Keepsakes, clams and star-stuff are among the rare gems that writers discovered this week. Like the gemologist eying cut and luster, writers of flash fiction polish their stories down to a minimalist quality that shines. Each writer at Carrot Ranch is in turn part of a vast treasure, practicing literature with generosity.
Each story this week is based on the December 17, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about rare gems.
Rare Gems by Sarah Unsicker
Bucket and shovel in hand, my boots carry me two miles to the beach. The sky is still dark; stars are fading, and the water reflects pink. “Pink in the morning, sailor take warning,” is not only a saying, and I know a storm is brewing.
The wind blusters as I squat down. I return the first to the ground; the second is good. I pick my last as the tide reaches my boots. I walk home against the wind, the Eastern sky fully pink now. As I open the front door, the torrent arrives.
“Mom, clams again?”
Return to Origin by Pat Cummings
Star-stuff, deep within the mantle, immeasurable pressures keep it liquid. One crystal among billions, it rises.
One crystal among millions, it breaks through almost to the surface. Others re-submerge, re-liquify, but this one endures millenia of weathering.
A lucky pick breaks the surface. Kimberlite is eagerly sought, but one crystal in thousands is pure, gem. This one survives the gleaning to arrive in a lab.
One crystal in hundreds has the right composition for the electronics. This one joins its brothers to be ground. Afterward, only one meets specifications for a satellite heat-sink.
Installed, it rises to orbit, star-stuff.
Rare Gem by Rebecca Patajac
A deep purple crystal warmed her hand. She searched, heart fluttering. A sea of people washing by, lives busy, unaware.
Eyes darting from face to face, she glanced from necklaces to clutched hands. She glimpsed an unfamiliar man, impressive with his suit and greying hair. Confused, he stared down at his palm.
She approached, dodging through the crowd. Her crystal growing warmer.
His eyes lifted and met hers. They locked.
So you are the one? A deep voice rumbled in her mind, a soft smile sparkling in his eyes.
Smiling, she held her soul-stone to her heart.
Merlin’s Choice by Tally Pendragon
Tor Anda, the very centre of of this green and pleasant land. The boy whose mother called him Little Hawk kneeled and placed his long-fingered hands dead centre into the shallow dip at the topmost point of the Tor. That was where the magic flowed, the Ent had said. He had also said, “You must learn to be like the leaf and blow in the wind”. The little people said it was a choice, that the magic could only connect if the choice were made. The boy chose.
Standing there today Merlin knew the power of that choice.
Imperfect But Beautiful by Paula Moyer
Jean looked at the ad and felt the tug of a vision. A needlepoint. She had not put needle to canvas in over 30 years. But she could just see it, framed, a gift for someone who had passed a milestone. She ordered the kit and began.
She ran out of yarn. Sigh – who does that skimpy Continental stitch anyway?
She ordered more. Even so, she ran out of red. Again. Substituted pink and orange in a corner with geometric shapes.
When she brought it home from the framers, she could no longer where the substitution was. Good enough.
Perfect Five by Sarah Unsicker
I stared at the first homework problem.
I counted two on one hand, three on the other. That didn’t work, I couldn’t count with the fingers I had out. I got raisins for a snack. I made a pile with two, and a pile with three, and counted. I wrote
Still doesn’t look right. The eraser tore the paper.
Tomorrow I will turn in homework with jumbled numbers and tape holding it together, my cheeks bright red.
Uncut Gem by Norah Colvin
She examined the new arrival, assessing the possible effects of integration into the existing collective. Would the group be enhanced or would this newcomer disrupt the established harmony?
From every angle the edges were rough and uneven. The years of obvious neglect obscured the potential from any but a trained eye.
Fortunately her eyes were keen. A bit of encouragement here, a little adjustment there, an opportunity to sparkle and display unique and positive attributes.
She smiled. Experience had shown what could be achieved with a little polish and care.
“Welcome to our class, Marnie,” she said.
Taking Stock by Geoff Le Pard
Mary let the last rays of the year’s sun warm her face. Paul held her hand. ‘Bit of an annus horribilis,’ he said.
‘New year’s resolutions?’
‘Find this twin sister I’m meant to have.’
‘She’s probably dead. They’d have kept you together, surely?’
‘Now maybe. Not back then.’
‘Bury the hatchet with Rupert?’
Her loathsome half-brother. ‘Maybe.’
Paul held out a box. ‘I know it’s early but twenty years married means platinum.’
She held up the ring, smiling. ‘Grandma’s?’
‘Yes. The band was so worn I had the stones reset.’
Mary kissed her husband. ‘My diamond geezer.’
Rare Gems by Irene Waters
“Dad stop. You can’t dig a mine under the house.” Janie grabbed the pneumatic drill from Peter and pointed him towards the house.
When her father was out of earshot she said, “You have to put him in a home. The house’ll fall down if he continues. He’s demented”
“Once a mining engineer always a mining engineer. He says he’s looking for rare gems.”
“No Mum. He needs a nursing home.”
“You’re right Janie. I’ll do it today.”
“Demented you think.” Talking to himself, Peter patted his back pocket. His escape route lay snuggly in the plastic bag he’d just excavated.
My Magic Compass by Pete
I have this old compass. It’s dull and dented and the needle is stuck. On the back is a crinkled print of Indian Head Mountain, a fading sunset behind clouds hardly distinguishable from the peeling edges of the sticker.
To a collector it’s worthless, a trinket from a gift shop that found its way into my grandfather’s pocket. And yet, it works beautifully.
It navigates my own faded memory, back to when the needle aligned and the picture was clear. It points to those fuzzy moments etched in the wrinkles of my childhood. It’s magic, that compass, pure magic.
The Fishing Boat by Larry LaForge
Ed whooped; Edna screamed. They both knew what the $10,000 lottery winnings meant.
Ed had lusted after a 16-foot bass boat, modest by most standards but a yacht to him. “When you win the lottery, dear,” Edna repeated annually at the boat show.
With winnings in hand, Ed checked his trailer hitch and headed to Bass Boat World.
Hours later, Edna noticed Ed’s truck was back with nothing in tow.
Something on the table caught her eye. She opened the card.
“One rare gem deserves another.”
A small box contained the diamond ring Ed couldn’t afford 43 years ago.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Rare Gems Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
“Call this Christmas?”
After a tough year, I’d wanted to make it special. It wasn’t my fault our husky sled ride was cancelled and the aurora borealis refused to show. We had each other.
“I’m off to the bar.”
I woke with a start, Pete snoring beside me. Grabbing my gown against the chill, I peeked through a gap in the curtains. The sky was a ballet of green and purple suspended above a stage of snow.
Next morning, he had a headache. I had the memory of a gem of a performance, choreographed for an audience of one.
Rare Gems Flash Fiction by Georgia Bell
She’d found the picture the other day. Rummaging through the box that held keepsakes she mostly forgot were important. She’d studied it for a moment and then tucked it into the pocket of her jeans.
But later, when the kids were in bed and her husband was watching the game, she poured herself a glass of wine and held it gently between her fingers.
The way her hair had curled gently around her ears.
His hand resting on her elbow.
The look in her eyes. Excitement. Anticipation.
She exhaled and carefully tore it up into tiny pieces.
The Climb by Charli Mills
The first ascent was roughest. Splintered rocks rusty with lichen sliced through Hank’s gloves a dozen times. He worried about cutting his nylon ropes on crags fractured by falling boulders, ice heaves and thaw cycles. His pack hindered him, but Hank needed the essentials—dehydrated protein, shelter, dry layers. The higher he climbed, the thinner the air, the harder to breathe. Across the vast chasm of ruined mountains, Hank regarded the battle smoke. One side blasted anti-aircraft cannons; the other lobbed homemade bombs. He was searching for Afghan black tourmaline reputed to absorb the world’s adversity. On he climbed.
A parting shot of my own hunk of black tourmaline absorbing all the negative calories of Christmas fudge and peppermint bark: