Writers’ Colony ended last Friday, but because we did two exercises per day, I can keep the prompts comin’ for a few more days. Craig Moyer provided this collection of phrases and asked us to “take one or two or more and work them into something of your own.” He didn’t initially tell us where they were from, so I won’t spoil the surprise either until after my response to the prompt:

  • “Dancing at a Party, Woman in Many-Buttoned Dress and Balding Man in Tuxedo”
  • “Party: Woman Taking Man’s Cigarette from His Mouth”
  • “Woman with Five Dogs”
  • “Beverly Hills, California: Two Women Greet a Third”
  • “Park Crowd, Woman in Center Lifts and Points”
  • “Girl in Central Park Picking Her Nose”
  • “Women Carrying Bags, One in Hot Pants”
  • “Histrionics on Bench”
  • “Woman Slipping off Shoes at MoMA”
  • “Couple Talking on Street, Older Woman with Checkered Dress and Sunglasses on Left”
  • “Women Leaning on Building, Staring at Each Other”

Here’s the vignette I wrote:


Mind’s Eye

I am leaning on a building, staring at my plate-glass reflection.

I was dancing at a party once in my many-buttoned dress with a balding man in a rented tuxedo. When I took the cigarette from his mouth, I remember wondering if the gesture would later lead to histrionics on a bench. I knew it was possible.

He didn’t know yet that I had five dogs and sometimes picked my nose. Or that I walked stocking-footed through MoMA. That I once carried hot pants through Beverly Hills, hiding them like cheap liquor in a brown paper bag from the couple talking on the street and the older woman wearing a checkered dress and sunglasses to their left. I pretended that the woman lifting her leg in the center of the park crowd was pointing at me, but then I noticed that she was one of two women, and they were greeting a third, who was not me.

She is not me now either.

We are leaning on a building, staring at one another.


Okay, here’s the solution to the mystery phrases. They are titles from a photo exhibit at the Denver Art Museum by Gary Winogrand called “Women Are Beautiful.” Winogrand was a freelance street photographer who took candid photos of anonymous women in ordinary settings. The DAM exhibit lasts through September 16.

Writers’ Colony Prompt #5: Mystery Phrases


One thought on “Writers’ Colony Prompt #5: Mystery Phrases

  1. Karen says:

    I liked this writing prompt.

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