The Metaprompt
April-May 2020
by Z Shihab of The Metaprompt Guild

"Let's do one on Coronavirus!" I said while Emma wandered over to the wet bar in my basement. We were responsible for coming up with a "writing prompt" for a collaborative writing project for our side hustle, "Lifelong Orators, Leaders, Innovators, Teachers and Scholars" (LOLITAS for short).

"Lemme think" said Emma.

"I mean, do you think it's too soon for that?" I inquired. I tended to worry more about offending my readers than Emma did.

"No. It's 5 O'clock, Charlie" Emma said with an eye-roll.

I furrowed my brow and hesitated, then turned around to face her. "What does that have to do with ---- ohhhh . . . you're drinking . . . Em, it's 5 O'Clock in the MORNING! You have been up all night. And besides, I was talking about whether it's too soon to be joking about coronavirus disease yet. Do you think it would offend the Read Team? I mean, they do have some librarian-types on that panel."

I selected the largest spoon I could find in the kitchen flatware drawer, carefully scooped some Ovaltine into a glass of whole milk, and stirred.

I raised my glass to my lips as Emma asked, in what I have to assume was some kind of ethical litmus test, "Librarian types?". She conjured a convincing expression of disgust at my comment. I panicked briefly, trying to remember whether Emma Dewey was related to Melville Dewey, a prominent (perhaps infamous) see early information science engineer.

Before I could even consider my own question, she relieved my worry.

"You mean Lesbians?" she said, strengthening her tone of insult and anger and brandishing a face of judgemental incredulity to match, all immediate indicators to me that she was just joshing me.

I laughed until I coughed. I coughed and coughed and laughed and laughed, until finally I said, through wheezing laughter, "we should probably avoid Coronavirus altogether."

"Agreed. So what instead? It's due tomorrow."