This week I thought we may have had everyone running around in circles, chasing their tails and wondering what they could write in response to a prompt about circles. Instead writers have rallied and circled around the Carrot Ranch camp fire with a great diversity of responses to the prompt. We have had writers join in for the first time, others for the second or third time, and others who have been with us from the start.
There are stories to inspire and uplift you, stories to sadden, and some to make you laugh. You’ll find science fiction, everyday drama, romance, and some that will scare you half to death (or at least keep you awake at night)! Who would have thought so much could be told in a mere 99 words? That’s the prowess of the flash fiction writer.
I am grateful to all the writers who joined in. It is much more fun to be in the circle than standing outside, alone.
The following stories are based on the April 20, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a circle in your life.
The Banker by denmaniacs4
Our mounts settled in, Aggie Runacre safely boarded, I took my leave, stuck to the dusky shadows and made my way to the Bank.
Three taps on the side door and the Banker bid me enter.
“You’ve taken your good time, Dobbs.”
“I always take my time.”
The banker had aged. His skin was grey. There were crescents of fat framing his eyes.
“Three fine men and one child have died because of your delay.”
“The circle of life is not my responsibility,” I said.
“But this circle of death is, Sir. And it must come to an end.”
Circle of Salt by E.B. Black
I saw it in a movie; a circle of salt protects people from fiends. They can’t cross the line.
So I huddle in the center of an uninterrupted seasoning ring watching the door. I hug the doll Mother gave to me. She’s dressed in a white gown with a teal sash, precisely like the one I wore at Mother’s wedding.
When he comes, he won’t be able to cross the line. I’ll be safe. No person would do what he does. Only a monster could.
When he opens the door, wind scatters the crystals. He laughs. “Yum, a margarita.”
Starlight by Jane Dougherty
It was exactly a year since she had seen the light in the sky, exactly a year since she captured the signal meant just for her. It had slid down a beam of moonlight into her hand. She raised it to her ear and heard his voice. All year the trees had whispered his name; the blackbirds sung his song. Autumn leaves rustled with the message, and winter snow and icicles had glittered with joy, reminding her it would be soon. When the first white blossom opened she was ready. Tonight she would follow the moonbeam to the stars.
100 inches by Elliot Lyngreen
Outside. Beyond the museum of voices he don’t mean anything. Horrible at stories. Details. But this 100″ diameter, diamond glare flashed around, 100 stars swirl. 100 cameras film. 100 goosebumps. 100 eyes. and 100 ears hear. 100 voices simultaneous… Like 100 screaming falling trees… he hears. What 100 inspirations, together, what 100 ricochets path to where we are everything…. like 100 riders. 100 horses. 100 warriors. 100 ships full of the destiny of stories each imploding, each overlapping like wagons circling his 99 words; achieving yet imaginings then envelope; 1 additional sweet whispering surrounding silence – ‘we are not alone’.
Traffic Circle by Larry LaForge
“Whattha?” Ed’s frustration grew by the second.
Edna tried to calm him down. “Well, it sure looks pretty.”
Ed didn’t care about pretty.
He had eased the car onto the roundabout by merging with oncoming traffic, but now couldn’t find a way out. Cars seemed to gain speed around the traffic circle, as though propelled by centrifugal force. Ed, mesmerized by merging and departing cars, couldn’t get his bearings.
After their third revolution, Edna clutched the armrest. “I’m going to be sick.”
“Hold on!” Ed yelled as he finally veered off—heading back in the direction they had entered.
Circling therapy by Anne Goodwin
How many times must I hear how special she was? Perfect child, perfect parent, perfect wife, perfect cook. Why does she come, except to bore the socks off me? My face stays attentive while my mind roams free. What I’ll cook for dinner. Tomorrow’s group supervision. My show-off colleagues spouting theory. Their clients making progress week after week. My caseload of no-hopers who’ll make me fail the course.
A shiver runs through me, bile rises in my throat. Shit, she’d been that kind of special! No faking our connection now. I nod. She sobs. She really talks.
Standardized Test by Pete Fanning
The hollow circles glared at Dakota. They teased him, danced, interlacing together like Olympic rings. He tapped his pencil, scraped dull on his scrap paper, now smudged with doodles. A stick man. Then his guitar. Of course he needed a band.
Fireworks exploded in Dakota’s head. Dad hovering over his left shoulder, Mom on the right. Inside his head a drum solo thundered, followed by the screech of tires, sirens, an exchange of gunfire from the movie last night.
Pencils slapped desks. A murmur of relief filled the room. Dakota flipped over his empty circles.
Circle of Protection by Susan Zutautas
Walking through the woods Tim was getting an eerie feeling that something was lurking. All of a sudden he saw it, a black bear coming towards him. Panic overtook him and he froze not knowing whether to run or to stay still. The bear stopped about fifteen feet away from him, sat on his haunches and let out a huge bellow. Out of the corner of his eye Tim saw a pack of wolves and thought; oh no I’m dead for sure. Much to his surprise the wolves made a circle around him to protect him from the bear.
The Ultramarine Letter by Ula
Even after months of yoga, I had problems with Halasana, plow pose, which was frustrating. Having attempted it successfully a few times in a row, I was sure I’d had it figured out. Then one day, I just couldn’t do it.
The instructor mentioned that the pose makes you vulnerable and can be difficult for people with trauma. Tears rolled uncontrollably down my cheeks. Once again I felt like that 13-year-old girl — helpless and afraid. Like Hester Prynne, I felt marked, not with a scarlet A but an ultramarine M (for molested), or at the very least T (trauma).
Circles of Fire by Gulara Vincent
She watched the fire crackling in two separate circles. They had different texture and meaning. The fire in the right circle was hungry to the point of self-destruction. The one on the left felt cleansing and light. Over the years, she tasted them both. Now, she was looking for the point of convergence.
There was none.
Surely life wasn’t about polarities?
She walked in circles. To commit to a circle, she wanted a more rounded perspective.
She didn’t know that the point of convergence was within. To find her circle, she needed to feel whole and belong with herself.
Keeping Traditions Alive by Jules Paige
Around the tables for the holidays that’s what matters most.
For the children to see the adults supporting each other.
Maybe this hostess only does the big dance twice a year…
Some got the date incorrect on their electronic calendars…
so they missed out. They’ll catch the next gathering.
The day of single handedly cooking, running the appliances
at full throttle, the trash bin filling three times as normal,
the mix of fine china and paper plates, borrowed chairs, lively
conversations, contributions to the table by everyone – Then
gifting the departing with copious bags of leftovers… That’s
the good life.
Going in Circles By Ann Edall-Robson
I’ve been here before. That can’t be. I know I’m on the right trail.
Stop. Think. Where’s the sun?
Breathe. Slow. In out. Calm.
Where’s that damned sun? It wasn’t supposed to be cloudy.
Sit. Breathe. Think. I need to go West. Follow the setting sun to the road. Where is that damned sun?
What next? Stop. Sit. Breathe. Think. Relax. Don’t panic.
The tree! Moss growing at its base. Always North.
O.K.! Breathe. Move. No sun. Keep focused. Regroup thoughts.
Keep going. Keep moss in sight. Don’t need sun.
Not lost. No more circles.
Road in sight.
Going in Circles by Deborah Lee
“Don’t be shy,” the woman calls, beckoning her forward.
Jane edges in. Should she be here? Money’s tight, she could use the free meal, but she’s not too sure about God anymore. Such a hypocrite.
“Just join in our circle before we dish up.” The woman points to several people already seated on the floor. “You don’t need to be a church member, don’t even need to pray. Fellowship means sharing yourself. That’s all we ask. Just sit with us before we all eat. No strings.”
Well, they are like her. What else can she lose? Jane steps forward.
Now the day is over by Lisa Reiter
She was certain she’d lost him. In her panic she’d taken a shortcut through the trees and managed to drop her water. Hours on, her mouth was dry.
Birds quietened, declaring the day over – not that it was for her yet. She had listened to footsteps – sometimes behind her, sometimes in front. They stopped when she stopped, perhaps mere echoes off the trees? Perhaps not.
Certain she was nearly safe, she rounded the corner onto a path.
But now the day was over.
The water bottle dangled from a branch. She’d been running in circles.
And so had he.
Round and round by Geoff LePard
‘I hate homework.’ Penny glared at Mary. ‘Why do you make me do it?’
‘It’s just the way it is.’
‘Great. So the abused becomes the abuser, huh?’
‘Penny! That’s an awful thing to say.’
‘What did grandpa say? What goes around, comes around.’
Mary wiped her hands. ‘Ok, stop. Don’t do it.’
‘No, you’re right, you need to break the circle. If you don’t want to, don’t. You’ll explain to your teachers, I’m sure.’
Mother and daughter stared at each other. Penny sighed. ‘Ok I’ll do it.’
‘You can always circle back later.’
‘Ha bloody ha, mum.’
Circles by Irene Waters
“Will you add me to your circles?”
“Sure. What do you want to be. Friend, family or acquaintance.”
“I can choose?”
“You sure? “
“Just thought you’d prefer to be in my circle of friends.”
“Okay. Put me in that circle then.”
“But you’re special. I don’t want you in my circle of friends. No I want you to myself.”
“Well create a circle with just me in it. A circle with just you in it.”
“Oooh I like that. I have you to myself. I can circle you with my arms.”
Friendship Circle by Norah Colvin
He was new. They saw it. He felt it. With different hair, different clothes, different words, different – everything, he felt a world apart.
They huddled together, talking in loud whispers. He remained apart, attempting nonchalance but feeling unworthy, dejected, and afraid. Their occasional glances were followed by hoots of laughter. He wished to be anywhere else.
Suddenly the circle disbanded and some of them, the bigger ones, headed his way. He couldn’t move. He’d never get away. The others stood by, watching. He waited for the assault.
“Hey,” said the biggest one. “You’re new here. Come and join us.”