Prompt: Brave

Dear Wednesday,

What day is it? Are we close to Nanowrimo? I’m not ready to write my 1600 words per day. This takes courage. I don’t have any!

As in, I’m not brave, which is the daily prompt.

Why am I scared of a laptop and a keyboard and a story half-formed in my head? There are killers and monsters of all kinds out there roaming the earth, most disguised as human beings. Every time we step outside our door we risk being struck by lightning, attacked by a vicious dog, being in the line of fire when our neighbour cleans his rifle, looking up to see a nuclear warhead directed towards our front porch, or, sure, getting hit by a runaway bus. Yet I am ‘asceered’ of a number (albeit a large number) of words.

I forgot to mention other perils when we set forth into the world, which include failure, falling on our face, trailing toilet paper under our shoe, tucking our skirt into our undies, getting publicly caught in a lie, losing an ethical battle, being unable to pick up the fragments of our shattered lives and… well, you get the picture.

National Novel Writing Month challenges us to face failure– and win, or at least die trying. Not die exactly, but expend as much toil and angst as if he had written the full complement of 50,000 words. Which, they tell us, is an accomplishment, too!

Sure it is. Fine.

But I am a competitive person. Not with you, your him, or them, but with myself. It’s how I quit smoking! It’s how I managed to ‘win’ all previous Nanos. A better word might be stubborn. And, I love the couple of days after completing the challenge, when family and friends are so damn proud, even though they have not yet seen a word I’ve written and are taking my achievement on faith.

So to lessen the anxiety of the swiftly approaching November 1st, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, precisely none of which relate to today’s word prompt:

cartoon book of sunblock

cartoon Cat-Guru

cartoon image lineup

Have a happy, productive, courageous week.




Truth or Dare

Prompt: Daring


They were playing the game of Truth or Dare, where you take turns answering a question truthfully, or fulfilling a dare.

She was the unrequited love of his young life. Unconventional, curious, passionate, not like the girls he met at school or dance class. He couldn’t understand why she found him interesting— it would remain a mystery until he died, thirty years later. He felt like he was walking a tightrope with her, that at any moment she would discover he was a fraud, a bore, an imposter.

“Truth,” she said when it was her turn. “Go ahead, ask me anything.”

“Truth. Why do you like me?” he asked.

She had the grace to laugh, and then to think about it. “You are not very nice,” she said. “But I think you have such a great heart that you could do anything. Don’t ask me how I know, I am very intuitive.”

He had the grace to blush. He had no idea what she meant. Then, in a moment of reckless courage, or reckless cowardice, he said, “For my turn, I pick dare.”

“Wow, you are brave,” she said. “But I want to know something, so I dare you to tell me the truth.”

She took a sip of her lemonade, and he found himself staring at her. Her thin blonde hair, long to her shoulder blades, and her dark eyelashes surrounding pale grey eyes.

“Tell me,” she said. “Why did your mother leave your father?”

“What? That is your question?”

“It is. Tell me the truth, double truth, since this is actually a dare.”

“Nothing to tell,” he said. “They lost interest, got divorced.”

“Liar,” she said. She held his gaze. “I need to talk to someone. Tell me why she left.”

He stood and fetched his jacket, and put it on as if to leave, but then sat down beside her on the couch. “He was an asshole,” he said. “He belittled and humiliated my mother, and hit her sometimes.” He looked at his hands in shame. “She tried to protect me, and I did nothing. I didn’t help her at all.”

“You were a child,” she said. “And chances are, she left because of you. Which is good, right?”

“I don’t know. My stepfather is ok,” he said. He felt he didn’t deserve this almost peaceful life with this new family. He was the one who had provoked his father, made him angry, made him lash out. So how was it a good thing, really, that his mother was forced to escape because of him?

She said, “My father hit my mom. He assaulted me. I have never told anyone.”

“Me either,” he said.

“That’s why I asked,” she said. “It’s time I said it out loud. You too.”

“It will be hard,” said Harrison.

“Dares are the hardest,” she said.

Hope and Promise

Prompt: Cowardice

cowardly lion

For many years, when Lily-Rose Roades watched The Wizard of Oz, she did not identify with Dorothy. She saw herself in the Cowardly Lion, the character who recognized his timidness and cowardice and sought courage from the Wizard in the Emerald City.

Lily-Rose never stood up for herself as a child. She let herself be bullied and abused. She felt rage and injustice and pain but did not fight back. She should have shouted at her father-impostor, or run away from home, or somehow been clever enough to make things right for her mother and herself.

But she never did. She was a coward. She failed. This knowledge was a large dead animal that she dragged behind her for nine years, until she met a teacher, or a teacher met her. A person who saw worth in a cowardly young girl past hope.

But what did the Wizard of Oz say to the Cowardly Lion?

As for you, my fine friend — you’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom!

That’s what her teacher, the Wizard of Lily-Rose Roades’ life, told her. You did what you had to to survive. And you did survive. You are here now: smart, independent, and still brave in the face of a world that tries to tear you down. I know you. I know you are worthwhile, that you matter, and that you have a lot to give this world.

Lily-Rose didn’t watch The Wizard of Oz anymore. It reminded her too much of a time when she was vulnerable and in pain. She liked watching the trailers for it, with Dorothy setting off on her quest, so bright and full of hope and promise. She understood at last, thanks to a teacher, what that felt like.

She would never, ever underestimate the power of a kind word, faith, and humanity. It is good advice for everyone.