Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Equivalence

May 18, 2021 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 12
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Equivalence
Chapters
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Equivalence
May 18, 2021 Season 1 Episode 12
Susan Quilty

This week's story, Equivalence, centers on a conversation where a young couple's choice of movie uncovers a deeper issue. 

Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways. This week's prompt came from the name of a game in a skill-building app called Elevate

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.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Show Notes Transcript

This week's story, Equivalence, centers on a conversation where a young couple's choice of movie uncovers a deeper issue. 

Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways. This week's prompt came from the name of a game in a skill-building app called Elevate

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.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 12 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 Equivalence

If you’ve listened before, welcome back. If this is your first listen, here’s how my process works: I choose a writing prompt and let it inspire a short story, with no planning and very little editing. And then, I share that story with you.

Today’s prompt came from a game within an app I use called Elevate. It’s a skill-building app and its Equivalence game is math-based, matching equivalent fractions, percentages, and decimals. There’s no math in my story, but I chose this prompt because I like the sound of the word. 

On to the story:

 

Equivalence

“It’s not the same thing!” Sherry argued hotly.

“It is so,” Daniel insisted coolly, crossing his arms over his chest.

“The movie I picked was barely two hours long, and it was a comedy.  You’re picking a nearly four-hour-long, dark, depressing, and pretentious horror flick.”

“You picked a movie, I picked a movie,” Daniel stated flatly.

“But they aren’t equivalent choices!” Sherry fumed. “I chose something I thought you would like, too. You’re choosing…. That.”

She gestured toward the TV angrily and Daniel took a deep breath.

“You could have picked any movie you wanted,” he reminded. “That’s what we agreed on. You said you were tired of us trying to agree on movies every night, and you wanted to try this. You said it would be better if we took turns picking the movies we each liked. No debate, no disagreements. Fair and equal.”

“Yeah, but…” Sherry sighed, looking at the movie description displayed on the TV. The picture beside the description was incomprehensible. It looked like a swirl of shadow creatures doing some kind of dark magic ritual over a circle of stones with a feather and a red gem in the center. A lightning storm crackled on one side of the sky above them, while the sun shone from a perfectly blue sky beside it. Oddly, there was a yellow duckling watching from the fluffy white cloud that partially covered the sun. The duckling was wearing green-rimmed sunglasses.

“You said doing it this way would let us share our interests and try new things,” Daniel continued. “It’s not my fault that you picked something you thought we’d both like instead of going for something that you actually wanted to see. You could have picked a musical or a rom-com or a…”

“Okay!” Sherry cut him off. “I get it, but… this movie? Really? This bizarre, experimental, unknown, and horribly rated movie? It feels like you’re punishing me.”

“I’m not punishing you,” Daniel told her, looking at the TV screen with tightly pressed lips. “I was trying to do what you said. Make my own choice and show you something that you wouldn’t normally watch.”

“And you would?” Sherry raised one eyebrow as she studied Daniel’s serious expression. She’d never known him to watch a movie like this. She’d thought he would pick an action movie or one of those comedies where people act stupid and fall down a lot. 

“I might.” 

Daniel sounded defensive and Sherry knew she was onto something. 

“You don’t want to watch this movie either,” she said slowly, making it sound more like a theory than an accusation. 

“Maybe not,” Daniel admitted, still studying the screen.

“So why pick it?”

Daniel braced his forearms on his thighs and turned the remote between his hands. He seemed deep in thought, and Sherry didn’t know whether to push harder or wait to see what he might say. Just as she was about to prod him, Daniel dropped the remote on the ottoman and turned to face her.

A cold hush settled between them. 

“You made us go to your mother’s for Thanksgiving.”

“What?” Sherry shrank back, feeling blood rush to her cheeks. “But… we agreed… and we went to your see your parents for Christmas.”

“Right,” Daniel nodded tightly. “And that wasn’t equivalent either.”

“Well… but… I…” Sherry sputtered, knowing exactly what he meant.

“Your mother hates me,” Daniel went on. “And you hate your mother. It was a miserable, horrible, awful day, just like we knew it would be, but you dragged us there anyway because we were seeing my parents for Christmas.”

“Well, yeah…” Sherry bit her lip nervously. “But she would have been mad if we didn’t go.”

It wasn’t a strong argument. Her mom had been mad anyway. She’d picked on Sherry endlessly, ignored Daniel, objected again to their living together, and said she hoped they didn’t do something stupid like get married. Sherry had cried until her mom finally said she didn’t actually care what they did because nobody listened to her anyway, and everyone had been miserable. 

“We did go to your parent’s for Christmas,” Sherry added weakly, as if it made up for that horrible day.

“Any my parents love you,” Daniel added gently. 

It was true. Daniel’s family had always welcomed Sherry with open arms. They’d spent a lovely Christmas Eve together and Sherry had cried with joy when his mother hung a stocking for her beside all the other stockings on the mantle. 

In the morning, Daniel had given Sherry a special present in a small velvet box, and the family had celebrated together. 

“You don’t really want to watch this awful movie?” Sherry asked knowingly.

“You don’t really want your mom at our wedding?” Daniel countered carefully.

“I really don’t,” Sherry admitted, feeling a weight lift with her words. 

“And I don’t want to watch this movie,” Daniel admitted, leaning in to touch foreheads. 

“Can we watch a musical?” Sherry asked, wiping away two tears. 

“What?” Daniel laughed in mock contempt. “It’s still my night to pick!”

“I don’t know,” Sherry teased. “You already picked one, so it might be my turn again.”

“But we didn’t watch it!” Daniel laughed, playfully snatching the remote from her hand. “And I get to pick the next movie we watch.”

“Fine, fine!” Sherry settled into the couch cushions, studying the sparkle of her ring. 

Life might not always be fair, she thought, but maybe it didn’t have to be fair. Maybe it was better to stop looking for fairness and focus on finding happiness. 

“You know,” Daniel began thoughtfully, still flipping through movie options. “I think there was a sequel to that movie you picked last week.”

“Was there?” Sherry asked, knowing full well that there was. 

“We might as well see what happens next,” Daniel shrugged. 

He turned toward Sherry with a questioning smile, and she felt a warmth in her heart respond to the light in his eyes. 

“I’ll get the popcorn,” she offered happily.

“And I’ll find the movie,” he agreed, turning back toward the TV. 

The End

 

Thanks for listening. Remember, if you have suggestions for future writing prompts, you’re welcome to let me know. Otherwise, prompts will turn up in other random ways. 

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please visit my website, SusanQuilty.com. You can also follow 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]