I found this prompt from the book “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers” by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.

The exercise:

Begin a story with this line: Where were you last night?

The objective:

The objective is to once more start the story in medias res– in the middle of things. Notice how this questions begins in the middle of a situation. For example, “last night” the subject of the question, has already happened.  If one character asks another this question there are already two people “on stage.”  And the question will probably produce a conflict. But don’t get hung up on making it a line of dialogue– it can be used in many different ways.

My attempt:

“Where were you last night?”  Susan donned her sunglasses. “We missed you at the launch.”

“At home. I wrote a song.”  They sat outside at Café Dupont, an early Sunday morning ritual they’d shared for years, drinking coffee and sharing stories. Candy could see Susan’s eyebrows rise behind her Chanel glasses.  Despite all the Botox she could still move her brows.

“Since when do you write songs?” Susan smiled. Candy knew that smile. It was the indulgent but superior smile that told you what she thought while being too polite to say it aloud. The smile her sister had acquired after she stole Candy’s boyfriend.  The same smile she had perfected after dumping him for a man with money.   Twenty years she’d endured that smile every Sunday over the two-egg special.

“Since last night.  It’s a blues tune.”

“Oh, dear.”  Candy watched her sister delicately pat her lips with her napkin.  “Is something the matter?”

“Daddy died two days ago.”

“Oh.” Susan pursed her lips.  She had been estranged from the rest of the family since she had betrayed Candy all those years ago.

Candy squeezed her sister’s hand and smiled at her. In a moment Susan would be ordering mimosas and toasting their father, and it would ring as hollow as Candy’s heart.   Pity to be her.

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