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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used recently in one of my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow 10 mins) is…“Excuse me, can I help you?”

Just write a story beginning with that line of dialogue, and take it in any direction you choose!

I am delighted to have the opportunity to share, with her permission, a story written by one of my regular participants. This is exactly as written, no editing or changes, created spontaneously in the 10 minutes allowed. Enjoy:-)

“Excuse me, can I help you?”
The bitter, dirty back of the old woman turned away from the young man.
“You look like you’ve lost something”.
“Go away, you young varmint! I got nothing worth yer nicking!”
Her face was lined like a contoured map, the hills and valleys, challenges and
sadnesses of a life lived, so it seemed, without much in the way of comfort.
“Go on, bugger off!”
But the young man didn’t bugger off.
“Let me help you look”, he said, turning over the rubbish in the bin just as
she was. “What are we looking for?” he asked after a bit, when she didn’t
beat him about the head.
“Mind your own business”.
“Well whatever it is, it’s thirsty work”, he said. “Let’s have a cuppa, shall
we?” and he pulled a flask and two cups out of his bag.
The old woman’s greedy face searched his.
“It won’t have enough sugar in it”, she said but she took the tea he handed
her anyway.
“I lost something a while back”, the young man said. “I’ve searched for it
everywhere but I can’t find it”.
She looked at him with some interest and turned away. There was a long
“Well I lost my baby, so there!” she said, hurling it like a cannon ball of pain.
He reached out his hand and touched her’s, then held it. And then into the
space which held only the two of them and her lost baby, she wept and wept
her grief. Finally the torrent abated.
“What did you lose then?” she sniffed.
“My self respect”, the young man answered, quietly. “You just helped me
find it.”


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:


and here: