Wednesday Writing Prompt (WWP)! is a biweekly writing challenge for you and for me.
Here’s how WWP works: I’ll post a writing prompt on Wednesday morning (that’s today!). Then you can participate by writing a 250 to 500 word scene or story in response to it. I’ll post my story response on Thursday and I’d love it if you share your scene or story (or the link to it!) in the comments of my response post.
Let’s see where this wacky world of writing takes us!
This week’s prompt was:
He’d always hated speaking in public
Ben clenched his fists.
He tried to slow his breathing down. Tried counting. That didn’t work. Tried focusing on the breaths, in and out. That just made him breathe faster.
A dozen pairs of eyes, at least, were staring at him. They weren’t happy eyes either. And they weren’t on happy faces. They were downtrodden. They stared at him with overwhelming sadness leaking from the holes in their faces. They were gaunt faces. Skin stretched taught from malnutrition. And they weren’t very clean either. Mud and grime streaked across their skin, creating a motley rainbow of browns and greys and greens.
Despite their sad, sorry-looking state. Their was a hint of hope in the air. Like Ben could do something. Like he was there to make a difference and help them.
Dammit, he thought. Why did they have to pick me?
He’d always hated speaking in public. And now, here he was, in a cave of all places, the apparent chosen saviour of a downtrodden people. What the hell was he supposed to say?
Their focus didn’t waver.
He tried again.
“You said that already.” A young girl looked at him. She was probably about twelve but looked closer to nine, she was so skinny. She quirked her head to the right. Her gaze was different from the rest. She was obviously intelligent, calculating, a strong observer. But also…just weird. Her tone factual. Her movements slightly jerky, mechanical.
“Um, yeah, I know.” Ben stared back at her. “I’m not quite sure what to say.”
She barely blinked. “Say what you want to say.”
“Yeah…I’m not sure what that is.” Ben stammered. “I’m not certain what they want to hear.”
Everyone in the cave could hear this conversation. Ben realized his. But he didn’t mind, because he honestly didn’t know why they had singled him out.
Well…he did know. He was a stranger. He hadn’t immediately tried to hurt any of them. And Calla was nowhere to be found. She’d hid mighty quickly when they came across the mouth of this cave and seen the evidence of habitation.
But they had seen him. And after hovering in an awkward grouping around him, they had shuffled to surround him and herd him into the cave. They hadn’t spoken. Not a word. This girl was the first to speak. Her demeanour and her use of the common tongue should have surprised him. But, for some reason, it didn’t. He focused on her, and kept speaking.
“Why did you bring me here?” He tried to sound curious and not angry.
The girl looked at him intently. Then lifted her hands and gestured to her fellows as she turned her head to gaze at the group of cave-dwellers surrounding them. “We didn’t bring you here. You arrived. We simply escorted you inside.”
“Why did you escort me inside?” Ben parroted her language.
“It seemed you wanted to come in.”
“You arrived at the mouth. You stood there. You did not continue on. You did not do anything.” The girl shrugged. “That has, in the past, been an indicator that one is seeking solicitude.”
“And you group together, use mobbing as a way to herd this person into a dank cave and then just stare at them, a person who is apparently seeking help?” Ben was getting frustrating. He already hated public speaking, now here he was having a strange conversation with a child, in front of a crowd of half-starved people. And he was the one who needed help?
His body was shaking. This wasn’t good. This was never good. He couldn’t change now. Not with an audience. He was likely to injure someone during the shift. It wasn’t smooth. It was never smooth. It was raw and dangerous and full of gnashing teeth and clenching and unclenching claws.
“There you are dear, I thought I’d lost you,” Calla swept into the cave, bouquet of wildflowers in hand. “Oh, hello.” She smiled at the group of cave people who all shuffled away from her, toward the fortification of the cave walls.
Your turn! Post your response to the writing prompt (or your link to it!) in the comments.