Scene Writing, Short Story Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt from Anna Karenina

This prompt used a random line from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as my last line of the story:


The Return

She stood at the front of the ferry, rubbing her hands together to fight off the dropping temperatures, trusting that Patrick brought at least one of the children with him. If not, she feared the drive home would either be a silence as frigid as the weather or an emotional eruption.

Private consideration of divorce disguised as an overdue visit to her sister concluded in a compelled reunion for the family’s sake. She reached into her bag, hopeful she’d remembered to pack a pair of gloves. The ferry bell tolled, and people started moving. Next to her, a woman lifted a small boy, and once safely wrapped in her coat, they both waved towards the lot. Anna’s eyes flooded, and she sniffed loudly as her hands finally felt a soft leather.

Here you go miss,” the woman said, handing her a tissue.

Anna nodded with a grateful smile, pitiful compared to this super-mom / wife / citizen.

She dabbed at her eyes and looked down to pull on her gloves. Well-worn. Emerald green. Tears threatened to fill her eyes again, remembering the age-old birthday present. A color to stand out from the sea of black and tan sets, he’d said. To match my eyes. Poetry from a man still in the honeymoon stage of marriage. Before children and mortgages.

The boat docked, and she saw him. Lucy in his arms, and Oliver and Harry on either side. The four of them grinning like madmen; Patrick holding up a handmade sign with two simple lines that erased thoughts of real abandonment: Welcome home. We missed you.

She blushed, pushing her way through the other travelers. “All together,” said Anna, and she ran laughing to meet them, and embraced and swung round all the throng of swarming children shrieking with delight.



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