Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Airplane, Autograph, Scream

WRITING PROMPT: Birthday Baggage
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It was your birthday. Describe an event from the day in scene, using an airplane, an autograph, and a scream.

Want more writing prompts and exercises? Brian Kiteley has packed more than 200 wildly original ones into his 3 A.M. Epiphany. Check it out here.


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7 thoughts on “Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Airplane, Autograph, Scream

  1. Mark James

    Hey Zac. . . I guess I’m addicted. . . awesome prompt

    Dear Em,
    I’m writing this on the inside of greasy paper bags because I can’t find any other paper in this strange, half-grey world. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, or if you’ll ever see me again. I try not to think about it too much. Things echo here. This is what happened after I got on the plane.

    I flew on standby out of Kennedy. I lucked out. All the coach seats were taken. The stewardess pushed me into a First Class seat, grabbed my bag, locked it away in the overhead compartment. Right then the Captain came on the loudspeaker and said how he could see rough skies ahead, but it was beautiful times and we would be flying in the hands of the Gods.

    I swear. That’s what he said.

    Nobody else acted like they’d heard anything strange, so I sat back in my cushy seat, waited for the talk about doors on the wings and masks coming down if we had to dive bomb the ocean. But there wasn’t one. We just took off, and get this: no waiting, no runway. The plane lifted straight up, like some really big hand had scooped us right off the tarmac.

    You know how the last few weeks were, right? Hardly any sleep. Pushing deadline every night; hauling myself down to the mailroom at six in the morning; delivering mail all day long. I was tired, so tired my eyeballs felt like gritty marbles. Maybe I dozed through the ‘what to do if we’re screwed’ talk. Maybe I dozed through takeoff.

    But I didn’t sleep through the thunderstorm. Wait. That’s not right. I was sleeping, but a kid screaming woke me up. I don’t mean a baby bawling. This was a big kid, like in Kindergarten, and she was screaming like Satan was on board, and he was dragging her out on a wing.

    The Captain came over the loudspeakers again and said how the skies were rougher than he thought, and the Gods demanded a sacrifice.

    A nightmare, I told myself. Too much coffee, too many late nights, not enough rest. The screaming stopped, and that was a relief because it was starting to scare me pretty bad. Then the stewardess was standing over me. Her eyes were red, glowing, like she had little fires behind them.

    “It’s your birthday isn’t it, Mr. Thompson?”

    Everything in me said to tell her no, my birthday wasn’t till next year, and I wouldn’t make a good sacrifice. Too skinny. And what the hell was I thinking? “If it’s after midnight, yeah. It’s my birthday. Turned twenty.”

    She smiled and—I’m not crazy, Em—she had fangs, and she said, “You’ll please the Gods very well.”

    I clawed at her eyes when she bent over me, but she was stronger than a wrestler on steroids, pinned me down.

    That’s it, Emma-Sue. I woke up and I was here. I’m not tired. I’m not hungry; not thirsty. There’s no real sunlight. Just this weird grey light in a sky that never changes.

    Hey, if my first book ever gets published, here’s my autograph,


  2. Elizabeth Johnson

    Candace couldn’t stop smiling as she lay in bed that night, reflecting on what had been the best day ever of her 29 years. Her husband Gary had managed to surprise her beyond belief that morning, and the day had been a whirlwind ever since.

    She had gotten up lazily that morning, savoring her day away from giving flight lessons. Gary had fixed her favorite breakfast – blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, fresh squeezed orange juice, and rich hazlenut coffee – and had decked out the table with candles, fine china, and her favorite tablecloth. After a leisurely breakfast with each other, he suggested taking a bike ride to get some fresh air and time together. She readily agreed, and off they had gone.

    Once out of the neighborhood, Gary led them away from their usual path, taking them instead toward the outskirts of town. She hadn’t really thought about it then; after all, they had talked before about planning some new routes to ride. It was only when they neared the local airport that she began to wonder what he had really planned for the day.

    And she was right to wonder. Gary had ridden ahead of her into the airport grounds, dismounted from his bike, and pulled out a key ring from his pocket. When she expressed a question, he had given her a quiet smile and told her to follow him. They had walked to one of the hangars, which he unlocked and entered. And there, sitting before them, had been a brand new Piper PA-28R-180, painted cherry red (her favorite color), with a huge bow attached.

    Her mouthed had dropped open and then she screamed, just as Gary had turned around to hand her the key. He told her it was hers and that all it needed was her autograph, her signature, to make it official. She wasn’t really sure what happened after that, just that somehow they got up in the air and flew out over the city and the harbor, and then later on they ended up back home. She’d put the key on her nightstand when they went to bed, and kept looking over at it to make sure it was really there.

    She knew she’d have good dreams tonight – that was, if she could ever manage to fall asleep.

  3. Marissa Undercofler

    It was my 31st birthday. Normally my birthday’s aren’t anything special, but this year my friends along with my boyfriend, got me the best gift I could ever want. Donna & Jenn teamed up with Michael to get me a ticket to go see my favorite band in concert in California. I booked my flight from Philadelphia to California and my hotel room that same day. Even though I wasn’t leaving until Friday morning, I was bouncing off the walls in excitement for the rest of the week, and by the time I left work Thursday afternoon, everyone was sick of how excited I was. Since it was only a 3 day trip, I packed a small suitcase with everything I would need, as well as a small carry on bag that contained my wallet, my plane and concert tickets, and my current choice of novel among other things Thursday night.

    Since my flight left at noon, I got up at 9. I was super excited about my trip, and showered and dressed quickly. After finishing my breakfast, I quickly washed my dishes and left them to dry in the rack, and did a once over of my apartment to make sure that everything was in order. Seeing that everything was fine, I grabbed everything I needed and headed out the door. After locking it, I went out to my car. After putting my suitcase and carry on in the backseat, I headed for the airport.

    The drive to the airport was relatively short thanks to the morning hour. Once my car was parked in the parking garage at the airport, I gathered my things and locked the doors before heading to the check in terminal. Thankfully the lines weren’t long for check in or security checks. The flight boarded on time and we left at noon. Upon arriving in California, I collected my luggage and headed for my hotel. After I was settled into my hotel, I decided to wander around the shops close by, so I grabbed my small carry on bag, and headed out.

    While I was wandering around, I froze with a silent fanatical scream in my throat… There, walking along the street was Peter Facinelli. I couldn’t believe it… My favorite actor from Twilight was walking toward me. I quickly composed myself and pulled my copy of Twilight from my bag and got my pen ready. I smiled at him as he got closer and he stopped and I told him I was a huge fan and asked for his autograph. He obliged my request and signed it with the flourish of a doctor. “To my biggest fan, Marissa. Love, Dr. Carlisle Cullen” it read. I squealed with delight and thanked him. Quickly I snapped a picture of the two of us for my friends to see. Man would they ever be jealous… Even though the concert was my birthday gift, the autograph from Peter Facinelli was my most treasured gift that year.

  4. Martha W

    Hey Zac… great prompt!


    Janie shrieked as the little blue hot rod sped past, splashing gritty, black mud all over her new sundress. She knew better than to wear the damn thing. For that matter, she should have stayed home.

    Just because it was her birthday didn’t mean that the fates would smile on her any different than normal.

    She sighed, glancing around so see if she knew anyone. That would just take the cake.

    Janie groaned under her breath. The car had stopped at the side of the road. She watched as the driver climbed out and head in her direction.

    Dirty blond hair, blue eyes, killer body.

    Figured. Right out of a romance novel.

    He stopped in front of her, crossed his arms of his chest. "What do you think you’re doing?"

    Mute, she stared.

    He snapped his fingers in front of her nose, slowed his speech. "Hello? What. Are. You. Doing?"

    Janie’s eyes narrowed. He looked familiar, sounded familiar too. "I’m walking."

    "That close to the road? Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

    "Well, if you’d actually been on the road instead of the shoulder, I wouldn’t have almost been run over… or doused with mud." She couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy.

    He shook his head as he glanced at his watch. "I’ve got time before my flight. Get in the car. I’ll take you to get new clothes."

    "I’m not going anywhere with you." She stepped away from him.

    "Janie, stop being foolish."

    She froze. "How do you know me?"

    "Tenth grade high school play. You were Juliet, I was-"

    "Romeo," she whispered. It couldn’t be. "Jack?"

    Jack smiled. "You do remember."

    Her face flushed red at the remembered embarrassment, the humiliation, of being stood up for prom. She punched him in the chest; right in that spot he’d taught her about that would take the wind right out of him.

    He bent double, heaving for air. She spun to leave but was yanked back against him, his labored breath rushing past her ear. "I’m guessing you don’t want my autograph anymore?"

  5. Robin Leonard

    How did I get on this red eye flight to Guatemala City at 11:23pm? I got on it because my earlier flight out of Flores never showed. That’s how.

    This day has not gone well to say the least. Today I turned sixty just for starters.

    I had treated myself to a trip to Tikal that has been on my bucket list for years. I stayed in the famous Jungle Lodge and the hosts even had a birthday cake for me last night. How sweet was that?

    Maybe twelve passengers and I are on the plane and one of the passengers brings on board, a monkey in a cage. Oh my God! I thought. I can’t believe they let them do this. But I’m in Guatemala and apparently, the late night flights let people bring on their pets.

    It’s about a forty-five minute flight from Flores, but a lot can happen in less than an hour. We were about twenty minutes into the flight. Two guys behind me are half wrapped and ordering more alcohol, but they’re not too loud, just talking about going home.

    I had just pulled a magazine out of my bag, when all of a sudden I felt something touching my ankle. At first, I thought it was the guys behind me, or I had dropped a Kleenex. Then I felt it again a couple of minutes later and looked down. I let out a scream that got everybody’s attention. There was that freakin’ monkey. The attendant came over immediately and I pointed at it. Geeeez! Then it jumped on me and pulled my glasses off! By now, the monkey’s owner was in the isle beside me on all fours trying to coax it into the cage. The monkey now had jumped down a couple of seats and more people are screaming. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. I order a double VO neat.

    Finally, monkey owner gets the creature and moves to the back of the plane, and stuffs it in the cage. Lots of excitement. Commotion over. No harm done.

    I hear the landing gear go down. We land. I get up to get off this flight from hell. I’m moving down the isle and stopped to let someone pass in front of me. She gives me a weird look. I smiled.

    I go to claim my luggage and this same woman is beside me. It’s funny, take a person out of context and you’re clueless as to who it is. An example would be seeing the Queen of England in jeans, hi-top sneakers and a ball cap hailing a cab in New York City. Get my point.

    To top the day off here’s what happened. She handed pen and paper and asked me for my autograph. I said “uh?” “Aren’t you Hillary Clinton?” she asked. “No, I’m Martha freakin’ Stewart” I growled, handed her back her pen and stormed off.

    I looked back, the woman stood there mouth wide open!

  6. Linda Garcia

    As I boarded the airplane with anticipation, my thoughts were on Hawaii and my birthday. I was twenty-one today. Now I am legal I smiled as the thought crossed my very busy mind at the moment. As I boarded I wished I could be in First Class but hey I am here. As I passed through I heard a very sexy voice say “Oh if I can only be left alone this time, I just need to be alone.” Of course I couldn’t turn and look to see who said it but I did feel his distress. What a sexy voice he had.
    The plane finally took off. I put my head phones on, turned up my I-pod and closed my eyes to fantasize about my adventures to come. About an hour or so into the trip I was listening to Rich B CD when suddenly I opened my eyes realizing the voice in first class was Rich B, there was no mistaking it. But then it couldn’t be I thought. I got up to move around I happened to see into first class and immediately saw him It was Rich B, one of the biggest rock stars around right now and very good looking. Great start to my trip I thought and smiled.
    All of a sudden while deep in thought and daydreaming about meeting Rich B, I heard a scream and saw this lady charging forward knowing she had seen Rich B and was flying toward him. I don’t know what got into me but all of a sudden I was standing next to him with my arm through his and calmly and loudly said “STOP IT! Leave him Alone! My husband and I are sick of everyone thinking he is someone else this is not the rock star, it is my husband, now leave us alone!
    The lady and everyone else by now went silent. She stammered an apology and almost ran back to her seat. By now I realized what I had done and was five shades redder than a beet. Going along with my act, Rich put his arm around me and said “It is ok honey, let’s sit down.” His friend nodded and walked away and we sat down. Wow I was in first class with Rich B. The stewardess rushed over. Rich told her “it’s ok, please bring us some Champaign. She looked at me and asked for ID. I had forgotten it was my birthday but she read it and said “Happy Birthday”. Rich made a big deal out of it and thanked me for “saving him” as he put it. By the end of the trip I realized I was still with him and on my way to dinner with him after we landed. We ended up spending days together having a great time.
    What a trip that turned out to be and I got an autographed leather jacket from him and a great Birthday beyond my wildest dreams!

  7. jared david

    Birthday Gift

    I did not see the two jets as they flew overhead. My uncle had been trying to get my attention, but I was busy chasing my brother with as many water balloons as my ten-year-old hands could carry. He had committed the ultimate grade school crime: revealing my main birthday gift before I had a chance to unwrap it. My building excitement instantly turned to playground rage, and I grabbed whatever was handy and took off after my fleeing brother. From my uncle’s seat, he could see my pursuit unfold much like the chase above; two jets, two kids, one following the other, neither gaining nor losing distance. The jets disappeared into the clouds as we rounded the corner of our house, and my uncle, joined by my father, watched the opposite side of the house with intrigue, hoping to see the big finish.

    Coming back into view, I slowed into a crow-hop like they taught us in little league, and threw the one balloon that had not bounced out of my hand towards my brother. I was surprised at the speed with which the balloon sailed through the air, striking him square between the shoulder blades with a thWAP louder than the jet engines overhead. My shock at the balloon not bursting harmlessly was accompanied by a dreadful scream and my brother face-planting into the grass about forty feet away. I skidded to a halt, almost tripping over myself, cursing my little league practices. He started crying (of course) while I contemplated the possibility of outrunning my father—at least enough to launch myself down the steep hill past our dead end street and become a forest dweller.

    He checked on my brother first, making sure the wound was just on the surface, then walked to where my feet had rooted to the ground with an unexpected smile spread over his face. He picked me up and carried me over to my brother, explaining that the under-filled balloon slapped against my brother’s bare back, leaving an impressive welt. The raised red area looked worse than it was, my father told me. Realizing I was not in trouble, my anger started to return, further aggravated by having to say I was sorry on my birthday, after what he had done. I mumbled an apology and walked away. My uncle caught up with me and, kneeling down, pointed up at jet tails in the sky. I immediately forgot about being mad, and began asking what kind of jets they were, where they were going, if one was an SR-71 Blackbird, or maybe even an SR-91 Aurora. I imaged all models on the shelves in my room upstairs, picturing them streaking by at Mach 1.5, but appearing like a casual cruise from ground level. I spent the rest of that day imagining what they could have been, and all weekend played with my plastic models around the house while it stormed outside.

    I realize today that those tails were probably signatures of F-14 Tomcats; very boring planes, one of which I had returned to the hobby shop for an A-10A Thunderbolt. But for a rainy weekend, they were top secret military reconnaissance planes—a Blackbird handing over reign of the sky to the Aurora—and I was there. I should thank my brother.


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