For years now I’ve been using writing prompts to help spark some creativity and to just plain have some fun with. The idea is you take some random objects or lines of text (usually from a deck of prompt cards or lines from a writers website) and write for ten minutes without stopping to edit. Here’s one.
Prompt words: collector of oddities/box of kittens
Joseph Spangler had been a collector of the finest things this side of the Atlantic. It was just too bad that they were all absolutely worthless. He’d had so many things held up and thrown away in his closet that he had to move his boxes of oddities to his bedroom. Then from there, his downstairs bathroom, his closets in the hall, the hall itself; and then on to his garage, his shed, and the rest of the house. His house soon became a museum of the most peculiar oddities in the world—even more peculiar than normal oddities that people collected. You see, he didn’t collect just any figurines or dolls or statues or toys or posters or anything else that you could think of of one thing, he collected them all with the particular character of having everything and anything to do with one animal—cats. Kittens, mostly, but cats. Other, larger felines, wild or tame, sufficed if the moment proved its cuteness. One time, Joseph bought a lamp that was of a lion made of real lion fur exported from Nigeria. It’s expression was caricatured with the animal’s eyes bulging and painted sky blue and its tongue wagging out the side of its maw in an almost snide smile. But for the most part, Joseph stuck to what he knew and loved the most, house cats.
Of course, he didn’t own a single cat (this being a story about oddities indeed), though he’d grown up with several cats as a child, and being the only child, he sought them out as confidants and siblings, true. Maybe that’s why he didn’t own any now. After all, they say when you’ve had too much of a good thing… But there were other factors that went into his not owning a cat, even for a modest pet and even this some thirty-eight years later after having been around them so lovingly. First and foremost, they baffled him in their affection for their masters. You could pinpoint the love that dogs shared with their owners down to the dopey smile and the happy barking and the affectionate nudging of the nose while they slept. But cats didn’t do any of this; in fact, cats were a cold sort of creatures if they let it be that way. It was part of the reason Joseph ‘got off of’ cats, in an addiction’s sense of the word—they were simply too wishy-washy with their feelings. Secondly, cats were alive, to tend to and to feed (h’d really not taken care of anything his whole life), and so he was baffled and bewildered to say the least. It was much easier, he’d known, to collect blankets and stickers and posters of them hanging from a branch and announcing to the smiling audience (in not too an argumentative voice) to ‘Hang In There!’. It was simply just that much more easier. And lastly, and quite more importantly, Joseph was extremely allergic to cats; in particular, cat saliva. He didn’t know how or when he realized this, only that, one day, after cub scouts, one of his favorites, Algera, licked his cheek and touched him on the lips. After that, he awoke in a hospital.
Of course, this all was thrown out the window when, one morning, after opening his front door to scoop up his morning paper, Joseph saw something down on that porch step which left him with a terribly annoying moral choice that both ruined his entire day and irrevocably changed his life forever—down there, nestled together in a meowing, furry clump at the bottom of a tall, deep woven basket, were four kittens, alive and in desperate need of food from the looks of it.
Joseph sighed and shut the door. But in just a few seconds, opened it again and brought them in by sliding the basket with his fingertips wrapped in a towel and breathing into another through his mouth, swearing all the time.