Pandora: Creative Prompt

Choose one of your quick-write exercises to expand into a story of 2-3 pages. If you already know where you want to go with your idea, follow that inspiration! Here are a few ideas for where you might go with your exercises:

1. Choose a scene in the myth and rewrite it in the first person from one character’s point of view. You can choose a major character, like Pandora, Zeus, Epimetheus, or Prometheus, or a minor character, like one of the gods or humans who is there when Pandora is first revealed, or one of the evils that comes out of the jar.


2. Rewrite the myth as a science fiction story, using the idea of the jar/box as a metaphor for a contemporary or future idea or object.


3. Make a list of things you have opened in the last year. These can be concrete (doors, boxes, fridges) or abstract (accounts, memberships, opening your mind or heart to a new idea or feeling). Choose one thing from this list and write a story whose climax is about opening this thing and include one or more references to the Pandora myth.

Post your stories in the comments! At our meeting on 2/8 we will all read our stories (or an excerpt, as time allows) aloud and discuss our experiences with the process of writing them.

7 replies on “Pandora: Creative Prompt”

We much prefer the version of the story written by Eric Kimmel in “The McElderry Book pf Greek Myths.” As he tells it, Pandora is not an evil person at all, and even resists the temptation to open the box which contains the items that Epimetheus had withheld when he was giving qualities to the animals at the time of creation.

I paint Greek shaped vases often exploring the story telling methods used and in moment of painting the ancient dramas the parables change and become variations. This also happens when I do etchings on laser cut metal shapes I find the stories come alive, for instance “Maenad”

Looking down on my gorgeous raiment, my filigreed necklace and bracelets, I could only imagine one thing, the Gods must want me married. However, much to my relief, or perhaps dismay, I was instead given a tall jar, a receptacle adorned with beautiful designs inlaid in gold and precious jewels, and told not to open it under any circumstances. They requested I take it down to Earth with me from on high and once I arrived, I placed it on a pedestal within my bedchamber. I could not take my eyes off of it, as the beauty of its orifice was so enticing. Holding my outstretched hand on the lip I tried to imagine what glorious gifts it might contain, what incredible luxuries these gods held in trust for me and all of mankind. Why would they not want me to share these with the humans they had created? Such a profound mystery.
Soon, a man named Epimetheus, stormed into my room. He looked me up and down but did not seem taken with my shape or diaphanous gown. He looked right past me at the beautiful amphora in my possession. He pushed me to the ground in his haste to grab it. I screamed, “No, do not open it.”, but I was too late. He grabbed it, trampling my gown and swearing at me as though I were nothing but a flea. He threw open the container and all manner of dark, destructive forces flew out scratching at his face and hands. He raced out of the room screaming and trying to get away. My gift was his punishment for violating me. I jumped up to cover up my vase and seal the opening. There was one last gift, my dearest Hope still lay contained within and this I would share, when I saw fit to allow humanity this one parting treasure.

Fires and Hope by Jo Anna

Deep breath. Deep breath. Full lungs, belly full of air and long, long exhale. I step off the bus at Coleman Street and as I had done many times before stared at the blue-green rusted wind vane that crowned the cathedral. Unlike the dozens of times I had stood at that exact spot and turned around to catch the next bus I begin walking towards the tall stone walled structure with its enormous kaleidoscope-like stained glass windows. Each step seemingly more Sisyphean than the previous, and each breath an anxiolytic. I stand before the gigantic wooden doors that are flung open as though expecting my darkening.
Decades and years narrowed to minutes and seconds between us. She has been sitting on a shelf next to several others like her, whose rightful owners didn’t return. Were they lonely? Did they form a community and conduct round table discussions about disappointment and rejection over black coffee and biscuits? Did they want to leave or had they found gentle resignation inside the cool dark abbey?
Father Allen throws his arms around me and kisses my hair as he had been doing since jilting me for the seminary at eighteen. In his arms I inhale the musty odors of many other embraces and am comforted by them. Seeing him is always confusing. Calling him ‘father’ makes me ambivalent. Thousands of sunsets ago we tossed around on wet sand ravaging each other as the tide demolished sandcastles and stole toy buckets and flip flops on its way out. Now, an ocean of etiquette separates our emotional shorelines.
He knows why I am here. I didn’t tell him but he knows. He knew when I came to tell him that I had married the vagabond. He knew when I came to tell him that I divorced said vagabond and he knew when I came to tell him that I had buried my dreams of motherhood. He knows today I am here to bury someone else’s motherhood fantasies.
He leads me to the abbey and opens the door. He gently rubs the top of my head and messes up my hair before leaving the little mausoleum he created for truants like me. I glaze over the shelves adorned with porcelain and ceramic. I don’t want to see her just yet; I have not adequately prepared an explanation for my absence. But she sees me. I feel her steely hazel eyes scorch the back of my head and I spin around. We are face to face with each other now.
Forty years prior she was a spirited young woman. She sauntered into rooms lighting up hearts with her smile. She was charming and elegant, fashionable and stunning, an icon of sophistication. Today she dons the finest black porcelain trimmed with 24 karat gold. I expect nothing less.
Most mornings I have trouble holding a coffee mug or putting the leash on the dog because my fingers tremble and my hands shake after a long night of alcohol bingeing. Today they rattle with fear and apprehension; no solvent can remove the past.
The urn feels smooth and cool against my sweaty fingers. I don’t want to print on the polished surface so I wipe my hands on my shirt and try again. I feel that I should ask for her permission to hold her; she never did care for my embrace. I lift her off the wooden surface and I bring her against my chest, my heart pounding and dismantling her slumber. I am not sorry to awaken her; only sorry that I didn’t do it sooner.
I am sorry that I didn’t wake her before I began extinguishing myself one small piece at a time. I am sorry that I didn’t come to her with my questions before destroying countless lovers who had no answers. I am sorry that I didn’t tell her that I was not qualified to be her replacement, that I didn’t want to step into her template and I that did not ever want to be her. But I will not tell her today. I will not tell her ever. I will do what was asked, what must be done. I will help her to rest in peace.
She loved dogs and the ocean. She loved gardening, cooking and art. Somedays maybe even me. A little. Above all she loved him. Quite possibly as much as he loved him. She craved from him the things I craved from her – visibility, kindness and a little affection every now and then. Neither budged.
I taste saline and realize my face is wet. My breathing, shallow. I wrap my coat around the urn pressed against my heart and make my way back to the bus stop. I pass the ‘Unfather’ in the aisle and smirk with relief that this was the only way that we would be on an aisle together. So much to leave behind; so much to discover ahead.
It takes me four buses and 8 hours to get to the beach. It is windy and very cold. Cloudy and damp. It’s perfect because she loved rain. I hurry past defiant surfers with their colorful boards and shivering vagrants with their shopping carts full of treasure. I walk on the wet sand with my new boots. I hate their price as my heels get stuck with each step. I find a quiet spot where we can be alone.
What to do? What to say? What will go? What will stay? She was so young. I wonder what all could be inside this beautiful jar. What were the things inside her beautiful body, her unsinkable soul that produced me. What demons reside amongst her ashes?
I remove the lid and look inside. She isn’t there. An off white gravel-like mixture looks back at me. Deep breath. I raise the porcelain above my head and invert it. A gust swoops in and out flies anger, resentment, cruel parents, abandonment, depression, violence, abuse, fear, loneliness, unfulfilled dreams, unfairness, injustice, enslavement, regret, and a slew of others that traveled too fast for me to recognize.
I hug the empty urn and hear a small clink. It’s not empty yet. I look inside and see nothing. I put my hand inside the vessel and feel around and a small cold object brushes against my fingers. Without looking at it I remove it and place it in my pocket. I am relieved. Not as much by the scattered ashes as I am by the tiny object that survived cremation to remain whole.
I walk past a trash can on the beach and toss in the urn. He is turning over six feet under at the cost. I don’t look back as I board the bus. It is growing dark outside as the bus rolls through miles of nothing. The lights turn on and the windows turn into mirrors. I look across the aisle to a woman and her young child. They are huddled together and sharing body heat and love. I study their faces and I try to find something in them that I could recognize. Nothing. Suddenly my eyes gaze past them to another woman. This woman is looking at me. She is breathtaking. Stark. This woman I recognize when my astonishment dissolves. This woman reaches into her pocket and withdraws a small glob of metal. She looks at it and tears of joy roll down her cheeks. She inspects the object and sees and tiny hand placing a minute copper puppy next to a cold sleeping face. Not everything gets lost in the fire.

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

Sorry, but I will miss tonight’s meeting. not feeling too well (NOT covid) and did not complete my writing.
My idea was to write what I know. I was a grad student in physics during the Reagan years. This was a time of nuclear intrigue and we were all well aware of the parallels of the Prometheus and Los Alamos stories. I’ve been trying to work on this in a way that has not been written about 10,000 times already.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Full lungs, belly full of air and long, long exhale. I step off the bus at Coleman Street and, as I had done many times before, stared at the blue-green rusted wind vane that crowns the cathedral. Unlike the dozens of times I had stood at that exact spot and turned around to catch the next bus, I begin walking towards the tall stonewall structure with its enormous kaleidoscope-like stained glass windows. Each step seemingly more Sisyphean than the previous, and each breath more anxiolytic than the one before it. Finally, I stand before the gigantic wooden door, They are flung open as though expecting my darkening.
Decades and years narrowed to minutes and seconds between us. She has been sitting in a quiet room with several others. Like hers, their rightful owners didn’t return. Were they lonely? Did they form a community and conduct round table discussions about disappointment and rejection over black coffee and biscuits? Did they want to leave or had they found gentle resignation inside the cool dark abbey?
Father Allen throws his arms around me and kisses my hair as he had been doing since jilting me for the seminary at eighteen. In his arms I inhale the musty odors of many other embraces and am comforted by them. Seeing him is always confusing. Calling him ‘father’ makes me ambivalent. Thousands of sunsets ago we tossed around on wet sand ravaging each other as the tide demolished sandcastles and stole toy buckets and flip flops on its way out. Now, an ocean of etiquette separates our emotional shorelines.
He knows why I am here. I didn’t tell him but he knows. He knew when I came to tell him that I had married the vagabond. He knew when I came to tell him that I divorced said vagabond and he knew when I came to tell him that I had buried my dreams of motherhood. He knows today I am here to bury someone else’s motherhood fantasies.
He leads me to the abbey and opens the door. He gently rubs the top of my head and messes up my hair before leaving me in the little mausoleum which he created for truants like me. I glaze over the shelves adorned with porcelain and ceramic. I don’t want to see her just yet; I have not adequately prepared an explanation for my absence. But she sees me. I feel her steely hazel eyes scorch the back of my head and I spin around. We are face to face with each other now.
Forty years prior she was a spirited young woman. She sauntered into rooms lighting up hearts with her smile. She was charming and elegant, fashionable and stunning, an icon of sophistication. Today she dons the finest black porcelain trimmed with 24 karat gold. I expect nothing less.
Most mornings I have trouble holding a coffee mug or putting the leash on the dog because my fingers tremble and my hands shake after a long night of alcohol bingeing. Today they rattle with fear and apprehension; no solvent can remove the past.
The urn feels smooth and cool against my sweaty fingers. I don’t want to print on the polished surface so I wipe my hands on my shirt and try again. I feel that I should ask for her permission to hold her; she never did care for my embrace. I lift her off the wooden surface and I bring her against my chest, my heart pounding and dismantling her slumber. I am not sorry to awaken her; only sorry that I didn’t do it sooner.
I am sorry that I didn’t wake her before I began extinguishing myself one small piece at a time. I am sorry that I didn’t come to her with my questions before destroying countless lovers who had no answers. I am sorry that I didn’t tell her that I was not qualified to be her replacement, that I didn’t want to step into her template and I that did not ever want to be her. But I will not tell her today. I will not tell her ever. I will do what was asked, what must be done. I will help her to rest in peace.
She loved dogs and the ocean. She loved gardening, cooking and art. Somedays maybe even me. A little. Above all she loved him. Quite possibly as much as he loved him. She craved from him the things I craved from her – visibility, kindness and a little affection every now and then. Neither budged.
I taste saline and realize my face is wet. My breathing, shallow. I wrap my coat around the urn pressed against my heart and make my way back to the bus stop. I pass the ‘Unfather’ in the aisle and smirk with relief that this was the only way that we would be on an aisle together. So much to leave behind; so much to discover ahead.
It takes me four buses and 8 hours to get to the beach. It is windy and very cold. Cloudy and damp. It’s perfect because she loved rain. I hurry past defiant surfers with their colorful boards and shivering vagrants with their shopping carts full of treasure. I walk on the wet sand with my new boots. I hate their price as my heels get stuck with each step. I find a quiet spot where we can be alone.
What to do? What to say? What will go? What will stay? She was so young. I wonder what all could be inside this beautiful jar. What were the things inside her beautiful body, her unsinkable soul that produced me. What demons reside amongst her ashes?
I remove the lid and look inside. She isn’t there. An off white gravel-like mixture looks back at me. Deep breath. I raise the porcelain above my head and invert it. A gust swoops in and out flies anger, resentment, cruel parents, abandonment, depression, violence, abuse, fear, loneliness, unfulfilled dreams, unfairness, injustice, enslavement, regret, and a slew of others that traveled too fast for me to recognize.
I hug the empty urn and hear a small clink. It’s not empty yet. I look inside and see nothing. I put my hand inside the vessel and feel around and a small cold object brushes against my fingers. Without looking at it I remove it and place it in my pocket. I am relieved. Not as much by the scattered ashes as I am by the tiny object that survived cremation to remain whole.
I walk past a trash can on the beach and toss in the urn. He is turning over six feet under at the cost. I don’t look back as I board the bus. It is growing dark outside as the bus rolls through miles of nothing. The lights turn on and the windows turn into mirrors. I look across the aisle to a woman and her young child. They are huddled together and sharing body heat and love. I study their faces and I try to find something in them that I could recognize. Nothing. Suddenly my eyes gaze past them to another woman. This woman is looking at me. She is breathtaking. Stark. This woman I recognize when my astonishment dissolves. This woman reaches into her pocket and withdraws a small glob of metal. She looks at it and tears of joy roll down her cheeks. She inspects the object and sees and tiny hand placing a minute copper puppy next to a cold sleeping face. Not everything gets lost in the fire.

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