J.A. Taylor

A categorical index of my writing on Medium

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Write a story involving the infamous six-stringed instrument

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Image by Peter Fischer from Pixabay

When I asked my wife to marry me, I played her a diddy I had arranged on my maroon-sunburst, acoustic six string. I figured it would put more pressure on her to say yes if she knew I had taken the time to compose a song in her honor.

I was right.

Music has a magical power to tickle the ears and charm the soul. It moves us emotionally and physically, makes us smile, and can even draw tears from our eyes.

One of the most well-known instruments in our culture is the guitar. Although its original form — birthed from the lute and the lyre — likely had only four strings, humanity has since improved on this magical contraption, creating a masterpiece of which Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, and many others have deemed worthy. …


Perhaps he would find someone

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Image public domain, courtesy of comicbookplus.com, modified from original

“I changed my mind,” Maddie said, tugging the metal band off her head. Dr. Canon smiled at her. His smile was the reassuring type — clean-shaven, generous lips, and crow’s feet framing kind eyes.

“I understand,” he said. “I’d likely feel the same way if I were in your position.” He inhaled deeply, then funneled the air out through his nostrils, as if contemplating her words, and waited.

“What?” Maddie said.

Dr. Canon waved a dismissive hand. “Oh, nothing.” Maddie sat up from the cold laboratory chair. He smiled again. “Shall I summon a taxi for you?” He always had a way of throwing in an archaic word. …


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Photo by Dustin Humes on Unsplash

A poem mourning false American hopes


And spiders

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Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

If you eat too many burritos, you may be in danger of requiring a burritoectomy. I came close to needing a burritoectomy back in 1998 while driving a rental car on trolley tracks in Dallas, Texas.

Here’s the thing about driving: There are spiders.

I once heard that Don Pablo’s put concrete dust in their burritos. I think it might be true because I felt like that thing set up and hardened once it was in my stomach. Plus, I’ve never been able to eat quite as much ever again. In addition, my poop was like little rocks the next day. Little. Concrete. …


An interactive fantasy fiction story

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Image public domain from The British Library
Music for your journey? Listen to Celtic Fantasy by Alexander Nakarada (www.serpentsoundstudios.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons BY Attribution 4.0 License

You race through the morning woods. Light from the rising sun blinks at you through the underbrush. You will catch Geoffrey, and when you do, you’ll wallop him good. “Come here, you coward!” you shout at your younger brother. You ball your fists and run. “I’ll show you wha — ”

A root catches the tip of your foot and you crash to the ground, dashing your chin on a stone. Your world fades to black.

You wake with your head ringing. The metallic taste of blood is slick between your teeth. You sit up. It’s nearly dark. …


Write a 100-word story about an image from the New York Public Library

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Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

I came across an amazing find. The New York public library has a host of images available online via Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/@nypl. These images tell countless stories.


Sometimes you just can’t help yourself

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Photo by Bappie on Unsplash

As the crescendo climaxed, laughter punched Nate and Mindy’s guts like a box full of trapped cats. Nate tried silence, but it didn’t work. Mindy’s hands flew to her mouth, awaiting the applause to mask her irreverence. They both bit their lips between their teeth, trying to hold the laughter in, but bursts of hilarity flapped from their mouths like air from a loose balloon.

Mr. Farnsworth straightened his bowtie and cast a scornful look across the darkened highschool auditorium. Signaling their condemnation, he silently invited others to join his disdain. It quieted them for a moment. Until the tuba solo. …


Write a Centina or Pentina containing the famous phrase

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Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash

It was a dark and stormy night. There’s a sordid history associated with this sentence. Even though it is the opening line for Medilieine L’Engle’s work, A Wrinkle in Time, Writer’s Digest has called it, “The literary posterchild for bad story starters.” Snoopy from Peanuts famously started his novels with the phrase.

The well-known words first appeared as the opening line from English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s work, Paul Clifford. Since then, it has become a hallmark of bad storytelling, purple prose, and melodramatic fiction. There’s even a bad fiction contest based on it.

Therefore, I thought this would be a fun challenge to offer the writers of Centina Pentina. Take this famous, exaggerated, worn-out, despicable phrase and redeem it. Craft a Centina or a Pentina with it. You don’t have to make it the opening line (though you could). You can work it into dialogue or even have someone in your story mocking it. Use it however you wish. But, if your story is going to qualify to be featured, you must use the phrase in its entirety: No sprinkling the words throughout your story.


I think I know why mother hasn’t come home

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Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

I have a list on my bedroom wall. It is a list of people. There are about six people on there that I still do not like to talk about. Sometimes I get the sudden urge to go out and shout obscenities at them. Or kill them. Sometimes I am so angry about the things they did that I want to punch them in the face. Or maybe kill them. And sometimes I wish I could slash their throats open and watch the blood pour out like a faucet.

But I do not do these things. That’s not what I do. That’s not who I am. That’s not the lessons I learned. Even though sometimes I want to. Like with Tommy Hargrove. Sometimes I imagine Tommy Hargrove’s blood. It is wet and sticky and all over the place. A place where the stain never comes out. A place like white carpet. Tommy’s blood would never come out of white carpet. It would look like a candy cane — his blood all swirled in the white carpet. …

About

J.A. Taylor

Coiner of Centinas and Pentinas, Jim died in 2076 from either trying to kill a spider while driving or from eating too many burritos. jataylorwrites.com

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