1 of 642 Things to Write About: In a Second

As a thank-you from the gracious hosts and organizers of Blissdom Canada for being a “community leader” (that was the title on my badge and everything), we were given copies of 642 Things To Write About. The book is meant to juice the dry batteries of your spirit and get your creative radiators bubbling away with the hot water of your words (thank you, metaphor! you’ve been great!).

Generally I find myself growing tired at even the thought of these kinds of writing prompt exercises, but since my creative output has narrowed to a fine and intermittent line over the last six months (seriously, not even David Rees has the craft to sharpen a sufficiently representative pencil point), I thought I’d give it a try. Let’s see how far I get, shall we? Yes, let’s.

#1. “What can happen in a second”

Initial Thoughts: Ugh. This is the kind of prompt that pushes people into overly dramatic renditions of old people dying or having one’s heart broken. Everyone dies, and everyone picks up some heartbreak on the way to the grave. Mostly the things that happen in a second are disappointing or microscopically personal. I won’t plumb the depths of my soul for this one. My soul is just like your soul anyway, but with a beard.

Solution: Crowdsource this thing. I Googled “in a second” and looked at the related searches. I love related searches because they provide an unexpected glimpse at people’s twisted desires, idle speculations and all those dull but fascinating details of daily lives. A brief lesson to aspiring writers here: heartrbreak and death bore. An old family recipe for boot black, found in a great-grandfather’s diary, enthralls.

Here are the search phrases and the sentences I spun out from them.

In a second-grade class containing a box, a small cream-coloured box without seams or joints or openings, a smoothly contoured box with rounded corners placed up on some ignored shelf, the room will convulse and the monsters of childrens’ imaginations will step into reality, when someone, years hence, thinks of that box.

In a second post-credits scene the avengers smoke a shitload of crystal meth and go riding around on those chopper bikes, catcalling all the women and eventually ending up in a sordid drug-cushioned orgy at the Viper Room. The next day they’ll have patchy memories and a collection of bruises.

In a second you’ll be wrapped around my finger lyrics because finger lyrics are apparently a thing now.

In a second thought meaning that strange moment when, in the midst of reconsidering a decision, you reverse part of that decision within your revision, creating a suspended moment of branching possibilties, and then branches burst with blossoms and your mind becomes a towering tree so high and heavy with fruit that the Earth pulls from its orbit and yaws across the solar system, upsetting planets along the way and discombobulating random asteroids. Look at that crazy Earth go.

In a second step you find yourself closer to a place that exists in your dreams, a frozen white clearing in the woods where frost deepens into a coat of ice and a pack of slavering wolves bound across the field, their frozen breaths like a second mane, the only sound their grunts as they clear the hard snowpack again and again. In a third step you forget what you imagined and you’re just on the way to a Dunkin’ Donuts.

In a second time you were a king, and a corona of light attended your brow. In this time, though, you’re a low-leve analyst who comes up with policy solutions for reducing clinic wait times, all of which are ignored by your Deputy Minister. Instead he gives you a series of irrelevant tasks with constantly shifting deadlines. You suspect that you’re being drummed out of the department, and you’re right.

In a second thought you realize that the phrase “in a second thought” is actually “on second thought,” and that maybe you should read a book once in a while.

In a second pregnancy when will I start to show how much I regret getting knocked up the first time?