Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, cruelty — but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.

One of Writing Forward’s Creative Writing Prompts

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Submitted by CogDog

There are 11 written responses to this assignment.

The knife

Written by tanyalau on July 6, 2013 9:04 am
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She threw the potato peeler violently on the kitchen floor, angry. Fuming. She saw the glint of the kitchen knife on the bench and grabbed it, gripping the handle tightly.

She heard a pitter patter of tiny footsteps, and felt something tug at her shirt. A small voice floated up at her: “Mamma. Bubby’s woken up! She wants us to give her a BIIIIGGGG Kissss!”

Suddenly the baby’s cries, before so painfully piercing, incessant, and screeching, were now small, and fragile. An sense of yearning engulfed her, and she released her grip on the knife.

Beats Beets

Written by CogDog on July 6, 2013 1:53 am
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Beets are slimy, nasty, and the mere writing of them transports me back to the time at age 7 I was forced to eat them a summer camp. I took one bite, and had to run outside to hurl.

I know many people relish them, pickle them, mix them up onto pink liquid soup called borscht. My stomach is already churning thinking about the disgusting thought of even putting a spoonful near my mouth.

Where might be the silver lining in all this? Can I rise to the challenge of finding the virtue in the Evil Vegetable?

Reaching for the silver polish.


Here it is.

Beets are a pretty purple color.

From a distance.

Ugly was me

Written by Christina Hendricks (@clhendricksbc) on July 6, 2013 12:55 am
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I promised myself I’d be calm. I mean, no one could do anything about the situation, and it was no one’s fault (I think), so why not just be calm and deal with it? But at one point I got ugly.

Flying home to Vancouver after a year in Melbourne, Australia, we taxied out to the runway and then turned around and went back to the gate, where we sat for 6-7 hours (can’t remember anymore) before finally taking off…only to find that the plane wouldn’t be going to San Francisco as planned, but we’d have to wait until the next day. Oh well, I thought all the way through, no biggie b/c we have nothing pressing…what’s another day? But a woman across the aisle was livid–long story, but she had given up her seat on a different flight after they asked for volunteers, and now she wanted it back. Wasn’t gonna happen, but she kept pressing and pressing, saying what they WERE going to do for her, etc., and none of it worked. I decided I wouldn’t act like that, which was fairly easy because getting home a day later didn’t make much of a difference to me.

But when we got all our bags (9 heavy bags, for 3 people for one year in Australia) and got ready to take the shuttle the airline had arranged to our hotel, we waited and waited and…no shuttle. I called the hotel, and they said “all the passengers are here already and checking in.” No, I said, they’re not all there because we’re not there. “Yes, they are all here,” was the reply. Then I got upset, and said, in a nasty voice: “I’m telling you, the passengers are NOT all there, because WE are still HERE at the airport!” I could feel my anger rising. Short story, we had to take a taxi, which the airline “might” reimburse us for. MIGHT? $100 taxi? I don’t THINK so. “Might” is NOT going to cut it!

I had turned into that kind of person I didn’t want to be.

Sure, I was tired and we hadn’t had much food since breakfast (hardly anything on the plane), but still. It wasn’t the hotel concierge’s fault, whom I was being mean to. The airline had arranged for one shuttle, and it left without all the passengers. The hotel didn’t have a shuttle of its own, so there was nothing the hotel could do. It was the airline’s fault, if anything. But even the person at the airline counter who said we had to take a taxi wasn’t in control of whether we get reimbursed or not.

Silver lining? I recognized the futility of my outward expression of anger. Yes, frustration and anger make sense in some situations, but it makes little sense to direct it at someone who had no responsibility and can do nothing about the situation. It just makes everyone more upset and frustrated.

Now, I’m waiting in Sydney for the flight to San Francisco, which keeps getting pushed back later and later. It’s quite possible it will get cancelled to. And I’m going to really, really try not to get ugly myself, no matter how ugly the situation.

King Lear — Tragedy and Hope

Written by Cris Crissman @Cris2B on July 6, 2013 12:19 am
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I just survived a three and one-half hour performance of King Lear, the Shakespearean play that George Bernard Shaw wrote “no man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear.” I’m emotionally drained and physically exhausted. There was war, hate, cruelty, betrayal, greed, and more. A silver lining? I am so impressed and proud of the teen-run theatre company that produced this play and can’t wait to see what these talented, disciplined, and passionate teens do with their lives.

War and Peace

Written by Bill Smith @byzantiumbooks on July 5, 2013 9:02 pm
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Today my wife and I toured the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library Museum. Wilson, you may remember, was a president who sought peace and prosperity, yet was drawn into The Great War, what became known as World War One. The war itself introduced the world to modern mechanized armies, gas attacks, trench warfare, and many other bad ways to kill each other. The silver linings included an effort to avoid future wars (didn’t work). Wilson’s League of Nations was not supported by the US congress, and though other countries tried, it floundered. The ending of this first world war only made central Europe smolder until new leaders arose to bring about a larger war, one that was truely a World War.

On a personal note, Wilson increased America’s standing armed forces from under two hundred thousand to over two million. This gave plenty of people work (excluding the ten percent or so who either didn’t come back, or didn’t come back whole), and ultimately led to my own ability to receive a monthly retirement check for my own service in the military.

Septic Sonnet

Written by Vivi on July 5, 2013 6:22 pm
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Shall I compare thee to a septic tank?
Thou art more smelly and more temperate.
Bowel winds doth shake the darling buds of May,
And Proctologist’s interest are too brief a date.
That TalkyTina doth your interest take?
Sometime the hot eye of heaven doth mistake.
She is too creepy and compost interested,
And daily creates, far too much time invested.
Oh scariness, with interest in seeds for flowering.
And septic tank, stinky with stench devouring.
But her eternal dumpness shall not go,
Although her on the highest landfill I would bestow.
That stinkiest, ugliest patch of muck
For Talkie Tina to end her glorious streak of luck

Oh scary, phobic thing, no eyes can see,
No heart can love, no bowel winds smother thee.

Tell Me a Story

Written by Sandy Brown Jensen on July 5, 2013 5:25 pm
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In a letter to Jane Humphrey in 1852, Emily Dickinson cries, “Bye and bye we’ll all be gone, Jennie, does it seem as if we would?”

News of nineteen young firefighters from a hot shot team dead in an Arizona wildfire—some beneath their fire shields as they’d been taught—some had broken for cover they never reached.

Remembering this morning Newton and the Slaughter of the Innocents. Remembering this morning the Boston Bombing and the Slaughter of the Innocents.
Then all the memories slide into place ordered by a date: 911 (“we will never forget”)
or a place name: Columbine, Thurston, Clackamas Mall (that we may not forget the one in the many)
or a name: Kip Kinkel, Dylan Klebold, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev,
and all the names are the names of young men (that we may fear them) (that we may pity their mothers and their sisters)

Heat wave—everyone
more or less trapped at home. In the morning
windows open to what scraps of cool air
are left from the night. Then
Someone turns up the furnace,
and we seal ourselves inside.

Inland, cooking in this green
Willamette Valley, we know
the sea is not far away, yet
somewhere It Is Written that we
must stay here, and endure.

Why does the human mind
long for the world of dream?

Tell me a story, a new story, an old story, any story, a story in which I am young again and as brave as I am beautiful. A story from the beginning of time…

In less seriousness

Written by Pascale on July 5, 2013 2:55 pm
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IamTalkyTina is probably the scariest doll I have the pleasure to be acquainted with.
An ugly side pierces through the beautiful porcelain face — an ugly streak: her temper! Such a bad-tempered doll she is.
But perhaps this is what happens when people are M-E-A-N to you.
(But, she winks beautifully at you too…)

In all seriousness

Written by Pascale on July 5, 2013 2:44 pm
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Ugliness is one word. Ignorance. Ignoring people, not ignoring things. 
You can learn things, whether you like it or not, but ignoring a person is the worst thing you can do to someone. 

On the other hand, you don’t have to deal with the plonker. 

You Are the Silver Lining in The Mean Word

Written by @iamTalkyTina on July 5, 2013 10:41 am
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Plus, I was trying to find a way to have a Silver Lining in The Mean Word. All those #pretenderTinas were saying The Mean Word and I thought they should just Get A Life, Bub and Make some Art, Bub.

But then I was thinking that there was a Silver Lining in The Mean Word.

First, I thought, it made lots of ticket sales for The Rumble.
Second, I thought, it showed them all that they can’t mess with @iamTalkyTina, and that it is better to be a True Friend than to be a #pretenderTina.
Third, I thought, that if you look closely at the Mean Word, then you see ME, right there at the start. And so it means that inside every Mean Word is Me, and that if you Change Yourself then you can Change the World, which is pretty deep and transformational for everyone in the Whole World. So if those #pretenderTinas can see themselves in The Mean Word (it is right there, bub, the first two letters of it, ME, which MEans them!) and know that if they are saying a MEan word or doing a MEan thing then they have the power to STOP and Make the World a Better Place and Change the Word, one MEan Word at a ttime.

So I think that is the Silver Lining in the MEan Word. and it is a powerful one to everybody.

Compost, Septic Tanks, and The Dump

Written by @iamTalkyTina on July 5, 2013 10:29 am
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So the thing that is ugly but with a Silver Lining that I am going to talk about is Compost, Septic Tanks, and The Dump.

So when you put old food in the compost, it can be stinky and not very nice to smell, but when you leave it for a year or so and it turns into dirt, then you can plant seeds and it will grow new food that smells nice. So that is a silver lining.

Then, when you put stuff into the Septic Tank it is also ugly and stinky and not nice to smell, but later, after it gets pumped out and you put the lid back on and the grass is there again then it is better. Plus, the grass always grows greener over the septic tank. And we all like green grass. Or scrub, if you live in a desert.

And then, if you put all of your old stuff in The Dump, then it is not very nice and ugly and stinky and not nice to smell and there are rats and feral cats and effluent and an eyesore if you look at it, but later on in future times then anthropologists and ethnographists and dump archaeologists will come along and dig it up and find old cell phones and stuff that can tell them more things about us that we didn’t post on the Internet in our Digital Identities. So that will be pretty cool for them.

So in every stinky one there is a silver lining in it.