In this week's story, It's Soggy Out, two friends relax in the woods and discuss the meanings (and mis-meanings?) of words
Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Today's prompt came from my friend, Jen Pool, who told me she has a friend whose kid says "It's soggy out" when it's foggy or humid outside. (How cute and clever!)
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.
Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 26 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 It’s Soggy Out
If you’re new to Freely Written, here’s how it works, I choose a word or phrase as a prompt, write a story based on whatever that inspires—with no planning and very little editing—and then share that story with you.
Today’s prompt came from my friend Jen Pool. It can be hard to come up with new prompts every week, so I’ve started being more proactive about asking friends for them. Jen said her first thought was “It’s Soggy Out” because that’s something her friend’s kid says when it’s foggy or humid out. I thought that was adorable—and brilliant—so it became today’s prompt.
Here’s the story that came to mind:
It’s Soggy Out
The morning sun was pale behind a bank of clouds as Audrey and Esther settled onto some large rocks at the edge of the lake. The thick shade of the forest behind them made the summer day feel relatively cool, and Audrey shivered slightly against a passing breeze.
The rocks at the edge of the water split in uneven slabs, allowing plenty of places to sit comfortably and rest your feet against a slightly lower rock. Having been here on many morning hikes, Audrey and Esther settled into their customary spots and looked out at a pair of stand-up paddleboarders in the distance.
“It’s hard to believe it will be 98 degrees later,” Audrey mused. She was enjoying the cool morning and still felt enchanted by the deep fog that had blanketed her neighborhood during her drive to pick up Esther.
“Eh,” Esther shrugged.
She shifted her gaze to the pale gray water that met their rock ledge. The surface was smooth as glass and a large group of pond skaters had gathered just beside them. Esther marveled as the small insects lightly walked on the gently gliding water.
“You can tell it will warm up,” she continued half-heartedly. Her attention had shifted to a collection of sticks and rocks below the surface, and she wondered how quickly the lake bottomed dropped as it moved away from the rocky shore.
“Can you?” Audrey leaned back on her hands, searching the sky for any break in the clouds.
Neither were invested in the conversation. It was idle talk separated by long pauses as they drank in the beauty around them.
“Eh,” Esther shrugged again. “Either way, it’s soggy out.”
“It’s what?” Audrey pulled her attention from a spray of green leaves that swayed overhead. Still thinking of the morning fog, she cast her gaze across the water and then into the woods behind them. There were dewdrops clinging to the nearby grass, but she saw no sign of fog.
“It’s soggy out,” Esther repeated, stretching her arms overhead and turning her head from side to side. “You know, damp air?”
“Like fog?” Audrey questioned, unsure what that had to do with it getting hot later in the day.
“Sure,” Esther sighed, dropping her arms and stretching her legs straight out above the water. “Or like humid.”
“Humid is soggy out?” Audrey confirmed. She hadn’t heard Esther use that phrase before, but she had to admit it made a certain sense.
“Yeah,” Esther grinned. “I heard a friend’s kid say it the other day. Brilliant, right?”
“It’s clever,” Audrey agreed. The paddleboarders had passed the curve of the lake, leaving them alone in the stillness. A cardinal sang in a nearby tree and a chittering chipmunk startled Audrey before darting back into the forest.
They laughed at the chipmunk’s antics, then eased back into the quiet.
“Kids come up with some fun stuff,” Esther offered after several peaceful moments had passed.
“So, do you.”
“What?” Esther turned to her friend, but Audrey was again entranced by the pond skaters. Esther sat for a beat, frowning, then pressed, “What do you mean?”
“You know.” Audrey sat up straight and brushed her palms together. “All your malapropisms.”
“My malapropisms?” Esther echoed in surprise. “What does that mean?”
“Malapropisms?” Audrey sounded confused. “You know, commonly confused words and phrases…”
“I know what a malapropism is!” Esther interrupted, loud enough to startle the cardinal from its tree. “Since when do I use malapropisms?”
“Um…” Audrey considered, pursing her lips and scrunching her forehead. “Since always?”
“What?” A large frog dove into the water and some unseen creature scurried through the brush behind them.
“Well, not always…” Audrey amended. “I mean, you don’t say them a lot, but sometimes.”
“Name one!” Esther challenged, pointedly studying Audrey’s exasperated expression.
“Fine.” Audrey’s eyes lifted toward the cloudy sky as she thought. “Oh, I know! Beckon call.”
“Beckon call?” Esther crossed her arms and frowned. “What’s wrong with beckon call. It’s when you beckon someone with a call.
“No, it isn’t,” Audrey laughed. “The phrase is beck and call. You know, when someone waits on you, they’re at your beck and call?”
“Beck?” Esther spit. “What kind of word is beck?”
Audrey frowned, pulling her arms close and letting her hands rest on her lap.
“I don’t know. It’s old-timey. Archaic.”
“Old-timey,” Esther scoffed. “Name another.
“Just forget it…”
“No,” Esther insisted. “You gotta give me more than beck.”
“Okay,” Audrey responded through lightly gritted teeth. “You say, intensive purposes, instead of intents and purposes. You say, hunger pains, when you mean hunger pangs. And I think I once heard you say doggy-dog world, instead of dog-eat-dog world.”
“I absolutely did not say doggy-dog world!” Esther snapped, though her face was red. “I just talk fast, and you don’t listen well.”
“Okay,” Audrey agreed, noticing that Esther hadn’t corrected her about the others. They settled into silence, looking back out over the gently rippling water.
“I never said doggy-dog world,” Esther muttered darkly.
“Okay,” Audrey repeated weakly, wishing she’d never brought it up.
The pond skaters continued to skim the surface of the water, another bird began to sing, and a family of ducks slid into view across the far side of the lake.
“Some expressions are kind of dumb,” Esther added stiffly. “Outdated.”
Audrey nodded agreement, wondering how to change the subject.
“Just because the phrases I use don’t always jive with the original, old-timey ones…”
Audrey broke into laugher, covering her face with both hands.
“It’s— It’s not jive!” Audrey gasped, trying to compose herself. “It’s jibe! Jive is a kind of music. Jibe means to be in agreement."
Esther pressed her lips in a tight line and stared across the river angrily. She didn’t ask, What kind of word is jibe? though she was thinking it. Another old-timey, archaic word.
She fumed, watching the family of ducks until her jaw and shoulders began to soften.
A few minutes later, Audrey quietly said, “Jibe is a stupid word. I like jive better.”
“Right?!” Esther agreed in relief. “Jibe is a stupid word.”
“And I like, it’s soggy out,” Audrey continued, feeling the tension between them relax.
“So do I!” Esther nodded emphatically, then firmly repeated, “It’s soggy out today."
“It is,” Audrey smiled, “and it’s still a beautiful day.”
Thanks for listening to today’s little story break. Side note: Audrey and Esther are also characters in my choose-your-ending-style book, called, Audrey and Esther Geekify Greenville.
If you’d like 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]