Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Grocery Store Sushi

March 16, 2021 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 1
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Grocery Store Sushi
Chapters
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Grocery Store Sushi
Mar 16, 2021 Season 1 Episode 1
Susan Quilty

Ready for a story break? In this episode, author Susan Quilty shares a short story based on the writing prompt Grocery Store Sushi

You're welcome to suggest writing prompts for future short stories. Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways.

More about Susan Quilty

Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society.  The short stories Susan writes 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.

You can learn more about Susan and her books at  SusanQuilty.com

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/susanquilty)

Show Notes Transcript

Ready for a story break? In this episode, author Susan Quilty shares a short story based on the writing prompt Grocery Store Sushi

You're welcome to suggest writing prompts for future short stories. Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways.

More about Susan Quilty

Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society.  The short stories Susan writes 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.

You can learn more about Susan and her books at  SusanQuilty.com

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/susanquilty)

Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 1 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 Grocery Store Sushi.

Thanks for joining me for my very first episode of Freely Written. Here’s how my process for this project works. I choose a word or phrase to use as a writing prompt, and I make it the title of my piece. I write whatever comes to mind from that phrase, with no planning and very little editing, and then I share it here with you.

Please let me know if you have suggestions for future writing prompts. Otherwise, I choose my prompts in a number of random ways. Today’s prompt, Grocery Store Sushi, is a phrase that comes up often in my house. Usually while planning a quick lunch break. There’s something I just like about the sound of that phrase, so I used it for a writing prompt. And here is the result. 

Grocery Store Sushi 

It was going as well as Catherine had expected. She hadn’t wanted to meet Craig for coffee. She hadn’t wanted to meet Craig at all. But Miriam had pushed and here they were, sipping lattes at an outdoor café in the chill of early spring.

“Get out more!” Miriam had said. “You’ve been alone too long.”

And Catherine had agreed with that. She just hadn’t been keen on the blind date idea. Especially when Craig’s strongest selling points were that he smiled a lot and always turned in his weekly reports on time.

“Okay, so I don’t know him well,” Miriam had admitted. “But he seems nice enough around the office, and it’s just coffee. It’s not like you have to marry him!”

After meeting him, Catherine made a mental note to tell Miriam that Craig’s constant smiling was not a selling point. Also, that he’d immediately taken to calling her Kate, even after she’d clearly introduced herself as Catherine.

“Do you eat grocery store sushi, Kate?”

“What?” Catherine looked at Craig across the rim of her cup, feeling sure her wandering mind had missed some relevant context.

“Sushi,” he repeated, flashing the smile that was more smarm than charm. “From a grocery store. Do you eat it?”

Catherine hesitated, unsure if he was making conversation or suggesting lunch plans.

“A lot of people say they won’t touch it,” Craig continued confidently. “They say they only eat sushi from a restaurant. But every grocery store around here sells sushi, so you know a lot of people are eating it. Right?”

“I guess.” Catherine tried to sip her coffee but found it was still too hot.

“I eat grocery store sushi,” Craig added, nodding smugly at his own confession. “I really like it, too.”

“Uh huh,” Catherine muttered, her attention shifting toward an oddly dark cloud in the otherwise clear blue sky.

“Of course, it’s not the same as fresh sushi from a good sushi bar, but it can be pretty close, depending on where you get it.”

“Uh huh.” Catherine was barely listening. The cloud was growing larger and other people had noticed it as well. Some pointed to the sky. Others intently scanned their phones.

“Now, I draw the line at gas station sushi,” Craig clarified. “If there isn’t someone there, making it on site, I don’t buy it. But most grocery stores around here have someone making it fresh. That’s the difference for me.”

“Yeah, um, Craig?” Catherine broke in, gesturing toward the sky. “I think something is happening.”

“Huh.” Craig turned to casually examine the dark cloud, which was looking less cloud-like by the moment. “That’s strange.”

“Yes…” Catherine paused, bothered by his apparent lack of concern. She fished her phone out of her bag and unlocked it with her thumb.

Craig turned his back on the dark object.

“You can tell a lot about a person by the sushi they eat.”

“What?” Catherine looked up in confusion.

“You know, like if they only eat California rolls and avoid raw fish,” Craig explained, still sporting his perpetual smile. “Or if they won’t admit to liking sushi from a grocery store.”

“Uh huh.”

Catherine’s news app filled the screen with reports of mysterious dark objects that had been spotted over several major cities. As she scanned an article, people hurried out of nearby businesses to stare up at the sky. Many pointed their phones toward the dark object, taking pictures or talking over live video streams. Others typed rapidly or held their phones to one ear.

“It takes a bit of trial and error.”

“What?”

Catherine was standing now, feeling the fervor of the moment and barely aware of Craig’s continued presence.

“To find which places have good sushi,” he answered, now standing by her side.

“Uh, yeah, Craig…” Catherine began awkwardly, then decided to be direct. “This isn’t the time to talk about sushi.”

Crowds were forming along the sidewalk. Passing drivers stopped their cars, causing a traffic jam of blaring horns. A few drivers got out to yell. One tried a three-point turn, leading to a screech of brakes from a car in the opposite lane.

People in the crowds nudged each other, urgently sharing whatever updates they had found on their phones. Someone loudly asked, “What do we do? What do we do?” to no one in particular. A toddler cried loudly, and two women knelt on the sidewalk to openly pray.

“They say to go indoors!”

The message was passed from somewhere in the center of the crowd. It carried no specification of which “they” had given the order but sounded official enough to get people moving.

Catherine barely had time to grab her handbag before she was swept into the coffee shop amid a surge of jostling strangers. When the movement settled, and the double doors were closed, she turned to see Craig beside her, holding both of their coffee cups.

“Thanks,” she muttered, taking her own cup and surveying the scene. About twenty people stood in the café’s small seating area. Employees who had been outside now retreated behind the barrier of the coffee bar.

It was oddly quiet as the strangers assessed each other, coming to grips with the potential enormity of their situation. Eyes darted and feet shuffled.

“Does anyone have a signal?” A worried voice called out. “I lost my connection.”

Murmurs of concern grew as each person confirmed they could no longer access the news with their phones. An employee said he’d check the WiFi. Someone told him that didn’t matter. Arguments broke out over why there was no internet connection and what they could or couldn’t do to fix it.

“Hey!”

Catherine startled as Craig stepped toward the center of the room. He still gripped his coffee cup but was no longer smiling. Instead, he wore a confident air that immediately silenced the crowd.

“Something strange is going on out there,” he acknowledged, “and we don’t know what it is. We’re all a little scared, but panicking isn’t going to help anyone.”

Mumbled assents filtered through the crowd, while many nodded their agreement.

“Until we have more information, we should take a moment to settle in and pull ourselves together. Agreed?”

Catherine smiled softly, realizing her first impression of Craig may have been too critical. He had calmed the crowd with ease and was now directing everyone to pull up chairs so they could sit together in a large circle. Shyly, she made her way toward him and felt a surge of pride when he smiled at her and patted the empty seat beside him.

Once they were all comfortably seated, the group turned toward Craig as their natural leader. He took a sip of his coffee and straightened his shoulders, enjoying the attention.

Catherine saw the gleam in his eye and her smile froze. He wouldn’t, she thought in a horrified flash. But he did.

With a self-satisfied grin, Craig raised one hand and asked, “Who here likes grocery store sushi?”

The End

Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed today’s story. You can learn more about me and my book on my website: SusanQuilty.com. You can also find me on social media or support me through my Patreon page. 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]