Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Flow | Story Prompt: from the short story “Isolettes” from the book “Bang Crunch” by Neil Smith

‘Four months into An’s pregnancy, Jacob moved into a top-floor apartment in her building. He called the place the pent-up suite because, according to An, the former tenants, a sulky husband and wife, were passive-aggressives. To exorcise the couple’s demons, Jacob wandered around his stacks of moving boxes spritzing a citrus deodorizer. “If marriage is an institution,” he said, “married people should be institutionalized.” An wondered if this was a veiled reminder: that she and Jacob were not a couple, that they weren’t bookends propping up Dr. Spock’s Baby and Childcare. Still, the move into her building had been Jacob’s idea. An concurred, though. Proximity without intimacy: it sounded good to her. She had no desire to actually live with Jacob or any other man. Men’s bathroom habits, the Q-tips caked with earwax they left on the sink, depressed her. In her foolish twenties, she’d shared a loft with a boyfriend whose puppy-dog good cheer had made her want to drive him out into the country and leave him there. “Maybe more marriages would last if couples didn’t live together,” she said to Jacob as he unpacked a food processor the size of a space probe. “Maybe couples should buy two semi-detacheds and each live on either side,” she added. Jacob laughed his nose-honking laugh. “That’s why you always strike out at love, An,” he said. “You’re so semi-detached.”

Between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth week of An’s pregnancy, the placenta began to separate from the uterine wall. Semi-detached, An thought, when the doctor told her. By this time, she was lying under a spotlight in the emergency ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Her contractions were a minute apart. A nurse, the one who’d injected her with antibiotics earlier, yelled out, “Cervix fully effaced!” The warm amniotic fluid trickled over An’s thighs, and the obstetrician soon announced, “She’s crowning,” as if An herself were Queen Victoria. Then came the huge, irresistible urge to push. When the neonatologist lifted her newborn daughter, An saw the tiny infant bat the air with one arm as if to clear everyone away, the doctors, the nurses – even her exhausted, terrified mother.’


“Let’s tell stories,” you said, “You go first.”

“Let’s tell stories,” I said, “Let me tell you a story.”

I told you a story of a little girl who got lost in the woods, and then found her way home with help from the animals.

You told me a story about a dragon who breathed fire and scared everyone away.

I told you a story about an adventurous little boy who grew up and had two beautiful baby girls.

You told me a story about a dragon who could fly everywhere and would stomp on houses.

I told you a story about a grandmother who would read stories to her grandchildren and one day had her house stomped on by a dragon. She was so angry, she shook her finger at the dragon and said, “Bad dragon!”

You told me a story of a dragon who ate up a grandmother and got a tummy ache.

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