Start your writing week off right with a prompt — the story of the eavesdropper.

 
Thanks to everyone who submitted a prompt in response to the 100th prompt! We’ll go through them tomorrow and announce our pick to run in the magazine Wednesday.

Here’s to hoping your writing week is an excellent one —

* * *


WRITING PROMPT: Eve of the Eavesdropper
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your 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. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

Cup to the wall, you listen and your pulse throbs.
It’s too perfect.

Learn how to help your writing career survive—and grow—in the
current economy. Break into corporate writing. Discover the art of taxes
for writers. Absorb lessons and insights from an author-turned-agent.
Read Elizabeth Berg’s thoughts on life after Oprah. Click
here to check the March/April 2010 issue of WD out.

(Image:
federico stevanin)

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    Zac, this was a good one!

    I watched him walk in, lock the door, turn off the alarm.

    “Shouldn’t use your birthday for codes, Xander.” I got up off the couch.

    He spun around, smashed the Panic button on the alarm panel. Would have worked, except I already cut a few wires.

    “I’m hurt,” I said. “You see me and that’s the first thing you do? I don’t even a get a ‘Hey, how you doing, Vaughn?’”

    He wiped sweat off his top lip. “You been okay, Vaughn?”

    “You mean after you sent the cops after me? Had to cut on a couple of them. You know how they get. Besides that, yeah, I been fine. You been doing good?”

    He swallowed. “They said you wouldn’t find me.”

    I grabbed his shirt, threw him on the couch. “Empty your pockets. Phone first.”

    His hands were shaking so bad, he had to make two stabs at his jacket pocket before his cell phone tumbled to the floor. “You don’t know what it’s like. I had to tell them.”

    Quarters, nickels and dimes scattered over his shiny wood floor. “They’re cops,” I said. “What could they threaten you with that I couldn’t get you out of?”

    “They put me in this little room. Nothing in there except a bed and a toilet. No windows. Just locked me in.”

    I sat on the floor, took out my knife, started cutting up the rope I brought with me. “That’s all they did? Lock you in a room?”

    He bent over like he was gonna be sick. “For days. When they let me out, they said if I didn’t tell them about you, I’d spend the rest of my life like that.”

    I got up, stood over him. “On the floor. Face down.”

    He looked up at me, shook his head.

    “No? You wanna fight me?” I threw my knife across the room. “Come on. Get up.”

    “No way. You’ll kill me slow.”

    “I’m losing my patience, Xan.”

    He got on his knees, then he lay on his belly. I pulled both hands behind him, tied them up first. Then his ankles, then his knees.

    I left him like that, put a glass to the wall and listened. My pulse throbbed. I heard her moans fade away. Perfect.

    He was squirming around on the floor. I got my knife, pulled his head back, pressed the blade to his throat. “You’re my little brother, and I love you. So I’m gonna let you live.”

    I jerked him up, got him on the couch. “You know that little sweet thing next door? The one you been spending your nights with?”

    His cell phone rang. “What did you do?” he said.

    I answered it, held his phone in front of him, made him watch the video. “You can pick her up under the bridge, if you can find all the pieces.”

    “She was nobody,” he said. “Just a girl.”

    I dropped the phone. “I had a long trip. Gonna get some sleep. You sit there and think about what you’re gonna say next time the cops come around asking about me.”

    He had a nice bed. Soft. I fell asleep to the sound of him crying. I figured I could live with that better than the sound of him not breathing.

  8. Martha W

    Zac – I think I’m okay with this one… loved the prompt!

    Mark – I submitted once, remembered *bridge*… thank god the robot god was not my friend tonight!!

    =====

    Andy stood at the adjoining door and watched his best friend, Beth, muffle a squeal with one hand. The other hand propped against the wall, steadying the cheap plastic cup from the dinner tray the hotel sent up. She wiggled in place, her pulse throbbing at the hollow of her throat.

    His mouth went dry as her hips shimmied again. This trip was pure torture – five days in sunny Naples. He knew another night without her in his bed would drive him insane.

    Somehow he had to get her off that wall.

    "Oh my God. You should hear these two."

    Andy’s eyebrows raised a notch. "Hear them do what?"

    "Make out, you dork." She was breathless from holding in her excitement.

    He cocked his head to the side. His Beth was a voyeur? This was too perfect to let pass by. He walked slowly to the desk and picked up the second cup, faced her at the wall and slid it next to hers.

    Her eyes grew round when he leaned in to place his ear on the end of the cup, almost nose to nose with her. She sucked in a breath. "What-"

    "Shush." He laid one finger across her lips, silenced her with one gesture.

    Through the wall he heard a man’s harsh command. "Push in slow."

    A low grunt.

    "Yeah, yeah. You could find someone else to do this." Another man.

    Andy stared at Beth, his gaze drifted to her lips. What would she taste like?

    "Nobody’s as good as you." The first man again.

    "You need to remember that."

    Andy laughed. This was ludicrous.

    Beth slapped his arm, pulled back to swat again.

    Andy grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand forward, kissed her palm.

    She gasped. "What are you doing?"

    He nipped the sensitive flesh of her hand, soothed the sting with a gentle caress of his tongue. He set his cup down, reached for hers. "Well, I thought…"

    "No." She shook her head. "I’m not ruining our friendship."

    Andy framed her face with his palms, smoothing his thumbs across her cheeks. "There is no friendship anymore, Beth. I want it all, or nothing."

    She stared at him for a long moment. He knew he’d blown it. Then she slid her arms around his waist. "Took you long enough."

    ##

    The rumble of men’s voices near their door woke them before seven the next morning.

    Beth untangled her legs from Andy’s and peeked out the curtain. She giggled and spread the fabric wider for Andy to see.

    Just outside stood two old men, dressed for a round of golf; one wielding a Ping putter like a baseball bat. A familiar voice from the night before bridged the distance. "Just cause you’re the best at it doesn’t mean I won’t kill you." He shook the club once to make his point.

    The other man, clearly unafraid, shook his fist. "I put that grip on last night, damn it. I want to use it first!"

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