Day 8- Take over the story from here! by Lisa Thornton

An intriguing premise for a story from Lisa Thornton, today

StoryADay prompt cover

Let your mind wander. Any genre works. Make it your own. Have fun!

The Prompt

“She wrote it on the back of the list she had been keeping of the best neon signs she’d seen so far. There was no way to know if he would ever read it, but that wasn’t the point.”

Lisa Thornton

Lisa Thornton is a writer and nurse living in Illinois. She has words published/forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Roi Faineant Press, Bending Genres, Fiery Scribe Review, Bivouac Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree and more. She was a finalist for the 2022 SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She can be found on Twitter @thorntonforreal.

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37 thoughts on “Day 8- Take over the story from here! by Lisa Thornton”

  1. Done! I think today’s effort can stand alone, but I would also like to work it into something larger one day.

  2. Like others, I wasn’t sure where to go with this one. So I went about my business. I did some client care. I mowed my lawn. I took my dogs out. And I took a nap.

    When I woke up, I realized that COVID could provide a perfect reason for a wife in a telepathic marriage with her husband to need to write him a note before she’s intubated, and that she’d want to write a note to her secretly alien husband that wouldn’t look like a note, because she’d have things to say that just anyone shouldn’t be reading.

    It came in at 611 words, written in about 20 minutes.

    I’ve posted this one to Archive of Our Own without revising a word. It kind of just poured out of me, and, for now at least, I am going to let it stay that way…

    It also might be the only story I share here this month, but I feel so much truth and power in it I want to, today.


    “No Way of Knowing”

    She wrote it on the back of the list she had been keeping of the best neon signs she’d seen so far. There was no way to know if he would ever read it, but that wasn’t the point.

    The point was her worry, and having something she could do about it in the time she was waiting for the team to come intubate her.

    She didn’t have much strength left, and she had to write between the coughing fits that made it hard to breathe. She’d heard the horror stories of the people who were intubated but then never woke up. She didn’t want to become one of them.

    Kaiidth. It was a world from Jim’s world. What is, is. What she wanted wouldn’t matter. She would survive, or she wouldn’t. She’d recover, or she wouldn’t.

    The children were long grown now. There were seven grandchildren. They’d all mourn her, but it was the way of life. She was in her seventies now; she wasn’t going to live forever even if she came out of this terrifying new disease and recovered fully.

    And if she didn’t, the family they’d created through adoption would mourn her and continue their lives, the same as it had ever been or ever would be.

    But Jim…

    Jim would grieve her – if he survived her death. It was different for Vulcans. She could feel him in her mind, even now. He was fevered and suffering, but he couldn’t rely on medical help. No doctor on Earth would know how to help him. Even if one could, they couldn’t take that chance.

    He’d be discovered, and then they’d no longer have peace and control of their own lives.

    Jim – Mestral, she reminded herself, because this was a time for thinking of him by his true name. They still used it as a surname, but, for 63 years before she met him, it had been his given name – had given her a life she could never have imagined, but one that had suited her, and him, perfectly. She’d often wondered about the chain of events that brought him to her at that taxi company – how had he dared to stay when the others had left, knowing he’d have to live a secret life. She’d wondered too about T’Mir, the woman he’d been intended to marry.

    T’Mir had gone, but Mestral had stayed. It seemed, from what he had shared with her from the meditations where they still shared thoughts, that she had found a fulfilling life back there on their desert world.

    Would she know what had happened if Mestral died?

    He could die.

    She’d always assumed she’d die first, and never have to lose him. As long as she could provide solace in his Burning Times, he was remarkably healthy, and his people lived about twice as long as humans.

    But she might recover from COVID, and Jim – Mestral – might die alone in the desert.

    So she wrote out her love for him, how he had changed the course of her life in the most amazing, wonderful ways, filled her with more than she’d ever thought she could hold. And she wrote it, as best she could, in his language’s lovely curving vertical script, so that, to anyone but Mestral or their children, it would look only like a design she’d created.

    But it was the contents of her heart and soul, her hopes and fears.

    She hoped he’d be able to read it one day soon, while they were together.
    But she couldn’t be sure that either of them would survive the pandemic, and her tears fell on the worn page as she wrote.

  3. Day 8 done. My character was a roadie on a 42-city tour with a famous musician, and he was noting billboards rather than neon signs, but it worked.

  4. I didn’t know where I was going to go with this one. I wrote a very short story and the note ended up as a message in a bottle addressed to anyone who needs it.

  5. I wasn’t sure where I was going to take this prompt. I mulled it over for a bit, made a decision, and started writing. I was only a couple of lines in when the story took an unexpected turn, but I was able to maintain momentum. I knew where it was going.
    About two-thirds of the way through, I was surprised to see it take a different direction, but I went along with it, and the story ended with an open resolution. It was rough, but I liked it.
    Anyway, day eight is done!

  6. Came up with a drabble (100 words) about a failed actress heading back east along historic Route 66. Having fun with these challenges!

    1. You’re not the first person to mention Route 66 to me today. I didn’t know it was such a neon-sign icon!

  7. Sometimes I feel a bit intimidated by these kinds of “take it from here” prompts. If it hadn’t been part of the challenge, I probably wouldn’t have tackled this. But I did! My editorializing voice (the one in my head, I mean) was a bit aggressive, which made it tough going. But I stuck with it, and because I did, it felt worthwhile. Definitely a win today.

    1. That is exactly what I want to hear 😉 We have to master that editorializing voice and muffle it as much as possible. Really well done, you!

  8. We are traveling today and tomorrow. I was only able to sketch out a story. The neon sign read: The Kitchen is for Dancing. It’s about a couple growing apart and finding each other again.

    1. Sounds great. I think sketching out ideas on a busy day is a great idea. There’s nothing worse than having a day when you CAN write and not having an idea on hand.

  9. She had written a list of places they used to go dancing in the 80’s on a sheet of paper and set it by her hospital bed. She lay there thinking of the bright neon lighting outside advertising the names of the discos, and inside, the lights sashaying back and forth across the ballrooms, the fractured light produced by the balls of lights hanging from the ceilings. Susan remembered the rooms now like they were alien worlds. Now all gone, like her relationship with Frank.

    She hoped she died in her sleep soon. The cancer treatments were making her so weak she didn’t care anymore. Her mother would be there soon to visit her like she did every day, telling her she was going to get well. But Susan knew better. She was thinking of just pulling the plug on this treatment B.S. and crawling into a hole somewhere. She was too weak to do anything now except daydream. The sound of the TV helped to relax her, and it didn’t matter what show was on. She couldn’t concentrate, too tired, all she cared about now was thinking about her memories.

    Now Susan used all her energy to retrieve the piece of paper to write his name on the back. If her mother noticed the note after she died, maybe she would see his name on the back. Maybe she would even contact him to let him know she still thought of him. Whatever, she assumed she wouldn’t last long, what with the cancer having progressed to stage 4, and what did anything matter when she was dead.

    By the time her mother visited her that afternoon, Susan was near death. Her mother, Edith, stayed the night with her, even though she was so old and not well herself, and it was hard for her to try to get comfortable in the chair that was provided. She did it though, moving from the chair several times that night to make sure Susan was comfortable, positioning the oxygen tubes correctly in Susan’s nostrils when they slipped out a few times when Susan moved in her sleep.

    Early the next morning her daughter began fighting for breath and a nurse quickly stepped in. The nurse checked her vital signs, checked the intravenous drip and asked Edith how she was doing herself. She said she was fine. The nurse told her it was good she was there, as it was always more peaceful for children to be with their mothers. Susan’s mother felt that should have made her cry, but she was trying to hold it all together, for Susan, in case she needed anything. She had to be strong.

    After Susan was gone, and before the hospital crew cleaned up the room, her mother saw the piece of paper on the nightstand. Figuring it was just some hospital procedure paper, she almost left it there when she left. But she walked over and picked it up to see what it said anyway. It was her daughter’s handwriting. What was this? Names like Studio 40, Scene On Fire, Disco Paradise. Turning the paper over, she saw a man’s name she remembered from a long time ago. Frank Mancuso, a boyfriend of Susan’s when she was young. Edith hadn’t liked him very much because all he seemed to like to do was party, go to discos, couldn’t even hold a job. But obviously Susan still cared for him a lot anyway. Dancing and discos with him must have been a big highlight of her life. Edith understood.


    1. Nice story, Valerie. I like the characterisation, the ending a lot.
      Keep writing to inspire. Best wishes.

  10. May 8 2023

    She wrote it on the back of the list she had been keeping of the best neon signs she’d seen so far. There was no way to know if he would ever read it, but that wasn’t the point.

    If she didn’t put it out there in the universe, how could she ever make it reality?

    She etched the words in pen, drawing over and over each letter until they were far past bold. As she did this, she focused her intentions on bringing the words to life.


    She jumped, startled, and shoved the piece of paper into her pocket.

    “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he laughed at her.

    “Sorry,” she said. “I was just…”

    “You don’t ever have to be sorry.” He looked at her. It couldn’t work this fast, could it? she thought.

    She cleared her throat. “Well, what’s up?” ‘What’s up’?! That’s what you came up with?

    “Not much, I was just looking for you.”

    “Oh, how can I help?” I am pathetic.

    “Well, I was looking for a neon sign for the new location downtown, but I wanted to change things up, and I immediately thought of you. I mean you are the nerdiest neon sign person I know!” he laughed like it was just a joke, but it burned her up inside a little. She was so tired of just being the nerd that people go to for signs. She wanted to be needed for other things, too. Especially for him.

    He must have noticed a little offense in her demeanor. “I didn’t mean anything bad by it, sorry,” he said. “I just mean that you’re the expert. Not like nerdy in a bad way.”

    “No, no, of course,” she said. “I didn’t take it in a bad way.” Liar.

    They now stood inside the warehouse in an awkward silence.

    “Well,” she said, “what kind of vibe were you thinking?”

    “Oh, right,” he said, “well, something more modern and colorful. Something wild.”

    As they walked over to a group of sign templates, she was sweating and feeling watched. She was having a panic attack. Not now, she thought to herself.

    “I’ll be right back,” she said. “Nature calls.” She laughed out loud just as easily as she judged herself within as she made her way to the bathroom.

    As she walked away from him, he noticed a post-it note flutter to the ground. He scooped it up to save it for when she returned. Then, he noticed in big scribbled letters,

    “MATT & TERESA 4EVER <3”

    He smiled down at the note and waited for her to come back.

    Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Teresa was struggling to regulate her breath. She splashed some cool water on her face and sat down on the closed toilet, head in her hands. She reached into her pocket when she realized the paper was gone. A dry lump grew in her throat even bigger than before.

    Just then, she heard a tap on the door. “One minute,” she called out.

    “It’s me.” Matt was right outside the door now. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, yeah,” she replied. Liar. “I’ll be right out, one sec.”

    She stood in the mirror, straightened herself out and took a deep breath ending in a defeated sigh, preparing for more embarrassment.

    But, as she opened the door, Matt grabbed her by the waist and looked deep into her eyes.

    “Forever, huh?” he said. He gave her back the piece of paper, which she again quickly stuffed into her pocket. She turned red and looked away.

    He grabbed her chin with his right thumb and pointer finger. “How long have you felt this way?”

    “Oh, Matt,” she said. “I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t true.” This time she didn’t look away.

    “Me, too,” he said, and with her chin still in his hand, kissed her with a fierce passion.

    “I guess it does work that fast,” she said aloud. Matt paid it no mind and continued exploring her lips with his, something he had been waiting for a long time. He had a piece of paper on his nightstand, too, that said “TERESA & MATT FOR ALWAYS” that he scribbled in big bold letters long ago.

  11. This one, I just started with the idea that this person was traveling, and picked up details as I went along until she was on a cross country greyhound bus trip looking for her brother, who went off the grid months ago. She knows it’s a long shot, and has made a bit of a game out of leaving notes for him wherever the bus stops, trying to find the perfect spot where it won’t get thrown away right away, but there’s still a chance, however small, that he’ll see it. It could end where I stopped, but I would like to go back and write until they find each other again!
    It was a different experience than I usually have writing, since I usually plot things out more beforehand, and it was a really nice time 🙂

    1. Oh interesting. Well done playing with exploration and not being bound by the need to plot.

  12. I started with the prompt, the character leaving a note for the father she hasn’t seen in years where she hopes he’ll find it(part of her history I figured out with yesterday’s story). And then it turned into her first meeting with the other character, so a bit more back story for my selkies.

  13. Definitely went down the internet rabbit hole with this one. got a bit of a story outline done. no ending though, so it is hard to say what exactly is going to happen.

  14. I liked this one. I had to set it in Albuquerque, because where else are you going to find so many great neon signs? Las Vegas too, I suppose. Oh well. It was fun to write.

  15. Well, that was fun! I started out by making the “she” of the prompt a contemporary Emily Dickinson, writing her poems on bits of scrap paper. Except that her poetry wasn’t any good. It took me a while to come up with a good conflict for her, but I stirred in some generative AI that learned to write poetry by reading hers. All good, dystopian-present fun.

  16. Another fun prompt! I used it for the ending rather than the beginning & drafted a microflash piece of about 250 words =)

  17. ( Let me be honest by admitting my ignorance of the meaning of neon signs first. So, writing a story with the focus on the words, was never going to be easy. Then, I was not sure if I could use the prompt at the start, middle or end of my story. Not did I know if I could modify the pronouns in it to suit my First Person Narrative or not.
    Anyway, I tried writing a story, and any suggestions how to improve the first draft, will be much appreciated.)
    For The Lucky, Love Blooms Late :

    The first neon sign that brought me to a halt was at the Suchitra Square when I was driving home and waiting for the traffic lights to change. For the next few days I couldn’t get the words out of my head. It read:
    “I’m Ready. You?”
    I looked up closely from behind the glass screen just to see if there was a brand name or something. There wasn’t. Who would put up a message like that at the top of the building? Was a lunatic trying to convey his madness for the one he loved that way?
    That’s how it all began. On my return home, caught up in a frenzy, I wrote it down on the back of a paper.

    As I had my car parked in the Parking Zone near Gate 5 and started walking through the rear gate towards the lift on the other side, the second sign kept playing in my mind.
    I was all alone in the lift heading up to the 7th floor. It stopped on the 6th as someone had pressed the buzzer from that floor.
    The door opened, and Vikas stepped in. I was out to greet him with a ‘Hi’ when the realisation struck me that he was too busy talking to someone else to have noticed me. He, being closer to the door, got out first without bothering to acknowledge my presence with a nod, a gesture or anything like that. For him, I didn’t exist!

    The same evening in the canteen,
    I learnt from Sukriti, my colleague, that he was already engaged.

    In my entire 27 years of life, I never found the ‘suitable one’. When all my close friends got married, one after the other, I cried out to my father one day to know if I was destined to stay single all her life. If I lacked something or was plain ugly.
    Father, stretching his hand on my head, asked me not to despair.”The days and months of a long wait may be a bitter pill to swallow for the impatient but whatever God does, He does it for the good of all.”

    Now, with the cup of lemon tea nearly cold before me, I felt that my Father had spoken like that the other day to comfort, console me.
    “Excuse me, Nisha, can you give me two hundred rupee notes in exchange of a two-hundred?”
    I was awakened from my stupor by the very man I had been thinking of.
    “Let me check into my wallet.” I replied. I took longer than I intended. Up close, Vikas looked more handsome than what I had thought. He had a lithe body obviously made up of long hours at the gym. Clean-shaven, he had the most expressive eyes I had seen on any humans. And in his early thirties, he was already a Manager.
    “No, sorry. I don’t have it.” How I wished I could grow small and hide under the table!

    That night while I was backing off from the parking zone, I saw the third sign on top of the Bus Stop from where I would take a route 12 bus to Topsia bypass occasionally. This time, it was : V for Victory.

    In the course of some seven months, inspite of myself, I listed down a number of such neon signs. At times, I tried to dismiss them as I thought that I was bent on finding something personal out of the signs. Perhaps, they were meant for something else, had some other purposes to discharge. They were not what I had come to take them for.

    Vikash in the meanwhile, was being a craze within our office premises. I heard it from a reliable source that a girl from CTS proposed him a couple of days back.

    He though seemed botherless about all this. I even heard it from the grapevine that our Company was thinking of shifting him to New York on a promotion.

    I can’t tell you how or when exactly I fell head over heels for him. Being an introvert, I kept it within myself. But as the talk of Vikas shifting to NY gained momentum, I knew I had to do something uncharacteristic soon.

    It was on a Saturday. I was cooking some noodles, constantly thinking about him and what someone had told me some days ago : If you love someone dearly, let him know about your love before it’s too late.

    I knew that time was running out for me. It was then that my eyes chanced upon some of those words on the neon signs. Let me also do something similar. I would use a balloon to express my love. A ballon with the letters written on it. I would hang the puffed up balloon attached to my window.

    I wrote it (I Love You) on the back of the list I had been keeping of the best neon signs I’d seen so far. There was no way to know if he would ever read it, but that wasn’t the point. My life was turning out too much for me to bear. Besides, I needed to have the heavy load taken off my chest.

    There was no way for Vikas, who lived in the other part of the town to ever get to see or read my sign.

    The next day, a middle-aged couple knocked on my door. They told me that they had heard about me from someone. Their only son was going abroad for a few years and before he left, they wanted their son married. If I had no objection, they would love to talk to my parents. And though they had not brought any photographs of the son, they had a feeling that when I got to know him, I would like him.

    Things started happening like in a movie from them on. It seemed that my hard-to- impress parents, liked the son. A meeting between us was hastily arranged, you know, inorder for us to get to know each other better. We were to meet at Lovers’.

    I couldn’t concentrate on my work that day in office. I asked to leave early on a pretext. As I was heading to the Parked Zone in the fading light, I saw a Mercedes in front with the twinkling neon sign at the back.

    Who Loved You First, Silly? It’s ME, V.

    The jolt made me swerve my car towards the left. My heartbeat stopped the next moment as I saw the Mercedes stopping in front with the side door opening. A familiar figure was getting out and using a remote next.

    While he started walking down towards me, I heard myself praying,”Please, please God, if it’s a dream, let it be.”

    It was then that I heard Vikas’ voice from behind the window, asking me to roll the glass down.

    The end

    1. Hi. I am understood it to mean that it was supposed to be at the beginning of your story. But your story was amazing. I know we can do what we want with these prompts. They are just supposed to give us ideas. You nailed this as far as I’m concerned.

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