Monday, 7 November 2022

One Quirk Later #17 || staring at the glass (#16)

Hello to the NaNo-ers! Hello to Christine's non-NaNo-ers! Hello to the people who are writers but are simply Haven't for a while and really want to get back to it but also feel overwhelmed and possibly drained!

(High five if you're in the last category.)

Hopefully, whatever category you're in, you'll enjoy breaking up your writing routine (like mine: "not writing". it's a simple routine.) by adding in a Quirk. 

One Quirk Later: Prompt #17

my Pinterest, where I get all of these from

To join in with this madness:

  1. Write whatever this picture prompt inspires you to! 
  2. Post it on your blog! 
  3. Link back to this post—there's the image up the top of the post, too, if you'd like to use that. 
  4. Comment on one of my posts so I can come and read your amazing writing!
  5. And I'll drop links to everyone's stories in the next post. :3

Around the start of December, I'll post the next prompt and my story for this one! any objections if I make it Christmassy But you can use any Quirk prompt at any time! Just let me know if you do, so I can come and read it and squeal. 💛


And also, because I wrote it late (don't look at the calendar. just. don't.) I'm popping my Quirk for #16 in this post with the new prompt. Enjoy. (Or don't. I'm not your mum, I don't tell you what to do. Except when I'm telling you to feed me Quirks.)

Quirk #16

Jonathan’s not in bed.

“Leo,” he says, nose pressed to the glass, “I found a window upstairs that wasn’t covered up.”

The goldfish continues its laps of the bowl.

“There was furniture and boxes in front and I had to climb over, maybe that’s how no one noticed before. I pushed a heavy box right up against it so I didn’t have to see. I’m not big enough to move the wardrobe. I tried, but I just got dirty hands.”

The goldfish eyes him, then turns to swim counter-clockwise.

There are footsteps behind him, muffled on the stained floorboards but heavier than his own small bare feet had been. The lamp beside the couch throws enough light that in the dark, he can see the reflection in the fish bowl without looking around. It’s the uniform lady. She has a straight black ponytail and wears a cap with gold braid, and Jonathan has always wanted to try it on, but he’s never felt right about asking.

“I’m not sleepy, and Leo wanted to talk,” he says, by way of explanation.

The uniform lady nods, and waits where she is, in the doorway. When he’s finished whispering to Leo, she steps to the side and lets him pass into the hall. His toes are cold, and when he reaches his bed he jumps the last of the distance and burrows down.

There are no windows in his room, and the night air settling around the house is very quiet.

Jonathan sleeps soundly.


Jonathan’s not in bed.

The uniform lady doesn’t find him for a long time, long enough that he’s a little bit cold from sitting cross-legged on the floor for so long. Normally she knows where to look, but he’s not in the lounge where Leo’s bowl sits, so she’s had to comb every floor of the house. He feels a bit bad; her face is crinkled in worry by the time she finally peers around the sheet-covered wardrobe.

“What are you doing here?”

It seems simplest to point to the sliver of window visible behind the sagging cardboard box sitting crookedly in front of it. So he does.

“Oh, Jonathan.” She makes a small move, hesitates and considers, then slides down to sit with her back against the wardrobe like him. There’s enough space between them for another person, and he appreciates that. Mirroring his posture, she crosses her legs with a small grunt and without too much effort; adults are old, but she’s not as old as most of them.

She says, looking sideways at him, “What are you thinking?”

It’s an interesting question. He’s not quite sure. The feelings are all a bit mixed up, and the words he could use to pin them down run together and away and around the edges of his mind.

“It’s big out there,” he says.

She hums.

“When I found it, the window was—too big. I think I saw stars. I looked for a long time, and then I felt sick.” In case she’s worried, he adds quickly, “It’s only small now.” The sliver of window visible behind the box is narrow enough that three of his fingers can cover it from side to side. It’s more comfortable that way.

“How long ago did you find it?”

“Two days and an afternoon.” He can see she’s surprised—she hasn’t found him here before, or noticed him absent. “I didn’t want to come back, and Leo wasn’t interested, so I was going to forget about it. But I didn’t.”

He thinks of Leo, swimming round and round in his bowl, content.

“When I outgrow the house, will it be safe for me to go out?”

She chews on her lip. “They’re working on it.”

“Will I hurt people?”

The uniform lady pulls off her cap and twists it around in her hands. “They’re working on it.”

He never gets told everything, and he wouldn’t want to. But he looks at her, blinking, in case she wasn’t finished.

“I do want you to know. I think you should know. But-” She hesitates, looks at him and then away. “I don’t want to be the one to tell you. It’s selfish. I’m sorry.”

Jonathan considers. “Then can I try on your cap?”

Without hesitation, she plops the cap onto his head. It sits low over his eyes. He pushes it up to smile at the uniform lady, just as she presses her hand into her eyes and turns away with a choked noise.

He lets the cap drop low again and gives her space to be sad.

Something Quirks are making me think about? My writing process. For these short pieces, at least, there's no "first draft/second draft/final draft" process. It's ongoing editing, throughout the piece, as I write. A new paragraph means I have to edit something seven paragraphs back; the turn of phrase in a sentence I just wrote makes me go back and strengthen an element from earlier to develop a Theme. It's a bunch of pieces that are sliding all around and I have to slot into the right place. 

Wouldn't be practical for writing a novel, though, that's far too many pieces to slide around. xD

Is there anything you've learned about your own writing process recently? (It's just really interesting to see yourself doing something and think "oh! I didn't know I did that!")

  • • • • • • •

Time to shout out to the marvelous Quirk-writers!  

I know we all appreciate your frequent contributions to the Stories With Feels And Also Gurgling Humour collection, dear friends.

  • • • • • • •

What's been up in your life recently? Good things, I hope? Personally, I've been trying to balance out working full time with spending more time on Interesting Things, and while it makes for a full schedule, it does mean I'm now learning HEMA sword-fighting with my sister. It's ENORMOUS fun and the people there are hilarious and we all joke about stabby stabby. Also they are happy to spar with me even though I'm new and it's just awesome. 

My to-do list may be suffering, but sometimes in life suffering is a thing we just can't avoid, y'know? the list is taking one for the team. yes yes.


I hope your November goes well! Spend time doing what you need to fill yourself up, whether that's time with family, time in prayer, time being creative, time poking your sister with a sword... Have fun, and bring back your Quirk in tribute at the end of the month! mwahaha!


  1. I cannot WAIT to work on this Quirk! I'm going to be flying for Thanksgiving, and I have a feeling that I will be in Just The Right Mood to write something for this prompt.

    Also! That Quirk! And the implications! Gak! My heart is quaking, juuust a little bit.

  2. I am incredibly excited for this Quirk. *begins plotting*

  3. This child is my BOY. *starts knitting sweaters* Also, it didn't go where I was expecting (the quirk, not the sweater)? And I have feelings??
    I fully intended to participate in this quirk but...*waves hand vaguely* Life, ya know? I hope to participate in this next one though! (*nervously eyeing aforementioned Life*)

    1. Here it be!

  4. "not writing" as a writing routine, ah yes. (actually have been doing well about writing consistently for the past...six...months? prior to that was doing pretty well only falling off the bandwagon sometimes for a year or so? but yeah, there have been Times. Embarrassingly long-lasting Times. Quirks are so useful to me because I feel accomplished about finishing something every few months or so, despite large projects dragging on. It's really nice.)

    (also. the Silver Eye meme is nigh-universally applicable, but it never gets less funny.)

    ALSO ALSO THE QUIRK!!!! It is so atmospheric and I have feelings. not sure I trust you with the small sad children either and may have to steal Jonathan in addition to the Sponge's child. But maybe I will leave him with the uniform lady. So long as he is Okay and Mostly Not Sad.


  5. I love this. It's so good. The whole feel of it is just MY JAM. I am always here for small, sad children in mysteriously angsty circumstances. And you've done it so well. I have feelings, and I barely know these people. What is this magic?


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