16) Make a scene with a character exhibiting really bad behaviour.
Is his…? Oh my God it is. His finger is right up there, literally up his - Oh God man don’t move it around! I’m right here you freak.
‘So I was talking to Jenny and…’
That is about an inch deep, I didn’t even know a man had fingers that long… Christ the waiter’s going to ask us to leave.
‘…with the kid and everything they get kinda stressed, you know?’
Oh… Oh! Switching it up now. Index no good for you? Yea-Yup… Pinky time.
‘You know? You awake?’
That must be all ten fingers. Maybe some toes when I wasn’t looking.
‘Christ sake get your fingers out!’
‘What are you talking about?’ Fingers still there.
‘Your hand! Your hand! Get it out of your nose!’
‘Woah, easy. Ok.’ Fingers. Still. There.
‘Why aren’t you doing anything!?’
‘I… I’m gonna need a napkin or something.’
15) The Kleptomaniac
One is one. One is nothing. I don’t even think you could understand; it’s like…- it’s like a shot of heroin. You can’t just take one and be done with it. God! I bet you didn’t even try it, not even as a kid. The judgement forced upon me by those band of Christian Brothers is unreal. Probably better it was heroin, least those addicts get respect, get help. God forbid John Citizen is seen anywhere near me a few CDs heavier.
You… You have to realise the power it has when you’ve got two hands on it and you just know. There is never any doubt or question or even consideration for the moral or social norm. In your head it is the most natural of instincts. It triggers something primordial in your gut. You are leaving with it in your jacket and there is no other feasible option.
Of course I’ve been caught a few times; I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been caught a few times. That’s no deterrent though, shit, it’s more of a catalyst, a drive, that little voice deep inside your ear whispering you know you have to, you know.
14) Write a love scene from the point of view of your hands.
Bedded in rows and fields, grasping tight, they start. Brush down to the back of her head and cradle the long plain of neck tensing and releasing with each breath. My fingers bend and move and search lightly. Slowly though, the grip tightens as we move closer; palms feeling each deep rise and fall of her chest. She takes them in hers and together we move down, following her silhouetted outline and moving in as she holds tighter, smiling.
13) A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Up in the Morning
Now. For those of you who have never experienced this it may come as quite a shock. We would not be an informative guide unless we make it perfectly clear that this is no easy task; this should not be attempted unless completely necessary - and those who have no other choice should be aware of the possible side-effects. These include:
The first step is always the hardest: after being aggravated awake by an alarm or the intruding sun you must force yourself out of bed. Emphasis on ‘force’. We understand that these instructions contradict every instinct within the body, but we would like to remind the reader that this step is necessary - as unfortunate as that may be. Remember this is the hardest part, it gets better.
After managing to pull yourself from bed you will be dazed, unable to think, speak coherently, or form reasonable thoughts. There will be a strong desire to go back to the bed - you must fight it! These symptoms will pass in time.
To fully wake oneself this guide recommends what we call ‘shock tactics’: pull open the curtains and stare into the light; run head first into a cold shower. These, somewhat drastic, steps begin the process of ‘dezombification’. Failure to complete this step will keep the worst symptoms present all day, only to be cured on the return to a bed.
As we said, these steps should only be attempted when no other option presents itself. This guide fully recommends staying in bed 24/7.
12) Waking up elsewhere.
Something bright creeping through the window.
Birds now. Seagulls? A few - three?
There’s a bed - a single bed - and - and a desk. Where am I? Where had I been? There’s glass - it’s smashed - on the floor, trailing from the door.
I remember that door. I think… Last night. There was someone else there too.
God my head.
Who? Did they live here?
Godammit my head.
There is nothing else, the room is bear. I can’t get up, my head is minutes behind the world. Everything blur and swirl.
There is a flush from the bathroom.
The door opens and someone stumbles out, freezes when he sees me. He looks how I feel, eyes sunk into his head and a patchy stubble growing under his chin.
‘Who the hell are you?’
‘Who the hell are you? This is my flat!’
‘Oh!? What the hell!?’
‘I…I don’t know. Where were you last night?’
‘I…I don’t know.’
His eyes glaze over and he falls back against the door frame.
‘Do you remember anything?’
‘The door… I remember the door.’
I try to stand but only make it halfway. We are just motionless, sizing each other up, not knowing what to say.
‘I…I can’t remember a thing.’
‘There’s something going on here.’
We sit. We sit and stare. Something is going on.
11) A roomful of people who want to sleep together
Bethany was the first to do it, the first to speak an honest sentence that night:
‘Should I find a bowl?’
And slowly around the room smiles grew, smiles on the faces of cross-legged, cross-armed husbands and wives, newlyweds and lovers. The idea had sat in the head of everyone since they passed the threshold, and it stayed with them like an itch inside their ear, too deep to scratch.
A few heads turned to Dan the host, who was already fishing in his pockets, and he nodded as he looked to his wife.
So they prepared, and no one said much bar a muttered ‘excuse me' or 'sorry' as they began digging through coat pockets with excited fingers. Bethany came back with her bowl and a sudden reality soaked the room.
‘Has - has anyone done this before?’ A voice asked from the back.
There was silence for a while.
‘Well I’ve read about it.’
‘Oh it’s popular, I’ve seen it in a film I think…’
‘Yes, I think I saw that one too.
‘So I suppose we’re all keen?’
‘God yes, it’s cosmopolitan.’
‘Do we do it here?’
‘In this room?’
‘Well isn’t that an orgy?’
‘We won’t need the bowl if we’re having an orgy.’
‘I’d rather do the bowl thing I think…’
‘Yes, an orgy would be too… complicated…’
‘So am I bringing the bowl or not?’ Bethany was hovering around the coffee table.
‘Yes, we’ll use it. Come on. Is everybody ready?’
The guests gathered and sat and fidgeted with rings and watches as they tried to relax themselves.
‘So, who should go first?’ Bethany eyed the room.
‘Dan. I think Dan. He’s the host…’
‘Yes, good idea. Dan, you do it.’
Dan breathed a little and leant forward. The sound of metal sliding down the china stopped everybody. From then the drops came quickly. Quivering fingers letting go and eager eyes clocking their turn. When the last key fell the room laughed softly with all their nerves and tension, licking their lips and stroking their hands along their spouses’ legs. They were ready.
Without the lost manners, Bethany’s hand dived in and sent the room to twitching with anticipation. She pulled out and held up her lot.
‘So,’ she said. ‘Who have I got?’
10) Write a children’s story set in the woods.
Billy and the rest of men lived outside the woods; old men from towns in every stretch of the plainland would tell of the magic that hid within them. Man didn’t need magic and centuries ago Man had shunned it, their green fields ploughed through muscle and grit not spells and charms.
Billy, like all children, had been told of the dangers of the woods. His mother and father kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t stray. And Billy knew not to.
Yet one day, after finishing his work and heading back to the croft, Billy saw lights glowing from behind the trees.
‘What if someone needs my help?’ He thought. ‘I must give it!’
He rushed into the woods, pushing three steps through the thick branches before the mountains before the mountains and dying light of the day had left him. He was alone now with the buzzing light shining through the leaves.
‘Hello?’ Billy called out, but there was no answer apart from a gentle hum that came with the light. Billy kept pushing on slowly, checking not to trip or trap himself in the mangled mash of roots.
Despite moving towards it, the light grew no brighter. Only the hum was more intense.
‘Hello?’ Billy shouted again, louder. He had thoughts of turning back when a reply came:
‘Boy! Manchild!’ Billy stopped and held onto a tree. ‘Follow my voice into the clearing!’
He fell through an opening in the trees and landed on soft grass. The humming stopped and the voice let out:
‘Do you know about magic, Manchild?’
Billy looked up and saw the light bouncing off and curving shape of a man - but on his head sprouted the silhouette of two great and thick antlers. They were branched and sharp.
‘What are you?’ Billy asked, shielding his face from the light.
The creature’s laugh echoed around the clearing. ‘O Manchild, in these parts you are a far stranger sight.’
The creature came towards Billy and offered a hand. Billy could see now his face: that of a man; of his father and all the old men in the villages, just the same.
‘Why are you here Manchild?’
‘I saw the light and… I… - My name’s Billy.’
‘Good. I have been here for many years - generations to you - and I have been searching Manchild.’
Billy was silent. He looked around the clearing and saw the shadows of the branches move and shift forward - until he realised too they were antlered too, they too were the Deermen, they too watched him.
‘Manchild - Billee - it is time that magic returned to the land of men.’ More of the Deermen came into sight and onto the grass. ‘This is your task.’
The crowd was large now. Each face held, to Billy, something vaguely recognisable.
‘I - I…’ Billy could think of no words to say.
‘Manchild, this gift will change your life and the life of all men.’ The Deermen were joining hands around Billy and the hum returned to the clearing. ‘We are ready.’
9) Write a poem about a tomato.
I never liked you,
sweet and misplaced,
chewing you in my mouth.
Now when I see you,
choices butchered, vined
and full, I pluck.
Fondness doesn’t grow,
but invades and laughs
as once again I chew.
8) Put your iPod on random shuffle, write down the lyric of the first song that comes on, and use it as an opening line.
Cindy smiles in overcoats. She was almost lost under them all, her breath coming out in pockets of mist that dissipated into the nothing. I had given her mine and happily shivered as I watched her.
‘Are you still cold?’
She finished fastening the clasps and looked up.
‘Of course, thank you’. She gave me a peck on the cheek and we started walking back over the grass.
It was the first snow of winter and I was down to a t-shirt. Cindy had said she was fine but I could still hear her teeth above the frost underfoot. The snow was so weightless that they rested on her hair perfectly; the light from far-off lampposts breaking out in all directions through their prism flakes.
We really hadn’t anywhere to be, or any reason for being out this late. Cindy had called and said she was in one of those moods. One of those strange moods when she died to see the trees spread up and forever into the darkness above.
I played along. In my head I repeated all the crazy things about her until she would kiss my cheek - always - and they would melt away until the cold reshaped them.
We never really talked. She would sometimes hold my hand or rest her head under mine. When she did speak it was usually an abstract comment and I would wonder on it unresponsive.
On this night, with the ground covered, we didn’t sit down. We walked until the lights from the road dimmed to a point and snapped away. She was always smiling. Even in the black I could make out the indentations on her cheeks. Wrapped in those coats, her arms clung to mine, we left all paths and wound deeper among the trees.
7) Describe a professor coming on to one of his students
He had done this before. He had refined the skill. Year after year the scores of girls, ripened in the new September cold, came and swarmed those cramped bars.
He was only 24 - and had been saying that for five years now. Through young drunk eyes his face held all the mature and desirable post-pubescent features: he kept a neat, full beard - to set himself apart from those younger that tried and failed to do the same - and his jaw had sunk neatly around his face - passed the loss of his baby fat, which was kept well into his teens.
He was a language tutor and knew that knowledge was power. He disguised his intentions through idle chat, often so casual as to not leave an indentation on the impressionable mind. ‘So… Where’s the place to be tonight?’ - after class, always. It was important that they felt a wash of pleasant surprise when they saw him that night.
He always stood by the bar, back turned to the room, waiting for one to saddle up and order, then clock him from the side of their eye. He played it cool, knowing that they fed off his detachment, wanting his recognition. Whatever it started off as - hunting good grades, exam clues, whatever - it always finished with a gentle touching of the hands or carefree brushing of the hair.
The next day might be awkward, naturally, but he knew when to talk. He had become quite adept at coping: he’d sit them down maybe, reason with them and convince them it was a drunken mistake. They’d laugh it off, both of them - though he’d always choose to ignore the little drop of the eyes as he left them; that quick moment when the smile was blank from their face.
It wasn’t a game to him, as it had so easily been labelled; it was a harvest. In his heart he did out of a deep necessity - not enjoyment. In the moments he was with them the cold was blown out and sparked a little life inside that he would feed off.
And in the summer he prepared for a new year. A year just like the last.