In today's story, Pizza Party, the students aren't the only ones excited about a pizza party at school
Today's story prompt came from an ad for pizza on TV. Nope, the ad didn't have a pizza party, but the simple sight of pizza was enough to suggest this great prompt.
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 72 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 Pizza Party.
Who doesn’t love a pizza party? At school, at the office, with friends on a Friday night. I guess it’s a cultural thing, but pizza is such a go-to party food. Even for me, with my multiple food allergies. I make myself a wheat-free, dairy-free, veggie loaded pizza that is, honestly, a poor substitute for a traditional slice… but I still love it.
Now, why is pizza party today’s story prompt? Well…advertising, I guess. I was watching TV while eating lunch, saw an ad for pizza, and thought. “Pizza party! Oh, that might be a good prompt!” Because my brain apparently has now been primed to catch story-worthy phrases wherever I go.
That may make more sense to regular listeners… If you’re new to Freely Written, here’s how my process works: I free-write a story from a prompt with no planning and very little editing. Then, I record it and share it with you. With no limits, the stories can go in any direction. My only goal is to keep them about 10 minutes long.
And here’s today’s story:
Heidi hurried past the classroom with a skip in her step and a twitch in her whiskers. She had observed the room from several strategic cracks in the baseboards and was confident in the news she was about to report.
All of the signs were there. The kids wore matching blue and gold t-shirts. Two moms were arranging plates and cups at the back table. The air was energized, and the teacher’s thin voice fought to contain the growing excitement.
They were having a pizza party.
Swerving to avoid a lost eraser, Heidi shivered in anticipation. While it wasn’t hard to gather scraps and crumbs in an elementary school, it was more difficult for the classroom mice. They were limited to the bits dropped during snack time, while the cafeteria mice could raid the kitchens and even creep through a hole in the storeroom.
For classroom mice, pizza parties meant a bounty of riches. Whole chunks of saucy bread and cheese, maybe pepperoni or sausage, too. Carelessly dropped by kids over-excited by the party atmosphere and overlooked by adults frazzled by the kids’ boundless joy.
The moms at the back table also meant trays of carrots and cucumbers, grapes and orange slices. Bright and beautiful fruits and vegetables that the kids would nibble and drop under their chairs and behind the trash can. And then there were the crumbling cookies and clumpy brownies that would rain across shirtfronts and be wildly brushed from the tops of slick desks.
Heidi’s mouth watered as she pictured the feast in store for her family tonight. She made the final turn to her nest and came to a screeching halt. Barney stood beside her parents and young brothers. He waved his forepaws as he spoke, and Heidi knew that he’d beaten her to the good news.
She approached slowly, warily. Barney wasn’t a bad neighbor, as far as neighboring mice went. Their families shared food during the lean summer months, and he’d once helped her out when she was cornered by a group of cafeteria mice. Still, pizza parties were a rare treat and Heidi wanted to be the one to share the news.
“Did you hear?” Heidi’s young brothers rushed over to her, clambering over her back and tripping on her tail. “There’s a pizza party! A pizza party!”
“Yeah, I know…” Heidi shook them off and made her way over to Barney and her parents.
“They’re setting up for a pizza party in room two,” Barney confided, basking in the glow of her parents’ admiration.
“I know, I just—Wait!” Heidi looked from Barney to her parents. “In room two? But they’re setting up in room one.”
“Room one and room two?” Heidi’s father asked.
“Two pizza parties!” Heidi’s mother exclaimed.
A slow smile spread over Heidi’s face as she met Barney’s eyes. Two pizza parties meant more pilfered food to share. But two pizza parties on the same day? Heidi scanned her memory of the classroom for signs of holiday decorations. She hadn’t seen any, and those matching t-shirts usually meant one classroom would be having a party.
As she thought it over, Penny came scampering around the far corner. “Did you hear?” she squeaked, kicking up dust as she stopped beside Barney.
“Pizza parties in rooms one and two,” Barney told her.
“In rooms one and two?” Penny gasped. “Then it is the whole school!”
“The whole school?” Heidi’s parents echoed.
“The whole school,” Penny confirmed. “I saw rooms three and four myself. “Fritz and Coco scouted rooms five and six.”
“The whole school,” Heidi echoed in wonder. That never happened outside of a holiday.
“The cafeteria mice are frantic!” Penny reported. “They say a whole school pizza party is grounds for sharing.”
“With them?” Heidi and Barney both bristled at the idea. “The cafeteria mice never share with us!”
“That’s right,” Heidi’s mother joined in. “Cafeteria mice stick to the cafeteria. The classrooms are ours.”
“It’s preposterous!” Heidi insisted. She’d learned the word while watching room six and was pleased to have a reason to use it.
“Not fair!” her little brothers chanted, until their parents hushed them.
“The elders are meeting now,” Penny said, before turning to Heidi’s parents. “I was sent to tell you.”
“I’m coming, too!” Heidi and Barney responded hotly, then eyed each other warily.
“No, you’re staying with your brothers,” Heidi’s mother corrected.
Heidi gritted her teeth, not wanting to argue in front of Barney and Penny. She could smell the faint trace of pizza wafting through the nearest baseboard and knew their time was short.
Pizza parties were at the end of the school day. They’d have to wait for the students and teachers to leave, then be quick to pilfer all they could before the custodian showed up with his industrial broom and soapy mop. They did not need the added complication of a turf war with the cafeteria mice.
Heidi and Barney crept to a crack where they could spy on the chattering kids and watch globs of food drop.
“Look!” Barney laughed as a huge chunk of cheese pizza tumbled down a mop-topped boy’s rumpled t-shirt. Heidi watched it fall to the floor and be kicked under the storage cubby below his desk chair.
Two desks away, a girl in braids waved a brownie over her head, not seeing the morsels that flew through the air. And then, as Heidi and Barney watched in glee, the boy beside her aimed his fist over a sugar cookie and pounded, hard, sending crumbs skittering in all directions.
One large piece of cookie skidded to a stop just beyond their hiding place.
“Patience,” Barney warned, knowing how Heidi was tempted to dash out and grab it.
“I love pizza parties,” Heidi sighed, watching as the teacher threw up her hands and shook her head with the other adults.
“I love messy kids,” Barney countered, and they laughed together.
Thanks for listening. If you enjoy these stories, please rate and review Freely Written wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also go back and listen to earlier stories in any order. Remember, unplanned stories mean you never know what you’ll get with a Freely Written story. Skip around to find the stories you like best or try writing some of your own!
Beyond this podcast, you can learn about my novels on my website: SusanQuilty.com. You can also support me and get some bonus content 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]