How can a storyteller get by in a busy, busy world? Busyness can distract us from sunsets and tales exchanged over pints or tea. Some feel compelled to find worth in activity, and some stay active as a distraction. The storytellers want you to slow down a minute. Listen. Read.
Writers tackled busyness on the page, taking time out from busy schedules to craft responses.
The following stories are based on the September 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a busy character.
Getting Busy on My First Date by Sarah Brentyn
His tie was blue. A nice enough color. The geometric design wasn’t all that unpleasant. A bit modern for my taste, but not obnoxious.
I suppose it could have been his shirt, with its burgundy basketweave pattern. But, if I’m honest, the whole thing blew up because of his pink paisley jacket.
I couldn’t tell if he was nice enough for me to look past his fashion faux pas.
When my sister asked how the date with her co-worker went, I shrugged, “I have no idea. His clothes were so loud, I couldn’t hear a word he said.”
Sometimes I Feel Like I Am Going Crazy by Robbie Cheadle
In this modern world, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.
At work, deadlines, unexpected issues; needing time, needing urgent attention.
An endless cycle.
It sometimes seems relentless, a knot of anxiety in my stomach, as I work through the list of tasks, carefully and exactingly, there is no room for error.
In my dual purpose life, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.
At home, husband and children, all needing help, needing time, needing advice.
An endless cycle.
I feel like a monster, driving them on, helping them meet the demands of their high-speed, high-tech lives.
The Real Job by Allison Maruska
The fryer beeps its obnoxious repetition. No one addresses it.
“Keri! Get that!” Phil yells from the back.
“I’m busy,” I mutter while shoving burgers into the warming drawer. At the fryer, hot oil hops out with the cooked fries, hitting my arm. “Ow.” I wipe it on my shirt.
“See, honey? That’s why you have to study hard in school, so you can get a real job. One that won’t burn you.”
It’s a woman in line, talking to a child and pointing at me.
I turn away, hiding my eye roll. Yeah, this isn’t a real job.
Super Secretary by Anne Goodwin
“Mr Johnson called. Frantic he can’t make his appointment. He wondered if you’d see him at six.” Elaine wrinkled her nose. “I said you finished at five but he said you’d seen him after hours before.”
“Tell him okay.” The guy was too vulnerable to wait another week.
“And that rescheduled team meeting. I can’t find a slot that suits everyone until next month. Apart from Friday.”
Friday: her day off for writing. But writing wasn’t her real work. “We’ll do it Friday. If you can book a room.”
Elaine smiled. Perhaps the meeting rooms would be fully booked.
Busy by Robert Kirkendall
Silvio the waiter moved from table to table taking customer’s orders and answering their many questions about the menu. He then ran back to the kitchen, quickly arranged various plates of food onto a serving tray, and ran back out with the tray on his upturned palm. He adroitly sidestepped other servers and bussers on his way to table.
“Waiter!” an obnoxious customer screeched.
Silvio halted and looked down at the customer contemptuously.
“What’s this fly doing in my soup?” the customer demanded as he pointed down at his soup bowl.
Silvio glanced down at the bowl. “The backstroke!”
Never Too Busy for Fun by Norah Colvin
After days of endless rain, the chorus of birds and bees urged them outdoors. Mum bustled about the garden; thinning weeds, pinching off dead flowers, trimming ragged edges, tidying fallen leaves, enjoying the sunshine. Jamie, with toddler-sized wheelbarrow and infinite determination, filled the barrow, again and again, adding to the growing piles of detritus. Back and forth, back and forth, he went. Until … leaves crackling underfoot and crunching under wheels, called him to play. Jamie giggled as armfuls scooped up swooshed into the air and fluttered to earth. Mum, about to reprimand, hesitated, then joined in the fun.
Tommy’s Nap by Chris Mills
Mary tucked the blanket around six month old Tommy, and his sleepy eyes fluttered like butterfly wings. She needed several hours to catch up on chores.
Laundry was an avalanching mountain peak. Dust bunnies taunted from corners and fled. Dirty dishes called her name, as did toilets, tubs, floors and sills. She flipped mattresses, turned mattresses, chased dust bunnies from under mattresses. Spotted mirrors reflected her weary gaze.
Tommy slept. Mary swept. To-do lists became all-done lists, and the house was just the way she wanted it.
Tommy the teenager walked out of his room and asked about dinner.
Jumping Around by FloridaBorne
Plane Crash? I told my doctor not to get married on the 25th of this year, or take flight 25 to Hawaii.
When I’m around, people hurry up and die.
I lived 25 miles north of Barneveld, Wisconsin when a massive tornado jumped past my house and annihilated the center of their town. I lived 25 miles away from San Francisco in the 1979 Earthquake. Then, I was in Florida when Hurricane Irma took a giant leap to the left and we missed the hurricane force winds by 25 miles.
That’s it! I’m done with psychiatrists. They never listen!
No Time to Stand and Stare? by Anne Goodwin
A shorter walk today, and no dawdling. Busy busy, lots to do back home.
The squiggle on the path broke her rhythm. Even here, in its natural habitat, an adder was a rare sight. She’d disturbed one once, only a mile away, but it slithered into the bracken before she could distinguish the diamonds on its back. This one seemed to be posing. How close could she get before it reared its head and spat?
A gift. A blessing. She’d stay as long as the snake did. A poor life, if she lacked the leisure to stand and stare.
Busy (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
The sun is warm on her face in the cooler air, light penetrating her closed eyelids, turning them incandescent orange. The smells of autumn: decaying leaves, rich earth. Her books make a surprisingly comfortable pillow, lying on the grass on the small quad. Bit of heaven.
A shadow falls across her. She cracks one eye open.
“Brittany,” she says flatly.
“Jane, that calculus is killing me. I need help.”
Jane closes her eye again and points behind her, somewhere. “Math lab’s that way.”
“You’re not doing anything.”
The eye again, a bullet. “Looks may deceive. I am very busy.”
Busy by Irene Waters
Dahlia and Rhonda sipped their coffee as they chatted not glancing in Bee’s direction. Yawning, Dahlia swung her legs onto the table. “I’m tired.”
“Why? What have you been doing?”
“Nothing. You almost finished Bee?”
“No. I’ve got tables to set, flowers to arrange and the speaker wants the projector stuff. I’ll have to organise that. Would you set the tables for me? The sooner I get home the better. I’ve got the dogs to walk, dinner to make, the kids to pick up before I come back .”
“Sorry Bee. Too busy. Gotta go. See you tonight. Coming Rhonda?”
Houseproud by Pensitivity
The last of the shopping had been put away, and the house was as neat as a pin.
She’d done all the washing and ironing, and prepared dinner in the kitchen.
No time to relax though, just a shower and then off to visit.
She got to the hospital and her mother’s bed was enclosed in a curtain.
The family emerged from behind it.
They looked tired.
‘Where were you? She was asking for you.’
‘I was busy. How is she?’
‘It doesn’t matter now. She died half an hour ago.’
Being houseproud is a heavy burden to bear.
Busy-Bee by Kalpana Solsi
Aunt Charlotte being a very fastidious person, I am on tenterhooks about a slip.
The brownies and cookies are baked to perfection. Darjeeling tea is ready to be brewed. The expensive crockery is laid on the table. The curtains match with sofa upholstery.
How did I miss this? I station the wooden-stool and hitch my dress high to climb despite feeling giddy. I am busy cleaning the ceiling-fan. The landline-phone springs to life.
I lower myself huffing, losing my balance to fall on the phone. I just pick the receiver.
“Okay Aunt”, I mumble.
She has cancelled her visit.
Busy With a Purpose by Reena Saxena
I returned home one evening to find newspapers torn into neat little vertical strips, and piled into a heap. Somebody had perfected the technique to get pieces of a similar shape and size, and taught others how to do it. The effort was laudable, as there was no lofty purpose behind doing it. The doers were just learning.
They were three cute kittens, whose mother had chosen us to look after them. They did not own any tools, other than their teeth and nails. I saw them expand the efforts to other needed skills.
Hats off to the spirit!
Flash Fiction by Kerry E. B. Black
“What’re you talking about?” The woman’s cheeks darkened and her voice raised. “The white buffalo. What have you done with her?”
Maurya wiped the spray from her cheek and ignored the taunts from the towns folk. She walked into the mushroom cave. A circle of fungi had formed, but hoof prints smashed the closest mushrooms into the compost. Maurya moved her hands in a warding symbol.
“I think I know where she’s gone.”
The town elder tottered to loom over Maurya. “Since it’s your place that lost her and your mind that knows where she’d be, you’d better find her.”
Busy Bee by Etol Bagam
Thursday morning. Wake up.
Get up. Wake up the kids. Have breakfast. Get kids ready to school. Walk them to school.
Work from home. Automation won’t work, do it manually.
Stop to go to the doctor.
Come back to a meeting. Work non-stop until 3:25.
Bring suitcase down for hubby.
Pick up kids at 3:30.
Drive kids to sports practice.
Stop at dry cleaner.
Back home, iron hubby’s shirts.
Fix dinner. Do the dishes.
Help hubby pack for his trip.
Read a bit. Go to bed.
And that migraine is still there until end of day Friday….
On the Go by Michael
She was too busy for idle chit chat. It was go, go all day. Those around her found her exhausting as she never stopped, preferring to get the job done as she’d say to them.
Her head down bum up attitude gave no room for getting to know her. She nodded in acquaintance to her co-workers, she ate alone and never took her full dinnertime.
She found it hard at Christmas when they did stop to celebrate as she had no connections to anyone.
It came as no surprise to anyone that she had no one at home either.
The Energizer Corey by Joe Owens
Corey took a deep breath as he pushed out the last words for this seventy two minute stop. Now it was off to the Explorer’s Lounge for the Newlyweds Match game where couples would try to see how much they knew each other. He had hosted the Voice of the Ocean, a Sled Dog Puppies petting session and a bingo game, but his day was not nearly half over.
“How do you do it?” Junior Cruise Director Caitlin asked.
“Never stop. Get your plan in mind, pick the fastest route between and don’t stop when you’re tired!”
Busy as a Beaver by Susan Zutautas
Mr. Moose saw a busy beaver working on his den
He walked up to him and offered a hand to lend
They cut and moved logs and stopped for a break
Thank you Mr. Moose I wouldn’t have been able to get all these in the lake
Munching on some berries
Talking away was merry
Until Mr. Moose explained the fire on his land
And how everything was now just a pile of sand
This made Mr. Beaver shed a tear for him
And offered for Mr. Moose to move to his land
Thank you my new found friend
Buckeye Blane, Beaver Bureaucrat by Bill Engleson
“So, kid, open wide, flash me them orange sharpies.”
“Kid, they’re beauties. Credit to beaverdom…”
“Just about done. Hole punch bought the farm. Okay. Crunch! Great. Once more…We’re done. Take a break.”
“Know the feeling. Know it well. Anyways. You got the job. Land Manager Apprentice.”
“I can see you’re thrilled. Okay, your basic job will be to clear deadwood.”
“Specialized beaver work, kid. We leave the healthy trees…take out only the dry rot.”
“Goes against beaver lore, I know. Compromise. Humans give a little: we give a little.”
“That’s the spirit.”
A Team of Busy Bees by Liz Husebye Hartman
She bends over unkempt juniper shrubs and a beetle-laced Japanese plum, scissoring with vigor with long-bladed hand shears. Down the boulevard, a few trees show tawdry highlights of orange and gold.
“I’d best get busy,” she grumbles, “While the leaves are still up, and not all over my lawn.” She snips here, shapes a curve there, and gradually uncovers dahlias, planted in the gap between shrub and front stoop. They straighten and smile, proud of their cache of hidden pollen.
Later, she rests, sipping iced tea, as grateful bumblebees, buzz and fill their leg sacks with summer’s final bounty.
Monastic Preserves by idylloftheking
“You could say I’m a connoisseur. Have you ever tried Trappist beer?”
“No, sir. I don’t drink.”
“Of course, of course. Where do you get your berries?”
“That’s not something we like to share, sir.”
“Of course, of course. I suppose I can’t have just one more jar?”
“They won’t cooperate, sir.”
Monastery Jam by Charli Mills
Thimbleberries scattered across the floor. “Brother Mark! How careless..!”
Mark shuffled to fetch … a broom? Dust bin or bowl? A rag? He stood like the garden statue of St. Francis. His mind calculated each solution rapidly.
“…just standing there. Look at this mess. And leaves me to clean it. Never busy, that Brother Mark. Idle hands, you know…”
Mark blushed to hear the complaints. Father Jorge’s large brown hand rested on Mark’s shoulder. “Let’s walk the beach.”
Waves calmed Mark’s thinking. “I didn’t know if it was salvageable.”
“Brother Mark, your mind needn’t make jam of every situation.”
Cerebral Buzz (Janice vs Richard 19) by JulesPaige
Richard looked as if he were sitting still. In truth, his mind
was busy calculating what to do next while his body recovered.
After visiting Janice’s home – and eating the berries from her
garden – He must have also ingested something else. While
he was blind consuming berries he must have not looked
carefully enough at the weeds that bore similar fruit that was
really just for the birds.
Richard doubted that Janice had planted those weeds just
to poison him. And he had gotten ill, leaving a mess in her
home – the home he had wanted to make his…
Busy by Rugby 843
When my kids were little they were well behaved. A visit to the doctor’s office wasn’t a problem. We usually brought something along to keep them busy–books, paper and pens, etc. Nowadays I see tables and chairs, video screens and coloring books to entertain children waiting for appointments.
At home we had a “busy box” toy that served us well, but I’ve seen much more elaborate styles such as the ones pictured above, at crowded offices. Some parents might think this is a prime place for germs, but washing their hands before and after use should solve that problem.
Parent/Teacher by Pete Fanning
Liam’s father sat hunched over the desk. “Why ain’t you giving out homework?”
“Well, eight hours is a long day for a seven-year-old. In fact, studies—”
“Studies. Here we go.” His arms flailed. He brimmed with aggression. Mrs. Tan pressed on, a little less sure now. No wonder Liam was lashing out.
“Well, concerning Liam’s classroom behavior.”
The chair squeaked. “What? I’ll set whup his ass if he’s acting up.”
Mrs. Tan managed to cover her gasp. She pulled close Liam’s folder, smoothing the edges of if only to keep her hands busy.
“No, he’s really working hard.”
Father by Jack Schuyler
I never thought of my Father as a busy man, or as absent in any way. Mother would praise him for giving us food, shelter, and luxury, but such adoration fell silent against stony determination. I remember every day straining to hear the opening and closing of our front door, anticipating his arrival because I loved him. But the sound rang mostly in departure, and love was only a word I pretended to know the meaning of. And when he died, it was not love that pulled at my heart, but an emptiness that had been there all along.
The Mom by Ruchira Khanna
“Sam hurry up! it’s time to leave for school.”
“Yeah” came a response amidst the wide yawn.
“Did you put your lunch box, water bottle in your bag?”
“Yeeees!” he muttered.
“Sam eat your breakfast! Why are you daydreaming? The school bus will be here any minute!” she stressed.
Sam rolled his eyes, and he could not contain himself, “MOM! Let it go!” he shrilled.
Took a deep sigh as she placed her hands on her hips, she responded, “I am aware dear. But someone has to delegate it, and that ugly task falls upon me!”
The Unsung Juggler by Eugene Uttley
Well, here we are in the middle of it all, the whole symphony of sweeping, spinning spheres.
And we have no telescope powerful enough to see him down there at the bottom of it all.
What’s he doing down there? Why, he’s juggling of course – juggling all the planets and stars.
He’s not God – or a god – I rush to say, though you might think him so to see him doing what he does.
He’s just a guy, you know. A very, very, very busy guy.
He’s the unsung juggler at the bottom of the universe.
Dang Busy by D. Avery
“Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”
“That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”
“So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”
“Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”
“Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”
“Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”
“Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”
“A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”
“Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”
“Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”
“Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”
“Well you sure dreamed it up.”
Gone East by D. Avery
“Shorty, is it true?”
“Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”
“What? The Kid seemed happy here.”
“The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”
“Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”
“Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”
“Was it the food, Shorty?”
“Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”
“Oh. That takes time.”