[Writing Prompt] John and Mary

This is an unusual prompt – instead of thirty minutes to write one story, the author is to write three different stories from the same prompt, taking ten minutes for each one.

The prompt is simple: John and Mary meet. What happens next?

Before you tell me I cheated, let me say it here. I cheated. It’s really more of one big story than three separate ones. Anyway, here’s what I ended up with.

First Story
She was the only one I ever truly hated. When you really hate a person, I mean, when you truly loathe them, something happens inside you.
I used to wonder about my purpose in life. People came and left and it all seemed meaningless. Twelve, twenty-five, thirty, there was nothing for it. Nothing for me.
Mary changed all that. Something about her cherry blossom eyes, her dove-down hair, and the way she said my name that sounded like a badger strangling a cat on the fourth of July.
It was only when she said my name. Otherwise her voice was like soft pudding. That’s how I knew from the moment I met her the feeling was mutual.
Ever since that moment, we have hounded, dogged, and generally made each others’ lives miserable. When I see her there’s nothing else. Just the fury. I don’t wonder what the purpose of my life is anymore.
It is to ruin Mary Smith’s.
Second Story
I remember that night in the bar. John sitting there with his hangdog persona. Just like a lightbulb with a screw loose or an ashtray with too much tray. Everything about him screamed loser, loner, miserable waste of space pimple on the otherwise perfect prom face of the universe disgusting filth slime victim of his own self-destruction mouth breather wheezing sucking in and out in and out on MY air. That’s right, I can’t say “John” without emitting several high pitch squeals of existential anguish and aggression along with an array of colorful explosions. So what? He started it that night. His violent attack on my fragile psyche began with one simple word.
Third Story
I can tell you what happened next. Not many people understand what happened between John and Mary that night. I can’t say I do, entirely. I do take some responsibility. I did introduce them. John likes dove-down hair and cherry blossom eyes, I thought they would hit it off. They were getting along at first. She accepted his drink and he started regaling her, I don’t remember the precise details of about what. She was all smiles, until she said his name. Mary will never admit this, but she’s always had trouble with the “JO” sound. Poor John is so sensitive he just didn’t understand she didn’t mean it. He was convinced that she wanted to insult him. It all went downhill from there. He compared her unfavorably to a frightened water buffalo, she told him he was too close and needed to give her a few planes of existence of space, and, sadly, the rest is history.

By Sam Munk

Science fiction and Fantasy author with a focus on philosophical inquiry and character-driven drama.


  1. Nice stories!
    You know, of course, that this you are writing the classic opening for every romance since, at least, Pride and Prejudice. They are clearly destined for Love.
    Like the third, unnamed, voice!

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