A couple of years ago I was using writing prompts to get myself back to the page. Some bits of writing were better than others, but I had a whole lot of fun with this one. Since I don’t plan to use it anywhere else, I thought I’d share it here.
The prompt is written in caps, followed by the resulting story.
A SCENE THAT INVOLVES RUBIK’S CUBE SHOWING UP SOMEWHERE UNEXPECTED
When he told the story, Arnie always started by saying he didn’t see it coming, and on every count, that was true.
Thelma hadn’t been thrilled when he called to say the guys at the office were taking him out for a spur of the moment retirement party.
“Think bachelor party, only for an old guy,” said Cameron.
“We need to liven up a Thursday evening,” Shaun added.
“Not too lively.” Daniel rolled up his shirtsleeves and stretched his arms over his head. “We’d better not kill him just when the pension’s ready to kick in.”
Arnie was equal parts pleased that they wanted to acknowledge his last week at work and frightened that he wouldn’t remember how to be one of the boys. There had been a frightful influx of smart, young accountants lately, and he felt like the proverbial pencil-pushing bean counter toiling in their shadows.
But somehow it had all ended up okay. At least in the beginning. The Fox & Frog had turned out to be a much better pub than its name suggested, with the hearty kind of food that Thelma forbade these days. The Fox also had an amazing selection of beers on tap, and he sampled more than was strictly good for him. Especially when the boys announced they were taking him axe throwing.
“Say what?” he said, feeling rosy, but rather less merry than he had the moment before.
“C’mon,” Cameron said, draping one arm over Arnie’s shoulder. “We’ll show you how. You’ll love it.”
“There’s no chance of getting hurt, is there?”
The guys roared with good-natured laughter.
“None whatsoever,” they assured him, spilling out of the pub and onto the street.
But that was hours ago. Between rounds of throwing the awful axes, he thought of Thelma at home. He knew she was mad at him, but what else was new? One rare day, when she was in a good mood, she explained that it was the hormones talking – the menopause turning her into a shrew. And she’d taken up a new hobby recently; something that drove him completely nuts. For reasons he’d never understand, Thelma decided the number one item on her bucket list was to solve the Rubik’s cube. Night after night he tried to drown out the click-click-click with the television until, frustrated, she’d finally slam it down on the coffee table or pitch it across the room.
“Your turn, Arnie,” Cameron called, just as he was wondering if – please, oh, please! — this might be the night she finally solved the stupid puzzle.
When Arnie texted Thelma after 9 pm to say he’d be out awhile longer, he didn’t take the thumbs-up emoji Thelma shot back as a good sign. She’d finally learned to use her smart phone and loved to dictate wordy text messages for the sheer joy of watching words appear on the screen. She seldom settled for emoticons.
“C’mon, one more round,” Shaun said twenty minutes later, handing him an axe.
His shoulders burned and his elbows were sore, but there’s no way he’d be shown up by the younger set.
“Atta boy,” they cheered when he hit the bull’s-eye at last. “Way to go, Arnie. You’re the best.”
Half an hour later, when he opened the door of his house, peering into the dimness and wondering if his wife had gone to bed, it happened. In one heart-stopping moment, searing pain filled his eye. With a roar, he dropped to the floor, clutching his face.
Thelma sprang into action then, turning on lights, solicitous and comforting at first, then brisk and efficient when she dialed 911. She had no idea – how could she have known? – that when she hurled her Rubik’s cube he’d be struck in his eye; his one good eye, not the glass one, of course.
Months later, when Arnie was over the shock of being blinded by his wife, he realized it was time to take up a hobby; a challenge that didn’t involve learning life skills for the visually impaired. With the help of his son he sent off for the item, anticipation running high. When it finally came, he settled on the sofa beside Thelma one evening, while she watched the TV. Ten minutes later he took up her hand and placed the solved braille Rubik’s cube into her soft palm.
He was pretty sure she hadn’t seen that coming.