Grace and the Greek Warrior, Part 1: A Writing Prompt Serial

So, I had this idea.  It might not be a good one, but I’m going to give it a try.

Since I’m nowhere close to being ready to reveal any of my original work on this blog yet–I’m only a third of the way through the first rewrite of my novel, which is so very, very far from “Let’s show everyone the first chapter so they want to read it!”–I want to write a serial story here.  For funsies.

I love writing prompts, and I’m following about a dozen different prompt blogs on tumblr already.  I’m sure I’ll gather more!

My idea was to start a story today based on a prompt, and once a week (hopefully) post new chapters based on further prompts.

I am not planning anything.  Anything.  I wrote the first chapter today with no forethought into where this story is going to go.  Except that it’s a romance, because I like romances.  As far as actual plot goes, I’ll have to wait until I see a new prompt that jumps up, grabs me, and says, “Now, yes, this is what happens next!”

The starting prompt comes from meetcuteprompts, which specializes in prompts for how two characters meet.  The perfect way to start a new romance, right?

You’d think so, but then, one of my main characters is a Hellenistic statue.  No, I’m not kidding.

Grace and the Greek Warrior

Grace flashed her membership pass at the counter, but it was a formality, because Saturday mornings it was Glen in the booth, graying, cranky-happy Glen, and he knew her by sight.  Three years of coming to the museum most weekends would do that.

“Here for the new Greek statues?” he asked with such exaggerated casualness that Grace had to laugh.  He knew the answer without asking, so she only smiled.  “I was surprised I didn’t see you on opening day, actually, last Saturday.”

“My parents were in town,” she told him, tucking her pass back into her purse before running a hand through her rain-spattered blond hair.  She’d forgotten her umbrella.  “I had to show them around the city, but they’re not really the museum types.  I took them to the aquarium, though, that was fun.”

“An aquarium is just a fish museum.  Should’ve brought ‘em here anyway.”

Grace laughed.  “How’s the exhibit going?  Popular?  Anybody stumble into one of the statues and break it yet?”

Glen pulled a horrified face at her, but then he chuckled.  “No, thank heavens.  But…”

“But?” Grace echoed.

“It’s weird.  Lots of people came on the first day, we’re always busy on Saturdays.  Not very many people stayed long, though.  I overheard a few women talking about how they thought the statues were creepy.  And apparently word’s gotten around–attendance to that exhibit dropped pretty sharply over the next few days.  Yesterday I’m not sure anyone went in there at all, except the staff.”

“Glen, if you’re trying to pull some sort of haunted-exhibit story on me…” Grace began.

“Honest to God,” he protested.  “I mean, I went in there out of curiosity, but nothing seemed odd about it to me.  Aside from all the junk on display.”

Grace quirked at eyebrow at that, and Glen broken into a wide grin.  “You know,” he elaborated with a crude downward gesture.  “Junk.”

A laugh burst out of Grace that was far too loud for proper museum etiquette, but since there was no one but Glen to chide her, she figured she was safe from being escorted out for improper conduct.  “So you’re not an admirer of the male form?”

“Not unless it’s mine!”

Grace waved a brief goodbye as she strode away, saying, “Well, this I just have to see…”

Unsurprisingly for a soggy Saturday morning, she was the first patron, and her footsteps on the polished stone floor seemed disturbingly loud against the faint patter of raindrops on the roof.

The exhibit was a marvel, though, and she soon forgot about Glen’s spooky nonsense.  Greek art history wasn’t her strength–that was the ancient religious art of southeast Asia.  She could go on for hours about how to tell a Thai Buddha statue from a Indian one, and then another hour going on about her trip to China to see cave temples.  Easily.

But she appreciated art from everywhere, and stone carving of any kind appealed to her.  She had never tried her hand at it, but she always wondered how the artists could portray such vivid depictions of life from something as solid and unforgiving as rock.  And here, the Greek statues were incredible examples, with their flowing robes and curling hair, and, of course, their junk.

Stopping in front of a particularly imposing piece of a young warrior holding a spear at rest, Grace felt the first faint trace of unease trickle down her spine.  The same lifelike qualities she’d admired in the other statues seemed a little too real, looking at this one.  The way he leaned ever so slightly to one side, his hip not quite brushing the smooth column of his weapon.  The tilt of his head, as if someone had just called his name, but he hadn’t yet opened his mouth to respond. The drape of the short cloak over his shoulders, the folds of simulated fabric so detailed that she could imagine them moving if she were to reach out to touch it.

Not that she would.  She took a step back to put herself out of reach of temptation.  For a moment she’d wanted to.

The rain had stopped without her noticing, and now the silence around her was palpable.  Glen’s silly little tale suddenly didn’t seem so foolish.  She was alone and strangely afraid.

Grace turned for the door and took a single, echoing step.

Wait, please.

She whirled in place, looking for the owner of the voice, deep and male and oddly hesitant.  No one was in sight.  A quick prowl around the room didn’t turn up anyone.  “Hello?” she called softly, torn between wanting someone to answer and wishing for more silence.  How embarrassing would it be if it were only one of the museum staff?

You can hear me?

“Yes, I can hear you,” she snapped.  “Now where are you?”

Oh, thank the starsI’ve only managed to make the others uncomfortable when I tried to reach them.  They all left, like you were about to.

That made no sense.  Grace completed her circle through the room, ending up in front of the young warrior again.  “I’m losing my mind,” she muttered.

No, I promise, you’re not.  Look up.

Confused and trembling, Grace looked at the face of the man with the spear.

Hello.

Grace sprinted for the exit to the exhibit in a blind panic.  She skidded through into the hallway–her ballet flats were fine for walking, but not suited to running–and forced herself to slow down to a brisk walk, even as the voice continued in her head.

No, please, come back, I didn’t mean to frighten you.

Glen looked up at her in surprise as she stalked by the ticket booth, but she ignored him, anxious to get out, to get home.

The voice continued, fainter.  Please, I’m sorry, it’s just that it’s been so long since I had anyone to talk to…

Grace stepped outside and heard no more.  Halfway down the entrance stairs, her knees buckled and she sank onto a step, shaking and crying.  There was no one to see her, though, because the wet Saturday morning was as empty of people as the exhibit had been, and as lonely as the voice she couldn’t quite believe she had heard.

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