Often we think of scraps as what remains. Sometimes they can be what rebuilds. Fragments can be anything from torn photos to memories. Fabric and recall can fade, yet we piece together what we can and hang on to our stories.
Writers naturally grasp at scraps to build stories. This week they took to the prompt with surprisingly powerful responses.
The following are based on the November 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps.
Part I (10-minute read)
Darkest Before Dawn by Sascha Darlington
Harrowing words split midnight, my parents dissolving.
The next morning, bleary-eyed, I arrived at the breakfast table to witness their ultimatum. Shredded pictures of not only them as a couple, but us as a family strewn across the oak table, on the vinyl, like crumbs of discarded bread.
I was sixteen. By then I’d witnessed relationship suicide for fourteen years, but I strived to separate it from my younger siblings.
Mom sauntered into the kitchen, smiling. “Pancakes, honey?”
My gaze moved from the fragments before me to her. She noticed my gaze, shrugged.
“No worries. We’re fine. Just fine.”
Seashore Days (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam
Chattering and giggling, the village children trekked along with Diamante, Jenvieve, and Francine to the seashore. There was work to be done first. Along the sand dunes, they gathered scraps of broken wood, twine, and sea algae from the broken fence, for a low fence around the brown thistle and yellow coreopsis.
After devouring a picnic of fish and potato pancakes, they created sand castles and fantastic sea monsters. Their excited cries carried in the breeze when they found sea urchins and starfish in the tidal pools.
The tide flowed in, the children turned towards home, reluctant, tired, happy.
It’s the Dog’s Fault by Susan Sleggs
“Damn it! I knew your dog didn’t like my moving in. My clothes from vacation are now scraps on the laundry room floor.”
“I warned you to keep that door closed.”
“Well I forgot.”
He handed her the bills from his wallet. “Go shopping. I don’t want to lose you or the dog.”
She gave half the money back then kissed him. “Partly my fault.”
He stuffed the pieces into a garbage bag.
At Christmas he gave her a quilt his mother had made from the scraps. Its origin was told to family members with much adoration and laughter.
The Circle of Our Love by Colleen M. Chesebro
Sally watched Nana roll the scraps of dough into a ball on the floured cutting board. This was her first time baking, and she couldn’t wait to mimic every move her grandmother made.
“Why do you roll it into a circle?”
Nana smiled as she maneuvered the rolling pin. “Because it’s easier to fit inside the pan.”
“But you could use a square pan, right?”
“Yes. I could, but the circle reminds me of our family. I gave birth to your mommy, and she gave birth to you. If we all hold hands, it’s a circle of our love.”
Russian Eggs by TNKerr
When the new Pastor showed up at the parish potluck bearing Russian eggs; the Elders all objected.
“This is a church event,” they insisted, “deviled eggs are inappropriate.”
Pastor Huberd chuckled until Elder Belknap blocked his path and an argument ensued. The Elders all were adamant, they stood united. Soon chests puffed up. There was pushing and shoving.
No one knows, for sure, who threw the first punch; I believe it might have been the Widow Montes.
In the course of the ensuing scrap, the fancy plate broke and the eggs were trampled underfoot. It was a total loss.
Untitled by Dave Madden
From the moment baby Drew could swing his tiny arms and legs of his own volition, he’d connect hands or feet to anything moving with an uncanny level of precision.
Everyone would coo in unison, “How cute!”
As Drew aged, his aggression intensified and its adorable nature quickly vanished.
Before shipping Drew off to military school, his parents tried enrolling him in martial arts. One martial art snowballed into others, which caged his rage and directed him on a path toward MMA.
Undefeated and well on track to becoming a champion prizefighter, his career was pieced together from scraps.
The Sibling E – A Fighting Vowel by Geoff Le Pard
‘What now, Morgan?’
‘My brother. He said we used to scrap all the time while all I remember is being told we got into scrapes.’
‘It’s possible you did both.’
‘You’re sitting on the fence again.’
‘No, look. You scrap with each other but together you get into scrape.’
‘I suppose. We did both sometimes.’
‘When mum made a cake she’d let us fight for the bit of cake-mix in the bottom of the bowl.’
‘Ah, you’d scrape the scraps.’
‘Yep and then we’d scrap for the scrapes.’
‘I preferred cake-mix to cake.’
‘Me too. Weird huh?’
Memory Quilt by Norah Colvin
She was old but definitely not out. Because they were the sons, they had responsibility for her affairs. But they knew her not and cared little for her comfort or her dignity. They signed her away without consultation, denied their sisters access to her home, sold what they could and disposed of what was left. Their one compensation for their sisters was her sewing box. What they considered worthless, the sisters stitched together. With tears of joy as well as pain, mother and daughters shared the stories embedded in each tiny piece of fabric and woven into their hearts.
Puss by Kerry E.B. Black
Oma taught me everything has value, even discards.
That’s good, because I’m a cast-off. My parents left me in a basket on Oma’s doorstep one winter night after Oma had gone to bed. Two of her cats curled their warmth about me. That’s how she found me, with cats guarding my makeshift crib.
That’s why she calls me Puss.
Oma saves bits of fabric and sews colorful quilts.
With her lessons I weave a tapestry of experiences. I talk to outcasts, befriend the friendless, and gravitate toward the lonely. I hope to thereby create something beautiful of this life.
Fight by the Dark Netizen
I ducked and rolled, dodging the roundhouse kick thrown at me.
The crowd cheered on as my opponent backed up and assumed his ready stance. I got back to my feet and brushed the dust off my body. This was one tough bugger. He was still standing after three of my punches had made acquaintance with his face. Underground fighting is a dirty, tough world. I have been bruised and battered in the many scraps I have been a part of. But none were as tough or as important as this one.
This one is to save my family…
Scraps From the Past by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She picks up a marble, rolling and squeezing it in her palm at a searing memory of betrayal.
She lifts another object to her nose, breathes deep the unidentifiable organic aroma. This tiny scrap, nap nearly bald with love, is all that remains of her early childhood.
That other, wedged into the corner of the wooden box she’d pulled from the top closet shelf, is handled with care. Its barbs, rusted with neglect, are still dangerous. She remembers the doctor, his kind blue eyes as he snipped and extracted. She touches her cheek.
All alive, only in her memories.
Scrapbooking by kate @ aroused
Andrea loved to scrapbook, so much that her house was overcrowded with all the paraphernalia. Fancy borders, stick ons, clothe pieces, anything that would make her scrapbooks more beautiful, more exceptional.
Each Saturday she met with two like-minded friends and they’d create and chat, a habit of many years. Sad part was nobody really wanted to view their exotic creations … so full of meaning to them but lost on others.
Andrea knew her ‘collecting’ had got out of hand, no room for visitors. Barely a path to get to bed, her scraps had accumulated to become a hazard.
Time to Let Go by Kay Kingsley
Sifting through boxes stacked to the ceiling, I relived my old life one memory at a time.
Boxes I packed to one day take with me, instead I sifted through and weaned, taking only the memories I couldn’t part with.
Flashes of childhood, high school, memories of first crushes, of family before the divide.
I discarded some items with ease wondering why I kept such silly things so long, other items required time to mourn.
Life has changed.
I realized these scraps make up me and yet none of these are who I am.
It’s time to let go.
Memories by tracey robinson
The cemetery was gray this February morning. I sat on my mother’s grave and looked at the flat marker.
I remembered her sitting on the kitchen floor playing jacks with me. Bounce, scoop. The smell of sugar cookies cooling on the counter. The radio playing “Summer Nights” and her pretending to be Olivia Newton-John. I heard her voice: “You’ve got this, you are strong”.
Scraps of memories were all I had left of her. A gust of wind blew crunchy brown leaves and brittle pages of yellowed newspaper past me. I hoped my memories didn’t blow away as easily.
C.E. by D. Avery
They approached warily. The car had been gutted, no longer habitable. She spied a scrap of paper stuck to the floor. The glove box yielded another and a stub of pencil.
“That’ll make good tinder.”
“No. It’s mine.”
He shrugged. They trudged on until dusk.
He coaxed a fire from his bow drill while she sharpened the pencil against a rock. The scrap of paper was a fragile promise in her shaking hands.
She wanted to. It’d been so long. She’d start with the date.
It felt like fall. Was it November? The year she knew- 2023.
Neglect by Anita Dawes
The great castle on Forest Hill
Long deserted, the dining hall left in a hurry
The plates mouldy with the remains of a feast
The church in the private grounds
Broken by long years of neglect
Stained glass windows smashed by time
Lay like tiny shards of coloured lights
Stolen from a kaleidoscope
Would that I could put it all back together again
Make it whole, no more scraps of things
That once were made with love and care
Tourists come and go, visiting the great sites
Never knowing the people who lived there
When time was whole, loved…
When Old Is Made New by JulesPaige
The old building was being torn down to make new class rooms. The artist wanted to use some of the clay from the bricks of the building to make a Mezuzah that resembled the structure. A Mezuzah holds a Hebrew prayer of blessing. Some of the script could be seen through the windows of the sculpted clay piece.
On the door frame of the new building is a reminder of the old. A simplistic copy that older generations could see and say; ‘Ah, ha.’ And newer members entering part of the new social hall could also see what was.
Life Scraps by Ritu Bhathal
Brenda hobbled backwards and admired her handiwork.
It had taken a long time. A lifetime.
Gazing at the large quilt, pieced together lovingly, she wiped a tear that had settled on her cheek.
Each and every scrap of material used showed another step taken in their life.
She gently fingered the white satin patch at the top, sewn next to a rough, black patch.
Their wedding outfits.
Scraps from old curtains, sheets, special clothes, even a tartan square from Reg the dog’s old blanket.
Wrapping it around her, she knew he was still close by, always in her heart.
The Bone and Rag Man’s Goose Dinner by H.R.R. Gorman
The rag and bone man picked through the pile of refuse with his hooked walking stick. A bit of metal glinted, so he bent to pick it up. He grunted and bent his arthritic knees, then sifted through the greasy pile of scraps. Fingers that jutted out of hole-ridden gloves chilled in the frozen goose fat.
He turned the goose carcass over and brushed some of the blackened grease off the shimmering metal inside, only to find a golden egg.
His good mood turned foul: who was rich enough to kill and eat a goose that laid golden eggs?
Part II (10-minute read)
SCRAPS by Papershots
Cher is in Vegas and you can fly out to see her. And talk to her backstage. The revolving billboard slides in some nasal spray, get rid of congestion and back to your day; no day seems worth it unless you fly out and see her – Cher, again – light-blue, young, divine. She slides back. Then there are other events in this town and those preferred flyers or paper of cheaper quality, too light not to swirl around in the chilly wind. It’ll be daybreak before Personnel will clean up the crumpled mass of fantastic evenings not to be missed.
Same for Me by Juliet Nubel
“And I’ll have scraps with mine, please”.
My definition of the word obviously wasn’t hers. What was this big strapping Yorkshire lass, queuing in front of me, actually asking for?
I watched as the young man behind the counter drove the huge serving spoon to the bottom of the bubbling oil. What he brought back to the surface looked other-wordly. Burnt, brown, greasy little pieces of batter, piled high in a mound of calories. He poured the lot on top of her fish and chips.
“Same for me, please.”
He smiled at my out-of-place accent.
“Comin’ right up, love”.
No Longer Alone by Di @ Pensitivity101
He was there again, sitting quietly, waiting.
The old man took his seat outside and placed his usual order.
The bacon, sausage and eggs arrived, the smell making his nose twitch, but he stayed where he was.
‘Come here Boy,’ the old man said, and the dog wandered over to sit at his feet.
No collar, no lead, but obviously not starving as he was not the only one feeding him scraps.
The plate now clean, the dog looked directly at him, head tilted.
‘Want to come home with me Boy?’ he asked.
The tail wagged.
‘Come on then.’
Scraps to Treasured Heirlooms by JulesPaige
Yarn leftovers. Some from Grandmother’s blanket that was knitted. And more from a two headed sweater that Ma was gifted as a joke. But most were from yard sales or charity shops. Crocheted two or three ply into squares. The blankets have our initials in them. Carefully crafted into those stitches that hold a single square together.
They weigh a ton! Staying overnight at the firehouse in winter, Ma wanted us to be warm. We can only guess at the places where some of the skeins came from. But we do know that love is bound in every stitch.
A Patchwork of Love by Teresa Grabs
The kids laughed and pointed, but I never cared. When we were supposed to be playing Red Rover, Red Rover, they’d call Patchy, Patchy whenever it was my turn to come over. I would smile and run over as if Patchy was my name. I loved it.
Mama made my clothes from scraps that friends and family gave her. My shirt was part Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lucy, and even Baby Joseph. My pants were part Dad, a little Grace, and a whole lot of Uncle Hal.
The more they called me Patchy, the more I felt my family’s love.
Untitled by Frank Hubeny
Words are like scraps found in a drawer of former times. We saved them, whoever we were back then, some stranger we would not want to talk to today.
Now we re-read those words and remember what we didn’t think existed to remember. Were there any truth in those words, ever?
That’s how Peter read a letter from Janice explaining that she didn’t mean to hurt him arguing how one and one meant two and did not involve three and because of that, and because Phil had someone else as well, he should take her back.
Peter never did.
Scraps of Memory by Bill Engleson
I press my fingers tightly against my temple. That helps sometimes. The pressing in. Perhaps it touches some point of recall, some lobe of a button.
Sometimes I know my entire life is stored inside me.
I know that like I know my…
She will call me a name from time to time. Hold my face with her weathered hand, smile, whisper…words…”I miss you. You’re here…but I miss you.”
I knew so many.
Do I really remember that?
I release my fingers from the brow of my history.
The fog rolls in.
It rarely lifts.
Scraps of Imagination (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Cleaning out Ramona’s dresser felt wrong, but Danni could no longer sulk over coffee at the kitchen table. She heard Ike tell his Uncle Logan, “At least she wasn’t a hoarder.”
True, Danni thought. Ramona was frugal but wrapped in her sock-drawer were rolls of dollar bills. She thought about showing the men and making a Grandma-was-a-stripper joke. Ramona would have chuckled. Danni spied a scrapbook beneath. Curious, she opened up pages to fairy drawings and cursive writing. Scraps of dried flowers mingled with Ramona’s fertile imagination before dementia robbed them all of who she was.
Crafting Scraps by Nancy Brady
Scraps of paper with just the right word; a snippet of a line; a phrase or two…she crafted poems like she crafted collages.
She chooses her words like she chooses the bits and pieces of paper and string to make up her vision for her art piece. Rearranging the lines to fit the rhythm, to fit the idea of the poem is as complex as arranging and rearranging the papers into the completed collage.
Does the poem express her inner thoughts? Has she put the words together to craft the poem that she originally envisioned? Does the poem succeed?
Scraps by Quiall
“It sits on a counter, waiting . . .”
“Can it be alive?”
“He knows he is about to die when . . .”
The scraps of an idea swirl around her head. Is it a poem? A short story? Should she tell the truth or concoct a believable lie from the scraps he left behind. But these are his words in her head, his lies. The only way to escape the torment he inflicted for so many years, through so many stories, is to act now.
She did. She placed the knife on the countertop and smiled.
Scraps of Ideas by Susan Sleggs
A writing class after retirement seemed like a good idea, but the first assignment, write a short story about anything, left me paralyzed. I went to my husband for help and he reminded me of the scraps of paper in my bedside table that I had written bits of dreams down on. We read them aloud and found a few that I could combine into one story. I had my outline. My first assignment garnered an A and whenever I needed another subject I went back to my scraps for inspiration. They turned out to be unexpected treasure trove.
Snippets of Treasure by Patrick O’Connor
For years I would write notes on napkins and scraps of paper.They would be folded and stuck into my pocket.
Oftentimes, I would throw them in a drawer and promptly forget about them.
Recently, I went to a garage sale and bought an old trunk.
There were no keys so, at home, I broke the lock open.
Inside were 50 scraps of paper.
Each had short snippets of stories written long ago.
Transcribing the notes and scanning the originals has now set me up for an exciting time of trying the write a story using all these thoughts.
Too Glossy for Him by Anne Goodwin
“We’ll make a memory book. A scrapbook of his life.”
I imagined rough grey pages, flour-and-water paste. But the occupational therapist grew up in the digital age.
She pointed out his name on the cover. He turned away. She turned to me: “Let’s discuss care homes.”
Not yet, surely? I wiped dribble from his chin. Of course he didn’t recognise the fellow in the photographs. He never thought he’d find himself in a glossy hardback book.
Old newspapers, a tattered notepad, a stick of glue.
Like the gentleman I married, he took my hand. Raised it to his lips.
Scraps by Floridaborne
A sign said, “Welcome to the 1969 Dance of Elegance.”
An orchestra began to play “The Blue Danube” Waltz.
My date asked, “Care to dance?”
He loved my irreverence, my sense of adventure. I loved how he made me feel so accepted.
Dresses of the finest satin swirled around while we spoke of universal concepts. But it was my tight empire dress, with velvet top and satin brocade, my favorite, turning heads!
“Such a lovely dress,” my date said.
“My mom created this dress with 25 cents worth of remnants.”
“And that is why I love you,” he chuckled.
Interactive Themes by Reena Saxena
It is an excellent workshop. We choose fabric scraps we like from the heap, and fashion it into outfit ideas. Then, we move to the circular rack with hanging garments, and make our choices a second time. Some of us make different choices the second time.
The facilitator helps us interpret our choices to show our personality types. If the choices vary the second time around, it is due to the cut, structure or style of the garment, and our self-image.
It is the interaction of human stories that makes us connect, or disconnect from each other. Presentation matters.
Untitled by Michael
When I met Mary she was scrounging throwing items into an old shopping trolley.
The trolley contained everything that was important to her. When I asked her about her life she pulled an old photo album from the bottom of the trolley and laid it out on the ground. “My life,” she said pointing to photos of a young girl, a woman in uniform and finally a woman with child.
“I’m not a scrap of good anymore,” she said shutting it up and burying it again. She shuffled off, the scraps of her life moving in front of her.
Patchwork by Chelsea Owens
They called it trash, and it was. Humanity’s selfishness was strewn about the world; molding, stinking, soaking in.
“Don’t bother,” they said.
Amongst the walls of yelling filth she closed her ears, strained her eyes.
There! A flutter of love beneath that greed.
There! Some tattered trust nearly blown away.
And there! Hardly a scrap of deepest hope, wedged between bigotry and vice.
Tiptoeing past an open pit of malice and an oozing patch of some sort of thoughtlessness, she made it home. Inside the stained and leaning walls, against the howling narcissistic winds-
Swept Up by D. Avery
“What’re ya doin’, Pal?”
“Ever week they was writin’ fer the Rodeo, now ever week they’s celebratin’ ever’one’s accomplishment, an’ here I am, sweepin’. Ya’d think the dang Beatles had been through.”
“Well, it was the Fab Five, but Pal, ya might wanna update yer pop culture references.”
“Sir Paul’s got a new album out though.”
“Do they still call ‘em albums?”
“I dunno. I’ll help ya sweep up, Pal. Is this confetti? Or scrap paper from the draftin’?”
“Is there any other way ta write?”
“I feel ir-elephant, Kid.”
“More like a woolly mammoth, Pal.”