Write a set of short scenes in which confusion or chaos follows a character, as if in his wake. The character does not cause this, knowingly or unknowingly, but disorder nearly always happens after he has left a room, an intersection, or an elevator. This should not be magic. Imagine an exotic wake, but try to make these effects and aftereffects grow naturally out of the character you're describing.
(from prompt #34 in The 3AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
"Grass" by Robyn Gallagher
Everyone had just eaten dinner when Georgie came home, so she went to the counter to pick garbanzo beans out of the salad with her fingers while her mother collected dishes.
“Why don’t you get a plate, honey?”
Georgie rolled her eyes and picked out two more garbanzo beans and a chunk of feta, leaning onto the counter and balancing on one leg so that her butt stuck out. Her mother could see her phone light up in her back pocket, and said so. Georgie took out the phone with another eye roll and walked out of the kitchen whispering and cupping her hands around her phone and mouth.
“That girl,” her mother said, to no one in particular. Georgie’s father walked into the kitchen with a beer and rubbed his wife’s back.
“It’s just a stage,” he said, and she leaned back into him. He set down his beer, to put both arms around her, and her elbow brushed the bottle as she turned around to face her husband.
“Oh God!” and she bent to pick up the shards. Even as he cautioned her to be careful, she split open her palm and cursed. She bit her lip but cried anyway when traces of salad dressing that had been on her hand got in the wound. The tears fell out of embarrassment, and pain, and from something else, vague and unformed, buried in her since she’d become a mother. They fell and blended with the blood and beer, which gathered in little lakes in the uneven kitchen tile and ran, muddied, in miniature rivers in the grout.
Upstairs in her bedroom, Georgie hung up the phone and opened her window. She swung her legs over and sat on the sill smoking a cigarette, flicking ash onto her father’s lawn and kicking her heels against her home’s exterior. After a bit she flicked the cigarette out and watched the ember die before hopping down two stories by way of the first floor’s eave. She snuck out the usual way, through her neighbor’s yard, and she threw the cigarette butt she had picked up in her neighbor’s trash on her way out. The noise disturbed the visiting dog of her neighbor’s in-laws, and the yipping beast startled the family’s three year old. He had just been put to bed, minutes past wakefulness but not quite asleep, and the dark barking brought him running in complete terror to the living room. His parents, having gone to shush the dog, weren’t there, just a chair rocking in his mother’s absence and a deep indent where his father had been on the couch. The little boy stared out the window into his backyard, where the damp grass still held the shape of Georgie’s footprint, and in his confusion thought he was the only person alive in the whole world.