Just a simple baby-sitting job

I almost gave up on this one, another entry in the writing challenge, partly because no amount of brainstorming was generating a good idea, and partly because once I did come up with an idea, the rough draft started at about 1000 words, nearly double the requirement of the prompt I was using. I think that I have figured out that I’m trying to cover too much ground in the stories that I’m trying to tell, and if I want to get more descriptive detail in, I’m going to have to brainstorm smaller nuggets of story, or come back to them later to flesh them out. This one feels like I ended up with just an outline of a longer story, but it weighs in at exactly 450 words.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThe Prompt:

For this week, I’m giving you the word “Core.” You have 450 words to explore any meaning of the word in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction. Link up your responses on Friday’s post, and have fun!


the earth’s core: center, interior, middle, nucleus; recesses, bowels, depths; informal innards; literary midst.
the core of the argument: heart, heart of the matter, nucleus, nub, kernel, marrow, meat, essence, quintessence, crux, gist, pith, substance, basis, fundamentals; informal nitty-gritty, brass tacks, nuts and bolts.


the core issue: central, key, basic, fundamental, principal, primary, main, chief, crucial, vital, essential; informal number-one. ANTONYMS peripheral.

My story:

Mr. Weber opened the door before I could ring the bell. It was 5:45. He did not look very happy to see me. Apparently, when he had called to ask me to babysit, he had been serious when he told me arrive at 5:30 for a half hour orientation.

His wife was right behind him, and she was friendly. “Megan, I’m so glad you could help us out. Grant, let her in. Give her a quick tour and then we must get going.”

He glared at both of us, but stood back. “Fine. We’ll do the short version.”

I scrambled to keep up as he strode off down the hall.

He tapped a thick binder on the kitchen counter, saying “This is your instruction manual. Anything you could want to know is in here.”

Mrs. Weber grabbed the binder before he could open it and start reading to me. “Let’s take this upstairs so Megan can meet Josie.” He sighed, but followed us back out into the hall and up the open staircase.

We found Josie playing in her big, pink toy room. She grinned shyly at me and gave her parents kisses and hugs.

Mr. Weber had ended up with the binder again and handed it to me before his wife dragged him out of the room. “At least read the table of contents.”

Josie seemed pretty happy with her dolls, so I let her play while I opened up the binder and started skimming.

It was a core dump of every fatherly worry from small to epic.

Vomiting, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, choking.

“What to do if Josie falls down the stairs.”

“In case Josie is run over by a car.”

“What to Do in the Event of a Nuclear Bomb Attack.”

I had started to read that one when the sound of someone pounding on the front door startled us. Josie said “You’d better go tell them to stop banging. Daddy doesn’t like that.”

I almost checked the binder for “how to handle people pounding on the door.”

The front door has large windows on either side, so I could see the crowd on the front porch. I stared, dumbfounded, taking a few moments to register the bloodstained clothing, ruined faces, and vacant stares. The pounding grew louder when the creatures outside saw me.

Josie had followed me down the stairs and her scream startled me in to action.

I checked the lock on the front door and then ran back upstairs, dragging Josie with me in to a closet.

I had carried the binder with me and found myself hoping there was a section called “What to Do in the Event of a Zombie Attack.”

This entry was posted in Fiction.


  1. idiosyncratic eye says:

    You had me laughing at the last line, I don’t know if that was your intention though. I therefore took it as a very successful satire of parental worries and young babysitters facing new responsibilities. 🙂

  2. Renee says:

    This is just awesome! Oh yes, I had a chuckle at the end. You’ll have to give us a reading of that chapter on zombie attacks.

  3. Rachel says:

    Ooh. I like this! What a fun interpretation of “core.” If you’re looking to improve it, I would see if you can change up a few of the paragraphs that start with the word “I”.
    Wonderfully imaginative read.

  4. Cynthia says:

    I’m so glad you share these writing challenges with your blog fans. You have such a wonderful imagination. I’d think you could sell stories to some publication and make money. But, I suppose that would take the fun out of it.

  5. sammi says:

    I love this story! And boy, did I ever LOL at the last sentence. You are so multi-talented I can’t imagine your ever getting your fill of writing, photography, quilting, knitting, working at school, writing your blog, running MQR … the list just goes on and on! Oh! And most importantly being a wife and mother.

  6. shelton keys dunning says:

    Zombies! Babysitting and Zombies! I am a mess of giggles and I love it!

    My only concrit is the middle bit where the titles of the table of contents is in quotations and divided into individual paragraphs. Maybe it’s the 1am speaking at the moment but it looked more like a broken conversation. Maybe bullet point it or italicize each within the same paragraph? Dunno, it just threw me.

    But I love LOVE this! I mean, Zombies!

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