Zelda's Inferno exercise: based on the chapter "Nervously Sipping Wine" from Writing Down the Bones. Write a set of outrageous first lines, pick one and write a short piece from it.
The headache slid down his neck and spine and oozed out of his tailbone, dripping to the floor.
The dogs had a meeting late last night.
When I was a kid I would stay up after bedtime reading with a flashlight under the covers, and now I can only sleep on a mattress stuffed with books.
I do not believe in ghosts, but still on St. Patrick's Day I went back in the house to put on a green shirt lest the spirit of my grandmother haunt me.
Suddenly, over a small area in the middle of Interstate 83 in downtown Baltimore, gravity stopped working.
His paintbrush was made from the eyelashes of his ex-lovers.
He knew the children were plotting against him.
He checked the results three times, but there was no mistake, no miscalculation: due to obscure parts of the tax code, Uncle Sam owed him a Harrier jump-jet.
Her pen would not lay ink on the page unless the words were exactly right.
One morning I woke up to find that nothing special had happened.
His paintbrush was made from the eyelashes of his ex-lovers. He collected them from the pillow, over many years. Not mere head hairs, or eyebrow or body hairs or even pubic hairs would do. Only eyelashes, as if they would lend a bit of what the eyes had seen, as if some bit of vision had soaked into them through osmosis or diffusion or some other chemical absorption process the name of which he couldn't quite recall, and as if that vision would diffuse back out into the paint. And not the eyelashes of strangers, or friends, or even blood family, but only those of lovers, and only those left behind by accident or nature. A deliberately plucked one would not work, he was sure, though of course he never asked, he never told. For that is the nature of the thing: all artist have their secrets, even from their intimates.