Recently, we had a writing exercise about danger. It gave me all sorts of dangerous ideas. Here was the prompt:
Danger is an important ingredient when we write our stories. We are hardwired to anticipate it because it is of primal concern to our lives.
- Natural Danger – Floods, hurricanes, a tree falls on your house.
- Physical Danger – Threat of harm or death, like you work in a dynamite factory.
- Emotional or psychological – Like a mind game, abuse, loss of a child or a love.
GIVE me 400 words MAX of a story with DANGER in it. Make me feel it!
Remember that scene in Men In Black where Will Smith shoots the cartoon little girl instead of all the scary-looking monsters? One of the reasons she was dangerous was all those books she was carrying. I just love that scene. What if that cute little girl wasn’t in a rough-looking neighborhood in the middle of the night? Could a pigtail wearing, book-reading girl be dangerous in any-old context? Afterall, there’s a reason that women weren’t educated for so much of history. What is more dangerous than a woman with her own ideas?
I grew up in an idyllic suburban neighborhood. We had a white picket fence and a two-car garage. Dad wore a suit and drove to his office job every day. Mom was the queen of the neighborhood homemakers. She was as impeccable as June Cleaver and would send my sister Katie and me off to school every day with a kiss on the forehead and a reminder to “be good girls.”
As Katie and I walked together to school every morning, we talked about the challenges that we encountered in trying to live up to our mom’s expectations. Because what she meant when she said that was she wanted us to be quite and polite, to always do our very best, but to never, ever accomplish enough to stand out.
When I was in fifth grade and Katie was in third, she started to rebel. I kept finding her in the library, stacks of books on the table in front of her. Sure, she could check them out, but then our mom might realize what was going on. Katie was getting ideas.
The next year Katie decided to enter the spelling bee. I tried to talk her out of it, but she had gotten ideas from reading all of those books and she knew that she could out-spell anyone in the school. I have to admit, it was thrilling to watch. Finally, it was down to just her and Billy Jarvis.
Katie’s word was antediluvian. Really? But Katie didn’t hesitate, she didn’t ask for a definition or anything. Then, it was Billy’s turn. His word was libraries. And he got it wrong! In front of everyone! My sister was the Warren G. Harding Elementary School Spelling Bee champion!
Mom was waiting for us when we got home.
“I got a call from the school today.”
Katie and I froze.
“It seems as if Katie darling, you won the spelling bee. And now you are to go to the district competition.”
“Oh mother, you should have seen it! They gave me antediluvian and they gave Billy Jarvis libraries and he tried to spell it with ‘yz’!”
“Katherina Minola. I don’t know where you got the idea that you should go win a spelling bee. You don’t find your sister Bianca embarrassing boys in front of the whole school do you? That kind of behavior is dangerous!”