Hello, Lost Boys and Wandering Wendys!
Welcome! Oh don’t cry, darling! You’re safe now. You’re among friends. Just like you, no one here knows their way back home. But I think you’ll grow to like it here, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Where the Lost Things Go
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
This prompt can be equal parts gentle and comforting, as it can be tragic and terrifying, all depending on the direction in which you take it. One of the interesting things about this prompt is it’s not just about a lost person, or thing, it’s about a place.
One of the first directions to which my mind goes is lost children. Maybe a child is crying in the woods, only to be rescued by a friendly troll, whose cave becomes a haven for them. Contrarily, you could write about a child lured away from the right path by a fae, brought to their world, and unable to leave—the child may not have been lost in the woods, but they are once they follow the call. Perhaps you could write about an orphanage; It’s a place where lost children go, but is it a place of belonging, or a place of neglect? You could even write about a child getting lost at the amusement park, rescued by a staff member, who takes them to guest services, telling them that this is a magical place where all lost things go.
But children aren’t the only people who can be lost. Adults can too; they just have a harder time admitting it—whether it’s figurative or literal. You could write about a couple in the car having the quintessential “You don’t know where you’re going!” argument. Perhaps they land at a truck stop, and the guy at the cash register laughs because they get this a lot. You could write about a lost mind; the ravings of a lunatic in an asylum, or else someone finally deciding to go to therapy after a while of feeling mentally lost. You could tie it to last week’s prompt—souls can be lost too. Where do they go?
You could make the lost things truly inanimate objects. You could write about a sock getting lost in the dryer, entering a fantasy world where all lost socks go. Maybe when our keys get lost they’re not really sitting on our counter, maybe they enter another realm for a little while. You could write about a child’s favorite toy going on to have a better life after getting lost. Maybe you could write about a collector whose museum houses all the objects the world has lost. Maybe a kleptomaniac’s house is where the lost things go…they’re just the one who made them “lost” in the first place.
Much like my fae idea earlier, you could write about a place that, instead of being a haven for those already lost, causes people to become lost by entering it. The Lost Woods that no one ever escapes. The Labyrinth that dooms its inhabitants to wander within forever. The City that claims all who enter.
You could even combine some of these ideas. A child following their lost plush toy. An adult thinking they saw their own child self in the mirror, or reminiscing when they see their old childhood home from a highway overpass. Or a lost object wishing to return home and taking the risk of dragging its owner down with it.
My challenge for you this week is to write about a story from your real life. Go back to the painful memory of the time you lost your favorite toy as a child. You could even try to redeem the memory by telling the story of the magical land to which your toy went. Write about when you got lost in the grocery store. Tell me about the time last week when you lost your headphones. [If you do this, feel free to put (Based on a true story) next to the title, so I know you’re attempting the challenge.]
Like I said, I think you’ll like it here. Because you don’t have any other choice.
—Kaylie & Paul
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
The Light of Sun
by Jesse Fisher
The light of sun(?) seemed to blind me from the intensity. Was it the sun, but it does not feel like the outside. It felt stale and like the world was just not how I remember it. It felt…dream like, but how the light felt it was too real.
Then I moved and it felt like a mountain of junk fell off of me as I rose up. How long was I down there? Where was here?
A look around me only showed junk, well I should not say junk as some of this stuff looked useful but like it was forgotten here. Yet I was buried under the junk until my head was the only thing above them all.
I began to move away from that place, I noticed several items that came from my past that I did not find. That was when I saw other items from the past. Slowly I began to move on and noticed other things that got me to wonder.
If junk ended up here then why was I here?
I’m not junk, am I?
Nay I can’t be junk…
It was now I noticed a screen pop up in front of me, and that caused me to jump.
But I can feel I can sleep, then that means it makes sense now. I’m the lost part of what I once was. Or was it a version of myself?
I mean the fact I’m here with all this stuff must mean I’m not the real one anymore.
New to Socktown
I woke up in a tavern. The fact that I don’t remember coming to the tavern was incredibly confusing.
I searched my memories for what I last remembered. Feet. Getting tossed into the bath. Tumbling around in the dryer.
“May I offer you some assistance?” asked a rather posh voice. “You look new here.”
I turned to see a sock with a diamond tartan pattern. It’s toe had been pressed in, and as it talked, the edges of the divot moved.
“I, um, yeah. I don’t…where are we?”
The edges of the divot turned up in a smile. “This is The Hosiery, a tavern in Socktown. It also doubles as the adventurer’s guild for the town. I am Argyle.”
I folded the fabric near my toe in a blink. “Oh, uh, I’m….” I stopped in mid-sentence. I didn’t have a name. Socks generally didn’t. But then again, socks never talked to one another either.
“Don’t worry about it. You’e new here. You don’t have a name yet.” Argyle seemed to crane his body to look me over. “Thick wool thermal sock. Good tanker material”
“Tanker?” I pondered the word, unsure what that meant.
“HEY! I know you!” Another voice rang out in the tavern, and a white crew sock hopped forward to join us.
I folded my fabric in another blink. This new sock did look familiar. One of them went missing in the wash a couple weeks ago, which prompted our owner to sort through some of his socks to throw out the ones that had holes in them.
“Did you just arrive?” the new sock asked.
“Um, yeah, I did.”
“Isockei’d out of the dryer. That brings back memories.” The crew sock seemed to bend upwards wistfully. “Are you going to join the effort?”
“The crusade against Demon Lord Fishnet Stocking,” the crew sock declared. “If you just got here, I bet you don’t have a name yet.”
I shook my toe. “No, not yet.”
“Let me introduce you to the rest of my party. You can call me Lefty.”
Maddy’s Favor (Life of Madness)
by Lee Strangely
Though he was slow to move, Shiloh eventually got up out of bed. His neat and tidy room was flooded with the beautiful yellow light of the morning sun. He then lumbered his way over to shut off his alarm… That currently still had at least an hour before it was set to go off…
He was dumbfounded. He was absolutely sure that the sound had woken him up.
Shiloh perked up at the faint noise.
The sound of glass drew him to the only window in his room.
Two more pebbles struck the pane. Looking down from the second story he saw a girl with dark hair and worn coat.
Shiloh stuck his head outside, “Maddy?”
“Good, you’re up!” Maddy called, “Get down here!”
“Do you know what time it is?” he grumbled, “school starts in a couple hours.”
“I know, so get moving!”
“Maddy,” Shiloh blurted, “what’s going on?”
Her chipper attitude froze, “Back in the alley before, you offered me a favor…”
“Did you mean it?”
“Did you mean it?” she asked with dead seriousness.
“Then get down here!”
Outside, Maddy dragged him along with great speed, and no patience.
“M-Maddy slow down,” Shiloh begged.
Pavement, grass, roads, ditches… Avoiding rocks, hopping across streams… and climbing over a mangled metal fence.
Finally stopping, Shiloh noticed all the headstones, “This is a cemetery…”
“Uh huh… When you feel lost, you talk to your grandpa,” Maddy exclaimed, “I like to visit my mom…” She stepped out of the way to reveal the headstone reading ‘Charlie May Meridian.’
He looked at Maddy, “There’s no guarantee that I’ll actually talk to her.”
“I’m alright with that.”
“I don’t want to make you-”
“I’ll be fine…”
Reluctantly, Shiloh plunged his hand into the grass. The dying breeze, the wet soil, and Maddy’s intent gaze only made him more uncomfortable.
Eventually, he ceased, “I-I can’t feel anything… I’m sorry I…”
He looked up at Maddy. Her head was turned away, her face just out of his sight.
“I’m fine,” she muttered.
The Curse of Mercy
by Gerrit (Rattus)
Calras stared out into the vastness of space, watching stars twinkle at unfathomable distances, a comet streaking by at the edge of his vision. The ruins of Valkyrie drifted somewhere behind him. Somewhere within its hulking, decimated body lay the corpses of the crew, swallowed by flames if they were lucky enough to avoid direct artillery fire.
Laying on his back—if indeed he could lay in any direction—Calras wondered if he was the lucky one. When the first shot blew a hole in the hull, he had been sucked out by the resulting vacuum. Left to drift alone in space, while he watched his home for the past two years be blown to pieces. He had been lucky enough to survive the onslaught, but for what?
This was all that was left of his life, now. Floating aimlessly through the junk zone, his only company the remnants of discarded satellites and failed spacecraft. His captain had thought hiding among the debris would obscure their position, maybe provide them enough cover to evade the ship that had been pursuing them. How well that had worked.
He was fortunate to have had his suit on when the attack struck. A few more minutes and he would have been outside the ship, repairing some of the damage they had sustained. Would that have been better, or worse? Would he have been hit directly by the bombardments?
At his best estimates, his suit could keep him alive for almost a full day. He considered, for a moment, if that would be enough time for rescue to arrive. Then again, he knew better. Only fools would willingly fly into the junk zone. Fools like Captain Torge.
Help wouldn’t arrive. He knew this. Valkyrie had strayed too far from the popular routes, past any sectors that saw regular traffic. This was his new home, for what was left of his life. A home among the refuse seen only through a blind eye. He wished he’d died on the ship. At least then he wouldn’t have been alone.
[DM me on Discord for details!]
The Magic Place
Timothy was seven the first time he heard the legend. The clasp on a classmate’s bracelet broke, and a dozen children spent the rest of recess digging through the woodchips trying to find it. They never did. On the way back inside, a fourth grader put her arm around the girl and told her it must have vanished to the Magic Place, where it would become perfect again.
Later, when he was eight and a half, he read a story about a cave full of treasures that had once belonged to careless children. Marbles. Pencils. Glasses. Stuffed animals. All were jumbled together in a great, sparkling mound. He forgot the point of the story, but the imagery wormed its way into his mind where it remained hidden.
Until The Accident.
Lying in bed, eyes puffy and head throbbing, unable to sleep, he remembered the legend of the Magic Place. Maybe it was real! That night, Timothy vowed to find it. Libraries. Storytellers. Songs. The Internet. He scribbled every scrap of information into a battered notebook. Late at night, he pored over the notes, gradually piecing together the parts of the puzzle. Eventually, Timothy learned the secret.
The next night, he crept out of his window and over the backyard fence into Kara’s yard. He climbed up to their treehouse hideout. He had worried her father would tear it down after… After… But he hadn’t. He must have felt like the place held some of Kara’s energy in reserve, too. He sat cross-legged on the floor, held out a battered plush elephant, and chanted the words, offering to make a trade, one precious gift for another. Before him, a glowing blue cloud appeared, a glittering and swirling mist. He watched, mouth hanging open, as his elephant floated into the cloud, and another object floated out. A faded Polaroid photo of Kara and himself as children, with matching skinned knees and missing front teeth, laughing with their arms around each other, landed in his outstretched hand. Then the cloud dissipated, until only the dampness on Timothy’s cheeks remained.
A Murder of Woes (Lillthain, of the Shaded Realm)
Otelle sat upon the balcony railing, bare feet hanging over the edge. Far below, Lillthain sprawled outwards, with Chateau Corriveau in the center. The people flowed through its streets – in and out, in and out. A steady rhythm.
She traced the main road, then tried to lose herself in the city following branch after branch. Otelle shifted forward, the railing’s corner dug into her skin, trying to see further.
A raven cut across her vision with a “CAW!”. She jerked back as it landed within arm’s length. Its feathers were black as midnight under a dark moon with a sheen of emerald and violet under the dying glow of midlight.
Otelle lifted her hand to stroke the bird’s head, but stopped when a voice spoke behind her.
“I wouldn’t pet this one, Mistress. He bites.”
The raven lifted his beak threateningly towards her fingers. She pulled them back.
“You could stop him, Mira.”
“I could, but that wouldn’t be very bird-like of him.”
“And having him sit next to me IS?”
“I needed to find you somehow.” Otelle heard soft strides TAP…TAP…TAP as Mira moved closer. Magic evaporated from the raven like shadows rising from the grave, then the corvid fell onto the balcony floor, dead as when it had first risen. “One of us has to remember that your death is forbidden.”
Otelle frowned. “That’s not what the law says.”
“Close enough. If you fall, it’ll be my head.”
Irritated, Otelle turned to face Mira. “Why are you here? I was enjoying the moment.”
“Enjoy it another time. It’s rude to leave your own engagement gala.”
Otelle drew herself up, ignoring the clamminess in her hands. “As Lady Heir, I’m allowed to get a breath of fresh air.”
Mira’s eyes leveled unto Otelle’s. “Not when you’re avoiding your betrothed.”
Otelle’s shoulders hunched forward, and she spoke in much softer words. “Our time is running out, Mira. What are we to do?”
“That’s easy, Mistress.” Otelle looked up. A smirk played across Mira’s lips, and there was a gleam in her eye that bespoke of mischief. “We kill him.”
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“No I’m not.”
… Yes, you are.
“I’m not! I’m literally sitting at home! How can I be lost?”
We’re talking about different kinds of lost.
“What do you mean?”
You’re associating the word with its meaning relating to traveling. My meaning is similar, but—
“Oh, I’m METAPHORICALLY lost. Got it.”
Yes. I’m glad you understand.
“You could’ve started with that, you know.”
But I didn’t. I thought you were good with metaphors.
“… I usually am, anyway.”
Exactly. You’re lost.
“Because I missed one metaphor?”
That’s a symptom, not the condition.
“The condition is being metaphorically lost.”
You tell me.
“So, I guess I have to get un-lost.”
Do you mean ‘found’?
How are you going to achieve this?
“I dunno. Kinda figured you’d have an answer, being a well-meaning subconscious and all.”
I’ll take the compliment.
“But if you don’t have any ideas, I don’t either. I’m just… stuck. Stuck being lost.
“No you don’t. I’m the one with the eyes.”
And yet it is you who stubs your toes on table legs.
“Don’t worry about it, it was funny.”
Does laughter make you feel less lost?
What if you went out of your way to laugh more?
“That’s what led me to doom scrolling. We both know how that turned out.”
Right. Sounds like we need to do something different.
You’re lost. Let’s go get found.
“I swear, if you wanna go hiking—”
No, hiking sucks.
I was thinking you take the bus three stops in any direction, walk around a bit, then catch the next bus home.
It’s not staying stuck, it’s not hiking, and you might see some neat birds.
“You know what? That’s the only good idea I have.”
“Sorry, that wasn’t meant to be an insult—”
No, no, it was funny. Also, your favorite coat is in that pile by the window.
“Geez, I really need to clean up in here.”
Let’s go get found first. That will make everything else easier.
The Archives had been an absolute travesty when Ares had begun. Books and papers were scattered everywhere haphazardly on whatever furniture available. It baffled him that the bookshelves had quite a bit of empty space but were underutilized.
He didn’t dare complain though, it was him that had asked to repay the Archiver’s kindness. When the woman had showed him the seemingly endless maze of rooms and bookshelves, she had tried insisting he didn’t need to. “Everything will find its place eventually.”
He didn’t understand and gave a look of disbelief. She returned it with her own that held sympathy, but didn’t dissuade him.
Ares worked solitarily and preferred it so. He hadn’t spoken in years, communicating with others would be a hassle. It made it difficult to keep his own thoughts at bay, so he would flood his mind with titles and words and names. Patterns would also come to form, and from those, organization. All aspects of these collections of knowledge came together as they were put in their rightful places once more.
There weren’t many ways to tell how much time had passed or how long he’d been working. It could have been months or years since he’d first begun; at some point, he’d been woken by the Archiver’s pleased sounds. Opening his eyes and raising his head from the table, Ares saw the woman prancing about like an excited child. Yet every part of her, from her long white hair to the train of long feathers that followed behind her, flowed with elegance gained over a long lifetime.
The young man turned to the bookshelves now lined with materials. Despite being the one to accomplish it, a part of him couldn’t believe this Herculean task was now complete. In a way, the Archiver was right, they had found their rightful places.
Ares knew he should have felt some sort of happiness; relief, victory, content, something. He wanted so desperately to share in his employer’s celebrating, but couldn’t bring himself to do so.
He could only gaze upon the books with envy.
Ten Minutes Ago, I Saw You
Cindy stood dumbstruck as she saw the little girl. The girl echoed her reaction, seemingly frozen in time.
Both silently stared at the other before the little girl did what most children do when their emotions are too overwhelming.
She started crying.
Cindy rushed to her side and the girl immediately pulled her into a death grip of a hug.
“I missed you!” The girl sobbed. “I missed you so much!”
“I’ve missed you too.” Cindy sighed, not daring to break the embrace.
“I don’t even know who you are!”
“I know, child. I know…”
The front door to the house burst open. “Elizabeth Fiona Smith! What is with all that… racket…?” The girl’s mother lost her words as she saw two strangers, one of which was hugging her crying child. “HENRYYYYYYYYYY!”
The other stranger slowly walked towards Elizabeth’s parents as her understandably confrontational father arrived.
“I don’t know who you two are, but you’re going to get the Hell away from my daughter!”
“I’m Matt. She’s Cindy. We don’t want any trouble.” As Matt took another step forward, his eyes turned solid black and his magic aura became visible. “We’re here because… when your daughter was very young… she unfortunately died. And one of you… or both… made a deal with a demon to bring her back.”
The parents looked at each other in horror before turning back to Matt. “We’re supposed to have enough time to raise her… That was the deal.”
Matt blinked for a moment and shook his head. “Oh, I’m not here for that. Besides, the demon’s dead. You’re off the hook. But… the thing is… the soul that went into your daughter’s body… was Cindy’s first.”
Matt could feel the couple’s fear returning as the mother grabbed Matt’s hand. “Sir… please… We can’t lose her. Not again…”
Matt nodded as he watched Cindy look at him over Elizabeth’s shoulder, confusion clear in her eyes. But said confusion slowly turned into determination as she continued consoling her.
“Actually… I… think she’s going to be very well protected from now on.” Matt said, smiling warmly back.