The Prompt Project’ are posts that are essentially a way for me to exercise my creative muscles, without all the pressure that comes from writing my WIP for example.
I post what I write on the spot, I don’t impose a word limit or time it, just go with whatever my brain spits out for as long it keeps up the momentum. I’ll literally see prompt, write and then post the results.
Today’s Prompt is from the Writer’s digest magazine
“For today’s prompt, write about optimism… Write about someone who exemplifies this kind of unbound optimism”
TW: REFERENCES TO SUICIDE
You know it’s a good one when I have to put a trigger warning! Here we go…
The eternal optimist
Every office has a Jenny. The person you dread to face before you’ve had your morning coffee because Jenny ‘doesn’t need caffeine’. What kind of person doesn’t need caffeine in the morning in order to be pleasant to people? Sociopaths, that’s who.
Jenny remembers everyone’s birthdays, she remembers things you’ve said to her and goes out of her way to ask you how your game night went, or how your mums doing. Jenny reminds you to take your breaks. Jenny never has a hair out of place, her make up is always perfectly done as she strolls calmly through the door ten minutes before you start. Oh, but she’ll cover for you as you bundle in fifteen minutes past the hour. She’ll pour you some coffee and check you’ve had breakfast.
Jenny is insufferably kind and nice. So much so that you can’t really hate her for it. It seems second nature to her. Upper management don’t take much notice of Jenny though, she is steady and reliable but since she won’t play politics, she won’t get very far.
Last year, when my friend died in a car crash, she took me home after I got the news. I’ll never forget her solemn face in the car as I cried.
“I’m so sorry.” I sniffed at her as she handed me yet another tissue. “I didn’t mean to put this all on you.”
She gave a soft smile in response “It’s okay, I don’t mind, I’m sort of the therapist friend to all my lot anyway.”
“How much do you charge?” I replied, smiling weakly, trying to lighten the mood.
“You owe me some of that handmade chocolate you keep bringing in, how’s that sound? A fair price for you getting snot all over my car?” That made me laugh a little. As if buoyed by that she shifted into a softer tone. “I’m not going to tell you this is okay, your friend was young and didn’t deserve to die, it just sucks and I’m not going to tell you otherwise. But just look at you, look how loved she was, how important she was, that’s something to hold on to. That’s something so many people would wish for out of this life.” I nodded, dabbing furiously at the fresh tears welling in my eyes.
“Have you ever lost anyone like this?” I asked. Jenny stared at me for a moment and then cleared her throat.
“No, touch wood, I’ve been quite lucky in that regard but I’ve been a shoulder to cry on enough times to know that pointless platitudes don’t help anyone. Sometimes we just need to be heard.” Jenny smiled again and if it was tight at the corners, I didn’t register it through my puffy eyes.
“I had better let you get back.” I said, unbuckling my seat belt and grabbing my bag.
“Have you got friends who can keep you company?”
I nodded. “My flat mate should be in, she knew her too.”
“Good and if you want my advice, I’d ring in sick tomorrow because they won’t give compassionate leave for something like this.”
Do you see what I mean? So insufferably kind. After I gave her the thank you chocolate, we went back to the same old office small talk. If I ever stopped to think about it, Jenny did a whole lot of smiling and talking for someone who never really said much. Everyone has the same thing to say about her, that she was always so happy, so kind, always ready to crack a joke or do something thoughtful. It must be exhausting. Especially without coffee.
I think about that a lot. How I wish I’d stopped to think. No one could be that happy all the time.
I wish I’d stopped to think twice when she told me she was getting the train home, even though I knew she drove in that morning. I wish I’d have questioned why I received emails wrapping up projects, even though she wasn’t due to go on holiday. I wish I’d questioned why she had been training me in parts of her role. Why she’d sold a bunch of her stuff on Facebook.
Every office has a Jenny.
That’s why I wanted to hold tonight’s fundraiser in honour of her, in the hope that other’s like her will have access to the resources she didn’t and so people will have the tools to know what to think twice about in future.
There you go. Did you enjoy that? I don’t know why I tend to go a little dark in most of these prompt projects posts but let’s not psychoanalyse that too much.
I do these posts every other month, plus I’m going to try to talk a little more about my bigger writing projects, in the hope it’ll make me more accountable to write more.