Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Get your favorite song lyrics out…

Here’s a bit of a different spin on our usual Matchup today …

Monday Matchup #7—Tunes As Muse
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

Take two of your favorite songs, and match up a line from the chorus of
one with a line from the chorus of the other. Then, write a scene that
starts with the first lyric, and ends with the second.

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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9 thoughts on “Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Get your favorite song lyrics out…

  1. Jo Mason

    “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” he asked with a smile; his smile.
    “It’s too early to think about that right now.” I tried hard not to fall under his spell. I was certain my clumsy efforts to avoid his gaze made me look like a fish out of water. I played it off by opening my datebook for evidence.
    Datebook. How much more oxymoronic could it be. It was a personal jab, how this leather-bound book revealed nothing of what it promised. Grocery lists. Doctor appointments. Work assignments. Contact information. Anything and everything. Except dates.
    “Here,” I poked. “See? Today’s only – ”
    He refused to let me finish. He gently wrapped his strong manhand around my accusatory finger. I’m pretty sure we lit the place up all by ourselves. It was painfully enjoyable.
    He sat across from me, playing with my hand atop the café table. Gently pushing and pulling information. So easily, I didn’t even realize I was giving up bits and pieces. So earnestly, I forgot to lie. If I let go, I would certainly float beyond the neon stars above us in my bliss.
    He firmed his grip on my hand, tethering me to himself. I would not fly away.
    “Let’s walk.” It was a gentle command, for he was already rising from his seat, taking his coat and coffee. I followed, playing his grown-up game of Simon Says.
    He led me over the concrete path, through the intermittent crowds, under the trees raining color upon us. I shivered from the all-consuming experience and he guided me to the side of the path. Under a dim yellow lamppost, he brought his coat from behind, pulling it around me. I was surrounded by the scent of him. His warm hands soothed the collar around my neck and I shivered all the more, embarrassed that such gentlemanly care could turn me to jell-o. I knew better than to try to speak.
    A red-golden leaf fell between us, startling us both into chuckles. My pent-up, heightened awareness took advantage of my fallen guard; and my body convulsed in a loud symphony of laughter, letting go of all that was in me.
    He joined with me, his baritone sound in harmony with my soprano.
    A tear of relief sprang to life on my cold cheek. Still laughing, still holding me by the collar of his own coat, he raised one hand to tenderly thumb it away. I closed my eyes.
    “Hey.” He whispered. I hesitantly opened my lids to see his breath on the air. He placed a gentle kiss on my lips and the warmth flooded me, staying even after he withdrew to look at me again.
    His smile was new. It was mine. “So, what does your datebook say about tonight?”
    I smiled back. “It’s Autumn.” With all its joyously colorful experiences. “Autumn in New York.”

  2. Bobbye Land Hudspeth

    First line is from Dr. Hook’s "More Like The Movies," last line from Randy Travis’s "Too Gone, Too Long."
    “I wish I could have made it more like the movies for you.” I turned to face the window, noting that raindrops sliding down the windowpane echoed the trail of tears on my cheeks. What the poets say is true. Sometimes the world does cry with you.
     “I hope you and Dani will be very happy together.” I almost choked saying the words, hating to admit even to myself how untrue they were. At the moment I don’t think there was anything I wanted less than for Derek to be happy. “But, I don’t think you are ever going to be happy until you realize that once the screen goes dark and credits start rolling, real life starts and everyone’s hair isn’t always perfect and there isn’t a screenplay to memorize so you always have the right words to say. People leave toothpaste lids off, they fart, they have bad days and they say things that can’t just be cut out and left forgotten on the editing room floor.” I always pace when I’m angry or sad, but now all I could do is just stand there. I guess that’s what I do when my world gets torn apart.
    “Movies don’t depict reality, they just allow us the fantasy that maybe life could really be that way. Most people understand that. You keep forgetting.  When the movie stops and real life starts, you don’t take the time to look for depth that real life offers, you race back into another romance for the head rush of the fantasy. Poor Dani.”
    Derek just sat there, his elbows on the arm of my grandmother’s rocking chair, his head in his hands. I don’t know whether my words were sinking in, or whether he was trying to pass a kidney stone, but either way he was suffering. And I’m honest enough to admit that I enjoyed seeing at least one real emotion on his face. I was stunned to see an actual tear rolling down his cheek. I took a step towards him and he put up a hand to stop me. “I never deserved you,” he said, his voice soft and filled with emotion. “You are absolutely right. About everything. Please know I really loved you. And I will carry you in my heart forever.”
    It suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks that the son of a bitch was still acting out a movie. I could almost see Bogie standing there by the airplane telling a crying woman that it was for the best. I walked over, opened a drawer and pulled out a little antique derringer that my grandfather had given me. The last lines that Derek Wayne uttered in the B-movie that was his life were prophetic. “I’ve been too gone, too long. Now it’s too late to come back home.”

  3. Rachel Bishop-Ross

    “Don’t you think it can take control when I don’t let it?” I asked of the Master. 
    “That is why you must practice,” he said.  “It must never gain full control.”
    The demon inside me giggled with delight and dipped its fingers in the wellspring of my soul.  With that touch, it offered me everything.  All I had to do was give myself over to it.  Images of all that could be mine flashed before me – power, wealth, and…magic.
    “Push it down,” the Master said.  “Force it to live by your will alone.  It is the only way to contain it.”
    In my mind, I shouted at the evil spirit.  It would obey me.  It would not lay waste to our world.  It would not glut itself on the blood and souls of the innocent. 
    My ears filled with its screams of outrage.  Claws replaced the soft, silky fingertips, and the demon tore into me out of anger and frustration. 
    The flesh of my arms flayed open and ran red.  Yet, I did not cry out; I would not give the demon the satisfaction.  My sacrifice was a small price to pay to contain the evil that existed only to devour.
    Inside my head, the giggling returned but with less self-assurance.  I smiled, and from my cheek, I wiped a teardrop on fire.   

  4. Mark James

    Zac. . .great prompt.

    Dorraine. . nice to see you back!

    The two songs: “Baby One More Time”, Britney Spears & “Man in the Mirror”, Michael Jackson

    ‘My loneliness is killing me.’ I looked at the words written in her journal, ripped out the page, fed it to the piranha in my tank. “I didn’t do anything,” I said to the killer fish. “You hear me? I didn’t.”

    My phone rang. I dived for it, and even though I’d just come from her funeral, I said, “Sandi?”

    “Good afternoon,” the voice at the other end said, “this is Mrs. Joffenmeyer. I’m taking a survey of political leanings in your district. Are you the head of household?”

    I let the fish have my phone too.

    Outside, the sky was grey, dark with clouds, no sun in sight. That’s how winter gets in Buffalo. You can go days without seeing a ray of sunlight; gets so you feel like crossing the border into Canada, import some sun.

    My car started with a sigh so low, it could have been a mourner at my wake. I drove through town, didn’t notice where I was till I bumped over the tracks. I turned off the engine, stared out the window.

    Weeds were growing up through the iron rails, survivors in a world that took no live prisoners. Doesn’t matter how many times you pull a weed, if you don’t get the root, it’s like ‘right back at you, pal’, and there it is, in your face, strangling everything that’s growing on its turf.

    I’d been the weed in Sandi’s life. I wouldn’t leave her alone, wouldn’t just let her be, let her do her life the way she wanted. “I’ll always be there,” I told her.

    That night, right there on the tracks, she’d shot back at me, “You’re always there, like a bad rash.”

    Turned out she was pregnant, planning on leaving town with Alec, a guy she barely knew. And no, eight months isn’t enough time to decide who you’re going to marry. With two ex-wives, I should know. But the way it turned out, seems like I didn’t know anything.

    After Sandi went to bed, I paid Alec a visit. I love my little sister, so I didn’t touch him. I just talked, made him see reason; made him see how if he stayed in town, I’d have to cut him into pieces, feed him to my fish.

    Next day he was gone, and Sandi was in my face, calling me names I didn’t think a girl like her would even know. When she went running out the back door, down to the lake, I did what I should have done in the first place; I just let her go.

    She came back, moped around my house for days that stretched into slow summer months. The more round she got, the less she talked to me, always swung her belly at me like some kind of accusation.

    They said she walked down to the lake, got too close to the water, slipped and couldn’t get out, on account of being so pregnant. I know better. I killed my little sister, sure as if I’d been standing there holding her head down.

    I backed off the tracks, glanced in the rearview mirror, and there she was, in my backseat, wet and pale, hands on her round belly.

    “Payback.” Sandi’s dead eyes met mine. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”

  5. Dorraine

    Love the creativity in this prompt, Zac! Hope I’m not too late in posting.

    Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses-and it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire, the ring of fire.

    “Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses! Come on, girls, that’s how it’s done in Bandera, Texas,” shouted Mack Roberts.

    The six of us dismounted, wood smoke crisp in the air, leaves swirling around our dust covered boots. The sky hung, pink smeared above us and the horses glistened with sweat, muscles contracting. We’d ran them hard, rounding up that hundred head of cattle.

    A cooler of Bud Light was next to the bonfire, and I popped open twenty cans and filled the trough, liquid like a gold string of fizzing garland. The horses lapped it up, foam on their wet noses. Their eyes glittered as Doug and Max led them away. Meanwhile, Mack poured Jack Daniels in plastic cups and passed them around.

    Grinning, he said, “Here you go, girls. Drink up.”

    Fire in the hole, that’s what it felt like going down. Next came delight. And for a second, I thought I saw two wolves just over the rise, standing on a huge boulder, but when I looked again, nothing. I saw my ex-girlfriend, too, those brown eyes like chocolate, melting over my raw heart. Jessie was the reason I’d come to this Dude Ranch. She was the reason I was saddle sore, and hanging out with jacked-up cowboys who wore spurs like jewelry and ate too many beans and cussed and farted and spit and drank huge quantities of whiskey.

    I was a girl like Mack said. Ben Fulton all stuffed with emotion. A man who couldn’t handle being dumped. By coming here, I could toughen up. Forget Jessie, the love of my life. That was my plan.

    But it wasn’t working. Sitting by that fire, crackling and popping, her memory was as strong as that second cup of whiskey. I thought of Johnny Cash, his words clinging and twirling around love like an ivy vine. “And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire.”

  6. Dare Gaither

    “I know there’ll be no more
    Tears in heaven.”

    “You’re optimistic.”

    Martin flinched at the sound of the disembodied voice.
    The involuntary reflex pulled the knife across his throat.
    A small red line appeared where blade met skin.
    Martin threw the knife down and blotted at the
    superficial wound with a paper towel.

    “Jesus! You scared me.”

    “Why?” A pair of deep blue eyes stared at him in the bathroom mirror.
    “I’m not Jesus, by the way.”

    “Of course not!” Martin replied, “It’s just an expression.”
    “How can you say I’m optimistic?
    I’m in the middle of committing suicide here, you know.”

    Martin felt righteous indignation that this moron had
    completely failed to grasp the depth of his suffering.
    Who was he, anyway?

    “Well, carry on then…but you seem to be making a lot
    of unsubstantiated assumptions. Do you even know what
    you’re doing?”

    “Who the hell are you?” Martin yelled at the strange figure
    who had entered his bathroom from God knows where.

    “Oh, I was just passing through and heard your, uh, singing.”
    The stranger cleared his throat and gave Martin a skeptical look.

    Martin blushed with rage and embarrassment.
    “Go away! I don’t need a guardian angel!”

    “I didn’t say I was your guardian angel.”

    “Then who are you and why are you here?” Martin shouted at the man.

    “Ask yourself those questions.” the stranger replied.

    Good Lord he’s annoying, Martin thought in exasperation.
    “Just go away and let me finish.”

    “You’ll screw it up, you know,” the stranger stated matter-of-factly.
    It’s not easy to kill yourself, especially considering
    your level of incompetence.”

    Martin gasped in outrage.
    How could he be so insensitive?

    “If you’re in the hospital with a severed neck muscle
    and a punctured trachea, you’ll miss meeting Karla.”

    “What?” Martin stammered in utter confusion.

    “Things may be about to get a whole lot better for you.”

    “A girlfriend won’t fix anything…might even make it worse.”
    Martin muttered in a voice of despair.

    “I didn’t say she was a girlfriend. I said things might get better”

    “There’s no hope, I don’t even want things to get better.”
    Martin sighed and picked up the knife.

    “Oh, well why didn’t you say so?”
    The stranger started toward the door.

    Despite his annoyance, Martin sort of wanted him to stay.
    Though he hated to admit it, the thrill of arguing
    had made Martin feel almost hopeful.

    The stranger stopped and turned back toward Martin.
    Martin put the knife down and looked at the man with anticipation.

    “I’m going to be here for a while,” the stranger said.
    “Seeing as how you’ll be dead… Can I have your Harley?”
    A huge grin spread across the man’s face.

    Despite his best efforts to thwart it, Martin truly felt a ray of hope.
    With a wry laugh Martin said,
    “Dream On.”

  7. Nathan Honore

    They say, “Jump!” So I jump. I try not to be a follower, but demands usually get the best of me. I would have been a terrible terrorist negotiator. We stand in line, waiting patiently for our turn. It has been three days since the distribution of our rations. Even that fattest of us have turned to skeletons. So it goes.
    They treat us like circus animals. We could care less. They control our sustenance, our means of survival. When they tell us to jump we were originally supposed to yell back “How high?” Then they realized that shouting would require giving us more water to restore our throats. They needed to keep us alive, and we wanted to live, for whatever reason.
    They say, “Jump!” So we jump. The food could be worse. The water couldn’t. We are all very thankful that Soylent Green is not distributed and that Soylent Green is not people. Our caretakers are not apes either. Heston was way off. My commune and I live in a small village that contains the means to work and sleep, but not to eat. That’s how they engineered it. We wander back to the towering metropolis whenever they tell us to, which is really when too many of us start dying of hunger and exhaustion. So it goes.
    Humans enslaving humans. That is the way of life, always has been. Contrary to popular belief the Jews and Blacks have not been the only victims of slavery. It’s been happening to everyone for as long as one guy has had bigger biceps then his neighbor. It happens. It just so happens that my fellow humans and I are weaker than our caretakers. For some reason, being enslaved makes me think of that old Seinfeld joke about how aliens see us picking up our dog’s poop and think that the dogs are in control. I wonder if we look like we’re in control.
    I finally get my bowl of mush. Today’s flavor is despair. Just kidding, it has no flavor, just nutrients. Jokes keep me alive, even though I only joke in my head. Words have no use for us anymore. We understand them, but no longer speak them. It’s not allowed. Doesn’t bother me much, but I could use an audience.
    The mush is demolished quickly and remnants stay in my beard for days. I think they might be good for facial hair too, keeping it nice and moist instead of dry and coarse. Overall, my life is not too different than when I wasn’t a slave. It’s all the same in the end. We live, we die. End of story. So we take our food and then we head back to our village. We wander for a while, without a purpose, out of nowhere.

  8. alison barthelemy

    "Darling, don’t refrain."
    I don’t know why she said that, cheesy as it is. Maybe it was the cold bullets of rain landing on her cheeks, and spattering her blouse. Getting her all maudlin.
    She began anew, "Why do you have to go?"
    He sighed. "Don’t do this."
    It was only August. Affairs weren’t scheduled to end until November. But here they were anyways, saying goodbye.
    "I’m being called into duty. You know that."
    "Ugh." She turned away, speaking down to the tarmac. "I hate those words. I hate the masters. They have no sense of romantic things. No passion."
    "I’ll be back."
    He was in a hard place. It was obvious he loved her. But she was being stubborn.
    He said, "I have no control over it."
    "You could refuse."
    "And be shot?"
    "If you get caught," she said. "You only get shot if you get caught. You don’t have to get caught."
    "Alba, listen to yourself."
    "What? Am I crazy? I love you, Pol. "
    He didn’t say anything. Understandably. Love in affairs is a rare thing. Even less common, too, is love requited.
    "I’ll be back," he said after a time.
    "Yeah, you will." Morning sun shot through the clouds, illuming them both. Hot water stood in her eyes. "In body. But what about in mind? What if your master decides he wants a Palestinian butler? Or a Gentile slave? You’ll be gone to me."
    "It’s a chance I have to take, Al."
    She sniffed back tears. Hugged her chest. Hung her head. He touched her elbow.
    "I have to go."
    She looked up. "You won’t refuse? No matter what you won’t refuse?"
    He shook his head. "I can’t."
    She snorted quietly. "Well then, I guess I know what I won’t be doing tomorrow night."
    Pol tilted his head. "What?"
    The flash was nearly instantaneous, and likely would have been even if the sun’s rays weren’t muddied by clouds. Alba was trained. Not for this, of course, but nonetheless.
    Pol looked down, a listing O planted above his chin. Red paint stained his shirt, his trousers, and began to pool around his boots.
    Only, not paint.
    "What—what did you—?" He swallowed and fell. "Alba?"
    "I love you, Pol," she said, weakened, as more red bubbled over her own fingers. "I’ll see you on the other side."

    copyright 2010, alison barthelemy


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