Diversity has become a common theme at Carrot Ranch. How can it be otherwise when you have a diverse group of writers responding to a constraint and prompt each week? The magic is found in how varied each story is, yet how intricately the stories combine to express a greater reflection of the idea behind the prompt.
This week, writers responded to crafting a story about a character who is diverse. Writers have come up with many ideas of diversity and what it means to the character in the story.
The following is based on the February 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story of a character who is diverse. Like magic, let these stories open your mind (and heart) to the other in us all.
Something Other by Lisa Reiter
There was someone there, someone or something other, he thought. Keeping him company. Impossible to confirm a presence. Just a hint of companionship, like mist rising off a lake. Of the lake, but not a part of it. He drifted in and out. Warm, cold. It no longer mattered.
Darkness flowed into light. Was he? Wasn’t he? And wherever he was now, there was no turning back.
His breath hovered in his mouth, neither in nor out. The mere whisper of it was all it took to go from one place to the next. Life, death or something other?
Skin by Pete Fanning
Dad and Samir argued through dinner. Again about beliefs and laws, neither listening, neither eating.
“Look, you’re in college, you come from a middle class background—”
“I come from Uganda. Isn’t that obvious? It was to those security guards, right Emma?”
My eyes burned. I wanted to go back. To the blindness of summer sun. When he was Sam, in the pool, his smile so wide I thought I could jump into it. My big brother, not black brother. Before he opened my eyes to the stares when we were together. Before mall security.
Before beliefs and laws.
Assume Nothing by Ann Edall-Robson
Callused hands. Shirt tail hanging out of jeans. One pant leg resting precariously on the edge of his cowboy boot. The other settled at the top of his foot.
She had seen this type before. Cowboys looking for a loan and no collateral to make payments other than a hand shake and a promise.
She closed the door.
“Take a seat. What is you want our bank to do for you?”
“Transfer my accounts here.”
He handed her his bank statement.
She looked up, unable to immediately speak.
So many zeros!
“Of course sir. I’ll look after this myself. ”
Owning by Carol Campbell
Walking down the street as if she owned it. Not too much sway in her hips because she was not one to flaunt. Carrying herself with the sure knowledge that she is beauty incarnate. Womanly, strong nay, fierce and ready for anything. That day, she met a man who called out to her in a disrespectful way. Stopping immediately, she turned with supreme dignity and said, “May I help you?” He was not used to her kind of woman responding so he was silenced. He had never had a 300-pound woman answer his jeers. He watched her walk away.
Daily Walk by Larry LaForge
On his Monday walk through the park, Ed passed an elderly woman wearing a black hijab. “Nice day,” he remarked. The woman continued on, remaining silent and avoiding eye contact.
On Tuesday, Ed saw the woman veer off the trail ahead when she spotted him approaching.
On Wednesday, the woman came around the corner just as Ed entered the park. She seemed startled and immediately quickened her pace.
On Thursday, the woman continued walking toward Ed from the opposite end of the trail. Ed nodded with pleasure when he finally heard her accented voice.
“Another nice day,” she said.
A Friendship Born by Norah Colvin
The invisible wall was a fortress built of fear and prejudice. On either side a child played alone. The rules were accepted without question.
Then they saw each other, and a challenge was born.
At first they kept their distance, staring across the divide, until scolding adults bustled them away.
Curiosity and loneliness won over fear as they mirrored each other in play.
One day they drew close enough to touch, but hesitated. Simultaneously they bared their teeth, each proudly displaying a gap, in the middle on the bottom, a first. Surprised, they laughed together: more same than different.
Flash Fiction by Rachel Poli
His ears were smaller, his tongue was enlarged always sticking out of his mouth. He had just figured out how to jump with two feet and remain standing while the other kids were long past that.
He would be five-years-old soon and was beginning to realize how different he was from his classmates. He realized his speech wasn’t as clear as them, often not bothering to talk at all.
“Come play with us!” a girl prompted him. Then she whispered to her friends, “He can’t talk yet, but that’s okay.”
The boy smiled, eager to play with his friends.
A Mom by Ruchira Khanna
As the clouds continued to pour over the dry and parched land, Soniya persisted upon aerating the soil and sprinkling seeds into them. A phone call disrupted her activity, but she was quick to take it.
“Glad you enjoyed the goodies!” she exclaimed in a joyful tone, “Sure, another package of muffins will be delivered tomorrow.” She said while arranging the toys in the bin.
Just then the alarm went off; she was quick to wash off the dirt from her cuticles and start driving.
She is a Chauffeur, Cleaner, Cook, Landscaper and a Caretaker with a steady smile!
Jesse’s Jurisprudence by Jules Paige
Jesse raised her own children with respect for those who were different in race, creed or mental agility. Her own family’s limited vision caused friction. Jesse lived in the minority. Not getting encouragement from parents or siblings; especially when she chose a different faith than the majority of them. After all their policies were the one and only right way.
When Jesse expressed opinions, writing words, sometimes those sentences made her family weep – they couldn’t stomach that. Contact was made only when they wanted something. She got tired of bending for them. She eventually encouraged distance; letting them go.
Scarf by Anthony Amore
Marta sat in the great hall studying Physiology with Marcus and two girls whose names she could not remember. They considered moving to the lounge because chairs and podiums were being set up for a mock presidential debate. Marcus, a basketball player, nixed the move saying, “Everything in that room is too small for me.” The girls laughed. Marta smiled and adjusted her head scarf, blushing. They stayed but the debate became anything but mock. When the conservative “candidate” urged deporting Muslims, Marta’s felt nauseously conspicuous.
Under the table she felt
Marcus squeeze her hand.
He smiled. She hoped.
The True Story of My Brother by Sarrah J Woods
This is the true story of my brother, who used to be my sister.
As a little girl, she squirmed and searched, uncomfortable in her own skin, never knowing who she was. “I wish I was a boy,” she said, as soon as she understood the difference. We shrugged. What else could be done?
Later, her life became endless hidden pain. Shadows. Secrets. Self-destruction. I can’t remember how many nights I spent afraid that this time, her attempt would be successful.
But a light finally dawned: she decided to just become a boy.
Now, he lives life openly, joyously.
Choosing a Different Path by Paula Moyer
Jean knew she didn’t fit in at Fort Sill. 22 years old, 3rd in her college class. Typing was just a summer job before graduate school.
The other secretaries in her unit had a special giggle in their voices for captains. The flirt in the giggle increased with the rank. Jean treated them all the same and didn’t giggle at all.
One afternoon Jean heard them.
“She’s strange,” Susie whispered.
“She’s not like us,” Sherry responded.
Her last day a private came over to thank her. “You don’t kiss up to the officers,” he beamed. “You’re our hero.”
Aggie Runacre by Bill Engleson
Dobbs swallowed the boiled coffee.
Company, slow as a Gila monster, was approaching from downwind.
The way he would.
He caught a squint of sun.
“Morning,” a voice said, thick, weary. “Smelled sumthin’ good. Got any ta spare?”
Not a threat, Dobbs reckoned.
“Tastes like rotting buffalo hide.”
“Just about right, then. May I approach?”
“With due caution,” Dobbs advised.
The stranger was the size of a small grizzly, broad of shoulder,
weather-worn face, draped in a black greatcoat.
“Aggie Runacre,” she offered her hand. “First human I’ve touched in three months.”
“Never been called human before,” Dobbs allowed.
Girl by Jane Dougherty
Without a word, his face furious, Salah went to wash and change before eating.
Farida hissed, “Esma! Lay the table. Quickly. Your father’s hungry.”
Esma left the boys watching TV.
“Treating us like second class citizens, forcing us to demonstrate,” Salah muttered as he took his place at table. “Aren’t all men equal, or what?”
Farida served the food in silence. At the end of the meal, Salah sat on the sofa with the boys. Farida beckoned to Esma to clear away.
“But, why is it always me?”
Her father stared at her in astonishment. “Because you’re a girl!”
Mother’s Gold by Sherri Matthews
All she ever wanted was to be like her brothers. No dresses, no pretty, shiny clips in her hair.
She wanted to fix things and roll up her sleeves and get dirty in the mud without her father chastising her for not ‘acting like a girl.’
Years later, one cold day, she snapped. Sick to her stomach, terrified of being thrown out, she handed a letter to her mother.
After the tears, her mother whispered, “I love you…”
Now the girl could be the boy he was born to be and he wailed with relief in his mother’s arms.
Not All Women Cook by Charli Mills
Sarah stood, attending a pot of hearth stew. Mary rocked baby Charles in her arms, content not to help. Cobb leaned in the doorframe, watching his kids pick wildflowers. Sarah acknowledged it would be a happy gathering if it weren’t for the irony of her cooking. Her, the former mistress. Cobb wanted peace between Mary and Sarah to end rumors of marital dissent. Thus he declared each woman would host dinner once a week. Except he failed to recall Sarah didn’t cook. Mary remembered and smirked while Sarah stirred.
Later, Sarah would thank her new friend for providing dinner.
Mirror! Mirror! by Rowena Newton
Rosie looked into the mirror, trying to understand her complex features. Blond, blue-eyed yet coffee-toned …there was some hushed story about Grandmother or Great Grandmother coming from India. Mum always insisted that they stay out of the sun. Why? Rosie couldn’t understand. If only she’d been allowed out in the sun, she would’ve had the best tan. Gone black. Even though she was only little, Rosie knew there was some unspoken story.
Now, middle-aged, married with three of her own, she knew. Had no shame. She stood out in that sun until her skin turned black…a proud Arrernte woman.
Neurodiversity by Anne Goodwin
Lacing up our boots, the heather glowed pink from the rising sun. Worry-lines faded from his brow as we tramped across the moor. No sound but birdsong. Out here, Sam was a normal boy.
It crept up gentle as a bee, but soon the drone roared above us, churning the air. Sam flopped to the ground, screaming, limbs in spasm. I was helpless: hugs would make him worse.
The drone moved off. As Sam settled, my anxiety escalated. Somewhere, somehow I’d dropped the map. Got my boy doubly lost.
Sam tapped his forehead. “Don’t worry, it’s all in here.”
One Family, All Different by Geoff Le Pard
‘Last week he flipped.’
Mary sighed. Chrissy had a blind spot with Brian. He had some learning difficulties and could be stroppy.
‘It’s mental health week. Come on, let’s be nice.’
Brian stood, clearly anxious, the door. Chrissy tsked and went over. He pulled out a grubby envelope.
Chrissy read the card and said something. He nodded and she brought him over. Her eyes sparkled. ‘I said he can help me clear the tables.’
Mary nodded, watched them work, before looking at the card.
It was hand drawn and said, ‘Thank you for caring.’
Flash Fiction by Kerry E. B. Black
I danced last night in a pool of golden light. My bouquet smelled of Eden when rested in my arms as I bowed, tiara reflecting the glow of success. I woke, still trapped. No longer lithe or spry, I pull myself to a hated wheeled chair where I strap dead appendages in place.
I propel through the market, catch a whiff of roses from a corner booth, and duck my chin. The chair mires in a street crevice. Tears reflect the sallow sunlight spotlighting my affliction. Strangers help. I nod thanks, gracious, delicate as the ballerina who once inhabited me.
The powerful theme of diversity spilled over into a couple of noteworthy longer shorts:
Pasta and Protest by Pete Fanning
Left Alone by Sarah Brentyn
A diversity of diversity – there should be a collective noun for it somewhere..
Perhaps an infinity? Very thought provoking prompt and responses. Really enjoyed this one 😀
There’s a sense of infinite diversity in this collection! I enjoyed it, too!
These are all powerful stories. Thanks for the prompt!
I agree! So glad you joined us this week!
These stories are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A wonderful diverse collection. Good on you for roping them in.
It was a rich herd this week! 🙂
What amazing stories … all of them. ‘Tis a gifted writer who can portray SO much (and portray it well) in so few words.
I enjoyed all of the stories but did have three favorites… Norah’s piece, which I’d already read earlier, but enjoyed reading again. I love the message in her story. ‘We’re all human here’.
‘One family, all different’ is beautiful, I was moved to ‘Awwww’ by the last line… probably because for me special needs is close to home.
‘The story of my brother’, I’d read this morning, it’s a brave share, and a gorgeous story. Of love, acceptance … becoming.
Smashing collection, Charlie 🙂