If you missed last week’s episode, you missed a great one. You can watch the replay here.
As always, the ladies of the podcast created some great pieces of writing from this sprint prompt. This week, the prompt was: He poured rocks in the dungeon of his mind. We really enjoyed Jamie’s take on the prompt, and we think you will as well! Enjoy, and make sure you reach out to her to let her know you want her to finish this story!
He poured rocks in the dungeon of his mind, each signifying a particular stressor. He gathered them together like dice in a Yahtzee game, putting them in an invisible cup which he could almost feel as he closed his hand into a fist, during dinners with friends or business meetings. His nails would press half circles into the meaty flesh of his palms as he mentally scooped up thoughts of a promotion or a raise or what Betty would say when she found out he had requested neither.
Into the cup went concerns about braces and future weddings and college education. Each rock stayed a rock, in spite of his efforts to turn them, in his mind, into dice or anything that resembled something that would make sense to the world outside his internal prison.
Why did each issue so stubbornly remain a baked hard piece of clay? Why did each issue seem so much like any of the others, undecipherable when the cup was upended and the individual troubles spilled over him at the end of the night, when he sat oh so still and tried to make sense of everything that was expected of him.
He preferred the rocks to remain inside the cup, but he couldn’t seem to hold on to the cup tightly enough to keep it from tipping and spilling, tipping and spilling.
“Talk to me,” Betty pleaded, and the worry in her eyes became another rock. Into the cup it went with a plunk.
“The car’s acting funny,” his daughter said, and the information, as well as the worry in her eyes, became another rock in the cup.
Cigarettes seemed the only escape that didn’t further worry anyone, so the beer that was bought and was surely his secret remedy remained unconsumed in the refrigerator, his secret craving for it still another rock that went into his cup.
How unfair, he thought, that it was okay for some other guys, to sit unfeeling and stewing in an inebriated slumber. How must their internal lives seem? Not clenched, not holding on. Blissfully adrift on a sea of foam. It sounded like heaven.
The thoughts were a handful of gravel, pouring from his soul into the damning cup of judgement he insisted on filling, every day – every day.
One day as he sat in the garage, once again dumping and inventorying and scooping up again all of those many rocks, a small man in a cheap suit made his way up the drive.
“Hello, brother,” the stranger said. “My wife and I just started a church up the street.”
“Hello,” was the reply, tentative – this was a preacher man, after all, certainly here to add some more rocks to the cup.
“Would you like to come and visit?” Asked the wife, who’d been straggling behind trying to wrangle what looked like around eight children, who were too enthusiastic about the innumerable crickets in the field to hustle up the driveway the way their father had.
The cup lay upended in the dungeon of his mind, his problems scattered before him, shouting up at him from the dirty floor upon which they lay. He wondered if there was a way to leave them all there, and fill his cup with something new. He wondered if this little man and his big, happy family could offer him something that could stop the endless torment of filling and spilling, spilling and filling.
“I think I might like to visit, yes,” he said, and unclenched his fist long enough to shake the preacher man’s hand.
Jamie Hershberger enjoys writing shorts (short fiction) under the pen name, J. R. Nichols. She is the creator and curator of www.writingshorts.net and the editor of The Writing Shorts Newsletter. Her flash fiction has won several contests and has been featured in two anthologies.