Because I love a good writing challenge, I took them up on their offer. Below is the prompt, followed by my page of insta-write. :) Enjoy! And please visit their blogs to join in the fun.
Prompt # 1 – Study the photos. Now write one page starting with the words: _____ was halfway up the stairs when_____ turned around and _________.
I was halfway up the stairs when I turned around and saw that my little brother wasn't following. He stood at the base of the stairway, his feet planted on the weathered stones of the square, turning those puppy-dog eyes on for everyone who passed. He held out the cheap soda cup he'd licked clean.
“Adam!” I spat. “I told you not to do that again!”
The brown pools of helplessness were turned in my direction. “Please, lady,” he said, “help a poor, starving boy. All I need are a few dollars for lunch. My mom's dead. My sister Ellie is so mean she won't even give me a decent meal or clothes on my back. Please...can't you help?”
A young guy walked by and dropped a few nickels into the sticky cup, avoiding eye contact with Adam but giving me a condemning glance.
I stomped down the steps and stood before my brother, bending forward so our eyes lined up. I crossed my arms. “Yeah? Well, my mom's dead, too. And my little brother's such an idiot he's going to get us arrested one of these days.” I grabbed his arm and started to drag. “Come on. And stop being melodramatic. It's not that bad.”
Adam raised his eyebrows, but he didn't fight me. “Do they have good food in jail?”
“Sure, caviar and Baked Alaska for breakfast. I can drop you off on the way home if you want.”
Adam cocked his head to the side, as though he was actually considering. “Ellie? If I stay with you, will you sing Mom's song again tonight?”
Do you know what Baked Alaska is? I was pretty sure they never really had it in prison, but Mom used to make it for us sometimes before she...well, she used to make it. It's baked ice cream, all hard and cold in the middle and soft and creamy on the outside. I felt like I had a lot in common with Baked Alaska at the moment, hard and soft at the same time. My heart was turning to pure mush while the lump in my throat got harder and thicker and colder.
I ruffled Adam's hair with my knuckles, partly because I wanted to reach out, to touch him, and partly to show him I was still in charge.
“I guess so,” I said.
We walked in silence up one street and down the next. When we came to a mound of cardboard boxes and blankets in a corner, I was the one who sighed.
“I came,” Adam said. “Remember you have to sing the song.”
His muscles beneath my hand tightened; I could tell it was an effort for him to step forward.
“It's not that bad,” I said again. “I'm taking care of things. I promise.”
I pushed him ahead and cleared my throat, thinking of Mom and Baked Alaska and whether the food in jail was any good after all and trying not to let Adam see any of that.