Faded Ribbon – an ISG Writing Exercise

On October 4th, these three words were chosen:

  • Leaving
  • Broad
  • Ribbon

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!



The ribbon had been a present from her mother, given on the day of her first leaving, so many years ago it was lost in the fog of the past that shifted and evaporated in her decaying mind. “Grandmother?” a gentle voice asked, and her eyes focused on the bright face in front of her, pretty, with blond curls and bright greens eyes. Something stirred in the fog, but it was so hard to remember.
“Grandmother, can you hear me?”
The girl was probably seventeen, just younger than she had been when she had gone through the ceremony and the terrible ordeal that followed. Or was it an ordeal that had been followed by a ceremony? The memories were getting more and more mixed up now. She looked down, and focused again on the faded satin ribbon, the gold thread shining weakly against the burgundy cloth.
This ribbon had kept her safe. That much she was certain of, and she was also certain that the girl in front of her had to have it, for a reason she couldn’t explain, just that she felt in the depths of her ancient bones. She held it out to the girl in a trembling hand, and gave a sigh of satisfaction when she saw it in her hand, somehow broader than she remembered against the girl’s slim wrist and dainty fingers.
“Grandmother, what is this for?”
But Fate dictated that she would never answer that question, as her final breath slipped from her lips and she sank into the whiteness.

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I finished tying the ribbon around her rich brown hair and admired my handy work. When the cops found her, they would have to appreciate my incredible work. It takes a lot of talent to make a dead body look this good. I pulled the broad belt around her waist a little snugger and then looked over the scene. An incredible replica of Sleeping Beauty but with a few extra touches to really make the scene pop. The vibrant blue flowers really brought out her dress and the hand drawn tattoos were awe inspiring if I do say so myself. Before leaving I spritzed the air with a long-lasting natural orange spray and took one last look around. I smiled broadly. This was so beautiful that I couldn’t wait to find my Snow White.

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I only had a few more hours left when the ribbon started to slip from my hair. I scrabbled for it quickly, terrified it might fall completely out, leaving me right out here in the open where anyone could find me.

I carefully re-tied the ribbon and walked through the broad iron posts of the courtyard, looking for my beloved in the hazy gaslight from the streetlamp.

“Laurent? Are you here, my love?” I whispered, not wanting to wake anyone from within the building. What they might see if they looked, I didn’t know. I had no idea how far the glamour could cast, but they’d certainly raise a cry either way. Laurent was not meant for me, and this was my last chance to let him down easily.

“My dearest,” Laurent was right beside me! I started in surprise as we embraced. I had missed him so since the last time I’d been able to see him.

“I’m leaving-” I began, as he cut me off.

“I’ve decided to run off! But, join me, please my dear.” He grabbed me by both hands, “we’ll travel the east indies, we’ll see the colonies! I don’t care, I just want to be with you.” His silk vest caught the light as his chest swelled with plans. Oh how I wished I could.

“I cannot. It just can’t be done.” His crestfallen look broke my heart. I wished I could tell him the truth, but I knew he’d never believe it. It would destroy him.

Instead, I said what would let him down most easily. “I’m sorry, dearheart, it cannot be.” I brushed a lock from his forehead lovingly, “I’m leaving tonight. My father promised me to a well-to-do tailor in Venice and I meet him tomorrow.”

He exclaimed, bravely as I’d expected, “I’ll follow you! I’ll live as your paramour, a canal driver, it will be so romantic.” He pulled me into an embrace.

“If you must.” I kissed him softly before I gently stepped free and turned to leave. Let him wander Venice streets. He’d never find me, as I’d still be in the graveyard around the corner from his childhood home.



The broad ribbon of sunlight seemed to move like a snake through the clouds, stretching its golden rays toward the grass and to Aidan’s surprise, it hit the ground with a bright flash that forced him to look away. When the light dissipated, he turned back to see the crater that it had left behind. Curiosity trumped Aidan’s judgement and instead of leaving for safety, he drew closer. As he neared the crater, the soft green grass turned into burnt stalks and eventually there was nothing but ash at the edge.

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“I’m leaving,” she announced, getting up as the television still displayed its multicolored lights. “I am leaving now and you can’t stop me.”

Gerald looked over to her, his tired eyes only showing comprehension after a solid few seconds. The drugs in his system were slowing him down, not to mention the alcohol.

“Why?” he asked, his voice slurred. “Why you going, babe?’

She stared long at him and then cocked her head. A soberer man would recognize it as an “are you kidding me?” stare.

“Because the ribbon on her blouse is red,” she said, gesturing out at the television.

Gerald took another full second to turn his head toward the television again and peer at it. He smacked his lips once and then again. “Oh, no it’s not…”

“Oh, so you were paying attention to things, huh?” she said. She made a broad sweep of her arms to the entire room. “You want me to move in? Live here. And you let it be like this?”

She reached down and picked up an empty bottle of some energy drink, then a bottle of beer, then, weirdly, a bottle of hot sauce, half-empty.

“You expect me to live in this?” she stated, again, dropping all the bottles with a crash.

“Uh…” Gerald said, then blinked. He looked at the light of the screen as if it might have an answer. “Yes?”

She then left.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Writers Group, Writing, Writing Exercise

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