Adventitious: Word Prompt Challenge

a flash-fiction piece

He read books; he read avidly and consumed rapidly. His mind was a repository for their diverse ideas and random bits of insight. The adventitious influences helped him solve cases.

Take the one of the body buried in the wood. She had been seen there with her boyfriend, his whereabouts since, unknown.

The team had spent months doing the usual footwork. They spoke to everyone, and every interview corroborated the other. His initial suspicions of a conspiracy of silence eventually gave way to a deep feeling that they simply knew nothing of the boy’s escape. He became desperate for a break; the case was turning cold.

Then, one evening at home, cradling a glass of rum and perusing the rows of upright spines on his shelves, Housman passed across his mimd suddenly like a shadow.

But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love.

His stomach knotted. “What if?”

In the morning, his sergeant and two uniformed men scoured the ground close to where the woman’s body had been uncovered. It took barely two hours to find the spot of turned earth beneath the rotting leaves; a shallow grave which the uniformed men excavated with ease. They’d found a second body.

The coroner, with the help of witnesses, would soon confirm his identity; he had indeed been the woman’s lover, and the cause of death had matched hers. The detective resisted a strong urge to shout for joy: the case was far from solved but he sensed there was a fresh breeze raising its sails.

the adventitious prompt came by way of the dictionary.com app’s push, “word of the day”.

Adventitious: (adj.) associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic; coming from outside.

the poetry lines are taken from “Along The Field As We Came By”, from A Shropshire Lad, by AE Housman. I came across it on the Poetry Foundation website last night.

I won’t be attempting a word of the day prompt every day, it would be too challenging, but maybe now and then, when the mood is right.

image by Sebastian Pilcher via Unsplash.com


Self-identifying serious writer, Martin Amis, uses a dictionary all the time. I’m delighted by his confession because so do I. Really it’s to improve my sparse vocabulary but, like him, I often find the meaning of the word isn’t what I had in mind.

It’s interesting what he to say about talent, finding rhythm, and avoiding accidental alliteration amongst other things. He talks about crafting a sentence. I’m not sure how much I put into crafting a sentence. While I think that poetry ought to be recited, I hadn’t thought that way about prose; I probably thought this was a fundamental distinction between the two forms. However, yesterday evening I was remembering all the times when a passage in a novel enthralled me. I decided it wasn’t the narrative but the pattern of the chosen words. They were crafted, I imagine, for such an effect.

I suppose I haven’t any high aspirations for my blog posts but I still maintain if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. I shall try to pay more attention to the rhythm in a sentence, resort habitually to the dictionary and thesaurus. All this will be time consuming, of course. I will make my mantra: shorter and better.