The prompt: You discover a trap door in your home that you never knew about was given to the same group of people. Everyone had a different version of where to take the prompt, we hid bodies, found family secrets, looked for buried treasure and had surprise endings.
In this month’s workshop I enjoyed the conversations from the writers about the ideas they had and dismissed. How they struggled to keep the prompt within the 500-word limit. How they enjoyed breaking free from their current work and playing with something new for a time. How they feel inspired to elaborate more on the ideas that the prompt stirred inside them.
Keep reading to find out how I did with the prompt and let me know if you do it too. I’d love to read along!
Trap Door - by Colleen Young
The kettle on the stove alerts me that hot water needs my attention. I run across the apartment and trip over the corner of the rug in the kitchen. My knee breaks the fall, I slam hard onto the floor.
“Mother!” I want to scream all the curse words, but I made a no cursing vow with myself, “of pearls!” My knee! There is an indentation on it and a reddish bruise forming. “When in the…. H E double hockey sticks?” I say standing up and hobbling to the stove to stop the deafening noise from filling the air.
I look from my knee to the carpet. Since I am a drifter as my mom calls me - she says I have an eighteen-month alarm clock that rings and tells me it’s time to move on. I find apartments that are furnished. Like this one. It’s one of eight in an old Victorian house.
Somehow, I’ve never seen this divot on the floor.
“What is that?” I ask myself. I talk out loud. It makes living alone not as lonely.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I push the kitchen table and rolling island out of the way so I can peel up the corner of the rug. A handle, big enough for my pointer finger to slip into is sunk into the wood.
“No flipping way? A door?”
I should call the landlord and tell him about this. Who am I kidding? He already knows. If my mother were here, she’d say “curiosity killed the cat.” My fingers twitch wanting to pull the door open. I must see what’s inside the trap door. I leave the room, grab a flashlight and stick my finger in the hole. I yank the door open and wait. My heart pounds.
“You are such a chicken.” I tell myself.
Without fear I push my head into the hole and scan the surroundings with my Maglite. It’s only dirt and…
“What the freak… is that?”
I hesitate, but put my feet into the hole and onto the hard ground under the house. There’s enough room so I can waddle, like a duck. A smart person would call the cops before doing something this stupid. But I just need to see what is over there to figure out what I am seeing.
It’s a sleeping bag, a few Milk crates set up like a night stand, and a few items on the nightstand.
Someone lives under me. Maybe? Or they used to? For how long?
I sweep the Maglite around. Just to double check. I don’t see anyone, but the house is huge and the light only reaches so far. I guess this is a friendly homeless person. I can’t blame them for needing to find somewhere to hide out and this is a perfect location. Out of the rain and you get residual heat in the winter. This homeless person is smart.
A shoebox on the nightstand catches my eye. The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I shouldn’t be going through someone’s personal effects but I need to know who my roommate is, if I will allow them to keep living here. I pull out the box and pop open the lid.
“Oh, shit!” I say while looking at picture, after picture, after picture of myself.