Drabble Lab Round 5: Surprise

What with server issues, the last round of drabble lab was pretty quiet. But we still got a few great entries! I’ve included all of them, and our winner’s illustration, below.

So, going forward, there are two possibilities: either round four was especially quiet due to server issues and happenstance, in which case there will be a bunch of entries this time around and we’ll keep on going. OR, this is naturally winding down and drabble lab will go on hiatus after this week. In any case, write a drabble, post it in the comments, and you might win an illustration!

Drabble #1, from Olivia, is super cute and has an even cuter last sentence in my opinion.

There was a distant memory of touch. Somewhere from years ago, a purring comfort of soft bodies and warmth, mixed together with mother’s milk. The loss of it wasn’t clear, when the feeling of companionship had disappeared, or when he had vanished off into solitude. Being alone didn’t seem like a burden anymore, it was the natural order of things. He was strong, he was capable, he was independent. He relied on no one but himself and his senses. But somewhere, there lurked the memory that solitude was not the only option. Stretching, the cat gave not a single fuck.

Drabble #2, from Breadbox, is a great description of urban solitude.

Downtown in morning rush hour. He focused on navigating the crowds, and still nearly bumped into two women as they discussed their plans for the day. He squeezed past a knot of teenagers shouting at each other over the music in their earbuds and entered the coffee shop. The line was long, with people squeezed together, trying not to block the entrance. He waited his turn. Finally the barista looked his way. “Double tall,” he said, but his voice came out gravelly and uneven. He cleared his throat. It was the first time he’d spoken since he’d ordered coffee yesterday.

Drabble #3, from Janelle, sounds like the beginning to a great longer story.

A four day caravan-ride from the capital city there is a tiny village at the foot of a mountain range. If you walk the road through the village and along the foothills for two days the land becomes steep and craggy. Past the treeline you find little topsoil and the air is thin. If you climb further there is a winding, narrow, and rock-strewn road, and a staircase. The stairs are still sharp and chipped; they have never been worn in. Atop the staircase is a hermit’s cave. And inside live two men, who have never spoken to each other.

And here’s the illustration, by Brian, for the winner, Breadbox.

Illustration by Brian!
Illustration by Brian!

So, submit your drabbles by Friday evening for our (possibly last) round! The theme this time is surprise. Happy writing!

Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

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  1. His apartment manager recognized her, but even so he wouldn’t let her in until she bribed him with promises of leftover birthday cake. She had a full hour to spare, so she took the opportunity to blow up the balloons. But the cake wasn’t even unboxed when he burst into the apartment. From her perch atop the back of the couch, stretching to affix a green balloon to the ceiling, she watched him pull the nylon stocking off of his head, let some of the loose bills fall out of hoodie’s front pocket, and say: “Well, this is a surprise.”

  2. Alan adjusted his hat more firmly to his head. The wind was pulling at it with a desperate longing. He normally rode the bus to work, but he had missed it by a mere minute that morning. The one time his regular ride was running ahead of schedule. He walked slowly, figuring late was late and that maybe he could enjoy an atypical stroll. No one would miss him anyway. The wind pulled again at his hat, lifting it up and setting it free to dance across the sky. Alan stopped to watch it, which was why he didn’t see…

  3. “Objects at rest want to stay at rest.”

    He was pretty sure he’d said it out loud. Somehow getting up and beginning the process of sorting through what was left seemed too difficult. And so he sat there in the rubble as the light dimmed and the night chorus began. The thousand voice choir, amphibian and avian, was unchanged despite how profoundly things were different on the inside of the walls.

    He’d spent the day not thinking about it as hard as he could, but he knew what awaited him at home.

    “I should have told her I loved her.”

  4. He returned the velvet box to his jacket pocket. “Okay. Now remember, this is supposed to be a surprise. But perhaps even more important is that it is a declaration. It’s an expression of my feelings, the most profound feelings that a person can have for someone else. And it’s a expression of my desire that we resolve to share the intimacy that we have for the rest of our lives. That’s what you need to communicate. You think you can handle that?”

    The man he had hired for the afternoon hefted the coconut cream pie. “Whatever. You’re the boss.”

  5. I am a birthday queen. My birthday is not a single day affair, it is a week-long affair. This year I chose not to lavish myself with the birthday party I deserved because I had picked up intelligence that there was to be a surprise party. Needless to say I was ecstatic. The day arrived and I waited and waited for someone to hijack me, for people to jump out, yell. The work day ended. I drove home in my normal way. I unlocked my door, expecting a room packed with friends. It was quiet inside. No one lurked. Surprise.

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