Writing Prompt: Who Lives Here?

P-mag and the editorial unicorns have been considering opening up our little ladyblog for really phenomenal fiction writing. 

To get everyone in a fiction frame of mind, we’ll be offering periodic writing prompts. Jot your drabbles in your favorite spiral notebook, leave your stories in the comments, or even email mail them to one of the editors if you’d like us to consider publishing them under your byline.

Who Lives Here?

Below, you’ll find several pictures of rooms. (Thank you, Sims 2!) Pick one or more picture(s) and create the person or people you think live in those rooms. Where do they live? How do they spend their days? What’s important to them? What holds them back? What motivates them? What do they love more than anything in the world? Don’t shy away from details, give the character or characters you create a realistic (or fantastic), interesting back story.

Room One

Serene bedroom with large windows and natural materials and decor.

Room Two

Rocker bedroom with red and black plaid bedding, heavy velvet curtains, and a guitar.

Room Three

Pink room for a pre-teen child with a daybed and framed pictures on the wall.

Room Four

Retro-styled living room with leather couch, old-fashioned TV and large round mirror.

Room Five

View into hallway from a bedroom, which overlooks a fluffy bed and a white wooden dresser.

Room Six

Small office with a wooden desk containing a laptop computer and a tent calendar, in front of a wall covered in vintage signs.

Room Seven

Small child's room, with a dollhouse, baby bed, and fabric covered ottoman.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

23 replies on “Writing Prompt: Who Lives Here?”

Room Seven:
615 words


“Ready?” There was a smile in his voice as the little girl in front of him bounced on her toes with excitement. The hands he’d placed over her eyes covered most of the small face and when she spoke, he felt her lips move.

“Yes! Lemme see, Daddy! Lemme see!”

He released her and then held his breath as she gazed into the room, her clear topaz eyes as wide open as her mouth. When she stayed silent, he looked around anxiously. With no time to repaint the dark brown walls or replace the serviceable Berber carpet, he had furnished it in shades of rose and pink and hoped for the best. He’d done the best he could to make the masculine area a bit more suitable for his dainty, feminine daughter but this moment would tell him if he’d succeeded.

“Is . . . is it okay?” he finally asked. “Do you like it?”

She stuck two fingers in her mouth, a habit she had given up by the age of four but started anew in the past year. “It’s all mine?”

Still in the middle of the doorway, he squatted down to put himself at her level. “It’s all yours, honey. When you’re here with me, this is your room.”

“Even the dollhouse?” The fingers became the thumb as she chewed.

“The dollhouse, too.” He wrapped one arm around her waist and hugged her close. “It needs a family, though. I thought you might want to pick them out yourself.”

The thumb came out of her mouth and dug into one small hip as her shoulder lifted. “My bed at home is bigger.”

His jaw hardened briefly as an eight-year old memory surfaced of a night spent painting dandelions and butterflies on pale green walls. “I bet this one is bouncier.” He teased away his own moment of disquiet. “Maybe you should climb up there and try it out.”

“What’s that?” His daughter instead pointed toward a large yellow doll slumped next to the dollhouse. After he stammered through an explanation of the cartoon character, she frowned and nestled closer into his side. “She’s scary.”

“We can take her back to the store,” he suggested quickly. “You can find another teddy bear or whatever else you want.”

“There are two crowns.” Back into her mouth went her fingers as she tucked her head beneath his chin. “I only have one head.”

Eyes closed, he pressed a kiss into her dark hair. “Well,” his voice was a patch of rough gravel as he tried to speak over the lump in his throat, “little girls can never have too many crowns, you know. I read that in a book once.”

“You did?” She pulled away just far enough to look him in the eye.

He nodded. “I think it was that book right over there,” he told her with a gesture toward the striped ottoman. “Want me to read it to you before we go shopping?” When her chin dipped once in assent, he dropped back to sit down right where they. “Will you get it for me?”

She looked across the room at the small stack of books, clearly hesitant to step deeper into the room. He held his breath again until, finally, she dashed forward and grabbed the top volume. After only the briefest of hesitations, she scooped up a tiara glittering on a plump cushion, held it to the top of her head and ran back.

She planted herself in his lap and handed him the book. “I’m ready.”

Keeping the little girl within the circle of his arms, he opened the book in front of her and began to read. “Once upon a time . . .”

Okay. 339 words/45 minutes. I’m not sure, but maybe trigger warnings? It kind of hints a little at disordered eating/EDNOS and depression. It’s not explicit, but better to err on the side of caution :)


*deep breath* Here you go…(btw lines with stars around them were in italics)

*This I cannot, this I cannot, this I cannot.*

The thought made her head swim, and so she stopped writing. She walked away from the laptop and the little page, glowing empty.

“Did you get any writing done today?”

“Sure, a little.”

*This I cannot.*

Sometimes she grabbed her marker-pens and drew on her hands, her arms: giant looping men, swallowing themselves, a lion whose mane turned to water, lapping a woman’s feet. So, sparkling, charmed and full of invention, she went to write.

*This I shall do. This I cannot.*

She began to sleep with her arms scrubbed raw, smarting under the weight of her head. Cars passed in the night and yellow light stretched the bedroom walls. When it fell away again, the room contracted with it until there was only her. She had a vague memory of something bigger.

“Can I read it when you’ve finished it?”

“Maybe, yeah. Maybe.”

She left her laptop open each night. Perhaps there was a line or two of text that she would delete in the morning. Sometimes nothing at all, and then the nothing of her would grow by one more line.

*This I cannot.*

Every morning she tried to write. She was unsteady. Her feet were already on their way to work. She served coffee, and she liked it. Occasionally someone smiled at her and she’d smile back, exhausted. She’d thought of drawing those pieces of herself out, writing them down. But then nothing would make more nothing, and she was only herself anyway. The more she worked, the smaller she became, eating herself away to make her nothing smaller.

“It’s not a bad idea. They say you have to write what you know.”

“I don’t know that much.”

“You know plenty.”

She is gaunt now, lackluster. Her hair falls into her heavy eyes as she opens her laptop. Each time may be the last. Tonight, at least, she is ready.

‘One day’, she writes, ‘I will tell myself that that I cannot do, and this I can.’

See, was that hard? ;)

I love the recurring sentence, which would be awful in a big piece but hey long live little pieces.

And I think you could make an entire, new way of getting high, outerworldly story of this paragraph. It’s like a never ending path.

Sometimes she grabbed her marker-pens and drew on her hands, her arms: giant looping men, swallowing themselves, a lion whose mane turned to water, lapping a woman’s feet. So, sparkling, charmed and full of invention, she went to write.

Thank you :)

I have a pretty harsh inner critic and I usually edit myself into oblivion. But doing this kind of helped me see that harsh self-editing is really just a safety net.

More prompts all the time, pleasepleaseplease!

I don’t know what, but I’m really attached to the “She served coffee and she liked it” line. When I got to ring people up when I worked retail, the simple and official process involved was a treat for me. <———— odd person, I know.

I like the idea of writing as depletion of the inner self. This could be expanded into a great surreal horror piece.

Okay, this was -as the Dutch say it- a shake from the loose wrist. 354 words, 40 minutes.

Room six

“I wanna scream and shout and let it out and scream and shout and let it o-”
“Would you shut up?”I knew my little sister was everything I wasn’t. Knew she liked everything I didn’t. Knew that she had absolutely no clue or no interest about keeping your preferences close to heart if it was clear that you were around someone that really didn’t give a damn about those preferences.
“This place is so stuffy.” She pulled one of the plugs from her ear, allowing the tinny horror to leak into my surroundings.
“It isn’t. Turn down your music. And go sit in the garden if you find it so horrible inside.” She had been here for ten minutes. It had been five days ago that me and mum had decided that she needed a very different environment. Of course it had been mum who had came up with ‘You live in the middle of nowhere! And you can do some sibling bonding!’. It had been three days ago that I had caved to my parents’ endless begging and emotional blackmail. Dad only repeated how much of a role-model I could be, even though I hadn’t been around for Maggie’s first twelve years. Mum had wiped away fake tears and asked if I needed financial support.
Some things never change.
“What were you writing?” Her body moved like it was bordering on an attack.
“Please turn down your music a bit.”
“And why is there a clock next to your computer? You know there’s a clock on your co-”
I smacked away her grabby paw. “Don’t touch Be-” Another mistake. As was allowing Margaret into my sanctuary.
“Be-what? Let me guess, not Beyoncé. You probably don’t even know who she- oi!”
I grabbed her under her armpits and walked her into the garden. “Listen to your tin soldier music outside. Come inside when you can part with the gadget glued to your arm.”
“I HATE you!”
I closed the door in front of her.
“Patricia!” She looked petrified. “I’m going to tell mum!”

Hey, I think we ended up choosing the same room. I really liked yours. I loved the phrase “tinny horror” – it’s pretty accurate. The topic worked really well in the 300 word limit, it’s a great snapshot.

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