Trifecta Writing Prompt: PHANTOM

I found a thing! I love all these online avenues that push us to create on a weekly/daily basis. Trifecta is a weekly prompt that requires writers to come up with a story between 33 and 333 words that uses the third definition (in a standard dictionary) of a given word. This week, the word is “phantom.” The third definition, according to Trifecta, is:

3 :  a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal, i.e. “she was a phantom of delight” — William Wordsworth.

So I thought I’d try my hand.

“A Sign for Leaving”

I was nine years old when the forest took root inside my home.

It started with mushrooms in the bathroom — poor plumbing, everyone said. When they spread to the hallway, little rubbery gray nubs poking out of the old carpet, my father called Lowes and inquired about a weedkiller that would defeat indoor mushrooms. The man on the other end of the line laughed, hung up, and probably spent the better part of the day laughing with his work buddies about the absurd question. Meanwhile, moss was beginning to appear under my small desk, and a beetle crawled across my foot to get to the mushy green stuff. Instead of screaming, I just watched it crawl on top the green and crouch there, as though it were asleep.

I drifted downstairs, where I found my brother asleep under a blue spruce that had sprouted in the living room. We had been sleeping under Christmas trees for years, so this to him seemed no different. In his seven-year-old mind, Christmas must have just come early this year. But I saw the roots of this phantom of Christmas latched into the carpet, and the wood beneath that, and knew that if I entered the basement I would see squiggles of life hanging from the ceiling.

My parents stood at the edge of the kitchen and watched as a maple wound itself around the stove, snaking up through the pipes under the sink and thrusting leaves and helicopter seeds into the room in a flurry of motion. My parents clutched each other, as though one could save the other from this madness.

The next week, we packed the boxes that hadn’t been disposed of from the last move. Toys, Kitchen, Easter, read hastily-scrawled Sharpie that never really dried. We left the forest in that house as it had come: wild, tangled, unexplained. We didn’t look back.

Published by Liz

I'm a writer living and working in Cincinnati, OH. I've been writing for ages and ages. Somehow now I'm actually getting someone to pay me to do it.

20 thoughts on “Trifecta Writing Prompt: PHANTOM

  1. How imaginative. That is a fine opening sentence. I enjoyed it. I love the parents clutching each other in an effort to save each other. And I’m very fond of the phrase – squiggles of life. Nicely done.

  2. This is practically a fairy tale – I loved it! The bit about the spruce and sleeping under Christmas trees was a great, whimsical touch. (I think I might have stayed in the house, myself.) Wonderful piece. And welcome to Trifecta – I found this thing a year or more ago, and it’s become one of my very favorites! Hope to see more of you.

    1. Ah! Thank you! Your words mean a lot. I will definitely be back for more Trifecta. Thanks for the warm welcome. :)

  3. I like the whimsical feel of this. Even with the forest taking over, it didn’t feel scary – it felt natural… like maybe it was nature’s way of saying, “if you’re going to move into my yard, I’ll move into yours.”

    I’m glad you found Trifecta. It’s an awesome group of people, and the challenges are highly addictive :)

    1. Thanks so much. I feel so welcomed by this group of people. I am definitely going to continue doing this!!

  4. This is brilliant, from your opening line, through the description of nature overtaking your home, to the ‘unexplained’ ending. Please keep linking up with us! There’ll be a weekend prompt posted on Friday :)

  5. This is an utterly engaging story! Opening line is superb.
    love the squiggles of life hanging form the ceiling.
    I’m glad they left the forest house wild, tangled and unexplained!
    Bravo! and welcome!

  6. What a wonderful line-“My parents clutched each other, as though one could save the other from this madness.” Loved the creepy feeling and the way the seven year old may have been thinking while the 9 year old acts wiser than her age.Was afraid of bad things happening but so glad that the family had the good sense to move out before things got wilder:-) A fantastic piece!

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