May 6Some days, life’s challenges charge like a bull. When I think I have the shoulders to fight back, I realize it only leaves me feeling battered. I don’t win or accomplish anything.

This week has been a series of odd confrontations for me. I’m not one to go around looking for a bull fight but somehow I found myself in the arena. Even our literary compilation on racism brought censure.

Carrot Ranch is a safe and trusted place for writers to wrangle words, practice craft and display amazing feats of flash fiction. Sometime the lead buckaroo bites off a big cigar and issues a tough prompt. But I promise those who trust this corral that I won’t ever toss writers to the bulls.

In fact, I promised one Rough Writer that this next prompt would be peaches and cream.

So that’s the direction of what feels like a flat post for me this week. I also did not finish my next writer’s platform series post, and tomorrow I need to address my negligent house-keeping skills because my two daughters are coming over Friday to spend a weekend. Such a treat I can’t wait to savor!

But first, a curious note on creativity.

Normally stress and creativity do not mix well for me. Constraints work, but worries drain. Knowing this, I shut down my computer and went outside. I stood under the apple tree and realized I could hear life — bees buzzed. I looked up to see hundreds of mason bees among white blossoms and blue sky beyond. Looking up always feels hopeful.

When I came back inside I wrote as if I had hiccups. It just wasn’t flowing. My voice seemed stifled. Then I went searching my photo folders for a peaches and cream kind of photo for the challenge icon. Apple blossoms kept calling so I used a photo close up of one from New Drama on Elmira Pond and I gave it a peachy cast.

That’s when I had an  image of the twins. Lately, I’ve been having fun with a character with local Idaho flavor, Ramona. She’s an elderly widow of a vet and mother of twins, both stillborn. She’s showing signs of developing dementia and is alone on her now empty ranch. She imagines the twins.

But what came to me was this — what if the twins that don’t exist, imagine their mother in return. What would their existence be like? Would it be a useful literary tool to tell a story? How would it work?

This week, I’ve crafted two 99-word flash fictions — one from Ramona’s perspective and one from the twins. Tell me what you think? Crafty? Creative? Compelling? Crazy? Just don’t use the other “c” word — critical. I think my mind would snap.

And let me say something about criticism. Constructive criticism takes experience and even literary training. I don’t fear it, or avoid it, but it is something I seek from trusted writers or mentors. Some forums specialize in critique and you can seek that out if you want that. Others are open to anyone commenting based on opinions of good or bad, which doesn’t help a writer develop. Carrot Ranch is fostered on encouragement and will remain a safe environment for writers to practice, grow, have brilliant moments and flat ones.

This week is a peaches and cream kind of prompt.

May 6, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a snapshot of spring. I realize that some Rough Writers are riding into autumn, and I hope this isn’t a disadvantage to focus on a season we are not collectively sharing. We could think of it as “spring eternal.” Warm, renewing, new life, hope.

Respond by May 12, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Warmth of Spring by Charli Mills

In bare feet and faded peaches and cream house-coat, Ramona basked under the apple tree. Dark aroma floated from her coffee mug, mingling with sweet apple blossoms. Morning sun warmed her cheeks the way Vic’s hand felt when he rested it on her thigh, snugged to him on the bench seat of their truck. They drove in her dreams last night, young and ready for spring calves. Ramona frowned. No cattle lulled in the pastures; just the truck with both doors open and parked aslant. She shook her head. She’d have to talk to the twins about joy-riding again.

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In the Apple Tree by Charli Mills

The twins watched Mama from the tops of apple tree blossoms. A buzz of mason bees tickled their feet. They held each other unseen in a pose of entwined arms like partner yoga. One giggled to the other, thoughts passing no louder than the hum of pollination:

What do we know of yoga?
Remember when Mama signed up for a class in town?
Yeah, yeah! And she fell over mid downward dog?
That’s right!

A breeze reached down and caught Mama like a tendril of hair across her face. Feel our touch, they both thought. We love you, Mama.

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