I love challenges. When Writer's Digest on Facebook prompted it's readers with a challenge last week, I couldn't wait to get started. The challenge was go to your email in-box folder and look at your messages - then randomly pick two of the subject lines to write a story about. The first email subject line would be the first sentence in your story and the next email subject line would be the last sentence in your story. It had to be 500 words or less. I don't like word counts - I like to ramble too much, but I had a few minutes so I decided to do it. I immediately went to my email in-box folder and then remembered I had just that morning cleaned out all my messages. Of course there was plenty of stuff in my SPAM folder, so I looked through it. Aha - much better than my in-box would have been anyway. By the way, my Spam folder has lots of weird subject lines - pills you can take for this and that and some things just downright bizarre. Most of them are ads for products or services, trying to sucker you into buying something. I'm sure Spam folders all over the world are the same. I found two that would work for the challenge and away I went. After writing it, checking the word count which was way too many, reducing the word count which was way too few, I finally narrowed it down to this. It's a strange story limited by words, but a story nonetheless.
New Pearls in Eye-catching Shades – The sign caught my attention as I walked past the jewelry kiosk in the mall on my way to buy shoes to wear to my best friends wedding. I did an abrupt u-turn! I needed a gift for Alana that would be a bit unusual and this could be it. There were strands of exquisitely colored pearls in the display case. “Are these authentic?" I asked the sales clerk. “Oh yes, the oysters are farm raised and natural dyes are used to color the sand in each pond that the oysters inhabit which in turn colors the pearl in the shell. These just came in today”. I should have known better, but the price was right and I left the kiosk with pearls in an exquisite shade of blue. I couldn’t wait to give them to Alana tonight at the bachelorette party. I found some great shoes, finished my shopping and went home to get ready to party.
Kim was to be our designated driver and as soon as they all arrived at my apartment, I saw that Alana was wearing a shimmering blue cocktail dress. Perfect, I thought! I told her to close her eyes and carefully fastened the pearls around her neck. She opened her eyes and gasped, “Oh my gosh, they’re beautiful! Are they real?” I explained the process to her and she was thrilled.
The party was at the Cityscape Bar and Grill. The staff greeted us and treated us like royalty. Alana got many compliments on the pearls and I was glad my gift had been such a hit. We had a bit too much of the house wine and decided to make an early night of it since the wedding was tomorrow.
At 8:00 am my phone rang. “Jane, please come over here!” It was Alana and she was in a panic. “What’s wrong”, I said, thinking maybe she was having cold feet. “Please, just come over!” Uh oh, this was serious. I was there in ten minutes. When she opened the door, I was dumbstruck.
In five hours, Alana would be having the wedding of her dreams and her neck was a vivid blue. She was crying. “I forgot and slept with the necklace on last night. I’ve been scrubbing and it won’t come off”. “Don't worry", I said, "This is what best friends are for”, and went scurrying out the door to the corner pharmacy. I came back with face cream, toner and a skin lightener. With repeated attempts and a soft bronze powder, her neck was beautiful once again. She thanked me, we hugged and I drove back home to relax before getting dressed. I was envious – I didn’t have a boyfriend and here was Alana getting married.
As I sat at my computer, I felt deflated. You just can't believe anything anymore. Colored pearls! Huh! That's the last time I'm getting suckered by a sign, I thought. Just then, a pop-up with a flashing sign appeared on my screen and I sat up a little straighter. Just this once, I thought, and before I could stop myself, I clicked Looking for Love? Find Singles in your Area.
OK - to all my writer friends out there - I challenge you to do the same. Check your email inbox or spam folder for messages and use the subject lines to write a story - just like the instructions above. Post it as a comment here or simply do it to practice your writing skills. I am always trying to improve mine.
|There really are blue pearls. They're expensive! This photo came from BluePearl.com|