What would you trade for, or trade away? It’s an act as old as humans with possessions. Trading can be the foundation of many stories from dragons with an inclination for shoes to school children anticipating what fresh bread can net. Even vows and leadership can be traded.
Writers have explored what can be traded and with whom. Trading creates interesting motives and twists in stories.
The following are based on the May 11, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about trading.
A Trader All His Life by Irene Waters
“I’ll trade your undefeated conker for my cats eye marble.” Winking at his mates Farman turned to Edwin. Reluctantly Edwin agreed and handed over the well hardened horse chestnut.
“I’ll trade your signed copy of Sgt Peppers for my King of the Road. Farman held out his record knowing that Edwin would pass over his. All his life he’d traded with him, now would be no different.
“I’ll trade your place for those tatty photo albums of mine.” Edwin hesitated then nodded his head.
As the dust settled, Edwin smiled. “I knew one day the trader wouldn’t diddle me.”
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
“Does it hurt?” Kylie asked, wide-eyed, admiring the fresh blood on her neighbor’s elbow.
They were hip to hip on the limb of the cherry tree. Nat shook his head, wincing. Kylie, still gloating after winning the footrace, stopped swinging her legs. “Look at this one.”
Nat admired Kylie’s knees. Both riddled with scabs and scrapes. Suddenly she nudged him, her troublesome hazel’s stoked and brimming. “Hey let’s trade blood.”
“Kylie, I think it’s blood BROTHERS.”
A press of flesh.
A union made.
Later, chuckling through a toast, Nat’s brother would publicly question the legality of their marriage.
Sweet Reasons by 40levenreasons
My son snuggled in as we watched a little sneaky television, his siblings, already tucked up in bed.
He turned his large brown doe eyes to me.
“Mum. I love you and I love the treats you make for our lunchboxes. You make nice sandwiches too, but sometimes….”
He looked down, unsure if he should continue.
“Sometimes…?” I prompted.
He continued. “Sometimes, I get jealous of the other kids’ lunchboxes. They have chips and lollies and stuff…..just sometimes”, he finished with uncertainty.
I smiled and kissed his forehead.
“That’s where the schoolyard trading tradition comes into play Mate.”
The Fresh Bread Sandwich by MichaelSchool lunches were made for trading. As I was from a poor family we had fresh bread only of a Friday when the baker delivered before we went to school.
Our staple diet was vegemite* sandwiches. Mum always had an ample supply in the cupboard. The richer kids at my school had ham and cheese sandwiches and after a week of vegemite, as good as it was, Friday was open season on lunch trades.
It was the fresh bread that was the important currency. You could name your price, ham and cheese for example, with a fresh bread sanger.
The Perfect Thing by Lisa Listwa
“I would give just about anything for a cheeseburger right now,” I said, thinking of that perfect state of meltiness achieved by marrying hot, juicy beef to cool, creamy cheese. I drove on, debating whether pulling into the drive-thru was wise.
After a moment, a small voice chirped from the back seat of the car. “Would you give me?”
Shocked, a slight gasp escaped my lips. “Of course not!”
“What about Dad? Would you trade Dad for a cheeseburger?”
“Nope, not Dad either. But I might think about it for a minute,” I laughed, “because cheeseburgers are mighty delicious.”
Trade Fair by Norah Colvin
Cards, were coveted like gold. To belong, one was enough; more better. Each lunchtime the boys showed off new acquisitions, compared intelligence and strength points, and traded duplicates. Fair and friendly battles pitted minds, the winner claiming card supremacy. Then bully Boris won, and none dared challenge. Until Justin, tired of Boris’s tactics, dared. The group gasped. It seemed Justin would be crushed. But clever cardless Frank slipped in and showed the winning move. Boris growled, “Inadmissible” and threatened repercussions. Defiant, Justin handed Frank a card, bestowing membership. Empowered, each boy followed, declaring Frank the Master, and trading opened.
Sick Day Sacrifice by Kerry E.B. Black
Matthew protested when his mom said, “No school. You’re sick.”
“But Nate’s bringing his cards today so we can trade.”
“You’ll trade when you’re better. Rest.”
Later, Mom brought the phone. “Are you feeling up to talking with Nate?”
Matthew grabbed the phone. “’sup, Nate?”
A strange silence, then, “They took ‘em.”
“Who took what?”
“My cards. Kids took all ‘sept 8.”
“Didja tell teacher?”
“What good’d that do?”
Matthew ignored his shaky legs and burning throat. He’d never had 800 cards like Nate, but he could sure share what he had with his best friend. No trades needed.
Trading Places by Susan Zutautas
“I wouldn’t want to trade places with you for all the money in the world.”
“And why is that?” she asked.
“I am married to my best friend, my soulmate, and I couldn’t possibly be happier.”
“But I get to travel the world and live in a much nicer house than you have, not to mention all the expensive things I have.”
“Things, travel, a house not a home, could ever replace what I share with my husband. We have something so special that you will never understand. It’s sad that you think your life is so much better!”
Duped! by Ruchira Khanna
“I will trade it for your five marbles.” said young Boyd with disheveled brown hair and two missing incisors while one hand scratched his bum and the other grasped the ball.
After a brief pause.
He heard giggles, chuckles, and chortles; but Boyd was determined he stood there tapping his foot.
“Time is running out! If no marbles. I walk!” he said with a stern voice.
Silence and that was followed by marbles rolling in Boyd’s direction.
A crooked expression and the nimble boy picked the marbles. Teased them with the ball and was swift like a hyena.
All Trades are Not Created Equal by Joe Owens
“For sure it is a tired cliché,” Donaldson heard his doppelganger say. “Trading places would be easy though. You take over my business and I yours.”
“You know nothing about building hydro dams and I nothing about building cruise ships,” Donaldson answered.
“We both sit in offices the whole day. How often do we actually do the work?”
“True,” Donaldson said. “Why not. For thirty days then we switch back.” The men shook and parted, ready to live a different life.
The doppelganger phoned his boss minutes later.
“We’re good. I will tank the stock at first light sir!”
Trading Rats: The Rat Catcher by Luccia Gray
The seller stood with his back to the door holding a swinging cage of squealing rats.
‘How much?’ asked the buyer.
The buyer stroked his beard. ‘Two shillings.’
‘What? I went down the gutters for days risking my life to catch them!’
The buyer looked at the bite marks and blood on the seller’s hands. ‘You need to sell and find a doctor or you’re a dead man.’
The seller leaned back into the door which closed with a loud bang. ‘Two guineas, or I drop this cage, it smashes and we’ll both be devoured for dinner.’
The Last Trade by Reena Saxena
She traded her freedom for the social security her husband provided. She accepted subjugation for the wealth that her children would inherit.
She had mastered the art of silent manipulation. She would not eat till her husband came home, just to draw him homewards. She pampered her own spoilt brats, so they would look after her in her old age.
She wanted to write, paint and find channels of expression for her creativity. The family saw it as an insane whim, beyond her perceived capability.
She walked out, giving up everything. It was the last trade to pamper herself.
Miss Universe by Kalpana Solsi
“World peace is the need of the hour”, she mouthed and a thunderous applause deafened the stadium.
She adorned the sparkling tiara, as the curve of her lips widened.
Uneasiness lies in the head that wears the crown, Mrs. Ruth’s words buzzed in her head.
Her new itinerary made her travel through various time zones.
The little fingers generously dug into the sinful chocolate.
The anorexic frame balancing the crown bent down to kiss the orphaned cheeks while television screens beamed her actions.
“Will you trade places for a day?” begged the Miss Universe.
The innocent eyes stared disinterestedly.
Devil’s Devotee by Jules Paige
His world had been comprised of hastily constructed philosophies,
which upon close examination, had failed him and promptly
collapsed. Richard had not thought he was gullible – and yet
he fell hard and fast for a cruel master. Hate, pain, distrust
those were the breaths he had taken and consumed. Janice
had been a distraction. He had traded some moments of his
life for her compassion. But then she had drugged him, not
knowing of his immunities the ones he had built up to counter
act anyone who would destroy him.
Richard had traded too much to find her…again.
Dearly by D. Avery
Some have had to trade so dearly for it. They lost their hair. Their skin got burned. Oh, they paid, gave the proverbial pound of flesh, or more, first in general terms, a lump, a mass, then specifically, a breast or two, some glands. They lost their balance. They lost their mobility and independence in the deal, negotiated the terms of their dignity in exchange for more. Throughout these transactions they realized true value, learned and taught lessons of living and of loving. They traded so dearly for something we sometimes waste, often claim to have none of. Time.
Blue Ribbon by Kerry E.B. Black
Carla felt honored to judge the annual Riding for the Handicapped competition. She marked the scores on her clip board. The announcer began with the honorable mentions and proceeded to the overall winner, David. Volunteers pinned the blue ribbon to his riding habit. He clapped along with the audience.
Jenny, the rider to David’s left, pulled her yellow second-place from her chest and sobbed.
David reached over. “What’s wrong?”
“I wanted the blue.”
David patted her arm. “We’ll trade.”
Carla interceded. “No, David, you won. That’s yours.”
“I know, but it is making her sad. Besides, I like yellow.”
From a Trader (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
“Well, the bear fetish is invaluable during times of change. Turquoise is the stone of protection,” Danni explained.
Michael held it in his palm. “Bear is the Guardian of the West.”
Danni didn’t want to spoil their newly agreed truce. For Ike’s sake. Yet, it was also for Ike’s sake she’d placed the Zuni fetish by his photo. Keep him safe, Danni thought.
“Powerful medicine. Good totem for Ike in Iraq.”
Danni waited for the question she knew he’d ask.
“Where did you come by this?”
“A trader in Gallup.”
Michael’s grasp tensed. “Stolen. Danni, your bear needs cleansing.”
Fair Trade by Anne Goodwin
Don’t take the price quoted at face value, said the guidebook. Bargaining is taken for granted here. When she kicked off at five hundred, I offered two. She replied with four, I raised it to three; we danced around and shook hands at three-fifty. How could she smile when I’d purchased ten hours of her time for the price of a coffee back home? Maybe I should’ve stuck at three hundred. Maybe I should’ve bought a sackful to sell on at a profit. Maybe I should’ve bought a different guidebook: a guide to building a fairer world.
Something’s Afoot by Sarah Brentyn
“I don’t accept money,” his eyes traveled over me.
“But,” I took a deep breath, “I need it.”
He leaned against the moss-covered stone. “Obviously. Since you’re trading with the likes of me under a bridge…”
“Tell me what you want. Anything.” I shifted from one foot to the other under his gaze.
“My…wait, what?” I looked at my strappy sandals. “These?”
I slid them off and held them out.
“Over there,” the dragon extended his wing to a mound of what I now realized was shoes. “We don’t just hoard gold, you know. Carl fancies teacups.”
A Bargain’s a Bargain, Whoever You Negotiate With by Geoff Le Pard
‘Mum, can I get a job?’
Mary peered over her glasses. ‘Have you something in mind’
‘The village clothes shop.’
‘In principle yes.’
‘Great. What do you mean? In principle?’
‘Well, what are the hours, the pay. Is it legal at your age? What about your school work, music practice..’
‘Ok. I get it. I can’t, can I?’
‘If you’re giving up so easily you don’t want it then.’
‘That’s not fair.’ Penny looked furious.
‘If you’re going to work in retail you need to know how to sell your product…’
‘Forget it. I should have asked dad.’
Levels of the Trade by Elliott Lyngreen
“I detest drawing blanks.”
“I insist you’re demanding too considerably.”
An entire vacant cinema. An afternoon matinee remarkably unoccupied.
“Just permit your mind clearance. Stop imposing the write. Creation may come throughout this movie.”
The two hardly exchanged noises throughout the film.
Upon leaving, the one struggling exclaimed,
“I still didn’t think of anything.”
—“that was so fantastic!…!” the other countered. Then, some eager deliberation, “what if your story – filled that empty place!?
-Characters?! People. Events that brought them into the theater?!”
“I want a story to pass on, not something invented. Besides, I barely paid it any attention.”
Beer Parlour Tricks by Bill Engleson
“You can have my soul.”
“Seriously? How will I know when I have it?”
“That’s your problem. I’m done with it. It has no meaning for me.”
“So, you offer me something for which you have no more use. What do you expect in trade?”
“What would you offer?”
“How about a 1914 Baltimore News # 7 Babe Ruth?”
“You have one?”
“No. In the same way that you don’t have a soul. I would like one but so far, nope.”
“You’re saying I don’t have a soul.”
“Body and Soul. No difference.”
“Fine. The next rounds on me.”
Traded by FloridaBorne
“I traded one problem in for another,” I muttered at my new 1976 Plymouth Volaré, a car destined to become the Edsel of its time.
“Problem?” the dealership mechanic asked.
“If the speedometer works, the hot/cold indicator doesn’t. Now I’m hearing a rattle in back.”
After 4 years, the electrical problem continued to plague us, but we found the rattle when my dad and husband took out the back seat…an empty tape roll on which a bored factory worker had scribbled, “Haha, find this.”
“I should’ve kept the Plymouth Fury III,” I sighed
Dad replied, “I told you so.”
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
It was a good harvest, looking set to continue for a few more weeks.
The freezer was full, as were those of friends and family. Roadside signs brought in some trade, but there was still much more surplus to requirements.
Such a shame to waste it, even fallers from the apple tree were snapped up when left in bags on the dogwalk.
Inspiration struck, and loading up the car we headed to a local tearooms.
Homemade jams and chutneys were for sale, so we offered a trade.
Our surplus fruit and veg for a cream tea once a week.
Wishes by D. Avery
Once upon a time, there lived an old man and an old woman. They had little in the way of possessions, and wanted for nothing. Nothing very unusual ever happened and they noticed small miracles everyday. They gardened and gathered and occasionally fished in the stream that coursed through the meadow.
One day something unusual did happen. A talking fish offered them three wishes if they’d let it live.
This amazing trout ended up in the same pan that more ordinary trout had, and they smiled at each other, not wishing to trade one of their days for anything.
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You are welcome!
Ha! I’ve just read all of these stories on the prompt post, Charli. You give them extra clout with the way you arrange them – trading their position of timing to that of something more subtle. Thanks.
Agree. I love reading them in the prompt comments/on blogs and then seeing them arranged together by Charli. Very cool.
Charli adds so much more insight with the way she orders them, doesn’t she.
Thank you Lisa and Norah! It’s a privilege to get to work with such fine writing from all of you and further add artistic arrangement. My favorite part is always the collection. <3
Another great compilation. Always love seeing the vastly different takes on the prompt. 🙂
Fun, provocative and Oh My! Another great collection.