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Climate Change

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionApril 23, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) describe the climate of a story as it changes to reflect a character’s mood or to create a sense of what is to come.

Palmetto Poison, by C. Hope Clark

The glass thrown splashed lemonade from the smell, now puddled under my toes as I stood on the temporary, plywood stage decorated with potted petunias. The packed double-bay firehouse stood with doors open to accommodate the overflow of bodies. Summer heat in all its ninety percent humidity smothered us, even with the AC running full blast.

A dark-headed teenager in a sun-bleached Braves hat pumped his fist. “You’re Carolina Slade, the skunk-striped bitch who arrests farmers.”

The audience exchanged gasps. I may have gasped, too. The white streak through my dark auburn hair defined me clearly as the bitch.

###

Abandoned by Sarah Brentyn

A sudden crack of thunder sent him scurrying under the bridge. Lightning turned midnight to morning. The boy stared at the outline of abandoned cars. He tugged at his tiny boots, yanked off his sweater, squeezing rainwater from the wool. Waiting, watching, he sat in his spot. Another crack split the air. He shivered. Mama would come for him. She promised. One night, when the thunder was just quiet rumbling, she told him to wait for her here. He curled up, rubbing his sweater between two fingers. She would come for him. He heard soft rumbles in the distance.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete

I pass through Buford in a daze, neglecting its wrought iron street lamps and sidewalk traffic lights, and more importantly the antique shops that Maggie and I used to frequent during the budding days of our marriage.

The autumn leaves scrape across the street, ushering timeless memories of driving, the windows down and the mountain air swirling. We’d stop at the overlooks and take in the spectacular foliage, on the way down we’d stop at the orchards, and pick bushels of apples. A car honks, jerking my memory to halt.

I haven’t eaten an apple in almost three years.

###

Knife of Winter by Paula Moyer

Moving to Minneapolis gave new meaning to “cold.” Jean now felt its sharpness. 30 below last night. Cold cut through her at the bus stop, despite her layers: long underwear, extra socks, gloves under the mittens. Still black out at 7:30 a.m. She gave the driver her pass, took a seat, and then slept until her transfer.

The second bus huffed to Franklin Avenue. Jean stepped out, peaked east. The blinding dawn verified the forecast: “Bright, ineffectual sunshine.” Too cold to snow. Yet she brightened. Sunrise was earlier than yesterday. More sun would vanquish the blade of cold. Eventually.

###

Revival by Norah Colvin

Her motivation and inspiration was as parched as the cracked red soil beneath her feet. The days were hot and lazy: nothing to do until the rains came. One long languid day followed another. With no work to be done on the land, time did not pressure creativity. Without pressure, there was no rush, no will. The bright blueness of the skies, usually joyous, now oppressive. An occasional cloud or flash on the horizon made empty promises. Finally the winds whipped the clouds into a frenzy, reigniting her creativity as the relentless soaking rains awakened the dormant earth. Please let me know what you think.

###

Climate Change by Anne Goodwin

When they began rationing the water, George thought he’d be immune. His daughters would bring plastic bottles of Mountain Spring the minute the floods receded and the roads were passable again. Meanwhile, Matron harvested rainwater, which tasted foul, no matter how diligently it was filtered and boiled.

Wilting in the heat, battling cholera and dysentery, the old folks felt forgotten, until the Press paddled a rubber dinghy to Shady Glen. Cameras clicked as George was pushed to the front. How do you feel now, Mr Bush? Don’t you wish you’d acted on global warming when you had the chance?

###

Basking by Charli Mills

Chickens scratched at bare dirt as Sarah tossed dried corn from her apron pocket. They pecked at kernels and she watched, feeling the morning sun warm on her back. It was like basking with Colb in bed, his chest pressed to her back. His arms snugged around her. He’d crossed Rock Creek two days ago to take care of business. Business always drew him away, but like the chickens at her feet he never wandered far from his favorite roost. The trundle of wagon wheels caught Sarah’s attention. A dark cloud slid over the sun. It was Colb’s wife.

###

New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications!  All writers welcome!

 

April 23: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionCreativity seems like a night sky full of burning stars sparking into infinity and beyond until it pokes the eye of creation. Endless. Boundless. Open to all possibilities.

Yet, that might not be so. Consider the blank page.

Many writers have stared into the endless, boundless white ready to take on all possibilities only to discover that they have nothing to add. In fact, writer’s block is often denoted as the blank page.

Creativity is also viewed as something free-spirited. I’ve even known parents who excused the poor behavior of their toddlers as creative free-spirits.

Yet, behavioral experts advise that toddlers best thrive in an environment that offers a schedule. To raise a free-spirit requires parenting with constraints.

Apply that to our writing, and you can see that constraints can also make for an environment where creativity can thrive. Give an artist a frame and she’ll give you a painting; give a writer a specific number of syllables and he’ll give you a poem.

I don’t claim expertise in the area of creativity and constraints beyond what I’ve personally experienced. When told to write anything, my mind tends to freeze. Anything? Suddenly I know nothing. The blank page remains white.

When told to write anything as long as these three words are included (lioness, taxi and lemon), suddenly my mind is making brilliant connections–“the lioness of New York city with her bottle-bleached, lemon-blonde hair drove a taxi at night to stalk her prey.” A story emerges from the constraint.

Why is that? One of our flash fiction writer’s from last week’s compilation, Biographies Real and Imagined, reflected on the 99-word constraint of Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction. Anne Goodwin wrote that reducing a story to 99 words “was like growing bonsai.” Yet she recognized that “limits can be liberating.”

Anne introduced me to another blog that explored the genius of Dr. Seuss. The post, “The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)” reveals that Theo Geisel wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” after a publisher issued him a 50 word challenge.

It’s worth the read to better understand the power of constraints. They can help you define your white page. And that’s what we are doing here each week–using constraints to create. A weekly prompt and the 99-word rule can work to spark that expansive creativity we feel when we look up into the night sky.

Seems how it is the day after Earth Day, our prompt is going to be about climate change, so to speak. Climate in fiction can be the container that holds our characters and their story. Climate can set the scene, shadow the tone or hint at a plot twist.

Mastering the setting is a subtle but vital skill. This week, let’s practice the impact that climate change has on a story, even a very short one. Think of ideas like sunshine and happiness, or rain and depression. What does it mean to your story if the clouds move in to block the sun, or the rain suddenly stops? Your climate change can be overt or implied.

April 23, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) describe the climate of a story as it changes to reflect a character’s mood or to create a sense of what is to come. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 30 to be included in the compilation. My contribution follows and is an exploration of a larger project I have in mind. May the sun shine on your writing this week!

Basking by Charli Mills

Chickens scratched at bare dirt as Sarah tossed dried corn from her apron pocket. They pecked at kernels and she watched, feeling the morning sun warm on her back. It was like basking with Colb in bed, his chest pressed to her back. His arms snugged around her. He’d crossed Rock Creek two days ago to take care of business. Business always drew him away, but like the chickens at her feet he never wandered far from his favorite roost. The trundle of wagon wheels caught Sarah’s attention. A dark cloud slid over the sun. It was Colb’s wife.

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

Biographies Real and Imagined

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionApril 16, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a biography for a character, alter-ego or you.

Christmas Present by Paula Moyer

Few births have been celebrated as much as my father’s. You won’t understand anything about him if you just know that he was the second of three boys, born on Christmas Day.

He was the second, all right – but 10 years passed between his brother’s birth and his own. Ten years of pregnancy losses and at least one stillbirth, until, at long last, my paternal grandmother carried this fat baby boy to term.

He was the first baby born in Oklahoma City after midnight on Christmas Day, 1922 – the newspaper’s official Christmas Baby. Born alive, longed for, and loved.

###

Flash Fiction by Caroline L.

He is made of Thursdays and women.

He is born on a Thursday night, unnoticed by any but the woman who pushes him from her womb to less-welcoming flannel sheets.

He is married on a Thursday afternoon, unnoticed by any but the woman who stands by his side in a second-hand dress as the judge mispronounces her name.

He is killed on a Thursday morning, unnoticed by any but the woman who hits the brakes too early and too hard for such a slick street.

Those women — ah, those women! — they are the stories. He is but their Thursdays.

###

Flash Fiction by Susan Budig

Becky Erdmann could count the number of times she’d been kissed on one hand with fingers and thumb balled into a fist. Aunt Tressie’s fishy smooches didn’t count. Uncle Odie’s unrequited attempts only added to her pining. Why couldn’t Sören chase her like that? But Becky, number four of seven with another pending, couldn’t fault her sweet Swede. After all, he did ask her to the church picnic. And he did spend recess with her reading Whitman even when Norb and Harold teased him about being a sissy. Now, if she could just convince him to hold her hand…

###

Falling Up by Sarah Brentyn

Josephine hates her name. She loves her twin sister, scotch, and Janis Joplin. Her favorite thing to do is squeeze the fun out of each day and drink it down like lemonade. Also, daydream about pushing her abusive mother into a pit of stampeding elephants. She is courageous to the point of stupidity, finds the positive in every situation, and has a talent for guessing which color bruises will turn. Josephine has never been married, has no children and likes it that way. She skips between jobs. Dances between boyfriends. Laughs too much. Stumbles sometimes but always falls up.

Character Biography

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Flash Fiction Character Bio by Anne Goodwin

Winning the TV quiz show, Family Challenge, assured me a rosy future. My encyclopaedic knowledge would fuel my teaching career. I hadn’t bargained for a pregnancy midway through the training. When I surrendered my baby for adoption, I lost my sense of purpose too.

Can’t complain, though. I work in a school, albeit in admin. I’m extremely popular on quiz nights down the pub. But, if people ask if I have children, I don’t know what to say.

Everything’s changing again, as Jason has made contact. Given he’s about to become a father, can I call myself Grandma now?

###

SETH by Lisa Reiter

Stooped and bowed, by both time and hard living, his florid, round
face and rude countenance throw up barriers he wishes were not there
but like a caged animal, knows little else.

Once a traveller, now he only journeys between pub and house – no
longer much of a home since Helen left, except for the loyal, mangy
Skip who barks at every passerby – claiming Seth as his pack.

But he loves that dog and ruffles his coat roughly in greeting. Might
be the only time you’ll see him smile but you’ll get a glimpse of a
once warm man.

###

Query by Pete

Frankie Criswell isn’t a star basketball player. He’s a writer, a humanitarian, a big brother, reporter, and even a star-gazing romantic. But entering the seventh grade, all of this is news to him.

After getting cut from the basketball team, he’s approached by Maggie Chalmers, the quick-witted school newspaper journalist who convinces him to take a job as a sports writer. Intrigued by her quirky humour, Frankie writes an essay that gains nationwide recognition. One he has to read, out loud, which means stepping out of his the safety of his shell and facing all of his biggest fears.

###

My Dad by Ruchira Khanna

He served as a chaperon for his parents when the country was facing a partition. His six feet frame with broad shoulders was strong to carry the load of his six siblings and help them settle with their choice of career while financing their marriages. Then finally, he thought of himself.

He kept juggling between his responsibilities and his priorities while keeping his opportunities on the sidetrack so that he could be a good son, brother, husband and a father.

That was my dad, as he wore many characteristic hats in his lifetime, and I am proud of him.

###

Character Bios by Georgia Bell

Mara was born in squalor. Traded for 50 bucks and a case of whiskey, she spent her childhood being used in ways best forgotten. A girl of shadows and whispers, no one knew of the strange things that happened on nights with a full moon. Rescued and recovered, Mara holds hope and fear with the same disdain. She loves fiercely, is loyal to a fault, and when no one is looking, smiles at babies and sunsets. She is wise woman, crone, rebel, romantic. She can flay with a look and strike like serpent. She will not suffer fools gladly.

*******
Stuart is all elbows and knees. Equal parts rogue and romantic, he has a way of making people comfortable with his discomfort. His laugh is hard to resist and it’s easy to forget the sadness he’s seen. Few knew of the men who died in his arms as he’d tried to carry them from the battlefield. Fewer still knew that he’d signed up for the war as penance for living a life that would never end. He loves beer and a good joke and in the end, wants nothing more than to be a decent man, worthy of love.

###

Innocence Shattered by Norah Colvin

She hurled it with such force that had it been his head, as she had wished it was, it too would have smashed into smithereens, just as the figurine had.

“You ab-so-lute monster!” she screamed.

She fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

All her life she had thought it was her; something wrong with her; she that was wanting.

But it wasn’t her. It was him. His wanting. His vile taking.

The repulsive visions made her want to turn inside out and eradicate any trace of connection.

Her ignorance had offered no protection; and now no solace.

###

Dr. Danni Gordon by Charli Mills

Nevada ranches, home sweet childhood home, no more. Bayfield resident with view of sailboats, Madeline Island, tourists and town along Lake Superior. Northern Wisconsin. Archeologist of records and dirt. Into historic bottles—purple and brown glass—evidence of old fisheries. Also likes bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir. Dog-owner, reluctantly. Dog-defender, by chance. Wife of Iraqi contract soldier. Friend, reluctantly, to the one who calls her Bone Digger. Battling knavish vets and annoying stoic deputies. Stuck to bird cage. Stuck on Ike. Stuck with dogs. Stuck teaching kids. Learns of love through hounds. And her forever pup. Miracle of Ducks.

###

New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications!  All writers welcome!

A Gentler Push

Tips for WritersSometimes we push so hard for the sale that we don’t realize we are pushing against those we need to make it successful.

Whether you are a writer selling your words, a business retailing products or a buckaroo driving cattle to market, knowing how to push is important.

Actually, I’ve experienced all three. And pushing cattle is relevant to sales.

Cattle drives were once the highlight of my year. When I was a teen, a local ranch hired me to keep the range cows and calves at the summer grazing grounds high in the mountains. I’d ride my horse from the ranch below and push any strays back up the sagebrush lined trails to the spring-fed meadows and aspens. In the fall, we’d gather all the range cattle and drive them for three days by horseback.

What I’ve found is that not only do I need to know my stuff–writing, selling, pushing cattle–I also have to be mindful of how I connect with those involved with my success.

With the cattle drives, I needed to know my horse, terrain and cattle. Pushing is a gentle buckaroo art. You have to gauge the distance between your horse and the herd. You want the herd to go a certain way so you might flank right or left. Sometimes you whistle, sometimes you croon and sometimes you click loudly with your tongue.

Granted, I’ve never clicked my tongue at a customer or client, but I’ve made my presence known with a giddy-up in their direction. Making someone aware is a gentle push that doesn’t feel like pushing. It can be consistently delivering a quality experience or writing engaging words that get attention.

Once, I saw a greenhorn–an inexperienced person on a cattle drive–trying to push the cattle too hard. She’d ride her horse too close to the cattle and they’d scatter five different directions. The trail boss kept telling her to back off. Then she rode up on the bull. No one pushes the bull. The bull follows the cows, but he goes at his own pace. She pushed too hard, and that bull spun around and nailed her horse, dropping it to its knees. The horse was okay and she learned what back off meant.

When we’re greenhorns at sales, we might make the same mistake of pushing too hard. Not that a customer or client might drop us to our knees, but we certainly don’t want to annoy people with our constant pushing. We need to learn to back off, but maintain presence. We whistle, croon and click and the herd goes the way we intend.

So how do we do do that exactly? Show up, pay attention and deliver what you have in your care. Make your presence enjoyable, not annoying. If you write about a certain genre, talk about your interest in it or how you tackle the process. Ask questions; get to know people and let them get to know you. What you have to sell is secondary to building trust. This takes time and consistency.

Next time you think you need to push, push, push to the rhythm of hard sales, pretend that the person you are pushing is a bull. It might teach you how to back off and stick it out in the saddle. The buckaroo way.

 

Celebration Yellow Cake

Recipes From the RanchMaybe because it’s Easter weekend, cake postings seem popular today. They are certainly the go-to dessert for celebrations on the ranch. And my all-time favorite is yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

It might sound like a crazy cowgirl idea, but I think yellow cake with chocolate frosting is more chocolatey than chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Maybe the yellow cake accentuates the chocolate. Who knows? But it’s definitely a bright cake, rich for celebrating.

A California variation is to heavily sprinkle walnut pieces across the top. Walnuts are not found in this ranch pantry because they make my husband’s tongue tingle and swell. Tree nut allergies are serious, so this California-born buckaroo has gone without walnuts for 26 years.

Cakes are easy to make from scratch. Seriously. Ditch the boxed mixes and you will find that scratch-made cakes taste so much better, and are not any harder to make than the boxed kind.

Yellow Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 2 tsp. of vanilla
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (my favorite is from Montana Wheat)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat your oven to 350. Take a smidgeon of oil and coat the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ cake pan. I use a paper towel to keep the coating light. Then sprinkle a little flour and pat and turn the pan until it dusts the oiled bottom. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer and toss in all the ingredients and blend on medium speed for about three minutes. If you only have a wooden spoon, mix your wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls then add the flour slowly to the wet ingredients. Once you have batter, smooth and creamy, pour evenly into your cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until you can lightly press on the top with a finger and not make an indentation. Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat butter until it’s creamy and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and cocoa one cup at a time, beating well for a smooth frosting. Slowly beat in milk and vanilla. You can add tiny bits of more milk if you want a thinner consistency. I frost my cake in the pan, which is informal. If it’s a celebration that calls for polishing up your cowboy boots, then remove the cake onto a platter or foil-wrapped cardboard before frosting. Make sure your cake is cool before frosting or it might tear as you frost.

Happy Easter, everyone! Be reminded that there is hope!

Yellow Cake

April 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionLife. It’s our stories.

Even when we write fiction, it’s our own stories that bubble up–how we process the world; how we describe the way a red lunar moon appears to us at midnight; how we felt when our cousins visited back in 1977.

When I see Rocky Mountain tree swallows tumble and dive, hawking for the first batch of spring insects, I remember the crush I once had on a boy in school who made paper airplanes. When I think of that crush, I can transport it to a character, scene or plot. Or I can try to recall more details of fifth grade and their implications on my life today.

One path leads to fiction and another to memoir. Yet, both are forms of creative writing. And both draw upon our vast resources of stories.

This week, I met up with @FlashMemoirs on Twitter. Part of building a literary community around weekly practice of flash fiction is to connect with others who enjoy the flash craft. Christine Houser, Founder of Flash Memoirs, has had “a lifelong passion for petite, pithy, personal stories.”

Her blog reminded me that flash can also communicate memory. The key element is that of storytelling. If you are interested in memoir (and flash), read her article, Your Memoir Vs. Your Memory. I especially like the quote she uses from Bill Roorbach in Writing Life Stories:

“To me the first goal, the first excellence, is artistic. The needs of other excellences, such as accuracy, must follow the needs of [storytelling] in a kind of hierarchy that helps me make decisions as I write.”

For this week’s prompt, we are going to write biographies. Since this is flash fiction, you might want to use this prompt as an exercise to explore a character your are writing or thinking of developing. If you have developed an alter-ego, maybe you want to explore how he or she is different from you. And, if you want to practice a flash memoir, go ahead and overlook “fiction” for the week and see what kind of bio you can create. Christine Houser has a lyrical bio on her About page in the “I Remember” style of memoirist, Joe Brainard.

All writers, word dabblers, story wranglers and curiosity seekers are welcome to join the challenge! Together we can make literature a part of everyday life online. If you just want to read, that’s participation, too. Last week’s compilations are posted at White Flowers. Comments are welcome!

April 16, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a biography for a character, alter-ego or you. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 22 to be included in the compilation. My contribution follows and is the flash bio for my protagonist–hopefully, the first of many novel protagonists.

Dr. Danni Gordon by Charli Mills

Nevada ranches, home sweet childhood home, no more. Bayfield resident with view of sailboats, Madeline Island, tourists and town along Lake Superior. Northern Wisconsin. Archeologist of records and dirt. Into historic bottles—purple and brown glass—evidence of old fisheries. Also likes bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir. Dog-owner, reluctantly. Dog-defender, by chance. Wife of Iraqi contract soldier. Friend, reluctantly, to the one who calls her Bone Digger. Battling knavish vets and annoying stoic deputies. Stuck to bird cage. Stuck on Ike. Stuck with dogs. Stuck teaching kids. Learns of love through hounds. And her forever pup. Miracle of Ducks.

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

White Flowers

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionApril 9, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes white flowers.

This week’s compilation of flash is dedicated to the Norah Colvin’s Mum who went to heaven April 11, 2014. Norah’s flash this week is a 99-word memorial. 

 

 

Mum by Norah Colvin

These white flowers in the pot at my door remind me of you.
I bought them for you, to remind you of home, when you moved, with reluctant acceptance.

Peace lilies.

Your beautiful peace lily flourished in the warmth of the sunny spot beside your favourite chair; the favourite chair that you took with you to your new home; that transported you to Heaven. You were ready.

Now they reside with me, in the pot made by his hands; a fitting spot.

You will rest with him in his plot, together again, now at peace, forever.

Love you Mum

###

Avoiding a Sad Tradition by Paula Moyer

The Southern ritual is unequivocal – if your mother is living, wear a red rose on Mother’s Day. If she has passed, a white one. Both grew in our backyard. Daddy always clipped one red rose for each of us. Then his mother died. It was April; I was nine. Two weeks later, he clipped four red blooms – and one white. The photos from that Sunday startle me – particularly my father’s brave smile. My own mother died six years ago. I live up north now; Mother’s Day is too early for garden roses. I’ve never put on the white rose.

###

The Beginning by Ruchira Khanna

I put down the phone with moist eyes, and a severe ache in the heart. After a deep breath, book my ticket, and in a few hours, I am on the plane.

Seeing happy faces around me, makes me question fate, but then we all have to go through this cycle of life.

Through out the journey, recollect the fond memories, and solemnly wipe my tears. “I have to be strong for her.” I say firmly.

Reach home to find my dad lying down amongst white flowers. He looks so peaceful and tranquil as if beginning a new chapter.

###

Filler Flower Heart by Sarah Brentyn

I heard a soft voice, too quiet for real conversation, before I felt the hand on my hair. “It’s time,” my sister whispered.

“No,” I stumbled forward and pointed. “I don’t want those here. They smell bad.”

“They don’t smell. It’s just baby’s breath…” She pulled her hand back quickly.

I ran to the wreath.

I ripped the spray of white flowers out of their tiny, green heart and flung the shredded pieces. My knuckles scraped the hard, floral foam and I bled. Someone screamed. Arms wrapped around me. I flailed.

Baby’s breath. It’s just baby’s breath. No more.

###

Flash Fiction by Georgia Bell

My hands were freezing and I stuffed them in my pockets, hunching my shoulders. My neck ached from looking over the heads of the other commuters waiting for the train. Time stood still; this moment, this week, this year, dragging against the inertia of living a life that no longer seemed to have me in it. I stared down at the tiny white flowers that poked through the blackened rocks covering the tracks. Despite the cold, spring was coming. Was that enough? Or would I be here next year, pretending I knew how to live like other people did?

###

The Sprig by Charli Mills

His hand reached for the sprig of white flowers dainty among the first shoots of green. The cattle returned early to high Sierra pastures. Skinny from winter, they weren’t much to look at with hides black as a crow’s wing. No, not like a crow’s wing, he thought, as he lay staring at white flowers like a lover’s nosegay. Black Angus hides are tinted red like the beard of a Highlander. Like his ancestors, he had come to steal from the herd. Only now he lay face down in the pastures, gut-shot, reaching for the sprig fine and gay.

###

New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications!