A Bit of Writing Prompt Fantasy

I don't typically write fantasy or surrealist fiction but several years ago I took a writing class and one of the daily prompts produced this little story. Not something I would have devised on my own, but apparently it was in my head someplace because it emerged easily onto the page.


            Knee high by the Fourth of July. That’s how many strands of red licorice I had collected for my patriotic installation at the campus art gallery. Now I needed materials in blue and white and they had to come by the color naturally, I wasn’t allowed to paint anything and I only had two hours left to finish the piece in time. I ran down the hall of the dorm pounding on doors.
            “Wake up! Get to the lounge! I need help!”
            “What do you want now?”
            It was five o’clock in the morning but my dorm mates were used to my ill-timed bursts of creative energy. They dragged themselves down to the lounge. I looked at the sleepy hung-over congregation of students and begged.
            “Please, I need all your aspirin, Tylenol, generic pain relievers—anything white.”
            Some looked at me in alarm thinking I would swallow all the pills to escape my fractious artistic mind. The rest either smiled and ambled back to their rooms in search of white pills or mumbled, “I don’t have any little white pills.”
            I was known for my unique, innovative art and if I didn’t deliver the art department would never ask me to exhibit again. Now all I needed was some natural blue material and I needed a lot of it because the installation had to be at least half my height or taller to qualify.
            I searched the village parks and gardens for rocks in any hue of blue but only found white and pink stones. I searched for blue flowers but only found red ones and some gnawed at yellow corn cobs. I went fishing outside the village but only caught brown and silver fish.
 Not a blue fish in the water. Even the water was a sad shade of gray.
            I trudged back to campus.  Turning a corner I came to the delivery dock for a grocery story. There on the back of an opened trailer truck sat cases of clear blue seltzer bottles that reflected the sun in crystal sparkles of light.
I had to have them. I approached the man, eyed the bottles and rubbed my sweaty neck.
            “Hey, can I have three cases of seltzer?”
            “What? Yeah. I’m taking these to the Piggly Wiggly. Go buy as many as you want.”
            “No, wait. You have to give them to me.”
            The man turned away and continued unloading the truck. I got closer and explained that my installation had to be done in an hour and I wasn’t allowed to spend any money to buy materials. I had to find everything I used in the structure. I’d collected all the licorice strings from students on campus, going door to door in the dorms.
            “Here,” the guy said as he scratched his grizzled chin. “I have two cases of lotion that’s outdated. You can have those.”
            The lotion was white in clear bottles. I needed something blue.
            “No, you don’t get it. It has to be blue.”
            “So, paint the damn bottles. Paint anything you can find blue. What’s the difference?”
            “I can’t. I have to use materials that are already the color I need. It has to be red, white and blue. And I only have an hour left to finish.”
            “Take it,” the man urged. “Trust me. Just leave a window open and this will work.” He winked and continued his job.
            Back at the gallery I arranged the licorice in three piles and sprinkled them with the white pills. I opened the bottles of lotion, and hearing the man’s voice in my head, “Trust me,” I poured the white lotion around the piles and drizzled it up the sides. I shrugged and opened the window.
            In seconds a blue cloud undulated like a sea monster and entered the room. A million blue butterflies fanned out and hovered over the streams of lotion.  I ran outside to see where they had come from but all the butterflies were inside now and the sky was clear. I strolled back to the gallery but before I went through the door I saw a truck parked across the street. It was the seltzer delivery man. He waved and saluted then drove away. A blue butterfly hovered on his side view mirror.


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