Write a short interior scene during which a TV is on. Let the words and images on the screen interact interestingly with the activity going on in the room. Your characters can be watching TV, or it can be background noise. Choose your TV show carefully to reflect an interesting aspect of the human situation you're also describing. TV is omnipresent in most of our lives. Write about how people talk around it, over it, or with the judicious use of the mute button. This is a subversive exercise—an attempt to make writers come to terms with the hypnotic, all-powerful medium fiction must take into account.
(from prompt #18 in The 3 AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
That Smashing Pumpkins' song, how does it go? Dead eyes, are you just like me? “By Starlight.” Cause her eyes were as vacant as the seas. I can't help thinking of it every time I see her.
"Doesn't she have dead eyes?" I say out loud.
"She does! You are so right!" Ashley says, laughing like I'm Jim Gaffigan and she's just inhaled nitrous oxide. I am not that funny.
"And Justin Bobby, Bobby Justin, whatever his..."
"Justin Bobby, then. What is his deal?”
“He is such a player! But Audrina keeps going back to him!”
“Well. Okay. Yes, he is an asshole, sure, but. He is not attractive, either. Like at all.”
“I know, right!”
“Does he have like, a golden penis? What is happening that more than one girl wants him so bad?”
“Like, I don’t know, that’s just how it is. Audrina loves him. But she tries to make him jealous, too, you know?”
Sometimes I feel out of the loop. Not in the way that I don’t know what’s going on. Just that I don’t react the right way, or the normal way. Also Ashley makes me feel old.
“What are you girls watching?” James comes back from the liquor store with a six pack of Hefeweizen, a six pack of Diet Coke, and some off brand of Vanilla Vodka.
Ashley springs up to hug James and to help unpack the groceries and make drinks and all of that. From the kitchen she yells out to me “Do you want a beer or a cocktail? I can make you what I’m drinking!”
I look over at James to roll my eyes, and he’s already looking at me with a smirk. I hate choosing sides. “Um. Yes. I’ll have what you are having.”
“Do you want a straw too? I have bendy straws!” She giggles, of course, after almost everything she says. James is having too much fun with this, he can see me tensing up, so I giggle too and sit up a little straighter.
“Yes! I love bendy straws!” I do, actually. Its just how often does that come up?
“So, what happened this week? Was a boy mean to some girls? Did Lauren cry?” James nudges Ashley. We settle back down on the couch, and Ashley and I balance the scene by sitting exactly the same, holding our diet and vodka cocktails with bendy straws (although hers is pink and mine is yellow) on either side of James, who messes up the balance immediately by leaning over and scooping Ashley closer to him. She rights her drink, which almost spilled, and adjusts, folding her body into his.
“Lauren didn’t cry. Audrina keeps saying how mean Justin Bobby is but she seems like she might actually get over him.” I say, surprising everyone.
“See, she likes it too. You’re the only one who doesn’t get it.” Ashley giggles adorably and looks over at me and holds up her glass; in unison, we say “Cheers!”
And all along, we knew we’d carry on, just to belong. It’s a really good song.