Warmup Wednesday!

Directions: Write a scene or an entire story of 100 words on the nose (no more, no fewer), inspired by this photograph. No judging. All fun. (Normal Flash! Friday guidelines regarding content apply.)
Don’t forget to add your Twitter handle & link to your blog, if you please.

And a few words on how your week’s going would be marvelous!

 This week’s Warmup Wednesday challenge: Include a bad habit.

Manchu ladies

Manchu Ladies of the Palace Being Warned to Stop Smoking. Photo by Frank & Frances Carpenter, ca 1910-1930, donated to Library of Congress.

56 thoughts on “Warmup Wednesday!

  1. LAZY DAZE (100 words)

    “Oh my God! I just noticed how unbelievably small your shoes are? They’re like, totally the wrong size. Here pass the pipe. Don’t bogart the opium Dude-ess.”

    “Here you go…it’s like [cough] a custom in our country. The guys dig it so…”

    “Well, [cough] in America we got these things called flip-flops and they’re like so cool, and they make the most awesome sound. Kind of like, a flip sound then a flop sou….OH MY GOD! I totally just got it!! That’s why they’re called flip-flops!! Whoa……! How cool!”

    Nice week although we have exchanged snow for pollen on Cape Cod. Ahhhchuuuu!


  2. The Missionaries Wife
    (100 words)

    The green monster clouded her vision as she compared the ladies robes to her threadbare garments. She stilled her hands from forming claws to rip and tear, and quelled the bile of resentment rising towards a God that sent a poor Iowa farm girl to minister at the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City.

    “Consider the lilies of the field,” rose unbidden in her thoughts, shooting pangs of guilt through her bosom. She’d struggled with jealousy before.

    “Your riches are stored up with Me.”

    The words calmed and encouraged her.

    “Ladies, let me tell you about another kingdom,” she began.

    A quiet week working on inviting a best-selling author to my writer’s group, and preparing a story from my news journal blog.


  3. Liar’s Delight
    100 words

    “My mother died when I was six.” It is a lie, a fun new lie for me to play in. I watch their faces transform into sympathy and a thrill of excitement shoots up my spine.

    “I would have lived with Daddy then, but he’s still in prison.” My father is a security officer, but this crowd does not need to know about my boring reality.

    “What do you do for Holidays?” A boy my age asked.

    I thought for a moment, but not too long. The point is to make it look like a memory. “Well, whatever I want.”


  4. @AvLaidlaw

    Finished first draft of my Dying Earth story, onto revision. Hooray!


    Quick. Drop your broom and climb up. Look through this crack.

    See. It’s the woman’s courtyard. Here they come. Look at them with their faces painted white and those headdresses and those shoes so they can barely walk. Look at their nails. They wouldn’t know about hard work and sweeping dirt. Just sit around all day like dolls. Too precious for us. They think they’re blessed by Heaven.

    Oh. That one just picked her nose. She’s looking up here. And she winked at us. Her. That one, with the pretty smile.

    Master Yuan’s footsteps? Grab your broom and look busy.


    • Bad habits in high places; although I think that if he’d been able to speak to them he would’ve found that they didn’t consider themselves blessed!


    • Ha! Ha! “PEKING Tom” story!
      Nice take, AV. Bad habits from two quarters… brilliant!
      (I thought about incorporating nose picking into my story but decided it was too gross!)


  5. What the Emperor Hates
    (100 words)

    It’s a disgusting habit. It’s not becoming of a lady of wealth and stature. It’s not what the emperor finds attractive. I’m glad they listened to me and decided to quit, it probably saved my head from rolling off my shoulders.

    But there’s more work to be done with this group. The belching and passing of gas in public, the constant swearing at place servants and common people. Not to mention the gambling and drinking at all hours.

    Worst of all is the traipsing through the palace with dirt on their pot bottomed shoes.

    The emperor really hates that habit.


  6. Fong the Eunuch

    Fong the eunuch stands behind us, framed in the window; a stone statue.
    “Find your places,” he commanded, as if we were frightened granary mice.
    “Be as beautiful as you can be,” this ridiculous underling then decreed, as if we would be anything else.
    “The westerner and his daughter will capture your essence, and display it around the world.”
    The pompous buffoon continues his badgering.
    “Ladies! PLEASE! NO burning herbs in your mouths. They are firecrackers torching your souls.
    Have you no pride, ladies?”
    Prepared, smokeless, painted gently, powdery, plentifully, we stand forever.
    Fong wins the day.

    100 words

    recovering from 2 days of serious yard maintenance and moments of creative respite. Sunny here on Canada’s west coast; water perhaps at a premium.


  7. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 100 (I think – I hand counted because Open Office is dumb).

    I’m used to the outright stares, the side-glances, the whispered giggles, the titters of nervous laughter. When I walk down the street, a plethora of people pretend there’s nothing wrong with what they see, but they may as well proclaim it from the rooftops.

    When Sister Agatha ordered the new designs and Sister Louisa prayed the holy blessing on all of them, the Heavens remained slate-gray and veiled. The light of Mercy fled far from our cloister.

    The material is shale, the shape disfigured. All the vespers and all the petitions make no difference. Heaven doesn’t bless a bad habit.

    A little manic here. Kindle the Flame releases on MONDAY, and I still have a GAZILLION things to do before it happens. Good thing the kids are home from school at the end of this week. That’ll calm things down…


  8. Tearing Down Your House
    100 Words

    There are habits that break your body and others that break your soul.

    Shoom. Pause. Scritch. Breathe. Between scrubbing, I hear the Healthy Practices Lecturer. He is articulate and intelligent, but does not know our palace’s most unhealthy tradition. One the greatest physicians never address.

    It started off innocently. One harboring an unkind word. Repeated by another. A lady’s glance spoken with greater tones than words alone. Rehearsed by someone else. It moved to whispered symposiums under the “concerned friends” guise. Polished to perfection until they know no other way.

    Shoop. Sigh. The habits of soul are not easily broken.

    Finished scoring state exams yesterday. Last week’s scoring was definitely mind-numbing (barely squeaked out my Friday’s Flash and had nothing left to give for comments), but I learned a lot. I started back to teaching today (after 6 weeks of test-related activities) with just four weeks left of school! Going to try some read-alouds, Reader’s Theatre and Literature Circles to try to get them pumped for reading over the summer.


    • Ooh, those looks and whispers – now sadly continuing these days on fb, times don’t change. Four weeks left of school? We don’t break up until end of July! I think the next half-term length for us is a 7 week one and they’re horrendous but the year 11s leave soon and yr10 go on work experience so it shouldn’t be as bad as other times of year!


  9. The Lesson

    100 words

    Behind the window stood Tong, lowly kitchen boy; he had never been this close to the Imperial family before, let alone allowed to look upon them.

    But the Emperor had summoned him in order to teach his daughters a lesson; truly an unexpected honour.

    Tong had even been given a cigarette to enjoy.

    Another servant entered the room, offered him a light, but his hand shook so much he dropped the match on the straw matting. Ignition was immediate … and the door was locked.

    The daughters watched them burn, finally taking note that smoking can seriously damage your health.

    Currently enjoying half-term, very quiet week as son studying for A-levels & husband working but it’s meant I was able to do a little writing. I attempted Visual Verse for the first time and my poem has been placed directly beneath the wonderful Voima’s! Poetry was where I started with my writing and I seem to be returning more to it these days, but I still sent off a Gothic ghost story today so the darkness will continue 🙂


  10. Sara Tranum
    Sorcery and Suspects (100 words)

    “Three wives, eight daughters! What curse have they placed on me? Surely, witch, you can undo this hex, this sorcery.”
    The old woman’s head was bowed so only her crown on silver hair faced the emperor, a tight knot wound at the base of her hairline. Her response was so soft he grabbed the knot and forced her head up.
    “Repeat yourself, witch,” he demanded.
    “I know not of any spells or sorcery, Emperor. Nor does my daughter, your first wife.”
    The Emperor yanked on the knot, hurtling the frail old woman to the ground. “Punish her, too,” he ordered.


  11. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: Mm-mmm… Let’s see… 1, 2 ,3… 98, 99, 100!


    “Psssst! LanYing! Where’s JingHua? She’s late… again!”
    “She went for a smoke.”
    “Disobeying another order?”
    “She said, “I don’t give a flying f***! It helps my digestion.”
    “Mung beans make her fart.”
    “She knows the rules about photo shoots: groups of three ladies, one standing, two sitting… Where’s her chair?”
    “Took it with her; said her feet were killing her.”
    “Well, if she must bite her toenails…”
    “She avoids sales tax if she can fit into kid’s shoes.”
    “She needs the cash to fund her opium habit.”

    “She said she’d be on time.”
    “Looks like she lied… again!”


    My week became a lot better once I finally overcame the procrastination and finished off my four entries to the 2015 FlashDogs anthologies… Yes, it did go down to the wire.


  12. Seeing Specks
    100 words

    “That’s a wrap!” Mister Bossypants screamed, tossed his papers, and stormed off. Like we were the worst models he’d ever worked with. Whatever.

    I itched my wig and pulled it off. Well, Janie did have a horrible knack for picking her nose at all the wrong times. Those retakes had been annoying.

    I pulled off my dress thingy, stretching in my shorts and cami. And Carla certainly cursed up a storm at some of the poses.

    I washed my face and noticed Celia’s fan on the sink. I slipped it into my purse and headed out. Just a little souvenir.

    Life has been a bit crazy lately. My paying job has taken all my time recently, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to get back into my writing now. I’m looking at my schedule to see where I can make it a priority. My new goal is to finish the edits for the novel and have it ready for beta readers by the end of the summer. It will happen. 🙂


  13. Up in smoke

    Xiu shook her head, “You know they only make these costumes in one size…”
    Nuo nibbled the chocolate hidden in her sleeve, “Don’t lecture me, that perfume isn’t hiding the smell of smoke as well as you think it is. I may not be skinny but at least I can lose the weight. Good luck getting your lungs back.”
    “I think I liked you better when you were busy stuffing your face. How did you even afford chocolate? It must have cost you a fortune!”

    There was silence, followed by a mumbled, “Not exactly, just a pack of your cigarettes…”

    100 words

    Busy week this week, got my stories in for the flashdogs anthology, including rewriting one completely from scratch the morning of the deadline, because you know how motivating a looming deadline can be! Much happier with the new version though so it all worked out for the best.

    Also bought Margarets book (A man of character, available in all good bookstores named after rainforests) which I am really enjoying so far.


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