nathan huffed, slamming the fridge shut and making things rattle nerve-rackingly inside. Figures. Figures the one day he was home long enough to make a proper breakfast the milk was gone. Guess he’d have to get his pancakes another day.
Well . . . he couldn’t give up that easily. He scooped up his phone from the counter, opened google, and typed in the words “milk substitute”.
The instant he hit search he knew he’d made a mistake.
His phone practically exploded with ads for soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, suspicious-looking dairy-free dairy products, butter made of vegetable fat, cheese made of pea protein. Great, he thought, closing the internet tab after gagging at the thought of cheese made of peas. Now the internet is going to think I’m lactose intolerant. Or vegan.
Nathan sighed and slipped his phone into his pocket, mentally resigning himself to the prospect of boring toast or, heaven forbid, soggy, sloppy, tasteless oatmeal.
The front door swung open and in walked his dad, carrying way too many grocery bags for one person. Nathan’s eyes riveted on the glistening white jug in his father’s right hand.
“Noticed we were out of milk,” Dad grunted as he heaved the load of plastic bags onto the kitchen table. “And a bunch of other stuff. Man, I’m hungry. How about whipping up some of your world-famous pancakes, Nate? With the chocolate and all?”
Nathan grinned. “Great minds think alike?”
Davey zoomed into the kitchen. “PANCAKES!” he yelled, pumping his fist in the air.
Day 2: Bewildered
Too many people. Way too many people. The place is crowded with them. People everywhere, kids running around and screaming. Why do kids always scream when there’s not even anything to scream about?
Cold. Very cold. The wind is cold, the air is cold. Fingers getting numb, even though they’re stuffed in pockets. Ears numbing too, overwhelmed by noise.
So much noise. Screaming. Talking. Leaves crunching under feet. Wind. Corn leaves skittering along the sidewalk. Somewhere a bell ringing, repeatedly, the same shrill note pounding.
Crashing into people. Losing sense of space, of where arms and legs and feet and head are. Losing the others. Alone, now, left behind.
Shivers. Scrunching up, taking up as little space as possible. Trying to be unseen, trying to see.
Want to go home. Want to be done. Tired. Cold. Alone.
There, a friend. Hurry up. Get to them before the crowd does.
Finally. Safe. Going somewhere quieter. Going somewhere warmer. Going somewhere with space, where there’s air and breathing and calm. Safe.
Day 3: Tangible
“So,” I said. “You just gonna keep following me around?”
The wavery, transparent figure at my side shrugged. “I guess.”
“Fantastic.” I fell backwards, letting the swiveling seat catch me. Stuck in a spaceship for the next few hours, with a ghost. Absolutely fantastic. I watched the warped starlines with glazed eyes.
A few moments of silence. At least, what passed for silence in a spaceship filled with machinery and systems that whirred and beeped and shshshshed constantly.
“Where are we going?” The ghost’s voice was breathy. It sounded young. Genuinely curious, not just making bored small talk.
“Oerwae,” I answered, tapping a display. A holographic map popped up showing the course and the orangey planet the little dotted line pointed to. “Taking a shipment of building supplies. New colony there.” The map wavered like the ghost, shone with the same bluish sheen. The thin, nonexistent hand reached out, meshed with the map. A flicker.
“Cool.” Whether the ghost was referring to the information or the map I couldn’t tell. I felt the sudden urge to touch it. The initial fear at finding one’s ship haunted had long worn off. Now my natural curiosity was taking over. I wanted to know what it felt like, if it was really there.
“Do you . . .” I let the chair turn side to side, tapping idly on the control board. “How long have you been here?”
“On the ship?”
The ghost tilted its head. “Umm . . . a couple years I think. I don’t know, I’m not too good at keeping track of time.”
Another nod. Makes sense. I wanted to know more, but my head and voice were all jumbled up and compensating by keeping quiet. Luckily the ghost kept talking.
“It gets kind of boring, you know? This ship isn’t used much. When it is I don’t really talk to the pilots. I don’t really want to scare them.” A little tinge of blush colored the lifeless cheeks. “I’m kinda shy anyway.”
“Then why did you talk to me?” I had been scared. Who wouldn’t be, walking around in an empty ship and hearing a voice?
“I dunno. Got too bored I guess. Anyway you seem nice.” The ghost pulled its knees up to his chest, still floating in the same place. “It’s nice talking to somebody. Feels like feeling something.”
“What do you mean?”
The ghost reached out and touched the control board. Its little hand went through as if the board were water. “It’s hard to explain. It’s like I don’t exist. But I do. But only to me. Or something. I miss . . . feeling things. Warmth. Holding hands. Being hungry. Pain, even. Sometimes I get angry at myself, for not being able to feel, being empty with no way to fix it.” The voice was quiet, desperately sad. I wanted to give it a hug.
We talked a while longer, about the ghost’s homeworld, about my own, about my family and my fiance and my dog and the book I was writing. Landing at the Oerwae port, watching droids unloading the supplies from the cargo bay, feeling the wind and the sunlight and the hard ground under my boots and the handshake of the portmaster, I swallowed the lump in my throat and pulled out my com. Ten minutes later I was a lot poorer and in possession of a haunted cargo ship.
Day 4: Longing
“Every little thing you do, I do adore.”
Lizzie sighed as the ukulele played its last chord. Pausing the Spotify playlist labeled Love Songs ❤, she flopped over on her bed and stared at the white ceiling fan slowly spinning and shaking the fluffy pink things dangling from the pull cord.
She looked at her sketchbook, lying on her desk, filled with fanart of her favorite TV show characters and book characters hugging or wearing big floppy sweatshirts or generally being cute. At the pile of books on her nightstand with bookmarks in all the cute scenes.
“I wanna be in loooooove,” she cried.
Day 5: Dust
A red minivan drives along a gravel road. It was meant to be red, anyway, but in reality it is painted the same color as everything else; nasty, chalky, gritty whitish gray.
In the summer, when it doesn’t rain for more than a week and the sun beats down on the dirt, sucking away any molecule of moisture, that’s when the gravel dust is at its worst.
It coats everything. The smell of it hangs in the air. Every breath brings in the tiny particles. Every surface carries a thin coating of it. When a car travels the lonely roads, hemmed in by cornstalks and deep, weed-choked ditches, the plume of dust heralds its journey, visible for miles.
Only when it rains it there relief from the dust. In the rain, it turns to soupy, gritty mud, sticking to shoes and tires and drying as a gray smear. The smell of wet dust overpowers the smell of wet dirt.
The red minivan vanishes in a cloud of gravel dust.
Tune in next week for more short stories! If you enjoyed, why not leave a like? And subscribe so you’ll get a handy-dandy notification email when the next post comes out? You guys are all amazing and I appreciate you immensely and I can’t wait to make more content for you.
See you next week!