Word Prompt: Rush | Story Prompt: from the book “The Tin Flute” by Gabrielle Roy (Translated from the French by Hannah Josephson)

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“Have any of you guys ever walked on St. Catherine Street without a cent in your pocket and looked at all the stuff in the shopwindows? I guess so. Well, I have too. And I’ve seen some fine things, boys, as fine as you can see anywhere. I can hardly describe all the fine things I’ve seen while tramping up and down St. Catherine Street! Packards, Buicks, racing cars, sport cars. I’ve seen mannequins in beautiful evening dresses, and others without a stitch on. What can’t you find on St. Catharine Street? Bedroom suites, with a doll in a silk nightie on the bed. Sporting-goods stores, with golf sticks, tennis rackets, skis, fishing poles. If anyone has the leisure to play around with such things, it’s us, eh? But the only fun we get out of it all is to look. And the grub! Have you ever passed one of those restaurants where they roast chickens in the window when your belly was flapping against your ribs? But that’s not all, my friends. Society spreads everything out before us, all the finest things in the world. But don’t get the idea that that’s all. Ah no! They urge us to buy too. You’d think they were scared we weren’t tempted enough. They’re on our necks day and night to buy all this fancy stuff. Turn on the radio, and what do you hear? A bigwig from the loan company who wants to lend you five hundred bucks! Boy, you could buy a secondhand Buick with five hundred bucks! Or a fellow begs you to let him clean your old rags. You’re stupid not to wear the latest styles. You’re a fool not to have a frigidaire in your kitchen. Look at the paper. Buy all the products in the ads; the papers are full of them. Buy cigarettes, buy Holland gin, buy headache pills, buy fur coats! No one should be without these things! In this era of progress every man has the right to have a good time.”

He rose and emerged into the light, a tall thin boy with narrow hips, red swollen eyelids, and large ears standing out from his head.

“That’s what society gives us, temptations. From beginning to end that’s all we get. The whole bloody circus is set up to tempt us. And that’s how society, the dirty slut, gets a grip on us. Don’t get any ideas into your heads, boys. Sooner or later we all fall for it. It requires no great temptation either to make us give up our wretched little lives. I know a guy who enlisted, do you know why?”

Putting his hand in his pocket he drew out a toothpick and stuck it in his teeth.

“To get a winter coat.”

***

Write a scene about a character who looks at a strange piece of art the same moment she hears important news – MEC 2017

The stones appeared as though they’d been piled haphazardly, yet the placard with the title of the piece and the artist name were placed deliberately in front. She stood about six feet back, as if having that bit of distance would give her a better perspective and allow her to make sense of it all. It was an outdoor installation, and the day was overcast but warm enough. She stood in short sleeves, shorts and sandals, with a small, squarish black purse slung across her chest and hanging by her side. She contained both hands behind her back, each holding an elbow.

She took another step back to bring the stones into better focus, and jumped a little when the phone in her purse began to buzz. Sighing, she tipped the phone out of her purse just enough to see the caller – it was her brother. As she lifted the phone to her ear, her eyes still searching for a message within the stones, she took yet another step back.

The rays of the sun setting behind the installation of stone cast a brilliant glow, and her voice caught as she answered the call. As she coughed to clear her throat, the entire scene before her came into focus. She could see the artists’ intent as the light somehow magically brought the entire piece to life. Tears came to her eyes with the enormity, the beauty of it all.

“Marina? Are you there? Mother has died,” her brother said.

***

Do you sometimes wonder where we are all rushing to? It feels lately like there is a kind of rush to return to “normal” – but I’m not sure that what passed for normal is something to aspire to. Maybe we need to slow things down and figure out what is important, what we want our world to look like. What might need to change, particularly as we slowly begin to ease our way out of the Pandemic. Share your thoughts below!

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