Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

The Goose in the House

April 06, 2021 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 4
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
The Goose in the House
Chapters
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
The Goose in the House
Apr 06, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Susan Quilty

Ready for a story break? In this episode, author Susan Quilty shares a short story based on the writing prompt The Goose in the House

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 The Goose in the House

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 4 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 The Goose in the House

Thanks for joining me today. If this is your first time listening, here’s how my process works. I choose a word or phrase as a prompt and then write whatever story comes to mind, with no planning and very little editing. And then, I share that story with you.

I’m open to suggestions for future writing prompts. Otherwise, I choose them in random ways. Today’s came about because I saw a goose and thought it might be funny to put him in a house. This one’s a bit silly, but it was really fun to write. Here’s what I came up with.  

The Goose in the House

“There’s a goose in the living room!”

Sheryl’s voice had the intensity of a shout but the volume of a whisper.

“What?” Ted’s question came in his normal voice as he looked up from his phone with a hint of annoyance. He was sitting at the kitchen island, trying to enjoy his morning coffee. 

“Shhh!” Sheryl hushed with more force than was necessary, causing a flap of feathers followed by a scowl as Ted lowered his phone and shook his head at her.

“What is your—? Hey!” He caught sight of the goose standing a mere twelve feet away in the adjacent living room. “There’s a goose in the living room!”

“Oh, really?” Sheryl liberally layered on the sarcasm. “I hadn’t noticed.”

The goose looked at them both in turn, then bent his long neck to casually peck at some feathers on his right wing. 

“How is there a goose in the house?” Ted asked incredulously. “How long has it been here?”

“How should I know?” Sheryl hissed, somewhere between a whisper and her normal speaking voice. “You were here first! Was it here when you came downstairs?”

Ted blinked at Sheryl, glanced at the goose, glanced at his phone, glanced at his coffee, and then blinked at Sheryl again.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t think so… I mean, no. Of course not,” Ted settled into a more confident stance. “It couldn’t have been here. Not the whole time I was making coffee.”

Sheryl did not seem as sure about that. 

“So, it just walked in then?” She asked. “Minutes before I did?”

“Yes.” Ted felt the situation called for someone to be decisive. 

“Okay,” Sheryl rolled her eyes and looked back at the goose.

The goose had stopped preening and was simply standing in the middle of the room.

“You don’t believe me?” Ted asked, sounding injured.

“What?”

“You don’t believe me that the goose walked in here minutes before you did?” He clarified needlessly as Sheryl was already pressing her lips together and shaking her head in irritation.

“That doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

“It matters to me,” Ted picked up his coffee and took a soothing sip. 

He felt that this was too much for him first thing in the morning. It was bad enough to find a goose in the living room, but to then be disbelieved by his own wife when he’d simply asserted that he had not seen said goose until she’d arrived… Well, really. He sighed. 

Sheryl didn’t care all that much how Ted felt about it, as she was preoccupied by the goose standing in the middle of their living room.

They were both silent for nearly a minute, which felt more like two. 

“Is there a door open?”

Ted turned toward Sheryl, considering her question carefully. 

“I didn’t open one,” he assured her.

“You didn’t see the goose either,” Sheryl muttered, going to check the front door. 

“I heard that,” Ted responded but not loud enough for Sheryl to hear.

The goose looked toward the kitchen doorway, as if wondering when Sheryl would be back, and Ted hoped it wasn’t about to follow her around the house. 

“The door is shut,” Sheryl confirmed, returning to the kitchen and standing with her hands on her hips. 

“I don’t think you should leave again,” Ted told her. “The room, I mean. I think the goose was about to follow you.”

“I wish it would,” Sheryl mused. “I could lead it right out the front door!”

“Should we try?” Ted set down his coffee and turned toward the living room, ready to enact the plan.

The goose settled into the carpet, fluffing its feathers as if cozying into its nest. 

“Doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere now,” Sheryl frowned. 

Ted agreed glumly.

They watched the goose.

The goose watched them.

“All right,” Ted drew his shoulders back. “How did that goose get in here?”

“I’m more concerned about getting it out,” Sheryl insisted, crossing her arms tightly.

“Well, yes,” Ted hesitated, taking a moment to consider his point. “But if we don’t know how it got in here, how do we know another one won’t follow it in?”

“Oh,” Sheryl bit her lip worriedly. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Exactly,” Ted puffed up his chest and reached for his coffee, having earned another sip.

They both thought silently, until Sheryl sidled over with an uneasy frown.

“I think we both know who it was,” she spoke in her quietest whisper yet. “And there isn’t anything we can do about it.”

Puzzled, Ted turned his head enough to see her face without losing sight of the goose.

“We do?”

Sheryl rolled her eyes and sighed, then leaned in closer.

“It was the writer.”

“The old man down the street?” Ted asked, picturing the gray-haired, shawl-collared septuagenarian who had once been a journalist and now constructed crossword puzzles for the local newspaper.    

“No,” Sheryl’s whisper carried more of a hiss. “The writer.”

Ted looked back toward the goose, less bothered by its resting on his living room carpet than he was by the turn in their conversation.

“You know,” Sheryl prodded. “The writer who put us in this house, and gave you that coffee, and put us in these matching pajamas. She put the goose in the living room.”

“Oh,” Ted blinked. He looked down at the blue pajama set he was wearing and noticed that Sheryl was wearing an identical set. Long sleeved tops with white buttons. Long pants that brushed the tops of their bare feet. He thought they’d bought these pajamas last week, but maybe that was a memory the writer had put in his head. 

“Why would she do that?” Ted whispered back, though he wondered why they were whispering. If the writer had put the goose in their living room, and the pajamas on their bodies, perhaps she was putting the words in their mouths as well. Were they trying to keep those words from her ears? Or from the goose?

Ted wished he had something stronger than coffee in his mug.

“I don’t know,” Sheryl shrugged, and Ted could see her brow furrowed in thought. “Maybe it’s an experiment. Maybe she wants to see what we’ll do about the goose.”

“But if she’s the writer…” Ted spoke slowly. “The one who creates all of this… Then how could it be an experiment? I mean, how could she watch to see how we would react…?”

They stood side by side, watching the goose.

The goose cocked its head to one side, watching to see what they would do.

Ted felt a shiver run down his spine. 

Sheryl swallowed harshly.

“What if…” Ted’s voice broke off. He gathered his strength and tried again. “What if there isn’t a writer at all?”

His question was so preposterous that Sheryl’s head swiveled to face him directly.

“No writer?” Her whisper had become a mere mouthing of the words, but Ted was close enough to see and understand them. 

“Hear me out…” He fumbled to make sense of his idea. “What if we put ourselves in this house by filling out our application and moving ourselves in? What if we bought our pajamas at the store, not because there was a story written about it, but because we just… well, went shopping and bought these pajamas?” 

Sheryl regarded him skeptically. 

“And the goose?” Her voice was soft, but audible. “The goose got in the house on its own? Without anyone writing it into our living room?”

“Well, I know it sounds crazy…” Ted cast around for a better explanation, then brightened with a realization. “The back bedroom! Didn’t you open the window in there yesterday? You were airing it out for your sister’s visit! Could you have left the window open?”

“Oh, I…” Sheryl’s eyes dropped to the floor, shifting rapidly as she thought through yesterday’s actions. She did remember opening the window, and she didn’t remember going back to close it, but still…

“If the window is open…” Ted’s eyes lit up, considering the possibilities, but Sheryl shook her head quickly.

“That wouldn’t prove anything,” she insisted. “The writer could have easily written in the open window.”

They both turned back to the goose. 

Ted frowned, discouraged by Sheryl’s unassailable logic but still tingling from his unorthodox thought. 

Sheryl nodded tightly, reassuring herself that the goose was a test. A simple experiment the writer was using to enliven their day. 

“We should find a way to lure it outside,” Sheryl suggested calmly. “And then check that window.”

“Yes,” Ted agreed with a lingering sigh. 

He took one more sip of coffee, set down the mug, and resolved to see where this day would take them. Just another day, like any other. 

The End

Thanks for joining me for today’s story. To learn more about me and my books, you can visit 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]