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 weekly writing challenge 12/11 - 12/17, challenge: deja vu
XANDER
 Posted: Dec 11 2015, 12:01 PM
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2015 is creeping to a close, and i bet you're ready to wrap it up with a BANG! and, even better, get a jump on the writing opportunities in 2016. ENTER THE WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE, co-hosted with your beloved BIRD.

what? a weekly writing challenge
who? you, me, your friends, everyone
why? to challenge yourself randomly

do i have to participate every week? nope! participate as you feel.

how does it work? every week i will post a new writing challenge! writing challenges are lifted from this site. from friday to thursday, post your submission to the corresponding thread. after that, the we will enter the 'critique phase', and the next challenge will be posted.

what is the 'critique phase'? the next phase of the challenge will be for each writer to critique one other piece. critique can be weird and uncomfortable to give as well as receive, but we can keep it light and get some practice in!

THIS WEEK'S PROMPT:
QUOTE
Write a 500-word sketch of a scene in which a character has an experience that causes her to recall a startlingly similar past experience.  Juxtapose the two scenes, the present one and the past one, on top of each other, writing, for instance, two or three sentences of the present moment, then alternating back and forth between present and past that way.  Show the reader the remembered scene by use of Italics.  Why would a character be haunted like this?  Think of a convincing reason for the deja vu experience.  Or don’t worry too much about convincing reasons—just let some strange set of events impinge on the present moment of your character.  Be playful with the relationship.  Simple advice to beginners: don’t be heavy-handed.  It’s easier said than done, I know, but you can train yourself to relax and honor your readers with difficult and unusual human patterns of behavior.  Always flatter your readers by proposing a complex and unexpected reality. 


NOTES: no word limit, but minimum of 500! (you could all write that in your sleep)


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XANDER
 Posted: Feb 26 2016, 10:49 AM
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The sand crunched around her feet like snow as she dragged them after Marielle. The beach was no fun in December, but it was the only place Marielle wanted to go -- this beach, this morning, when it was cold and miserable and Lila had her hands stuffed into the fleece-lined pockets of her hoodie, and the silver dawn melted into the gray waves of the ocean.

She wanted to ask why they couldn't talk somewhere normal, like a coffee shop, or an alley, or someone's car, or hell, a hotel room. Marielle was anxious and angry, and Lila still too overwhelmed. Looking at her was confusing. She didn't look the way Lila remembered, but she was still, clearly, herself. Something about her had changed, the angles of her face sharper, the glow in her eyes less diffused, more laser-like. Her shoulders were hunched and tense as Lila followed behind her.

"Come on, come with me! I want to show you!" It was the beach in the middle of summer, in the middle of the night. Lila kept her steps slow by digging her bare toes in the sand. Marielle's shoulders flashed in the moonlight. Why was Lila always behind?

They walked until they were far enough away from the parking lot and the restaurants; it was barely after sunrise, no one was around. Marielle quickened her pace, then whirled on Lila. "So what is it? You want to ask what I'm doing?"

Marielle stopped short and turned, smiling. It was a smile that used to quicken Lila's pulse. Now it left her cold.

Lila felt her heart start to race. "I wanted to talk to you. See what you're doing." She stopped. It was a weak opener, not strong enough. She hardened her tone. "You're killing people, robbing them."

"It's none of your business what I do," Marielle sneered. "It's my life."

"It's the police's business. The government's business."

"So what? You're going to fucking rat on me?" The rage Marielle restrained began bubbling forth. "Really? You just barge back into my life to be a tattletale?"

'This isn't how this conversation is supposed to go.' Lila felt panic tighten her throat.

Marielle squared her stance and clapped her hands together. Lila felt the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

"No, that's not-- I was looking for you. Maybe I can help you."

"You?! Help me?!" Marielle slammed her palms together, and threw her arms wide.

Marielle opened her arms, and a thread of lightning stretched between them. Her hands came back together, pressing the light into a little ball. She dug a tiny divot in the ground with her heel, and crouched to plant the seed.

It was as before. The seed was planted; the tree began to grow. Only this time, it wasn't a twenty-year-old apple tree: it was a hundred years old, absolutely enormous, the blossoms sending sparks into the air as they bloomed, the branches becoming heavy with electric blue apples.

The tree only had one apple, but that was enough. Marielle stood on her tiptoes and reached, and the fruit snapped from the branch, falling into her open hand.

'I shouldn't. I shouldn't do it.' But the old habit was there, it was too easy. Warding took a quality magical 'ear', hearing the music of the magic and knowing when to cut in, how to cut in, with what instrument. She felt Marielle's rage, and Lila gave it her own, and her sorrow. She had hated warding too much, hated Marielle. What now?

"Should I eat it? Do you think I'll live forever?" Marielle was smiling. Everything was a game to her, just another game where she could show how great she was.

The trunk of the tree cracked, and a nose, followed by terrible jaws, came forth. Then -- a hundred heads, a scaled body, wings, claws, and Hera's dragon crawled up the tree and tangled itself in its branches. Marielle's face had lost its fury, and gone pale with shock. The dragon turned its two-hundred eyes to her.

"How about you live forever on your own?" No more. No more of her games.

Lila watched as Marielle took a deep, shaking breath. Then, she nodded once at the dragon; it plucked a single apple from its claws, and offered it to her. She took it with both hands. Looking to Lila, she nodded once, and Lila let go. Marielle let go. The tree exploded into stars.

The apple glowed and melted away in Marielle's hands. Her smile faltered. "What do you mean by that?"

The apple remained in Marielle's hands. After half a minute, it lost its glow, fading to a solid blue; after another half minute, it remained as a true golden apple. There were tears at the corner of Marielle's eyes, and her breathing came in deep heaves. Lila found that she too had lost her breath. Neither of them spoke. It wasn't supposed to be that easy, to just step into someone's witching. That was the kind of thing that happened with trained bonded pairs, and even then, rarely. It was wrong.

It was Marielle who did, eventually, say something, over the sound of the sea. Her voice was barely a whisper.

"They don't make you live forever," she murmured, "But... they taste okay."
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