Week 1 of Odd Prompts: 2021 Edition

Welcome to the first real week of 2021! Congratulations, everyone. We survived 2020. Here’s to a successful and creative 2021 to all of us. *raises champagne glass*

And with that, here are your prompt trades this week.

Cedar SandersonOn the other side of the moon, there was a gleam of light.nother Mike
Becky JonesThe rain fell from a cloudless sky.Cedar Sanderson
Kat RossWhy are you meeting him? What is he telling you? (Iwo Jima Vet picture, see below)Fiona Grey
AC YoungThe first exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art’s new Taxidermy Wing is a robin holding a bow and arrow. The piece’s title is “Robin Hood”.Leigh Kimmel
nother MikeThe annual unicorn drive ran right down the main road in town this year…Kat Ross
Fiona Grey“I can’t find the pork belly.”AC Young
Leigh KimmelAn archeological expedition to an ancient and much battered megastructure (ringworld? Dyson sphere?) that’s made out of some fundamental force of the universe (congealed time? cosmic string knitted into a fabric?). The archeologists are wowing over the intact sections, but the commander and pilot are looking at the partially destroyed areas and realize it’s battle damage.Becky Jones
Why are you meeting him? What is he telling you?

Prompt giving you fits? Not a fan of committment? Forgot to submit one this week? Just discovered the group? Need alternative or extra inspiration? Grab a spare and get typing. Or painting, or baking, or singing. Get your creative on with the new year in new ways!

Spare“You guys! Come look at this!” she cried, staring at the bole of the tree where the elf was hanging a sign.
Spare“You would have chosen for him better than he has chosen for himself.”
SpareDumping the trash at work, you notice pictures of your boss… in very compromising positions. What do you do?
SpareSitting down in the park, you hear a beep, beep, beep. Looking behind the bench, you find a cellphone. Answer it!
SpareJekyll and Hyde? Your friend has a different personality for each day of the week!
Spare“Heyo!” He called. “Whatcha doin’ good neighbor?” She looked up from her dragon topiary and sniffed…
SpareThe wolf grinned and panted, its gleaming ivory fangs shining inches above your head.
SpareShe read a cookbook and cried.

Want to submit a prompt? Email oddprompts@gmail.com, and include “spare” in the subject line if you’d like it in that category.

Feel free to share your writing process, thoughts on the prompt, helpful kitty editors, or other inspiration with the group! See you in the comments.



  1. Fiona Grey supplied the prompt: “I can’t find the pork belly.”

    My first thoughts were that the phrase was being said by a customer in a supermarket – but I couldn’t see that leading anywhere interesting. Possibly a butchers… I considered the shop owner saying the phrase, but no matter how I constructed the rest of the tale I couldn’t get it to coalesce – I couldn’t find a sensible reason for the owner not knowing what was in his stock. The shop assistant on the other hand…


    Steven, the newest Butcher’s Assistant at Michael FitzDraco Butchers, came out of the meat stores looking very flustered. Michael FitzDraco (the fourth generation of that name to run the business), currently engaged in carrying out his daily check of the back of the shop, noticed this and asked what the issue was.

    “I can’t find the pork belly.”

    “Today’s pig delivery was delayed. We sold the last of last week’s supply this morning. There won’t be any more until tomorrow at the earliest.”

    Steven looked somewhat abashed. “I thought we still had some. There’s a customer out front who’s only interested in purchasing pork belly.”

    “Shall I have a word with him, see if there’s an alternative?”

    “If you would. Oh, and it’s a lady.”

    Michael chuckled. “At least I found out now.”

    The pair returned to the front of the shop. On the other side of the counter was a single customer. A lady wearing a brightly-coloured outfit.

    Michael opened the conversation. “Madam, my assistant informs me that you want some pork belly. I’m afraid that we currently have none to sell. May I enquire as to what you want it for? I might be able to suggest some alternatives.”

    “I work for Magnolia’s Magnificent Circulating Circus. We arrived in town today. Unfortunately we’re running very low on food for our security dragon. We find that unless he’s sufficiently well fed he’s a danger to the circus performers and staff, not just, erm, to those who want to see a free show. The breeder who supplied him said that dragons like pork belly best.”

    “I see your problem. I wouldn’t want a security dragon to get too much of a taste for human flesh either. Now, alternatives… Steven, fetch me our copy of ‘The Humble Butcher’s Universal Guide to Carnivorous Diets’.”

    It was a large tome, but the humble butcher’s assistant was able to carry it from its place on the shelf behind the counter (proudly displayed for every customer to see) to the counter where the shop owner could peruse it.

    “Now let me see… Anteaters, we definitely don’t stock their food… Bears, very eclectic tastes… Cats, that’s a long entry… Chimeras, even more dangerous than your dragon… Dogs, another long entry… Dragons, yes here we are.

    “‘Dragons will eat any meat if they are sufficiently hungry, but their preference is for pork belly, followed by any other suitably fatty meat.’ Short and to the point.

    “Let me see… We’re running low on all our pork cuts, so the options are mainly beef and mutton. You’ll probably want a fairly large amount of meat, so I’d suggest mutton as it’s cheaper.”

    The circus lady looked very uncertain. “We’ve never tried to feed him mutton before. Are you sure it will work?”

    “I’ve never sold meat for a dragon before, so I don’t know. But why don’t you purchase enough for tonight and see how it goes? I’ll sell you the fattest of the cuts in our stores, so it should work if the Universal Guide is anything to go by.”

    “It’ll have to. We’ve had him on half rations for the past two days to make our stocks last until now. He normally eats ten kilos a day, so perhaps fifteen kilos now, and we’ll see?”

    “Very well. We hope to have some more pork in stock from tomorrow.”

    The deal agreed, the various cuts of mutton were brought out from the meat stores. Upon review the butcher and customer agreed on which were best, and the necessary money exchanged hands.

    With a whistle the circus lady summoned her own assistants, and between them the circus staff lugged the newly bought meat out of the shop.

    The proud owner of the store looked across to his assistant. “I hope the pig delivery does arrive tomorrow. If we can convince the circus to let us supply the meat for that security dragon, we’ll make a lot of money before they move on.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A new year, and a new round of prompts.

    The first prompt of the year came from nother Mike: The annual unicorn drive ran right down the main road in town this year…

    The first thought that popped into my mind was Pony Penning Day. Like many girls of my generation I grew up reading Misty of Chincoteague so I thought, what if instead of ponies they were bringing in unicorns.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cedar Sanderson prompted

    On the other side of the moon, there was a gleam of light.

    (mumble… I really need to start working on these earlier! Anyway, here’s a couple of starts, but nothing really good in sight… maybe next week?)

    Other side? The dark side? The far side (from the Earth)? Hum, is this Earth’s moon, or some other moon?

    Gleam of light. A torch in the darkness? Someone signaling? An interstellar drive peeking out?

    The moon was a narrow sickle, waning towards the dark phase. But he looked up at it, wondering just what the news people were talking about. And then he saw it! On the dark part, which he only saw in his imagination, there was a gleam, a shining spot of light. What the heck?

    As he watched, it blinked on, off, on, off, on, off. There was a longish pause. Then it repeated, but the on periods were longer. Short, short, short. Long, long, long. Short, short, short. No! But after a break, it repeated.

    That… any Boy Scout, almost anyone knew that pattern. Morse code, SOS. The international emergency code.

    The news stations, and the social networks, everyone, suddenly was trying to figure out how to get someone up there to at least find out who, or what, was producing that gleam, those flashes. A landing on the moon, as quickly as possible? But it would still take longer than anyone wanted it to.

    There was also a lot of speculation as to just who or what was up there. No one had landed anywhere near there. So was it aliens? A robot of some kind? Moonies?

    Still, there was widespread agreement that the signal was intentional, and that we needed to respond, somehow.

    Two nights later, in the dark of the moon, the gleam was still there. But then it quit. At the end of an SOS, it stopped. The world by now was watching, and everyone held their breath as the break between stretched, and stretched, and… the light never came back.

    Oh, we knew exactly where it was. The telescopes had narrowed down the source, and we could still go there. But…

    Would we find a dead body? A robot, with batteries drained? What had reached out to us, across that last little step, and finally gone silent?

    Blech. I don’t like that one. Way too dark for me…

    I’m stumbling, so… let’s try some verse, quite terse, and see how that goes…

    Moon, moon, shining moon, ever so bright,
    And yet… in that dark, what light?
    A gleam, a glimmer, where none should be?
    Who is it meant for? Who will see?

    On the other side of the moon,
    Where none expects the boon,
    And yet… a light in yonder dark shines,
    Where none digs into the mines,

    And no one knows what brightness comes,
    And yet, it could be goblins or gnomes,
    Or even friendly elven hordes,
    Out to touch the boards.

    Or perhaps old Vulcans, wishing
    Live long and prosper on the wing,
    Fingers raised, and spread,
    Memories still fed…

    A gleam, a glimmer, on the wrong side of the moon,
    Can you tell we ought to swoon?
    For lights in the night, where there should be no sight,
    Can bring us all to such a fright!

    Eek… I think I should stop here. Drat, running late, too…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like the first moon story and wonder if it has to be a dark ending. Could be a cool new discovery, like aliens stopped by to see what the fuss was about and they’re having moon beers together. Or an exciting news story that results in a celebrity book titled “Self-Rescuing Moon Princess.” Or a robot that makes a critical discovery and saves the world by passing on the message in time to act.

      Hmm. Apparently it sparked some ideas. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • LOVE it.

      I am almost certain that I said nothing about when and where that photo was taken. Which would explain why my chin hit the desk while I was reading.

      In 2011 my family drove to National Museum of the Marine Corps. During the visit we went into an area that was more like a narrow hall than a display. After the doors closed we were presented with an IMAX style “movie” of PT boats landing at Siapan (iirc). This was Marine Corp Archival footage, not a Hollywood movie. The gentleman in the photo started talking about his experiences. Some of the things he said chilled me to the core. Before we left, we made a point of stopping to shake his hand and thank him for his service. Like your vet, he said he was just doing his job.


      • Thank you, and wow! I had no idea when I wrote that. We went four or five years ago for what we called “Nerdcation.” I love that museum, and I say as a regular visitor to the much closer USAF Museum. It’s incredibly well done.

        If you’re interested, I got the photo up at the same link. It’s not a *good* photograph, technically speaking. There’s glare and reflection and various odds and ends in the way. But seeing the actual Iwo Jima flag with a transparent copy of the famous Rosenthal photo was an unanticipated excellent surprise.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I grabbed a shot of that flag. 🙂 The glass does cause a bad reflection, but man o man, seeing it was almost as stiring as seeing Ol Glory.

        My ex and I loved to go to the AF Museum.

        If you are interested in another 1st person telling of Iwo Jima, I recommend the book Under the Eagle: Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker. Fascinating read for content and structure.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I enjoyed the pedant’s complaints, noting something only a bird expert would spot and raising it to an issue of prime importance.
      And the animal rights activist’s response makes me laugh, a lovely parody of the deliberate taking of offence without first even finding out the facts (was the robin road-kill or natural death e.g.).

      Liked by 1 person

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