Speed Writing #5 – Fairly Artistic

She looked down into the swiftly flowing water of the tiny stream, imagining her troubles flowing away with the water.  If they bumped into a couple of rocks and cracked along the way, so much the better.

“Excuse me –”

She shrieked in surprise, turning so fast her feet slipped on the gritty limestone.  Her arms pinwheeled desperately in an attempt to catch her balance.  She felt her hand hit something, then everything stopped for just a moment.

“It’s okay,” he said quietly.  “You’re not going to fall.”  Though a Germanic accent colored his speech, his English was perfect.

She was leaning sideways over the stream, her right arm stretched toward the rippling water.  An arm was around her waist, and she slowly turned to see who held her.  She gulped as her glance turned into a stare.  He was a tall man with the clearest blue eyes she’d ever seen.  His hair was very light blonde, almost white, and it hung past his shoulders.  He looked about her age.

“Are you all right?” he asked, eyebrows furrowing in concern.

She nodded, unsure if she could even talk just now.  Where had he come from?  How had he sneaked up on her so easily?  Was she really that distracted?  Though she probably should have been a little worried about his proximity, she somehow felt he meant her no harm.

“Here, why don’t you sit down.”  He slowly backed up a step, pulling her more upright with him.  Once she was no longer in danger of falling, he withdrew his arm and gestured to the nearby park bench.

“Uh, I can’t.”  She winced at how stupid she sounded.  “I’m… um…. allergic to most metals.  I can’t sit there.”  But the idea was sound, so she carefully lowered herself to the ground.

He smiled, just showing a hint of his top teeth.  “I can relate.”  He sat across from her, his long legs folding up more tightly than she expected.  He obviously did yoga.  “I get the worst rash if I touch it.”

“Really?” she blurted, as surprised by her question as his statement.

He nodded.  “I can’t even ride the bus,” he admitted.  “It makes me sick.”

“Me too.”  She leaned forward, eagerly.

“It’s a bit ironic,” he said with a shrug.  “I live in a city, and can’t touch metal, can’t even get too close to it.”

“I’ve never met anyone else with the same allergy as me.”

“Really?”  His eyebrows went up slightly.  He clearly had an expressive face.  “I know quite a lot of people with it.  Of course, none of them are here in St. Paul at the moment.”  When he looked into her eyes, he felt familiar.  “I’m so sorry I startled you.”

“Oh… that’s okay.”  Normally it was something she said without thinking, but this time, she meant it.

“My name is Earl.”  He placed a large hand in the center of his chest, his long fingers splayed.  “I’m an artist.”  He pulled a leather strap off his shoulder and over his head, to reveal a worn brown satchel.

“What kind?”  When he looked puzzled, she elaborated.  “What kind of artist?”

He smiled and opened the flap on his satchel, drawing out a large sketchbook.  He hesitated a moment, then handed it to her.  “These are… just my ideas.”

She carefully turned over the cover, to be met with a pencil sketch of a fox.   The next few pages had a variety of drawings of children in a fountain.  She thought the fountain might be downtown, but she wasn’t a hundred percent sure.

“I make paintings from them,” he added.

“They’re amazing.”  They looked like photos that had been converted with fancy software.  She gazed in awe as buildings, trees, boats, and people came alive on his pages.

“I… I was wondering if you would let me draw you,” he said, uncertainty creeping in to the end of his sentence.  “I swear I’m not some freaky stalker or anything,” he added quickly.  “But…” pink blossomed on his high cheekbones.  “You’re really beautiful, you know?  Just looking at you gives me ideas for paintings, and I was hoping you’d let me do that.”

Prompt: “Hey, can I draw you?”

Speed Writing #4 – Night Swimming

There was nothing more perfect than gliding through the water at two in the morning, under a cloudless sky with a sliver of a moon.  This was when everything was calm.  The annoying mosquitoes and even more annoying drunks had all gone to sleep or passed out.  The bats, who were active early on, had settled in for a few hours.  The surface of the lake was still, glassy, with the exception of the small ripples spreading out from her body.

Having a restaurant and bar right on the edge of the lake was a novelty, though it had worn off after the third or fourth karaoke night.  It wasn’t that she minded the music.  She was all for expressions of happiness.  But the off key howling of hammered patrons hurt her sensitive ears.  Her evening swims had moved later and later.  And it seemed she had finally stumbled upon the perfect time.

She rolled, belly up to gaze at the stars, allowing her momentum to slow, but not stop.  She had a long way to go to complete her circuit, but she had plenty of time, and there was no need to rush.  Her eyes caught the dim glow of a satellite tracking quickly across the sky, and she smiled.

Without warning, her head rammed into something firm yet yielding.  It was immediately followed by an inarticulate shout and a great deal of splashing.

Fearing the worst, she twisted her body to tread water and look around.

A man stood about six feet away, the water just reaching his lower ribs.  He was shirtless, and water dripped from his dark hair to shoulders.  She couldn’t help following the little rivulets of water down his pale chest, wishing her hands could do the same.  Though she was sure the water temperature hadn’t changed, she suddenly felt warmer.  He held his arms out, hands open and extended as if he feared he might need to fight something off.  He was breathing hard, obviously more startled than she was.

“I’m so sorry,” she said quietly.  She didn’t want to disturb the silence of the night needlessly, but she felt bad about causing his panicked state.  “I should’ve watched where I was going.  Are you all right?“

He blew out heavily, lowering his arms.  “Yeah.  Yeah, I’m okay. You?”

She nodded, her lips curving into a small smile.  “I’m Luria.“

“Luria? Hi.  I’m Krish.”  there was a trace of uncertainty in his voice.  “So… what are you doing out here this late?“

“Swimming,” she said with a giggle.  “Isn’t that obvious?“  She thought he might have blushed, but it was hard to tell in this lighting. “What about you?  What are you doing out here?”

“Uh… couldn’t sleep, actually,” he said.  He took a couple steps closer.  “I’m on vacation.“  He pointed over his shoulder toward the little cabin behind him on shore.  “But my brain hasn’t realized it yet.”  He had a nice smile, friendly.  “So… do you… live around here?“

“I do.”  She grinned at the accuracy yet misleading nature of that statement.  “Would you be interested in a local tour guide?“ This time, she moved closer.

“Is that an offer?” he asked, delight clear in his wide eyes.

“It is.”  She reached a tentative hands toward him, hesitating and pointing to his left shoulder.  “You have a bit of lake weed.“

He stared at her for a moment, slightly befuddled as his brain tried to put together her actions and words.  “I… what?”

With a little laugh, she let her hand finish its trajectory to pluck off the scraggly green strand and hold it up for him to see.

Prompt:I’m swimming laps in a lake alone at night and I thought no one else was here, but I just swam writing to you, and uh?  You’re not wearing a shirt, and your hot as hell.  Please take me right here.

Modifications: She’s not human

Speed Writing #3 – Sleepy Traveler

The thing about traveling solo is that you never know who you’re going to meet.  Meegan’s parents perpetually expected her to run into rapists and murderers, compliments of hyperbolic media.  She’d encountered some really nice folks and a few incredibly rude ones, so really, just people being people.  She expected this trip to be a lot of the same.

She hadn’t been to Minnesota in a couple of years, not since the meeting where she’d landed these particular clients.  Most of the time she was able to work with them over the phone or online, but they had a new CEO, and he was the sort who liked to meet everyone in person once.  All that being the case, she’d decided to tack a little vacation on to her trip.  Her co-workers assumed she would spend most of her time at the Mall of America, but she’d seen it on her last trip, and it was enough to know it wasn’t really her thing.  She’d heard there were really nice trails both in and near the Twin Cities, and that was what she was really looking forward to.

She fidgeted in her seat a bit, wondering how long the wait would be. This was the disadvantage with being the first person at the gates this afternoon.  As she was looking out the window, a shadow fell over her.  She glanced up to see a young man pushing his carry-on into the overhead storage.  He was easy on the eyes, with light brown skin, dark brown eyes, and shaggy black hair that flopped into his face.

He looked down at her and smiled.  It was warm, but there were shadows under his eyes.  “‘Low,“ he said, his voice a low rumble. “It looks like I’m next to you.”  He gestured to the seat beside her.

“Hi, I’m Meegan.”  She gave him a cheerful wave before he could offer a hand.  It wasn’t that she disliked touching other people.  She just detested shaking hands.  So many people were terrible at it, either weak and sweaty-palmed or crushing her fingers as some sort of display of whatever.

He settled into his seat and started looking for the ends of his seat belt.
“Are you traveling or going home?” she asked.  It was always a good starting point.

“Going home.”  The buckle clicked together and he looked at her.  Even sitting, he was pretty tall.  “How about you?“

“Traveling.” She smiled.  “I have a work meeting in Minneapolis.“

“Hmmm.” He reached up with both hands and stretched, letting out a sigh as he brought his hands back to his lap.  Everything about him seemed exhausted, maybe a little sad.  “Too bad.  St. Paul is way better.“

“Really?” She hadn’t heard that before.  As far as she could tell, St. Paul and Minneapolis were one big city rather than two separate ones.

The pilot’s voice came overhead then, preventing a response.  After the usual pre-flight rigamarole, the plane started to roll forward.

“I’m probably going to fall asleep,” he said, apology in his tone. “If I snore, please feel free to jab me with your elbow.”

“Uhhh. Maybe I’ll try something gentler,” she suggested.

“Whatever works,” he agreed.  “I won’t mind.  I don’t want to be rude and trap you with a bandsaw for the whole flight.“

She giggled.  “I’ll keep it in mind.”

He did fall asleep, but he didn’t snore.  That would have been both better and worse.

Before they’d even leveled off from their climb, he had slipped down in his seat, his head lolling to the right.  The next thing Meegan knew, his cheek was resting against her shoulder.  Startled by the touch, she turned to him, her hand reaching out to give him a shake.  Her hand froze, halfway to it’s target, and she wasn’t sure why.  He was a stranger, and she owed him nothing.  But he wasn’t hurting her. Besides, he  obviously needed the rest.  Relaxed, he looked easily five years younger, and kind of adorable.  His breath across her neck and collarbones was warm and pleasant.  She couldn’t detect any cologne on him, which was a good thing as far as her asthma was concerned, but she liked the way he smelled.

Prompt: You fell asleep on my shoulder on the plane ride, and I would ask you to move, but you look so comfy and adorable when you sleep.  Also you smell really good and the feeling of your breath on my skin is somewhat relaxing.  Maybe we can go out to lunch in this shitty airport when you wake up. 

Speed Writing #2 – How to Lose Your Dragonette

The cool evening air was a relief after a full day stuck inside a warehouse with sketchy air conditioning.  I pushed open the heavy glass door to the balcony, and stood there for a moment, just breathing.

 A birdlike shriek called my attention back into my apartment.  I turned to see Spark pouncing around his dish, his usual a pre-dinner performance.  He paused and turned his yellow eyes in my direction before spreading his leathery wings and flapping to the counter top where he knew he didn’t belong.

 “Hey!“ I chastised.  “Get down from there.  This is not a self-serve buffet.”

 He let out a protest, but settled all four feet onto the green counter, as if to inform me that he’d feed himself if I didn’t get on with it.  Dragons may not be able to speak our language, but they sure as hell could communicate.  And they were smart.

 “All right, all right.“  I jogged over to prepare his dinner.  “You’ve made your point, you crazy little reptile.”

 He let out a little trill, the noise he used when he was being cuddly and cute, and extended his head to rub against the back of my hand.  I took a moment to stroke down his neck and tickle under his jaw.  Spark was a baby yet, so he only weighed about thirteen pounds.  As a dwarf  Yé Fēixíng, I could expect him to top out at sixty, a little big for an apartment, but manageable.

 “Who’s a clever little dragon?“ I asked, running my fingers over the soft scales of his wing shoulder joint.  That got me another trill.  He pressed his snout into my palm, his forked tongue darting out to brush my skin.  “Yeah, yeah.  You’re hungry.”  I scooped him off the counter and put him on the back of the couch, where he could watch.  That’s when I made my mistake.  I turned away to get his fish out of the refrigerator.  I warmed it, and cut it into nice little pieces.  “Okay, that should do it.” 

 I looked up just in time to see the trapezoid sail on his tail flick out onto the balcony.  “Oh shit.   No.  Spark, come back here!”  His flight skills were sketchy yet, and the third floor balcony wasn’t safe for him.  Still holding his bowl, I chased after.  He was up on the railing, leaning toward my new neighbor’s balcony, and peering in her window.  She’d moved in last weekend, and he was probably curious what all the noise had been.

 “Hey silly guy,” I called gently, afraid that he’d fall if I startled him.  “Come here.  I have your nice tasty fishies.”

 He didn’t even acknowledge me.  If I didn’t know he had excellent hearing, I would have assumed he hadn’t heard.  His wings arched up and he leaped to the other balcony.  My breath caught until he landed, reasonably gracefully, actually.  That’s when he turned to look at me.  He let out a little chirrup, then sauntered right into my neighbor’s dark apartment.  She’d left the door open this morning, and she clearly wasn’t back from work yet.

 “Shit.  Shit.  Shit.“  I muttered, rushing over to the railing.  “Spark come here,” I called, using my playing voice.  “You don’t want to miss out on this nice perch, do you?  It’s your favorite.”

 His chirrup was faint; he wasn’t even standing near the door waiting for me.  He’d gone exploring already, I could tell.  That was trouble.  Though Spark was a sweetie, he was still a dragon.  And he was a terrible house-guest.  He tended to rip holes in couches and chew up carpets.  He’d savaged enough shoes that I’d lost count.

 I had to get him out of there before he damaged anything and before my neighbor got home.  We hadn’t even properly met.  This was so bad.

Prompt: My stupid cat sneaked out on the balcony and into your open window, and he has this habit of destroying furniture and pissing everywhere, so I followed him inside and you came home earlier than I expected and found me in the middle of your living room but I swear I’m not a burglar.

Modifications: Change cat to dragon.

Speed Writing #1 – Stop Flirting With Me

Vampires, I could deal with.  Werewolves, no problem.  A couple of demons, right up my alley.  But this… none of my training had prepared me for this.

“You’re really hot,” he mumbled.  It was the fifth or sixth time he’d said something of the sort.

“Uh… thanks.”  I would’ve given anything to have a bit more distance between us, but that wasn’t happening anytime soon.  If we went at the pace he could manage, clumsy and unbalanced, it’d be dawn before we got him the medical attention he needed.  I was mostly dragging him, his arm flopped over my shoulder and mine around his waist.  Ugh.  I reminded myself that saving people was a noble calling, and it was sometimes bound to be uncomfortable.  Being hip-to-hip with a seventeen year old misogynist was pretty uncomfortable. 

“What’s your name again?” he asked, confusion creeping into his voice.

Trying to ignore him, I scanned the woods up ahead.  There were more shadows than I liked lurking on the right side. 

“C’mon,” he whined.  “I’ve gotta know your name.”

“Could you please be quiet for like two seconds?” I demanded.  “I need to focus on this.”  Yep.  There was definitely something nasty in the trees.  Great.

“Ka-ZING!” He chuckled.  “You’re a take-charge kind of girl, aren’t you?“

That didn’t even warrant a response.  I’d fought off five keeluts, creepy hairless dog creatures to save his sorry ass.  I spent my nights and weekends fighting monsters.

“How am I supposed to brag about my awesome new girlfriend if I don’t even know her name?” he asked, waving his free hand around.

I gawked at him for a moment.  “I’m so not your girlfriend.” 

He smiled stupidly at me.  “That’s easy to fix.”  He didn’t recognize me, of course.  No one ever did.  It’s not like I wore a mask or identity-concealing costume, either.  What was it Gramps said?  Oh yeah.  People don’t notice what’s right in front of them if they don’t see how it will benefit them.

Peter was a soccer player.  We were in the same grade and had attended the same school for nine years.  I currently had three classes with him.  And damn it he was heavy.

“No thank you,” I said firmly.  “Now come on.  We’ve got to get out of here.”

Prompt: Will you stop flirting with me?  You just got seriously injured and i’m the EMT trying to tend to your wounds in the ambulance, i don’t give a fuck that i look cute when i’m concerned, you’re lucky you’re not dead you dipshit.

Modification: change EMT to monster hunter