The latest Writers Co-op Writing Prompt Challenge Show Case is up for your enjoyment. The prompt was Entitled, and I’ll share my contribution here, too. I hope you’ll peruse the rest of them, and consider submitting a piece of your own for the next prompt:
Those submissions are due by the end of Monday, December 13, 2021. (See the Show Case for oh-so-easy submission guidelines.)
I’m Just Really Good at My Job
by S.T. Ranscht
“Hello, Adam. Welcome to my world. Your world.”
“Uhhh… thank you?”
“I know, it’s all a bit too glorious, isn’t it?” the world’s owner confided gleefully.
Adam hesitated. “Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘glorious’.”
The owner seemed taken aback. “I should have thought it was obvious.”
“Not to me,” Adam admitted. “I mean, compared to what?”
“Oh. Right.” A pause followed.
“Can I ask you a question?” Adam ventured into the pause.
“Yes, I have granted you that ability.”
“Okaaayyy… How did I get here?”
The owner’s glee returned. “That’s a great story. I suggested that we make man in our own image, and everyone agreed—“
“That’s not important. I’m this world’s Project Manager, so you’ll deal only with me.” The PM hurried on, “Anyway, I made this dense fog cover the entire globe so everything everywhere got really wet, and then… I made you out of mud. Mud! Then, you know the thing with two holes in the middle of your face?”
“I wasn’t sure you knew that word. Yes, your nose. Get this — I blew into it and guess what happened. You came. To. Life.”
“Huh.” Adam tried to rub the confusion out of his brain by massaging his forehead. Hard. “That’s not really much of a story. I don’t mean that in a negative way. This is just constructive criticism you can take or leave. It has good plot points, but your execution is weak. Not enough world building. No character development. No tension. The climax is contrived — all those periods, supposedly to give each word equal impact. And no resolution.” He shook his head. “I’m just saying it could be a really compelling story if you added more detail. Some dialogue. Motivation. Why, for instance, did you decide to blow into my nose?”
“Thank you for your feedback,” the PM said in a way Adam thought sounded a little pouty. “I’ll consider it if I ever decide to tell that story again.”
“So, what am I supposed to do?”
“Well, I had a couple of ideas. You get to name every living creature and growing thing.”
“What? Like Javier, Su Mei, and Thaddeus? Or Spot, Splashy, and Flighty?”
“Not what I had in mind, but the deal is made and it’s up to you.”
“Maybe something more evocative of each living thing’s life story,” Adam contemplated. “Yes, that would be much more interesting.”
“As you wish,” the PM acceded. “And you get to till the land in this garden. You know, grow more plants. For food.”
“That sounds like tedious, backbreaking, thankless work. No thank you. What are my other choices?”
“Other choices? I was hoping this wouldn’t come up quite so soon — especially because I’m having second thoughts about its wisdom — but, yes, having made you in our image, I thought it would only be fair to grant you free will, too. You may do anything you want — except for two tiny exceptions. So. I can hardly wait to find out: What do you want to do?”
“I’m not sure you really mean that, but,” Adam announced, “I want to be a writer.”
“Oh. I’m afraid that’s not an option.”
“But you said, ‘anything’.”
“That I did, but I haven’t invented writing yet,” the PMsplained with forced patience.
“Then maybe I just invented it,” Adam countered. “After all, I am free to define myself, correct?”
Adam decided right then that, even though he couldn’t see the PM, the tone he’d just used was accompanied by eye rolling. Adam filed that image away for future stories.
“I’m curious,” Adam began, “Why can’t I see you?”
The PM chuckled in a pitying way. “Looking upon my face would be too overwhelming for you, a mere man.”
“Really? I would have thought, having made me in y’all’s image, y’all would have a face like mine. What’s the real reason you’re hiding? Are you hideous and misshapen? Scarred beyond belief? Or just everyday ugly?” In the silence that followed, Adam imagined the PM glaring at him, crossing his arms, and tapping his foot in an aggravated way. The power he felt inspired his first naming. “Hey, do you see that sinuous, slithery creature over by the apple tree? I’m going to name him ‘The Great Deceiver’.”
The PM scoffed, “That’s not a proper name. That’s a title.”
“Precisely,” Adam agreed. “I’m a writer. A storyteller. And I just entitled your glorious creature’s life story.” Adam’s grin radiated a heavenly glow. “But I thank you for your feedback.”
The PM drew a deep breath. “Adam, I am going to give you a gift. You may name her whatever you deem appropriate, but I will call her Eve.”
“I don’t need a companion,” Adam replied. “In fact, I don’t want a companion. Writing is going to be a solitary job. A companion would just be a distraction.”
“Perhaps so,” the PM allowed, “but a writer is entitled to an editor.”
A frown crept over Adam’s face. “That sounds really annoying.”
If the PM’s face had been visible to him, Adam would have seen his first nastily satisfied smile.