No Essay Today

In our book, Chapters 1, 2, and 3, are filled with stories, poems, and thoughts stimulated by our prompts. We love writing prompts to get juices flowing, be relaxed, have fun and see what nuggets arrive on the page that yes, we can use in longer versions of story and memoir writing.

This prompt came from Diana during the onset of covid as we zoomed our writing group meetings and I want to share in both aspects, the thought it takes to come up with a prompt, and how this can incite creativity.

She chose Scene: A busy neighborhood café on the outskirts of Paris. Two elderly men each alone at their table eat peacefully by themselves. One picked up fries with delicate fingers as the other spooned an ice-cream sundae into his mouth, both protected and seemingly immune from the surge and retreat of customers around them. How long had they been coming here, months or years? Did they know each other, even a little bit? What are their stories?

This is my response to the prompt:

The elderly gentleman picked at another frite. His gray eyes behind the black horn-rimmed glasses seemed unaware of the flow of people, the cars, and the pigeon man across the narrow street in the park. The sign on the nearest corner read Rue Saint Lazare. The petite serveur asked if he would like more coffee.. non. He gazed at nothing, attaching himself to the feel of the midafternoon. 

            Nearby at a separate small table, sat another gentleman, his back turned. To see him from behind, his shoulders hunched a bit over the table, a mustache curled up on each end, a newspaper still folded at his left elbow. He held a thin piece of black charcoal and drew light sketches of the flow of people, the cars, and the pigeon man. The petite serveur approached him and sat a tidy saucer of ice cream in front of him. Merci. 

            After a bit, the one gentleman having finished his sundae turned slightly and said, “Georges, I’ve been thinking for some time, perhaps we should do a book together.”

            The other gentleman, Georges wheeled around in his chair and threw back his head and roared with laughter. The pigeons across the street abruptly took flight, leaving the feeder man as barren as a tree in midwinter.

            “Frederick, we have sat here back-to-back once a week for nearly forty years, not saying a word, and suddenly you want to collaborate on a book?”

            “Well, I dare say It’s taken me this long to get over the fact you stole my wife.”

            “Mon Dieu, I did you a favor!”

            “How can you possibly say that?”

            “You met and have had the delightful Beatrice for the past thirty-eight years! Our dear passionate Magritte ran off with the son of the butcher after only three months with me. Alas, I shan’t complain, I have gotten very accustomed to cats and began my notable writing career.”

            “Precisely.” And so, with a few slight adjustments, Georges Simenon, the author, and Frederick Franck the artist, reopened their friendship. 

One of my favorite coffee table books.

I do hope that some of you readers are taking time to write whether alone or with someone. I would love to hear in the comments or email me. Thanks!

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