Ten writing prompts from Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg and my responses



Assignment: Choose prompts from pages 54 to 81. Do 10.


1. Page 76. If your bed could talk, how would it describe you?


Frank, I am telling you what, this woman is a mess. She can’t be still. She can’t sleep with the TV off and so the blue/green screen is flashing dark and light all night. I can’t get any rest. First she is cold and she wads up the covers around her legs and shivers. In no time, she is too hot and she starts shucking off her socks with her toes and kicking them out from under the covers. Before I know it she’s slung half the covers to one side and she is changing the channels on the TV. I hear her groan and then sigh and she gets up and is off to the bathroom since by this time she is awake from all that flailing around. I hear her mumble, might as well go pee since I’m already awake. I tell you, Frank, I don’t know how much longer I can take it.


2.  Page 78 Use these three words in a short paragraph: magazine, pantry, telephone.


I was on the telephone with my friend Madge the other day when I heard a noise in the pantry. “Madge,” I said, “wait a minute, something is rattling in my pantry.”  I put down the phone and opened the pantry and there on the third shelf was a baby snake. It wasn’t a mean looking snake, no diamond head or anything, but I screamed anyway.

I could hear Madge shouting through the phone, “What’s wrong, What’s wrong. I’m hanging up and calling 911.”

 “ NO!” I shouted, but she was already gone. I grabbed the first thing I came to, my Better Homes and Gardens magazine for November that I had just gotten in the mail and dropped it down on the snake. That wasn’t the smartest thing to do because baby snakes aren’t interested in magazines and they don’t stay long when accosted by one. It instantly disappeared into the Cheerios that were left open by accident and I thought I had him. I quickly folded the top flaps and tucked the tab into its slot as the front door burst open and policemen with drawn guns ran into my kitchen. I screamed a second time and dropped the Cheerios, popping open the top flaps, and out raced the baby snake. This time the two cops screamed with me and one of them started shooting which scared the baby snake, who slithered down the heat vent.


Madge arrived about that time yelling, “Esther, Esther are you okay?” 


“Yes, Yes, I’m okay but my linoleum just died and there’s a baby snake down the heat vent.” I went to the pantry, picked up the BH and G and moved in with Madge, til next Thursday when the pest control gal and the linoleum man are coming to make my house livable again.


3. Page 79. Fill in these blanks:

            a. the unsettling end of the journey

            b. tiny as the Who that Horten Heard

            c.  newborn’s hands, shaped like mine

            d. Lemonade icicles

            e. proud mama

            f. the visceral pull of the unknown

            g. the carnival smell of funnel cakes

            h. demure Abigail, dressed in gray

            i. that musty smell of summer




4. Page 80. List 5 different colors that describe the sky

            a. Murky gray-green

            b. Clear blue

            c.  Solid Black

            d. Sunset red

            e. Smooth gray number 3 right before the snow begins to fall


            Now list 5 moods that do the same

  1. Miserable
  2. Carefree
  3. Angry
  4. Dreamy
  5. Hopeful


5. Page 80. Use these three words in a paragraph: gum, beard, truck.


I was out of gas and standing by my 1972 Vega hoping for a ride to the nearest gas station when a big rig pulling a load of Chevy Silverado pickup trucks started lumbering up the mountain road. Relieved, I thought, as he passed on by, but then I heard his brakes start to grind and he came to a stop with the cab about 10 feet ahead of me. I hesitated, but I couldn’t just let him sit there, so I ran to the front and climbed up to the passenger window. What I saw was an aging Tom Selleck with a scruffy beard, one side tooth missing and a wad of gum threatening to slide through that tooth shoot as he offered, “Need a ride, Lady?”


6. Page 80. He slumped down in his chair, and everything about the way he looked could be summed up in one word: DEAD!


7. Page. 80 Provide one line of dialogue as a response to these questions:

            a. How did you know it was love? One look in those big brown puppy eyes and it was all over.

            b. What does swimming feel like? Some people are dolphins, I am a rock fighting to keep myself up.

            c. What could you never forgive? Just don’t hurt my babies, and we’ll be all right.

            d. Why do people need to believe in God? We have to have someone to thank.


8. Page 59. Write—quickly!—a five-sentence paragraph backward. In other words, start with the last sentence, and end with the first.


I should have known better. The gas tank was empty. It was 2:10 a. m. on the clock when the car stopped dead in the road. Rain hit sideways on my driver’s side window as I sped toward the traffic light. I was desperate for a Starbucks Venti Mocha Light Latte.


9. Page 58. Envision a town and its inhabitants, your own Lake Wobegon. Now describe the eccentric mailman there.


Most of the time it didn’t take long for Harry to get his job done. He’d been doing it for 37 years, ever since his dad died and he inherited the job. He would have passed it on to his kids, but Harry wasn’t married. Never had been. Thought about it once, when Lucy Sanders lived in the corner house at 921 Lumpkin Street. Lucy was a red-head, tall and thin, with a little lisp, but Harry liked her. He never got up the nerve to say anything though and eventually Lucy went off to Vandie up in Nashville and never came back. Married a doctor, her mama said. Harry was happy for her but that was the end of his thoughts about marriage and now he was left walking his mail route through the small mountain town. Most days he was satisfied with that. But when the weather acted up and his lumbago with it, Harry walked a little slower and thought a little harder about adopting somebody strong to pass on his only inheritance.


10. Page 63, A young couple is moving into a house where an old widower is moving out. What does he tell them?


Be sure and check the water spigot before frost. It’ll leak on you and once it’s froze there ain’t nothing you can do about it til spring.  Must be something cracked somewhere but I never was able to find it. Just cut it off til warm weather and you’ll do all right. Don’t need it anyway til then. And be sure to hold down the upstairs commode handle til it’s done flushing. That thing’s give me trouble ever since Sam was a baby. Sam’s down in Memphis now, you know, playing blues in a Jazz Bar. His room was the one on the end of the hall next to the bathroom. Oh, and another thing, that latch on the back screen door is loose. Won’t take nothing but a Phillips head screw driver and a couple of good turns to fix it. I could get my tools out of the back of the truck if you want…oh, sure, of course you can. You’re young and strong. I remember when Bessie and me moved in here, why you should have seen this place then! 


3 thoughts on “Ten writing prompts from Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg and my responses

  1. Jennifer

    I love the feeling I have when standing outside looking at the sky when it’s a 4e. #5 made me laugh because Denise always says Dad looks like Tom Selleck so I saw Dad as the toothless trucker lol. Also, 7a actually happened to me. 11 months later I married Jeran 🙂 I so enjoy these blogs Aunt Rea! Very entertaining!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s