In today's story, If I Could Fly, Jerry wants to go to the pool, his mom wants him to do a little writing first
Today's prompt captures the struggles of parents who just want their kids to keep up with a little learning over the summer and kids who just want to spend their break with their friends.
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
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Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 64 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is If I Could Fly.
Well, it’s July in Virginia, which means hot, humid days where it’s miserable to be outdoors except in the early morning or late evening. I generally like summer, but I’d be happier with a lot less humidity!
Over on my Patreon page, I recently wrote a Fourth of July post where I couldn’t quite work up any excitement for the typical fireworks and barbecue type celebrations. Between the excessive heat and the political unrest lately, I just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I used an eagle-themed kids’ writing prompt that said “If I could fly, I would…”
After jotting down some quick thoughts on what it would be like to soar like an eagle, I decided the same idea might make for a fun free-written story. So… here we are.
I wrote this story, using the same process I do for every episode of this podcast. If you’re new to Freely Written, here’s how it works: I write a bit of fiction from a prompt, with no planning and very little editing, and then I share that story with you.
And here’s today’s story…
If I Could Fly
Jerry was ready to go swimming as soon as the neighborhood pool opened. He had on his swim shorts, and his goggles were hanging around his neck. His beach towel and flip-flops were waiting by the door, and he even put on sunscreen without being asked. But his mom had other ideas.
Just like every summer break, she had an activity packet waiting on the kitchen table every morning. It was full of math and reading and writing. All the things Jerry didn’t want to do when he was out of school.
His mom said they were “fun” activities. Jerry didn’t see how crossword puzzles, word searches, and math problems were anything like fun compared to swimming in the pool, riding bikes, or playing video games.
His mom said they were quick activities that wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. At most. With all his pleading, wheedling, and complaints, they often took Jerry most of the morning.
But he always ended up doing them. It wasn’t fair being the kid.
This morning, the activity was the worst. It was a writing prompt. A sheet of paper with a blank at the top to draw a picture and lines below to write a bunch of words.
Jerry’s mom said these writing prompts should be fun. A chance to use his imagination. Jerry thought they were a way to torture him. A sneaky way to get back at him for leaving his stinky socks tucked between the couch cushions.
The prompt today said, “If I could fly, I would…”
Jerry stared at the words, hating every one of them. He didn’t hate the idea of flying. That would be cool. But he hated the idea of writing about flying.
He stabbed the paper for a while, making holes that broke through to the table. He looked at the clock and groaned. The pool would be opening in 15 minutes, and he was stuck at home, doing homework when he wasn’t even in school.
He thought about the unfairness of it all for another five minutes. His friends would be at the pool before him. Showing off their cannonballs and nabbing all the best pool floats. Some of them were even braving the diving board now, figuring out how to jump in without bellyflopping, and he was missing it.
“Ready to go?” His mom walked in with a sundress over her bathing suit and sunglasses propped up on her head. She looked at the blank paper and sighed.
“You haven’t even started yet?”
Jerry grumbled and dug another hole in the paper.
“Can’t I do it later?”
His mom took the pencil from his hand, checked the table for damage, and erased a few stray marks with a frown.
“No. You know the rules.” She handed back the paper and sat beside him. “I thought this would be a fun one. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could fly?”
“Yeah,” Jerry groaned. “But this is writing about flying.”
His mother sighed again.
“Okay. So, forget the writing for a minute and talk to me. What would it be like if you could fly? Would you be a superhero? A bird? An airplane?”
Jerry sunk deeper into his chair. He would be a superhero, obviously. He would have a blue cape and shoot laser beams from his fingertips. But he didn’t tell his mom that. Instead, he crossed his arms and glared at the blank paper.
“Okay,” his mom tried again. “I’ll start. If I could fly, I would soar across the sky and have a nest in a really tall tree. I’d be a bird. A hawk. I’d have really big wings that let me glide on the breeze and barely need to flap at all.”
Jerry felt his lips twitch. They saw hawks at the zoo a few weeks ago, and they’d been really cool. One sat on a guy’s gloved arm and ate crickets from his hand.
“I’d have really good vision, if I were a hawk,” his mom went on. “I’d be able to look down at our house from my really tall tree. I’d see you riding your bike and playing with your friends. I’d watch the flowers in our garden and swoop down to catch any mice that crept in!”
She made a swooshing sound, slashing one arm down to the table in a steep arc.
Jerry smiled a little and uncrossed his arms.
“If I were that hawk,” she continued. “I’d sit on our back fence and listen to your dad play the piano after dinner. I’d poke around the firepit for dropped marshmallows and wait for you to come out and play so you could teach me tricks.”
Jerry shook his head and laughed. They both knew hawks didn’t eat marshmallows.
He looked at his mom with a sly smile and said, “If I were a bird, I’d poop on your head!”
Then he laughed at laughed.
“Good!” His mom smiled. “Now write that down so we can go to the pool!”
Jerry looked at the blank piece of paper warily.
He pulled it closer and wrote, “If I could fly, I would be a bird and I’d poop on my mom’s head.”
Seeing the words made him laugh harder, so he added, “I’d poop on my dad’s head. I’d poop on my friends’ heads. I’d poop on everybody and fly away before they could catch me.”
Then he moved to the blank area above his writing and briefly forgot the pool as he drew a bird pooping on a bunch of stick figures.
Jerry’s mom smiled lightly as she watched him, hoping he’d hurry so they could get to the pool. Her friends were waiting, and now she had a great story to tell.
Thanks for listening! You can share this story with your friends or use the prompt to write your own story. You can also connect with me on social media, visit my website, SusanQuilty.com, or support my writing through Patreon.com/SusanQuilty. (Links are in the show notes.)
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]