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Papier-Mâché Memory

Rodric Anthony is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Creating new stories and seeing where they take him is his passion.


Single lines of a song or passages from a book or story can affect us significantly. What if those lines and or passages--the letters from those passages--became the inspiration for a different work of literature?

Prompts can pull out emotional poems or stories. Inspired by the words of John Hansen, another author at this site, "Prompts and muses can come in various forms from a stunning photo, a book title, a phrase, a song, our environment, a significant event in our life, or even a writing challenge instigated from one of our peers," I wrote a story.

The prompt comes from a book I recently purchased Tennis Shoes Adventures Series called Thorns of Glory Part One by Chris Heimerdinger.

Thorns of Glory Part One is one of over a dozen books that explore the possibility of time travel among the ancient American people as they relate to a group called the Nephites.

I looked up at the stupid papier-mâché Scorpion with its dangling ribbons and feathers, my brain in a whirl.

[pg 117, para 1]

— Chris Heimerdinger

...frames the story below. I use each word in the quote as the first word of the sentences in my short story.

Potential for a strangely written sentence can occur, With my eyes wide open...



I rang the bell as loudly as I could when the sun rose over the horizon as instructed by the school proctor. Looked like I would go blind, since I gazed as long as I could into the blazing rays before I blinked, which was just a second or so before starting to see red, then black.

Up in the vibrating bronze bell, I turned my gaze next to see its swaying strike its sound bow against the clapper. At each sunrise, I did this marvelous task entrusted to me by Procter Lorne. The trust with which Proctor Lorne places to me causes the inside of my heart to toll as the bell does with pride!

Papier-mâché is all I knew how to do since the war came and went along with my parents...


"Stupid," is what the other kids on campus called me because of my pass-time making, papier-mâché items using old flour from the kitchen, and odds and ins from the rubbish. Papier-mâché is all I knew how to do since the war came and went along with my parents who came and went too. Scorpion, a planar fox face-- the only thing that survived the bombing of our flat in London during the war--is the last thing Dad ever gave me, a tiny paper-mache fox.



With the constant raining of German missiles on the city, Dad and Mum entertained me with the papier-mâché figures using materials from the walls of the flat and rainwater, Mum making them sing after Dad prepared them.

Its simple eloquence compared to all those destroyed by the Nazis, Dad's gift comes to mind with the tolling bell evoking memories of Mum and Dad--all that sound reminding me of the missiles striking around like a lullaby, of sorts.



Dangling on the rope with each pull reminded me of how Dad and Mum would lift me in the air on their arms to give me a fright--not the kind to evoke fear, but excitement! Ribbons ladened with miniature jingly bells of papier-mâché mother put around the house connected to the doors and windows "Just in case some creeper stole into the flat during the raids," Mum would say poking my nose, I recall.

And several times Dad dispensed of a few creepers who caused the ribbons to pull and the jingly bells which sounded like a sleigh noising about its approach to crowds on the streets before the raids, it did.

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Feathers fall as the tolling bell frightens the pigeons, who nest in the belfry, into the sky with flutters nearly drowned in the tolling. My laugh, more of a squeal, I suppose, went up into the deep sounds of the bell and the fettering flutters of the pigeons because I imagined the last party Mum gave with the homemade confetti, which we quickly cleaned up to use for our cooking and warming fires and more papier-mâché!

"Brain," Mum would say as she pointed to my head each day. "In every situation, use it so that this right mess-of-things happ'nin with the Nazis don't be your future lot, yeah?"


A final pull on the rope brings the present back with all its grey pallor reality that Mum and Dad went away with the flat from the missiles falling while I survived, never to see them again, never to identify their bodies because there were none.

Whirl in emotion is what I did, walking carefully down the belfry flight with torch in hand musing on the happy time with Mum, Dad, and papier-mâché--waiting to do it again the next day thanks to Proctor Lorne.

Many thanks to John Hansen for the opportunity to participate in the writing prompt and share this short story. Let our muses run away in ramblings to the delight of all who are willing to read the words.

Ring My Bell

Sometimes the simple tasks bring to mind things we love to hate to love. Life is a collection of prompts for other parts of Life.


© 2021 Rodric Anthony Johnson


Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on July 11, 2021:

This was my preimere article coming back to Hubpages after my long break away. Share with the world!

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 09, 2021:

John, it was like your article was calling me. It was the first notification I saw in my email when I was able to check. Thanks for that bit of inspiration.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 09, 2021:

Bill, I learned that from you! John's challenge came at the right time to help me whet my writing appetite after being laid up in hospital. It felt good to write something. It was really random of me o write about something touching on WWII, in London no less. I have no idea where that could go, but I am glad it was a short story!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 09, 2021:

Rodric, thanks for being the first to participate with this intriguing story. You chose a wonderful sentence to use as your prompt. Great job.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2021:

The prompts are all around us, my friend. All we have to do is be receptive. If you ever need a kickstart, drop me a line and I'll gently kick you where bruises don't show. :) Well done!

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