Friday, July 16, 2010

Writing Prompt: Putting Out Fires

Today's writing prompt is courtesy of Lisa Romeo's Summer Writing Prompt Program. You can get free prompts from Lisa, too. Here we go — 10 minutes on putting out fires.

It seems all I do these days is put out fires. There's no time for planning, thoughtful contemplation, cool assessment of the situation. I just aim the fire extinguisher at that flare up, blast the hose on this flame, and spread the chemical foam on those dangerous crash and burn fires.

The little flare ups are caused by my two youngest boys, who are a combustible combination these days. Prior to adolescence, they were best friends. Now that can't seem to be in the same room together for more than five minutes without igniting a simple bicker into a big blowup. 

The visible flames come from our robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul financial strategy. We haven't intentionally increased our spending, but our income has been cut (like everyone else's), our healthcare expenses keep rising, and every time I turn around, there's a new bill burning to be paid. Just when we get one fire under control, a new hot spot shows bursts into flames. 

The slow, undousable burn stems from my inability to stop time (or at least slow it down a bit). Children are heading off to college, step children are getting married, little boys are turning into big boys, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. This particularly deadly fire is complicated by my tendency to burn the candle at both ends, leaving me vulnerable to the shifting winds of middle-age mood swings that provide endless fuel for this fire.

10 minutes. I know. I know. I took this poor metaphor and squeezed it's guts out. But, that's what shitty first drafts are for.

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