short story writing: 4-things prompt

In today’s class, the task was simple. Write a short story that includes these four things:

  • a place, Chinatown
  • a food item, Pavlova
  • a word, Propinquity
  • a cultural icon, James Dean

Here’s what I have so far…


You’re not one to stare. You have been taught not to, your mother’s propriety at stake, and if you do, by accident, of course, no one will ever know. Perhaps not even yourself. Maybe.

But not today.

You look pale, would you fan yourself? You’re sweating a little bit. You can’t help but notice her, can’t you? The little maid with the tiniest slippers housing even tinier feet. She’s carrying your mother’s pavlova cake as big as her beehive hair and you see nothing. Nothing but the two tiny feet, and the cake almost levitates, doesn’t it? Arriving ceremoniously on the grand table.

Your father smokes a pipe, you join him but only to drink his drink. Perhaps he’d let you drive fast today. Like James Dean. You see her move, did you see? Like a charmed snake, you want to say, but she is too small, too fragile, and you want to take her out. Away from this place. From people, apart from you, who notice nothing of her. To Chinatown, driving fast, you buy her something cool with red beans or mush, iced and jelly-like.

You need to cool yourself down. And so does she. But you first, right? Always.

But not this time.

Your propinquity to her astounds you a few moments later when you raise your hand to summon her beside you. You feel choked when she recites the other items to be served. You realise that she cannot carry the pork tray with spiced apple and potatoes, that she cannot juggle the liquor and the ice and the glasses and the demands. That her feet, by the end of the night will swell up as twice as they are now, even more, as big as yours, and you stop her.

You command her to-


And I end there because Ernest Hemingway often stops mid-sentence so he has something to come back to the next day. And that I will do in part deux, when I continue this later on.

Things I learned well, one of, is allowing the story to grow organically. To just keep writing without any idea of what the outcome will be, or what the ending should be and just let the characters flow. I think I’m going to like doing this writing exercise more often than I thought before. Here’s to breaking from what is comfortable!

Things I notice about my own writing, is that I like disjointed, jarring first paragraph-sentences. Something to ponder about for the next works…

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