Life often requires more than one set of hands. Mothers need extra hands, situations call for many hands, and communities thrive when more hands pitch in. Hands carry, lift up, reach out, touch.
Writers followed where the prompt led even into the dark of night where zombies roam. Many hands led to many stories.
The following are based on the June 13, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the work of many hands.
PART I (10-minute read)
Is the Universe Listening? by JulesPaige
I ask for strength to carry another.
I ask for the patience to listen to the repeated stories
Of whatever they wish to share –
Mostly though they will not speak old haunts –
While they accept the gracious offerings of many hands
For mine alone are not the only pair needed
To promote the success of the healthy and honorable
Existence they should be able to comfortably abide.
I ask for nothing in return –
I ask for the weather to be calm and clear
When errands include any number of appointments
For pleasure or health…
This is my universal prayer.
Fingers Aplenty by Bill Engleson
I suppose I could write about ‘many hands’ if I was in the mood. The ones that make ‘light work’, eh!
They surely exist. Seen a few in my day. Been in a couple.
My scout troop for example.
Okay, cub scout troop.
All that dib dib dib dob dob dob doowah stuff.
Once, our Akela decided we needed to climb a mountain.
We were young, game.
Except Box-head Bobby. Polio had whipped him badly.
“Can’t go,” he whimpered. “Just can’t.”
“Sure, you can. We’ll help ya,” we said, not quite believing our bravado.
Not quite believing…until we did.
Many Hands by Pete Fanning
The news anchor said “defaced”, but the city defaced the wall. We’d merely fixed it, working through the night, ducking delivery trucks or the occasional police car. Then, dawn spreading over our historic downtown, shining on bronzed shoulders of generals facing south, we’d gathered our paint cans and hit up Waffle House.
Defaced? Not by us. Not by the hands we painted—brown ones, white ones, black ones—clasped in unity over a giant battle flag, a confederate threat slapped onto brick when my grandfather was in school, when schools were forced to integrate.
We’d simply integrated the flag.
Handing Down by D. Avery
Kevlar vested cops have guns in their hands. We come out, single file, hands over our heads, newscasters already there, microphones in hand, reporting this latest shooting. Videos capture relieved parents’ hands stroking their children’s cheeks. Some parents’ hands flutter to their own cheeks. Some of us sit on the ground, heads in our hands, disbelief displaced by our knowing. Some put their hands together in prayer. Some of us stand together clasping hands, our grief becoming anger.
You let assault weapons end up in the hands of our classmates then tell us the world is in our hands.
For Love of Books by Saifun Hassam
The storm hurled tree branches through shop windows. A giant pine tree smashed the roof over the library’s Children’s Learning Center. Upended shelves, torn and wet books covered the floors.
Students from Lynn Valley pitched in to sort the books. Around noon lunch was announced. Surprised, the students stepped out into the sunny open space outside. The “Busy Cafeteria” food mobile had arrived. The picnic tables were loaded with food, from hamburgers to tacos to pizzas to salads to donuts to chocolate fudge. A huge banner on the food mobile said it all: “With love from the librarians!”
A Stitch in Time by Nancy Brady
Julia, Mary, Elizabeth, Susannah, and a few others from the group were discussing the books they were reading. There was also a bit of gossip going on across the table. The air was filled with their chatter, and laughter broke out here and there.
Still, that did not deter Julia and her friends from their mission. With so many hands to stitch the pieces of fabric together, they were making another quilt for the veteran’s home. What once was their monthly quilting bee for themselves had become a way to give back to those who had served their country.
Talented by Abhijit
“That’s a beautiful piece of work, dear!” commented an impressed examiner looking at the model on display, “did you work alone or it is a team work where many others joined hands?”
Praise never surprised Mrs. Madhumita Majumdar. In her lifetime, she has seen accolades fly in her direction from her father’s home to her husband’s home. She had turned out to be an excellent hostess, a good entertainer and even a good sports person in her social circle. Why should her daughter be any different!
“Which one?” asked Mrs. Majumdar with a mischevous grin, “model or model maker?”
Many Hands by Susan Sleggs
thank God they don’t all have a brain
A small group of people
all with the same interest form a club
They have officers and by-laws
they don’t follow them
They bicker and take stands on what’s good for the group
common sense stays at home
They gather in their cliques
with misplaced loyalties
Change is the enemy
when someone new is asked to lead
Maintain the status quo
whether it’s a good idea or not
because their hands can’t see
So many hands
showing a microcosm of government
bogged down by half the number of opinions
The Price of Perfection by Anne Goodwin
It began with a single dreamer, but many hands were needed to make it real. Our backs didn’t ache so much when we toiled together. Our stomachs didn’t grumble. The sun didn’t scorch. Blisters didn’t sting. And if ever our drive should desert us, Father would grant us his counsel; a late-night pep-talk to renew our commitment to the Cause.
When Father dreamt my husband was a Judas, many hands were needed to implement the punishment he deserved. It saddened me, but the road to Righteousness is strewn with thorns. Mindful of my duty, I threw the first rock.
Many Hands Make Light Work by Ritu Bhathal
Too many cooks spoil the broth, they say
But I would like to differ, that is, if I may
For another common saying does lurk
Many hands, indeed, do make light work
Surely, it is better
To work together
To achieve our goal
As one big whole
Rather than trying to be the one
Who is named for always getting things done
Do not always try to stake your claim
Yet shy away from taking blame
Working as a team is best
You can always rely on the rest
And what can take an hour,
In minutes, you’ll devour
Dance of the Several Pots by Di @ pensitivity101
My kitchen is small, but not as small as the one in our first house, and definitely gigantic compared to the one on the boat!
However, Many Hands may make light work, but Too Many Cooks spoil the broth.
I appreciate help in the kitchen, preparing, cutting, cooking (ish) and clearing up.
In a small space, this can be chaotic, but we got round that by always remembering to move to the left. It was like a ‘cuisinal’ ballet, graceful and effective, nobody getting stabbed or burnt, and dinners prepared on time with dishes being washed as we went.
Too Many Hands by Floridaborne
Mom used to say, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the salad.”
I never understood what that meant until our family reunion. I was 12, and found it amusing to have my 60 year old grandmother, 80 year old great grandmother, and 40 year old mother haunting the same kitchen.
“Where is the lard?” Grandmother asked.
“I am not putting cream into the gravy, lard in the biscuits, or frying anything!” My mom yelled out. “Everyone, get out of my kitchen!”
So…everyone but mom descended upon the Fried Chicken Palace, while mom ate her avocado toast in peace.
Idle Hands by Kerry E.B. Black
Momma believed idle hands were the devil’s playground, so she kept us busy. Chores charted and marked with smiley stickers marched across the refrigerator. At the end of the month, we’d earn rewards for our efforts.
When Momma grew sick, we kids neglected household chores in favor of nursing duties. We hovered by her bedside, anchorless. We read to calm her, fetched drinks, medicines, and bandages. On her last Sunday, we sang hymns and said rosaries until she took our hands and whispered, “good bye.”
Now we ignore chores, ditch school, and fend for ourselves in the devil’s playground.
Game of Thrones by Kelley Farrell
“So, what do you think?”
Martin surveyed the grotesque display in front of him. He didn’t want to risk angering his captor, “It’s an interesting chair.”
“Chair? Marty, my boy, look again. This is a throne.”
The man in full tuxedo and a plastic raincoat strutted around with a slight giggle on the tip of his tongue. “Do you know how many hands this took?”
“I …” Martin’s voice trembled.
His captor caressed Martin’s long fingers. “I’ve always admired yours. They’re the perfect centerpiece. The essential finishing touch, if you will.” His hacksaw rested on Martin’s wrist. “Shall we begin?”
No Way Out by Joanne Fisher
Somehow Sally had lost all the others and now there were zombies everywhere. They had come out of nowhere. So far she had done well to survive, but she knew she was trapped. She quietly moved to a door she thought would be a way out, but it was locked. She turned around to see innumerable zombies suddenly pile out of another doorway. As they approached she tried to force the door open, but it wouldn’t budge. The last thing she felt was their many clawed hands as they crowded around her and began to rip her to pieces.
Many Hands Make Enlightened Work by Chelsea Owens
We walked across the summer courtyard, two t-shirt youth among many, to stand before the spacious building. Stairs upon stairs climbed to the fountain’s zenith and proposed rooftop garden.
Commands came and we moved to assemble ourselves, each teenager on a stair, an arms-width apart. You: a little more. You: a little less.
Then, hand to hand to hand we passed a bucket’s brigade of grass. Smiling volunteers moved sod and flower from truck to tippy top.
Now, years later, our children look up. They marvel at roof-ledge bush and sky-reach trees, and the story that grew them there.
PART II (10-minute read)
Helping Hands by Nicole Horlings
The air was filled with the hum of many wings. Like a dandelion being blown in reverse, the fairies converged above the human’s body. Their hushed whispers sounded like a refreshing summer breeze sweeping through the grass, though in reality the air was sweltering hot and still. The human had merely fainted, but would face further harm if he remained there.
Once the whole colony had gathered, they each found a place around the human’s body, and together lifted the human up. Flying in unison, every hand holding the human up above their heads, they brought him to safety.
Working Together by Susan Zutautas
Did you know that when I was a boy, my dad, your grandfather had a hand in the landscaping of Botanical Gardens? He loved working with his hands not only in construction but gardening too.
In the East end of Montreal, there was a plot of land just sitting there empty that belonged to the city. My dad got permission to start a community garden to grow vegetables.
Every weekend that is where I’d find him and many of our neighbors working together growing all kinds of vegetables.
We didn’t have much money and that garden helped feed us.
Storm Coming by Ann Edall-Robson
The radio announcer was telling Mac old news. He had been watching the horses and saw the insects scurrying. The storm was expected by mid-afternoon.
The hay crew had finished baling the night before. This morning the fencing crew and the cow barn crew had been sent to the hayfield. They needed to get every bale under cover before the storm hit.
Behind him, dust tails from trucks pulling trailers were the result of a call to a neighbour. Mac knew if they could, they’d come. He would do the same for them. Moccasin telegraph handled the rest.
Hands by Anita Dawes
Hands can be gentle, kind, violent, creative
I remember my grandfather’s large hands
Callused from wood cutting
Strong, they made me feel safe
Nothing in this world, or the next
I often thought, could ever get past them
Whereas my grandmothers were small and gentle
Featherlight, often times I could hardly feel her touch
There have been a few hands in my life
I would rather not touch again
The wet, spongy kind.
Then we have the great ones,
Mozart at his piano, surgeons saving lives
Some insured for millions like Liberace
Tiny new-born ones are best of all…
Gates of the City by Joanne Fisher
“What are your names?” The sentry asked.
“My name is Ashalla of Woodhall.”
“My name is Aalen Liadon.”
As soon as she spoke the sentry looked her.
“Please remove your hood miss.” He ordered.
Aalen complied revealing her long golden hair and bright green eyes.
“You’re one of the forest folk.” The sentry stated. “And presumably the wolf is yours?” Vilja stood there with his tongue hanging out.
“He’s my companion. He’s good-natured and won’t harm anyone unless provoked.”
“Okay.” The sentry said. He waved them through.
As Vilja bounded through the narrow streets many small hands patted him.
Cave Flushing, Okinawa by Laura Smyth
Shiziko knew American soldiers were monsters from her nightmares. In the cave her mother barely breathed…neighbors who had escaped the bombing huddled nearby. A Japanese soldier held a grenade. The dark, damp and stench were terrible. But the quiet was the worst. Was she sleeping? Dreaming? A voice like her father’s called from the cave entrance “Come out. It’s safe.” She ran out of her mother’s arms and toward the cave mouth. Hands reached to hold her back, then an explosion. Shiziko fell forward out of the cave into the Nisei’s hands. At 7 years old, she was ageless.
Many Hands by Sally Cronin
Many hands reached out to rock the cradle that held the infant. The first baby to be born to the tribe since the long drought and famine years, when the earth and its people had become barren. Finally the rain came and washed the toxic dust away, bringing life to the land and hope to them all. With bellies filled, young and old toiled in the fields to lay in stores for the coming winter and to gather seeds for next year’s crop. By then other babies will have been born, ensuring the future of the village and mankind.
Holding You with Many Hands by Reena Saxena
My one-year-old slips out again. I hold serious reservations about returning to work, as I run out of the door. Nobody else could manage him.
He is merrily playing with puppies in the backyard, as their dog mother keeps an eye firmly on her brood. I see my baby getting excited about a shiny car outside and rushing towards the gate. Before I can catch him, the dog mother stands firmly in his way with a growl. Her own pups back away on seeing her stare.
A mother brings up her child with many hands, not just two.
Difficult Decision (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Hands reached out to Danni as she slumped in her chair. “I can’t do it alone,” she said. The women in her group, surrounded her.
Roxie patted Danni’s shoulder. “What do we need to do? I’ll bring my vacuum cleaner.”
Everyone offered to help Danni tackle Ramona’s empty house. She wanted to be angry with Ike for his absence, leaving her to make the decision no one in his family wanted to make. Ramona’s dementia progressed beyond Danni’s ability to keep Ike’s grandmother safe.
“Will she hate me?” Danni asked.
“Nah, she won’t remember you,” said Roxie. “We’ll help.”
More Than Meets the Vein by H.R.R. Gorman
One technician injected a mouse with the target and collected the antibodies. A few others tested the results and transferred the loops to a human antibody. An army of scientists and several dozen mice tested the biotherapeutic. Engineers transfected the gene and planned the manufacturing process at the clinical scale.
FDA agents, scientists, engineers, clinicians, and volunteers ran tests on the new drug. Once declared safe and effective, teams of engineers, construction workers, and GMP trained workers made the first batch for sale.
A doctor injected the first patient with the life-saving drug. “Thank you, Doctor,” said the patient.
First Time Surgery (Part I) by tracey
First I couldn’t find the right entrance:
Staff Only? No.
A kindly passerby asked if I needed help.
The admission’s clerk hands over a stack of paperwork.
“Take the elevators on your left to the 4th floor and follow the blue signs.”
I turn around and take the elevators to the right (that are now on my left.)
Fourth floor, I see only orange and yellow signs.
I stand in the middle of the hallway bewildered.
Lost again. No help in sight. I shiver.
How many people does it take to help me find outpatient surgery?
First Time Surgery (Part II) by tracey
A young woman touches my arm. Do you need help?
Go down this hall to the end, take a right and go across the walkway and follow the blue signs.
I see blue and green signs. What color was I supposed to follow?
I am panicking, flustered, aware of the ticking clock.
A man in scrubs stops. All my fears come bubbling out.
I cry and babble. He takes my arm and leads me to the check-in desk.
A nurse looks up and nods to the man in scrubs and hands me a tissue, “You’ll be fine ma’am”.
The Work of Many Hands by Kay Kingsley
Many working hands tend the garden of life.
A gently cupped seed planted and nourished with time, care, attention and love, will eventually grow into its destiny.
Not every seed is a Redwood but not every seed has to be.
The duty of the many hands is to encourage growth through recognition that each seed is beautiful just how it is.
Even the sometimes unwanted weed transforms from flower into wish when allowed, carrying delicate childhood hopes on easy summertime winds.
Rumination, germination, exploration, devastation, explanation, contemplation, motivation, illumination, education…
Every hand on earth shapes the garden of life.
Flying Leaps by D. Avery
“Shorty! Pal! What’s going on? Why are all the Ranch hands under the poet tree with that big cowhide rug? Did Kid get stuck up there again?”
“Howdy Ranger. Kid’s up the tree agin, but doesn’t claim ta be stuck. Jist wants ta take a leap.”
“That’s right. And when someone takes a leap aroun’ here, the Ranch hands are gathered ‘round ta catch ‘em.”
“Hmm. Takes trust. ”
“Yep. Ranger, ya think we’re crazy?”
“Yes. And I want to go after the Kid.”
*Pen falls to paper
Words tossed wildly in the air
Story catchers break the fall*
What a collection. Some lighthearted, some poignant, and some heartbreaking. So many variations on the prompt; great idea for the prompt, Charli. ~nan
Many hands, many ideas. Thanks, Nan!
More than a handful of fantastic entries, Charli! 🙏🏽
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
Welcome to this week’s submissions to The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction curated lovingly by Charli Mills. All you favourite writers have done justice to this week’s prompt of ‘Many Hands’ with prose and verse.. Feet up, pot of coffee and you are good to go..
Awesome collection again!
I didn’t get around to reading the individual entries. Good job everyone. I love how one word can go so many different directions and carry so many emotions with it.
These stories are great, Charli. As Ranger sums it up, there are many hands at the Ranch willing to catch a story or two or lend support when needed. I think some of these stories are the most moving I have read. I didn’t get to read them on the submissions post, and didn’t get to add one to the collection for that matter, but I did enjoy reading them here in the collection so lovingly compiled. The flow is magic.