Egyptian poet and short story writer Nada Adel Sobhi has a gorgeous blog Nadaness In Motion where she posts her work, book reviews and some of the most creative writing prompts I’ve run into. Takkayal, Arabic for “imagine,” is the name of her picture prompt series. I’ve been admiring the images for months and never took the plunge. Well, her current prompt captured my imagination and I had to give it a try. So here’s the image and my contribution. Does this painting awaken anything for you? If so, head on over to Nada’s site and add your comment here.
Takhayyal (writing prompt) 15 from Nadaness in Motion. Artist unknown.
As Above, so below
That’s what they told her.
As within, so without.
She’d understood this once. How everything is everything else, however much your eyes and ears tell you otherwise. Your senses? They’ll try to fool you.
Remember, child, the key to the door with no lock.
She’d giggled at them then watched her laughter rise in waves of golden light, blowing here and there. Everywhere.
Of course, she’d remember. How could she ever forget?
“Melody Winters, pay attention!”
Melody gasped. Her eyes snapped open to meet Mrs. Tate’s glare. The teacher stood at the front of the classroom, geometry lesson scrawled on the board behind her. “Well? Care to explain yourself?”
Albert, who sat behind Melody, hissed in her ear. “You’re in for it now, Mousy Mel. The mean hag will double your homework.”
Melody took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Tate…I…”
“Had your head in the clouds? Again? Well, we must help you with that. Mustn’t we?” The teacher’s red-painted lips stretched into an unfriendly smile.
Double homework alright. And a note to take to her parents. They’d have to sign it and send it back to Mrs. Tate. So unfair, Melody thought, as the cold November air bit through her thin coat. All around her the press of people, the cars with their loud horns and gritty exhaust that stung her nose and throat, it all closed in on her. Melody reached the corner of her street and ran the rest of the way to her building, and then up five flights of steps. Slamming the apartment door behind her, she pressed her back against it, listened to her lungs fill and empty, fill and empty as she caught her breath. Her parents didn’t close their bookshop until seven. A short reprieve.
Melody changed out of her school clothes and padded to the kitchen. She toasted a slice of bread, spread it with butter, and climbed out the kitchen window onto the fire escape. Too cold, really, to be out here. And it’s getting dark. But this was her place, high above noise and crowds and snickering boys and teachers who glared.
Nibbling at her toast, Melody looked up at the darkening sky and…There…right there…at edge of her mind…a flicker… But it was like catching sight of something from the corner of her eye. Only no matter how fast she turned her head, she could never catch it. What is wrong me? Mousy Mel. Silly little girl with her head in the clouds. The endless clouds. In an endless sky.
Five stories below Melody, the first streetlamps flickered to life. One then another and another. Glowing golden amber. Illuminated jewels that extended down the girl’s street to the next and the next and the next.