Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt


August 01, 2023 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 95
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Show Notes Transcript

In today's story, Rusty, teenagers are surprised during a game of mini golf

Today's prompt came to me while I was working on the layout review and final edits on my new book, which will be the third and final book in The Psychic Traveler Society series. I enjoy this part of the publishing process, but it's also been a while since my finalizing my last book, so I'm feeling a little rusty. 

As always, the story was written from the prompt, with no planning and very little editing. If you enjoy today's story, please share it with your friends and leave a review for Freely Written. Thank you!

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 95 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 Rusty.

For those who are new to Freely Written, here’s how it works. I choose a writing prompt, then sit down and write whatever comes to mind, with no planning and very little editing. When the story is finished, I record it and share it with you.

It’s a fun creative exercise for me and possibly an inspiration for you to try freewriting some short stories of your own. It’s also a process that is very different than my carefully planned approached to writing novels. 

I’m mentioning my novels today because I’m very close to releasing a new book. It will be the third and final book in The Psychic Traveler Society series. As of this recording, I’m going through the print layout and final edits. It’s a part of the publishing process I really enjoy, yet it’s also been a while since I’ve finalized a layout, so I’m feeling a bit rusty. Hence today’s prompt. 

For me, feeling rusty at something can be both frustrating and magical. Frustrating because skills I’ve learned in the past are slow to come back to me, and magical because, when they do, it’s amazing how my brain can slip back into an old groove.

There are a lot of ways that could play out in a story, so I’ll start with a setting and see where my freewriting takes me. And here we go:



It was a perfect day to be outside. The weather was warm, but not too hot or humid, and there was just enough cloud cover to keep the sun from beating down on bare arms, shoulders, and faces. Dina still wore a baseball hat to help prevent freckles. Casey did not. 

The girls hadn’t played mini golf in at least two years. Likely longer, though neither could remember when. They thought it was at a birthday party for a classmate who had since moved away, but they couldn’t agree if his name had been Gary or Greg. They could have asked some of their friends, but then they would have to admit they were playing mini golf. Worse, they’d have to admit they were playing with Dina’s brother and cousin. 

There wasn’t anything wrong with Dina’s brother. Not exactly. If anything, that was the problem. Most of their friends thought Jake was super cool. Dreamy, even. Which wasn’t something Dina wanted to hear. Having grown up with Dina and Jake, Casey didn’t like to hear it either. 

They knew the real Jake. The one who picked his nose while watching TV and broke the arm off Dina’s favorite Barbie. Not that they’d played with Barbies anymore. They were fourteen and too old for dolls. They hadn’t seen him pick his nose in years either, but his cool seventeen-year-old, car-driving status didn’t erase their memories. 

Their visiting cousin was a problem, too. Collin was spending three weeks with Dina’s family and had made a big impression at the community pool. Dina and Casey had been there with a bunch of friends when Jake and Collin showed up. They walked in like they owned the place, flirting with the lifeguards and towering over the middle schoolers who mostly filled the pool. Then Collin had taken off his shirt, showing the muscles he’d gotten working on his family’s farm and making Gina and Casey’s friends swoon. 

Casey had felt a little flushed at the sight of his flat stomach and cut arms, too, though she was smart enough to hide that from Dina. 

Now, Dina’s parents had sent them all off to play mini golf while the grownups relaxed at the winery down the street. Dina had complained, but Collin had said it was a fun idea, earning more praise from the adults who already adored him. 

“You have to plan out the angles.” Jake’s voice was helpful, but Dina nearly threw her golf club at him.

“I know that!” she seethed. “It’s just been a while. I’m rusty, okay?”

“Okay, sheesh! It’s just a game!” Jake laughed, making Dina’s face turn red before reminding Casey it was her turn. 

Casey placed her ball on the tee mark and adjusted her grip on her club, trying to ignore the eyes watching her prepare to swing. 

“Been awhile for you, too?” Collin asked lightly, then stepped close which distracted Casey even more. He leaned in, the smell of cinnamon gum raising the hair on her arms, and pointed to a scuffed spot on the right side of the border. “Aim for that.”

With a nervous swallow, Casey nodded and swung her club. The grip slipped under her sweaty palms and the ball missed the scuff by three inches. It ricocheted off the border just ahead of the corner turn and rolled to a stop about a foot from where she’d hit it.

“I guess you’re rusty, too!” Jake laughed, drawing an angry shout from Dina. 

Collin smiled down at Casey and said, “It’s just a game.” She stared at him wordlessly and tried to nod before he walked away to take his turn. 

Dina stomped to Casey’s side and shook her head. “We should ditch them and go to the arcade.”

But Casey shook her head and was careful not to look at Collin when she said she wanted to keep playing. 

“We used to be pretty good at this,” she reminded. “We just need to warm up.”

You used to be good at this,” Dina corrected. “I tolerated it.”

But she agreed to keep playing and after a couple of holes, they both showed improvement. 

“That was almost a hole-in-four!” Dina shouted as her ball skimmed the edge of a hole and just missed going in. 

“On a par three hole,” Jake pointed out. But Dina didn’t care. It was the best she’d done so far, and she was starting to have fun. 

“Yeah, you’re really shaking the rust off!” Jake did a little dance, shaking his hips and waving his arms by his sides. Dina chased him, yelling, “Stop that!”

As they followed to the next hole, Collin fell in step with Casey and said, “You’re getting the hang of it.”

She’d sunk her ball in two strokes on the last hole, finally breaking par, and was feeling more confident. 

“Gotta plan out the angles,” she said teasingly, risking Dina’s annoyance to draw a laugh from Collin. 

“I think I’ve heard that somewhere before,” Collin smirked before moving to take his shot. 

Dina grabbed Casey’s arm and pulled her back a few steps. “Are you flirting with my cousin?”

“What? No!” Casey pulled her arm free and felt heat prickle her chest and back. “We’re just talking.”

There was a long pause as Dina studied her face, then finally nodded acceptance. Casey was thinking of something to say when there was a commotion at the far end of the hole. 

A small crowd was forming around Jake and Collin. When the girls got close, they saw Jake holding a small tortoiseshell kitten. It had black fur with streaks of orange and easily curled in Jake’s cupped hands.

“I found it in the long grass over here,” he said in wonder. “I think it was abandoned.”

“I wonder if there are more,” Collin said, which sent several kids in the crowd searching all over the nearby course. 

No other kittens turned up, but the commotion got the owner’s attention. He came over to see the kitten and said he didn’t know anything about it, but there were strays that wandered through the course.

“I can’t keep it here,” the owner said with a shake of his head. “I’m allergic and don’t need a cat disrupting people’s games. I guess, I can take it to the shelter.”

“I’ll keep it,” Jake volunteered, and the owner said that was fine by him. 

“Oh, mom and dad will love that.” Dina rolled her eyes. “Didn’t they tell you no more pets?”

Jake’s last cat had died a few months earlier, but his parents didn’t want him to get a new one when he’d be going off to college next year.

“It can be your cat,” Jake told her, but Dina stopped petting the kitten’s tiny head and stepped back with a shake of her head. 

“I don’t have time to take care of a cat.” She was involved in several after school activities and knew their parents wouldn’t go for her taking on a pet, too.

Jake turned to Casey, but her mom was allergic. He was starting to look desperate when Collin slapped him on the back and said, “Don’t worry, man, she can come back to the farm with me.”

Another group wanted to play through the hole, so Dina and Casey gathered up their balls and clubs to make space. When they walked back, Jake and Collin were talking about names. 

“How about Lucky?” Collin asked. “Since it was lucky you found her.”

“Nah,” Jake said with a shake of his head. “It doesn’t fit her.”

They all started throwing out names, but Jake shot down each one. 

“Just pick something already,” Dina finally demanded. “And let’s get back to the game.”

Two groups had played through the hole and there was finally a lull for them to jump back in. They walked back to the tee with Collin carrying Jake’s ball and club, while Jake carried the kitten.

“Oh, I know,” Jake said brightly, holding the black-and-orange kitten up for Dina to see. “I’ll name her Rusty, after you!”

“Hey!” Dina stomped her foot indignantly, but Collin laughed, and Casey couldn’t hide her smile.

“Well,” Casey said defensively, “she does look rusty.”

They all looked at the kitten, taking in the streak of orange running down half of her face.

“Okay, fine!” Dina agreed with a sigh. “Let’s just get back to the game.”

And they did.

The End

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends, and leave a review for Freely Written wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also connect with me on social media or through my website: 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]