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billboard vignette

February 13, 2012

[Happy Monday, folks, and welcome to Chasing Maybes. Here, I challenge myself not to believe everything I think.  Thanks for joining me in the chase.]

On Friday, I began the second installment of a new weekly prompt writing tradition (can it be considered a tradition if I have only done it twice?  Oh, well).  Anyway, last week’s prompt was pulled directly from my family’s road trip.  After giving myself a “go” command, I wrote down the next five billboards I saw on the passenger’s side of the highway somewhere west of Lacassine, Louisiana.  Those billboards became my prompts.  As a reminder, they were:

“It’s your turn to win”
“Adult Superstore”
“Cajun Tales”
“Get your aces in here,” and
“Foreclosure Affects the Entire Family”

So as not to make it too easy on myself, I made the rule that I had to use the phrases in their entirety in my fictional vignette.  So as not to drive myself completely insane with perfectionism, I gave myself thirty minutes to complete the project.  As any of you who have ever completed a timed writing exercise might appreciate, the greatest challenge for me is letting go of editing the final product.  Not easy, but a powerful exercise… and, after all, isn’t the whole point of Chasing Maybes to push myself beyond my comfort level?

Without further ado, here is what I came up with (the prompts are bolded):


You have missed out on so much.  You figure, after all those dice rolled, after all of those broken dishes, after all of the garbage blown loose in the street — swept, then blown loose again — you figure, it’s your turn to win. 

For you, to love someone is to occupy them.  Loving means driving through their cells, through their breath, and living where they live.  For you, loving someone means — not possession, exactly (you’re not slinking up to the sticky counter at some highway-exit Adult Superstore, sweaty bills in palm, short of breath in anticipation of your purchase) — but occupation.  You stake your claim early, digging the red flag of your scuffed cowboy boots in the sand.  You are calm.  With one eye on the horizon, you are watchful of approaches, tapping your temple at the memory of your grand père’s Cajun tales of everything stolen.  The language that left him, replaced by the rasp of your foul-mouthed Mississippi grandmother, “Jack!  Phil!”  she’d squeal at the two of you (never the proper Jacques and Philippe), “Get your aces in here!” her nasal accent distorting each word.

You know everything can be stolen.  When enemies alight near your territory, you fear no hand-to-hand combat.  Quick and dirty, you lunge for the neck.  If captured, you know to choose death over surrender.  “Everything can be stolen,” you think once more, rubbing a thick thumb over the brochure in your left hand.  “Foreclosure Affects the Entire Family,” it reads, but just for a moment more, before flames curl its edges and you toss it behind the couch.


Last week I mentioned that I am going to try to set up a link so that those who are interested can participate in prompt writing practice as a virtual group.  I will work on that this week.  In the meantime, if you wish to complete a timed writing on these billboard prompts and share the results, I would love to see them.  Feel free to post your vignette as a comment below.

Here’s to wherever the day takes you, and here’s hoping it is your turn to win.  Thank you, as always, for showing up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2012 5:47 am

    Beautifully written, Anne. I’m not sure how you made those phrases work so well, but you did!

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