In this week's story, Thank You for Being a Friend, a heart-to-heart chat becomes a pop culture fest
Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Today's prompt came from more of a random thought about how people can find different meanings in the same statement.
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 43 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 Thank You for Being a Friend
In case you missed the news last episode, new stories are now going to be released every other week. At least through November and December while I get through the busy holiday season. I’ll reevaluate at the beginning of the year to see if I have time to go back to a new episode every week. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you’ll use the down weeks to explore some of the past stories you may have missed!
As always, stories here follow my usual method: I use a word or phrase as a prompt to write a story—with no planning and very little editing—and then share that story with you.
This week’s prompt, Thank You for Being a Friend, comes from a pretty obvious place. Or it does if you’re a Golden Girls fan. Thank You for Being a Friend is the theme song of the Golden Girls and it’s been stuck in my head since I started yet another re-watch of that amazing show.
Here’s how that played out in today’s story:
Thank You for Being a Friend
The bright reds and oranges of fall leaves still clung to the trees as fat flakes of lacy snow drifted through the air. Tonya and Sam wore knit caps over their tumbling curls and matching gloves with their quilted jackets. Despite the flurries, it was a beautiful day to be walking through the woods.
Sam took a deep breath as they followed the leaf-strewn trail around a winding curve. The air was crisp and rich with the earthy scent of phytoncides and autumnal decay. They had been walking for some time in silence, as they did most mornings through the wooded trails that ran alongside their neighborhood. Two squirrels skittered through the leaves beside them and they both laughed, watching the furry creatures race up a nearby tree.
“I love these morning walks,” Tonya said plainly, drawing a nod of agreement from Sam.
“And today we have snow,” Sam grinned happily.
It was the first snow of the year and they’d been giddy with their first glimpse of it. By now, the flurries had settled into the scenery, adding a wintery preview to their forest walk. In another month, they’d be wearing boots and heavier coats but still getting out as often as they could.
“It’s not just the nature and all,” Tonya began purposefully. “It’s the company, too.”
There was a pause as Sam smiled and shot Tonya a sidelong glance, though their feet kept moving them through the crunch of leaves. “I like your company, too.”
Tonya glowed as she continued, “I like that we can have deep talks or just walk in silence. I like that we both make an effort to make time for each other. I guess, well, I just think it’s good to acknowledge that, you know? To thank you for being a friend.”
The words hung between them as Tonya half-frowned at her choice of phrasing. Sam’s smile turned to a delighted smirk.
“Because we’ve traveled down this road and back again?” she responded with a stifled laugh.
“Ha, ha,” Tonya shook her head gamely, but Sam wasn’t finished.
“Because my heart is true? Because we’re pals and confidants?”
“Okay, okay!” Tonya laughed.
“I’m just playing,” Sam reassured. “I’m grateful for your friendship, too.”
They took a few more steps, listening to the crunch of leaves before Sam went on, “Let’s hit the café after our walk. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee… and some cheesecake.”
Tonya laughed and gave her a playful shove. “You know, those are pretty good role models. Friend-wise. Squad goals and all that.”
“Obviously!” Sam heartily agreed. “In a decade or so, I’ll meet you in Miami.”
“Deal,” Tonya nodded. A flurry of snow blew through a gap in the trees, and she turned her face to feel its wintery cold against her skin and eyelashes.
“But seriously, I do appreciate you,” Sam went on, now struggling to keep a straight face. “And I want you to know… you’ve got a friend in me.”
“Very funny,” Tonya rolled her eyes and looked out over a creek at the far edge of their path.
“What? I’m serious! When the road looks rough ahead…”
“And I’m miles and miles from my nice warm bed?” Tonya finished sarcastically.
“That’s so poetic!” Sam gushed. “Did you just make that up?”
“Okay, enough,” Tonya told her, still chuckling but ready to change the subject. Suddenly, she stopped walking and stuck out a hand to hold Sam back as well.
“Is that a deer up ahead?”
“On the edge of the trail… just before the next bend.”
They peered into the shadows of the trees and saw the outline of a deer as it stepped out into the wide path. Two more followed, stepping lightly over roots and sticks to continue through the forest.
“I love when we see the deer,” Sam sighed.
“They blended with the trees at first, but I’m glad I spotted one before we scared it away.”
Sam nodded, “That’s what friends are for.”
“Sam…” Tonya warned.
“What? I’m just saying… in good times and bad times… Even if you hadn’t seen that deer… I’d be on your side forever more.”
“Are you finished?” Tonya asked, a pent up laugh twisting her lips into a crooked grimace.
“Finished with what?” Sam feigned innocence. “I’m just trying to thank you… for giving me the best day-ay of my life.”
“Stop it!” Tonya bit her lower lip, refusing to look as Sam as they turned another curve of the path.
“What? It’s not just the deer… Just to be with you is the having the best day-ay of my life!”
“You know, the ground is pretty soft out here,” Tonya mused suddenly. “I hope I don’t have to bury a friend.”
“Ha! You’re not the type to be burying friends!” Sam covered her mouth with one hand, recovered her composure, and added, “But if you did, you’d have friends in low places!”
“That’s it!” Tonya laughed outwardly, throwing her hands in the air. “I give up, you win!”
They walked along the path, giggling at themselves, and taking in the nature around them.
The snow fell faster as leaves shook loose from the trees. Another set of squirrels leapt between branches, chasing higher into the barren canopy.
They followed the final bend and could see where the trail opened onto their quiet neighborhood.
“Hey, Tonya?” Sam spoke softly and turned to study her friend’s profile.
“Yeah?” Tonya met Sam’s gaze, seeing the sincerity in her eyes.
“Thanks for being a friend, seriously.”
They smiled together and finished their walk in silent joy.
Thanks for joining me today. If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, you can visit my website, SusanQuilty.com. You can also connect with me on social media or offer your support through Patreon.com/SusanQuilty.
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]