Carrot Ranch announces the 2019 Rodeo Winners and invites writers to craft 99-word stories about winning. One of our community writers went where the prompt led him, past a story and into an exploration of winning. Michael Fishman wrote an excellent introduction to this week’s collection:
“As I steamroll way past 99 words what it all boils down to for me is courage. Just trying takes courage and you don’t win or lose when you try. Putting on your shoes: courage. Taking a step outside: courage. Taking a deep breath and saying “hello” to someone: courage. Trying to do something that makes your head spin with uncomfortable thoughts: courage. Trying something difficult even though it hurts inside: courage.
Courage = winning.”
The following stories are based on the November 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about winners.
PART I (10-minute read)
Keep Trying Until You Win by Charli Mills
Martha posed her best winning grin to the reporter, spitting dirt as she smiled. The bulb flashed so brightly it turned everything to white blotches. Blinking, and wiping at the mouthful of arena dirt she received after the goat clocked her a second time, she looked for Auntie Bess. The old woman was leaning against the railing beyond the chatter of family and fans. Ducking the swipe of a hankie, Martha joined her Aunt.
“Why’d ya win kiddo?”
“Cause no one else would go after that stinkin’ goat three times. Figured, I keep trying ‘til I got him tied!”
Every Child Wins A Prize by Norah Colvin
Melissa goggled at the toy-laden shelves.
“Only $2 a ticket,” the vendor encouraged.
Melissa indicated a music box on the top shelf.
“You won’t win that. It’s just a ploy to get your money,” grumbled Mum.
“You won’t know if you don’t try,” he winked.
Melissa turned to Mum. “It’s my money.”
Mum humphed as Melissa parted with her coin.
The man fanned the envelopes, favouring one. “Take it,” he whispered.
Melissa ripped the envelope open and passed him the card.
“What did I win?”
The man handed the music box to Melissa.
“Prizes are for triers,” he smiled.
Winners by clfalcone*
“We won! We fucking won!” Shouted the guitarist, fist pumping the air. The reticent bassist just stared blankly – he was thinking about notes and riffs….
The drummer rhythmically pounded the bar to a screamo chorus of ‘Rät Pöyzýn!’
The keyboardist read it out loud again: ‘After grueling auditions comprising 102 bands, Rät Pöyzýn is awarded the opening slot at Black Metal Fest next month.’ All mayhem broke loose after the announcement.
The bassist just sighed, saying in his best British, “The day will come when they have Rät Pöyzýn on their lips….”, then stared off into note land again.
Must Have Imagined It? by Anne Goodwin
As the compere brandishes the envelope, I rehearse my routine. Feigned surprise, a single tear, a never-expected-this speech. Out comes the card, my name announced, a hug and I’m on my feet. Squeezing past knees, deafening applause, fake smiles. Too busy balancing on five-inch heels to glance up at this stage.
“Oh my God, I’m sorry!” A sweaty hand on my bare arm, why has the clapping stopped?
Another starlet rises, is rushed along the rows. Some tuxedo guy explaining they must have mixed up the cards.
Of course, no problem, it happens. My aching chest. My frozen smile.
Winning by Anita Dawes
I couldn’t win a raffle,
if I bought every ticket, they have for sale
The prize is a 4-inch gold cup and
It would have been nice to win
Alas, I tried to cheer myself up
with a stroll around the charity shops
with ten to search through
I stopped for lunch in Poppins
Opposite is the Heart Foundation charity shop
In the window I could see a small cup
Nipping out to take a closer look
Hidden in the corner, I found it
Green glass, dark rim, orange base
At last, I could declare myself a winner!
Recipe for Success by Annette Rochelle Aben
Her brother had just gotten a big break, starting work for a local soup and sandwich shop. The hope was that this job would provide him the opportunity to shine with his creative culinary skills.
She received notice of a chili cookoff with prizes for home cooks as well as professionals. Why not enter! If she won, she could give the recipe to her brother, and he could make it at the shop. This just might kick start his career.
She was able to perfect the white, chicken chili recipe. And it won second place. Alas, the shop closed.
Victory by Reena Saxena
High political drama unfolds over a month. Broken promises, split in alliances, unexpected parties joining the fray, and finally, a grand swearing-in ceremony for the Chief Minister at a prime location in town.
Supporters go berserk in celebrations of victory. They claim to have been on high moral ground, while others manipulated things. There is a small news leak. Funds received from the Japan for a Bullet Train project have been diverted from State control during that month, by the caretaker CM.
The new CM takes charge with aplomb, but knows he has paid a price for the victory.
To The Victor by Iain Kelly
To the victor goes the spoils, that’s what they say.
There is cheering, waving flags, smiling faces. But it doesn’t feel like winning.
Surrounding them is destruction and death. Buildings and homes reduced to rubble.
They said the last one would be the war to end all wars. Maybe this one will be.
They are glad to be the victors, proud and patriotic.
Yet beneath the smiles and relief there is so much grief.
They have lost so much: friends, lovers, comrades, innocence.
History will immortalise them as heroes.
But can anyone really be called a winner in war?
Winners by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
He shuddered at the sight that beheld his desolate eyes. Stiff bodies ending in bloody stumps where their heads had been blown to pieces. Others, in which the pulse of life still beat, despite their shattered limbs lying in parts all over the field, spurted blood in bright sprays. There was also the noise; the screams and shrieks of pain from those who could muster the energy to expel such sounds from their desperate throats. These combined with the underlying low pitched moans and relentless whining of the dying, to form a symphony of despair. War had no winners.
Flight Training by Colleen M. Chesebro
Tina balled up the award notice and threw it on the floor. She stomped out of the room.
A chorus of voices questioned, “Miss Henshaw, didn’t she win?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Remember, this challenge wasn’t about winning. It was about determination and whether you gave up or kept trying.”
“Yet, she still won,” whispered Mary.
“Ah, but you gave up, Mary,” Miss Henshaw quipped. “Look outside.”
A crowd gathered at the window. Outside, Tina attempted to mount her broom. Her magic fizzled, and she landed face first in the mud. Yet she kept trying. At long last, she flew.
Winners by Bill Engleson
‘They’ve a glow about them, don’t you think?’
‘Ah yes, whiners. They do sparkle away. Hog the light. Prance about, yelling, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!’
‘Not whiners, you nit. Winners.’
‘Whiners! Winners! What’s the difference? They all think they’re special.’
‘Maybe. But there are differences. Whiners are sometimes grumpy, right?’
‘And winners, well, they’re gleeful. They’ve won.’
‘It doesn’t matter. Anything. A contest. An election.’
Yet, when they don’t win, whadda they do? They whine.’
‘So, you’re saying?’
‘One day they win, one day they lose. Win! Whine! Peas in a pod.’
Harvest (from “Trissente Sea”) by Saifun Hassam
A late summer hailstorm left the ancient Temple’s veggie garden in a mess. The village children had planted peppers, eggplants, and all kinds of squash.
After the storm, the children gathered veggies that could be used for the day’s cooking. Perhaps the mint would grow back again. The squash leaves were shredded. The vines seemed intact buried under the wet mud.
When the garden dried out, much of the squash had survived. Excited, the children harvested all they could. With Diamante’s help, they hauled the produce to the village market, for the Pumpkin Festival. They were winners after all.
#47 Acceptance by Jules Paige
“While you are making tea, how about a Hot Toddy and make it a double for me?” Sam asked as he continued, “I’m off duty and being a police officer in this town can be stressful! The reality and the gossip can really be a challenge to decipher and that’s just within the department.”
While I’d really love to be adrift in a calm sea where everything was moving in slow motion – that wasn’t how this day was ending up. There was Dawg curled up in a ball of delight at Sam’s feet. Lucky was a winner his lap.
Meanwhile Byrd, I think was feigning sleep… I did think I saw a few curious winks from that crow’s curiously swiveling head. I was a winner to have three pet friends.
Sam was just a bonus. The cherry on the sundae. When he told me that my home might have been part of the route for the Underground Railroad – I could only imagine all those people who were shuffled off into freedom to become winners in their own right. I looked up a center and museum honoring William C. Goodridge; a slave became a free man to aid others.
I had also wondered about the family who may have owned the Dutch Snickersnee I was now using as a bread knife. It was also possible that trades had been made for food or safety. Each person thinking they were winners in that bartered transaction? Could it be one of Jack Seedsmen’s treasures or was it here long before he had lived and worked this place?
Amid the losses of life, I had to remain positive. I would work at finding the whole truth.
each breath that we take
we win the right to carry
forth our earned knowledge
Champions by Kerry E.B. Black
The percussion of applause deafened, an unyielding wave of enthusiasm and appreciation. The team leapt, joyful. They embraced, all previous competitive jealousy forgotten, for the moment. En masse, they lifted their coach upon their shoulders, an idol of inspiration. Confetti and iced Gatoraide rained like blessings upon them all.
Their opponents drooped. Many dragged their helmets through the grass, defeated in this pivotal game, second place, championship without the accolades. Their coach glowered at the winners while ushering his team into the showers. They’d congratulated the others before their display grew too extreme. “Next year, guys, that’ll be you.”
Who Won? by Faith A. Colburn
I’d been graduated for twenty-five years when an old classmate climbed up the bleachers to my family’s perch near the top.
“Do you remember me?” he demanded.
Of course, I remembered. My graduating class was only thirty-one.
“I’m the guy you embarrassed in advanced algebra class.”
I shook my head. I hadn’t been competing. I just enjoyed advanced math. I loved solving puzzles and math was an especially complex series of puzzles.
Since then, I’ve been asking myself who’s the winner. If he was the only one competing, then was he the winner? He didn’t seem to feel victorious.
What It Takes by Nancy Brady
From the time her classmates started playing football in the seventh grade, they never lost a game. Their winning streak continued through their senior year including winning the state championship.
Many went to college and tasted defeat for the first time. Some didn’t make the teams and for those that did, their team lost games.
The biggest defeat they often faced was the reality of college classes, which required hours of hard work.
Ironically, those boys who diligently studied throughout high school often persevered more easily than those who hadn’t. For the others, it required a change of attitude.
Winter Growth by tracey
Winter was descending, short cold days followed by long cold nights. Distraction was needed. No, not distraction… learning. Yes! This was valuable time that needed to be used thoughtfully. Much growth could happen in the cold with a little encouragement.
So many topics beckon, but let’s be real, nothing that involves leaving the warmth of home will happen. And yes, there it was, an on-line art class. Collage: cutting and gluing bright bits of paper. Abstract flowers and cats. Back to kindergarten and my simplest self. Growing from the roots. My heart lit with joy, I had a winner.
Winners and Losers by Joanne Fisher
She led a quiet simple life mostly tending her garden at the back of the house. Most people didn’t give her a second look, and probably thought she was some poor lonely soul, but the truth was she was happy. She had friends, more than enough food, shelter, and clothing. What more did she need? She enjoyed her life’s simplicity. She saw many people living wretched lives rushing around and working every hour of the day so they could buy things they didn’t really need. If it was all about winners and losers, who was the real winner here?
Winner by Ann Edall-Robson
It was dark when Tal stopped the truck and horse trailer next to the barn. He had been in the saddle at sunup looking for cows, watching for game, and doing the job he loved—being a cowboy.
Mac’s voice rumbled through the darkness near the barn door. “How’d it go?”
Tal smiled into the night, before turning to answer his boss.
“Found twelve head, caught a fish for my lunch, and I’ll sleep in my own bed tonight. I’d say the day was a winner.”
His stomach grumbled. Dinner would have to wait. Always, the animals came first.
No Contest by D. Avery
“Ya ever won anythin’ Pal?”
“Me neither. But this outfit here says I might be a winner. Fer a small fee they’ll let me know fer sure.”
“What outfit is thet, Kid?”
“The Slim Chance Ranch. Says here they’d be willin’ ta let me ride with ‘em. Fer a small fee.”
“Kid, why would ya even consider it?”
“Says here it’s a good deal, might even increase ma chances of winnin’.”
“What the deuces d’ya win?”
“Says here I could win the chance ta ride with Slim.”
“Yeah, yer right, Pal. I never win nuthin’ no-how.”
“Shorty’s sure busy, huh Kid?”
“So you jist shush up ‘bout yer foolish notions. Shorty’s got enough ta do without worryin’ ‘bout you takin’ off fer Slim Chance Ranch.”
“Kin go if I want, Pal. Might win, ya know.”
“If’n yer so het up on winnin’ why didn’tcha enner the rodeo contest here at Carrot Ranch?”
“B’cause why, Kid?”
“B’cause I never win nuthin’.”
“Cain’t never neither without ennerin’.”
“Asides, Pal, them writers that won? They’re great.”
“You grate on my nerves Kid. Ever one thet ennered is great.”
“Yer right. Carrot Ranch is a great place.”