Exhaustion can grind down even the most energetic person. It fogs the brain and slows the limbs. Slumber, rest, reprieve, all or sought as remedies. Sometimes we get a second wind.
This week, writers overcome exhaustion to write about it. That doesn’t mean these stories will put you to sleep!
The following is based on the April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion.
PART I (10-minute read)
Comfort Food by Saifun Hassam
Diamante struggled with the Abbott’s decision. To be a scholar, yes. But to be a priest? He loved to teach the village children. Being a guardian of the ancient temple was fine. He was exhausted emotionally and mentally, trying to find a way out.
From the cliffs overlooking the sea, he trekked down to the ancient temple. He sank into the shadows and fell asleep. A fragrant aroma of mint and giggling laughing children woke him up. A feast was ready for him: potato patties, fried fish and sun drenched peaches. He would find a way through his dilemma.
Exhausted by TN Kerr
“Raul, please rest. You can’t help us if you’re dead.”
“I’m sorry, Alondra. I have to finish before the rains come.”
She shook her head and returned to the house, where she made a big jar of Sandia Agua Fresca. Then she made Pambazos and wrapped them in a napkin, to keep him going. He was bleary-eyed when she returned with the food.
“Raul, you need to rest.” She took his hand and led him to the cool shade of a large Alamo tree. They ate. They made love in the dappled sunshine. Afterwards, she watched him sleep, exhausted.
Making Hay by D. Avery
“Hey. I’ve got dinner warmed in the oven. You’ve been haying since before sun-up till after sunset. You must be exhausted.”
“No, just tired.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Hmm. Well, this is good work that matters. It had to be done, especially with the rain forecast. Luciene helped us then I helped him. Our cows are provided for and our families. I’m a little sore and tired but it feels good. Especially coming into this kitchen seeing you, knowing our Hope’s asleep upstairs, safe and sound.”
“Hmm. Are you too tired? For more good work?”
“Not if we’re working together.”
Exhausted Love by Bill Engleson
He went to bed late. It was after nine.
He told the cat, “You should’ve reminded me.”
The cat squawked as if to say, “Yeah, right.”
It was only him and the cat these days. Sal had packed up and split a month or so earlier.
He’d said at the time, “The cats yours,” meaning quite clearly, he thought, “take the cat.”
All she said was, “I can’t hear you.”
He thought that an odd thing to say but he didn’t tell her.
There would’ve been no point.
The upside was, he’s almost sure the cat listens.
Exhaustion by Pete Fanning
I couldn’t believe she would show up like this, tapping on my door. Like I had nothing to do but sit and wait for her. She was drunk, or close, her hair up in a lazy bun, curls dangling, spilling in a way Hollywood could try to replicate but never get right.
She was breathtaking. And she knew it. And she wasn’t supposed to be within 100 yards of my door.
Her smile widened, like her path of destruction. “Hi.”
I closed my eyes. From exhaustion—no, to stop seeing her, stop wanting her—when her lips found mine.
Heavy on Dark by Michael B. Fishman
Table, paneling, carpet, the room was heavy on dark.
She cited “irreconcilable differences”. Two dark words.
I said, “Is there anything in life that’s really irreconcilable? You know, outside of death and taxes.”
She looked at her lawyer and said, “See?” He looked at me like I was a child and offered a dark nod.
I said, “Would it have been easier if I’d cheated?”
She and her lawyer exchanged a dark glance and they both gave me the disapproving parent look. “You’re exhausting, you know that,” she said.
I signed the paper. Stood and walked into the light.
Catching a Nap by Susan Zutautas
Flopping down on the couch with pillow in toe, I knew I’d be asleep in no time at all. Hopefully Sandy would let me get an hour’s sleep or so before calling me. Exhaustion had kicked in and out I went.
I woke with a startle, looked up and saw Ian standing there.
“Oh no, I hope I didn’t wake you, Meg.”
“No, that’s okay I was just sneaking in a few zzz’s while your mom was resting. I should get up and check on her.”
“No, no, you stay put, I’ll tend to her for a few hours.”
Bonding Via Fabric by Susan Sleggs
Lillian leaned on her cane and perused the only two shelves of fabric she had left. She needed four complimentary ones to make the project she had in mind. After trying many combinations she exhausted her options so limped to her chair and eased herself into the worn seat. After a little nap, she called her granddaughter. “Would you have time to take me shopping.”
“I can on Friday.”
When they returned from their excursion, Sally said, “My youngest starts school in September. Could we schedule time to sew together?”
Lillian’s misty eyed response was, “Of course my dear.”
Exhaustion by Anita Dawes
There isn’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing
I can’t afford a maid, I don’t have a rewind button
Although I could do with having one fitted
Maybe some new batteries, like the ones that keep the bunny running
Now I don’t have the strength to run, to hide just for a while
Sleep does not help much, I awake with a backache and sore feet
Head spinning with the thought of all that is yet to come
The day is full before I start
I can get through another one because of love…
Taking What it Wants by Dorinda Duclos
Exhausted. The mere thought of the word makes me tired. I suppose staying up until the wee hours of the morning isn’t the best way to overcome it, but writing has a way of taking what it wants. There’s never a choice.
Still, finding the chance to sneak a few winks before Marsha shows up is difficult. Once she is here, there is no hope of relaxing. She is a spitfire, a jumble of energy. I am just a tired old woman. She never understands. But then again, editors never really do.
Chapter 1… my mind is a blank.
Sleepless in a Dormitory by Anne Goodwin
What an eventful day! Matty could sleep standing up.
Yet she lies on her back. Then on her side. Her thoughts racing, jumping, spinning: packing one away, another springs up.
When the guests retire, she must contend not only with her own mental disarray but the groans that are the external manifestation of theirs. Could she smother them one by one with a pillow? Simpler to step outside.
Shivering in the cobbled courtyard, she cinches her dressing gown. Finally soothed by the diamond-studded sky, she makes to go indoors. But, when she tries the handle, the door won’t budge.
Exodus by D. Avery
“I know she’s old but just two days ago she was walking and talking and taking meals with us. You try talking to her.”
“Come in child, sit. I’m old it’s true but I see and I hear. Come, talk with me but do not talk to me of getting out of bed, of eating food. I tell you, I am done.”
“Why? Why are you giving up on life?”
“I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much. When I was a child. And now in this country. At Passover no less. I’m tired of the hate. I’m exhausted.”
Getting The Right Signal by Geoff Le Pard
‘You look exhausted, Morgan.’
‘It’s mum and her death wish.’
‘Well, wishes. This whole “when I go…” malarkey.’
‘It was the music last week…?’
‘Oh that was easy. She told me yesterday she doesn’t trust me to carry out her wishes.’
‘She still hasn’t decided on cremation or burial?’
‘That’s part of it. It’s after that.’
‘She doesn’t want to be lonely.’
‘If she’s cremated how can she guarantee I’ll spread her ashes near her friends so she can keep up with the news.’
‘She’ll take a radio but will she get a signal?’
The 36 Hour Day by tracey
Last night’s game had gone thirteen innings followed by a long flight across the country. A 5:00p first pitch the next day left no time for a nap.
The radio announcer found himself giving an involuntary snort of laughter over the airwaves. An unexpected foul ball in the booth started the infectious chuckling. The announcers couldn’t look at each other for fear of bursts of mirth escaping. Their words came out strangled with laughter.
Punch drunk with exhaustion the radio announcers lost it in the seventh inning. Baffled listeners were confused, not recognizing sleep deprivation when they heard it.
Night Watch by Joanne Fisher
They had spent the entire day walking south and now they were both exhausted. In the darkest part of the night Aalen kept watch. She could see quite well in the starlight.
She looked at the sleeping form of Ashalla covered in a blanket. She had grown fond of this human. She would never have thought that possible. All her life she had been trained to keep humans out of their forest, or to hunt them down if they dared to enter. And now she was friends with one. Maybe they weren’t all as bad as she’d been told.
Exhausted by The Dark Netizen
Living on as a survivor is not easy in this wretched world.
I have fought countless battles through my life: For glory, for food, for money, and some times for the sheer fun of it.
In my youth I courted war, but as the years passed, my disgust of those who fuelled conflicts began increasing.
Every man that I have ever killed, every instance when I ended a life, sometimes swiftly, cleanly and sometimes slowly; they are still fresh in my memory.
I am exhausted now, awaiting a quick death.
However, my blade still remains hungry for more blood…
The Royal Bodyguard by Anurag Bakhshi
The sword almost slipped from his hand, as his opponent feinted sharply. He was weary with exhaustion, but giving up was not an option.
Giving up meant breaking the trust of the king who had made him his royal bodyguard.
And so, he dug deep into the inner recesses of his soul, and attacked, one last time.
A fountain of blood spurted out, followed by a cry that shook the palace to its core.
And as he looked in alarm at the king’s bloodied nose, and the triumphant fly flitting about, all that the monkey could say was, “Oops!”
Exhaustion by Shane Kroetsch
“I can’t do this anymore.” Sabine said.
“Do what?” Kalvin said.
Sabine spread her arms wide. “Any of this. Put up with people who refuse to use their brains. People who care so little about their own responsibilities that they don’t see the rest of the team struggling to pick up their slack. Why should I be the one working after hours and losing sleep over whether or not the job that these idiots refuse to do gets done?”
“Come on, Sabine, we can figure this out, can’t we?”
Sabine shook her head. “No. It’s too late. I quit.”
The Hard Life of a Hector by H.R.R. Gorman
Home defense is no joke. I thwart dozens of attempted break ins, assaults, and thefts every day.
Look at that two-legged creeper. “BARK!” I shout, warning him that my house is occupied by a threatening set of teeth.
“WOOF!” I combine it with a growl to ward off that four-legged menace. Other dogs make me so mad – sometimes I get a little over the top and attack the walls. Hooman doesn’t like that, but at least the house is still standing, I say.
Guard duty’s exhausting. It’s nice to settle down with a peanut butter Kong and a snooze.
DIY by Di @ pensitivity101
‘My get up and go has got up and left,’ Hubby said.
‘Lucky you,’ I replied. ‘ Mine hasn’t got the strength to actually get up!’
These days, our energy levels are a fraction of what they were and it takes weeks to get over any additional exertion.
Despite being exhausted though, both of us have had restless nights this past week, managing only a few hours sleep.
Our routine is the same, and we take our cue from Maggie who puts herself to bed at 9pm. Wish we could sleep at the drop of a hat like she does!
PART II (10-minute read)
The Author of a Long Night by Chelsea Owens
The cursor blinked from an empty screen, the only light in a night-draped house. Walls slept; world slept; he, for a moment, slept. She looked over at his backlit-shadowed features; they frowned.
She sighed and could not frown. Or smile. Expressions felt as elusive as the absent story arcs on her page.
I must write something, she thought.
Blink, answered the screen.
Then; through morning oatmeal mind mush, an idea came. Her fingers poised to type…
He groaned. Sat up. Named her.
She turned to his care.
The cursor sighed, yawned, and went to sleep without her.
Life in a Wakeful Trance (two parts) by JulesPaige
You know you’re a parent when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
Especially in early years when multiple night feedings happen.
Or when the little tyke has regular two and four o’clock nightfrights.
To bed by ten, and up at six the child; not remembering the screams.
The advice is; don’t turn on the light, coo and calm the itty bitty.
And you wonder how many months or years this is going to go on.
the confident adult who
just now needs some sleep?
Life goes on, they grow up, move out; and you retire?
You know that you’re a child when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
Especially in years when multiple calls to your old folks occur.
When your elderly parent starts to have memory and health issues.
You’ve the same ten minute conversation three times in thirty minutes.
Mother or Dad never seem to sleep or be awake when they should be.
You offer support, loving them; trying to keep your own sanity.
that confident adult who
you wanted to be?
Life goes on, and you can only that hope your own children remember you… with kindness too.
The Longest Days by Susan Zutautas
Meg never realized how fatiguing it would be being the main caregiver for Ian’s mother who’d fallen and broken her hip.
It had only been four days since she’d been released from hospital and Meg still had six to ten weeks of this to look forward to.
If there weren’t so many stairs in Sandy’s house it would be so much easier but at the same time, Meg knew she was helping someone and getting exercise.
On one trip Sandy said to Meg, “I’m so lucky to have you and so is Ian.”
That made all the exhaustion worthwhile.
Exhaustipated by Ritu Bhathal
Seriously, you don’t have a clue.
Yes, so what? You get up, get ready, catch a train and work 9-5. The evening commute is hard, so you need a drink at the end of the day. Then you sleep. And repeat.
At least you sleep.
I’m not sure what time I wake up, because I’m not entirely sure I go to sleep. It’s an endless round of feeding, changing, getting housework done whilst he sleeps, then all over again. Babies don’t have a clue about tiredness.
No. I’m exhaustipated.
Simply too tired to give a sh*t!
Exhausted 24/7/365 by Ann Edall-Robson
“You’re exhausted?” Hanna’s voice reflected her disgust.
Tal lay stretched out in the shade next to the hay bales. His hat covering his face so he didn’t have to see the look in Hanna’s eyes. He knew what was coming next. She was right, but it still didn’t make it any easier to watch her work as hard as everyone else. She shouldn’t have to. She was a woman, but he would never tell her that.
“You’d think by now you would have learned that ranching is 24/7/365. It doesn’t stop just because you think you’re exhausted!”
Expedition by Miriam Hurdle
It had been thirty-five days in the ocean desert. Their boat was beat up brutally. The sun was on their right, but the boat was drifting.
“We have exhausted the food supply and fresh water.”
“Such a pity we couldn’t pass Cape Town.”
“We set out together and will end here together.”
“Some of us could hang in a little longer.”
“We’ll draw the lots to decide who goes first to sustain us.”
“What? I’m throwing up.”
“I’m in the same boat. Here are three straws in my fist.”
“Wait! I spotted something.”
“Ay, the land.”
Exhaustion by calmkate
Emily was totally exhausted after another sleepless night.
All that worry and anxiety caused her so much fright
The abuse had been hideous, nobody had the right
to violate a child who always felt as if no end were in sight
Her experience had left her with nightmares pale and white
Victimhood wrapped tightly around her with all her might
Family and friends tending to avoid her odious plight
could she now become victor by wise choices in spite!
Experiences shape us but our attitude and choices define us
Forgiveness can heal although we never forget such blight …
Exhaustion by Floridaborne
We run, from church to church, telling our story.
People smirk, as if they know it can’t be true. Then the accusations begin.
“No one bombs a peaceful congregation. What did you do to enrage them?”
“We prayed,” I said. “And they beheaded our children for believing in the wrong religion.”
Still, it gives me no joy to read about another church being bombed, or burned. Exhaustion is our constant companion as we make our way north.
We have lost our family, our home, and tire of arrogant people who will not listen. Perhaps the human race deserves extinction.
Our Hero? by Joanne Fisher
She walked out of the smoking crater in the middle of Kingsport City. A crowd stared at her in fear and excitement and at the blasted remains of Dr. Hat, the latest super-villain to threaten their world.
“I am so exhausted.” Giant Explosion Girl said. The Mayor congratulated her.
“It’s amazing the job you do for us. Can I ask a question?” The Mayor asked.
“Sure.” she replied.
“Why do you put your life on the line to defend us every time?” She looked at him.
“Because I want it to be me who destroys the world, not them.”
Drama Lama by Annette Rochelle Aben
Legs with the strength of over cooked spaghetti, kept her from being able to stand at the kitchen sink. If she could raise her arms from the dead, she’d move the shock of hair that had fallen, blocking her view. Instead, she made a feeble attempt to blow it out of the way.
“I am sooo tired!”
Mother had heard it all before. Of course, her daughter didn’t have the energy to get the dishes washed. If she expended all that effort doing chores, then she’d have no energy left to spend the evening with her friends.
Bad Decision by Tina Stewart Brakebill
God she was exhausted. The constant questions. The scrutiny. Knowing she was being judged. Constantly. About every single thing.
Her friends had tried to warn her but she didn’t listen. “It’s not like I’m new at this this.” Her naïve arrogance dripping off her words. But California isn’t like New York they insisted.
Now she believed. Too late.
What it would feel like to escape it all? Just run. Dive in. Sink. Just rest.
“Ms. Emma? … Ms. EMMA!”
The kids weren’t even the worst. It was the parents. Private school teacher in Malibu. Worst decision ever.
Pilfered by Violet Lentz
The pen wasn’t worth anything, but Maddie pocketed it anyway. It wasn’t about the pen. It was about the rush. Stepping so far outside of her exhausted reality, that she could feel the hair on the back of her arms standing at attention.
Sometimes Maddie believed, stealing was the only thing that made her life worth living.
Mindlessly whisking her toddling two year old into the car seat, Maddie caught a glimpse of something sparkly dangling from her daughters tightly clenched fist. A necklace pilfered from the display adjacent the cash register, where Maddie herself had pocketed the pen.
Tramp’s Heartbreak by Sally Cronin
He had been walking in the lashing rain for hours. He contemplated the long straight road ahead known as tramp’s heartbreak and bowed his head in exhaustion
Cars had ignored his raised thumb all day as they sped past. In the distance he heard a vehicle approaching and braced himself for icy spray. Instead the truck stopped.
‘Hey old timer, hop in’. The teenager smiled from the warmth of the cab.
The lad chatted away as he sat in grateful silence. His eyelids fluttered and he slept, leaving his fate to a boy with the heart of an angel.
Exhausted Possibilities by Norah Colvin
Jolted awake when the bus reached the terminal, they grabbed their belongings and stumbled out. The driver shrugged when asked about accommodation.
‘NO VACANCY’ signs flashed along narrow streets. ‘NOT WELCOME’ lists accompanied the few with vacancies.
Trudging back to the terminal, hoping for seclusion, a ‘VACANCY’ appeared where none before. An old man bade them enter, waved away their money and installed them comfortably.
“Thank you. Thank you,” they bowed, and collapsed into sleep.
In the morning, they were alone. A note lay on the table:
“When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, there is always more.”
Tired No More (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Trench work became harder with an archeology field school of newbies. The questions exhausted Danni more than digging on her knees.
“What’s this,” was the most common question.
By late afternoon the scrape of her trowel sang a different tune. Instead of soft forest duff, the trowel made the higher pitched scrape against something hard. “Do you hear that,” Danni shouted to any close enough to hear. They all came running.
As she revealed the flat of something large and human-made, they all lost their sense of exhaustion. Curiosity woke them up and eased the aches of hard digging.
Exhaustion by Reena Saxena
Feeling exhausted is not worth it, when a world of opportunities awaits out there. Maybe, it is time to shed old skin and don new apparel. Maybe, it is time to refill the tank. Maybe, it is time to find new inspiration.
The immediate world around has shown its true colors, and changed those again like a true-blue chameleon (or is it true-green?). I’m ready to paint on a new canvas.
Moving on is not quitting. It is well, just quitting something that has outlived its course.
To be exhausted speaks of a limited stock. And I am unlimited…
NanoWriteMore by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She dropped her pen, hand cramping. Why had she defined success as the number of pages she filled?
She’d been sure that using paper and pen would slow her thoughts, access a deeper, more creative part of her brain, that would result in less typing and less editing.
She squinted at the stack of curled, etched paper, unable to decipher her scrawl.
Certainly what she had was good, publishable work, ready for the next stage?
Except her hand was cramped, her vision blurred, and her stomach roiled with hunger and nausea.
And most of all, she needed a nap.
If Ya Try Sometimes Ya Git What Ya Kneed by D. Avery
“Hey, Pal! Where’s Sho-mmmfff?”
“Kid, I will remove my hand from yer big mouth if ya kin hush and jist whisper. Okay?”
“Where’s shorty at?”
“Shorty’s Cowboy finely got inta the sawbone’s. Done got a new knee.”
“Tellin’ ya Kid, ya wake Shorty up whilst she has a chance ta rest, I’ll more ‘an cover that mouth a yers.”
“Ah’m whisperin’. Shouldn’t Shorty be celebratin’? This is good news at last.”
“Ain’t really news, Kid, more like the happy endin’ to a long story a the frustrations a gittin’ ta here.”
“Reckon Shorty’s exhausted.”
“Now Shorty’s heppin’ her Cowboy git on his feet after the surgery.”
“She’s some sweet on that Cowboy. An’ he let’s her wear his shirt.”
“Don’t be givin’ Shorty shit over that shirt Kid.”
“Who’d ever give Shorty shit over a shirt that her sweetie shared with her?”
“Mebbe a shithead thet don’t know enough ta look where he’s steppin’.”
“Reckon Shorty’s Cowboy’s gonna have ta learn ta walk right agin. Pal, with jist one good knee ain’t there a possibility he’ll end up walkin’ in circles?”
“Reckon thet’ll make it less exhaustin’ fer Shorty ta track him.”
BAM- Nailed it! Great writing all.
Yes! Another fine collection of writing!
I love the creativity and imagination. Great stories!
I do, too, Miriam! Such a broad view and depth of creativity.
That is why I like to take part in challenges, to see different interpretations.
I find it enlightening and inspiring, Miriam.
Great collection but I’m exhausted from all the reading … death dog and dishes gave me a giggle!
Well done everyone 🙂
Glad you exhausted your reading! 😀
lol hope that never exhausts … just needed a recovery break 🙂
Well, I’m exhausted just reading these fab Prompt entries !!! ❤️
Take a breather, lol! Yes, another great round of stories! <3
It’s wonderful where the inspiration of the prompt takes us all. This week we may have all been exhausted, but we dug deep and found what we needed to respond. Another fabulous collection. Thanks for compiling, Charli. Well done, everyone!
Even in our exhausted states, we can pull out some fine stories. Always a pleasure to get these stories together!
And to read!
Yup good one everyone!
Indeed! A fine collection!
I love it when the stories come together, Dorinda. It makes for rich reading.
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
Here are the flash fiction submissions to Charli Mills Carrot Ranch last week with the prompt ‘Exhaustion’ some wonderful stories from familiar names.. Annette Rochelle Aben, D. Avery, Charli herself, Norah Colvin, Miriam Hurdle, Ritu Bhathal, Geoff Le Pard, Dorinda Duclos, Anne Goodwin and many more… An anthology of entertaining flash… head over and enjoy..
Quite a mix! Geoff le Pard’s gets my vote…. Thanks Sally. Hugs xx
Geoff has a couple of ongoing characters that delight and check the bounds of friendship and sanity weekly! Thanks for reading, Joy!