Garden Parties

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

June 3, 2015

ViewsThis week, writers went to garden parties. Some showed up in trusty old fishing pontoons and others were greeted by half-consumed party plates and flutes of champagne. Garden parties, it seems, can fit into many stories.

Writers were also inspired by a parting shot from a boat tour on Lake Pend Oreille. Some turned the place into a regional island, some stayed in Idaho and others followed their inspiration to different locations. Yet, the influences of the photo come through from cotton-ball clouds to waves of flowers.

The following stories are based on  the May 27, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story, using the above photo as a prompt. It can be a garden party (or an international spy thriller). While James Bond did not show up this week, continue on to read who did.



Still Waters by Sherri Matthews

Georgia gazed across the lake and shivered, despite the warm breeze. Had it really been thirty years? What was he doing here? She knew that she would have to face him, but not today, not at Helen’s birthday party.

“Georgia, where are you?” called Helen through the trees.


“I was worried about you. Miles is asking after you.”

Helen didn’t know of course. Why would she? Georgia took two champagne flutes from the waiter’s tray and downed one.

“Georgia! How are you?”

“I’m good…I’ve written a book actually. About you.”

Miles blanched as Georgia downed her second glass.


Serenity of Silence by Christina Rose

Crisp, early morning breeze played with her tangled, unruly wisps. She slipped out without disturbing him; still sleeping in the cabin, rest a part of his ideal vacation. This was her time, the serenity of silence the rejuvenation her soul had been crying for.

Frigid sapphire glistened and lapped around her chilled ankles, shins, thighs. Inch by inch, slowly lowering herself into the depths, moving further from the craggy shoreline. Weightless under, surrounded by the clear cocoon of nothingness.

Dawn sunlight cast shimmering glows across her buoyant limbs. Floating on the surface, the peace, the stillness was her heaven.


Flash Fiction by Vellur (Nithya Venkat)

As I was walking along the shore line I saw a jet black speed boat appear out of nowhere. I could see a man was steering the boat at full speed. He slowed down and docked the boat behind the rocks. For a minute I could not see him.

I heard a splash; the man had changed into a diving suit and disappeared under the water. After a few minutes he surfaced clutching a small black chest. He quickly jumped into the boat and hugged the chest in glee. I wondered what could be inside, a treasure I guessed.


Meditation Session by Ula Humienik

“Race you to the pier,” a young female voice screamed, followed by laughter that reverberated between the trees and a splash, soon followed by another splash.

Anna, sitting in the lotus position, closed her eyes once again. A peace overtook her face.

Loud girlish squeals forced her eyes open. She let out a loud sigh and clenched her teeth firmly. She rose abruptly and walked out of her cabin to the path leading to the pier below.

“Girls,” she said sternly once she reached the pier. “Would you mind if I joined you?” Anna’s lips formed a soft smile.


Mountain Man by Pete Fanning

Around the bend Dad cut the motor and we slid to a drift. Thunder boomed, even as an eagle soared through an electric blue sky. A crack tore through forest, then a heavy crash that sent ripples through the water and dust over the trees.

“Mom said to stay away.”

Dad held a finger to his lips. The mountains stood little chance against the machines, just like Mom had lost the battle against the developers. But Dad didn’t trust the courts. And seeing the large torque wrench at his feet, I knew those machines stood little chance against him.


Island Gala by A. R. Amore

He observed well-heeled folks thoroughly congratulating themselves; somehow it seemed wrong. Crab puffs, oysters on the half shell, champagne and wine all celebrating the library’s new sculpture – a weird abstract angular thing a local artist welded out of boat parts designed to reflect the state’s ocean driven character. For what this party cost, he imagined, they might have bought two sculptures – the boat parts one and something that made sense. The water taxi approached from the mainland carrying more of the “who’s who” and despite watching his wake, the pilot nonetheless disrupted the shabby fishing skiffs digging clams nearby.


Porcelain by Rebecca Patajac

Waves hushed sounds of traffic far behind. Tiny fingers grasped mine, pulling past flowers and trees, little feet skipping over loose stones.

I took one step for her four.

She hadn’t told me our destination; “it’s a surprise Mummy.”
She glanced back, round eyes gleaming and all smiles, “we’re close!”

I couldn’t help but smile with her, adoration running deep.

Her pace slowed and I looked up.

I froze.

Upon a bed of grass, decorated with turquoise waves, lay a porcelain tea set; the one from my first birthday.

“Surprise, Mummy,” she beamed.

I hid tears in her embrace.


The Garden Party by Norah Colvin

Marnie’s face pressed into the bars of the tall white gate with amazement: white-covered tables laden with food; chairs with white bows; white streamers and balloons; and a band!

But the ladies had her spellbound with elegant dresses and high, high heels; flowers in their hair and bright painted lips.

A man in uniform opened the gate to guests arriving in limousines. Marnie followed.

“Not you, Miss,” said the uniformed man.

Marnie held out her invitation, “Jasmine . . .”

But he’d closed the gate and turned away.

Marnie looked down at her stained dress. What was she thinking?


Hangover with Nature by Ruchira Khanna

The skies were covered with cotton balls. Some were vulnerable and swept by the wind while some stayed stagnant, stubborn to move an inch.

Joe observed them and compared the various shapes and sizes of the trees that stood still while giving a contrast to blue skies.

Breathes deep and dived into the water that initially made him shiver, but eventually the goosebumps faded sending him into a comfort zone of enjoying nature and being one with it.

“Aha! This creation has its ways to make us feel complacent!” he whispered as he wiped excess water off his face.


Party of One by Paula Moyer

Memorial Day, 1956.

Four-year-old Jean stood in her great-grandmother’s flowerbed in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A pink sea of bachelor’s buttons surrounded her. The stems were so tall, the blooms came up to her chest.

When the Oklahoma wind blew through the slender, supple stems, they bent and rippled, like the waves in the Bible stories about Jesus calming the storm.

From the kitchen window, Jean could smell the dinner: sweet, hot aromas of baked beans, ham, and rolls. Almost ready.

A plate, table and chair out here, in the garden, would be perfect. She wished for a party of one.


The Summer I’ll Never Forget At Lake Pend Oreille by Dave Madden

The perfect bedrock for thinking; twenty years later, I still think,

“The step’s sturdier.”

The ladder was an afterthought, too.

This part of Lake Pend Oreille was special, learning more than any classrooms’ offererings, and always will be. Night spent sharing and laughing: Secrets. Memories. Life’s milestones.

This night’s visit was up, and I was energized and off. Soon realizing, the lumbering step-step-step was absent.

Retracing my steps…

It was too late, at least those are the adolescent injections administered by the adults in my life.

Now, I’m hugged by the water that took my best friend.


The Lake House by Jeanne Lombardo

Savannah surfaced and gulped the sweet, heavy air. It’s a dream, she thought. This lake, the blue mountains, the murmurings in the pines and skimming dragonflies.

She bobbed for a moment, then hoisted herself up the metal ladder. No, it was real, these wooden stairs, this path, the big house just ahead.

Clean, sweet-smelling New Papa was waiting there. She didn’t know why Real Papa had let New Papa take her away after Mama died. Or why New Papa hadn’t chosen one of the others.

A prayer beat inside her. Let me stay. Let me stay. Let me stay.


Not Invited by Ann Edall-Robson

“Nothing says we can’t go there.”

“It’s not a good idea. We weren’t invited.”

The argument had been going on for days.

The private club that owned the island was hosting a garden party for members and invited guests. It was a given that kids from the local college would not be welcome.

Up the ladder, across the small wooden decks to the patio and manicured grass beyond.

Partially filled champaign flutes. Dainty china plates with bits of half eaten food on them. Chairs askew around linen covered tables.

The eerie, lifeless scene that met them said it all.


The Surprise by Ruth Irwin

She would never forget this perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, the blue reflected in her eyes as she scanned the crowd of guests enjoying refreshments in her perfectly manicured garden, her pride and joy. Her heart pounded, the anticipation was overwhelming. He had promised he would be here; where was he? It had been so long, too long. Her heart ached and she began to fear he had broken his promise. And then he appeared with a surprise bundle in his arms. “Mum, I’d like you to meet your granddaughter!” She responded “Best birthday present ever!”


Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin

They eyed me suspiciously as we queued to embark. Evening cruises are for lovers, according to the young. My binoculars dangling from a strap around my neck were meant to place me above all that. But spotting birds holds no appeal without you.

The youngsters scurried below deck to the bar. I wrapped a scarf around my hair, found a seat in the prow. Beyond the jetty, the breeze made my eyes water. Or was it the sunset gilding the mountainside across the lake? I leaned back, contentment washing over me. Absorbed in nature’s romance, the decades rolled away.


Full Circle by Geoff Le Pard

‘Remember this one?’ Paul held out a photo.

‘It was a Sunday. You caught the sun, out on the water.’

Paul nodded. ‘We should take the children.’ He looked pointedly at Mary’s stomach.

Mary traced the steps to the water with her finger. ‘Do you think she’s still there?’

‘Rupert will find out.’

Mary held Paul’s hand. ‘I can’t believe she was living in the same village we stayed in on our honeymoon. We might…’ Her eyes filled.

Paul said quickly, ‘Remember that woman renting the finishing tackle…’

Mary stared. ‘Yes! You commented on her eyes.’

‘Green like yours.’


Fear on the Island by Irene Waters

The group alighted from the dinghy at the wooden steps and each, lost in their own thoughts of the week ahead, barely saw the opulence of their surroundings. They went to their rooms with instructions to meet in the garden for drinks at 5pm precisely, dressed appropriately. That was the hard part, thought Kerry, just what is appropriate. She eventually picked on a skimpy bikini. Kerry’s heart sank, her fear real when she saw the others had chosen evening dress.

Hers was the only outfit not destroyed as the paint bombs flew. Filming of 13:Fear is Real had begun.


First Things First by Pat Cummings

Eric stood off from shore to inspect his work. Was the patio inviting enough? It would need to be enticing to overcome the legacy of misantropy his late uncle had invested in the place.

The mansion where Reid Simonsen had lived his miserable life was uninhabitable. Eric wondered if he would ever reclaim the excitement he’d experienced when he learned he’d inherited it and the beautiful island it occupied.

Satisfied, he began to paddle his kayak back to the ladder. The dock and patio were a good start. He could live in a tent; he could not live alone.


The Drop Off by Larry La Forge

A greeter dressed in white stood atop the ladder to assist lakeside arrivals. Edna approached the bow as she prepared to disembark for the much ballyhooed Ladies Tea at the Garden.

Ed was mesmerized by all the sleek, expensive watercraft queuing up before the rocky landing. His 1981 angler pontoon boat seemed out of place. He maneuvered close to the ladder, allowing the faded bumpers hanging over the side to cushion the slight impact. The greeter cringed.

Edna smiled at Ed as she stepped off.

She loved that old pontoon boat and wouldn’t want to arrive any other way.


What She Was Giving by Sarrah J Woods

Erin did not feel like an A-list camp counselor. Every week her campers bickered, cried, and broke camp rules. So much for being a wise mentor, she thought, as her Week 5 campers noisily sorted themselves into lifejackets for lake swimming. It’s more like being a sheriff.

Letting the lifeguard play sheriff for the moment, Erin sat down on a rock and pulled her knees to her chest. As she gazed at the pine-cloaked mountains surrounding the lake, their colossal glory gradually shifted her perspective. I’m not here to give these girls advice, she realized, but this entire experience.


Anchor by Mercy.James.

The morning mist rises off the lake, burnt off by the sun – all is calm. I walk the steps down, in silence, breathing the air fresh – lungs feeling full – hopeful in the moment.

No one is around at this hour – so few ever about in the water – the descent on wooden platform meets my approval of blending in with the natural beauty. Sheer rock face edged sharply – time sliced – existing long before my birth.

I look at the metal ladder – consider its purpose – anchor – its ugliness – descent steep.

I want to swim – need to bathe – but I am hostage.


His Calling by Charli Mills

His face, craggy as the distant peaks, softened in wonder. How long has it been since I’ve seen him smile, she thought. Sipping her mojito, she quietly watched him.

The setting sun pinkened the sky to the hue of roses her host grew at this majestic summer home. Cotton candy, he called them. Even the lake water reflected pink. That’s when she saw what held her husband’s attention – baby geese bobbing on waves.

A tinkle of ice, and he turned around, face once again hardened stone. The President walked past his wife to the garden party. Campaign funds called.


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  1. Norah

    I’m sure these collections are becoming greater in number and variety. No two stories are the same. The responses your single prompt elicits never cease to amaze me. What a great group you have rounded up. Thanks for the dedication with which you rope us all in and share us all out.

    • Charli Mills

      It truly is my pleasure!

  2. Sarah Brentyn

    Love the compilation here, Charli. Great read. Wish I could have participated. Maybe next week. Fantastic job, all! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      When you can! We don’t always have time for the saddle every week. 🙂 I just threw a bunch of rocks at you…hee, hee…tell me when they land!

  3. mj6969

    It was truly another really great challenge – and what a diverse reading experience – which makes it so fascinating!

    Well done to one and all – and thanks Charli – for all the time you invest in this endeavor. 😀

    • Charli Mills

      It’s satisfying to read the diversity all in one place each week! I’m grateful for all the contributions. 🙂

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I second all the replies above. Loved reading all the stories. Thanks for the hosting as always.

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