5 Minute Stretch

5 Minute Stretch

“the dry season came”

She had a way of loving people instantly, fully, with her whole being. It took nothing really, a look, a smile, a word said with just a hint of irony or with a bit of a lilt. Anything could do it. She’d be sunk, One minute friends, the next minute smitten. In a snap. This ability to fall quickly in love ought to have been a curse perhaps or a blessing, some sort of super hero power: “Go-Go Gadget Love!” But it was simply her; she loved fully and often and with no rules. A great way to live really, until the dry season came. And it always came. Not tied to moons or winds or the migration of the birds; the emotional dry season always came. One minute she was in love and hte next…she still loved, of course she still loved, but the all-in quality, the off-a-cliff quality, the depth and intensity were gone. Suddenly, she could hardly

5 Minute Stretch Exercises are a creation of Laura Munson and were learned at Haven Writing Retreats. Write for five minutes, no corrections or stopping.
This prompt was taken from Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir.

5 Minute Stretch

5 Minute Stretch

“chasing the light”

It’s not so much that she was chasing the light as she refused to be swallowed by darkness any longer. There comes a point, perhaps several, when one must choose, after all. As though it’s only as simple as a choice. As though one simply decides, “Today I shall chase the light, tomorrow, who knows; but today, why today I have all figured out.” Or perhaps that’s exactly how it’s done. Precisely how. If it’s always a matter of today, today, today, the only moment promised, then perhaps it is exactly like this. What a lovely idea: to chase the light. Almost like a sunflower tracking the sky of one’s depression. Does this make life the sunflower chasing the light, or oneself the sunflower? It’s all a bit too poetic for the likes of me, to be sure. Still. One wouldn’t want to chase the darkness, as though that’s the opposite of chasing the light, when perhaps the opposite is simply not chasing anything at all.

5 Minute Stretch Exercises are a creation of Laura Munson and were learned at Haven Writing Retreats. This prompt was taken from A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson.

5 Minute Stretch

5 Minute Stretch Exercise

“braid of creation”

It was a spring storm and it came at night. Not the daytime summer storms that brought such relief from the oppressive heat that even those afraid of lightning, afraid of thunder approved. This was a storm that began around ten at night, when heads were heading towards pillows or already sound asleep. A storm that began with thunder, built with lightning, crescendoed with rain, and brought the kind of wind that slammed doors and woke the heaviest sleepers. Up all night anyway with the excitement of feedback, the energy of a room full of people, the thrill of clapping, she heard the puppy whine and was up, heard the puppy whine and was up, heard the puppy whine but felt sure it was a false alarm, heard the puppy whine and cleaned up pee. The braid of creation became the unbraiding of her plans, her needs postponed yet another day, until the 3:30 am waking became an inability to fall back to sleep, the need within her driving her to get up, get up, get up.

5 Minute Stretch Exercises are a creation of Laura Munson and were learned at Haven Writing Retreats. This prompt was taken from The Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz.

Old Habits Die Hard

Old Habits Die Hard

Her grandmother insisted she could only inherit the old cabin and it’s fifty-some-odd acres if she moved there and lived in it. So she didn’t inherit it…not for years. She was being stubborn, she knew that. What would it cost her really to move into the cabin for two years, use it as her mailing address, then sell it afterwards. She’d have fulfilled the requirement to inherit it and she’d save on capital gains tax. It was a win-win. Still, it took her nearly eight years to break down and move there, and by then it was because she was slightly out of options.

She’d known her grandmother was dying, in that way that everyone is dying from the moment they’re born, but also in that she’d finally been to sentences to hospice care. If that was even a sentence. She wasn’t sure. Helen knew her grandmother refused to leave the cabin unless it was in a box, and there was no one willing to come care for her until the hospice was granted. It seemed she’d get her wish now and if it meant a “stranger” was living with her until the wish was granted, so be it.

There were no strangers in that little town though. They’d all been born there, grown up there, would die there. Except the select few, like her mother, who’d managed to escape. Helen always expected her mother to utter something dramatic like, “promise me you’ll never go there!” but she never did. She died without ever having introduced to Helen to any family or friends from there. She died without ever mentioning her own mother was even alive.

All that is to say that Helen could be forgiven for her stubbornness when it came to the inheritance. Who would give up their life to move somewhere they’d never been, to live with someone they’d never even known about, to inherit a cabin they’d never seen. Not Helen. She’d created a life for herself, such as it was, a job that took ten to twelve hours of her day and a cat that took that remainder, books to fill in and soften the edges. So it wasn’t until the job disappeared that she even considered the inheritance.

It all came about one day out of the blue, the inheritance, that is. She received a phone call from an unknown number, and let it go to voicemail. Who answers an unknown number these days. And so it wasn’t until her lunch hour when she remembered to check her voicemail that she learned she not only had a grandmother, but that she could also have a cabin. She sat with it for awhile, chewing it over as she ate her turkey wrap and drank her pop.

When she finally decided to call the attorney back Helen learned that in order to claim her inheritance, she would need to go live in the cabin for two full years, and also that her grandmother was still very much alive and living there too. It all seemed a bit ridiculous, and Helen refused, the attorney letting her know that he’d be in touch.

He wasn’t. In touch, that is. She didn’t hear from the attorney again for nearly eight years.

And then her phone rang.

Surprisingly she’d saved the attorney’s information in her phone and new precisely who was calling this time. Rather than send it to voicemail, she answered, a bit clipped perhaps in her “yes,” rather than a “hello,” but she answered which she figured was better than the alterantive.

The attorney must have thought so too, because rather than stutter or stumble, he introduced himself again, this time with a “perhaps you remember me?” attached to the end. He then proceeded to inform Helen that her grandmother was now “actively dying” and that she, Helen, was still the sold beneficiary of the cabin and that the two year stipulation was still in place.

“When can we expect you?” the attorney said, for it was very much a statement as much as a question.

Helen sat quietly for a minute, quietly on the outside only as on the inside her thoughts spun about coming and going so quickly she wasn’t thinking about any one of them really simply being overwhelmed by their speed and quantity. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and shouted internally. With her eyeballs pulsing she told herself, “the bottom line is that without a job I’m in a bit of a bind. The bottom line is I could go there and have a free place to live for two years while I sort myself out. The bottom line is I don’t exactly have a lot of options. The bottom line is I can be packed and on my way in less than 48 hours.”

“I’ll be there by the weekend,” she heard herself saying and she hung up before the attorney could say more.

Helen had never expected to accept the inheritance, had never expected to be in a position where she’d have no other options. You don’t go from living a soulless work filled existence to having nothing overnight, and yet that’s exactly how it happened. One minute the people around her were slowly losing their jobs and their cars, their homes and their families, and the next minute she was one of them. She’d figured she had padding for one month, one month in which to find another job before she’d have to enter panic mode. Now there’d be no need. Now she’d have two years and a property to sell at the end of it.

She began packing.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
Loss of Appetite

Loss of Appetite

It had to be Jack in the Box, that was the thing, when smoking weed she needed, not wanted or craved or thought about, but physically needed a chicken sandwich, fries, and a Dr. Pepper. And it had to be from Jack in the Box. Everybody has their thing, and this was hers. Or rather it was on of hers.

Which is how they ended up, the four of them, at a Jack in the Box drive thru one night. It was early, as nights out go, but late considering that they would all have to work tomorrow. The driver, Jeanie, didn’t smoke, so she’d be fine…although it also meant that she didn’t need this trip to grease town the way her passengers did. She dutifully got everyone shushed enough to get the orders placed, which took some doing, no small feat being the sober one amidst a group of raucous and totally stoned young women.

They were all waiting for the order to get repeated back, well, to be fair, Jeanie was waiting for the order to be repeated back, the others were staring off into nowhere, having completely forgotten where they were and what they were doing, no longer aware of their previously all consuming desire for this disgusting bit of plastic food to tether them back to earth. Only the repeat never came. Instead someone must have left the mic on without noticing because suddenly Jeanie the chicken sandwiches and fries that she was expecting to tally became a confusing smush of

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
Thanksgiving Burgers

Thanksgiving Burgers

I’m a pretty good cook, not great, I’ll never be great cause I won’t do the training, but I’m good. Good enough. Good enough that when I invite people to dinner they jump at it, or it seems they do, there’s an immediate response of yes and much hoopla made over picking the date for said dinner, the sooner the better they always insist. So, yeah, I’m a pretty good cook.

So when I set out to make Thanksgiving dinner this year, I figured it’d be a slam dunk with family and friends. I created a menu based on all my favorite things but including some of the more standard fare as well, because you never know what dish really says Thanksgiving to people. I mean, you’d think that would be the turkey, but that beast of a bird really tends to be symbolic in peoples minds for some reason…which is something I’ve never understood, I mean, if those pox-giving Pilgrims really did sit down to a meal with the Native Americans, even if they had turkey, it wouldn’t be this huge thing we picture today…it’d be one of those scrawny wild turkeys, that yes, will fix you and your family of four a meal, but it’s not going to feed hundreds. Not even if you had four of them. Or six. I mean, clearly these people ate deer or something.

Anyway, I went ahead with the turkey, because as I explained, tradition.

So as I’m inviting people to dinner and showing them the menu and everything people are excited. I mean, they seem excited, there’s a lot of “thank you” and “I can’t wait” and even a “can’t Thanksgiving come earlier this year.” Which really pleases me, I’m not gonna lie, it feels good to hear people are excited to come, even if they’re coming for the food more than for me. Which is just me trying to be self-deprecating, but really I think they’re coming for the food.

And it’s not until I get to the last couple on my list, the last two people to fill in my table, the two people I’ve been trying to get to come to dinner for years who always seem to have an excuse, it’s not until I’m inviting them that things start to go…wrong seems like a harsh word, it’s more that things just start to go awry, let’s just say that.

I can tell right away, before I even invite them but after I’ve discussed this amazing menu, it really is amazing, that they aren’t interested, and it bugs me. How can they not be interested when I’m describing candied yams and a turkey that’s been rubbed, brined, and slow cooked? Who can look bored when hearing about the ingredients and the love and care being put into such a meal? But they do, look bored that is. And I already know they’re going to say no, but I ask them to dinner anyway.

Obviously, they find a polite way to decline. I mean, if I hadn’t seen that coming I would have been concerned by my lack of attention, but it still stings a bit, these constant “no, thank you” responses I get from them. And for whatever reason, instead of just shrugging it off and figuring out who to invite instead, I get a bit…defensive is probably what I got, but I’d like to think I was curious. And before you know it I’m asking them why they always turn down my dinner invites.

Well, it turns out, and this was a relief, I tell you, it turns out they’re vegan but even more than vegan. As I keep asking for more clarification, as I keep hearing the way they eat, I’m just amazed. There’s a list of like…fruit. Really. It’s just fruit that they eat. Literal fruit. They have all these vitamins and minerals and injections they take, because all they eat is fruit. And I realize that it’s really no wonder they always look cold and like they’re going to disappear if the wind blows, they eat fewer foods than rabbits.

But, I can’t help myself, I’m intrigued. I have to know more. We end up getting a table at a nearby coffee shop, they drink water, while I ask all these questions about their diet, and they don’t seem to mind. They don’t get verbose or anything, they don’t try to convert me, they just answer question after question. And the next thing I know, I’m offering to make them a meal. Their way. A fruit dinner. But that includes cooked fruits, like a serious, multi-course fruit dinner.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
Unexpected Thanksgiving Guest

Unexpected Thanksgiving Guest

I should have expected it. Especially from my cousin. Not only does she, my cousin, Charmaine, have a big heart, she also had no sense whatsoever of other peoples affairs. She’s not insensitive, quite the opposite, and she’s not empathetic or oblivious, it’s something else entirely. It’s like she exists on another plane, like she doesn’t understand the threads that bind people together or how those threads fray and snap. She, my cousin, Charmaine, always gives people another chance and doesn’t even recognize that she’s doing it. There’s always another chance with Charmaine because there are never not chances cause what are chances so chances are innumerable.

So I should have expected it, from Charmaine of all people. But I didn’t and that’s on me.

See the thing is, we were all sitting around the table, having just been called to Thanksgiving dinner by my aunt Ruth, and we’d all found a spot and there was still one spot left, for Charmaine, who hadn’t arrived yet, but my aunt Ruth had begun bringing the food in anyway, placing the green beans here and the biscuits there, the mashed potatoes catty corner from me and the gravy next to them. All this incredible food was coming out, and I’m salivating cause I didn’t eat breakfast expecting this huge traditional spread, and I’m so hungry and all I can think is “when are we gonna start passing the food around,” and in she strolls with the most perfectly browned turkey I’ve ever seen. So I was a bit distracted when Charmaine arrived. Even so, I’m still surprised it took me so long to notice.

Charmaine had brought a guest, because of course Charmaine would bring a guest to Thanksgiving dinner with absolutely no forewarning. It was classic big hearted Charmaine. No one was surprised by that. Or if they were they didn’t know my cousin. But we were all surprised. I guarantee you that. I guarantee that not a one of us was drooling over turkey one minute and then desperate to carve the next. Nope, we were all a bit stunned when we realized who she’d brought.

Because of course she, my cousin, Charmaine, brought my dad. The one person none of us ever thought we’d see again. Not after the last time.

See, several years ago now, I can’t think for sure, I want to say it was eight years ago but I feel like that was the year uncle Jeb threw out his back tossing the football around, so it musta been the year before or there wouldn’t have been such forced gaiety. So, nine years ago, the last time my dad came to Thanksgiving dinner, there was this moment where his sister, aunt Ruth, realized he wasn’t really there. I mean to say that his body was there, obviously, we could all see him, but his mind was gone. And not like the way we say “where’d my mind go,” when we realize we’ve misplaced our keys or been caught daydreaming out a window cause the larch trees are budding and the green is so exquisite. No, his mind was gone, and it turned out to be drugs.

Anyway, there were a few Thanksgivings after where his name would be mentioned in the pre-dinner prayer and I’d find out he was in this rehab or that psychiatric hospital or his name would simply be mentioned as one to watch over and I’d know he was out on the streets somewhere if he was even alive at all. I got used to the idea that my dad was gone, I mean, I guess I got used to it, what choice did I have, it’s not like I was gonna go search the streets for him all day every day til I found him. Cause then what? What did I know from drug recovery.

So there we all are, sitting at the table, except aunt Ruth who has placed the turkey on the table but is still holding the platter and my cousin, Charmaine, and my dad. And Charmaine has a contented smile on her face and simply says, “look who I ran into! Uncle Charlie’s joining us for dinner. I knew you wouldn’t mind, mama,” and then she’s guiding my dad to the empty seat, her seat, and she’s carefully sliding settings left and right and creating a space for herself to sit and no one is helping. Not a one of us is helping her. And it’s not cause we’re rude, not intentionally, we’re all just shocked.

I should have jumped up and started moving settings over or grabbing another setting out of the cabinet aunt Ruth keeps her linins in or gone to the kitchen for a plate and cutlery, but I just sat there. Luckily, I realized I had my mouth wide open and I shut it, although to be fair I might not have noticed my mouth open except that when I finally got to looking around I noticed everyone else had their mouth open which of course led me to discover mine was to.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
He Got His Wish

He Got His Wish

His great grandfather had been a barber in the war. Which war, he wasn’t sure, he never got to meet the guy, so it was just this story he’d always heard. “Your great grandfather was a barber in the war.” And for whatever reason, he’d always wanted a proper shave by a proper barber. If you asked him he’d shrug, he’d make it seem he really had no idea. But if you questioned him long enough, if you approached it from the right angle, you could see that it was a bit that he felt it was something his grandfather, or great grandfather, or whoever, would have approved of. It was a way to feel a little closer to a man he’d never met.

Plus it seemed bougie as hell and therefore a bit of a lark.

The thing is, do you know how hard it is to find someone that can do a straight razor shave. He’d moved to a few different cities throughout his life for college, for a girl, for a job. Every time he moved he’d walk the streets of this new conglomeration of buildings and people and businesses and keep an eye out for all the regular things, the potential new favorite coffee shop, Thai food place, book store. But he’d also be looking for a barber.

Every city had a barber. Even when he had to travel to some tiny city who’s only claim to fame was having a hotel cheap enough that his company would host their annual meeting there, he could find a barber shop. But most barbers were the electric kind. They could give you a cut and a shave and it’d all be done in less than twenty minutes, and all with a little electric device whirring in your ear the whole time.

Of course he got those cuts and shaves. Of course. But they weren’t what he was looking for.

And then when he joined this latest company, his boss a bit of a dick, and the directory mentioning the possible cities from which he could work, the cities they’d welcome a “man on the ground,” as the directory called it, there was just something about the cities name that called to him. Something a bit throwbackish about it. A bit Mayberry, if you will, a town he only knew through stories, like his grandfather, or great grandfather or whatever.

Which is how he found himself in Three Rivers: City of Elms. And it was true, there were, three rivers and elms. “Rivers” seemed like a bit of a stretch, he would have called them creeks, but there were three and they converged at a lovely if a bit loud spot just outside of town, a gorgeous walk and especially in the spring as he’d just discovered. The elms looking vivid with their leaf buds everywhere, the water tumbling from all directions, especially thunderous with the winter runoff.

He’d checked the city online before moving, of course, who wouldn’t. He knew there were the important things: a grocery store, gas station, mechanic, doctor, pharmacy. And he knew that nowadays you could live just about anywhere and get just about anything thanks to the internet and UPS. He also knew he could live anywhere for two years and move on if he didn’t like it. So the decision was made and he was now a resident of Three Rivers.

He arrived on a Sunday and spent the day unloading the contents of his trunk into his new home, a dilapidated single wide he’d found cheap and that he could always turn into a rental if this didn’t work out. There wasn’t much to move, a couple suitcases worth of clothing, a box of books, a good lamp, a duvet he’d gotten from an ex that he’d kept in the breakup. He’d furnish the place with garage sales or IKEA if he had to. The furniture was irrelevant. He’d already ordered a new mattress and it was set to arrive the next day. He could tolerate the floor for one night.

Move-in complete he went for a stroll. It being Sunday the town was quiet, businesses closed, a thing he’d have to get used to but was charmed by.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
Pet Peeve Punishment

Pet Peeve Punishment

It wasn’t her place to judge. She knew that, and she tried her best. But still, it grated on her nerves when people would complain about the things they brought on themselves. Her coworkers were especially good at this. And the first few times they came to her with their complaints she’d listen, nodding sympathetically, never saying anything, waiting it out. But after a time it became a habit. One stopping by to complain about the overtime they’d accepted because they “needed the money but still.” One stopping by to complain about the OT the other was getting because they’d declined the OT themselves because they had “family in town but still.”

Every time they stopped to complain she played violin music in her head, “oh, poor you,” her thoughts went, “you made a decision you don’t want to live with because it’s slightly inconvenient compared to the other decision you could have made that would also be slightly inconvenient,” all the while a Bach piece playing gently in the background of her mind. “I wish I could just play this piece anytime they stopped by to complain,” she caught herself thinking at one point. And then she couldn’t stop thinking it.

She caught herself downloading the Bach piece on her phones music app. Listening to it on the way home and smiling, laughing out loud even. But she knew she’d never have the ovaries to actually play the piece aloud when a coworker was present. That’d be taking it too far…wouldn’t it? Or would they even notice? She always had music playing softly at her desk as it was, never anything raucous unless she was the last person in the building. Maybe…?

And then one day after a company meeting in which she’d heard the debate amongst coworkers of who was going to take on the latest emergency project that would require an immediate input of overtime beginning that very day, she knew. She just knew that the complaints were coming.

Sure enough not an hour after the meeting she could here the heavy stride of Raquel, a woman who thought that all women needed to take up more space and made every effort to get the office to participate in Take Back the Night events. Raquel, a normally lovely woman, extremely supportive and with a smile that made you feel seen, but who occasionally agreed to an OT project despite having two children and a wife at home, and then she’d walk as though the floor were a good foot or more lower than it actually was, her feet slamming into the ground as though she’d just jumped off her desk.

“I can’t believe they talked me into it,” she began.

And before she’d even registered she was doing it, Kay pressed play on the Bach piece.

It was a subtle enough change that Raquel kept talking. She took no notice whatsoever of the violin’s grief over her situation, at the sweet sympathy it cooed at her. Kay continued to smile and nod and “mmhmm” but inside she was laughing. Laughing hysterically. No longer taking any notice whatsoever of the words coming out of Raquel’s mouth, although she did notice as Raquel’s shoulders relaxed, as the tension left her arms and she took a deep breath. She did notice when Raquel finished up her wha-whaing with a deep sigh and for the first time ever said, “thank you, Kay. Thank you for listening,” before walking away smoothly.

“Perhaps the violin music helped,” Kay thought, “it certainly helped me…but that’s the first time she’s ever thanked me. Huh.”

Over the following days and weeks Kay continued to employ the violin music, and she realized that not only did it help her feel a sense of righteousness over holding her tongue at all the complaining, it also gave the complainers a feeling of having been heard. It was a balm for them all, rather than a hilarious punishment, and Kay thought at first that perhaps that would ruin the fun of it, but it didn’t. No one seemed to notice that the music was played mockingly and Kay forgot, over time, that it was ever meant to be such.

In whatever bizarre twist of fate life dealt her, the complaints became fewer. At first Kay thought it must be that the projects has slowed but that wasn’t the case. There were still the monthly or more clients who decided they simply had to have whatever they needed immediately and hang the expense. Somewhere along the way though her coworkers had stopped feeling harassed by their own obligations, or more aptly, by their own choices.

Kay began to miss all the complaints although she didn’t recognize it as that for some time. She simply felt a hollowness that wasn’t there, an emptiness, as people no longer stopped by her desk every week or more with a scowl and a grump. She realized that now she was the one walking about with a scowl, that she was now stopping by Raquel’s desk with nothing specific to say but rather a general malaise about her, that Raquel no longer looked up when she heard Kay approaching, or that if she did accidentally look up that she’d smile quickly and duck her head again determined to look very busy.

One day Kay realized she no longer played music at her desk, couldn’t remember the last time she played anything, even the Bach piece.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here
The Man Who Speaks in Poems

The Man Who Speaks in Poems

Everyone called him Poet. She assumed that’s what he was, or what he used to be, back before he came here. She never even bothered to question that assumption because he spoke only in poems, which at first she took to be a brilliant affectation for someone who was supposedly senile. It was only after days of working there and paying attention to what he said, that she realized he wasn’t trying to be endearing, he was simply stuck in a loop of poems.

She wasn’t assigned to any particular patients, she went where she was needed, so her exposer to Poet was minimal at first. An occasional moment where he dropped something and she was walking by and could pick it up for him, or when bringing out the food trays and he’d yet to be served. That was the first time she realized his poems were situational and not completely random. She’d slid the tray in front of him with a smile and was turning to the person on his left, Mildred, a woman who insisted on wearing lipstick every day despite her exclusive wardrobe of gunked up slippers and a terry cloth pullover that left her looking for all the world like a bathmat.

“Women whose lives are food, breaking eggs with care.”

She was brought short by the words for a moment, repeating them softly to herself and later typing them into her phone and discovering they were the words of Joyce Carol Oates. She made a point later that day to swing near Poet and say, “Men whose lives are money, time-and-a-half Saturdays,” hoping to get a response, a smile even. But there was nothing. Not even a flicker in Poet’s eyes.

The next time she heard Poet speak was when she nearly slipped and fell coming rapidly down the hallway, the hallway that had just been polished before lunch and about which she had been warned, the warning quickly forgotten.

“How many times these low feet staggered, only the soldered mouth can tell.”

Dickinson, she discovered later with the help of her phone.

“Fearless – the cobwebs swing from the ceiling, Indolent Housewife – in Daisies – lain!” she whispered in his ear later that day while tidying his room.

Again there was no response.

There existed then several weeks where she had no interaction with Poet, the comings and goings of the place far exceeding the time a single volunteer could devote. The turnover from the latest flu was horrific, and it wasn’t until she was called in to the supervisors office that she even had a moment to think of Poet. Perhaps she could ask the supervisor about him.

“I want to thank you, personally, for all your hours here, miss Lin. We don’t often get volunteers and when we do they don’t often stick around past their nursing hours or community service requirements. I sincerely appreciate all you’ve done here. You’re a real asset, and if you ever decide you want to work here fulltime as an employee, I’d be happy to hire you.”

Frankly, this was not what she’d expected at all, she was stunned and her eyes were a bit misty as she replied, “thank you, sir. I enjoy it.”

“Yes, well, thank you again,” he said before turning to the papers on his desk and raking a hand through his hair. He was clearly overwhelmed by what lay before him and had assumed their meeting was over, his goal accomplished. She considered going back to the few tasks she wanted to complete before leaving for the day, but hazarded a question.

“Sir? If you could, I’d like a bit more info on the man they call Poet?”

He looked up at her a puzzled furrow of his brows, “Poet?”

“Yes, sir, I don’t know his real name, it’s not on his door and no one seems to know it. He speaks in poetry? The staff call him Poet?”

It took a moment, and then she saw the realization in his eyes, “ah, yes, Marcus. He’s an interesting man. Used to teach, I believe, I’d have to look it up. I’m afraid he’s been gone for quite awhile now, came to us with no responses to his name or questions, music or other stimuli. He’s one that simply exists here.”

“Yes, sir, only it seems he may be a bit more there? His poems seem to be about whatever’s going on around him at the time.”

His eyes widened at this, “are you sure? We put him through several tests when he arrived. As you know we like to be sure to keep our clients as sharp as possible for as long as we can. He failed, well, he failed everything. There was no response to anything, not even electrical waves. Has he spoken to you or given any indication he understands what you say?”

“No, sir, not exactly. It’s that his poetry is…situational, for lack of a better word,” and she proceeded to explain noting all the while that his expression slowly went from excited to bored. “I just think, sir, that he knows more than we give him credit for,” she ended weakly.

“Yes, well, I’d like then for you to be assigned to him. I realize there are a lot of things you’re currently tasked with, but those things can go to someone…Jordan. Give them to Jordan, and let her know your time here is to be spent exclusively in aiding…Poet?”

“Yes, sir, Poet.”

“Right. Off you go. And please check in with me at the end of one week with any updates.”

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here