Prompts: Oops. I Wasn’t Supposed to See That.

the word prompts inside bracketsEveryone can get involved with Hippocampus Magazine with {prompts}! About each month, we’ll post a new creative nonfiction prompt, inspired by a real-life event. Fact is stranger than fiction–if we experience something unbelievable, others must have a similar story.

From February 2011

“Oops. I wasn’t supposed to see that!”

Join the fun with our current prompt; select entries will be published next month!


Smooth Move

Normal day as ever. I’m walking into my roommate’s bathroom, holding my tea mug, hair washed and face already moisturized, old lines erased. New day, same routine.
I come daily to chat while he brushes his teeth and applies his own I’m-so-young creams then we both help each other choose what to wear and race to see who gets dressed first.

This time he was in the shower with a strangely familiar, hopeful looking girl. And I saw his butt, and it was hairy. Odd, I thought. He was smooth on his arms and back. I didn’t even care whom he was with or the fact that she looked like a fatter shorter version of myself. Then he raised a razor and started shaving his butt. She saw me and I put a finger between my lips to request her acquiescence of silence.

— Fiona Capuano


‘Hanging Out’ at My Friend’s House

When I was growing up in the 1950s, I used to play with a pair of sisters who lived down the block. I always felt welcome at their house, even though I might have been a little older than they were. The dad—a tall, skinny guy with glasses and an angular nose, like Dennis the Menace’s father—enjoyed building things in their garage, like the really neat playhouse with working doors and windows he constructed for their backyard.

The mom was exotic looking, at least to my little girl eyes: she wore the full skirts of the time, with peasant blouses and sturdy high heels, and her lipstick was a bright red. She wore hoop earrings, and kept her curly black hair cropped short.

When she got pregnant a third time, the kids on the block got excited. No one else seemed to be having babies, so the situation stirred our imaginations. When she had a little boy, we were all eager to see him. So eager that one day we tumbled into the room where she sat in a rocking chair, breast exposed, nursing her new baby.
Her figure could have been described as “full” even when not pregnant, but that breast could only be described as enormous. I wonder what she thought as that group of dumbstruck kids stood in the doorway with our mouths hanging open.

She quietly asked us to step out and close the door, and didn’t seem too upset, but it became clear at that moment that we’d seen something we hadn’t been meant to see.

— Risa Nye, Oakland, Calif.

Eye Witness

Lacy bras and panties are only so sexy. After back-to-back shifts of folding them away into drawers and wrapping them in pink tissue paper for overweight women with platinum credit cards, they tend to lose their appeal. In so much that I think about looping one strap around my neck and throwing the other strap over a curtain rod. If they can reign in DDs with no problem then hanging a underfed college student should be a piece of cake. Or at least a piece of peace.

During one of “those days” when the bras never fit, the panties don’t come in the right colors, and twin toddlers puke simultaneously next to the make-up counter, I was setting a woman up with a fitting room; she was boasting all the while in a very loud voice how blessed she was to have such a perfect chest. Indeed, she had great boobs; not too big and not too small, and they were perky in all the right places. I set her up with a fitting room and forgot about her in the hustle and bustle of a Saturday at the mall.

The kept requesting more and more sizes and colors, and in no time there must have been at least three dozen bras in her room. After that she was satisfied and I forgot about her again, until I accidentally opened the room for another customer: she was half naked with three different bras looped on at the same time, hiding the fact that she was an A cup at best. It explained the recent ‘boost’ in shoplifting incidents, and her perfectly round boobs. She left in a hurry never to be seen again; guess I wasn’t supposed to see that.

— Pattie Flint, Middletown, Conn.

Rollin’ Down the Street

The bullies of the block are always causing trouble. I have heard them brag stories of throwing oranges and rocks at cars passing by on Sherman Way. I never participated, yet I was always curious to see what excitement occurs in these late night excursions.

I stationed myself behind some bushes in a dark corner of the main drag. I am sure those guys did not see me creep into this location as I for sure would have been cornered.

Once posted, one orange propelled over a Mercedes as if its pitcher had released a fastball too early. No more than a minute later, an unrecognizable boy rolled a tire in front of a Chevy Blazer. The woman never saw the hollow rubber sphere as she was too busy changing the tape in her car stereo to music more upbeat with slamming drums and screaming guitars. The tire banged into the side of her vehicle so hard sounded as if there was a collision of two vehicles.

Her facial expression said it all. Mouth wide open as she screamed, eyes full of fright and arms jerking the steering wheel towards the center lane. The boys’ faces expressed the synonymous shock as they ran from the scene. No way were they taking the blame.

My personal bully spotted my ghostly white silhouette as he ran past me in the dark. He slowed yet he continued on his path with the look said it all as I said to myself, “Oops, I was not supposed to see that…”

I slowly walked home as if I saw nothing, yet the memory rewound and replayed in my mind. Never again after that summer evening did my bully and I cross paths.

—  Toribio Torres, Sylmar, Calif.


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