Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kathan's Writing Prompt

Writing prompt  - write a story using: Overheard in conversation at the grocery store.  I have 34 birds and 8 cats.

Miss Opal's Family

She was only about 5 feet tall, stooped at the shoulders, wearing a long housedress, worn tennis shoes, and an old flannel shirt that looked like it belonged to someone twice her size. Her face looked almost ethereal, ageless, when she smiled. Her gray hair was pulled tightly into a bun at the base of her neck, with a few wisps escaping its confines.

In her grocery cart she had 6 cans of kitten food, a bag of dry cat food, a sack of thistle bird feed, a loaf of bread, a package of hot dogs, a pint of milk, and two apples.

“This’ll keep us for a week,” she said to the cashier as she placed her items on the counter. “My family doesn’t need much.”

Obviously a regular, the cashier spoke to her. “Miss Opal, you treat those cats and birds of yours better than yourself. Is this all you will be eating for a week?”

“The finches need their thistle seed. I counted yesterday and there were 34 of them at the feeder taking turns. They about cleaned me out!”

“How is Simon holding up?” asked the cashier.

“He’s doin’ fine now. Just took him awhile to get used to that momma cat and her 6 kittens that showed up on my doorstep couple of weeks ago. He’s used to bein’ top cat. Well, now that there's eight of them, he just has to share.”

I waited behind her as she slowly counted out the bills and coins needed to pay for her purchases.

In my cart were items we stopped for on a whim in this small town on the way to our vacation at the beach. Cheese, crackers, lunchmeat, bread, chocolate bars, bananas, and orange juice. Nothing essential, just snacks.

I quickly got out of line and went back to the pet food area and grabbed a dozen more cans of cat food and a large bag of dry food. I saw the thistle seed and added that to my cart.

At the checkout counter, I asked the cashier about Opal. “She’s 90 years old and comes in once a week to get what she can afford. She just lives down the road. We let her use one of our shopping carts to get to and from her place.”

Outside, I saw her walking slowly across the parking lot. I pushed my cart towards her, waving at my husband. “Be right back,” I mouthed at him.

“Miss Opal, Miss Opal, wait please,” I said as I came up beside her. She turned and smiled at me.

“I couldn’t help overhearing about your new kitten family and the finches that have made their home with you.

Taking the things out of my cart and placing them in hers I said, “I would like to add these things to your family’s food supply. We love the finches that come to our feeders and we have two cats that are our family. I hope this will be of help to yours.”

“Well, thank you darlin', that's very kind of you. They will surely appreciate it, as I do.”

As she turned to go, she said, “Bless you, and may you have a fine day.”

I got into the car with my husband with tears in my eyes. “Let’s go. We can get groceries later.  Miss Opal had a greater need than ours today.”


  1. PW this was lovely! Now that is how to take a prompt and run with it!

  2. Thanks - a needed distraction from mystery writing today!

  3. WOW -- I love this one!

    Now, who says you aren't a southerner, bless your heart....

  4. She just needed to speak that way!

  5. That was so sweet! And so interesting, because it wasn't the situation or person I saw that inspired this cool how our imaginations can write stories that are better and lovlier than reality. ;-)

  6. This story didn't come right away - I had to mull on it overnite. It finally came to me in the shower. Hopefully that isn't where my muse lives...

  7. If so, she's probably awful wet by now...