I will be honest. Week 4’s prompt genuinely scared me when it dropped. We were tasked with writing a flash story in the form of pure dialogue between two speakers who aren’t human. I spent a full day in a swirl of dread. Dialogue has always been a weak point for me in my fiction writing, and now I had to imagine what something non-human would have to say about us or something else that concerns it.
On the second day, I found inspiration wedged in the flesh of a cold, succulent soursop. My mother had tasked me with stripping and de-seeding the fruit so she could make drink with it. I helped her and took the time to ponder the prompt in silence as well. As I dug my fingers into it’s flesh and squeezed out the seeds one feg at a time, the smell of the over-ripe soursop began to remind me of cherries.
My mind wandered back to my old house and the three cherry trees we had left behind. I remembered what an ordeal cherry-picking could be, with the hairy worms patrolling the boughs, hidden follow-me nests waiting to eject its wasp swarm at a wayward vibration, kiskadees ready to squawk and tug at your hair if you get too close to their nests, doves that stay silent in theirs until you feel yourself being watched, and look up to find them staring intently at you.
When I finally sat down to write the story, it slipped out of me, as smooth as a soursop seed and just 400 words long. But there was a problem: I couldn’t distinguish the voices. My speakers seemed to blend into each other after a point and I knew that if I was getting confused, my readers would be as well. So I returned to the story and brainstormed ways of making the voices more distinct.
Suddenly, my story about two cherries in a tree became a hilarious story about a mentor and his mentee watching a child struggle to navigate the dangers lurking in a cherry tree as he tries and fails to pick them.
As it turns out, the prompt that scared me ended up being a joy to write. I spent hours cackling at my keyboard as I made mischief for my cherry protagonists. It was chaotic and even a little nonsensical sometimes, but it made me so happy. I guess sometimes you have to attack the things that scare you head on, learn from them, and find joy in them.
And, of course, when writer’s block strikes, buy a soursop and search for the story hidden in its flesh.