So… I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve decided to try something new: I’m going to tell a little story of what I did/noticed/thought about today, and how it led me to come up with a writing prompt. I’ve labeled this entry Writing Prompt #1 in the hope that I’ll get around to following up with more prompts.
Anyway, here goes:
My job takes me from school to school all day. I work 1:1 (or sometimes 1:2) with students who are deaf or hard of hearing. In one of the schools where I work (and no, I don’t plan on telling you which one), I use a table in the room where the speech and language therapists work. It’s a pleasant work space, in part because I get along with the speech teachers, and in part because the space itself is friendly and conducive to work. There are shelves full of games, posters on the walls, and a Sponge Bob Squarepants made of metal sitting on the windowsill, just above the heater/air conditioner.
Despite the fact that I’ve been working in that space since September, I only learned today how to work the heater/air conditioner unit. (Until today, there wasn’t a need for me to know. But then, it got hot and muggy out.) One of the speech teachers pulled open a panel on the front of the air conditioner, then showed me the dial that turns it on and off, hidden inside. She then showed me how to close the panel so that one corner clicked into place, and the other corner didn’t. That way, it was still possible to open it without needing a special tool.
“But don’t worry,” she added. “If it does close all the way, there’s a tool hiding inside Sponge Bob. That’s why he’s there.”
Up until that moment, I hadn’t even noticed that Sponge Bob could open. (Upon closer inspection, I saw that his body is like a smaller version of an old-fashioned metal lunch box.) Since September, I’d just taken for granted that he was there because someone liked Sponge Bob, or received him as a gift, or set him aside and forgot about him. Mostly, I just took for granted that he was there, and didn’t bother to think about the reason at all. And, even if I had, it never would have occurred to me that it wasn’t Sponge Bob himself that mattered, but instead the tool that was hiding inside of him.
And it got me thinking about how we look around us all the time, and take even the out-of-place things for granted. If we notice them at all, we rationalize their existence (oh, someone put it down and forgot about it), and then proceed to just accept them as normal when, in fact, they may be present for an entirely unexpected reason.
So here is my prompt for you:
Go into a room, or other private space, one that isn’t your own space (because you likely know the reasons behind the objects in your own space). Pick out an object that you’ve always taken for granted – or one that you would take for granted now, if this space is new to you, and explain why it’s there. Avoid the more obvious answers like, “sentimental value” or, “It’s an alarm clock. It’s there to wake me up.” Give the object an unexpected purpose, one that no one would ever guess. Then, write a story where the resolution of the story hinges on the purpose you’ve chosen for that object.