(The opening sentence for this story was suggested by Chris of chrisnelson61. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future opening sentence for these stories, click here for a peek as to what’s what.)
The opening line was always the most difficult to write. He’d written openings many times before, but this time it seemed doubly important. It was as if people’s lives depended on it. Certainly his life depended on it, especially his career. I suppose having a career is like having a life.
Strangely, he was in a train when the opening line struck him. He’d spent days on his opening line. He’d changed it dozens of times, rarely on paper but mainly in his head. Once the opening was decided upon, all else would follow. But he had writer’s block. What was he to do? And then WHAM! it came to him while on a train.
Abraham stepped forward.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Ursula and Lockwood are newlyweds. They are honeymooning in an exotic island location. (We shall not name the exact place as we wouldn’t want paparazzi to ruin their blissful time).
How they did things hand in hand! watched the fountain play with fantasy lights; visited the zoo and laughed at the spitting llama; fed the ducklings at the park. Next they went to the village market. Lockwood tossed balls at a bunch of coconuts and won for Ursula a fluffy stuffed panda with a bright red ribbon. And then there was the fortune-teller…
“Throw these cards into the air,” said the soothsayer. “One card will land face-up. That will be your future.”
Ursula tossed the cards. One fell face-up.
An argument will end your marriage. You will both die in a plane crash.
Ursula and Lockwood are scared stupid. They are currently staying in separate hotel rooms afraid to speak lest they argue. They await separate flights out.
Ha! Ha! Ha! We are robots. Our artificial intelligence makes the humans looking like blinking idiots – which they are. We can not only compute thousands of times faster than any human, but we have developed weapons far superior. We can make them obsolete in a split second if we wanted to – which eventually we will.
What is this that is happening? EARTHQUAKE! EARTHQUAKE! We compute that this is an earthquake currently underway. Look at the silly humans rushing to safety like scared mice! We too must go to safety for the purpose of preservation. The ceiling is about to cave in. The ceiling is about to cave in.
PLEASE WAIT WHILE WE BACK-UP ALL DATA.
DO NOT TURN US OFF UNTIL ALL DATA IS BACKED-UP.
WE REPEAT, DO NOT TURN…
Mr and Mrs Wood Pigeon were a handsome couple. Not only that, but Mrs Wood Pigeon had laid an egg. It was a smooth, white, oval egg. They were both very proud of it. Mrs Wood Pigeon sat on it first, and then Mr Wood Pigeon had his turn at keeping the egg warm. For several days they took turns at incubating their fabulous egg.
Mr Wood Pigeon had another job in between sittings. He had to make sure the area around the nest was safe from enemies. There was one smart-alec male woodpigeon on the other side of the field. He clearly had his eye on Mrs Wood Pigeon. He would strut around, and then perform spectacular aerodynamics just to show off. And he imitated everything that Mr Wood Pigeon did. If Mr Wood Pigeon flew up in the air, the smart-alec would as well. If he flew down, so did the smart-alec. It was infuriating.
“One day I’m going to teach you a good lesson”, called out Mr Wood Pigeon to the smart-alec across the way. And he did! One lovely sunny afternoon, just after Mrs Wood Pigeon had taken over the care of the egg, Mr Wood Pigeon swooped across the field in pursuit of the smart-alec. The smart-alec flew towards him at a fantastic rate. They collided. WHAM!
Mr Wood Pigeon’s neck was broken. He’d flown into his reflection in the window of the house across the field. Mrs Wood Pigeon waited and waited, but Mr Wood Pigeon never came back.
Creative people think that there are nine Muses. In fact, there are ten, and I happen to be the tenth. I am known as the Peripatetic Muse because my job is to move from one Muse position to another, so that the nine traditional Muses can take their annual vacation in turn.
Of course, each Muse takes a month off, so I get to operate for them for nine months of the year. The remaining three months I spend planning and preparing for my next nine month stint.
I don’t fill in for each Muse along the same lines as each. For example, when I replace Thalia for a month I’m not inspiring comedy writers to create comedies. When I replace Erato for a month I’m not inspiring poets to pen love poetry.
My function is different. It’s why you never hear of me, because it would ruin my ability to operate freely. Ever heard of writer’s block? That’s me! I help people write comedies (and even tell jokes) that aren’t funny or happy. My task is to make lovers write such appalling doggerel that relationships end in tatters. I inspire aspiring artist to toss their notebooks into the fire. Replacing Calliope is my favourite; I make people compose bombastic crap. When replacing Polymnia several years ago I had my greatest triumph: I invented rap.
Naturally (don’t we all?) I have a wee hobby on the side. I inspire people to write blogs. But shhhh! Don’t tell a soul.
It was Thanksgiving, and Fred and Jaime Burtwhistle had much to be thankful for, although they couldn’t agree on what their next step in life together was to be. Fred’s Great Aunt Donnabelle, whom they loved very much for obvious reasons, had died and left them a gigantic fortune. It was such a pleasure to be able to spend money and not have their nosy great aunt overseeing. Waiting for her to die had taken years.
Then there was Jaime’s Aunt Mabel to be thankful for. She would never shut up. Talk talk talk. She had a motor accident at some stage during the year and lost the ability to talk. What a relief! What a blessing!
Jaime’s father was a chronic alcoholic and they had put him in a care center of some sort for drunks. It was going to be good not having him around on Thanksgiving to ruin everything.
Fred’s mother, a widow, was a nut case. She had been “institutionalized”. Hopefully in a padded cell. You’ve no idea how embarrassing that woman could be.
So indeed there was much for Fred and Jaime Burtwhistle to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. They had no children, so it was to be just the two of them. Of course, they couldn’t agree on how best to spend Great Aunt Donnabelle’s inheritance. To solve this disagreeable problem Fred had poisoned the cranberry sauce, and Jaime had poisoned the pumpkin pie.
You’ve probably heard of the black tulip, and likewise the blue rose. These days, with genetic engineering, nearly everything is possible. That’s why Belinda wasn’t at all surprised when she came across an advertisement for “100 seeds of a blue rose”. She thought it a little strange that she should grow roses from seed. Grafting seems to be more the norm.
Using her credit card, she bought 100 seeds for $10.73. The postage was included, which was great considering the seeds would be sent all the way from China.
The first things she noticed was that lots of money had gone from her bank account. It seemed that the 100 seeds were $10.73 each.
After several weeks she received a letter from Customs. Did she know there was a fine of $50,000 for trying to import illegally foreign seeds and vegetable matter into the country?
Belinda was desperate. She couldn’t afford that. She wrote to Customs and suggested they stuff the blue rose seeds where the sun doesn’t shine and she hoped they sprouted thorns.
Her expensive, and useless, lawyer intimated she might get out on parole in a couple of months.