The rock is unexpected. But there it is, where it shouldn’t be. It’s in the way.
This week, writers considered the various ways a rock in the road could tell a story. Sometimes it was the story, and other times it was a prop to carry the story. These writers wrote right around that rock in the road.
The following are based on the February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road.
The Rocky Road by C Jai Ferry
Stella stood several feet from the courtroom entrance. You can do this. She fumbled for the small bluish-gray rock in her pocket, one side rubbed smooth by her anxiety-prone thumb. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Her thumb moved more furiously.
“You ready?” her lawyer asked, guiding her through the double-wide doors.
“What’s with the rock? Lucky charm?”
“S-sorta,” Stella said. Dammit, focus! You can do this. “I fell on it. My first visible scar.” She pointed to her hairline.
“Doesn’t sound very lucky.”
Stella exhaled slowly. “It was the day before I filed for divorce.”
Steve Goes Underneath by Anne Goodwin
Childhood taught me home was an illusion but, twenty years on, I was living the dream. A regular job, my own house and a fabulous woman to share it with, I could’ve cruised like that for evermore. Until Liesel changes her mind about children, decides she wants a family with or without me. I can’t be a father, but I can’t let her go.
What do you do when a rock blocks the road ahead? Blast it with dynamite, scramble over it or tunnel underneath? Luckily my house has a cellar … with three strong bolts across the door.
The Rock by Michael
I couldn’t believe it but the rock suddenly sprouted rocky arms, then legs as it stood towering above us. In its hand was a giant hammer which it swung above its head. Mum was screaming, dad was screaming it was pure chaos. Then I sat up, mum was wanting to know what was wrong. A bad dream I said, sweat pouring off me. Out of the car window I saw dad negotiating his way round the fallen rock. As we passed to one side I noticed a long crack and a hand appeared. That’s when I totally freaked out.
Sticks and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Two boys huddled on the battlement wall, wind-blown and on fire with An Idea.
pony-2Between them the small catapult waited, fragrant with fresh-tanned leather straps. A pile of stones glittered, rubbed free of ocean, with chapped hands and tunics needing a wash.
No girls around to interrupt their weapons test. Ponies wandered the path to the sun-bright meadow.
Thor loaded the bucket, and with a nod, Peter released the catapult’s arm. The small stone flew and smacked a pony’s flank. It whinnied and shied.
“This time? Bigger rock!”
They didn’t notice the girls step out on the path below.
Blocked Way by Kerry E.B. Black
Insurmountable as a mountain, a boulder blocked the trail. Cindy’s mount snorted a cloud of displeasure into the winter air as Cindy considered other paths. Ice made the left impassable, and thick, snow-covered branches provided an impenetrable barrier into the woods.
She sighed into her mount’s neck. “My life.” An overbearing ex, condescending family, and unpleasable boss filled her existence with self-doubt. Only riding healed her.
She dismounted and pushed, but the stone remained. She rounded it and began breaking branches. Blood trickled from scrapes from the effort, but she forced a path, determined not to be stymied again.
Rock Diplomacy by Joe Owens
“I’m not moving it,” the Virginia highway worker said.
“Nor am I,” his Tennessee counterpart insisted.
The trouble was the large boulder had come to rest on the state line and neither man saw a majority of the rock in their jurisdiction. Had there been a noticeable portion in either the decision would be simple.
“We can split it in two, then take care of our half,” Virginia said.
“Not with my tools,” Tennessee nodded negatively.
“You’re not suggesting I use mine?”
“Well someone must,” Tennessee stated.
“Let’s call the feds. We can claim interstate commerce or something.”
Rock’s in the Road by Nona Morris
“Rock’s in the road.”
“Guess it is.”
It was hot out, the sun high. Moving the rock was hard work.
“You gotta stop this, Darlin.” he drawled at the stone. Laying his hand on it, he felt the vibration, like it was purring without sound.
He wondered if they ought to call somebody. Rocks shouldn’t purr, even silently. Rocks shouldn’t move on their own, no matter how slow.
“Alright then,” he said, putting his tired shoulder against the vibrating mass and shoving. He wished, not for the first time, it had never fallen from the sky.
First Day on the Job by Gwen Couture
The call came early in the morning. Stuart, the sheriff of highway patrol, had his feet up on his desk. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone after letting it ring 5 or 6 times.
“Sheriff, you better come down here.”
Stuart arrived to raw chaos. The 1996 Chevy Malibu was crushed beyond anything he could imagine. The Malibu must have been heading down the steep mountain road going at least 80kph. They simply couldn’t see the massive fallen boulder in time. He knew there could be no survivors.
“Well?” Stuart probed, knowing the answer.
The rookie shook his head and cried silently.
Rocks in Her Head by Norah Colvin
The newcomer was intrigued. Every morning she’d be there, filling a battered barrow with rocks from the road. You’d think that, after a day or two, she’d have removed them all. But, every morning, even earlier, a quarry truck would rumble by, spilling more.
Longer-term residents shrugged indifferently, “She’s got rocks in her head.”
When he asked her one day, she replied, “Come and see.”
He followed into her back garden, and watched. She stood at the edge of a pit and threw in the rocks. After each she listened, hopeful of a sound, of one day filling it.
That Rock That Talked by Lady Lee Manila
I had a dream, a lucid dream
Lying on a beach and I saw a big rock
A pervious rock and somehow gleamed
All of a sudden, facing me, it talked
That rock that talked, it warned me to be wary
Wary of things that might hinder my growth
That it’s not smooth sailing and could be blistery
Things might not come my way, perhaps I might loath
Lying below a cellular blanket
Never felt so cosy by the brooklet
I can tell you everything coherent
In the ancient world, life could be brilliant
Come what may, I’m ready
Rock! Checkmate! by Bill Engleson
He could feel it.
It seemed to be shuffling around in his belly, in the pit of his gut, a dark shaft of coiled intestine, wrapping around his innards like a viper, slippery-skulking, hardwired for perseverance, soft, mushy fat tissue, oozing up against it, seeking to dissolve its granite impact.
He could feel it.
He shifted his butt, seeking something approximating comfort. It wasn’t going to happen. His body had failed him, corrupted his future, made a lie of his dreams.
He could feel it.
He would forever be less than he might have been, or would ever be.
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
He was late.
They had told him where to meet them so that they could arrive together at the surprise birthday party.
They had picked this spot with care knowing he couldn’t miss it.
If he’d arrived first, he could park up and wait for them. How difficult could it be?
They went inside for coffee.
“Look for the rock in the road,” they said.
There was nothing here dammit, except a rock in the road!
He got out and pulled out his cell.
‘Where the hell are you? he shouted.
‘In the Rocky Road cafe waiting for you!’
Timed by Reena Saxena
I have always loved your way of doing things, Tim the Timid! You placed a boulder on my path, but left ample space for me, to bypass it, and drive ahead. And I don’t hold it against you, either! Your wife does not like me, and somebody has paid you to do this.
I have become so adept at ducking bullets and manholes. Life has never been easy. Good things happened, but always at the wrong time. Just like my ill-fated rendezvous with you! You will regret this soon, Tim, the Wrongly Timed! I do not forget or forgive.
When Mae and Her Dogs Met Jasper by Jules Paige
Until she uploaded her day’s photos onto the computer,
she never noticed the shadow in each of them.
…From the dawn without telling anybody, she made green
pinecones stop heart disease ~ would grimace, moan, and
pray for homeless ex-wife’s, hawk, grizzly bears, John, Steph,
and Dakota, in the back of the truck…
Jasper had come between a rock and a very hard place –
knew Mae was special right off, the way she treated her
dogs. At dusk was she was thankful when the kind man
offered to change a flat on her truck…and the dogs even
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Sherri Matthews
Tears streamed down Carrie’s face as she read out loud, her hands shaking:
“While we sympathize, we are unable to comment on civil matters, and therefore, we have no choice but to enforce our thirty day eviction notice and foreclosure.”
“Bastards!” yelled Tom as Carrie threw down the letter and ran to their baby, who screamed for them both from his crib.
Two months later, eating dinner at a homeless shelter, Tom took a call about some possible part-time work. He hoped the fact that his mother was Mexican born and bred wouldn’t be another rock in the road.
Cracking Rocks and Other Chores by Luccia Gray
‘You’ll get up at 5, carry hot water and light the hearths in all the bedrooms.’
‘After breakfast, you’ll empty the latrines and make the beds.’
‘Then you’ll prepare lunch and do the laundry.’
‘Such a pretty girl, but so frail.’ He smiled maliciously. ‘The master may use you for other chores.’
Let him try, I thought.
He wasn’t to know I had worked cracking rocks with a heavy hammer all day, until I splintered the forman’s skull when he put his hand down my breeches and discovered I wasn’t frail at all.
A Rock in the Road (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane trudges wearily, wondering what on earth made her think a walk was a good idea. It’s cold but she’s hot.Troubles has clearly never been leash-trained; she’s not sure who’s walking who. It’s a pretty day, but it would be just as beautiful from the backyard.
She realizes what the problem REALLY is as she comes abreast of a boulder jutting dangerously into the travel lane. She perches on it and breathes a sigh as she works her shoe off and shakes out a surprisingly tiny pebble.
“Much better,“she says.Troubles whuffs happily and pulls her onward.
Flash Flood by Ann Edall-Robson
Water gushed through the trees and across the rutted trail, to blend into the prairie grass on the other side. It wasn’t the torrent it had been in the previous days, but still it flowed with force. Stone boats, pulled by teams of horses had been moving rocks from the flooded road since before daybreak. Each time it rained, they had the same problem. Flash floods carrying rock and debris down the mountain to rest on the open space of wagon road and meadow. It was time to find a different route to move the freight from the railhead.
Rocky Road by Florida Borne
In 1989, my third Geology field trip in 3 years, our instructor took the back roads into Nevada and Utah. Instead of a rental van, we were part of an Isuzu Trooper convoy.
Dust flew from his back wheels, impeding the vision of those behind him. Stinging sand became vultures nesting in our hair. With days between shower facilities, I was happy that I’d chosen a cap and NOIR dark glasses for the trip.
On a rare paved road, hillside striations intrigued the newbie. “What kind of rock is this?”
“I don’t do 60 MPH geology,” the instructor replied.
The Rock that Changed My World
“I knew it was cheesy. But there was no other way.”
“Throwing my twelve-string in the Chevy, I was there in under ten.”
“But Daddy, it takes almost twenty minutes to get to Grandma’s.”
“Light traffic, sweetie.”
“Mommy’s window was open and the curtains were flapping out the window.”
“Jumping out of the car, I grabbed ole Betsy and I was under the window before I could change my mind.”
“But had to know she was there.”
“Daddy, what did you do?” Vanessa loved this part.
“This, sweetie.” he said, holding a small rock. “This rock changed my world.”
‘These Rocks Don’t Lose Their Shape..’ by Geoff Le Pard
‘Why are boys so stupid?’
Mary studied her daughter. ‘Stupid?’
‘Jack. I thought he was different. But all he’s interested in is Pokémon cards.’
‘Does that make him stupid?’
Penny frowned. ‘No, but… all boys do is collect stuff. They’re not interested in people.’
‘Maybe that’s generalising…’
‘But they do!’
‘So do I. Tea pots.’
‘They pretty. And useful.’
‘True. At least cards are easy to store. Not like when I first knew your dad. He collected rocks.’
‘Rocks? What for?’
‘Their colour, their rarity…’
‘Exactly. They’re never useful.’
‘Rocks or boys?’
Penny laughed. ‘Both!’
Midnight Rock (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Michael knelt at the bumper, shining his flashlight. “Hell of rock you hit, Danni.”
“It was an easy target, squatting there in the middle of the road like a legless grizzly.”
Michael shined the powerful light up the canyon wall. “Can’t see anything else unstable.”
“A rock just for me.” She slumped her head on the hood. “Ike loved this truck.”
“He still does.”
“Yeah, Ike’s in some hell-hole, pining for his truck!”
“He’s enduring because of what he has back home, Danni. You, the truck, the dogs.”
“Too bad he won’t have a home to come home to.”
A Rock in the Road by Drew Sheldon
During a stop one day, a kid asked me for my pen. It was nice, and I didn’t want to give it up. So I asked him what he had for me, knowing he’d have nothing. He ran around the corner and came back with a rock that he obviously just picked up from the road. “Magic,” he said. “Bring you luck.” You could tell that pen was like gold to him. Giving it to him brought me a rare smile during that hellish year. I lost a few bucks, but I got the better end of the deal.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
I found him leaning against the rock, peaked and scared.
“You okay, Papa?”
He slapped the rock. A car-sized boulder unearthed from blasting, when they put in the new sewer line along the edge of the creek. The blasting went on for months, cracking the walls and stirring up old memories in Papa’s head.
He slouched down low, his back against the only place he could trust. I could see the house, but Papa was floating the Mekong Delta, lost but looking for the ambush. With a sigh, I crouched with Papa, hoping he’d find a way out.
Snow Day by Kate Spencer
“Some boys were out tobogganing at McDonald’s hill today,” said Jim, his mouth full of Glady’s lasagna.
“Really,” said Gladys, reaching for the garlic bread.
“Yup. It looked like Tommy dared the others into it.”
“He would. He takes after his dad. Dave was always getting into scrapes as a lad.”
“One of them broke his sled; ran it into a rock.”
“Just a bruised ego,” said Jim and wiped his mouth. “I heard we’re in for another blizzard tonight.”
“Well it may as well be snowing rocks. We ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
“No, but the boys will.”
Dancing on Rocks by Allison Maruska
“There.” I tighten the band securing my daughter’s hair. “You excited for your first day?”
“Yeah!” She hops down from the stool. “Mrs. B. said a new school means new friends.”
“Well,” I kiss her nose, “I’m happy you’re happy. Now hurry, or you’ll miss the bus.”
Smiling, she hoists on her backpack and skips out the door.
I watch her head to the corner. She’s twirling.
I laugh. I’d worried how she’d adjust to a new school after hers closed.
I’d worried needlessly. Some people let rocks in the road stop them.
My baby girl dances on hers.