Disclaimer: I went in . . . really hard on the “I’m going to start posting whatever day of the week” thing. If this is your first time hearing this, yes, expect posts on days other than Monday. My work schedule continues to demand flexibility from the rest of my life, so I’m now officially posting on whatever day I have off. I will always aim for “before the weekend” though.
Anyway, thanks for popping in for a read!
The other day, I was texting a friend.
She was bored at work, and I, being the world’s biggest enabler, suggested, “Why not try a little writing?”
She perked up, totally went for it . . . and asked me for writing prompts.
Huh . . . It’s not like I have something against writing prompts, but I never do them. Even when they’re posed to me, I have a hard time working on one instead of just gravitating toward a WIP.
So, with that said, I’ve definitely never made one up.
Still, this friend is “The Best Person in the World” on my phone, so I wasn’t going to let her down.
I came up with two prompts . . . both of which came easily, to my surprise.
- Your favorite character from the book you’re reading walks into you job. Sure, it could be someone who looks like them . . . but you can’t shake the feeling it’s really them. Is there some way to find out? Some way to ask without being rude or weird?
- A living, breathing ostrich walks into your job. No one else sees it, but maybe that’s because it seems tame; it’s not squawking or running around. In fact, it’s just standing there, calmly looking around before expectantly looking at you. There’s a note tied to its neck.
My friend did the first prompt, which she left off with a cliffhanger I’m still curious about.
But, me? I’ve decided I have to do the ostrich prompt. Enjoy.
It was often quiet at the reception desk. Hours would pass with only the occasional phone call — people ringing to ask the same three questions. After long enough, reception started to feel like its own pocket dimension; was there really an outside? Did people ever see each other, or did they just call to ask, “When are you closing today?”
I mean, what else would people say to each other? Louis wondered.
And that’s when the doors beside the reception desk banged open — the antechamber giving Louis a chance to jump awake and straighten his shirt. Some other poor soul had stumbled into this quiet hell, and Louis was determined to at least nod to them.
But, when he looked up with a casual smirk, there was an ostrich standing at his desk.
Louis went wide-eyed and leaned back. Ages previous, he’d been in the hallway of the Bronx Zoo’s education department when a kangaroo had walked out and started aggressively gnawing at his shoe laces. It hadn’t actually hurt him, but it could’ve. It was big enough . . .
. . . and this was a giant bird. It was looking down at him, triggering his fear of cassowaries.
Only . . . the longer Louis stared, the calmer this ostrich seemed. The quieter. He glanced at the security desk, where an officer sat, staring at a screen of camera feeds. She hadn’t even turned around. Why? Did she not hear it?
Or am I . . . hallucinating this ostrich?
With a deep breath, Louis nodded to the silent creature.
And it quirked its head to one side — a small gesture that unsettled the pink bow around its neck just enough for Louis to realize it wasn’t a bow at all.
“Is –,” Louis began without thinking. Rule #1 of Being Crazy: At least try not to be crazy in public. If the ostrich wasn’t there, he’d be talking to an empty office.
Thankfully, the security officer was still staring at her camera feeds.
Quietly, Louis waved the ostrich closer.
There was something tied to its neck.
Careful, gentle, Louis reached up and untied a small roll of parchment. He wanted to ask the ostrich, “For me?” but it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t — he was going to read it regardless.
As quietly as he could, he unrolled the parchment, and squinted at words in a neat, flowing hand.
Music came on. A simple jam of loud, obnoxious synth bass on a five second loop.
The ostrich started bobbing its head to the beat. Then started doing ungraceful hops around the reception desk.
Louis narrowed his eyes. No . . . I refuse to believe I’m this crazy.
When the ostrich started squawking, the security officer spun around, cried out, and jumped to her feet, cursing. She rushed off, shouting into her radio . . .
. . . as the antechamber door banged open . . .
. . . and Louis jumped awake, straightened his shirt, looked up.
His relief was smirking at him. “Lunch time, dude.”
As he stood, Louis saw a feather on the floor, caught in the breeze from outside. It was obviously a pigeon feather.
But Louis still smiled as his dumb kid brain gasped, wide-eyed. “It wasn’t a dream!”
Well, there it is. The first writing prompt I’ve ever committed to. Really, it was just another opportunity for me to write something weird, so how could I pass it up?
I hope you enjoyed this one, and, as always, thank you so much just for passing by and giving me a read.
My name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was published last year in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process — still trying to figure it out — which means posting here every week, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email — a new post from me delivered right to your inbox — then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.
May your dreams tonight be filled with dancing animals. And, as always, write well.