Practicing in Public

P in P – October 6, 2019

Prompt Pages

NOTE: Practicing in public was what I called “prompt pages” when I was teaching. They are written in a 10 – 15 minute seating and posted with little or no editing. It is simply “showing up, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard” writing. I have included them here, NOT for your critics mind to dissect, but show what daily “exercise” writing and rough draft writing can do.


TODAY’S PROMPT: One-word prompt: Frail (This prompt came from Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group. Writing exercises 001: 7th Jan 2013.)


Susan entered the hospital and paused.

“May I help you?” the small, elderly voice came from the reception desk.

“Ah, Gra.. I mean Marybelle. Marybelle Vincent Carlson. What room is she in?”

The elderly voice looked through the names on the computer. “Family or friend.”

“What does it matter? I need to know what room she is in.”

The kind eyes searched Susan’s face and saw the threatening tears at the corners of her eyes. “Just a minute.” She picked up the phone, but her hushed voice behind the rise of the front of the reception desk and computer was inaudible to Susan. The door behind the counter opened and a second woman appeared.

“You’re looking for Marybelle Vincent Carlson?”

“Yes. I need to see her.”

“If you’ll follow me.” The quiet, white shoes of the woman compelled Susan to follow. Follow to where, Susan just had to trust. The woman pushed the up arrow to call the elevator. “Please,” the woman motioned into the elevator as she placed her arm to stop the door from closing. Susan entered. “If you could tell me how you are related to Miss Marybelle, I would be happy to tell you more about her condition.”

Susan swallowed. “She’s my great-grandmother. My mother’s grandma.”

The elevator’s ding put them on fifth floor and the door opened. “There’s a family waiting room on this floor before we go to the wing where she is housed.”

Susan followed the woman. She sat where the woman motioned and the woman disappeared to get Susan a hot cup of coffee.

“I can’t remember a winter this cold. They say our real-feel temp should be somewhere in the negative.”

Susan sipped the coffee and rolled her eyes. “My great-grandmother?”

“Yes. Miss Marybelle was admitted two days ago. She used her medical alert tag so the EMTs got to her quickly. I do have some questions for you.”

Susan swallowed and nodded.

“Why was Miss Marybelle still living at home? Why wasn’t she at least in an apartment or an assisted living facility or at the vary least, why wasn’t there a live-in companion? Better yet, why did it take you two days to find your way here?”

“You don’t beat around the bush, do you?”

“Miss Marybelle didn’t just have a heart attack, she also suffered from early onset alzheimers. Did you know that?”

Susan took a deep breath.

“I live and work in Seattle. I got the call first thing this morning. Maybe the question is why did it take you so long to contact me?”

“Fair enough.” The woman took a deep breath. “I think we need to start from the beginning. I’m Janice. This is not the first time Miss Marybelle has been admitted to this hospital. Her alzheimers has been slowly progressing, but she shouldn’t be living alone in her old family home.”

Susan smiled. “Have you attempted to convince her that she should move?”

Janice nodded.

word count: 492

If you want to practice with this prompt, go for it. Then, be brave and share it in the comments.


Hi, I’m Becky. (Ok, Rebecca, but I am rarely addressed that way.) I am a writer and a musician with a tendency to enjoy a variety of crafting opportunities, but I retired from teaching in 2014. I taught in the high school English department: various levels of English, creative writing, public speaking, and theater (acting, directing, and technical theater). As a teacher, I held the philosophy that I wouldn’t give any writing assignment that I personally wouldn’t or couldn’t do. That philosophy strengthened and broadened my own writing.

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