A Mad Scientist Approaches You

English: Bela Lugosi in "The Devil Bat&qu...

Writersdigest.com posts weekly writing prompts. Some of them might spark your interest.  I must warn, however, that some of the prompts are too silly to even bother with.

I wrote one for the “mad scientist” prompt.  Instead of getting heavily into the magical aspect, I attempted to capture those moments in life when you regret choices that you have made. In a sense, there’s no right or wrong road to take in life, there is only life.

A mad scientist approaches you with an offer: He has a secret potion that will help you get the thing you want most in this world—be it a person, a thing, an ability, etc. What you don’t know (and won’t reveal until the end of your story) is that there is one dire consequence (not death) from drinking the potion.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

Magari!  © copyright 2012  by Sara Jacobelli



One wish, to go back and not sign the adoption papers. To hold nine her month old son and say “No way” to the well meaning foster parents who offered to adopt him. Sofia leafed through the one album she had with pictures of her baby. Jesse James Morelli, her little outlaw.

“Don’t you listen?” Sammy stared into the refrigerator, as if he expected something new to materialize. “Who’s goin’ to get milk?” He frowned, looking dumpy in his red terry cloth bathrobe and flip flops, hardly the hip North Beach dealer. “Earth to Sofia?”

“Fine, I’ll go.” She tucked the album into a drawer and grabbed the apartment keys.

What dire circumstances could there be? Her life wasn’t exactly charmed. Sure, selling a little weed to San Francisco yuppies beat working the factory swing shift, but still. . . Sammy was pushy and self- centered. They always ran the risk of getting busted. Barely made the rent each month. Sometimes there was money left over for dinner in Chinatown and a movie, or Jazz at Bajones in the Mission District. One year they backpacked in Europe. Sammy talked about a trip to Machu Picchu if he could get some crops going in Mendo.

If she could have her kid back, how could she suffer? Poverty? She’d been broke most of her life. Spent her teenage years on the streets. She gave Jesse up because she was poor and alone.

Sofia went into Café Italia on Vallejo, ordered espresso macchiato. She liked coming in here, speaking Italian, getting away from Sammy. The men were macho, tough, like her father and uncles. They’d tease her, “Bella. Like Sofia Loren.”

Stay in 1996 San Francisco with Sammy? Selling bags of Mendocino County Indica, putting up with his shit? No kids, Sammy “didn’t want any brats.” Too many people in the world.

Go back to 1978 and keep Jesse? Not let the Christian family change his name and keep him? To see her own face in Jesse’s face, and Tony’s face too. Her Mom’s eyes and her Papi’s smile. Her brother’s voice and her aunt’s laugh, her grandmother’s brown skin.

Sofia left the café, walked the steep hills to Coit Tower, grateful that she quit smoking when she was pregnant with Jesse.

All she had to do was meet some nondescript man and drink a potion. Go back eighteen years, get Jesse, and raise him. “But what’s the dire consequence?”

As the man approached, Sofia realized what it was. She would not remember these years without Jesse, would not know what it meant to lose him. She would never know what she could have lost. She would be in Bridgeport, in the factories, raising a child alone, poor and tired. She would love Jesse, but sometimes he would feel like a burden. Her little outlaw. She would pine for a different life. A San Francisco life, a Jazz life, a free life.

Never knowing how lucky she was. Magari.

Coit Tower is a major landmark.

496 words

Glendening, P.J.T. “Why so many dictionaries don’t say so I can’t imagine, but magari  has two clear meanings:  perhaps and if only.”  Cassell’s Colloquial Italian: A Handbook of Idiomatic Usage, Collier Books: New York, 1980. 82.

The “Mad Scientist” writing prompt is the property of writersdigest.com


Photo Credits:

“Bela Lugosi in The Devil Bat,” Wikipedia, Public Domain photo.

“Coit Tower-San Francisco,” Wikipedia, Public Domain photo.


1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Uncategorized

One response to “A Mad Scientist Approaches You

  1. Pingback: A Mad Scientist Approaches You | Capitare a Fagiolo

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