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April 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

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The best pizza I ever made was in my BBQ smoker back in Idaho. I smeared a zesty tomato sauce on a dough crust, covered it with grated mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon, bacon crumbles, sliced black olives, and pineapple tidbits. Then I placed it inside the smoker over applewood chips and charcoal. I ate the results outside, overlooking Elmira Pond and the mergansers that summered there.

Later, the Hub and I landed on Mars, which was the red-hued desert landscape of southern Utah. The local pizza parlor had all the right fixings but no IPA beer. It wasn’t until then that I realized I preferred my pizza with IPA. I spent the remainder of my time in Utah, dreaming of beer and pizza.

I’m not really a pizza connoisseur. I remember my mom being the one who loved pizza, and a special trip across the border into Nevada as a child might mean getting to order pizza at Sharkey’s. She’d be sure to box up what we didn’t eat because she loved cold pizza for breakfast. That’s not something I picked up from her.

The Hub had his favorite place to go in his hometown. I’d order linguisa (Portuguese sausage) and jalapenos on my half, and he’d add mushrooms and black olives on his. It’s been so many years since I’ve had linguisa on a pizza I can’t remember why I liked it so much. These days, we like a thin crust Mediterranean pizza from downtown.

Well, not these new days, although I hear you can still order delivery.

Pizza sounds normal to me right now. Maybe it’s not food my body needs, but my mind takes comfort in its familiarity. They say apple pie is all-American. I’d say it’s a pizza pie, that is. It doesn’t matter what style, America loves pizza. Is that sentiment universal? Are there other foods that are pizza-like?

It’s been another strange week. I went for a walk last night as the setting sun lingered late, and the cold air bit at my face. The snow has pulled away from the curbs, melting more and more each day. Last weekend it rained, cleansing the grit of winter that accumulates. I have still not adjusted to walking dog-less. I turned off Roberts Street, and in my mind’s eye, I could see Bobo pulling ahead like she did our final walk together in a snowstorm.

Our dogs loved pizza crust. I think they would have loved pizza slices, but they were never offered the sampling. I’m not fond of the crust, so I was known to slip it to them. One of our daughter’s dogs, a rescue, must have tasted pizza because he’d bark at us any time we brought one home, demanding a slice.

Today, I met up with my daughter online in a video chat room for her work. She’s working from home, including teaching dance classes. I got to work with her officially, using her as my Michigan Tech source to find a contact for an article I wrote. She’s a science writer in the university’s marketing department, the director of research news. I needed a researcher to talk to about facemasks.

In three days, I interviewed five people, researched primary sources like the CDC and WHO, quoted a tweet from John Hopkins Center for Health Security, located public domain photos, arranged a photoshoot through my livingroom window, and wrote a 2,000-word article originally called, Covering Our Faces in the Keweenaw. Tonight I spent the evening back and forth with my editor, fact-checking and clarifying.

It’s an exciting article for several reasons. First, we are keeping pace with national reporting on facemasks. Second, it’s my way to get involved with my Keweenaw Strong community that has once again come together in a crisis. This time, though, we are all keeping our distances. We have local sewists teaming with local industry.

The sewing circles are working hard to prepare our area hospitals (we have four) and nursing homes for a surge in COVID-19. People are sewing 10,000 masks for medical workers and the medically vulnerable. Local industry is manufacturing aluminum pieces to go into the top of the mask to shape it to cover a person’s nose. Michigan Tech is using their labs to 3D-print face shields to go over the masks, as well as ventilators and other medical devices.

Because we are all under stay at home orders, sharing materials shows innovation, too. Tech is considered essential, but they are supported by those like my daughter, who are coordinating communication from home. The sewists have set up drop off boxes at essential businesses or porch delivery systems, coordinating with those who are traveling for essential reasons. My neighbor sits alone in her closed sewing machine store, working eight hours a day, making facemasks.

The Michigan Police caught wind of the efforts and requested facemasks for their officers in colors that match their uniforms. The sheriff’s department requested brown. This morning I saw my mail carrier drop off mail, wearing one of my neighbor’s masks. We are covering our faces and sharing the mantra: Protect you; protect me; protect the community.

If you are interested in the open-source designs, go to Maker Hub. Open-source is a system of creating new items such as facemasks to share freely and to encourage makers to improve upon the designs. It’s a massive collaboration of engineers, researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The sewing circles are doing what they’ve probably have always done throughout time — collaborate to help protect their community, one stitch at a time.

American ingenuity is as amazing as pizza pie.

April 2, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes pizza. It can be an original pizza pie (or slice) or something pizza-like. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 7, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions closed. Find our latest weekly Flash Fiction Challenge.

Pizza Exchange by Charli Mills

Rosa lived with her parents in a single-wide behind the barn. Her mama hummed as she pounded tortillas and mashed a fresh pot of simmering pinto beans. After school, Rosa often went to the big house to study with Becky Ainsworth. That’s where she tasted frozen mini pizzas that left an essence of cardboard in Rosa’s mouth. One Friday, Becky suggested studying at Rosa’s home. Quickly she whispered to her mama, “Becky likes pizza.” Her mama smiled, and fried two corn tortillas crisp and flat, adding mashed pintos, olives, and queso. Becky’s eyes widened. “Best pizza ever,” she said.


148 Comments

  1. I love making my own pizzas. It something I learned from my dad. He was a very good bread maker, and while I can also make my own bread, if I make a bread dough it usually ends up as pizza. And cold pizza for breakfast is the greatest thing. I might include an excerpt from My Life in Darkness where Melissa is eating cold pizza for breakfast much to the disgust of her vampire girlfriend, which is a very common experience I encounter when I tell people I love cold pizza for breakfast.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. The pizza world is divided into two groups; those who see pineapple on a pizza as an abomination and those for whom there is a special place in hell. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. […] This weeks prompt was pizza provided by the Carrot Ranch April 2 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the amount of people sewing masks and helping out (teaching dancing online is an amazing thing to do right now for people’s physical and mental health so bravo to your daughter). 🙂 🍕

    Liked by 4 people

  5. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch  […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A haibun then. Five years ago April 2nd. Time flies. Things change.

    Your son-in-law brought pizzas up and we ate, some at the cluttered table, some sitting cheek to cheek on the sofa that was also my bed. Your grandchildren clambered or were passed around your crowded apartment, one teething on a crust. I remembered our stories for you and for your family.
    We took turns laying with you, that even in your sleep, fitful as the late spring snow, you felt us near. You wouldn’t die alone.

    spring veiled gray mourning
    rain raked windows rattle cold
    wind keens shrill and sharp

    unsettled birds fly scattered
    like everything we once knew

    Liked by 10 people

  7. As soon as I saw the prompt, I knew what I was going to write – but my post schedule meant it has to wait until Sunday! Alas! But hopefully this time I remembered to submit it to the collection. 😉

    Anyway, it’s really sad that so many places are closed, both for the workers and the consumers. I have faith everything will pop back to life soon after the pandemic wanes because people will want to participate in the economy ASAP. At that point, we’ll definitely start with pizza – America’s true love.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      H., I like the idea of a restart with pizza! The level of innovation I’m seeing just in my small community gives me such hope for the world. No one wants tragedy or a crisis, but it does reveal our humanity and creativity.

      Thanks for remembering! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love what you and your connections are doing for your community. I have mad respect for those who can sew – not a skill I have or have interest in. But I definitely appreciate it.
    Pizza – now there’s something I can talk about! I love it. I love it in so many ways. We make our own here at home – The Hub is in charge of that and we call it “Dad pizza.” We usually use Naan bread for that and go to town on our own personal topping choices. I’m with your mom on the leftovers for breakfast. Absolutely. I even have my preferences as to which pizza place has the best for breakfast. It really depends a lot on crust and sauce ratio where leftovers are concerned. 😀
    Pizza is indeed comforting. We braved the delivery world last weekend for a pizza fix – twice! It was just what we needed. This week I’m going to try making my own yeast-free crust because…no yeast to be had in the last few weeks. This should prove interesting.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Lisa, you know your pizza! Maybe a yeast-free crust would be like a flatbread pizza. I like the idea of top-your-own, too. Over the weekend, I saw that one of our local Italian restaurants opened for pick-up just one night.

      The sewing circles are going full force. I don’t have a single sewing skill to claim. I did my part writing about it. They have my respect, too.

      Like

  9. […] April 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Here’s mine Charli

    We’d only just met and it was my turn to cook. He had cooked me the most wonderful liver and bacon with onion gravy, cabbage, and mashed potatoes.
    There wasn’t much in the cupboard………. a tin of tuna, an onion, some mushrooms, a tomato and some cheese.
    I made a pastry base, cooked it blind, then sliced the tomato and mushrooms really thin,
    chopped the onion and mixed that with the tuna fish and spread it on the top, then covered the lot in grated cheese and finished it off in the oven.
    Perfect……. the out of nothing Pizza!

    Liked by 10 people

  11. […] time again for the 99 word challenge from Carrot Ranch. The April 2, 2020, prompt? In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes pizza. It can be an original pizza […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. denmaniacs4 says:

    Like so much of my writing, this flash is slice of memory. And in these wretched COVIDIAN-19 times, what I wouldn’t give for deliverance…

    In Pizza Parlance

    “Anchovies!”

    “Huh?”

    “You heard me.”

    “Context would help.”

    “What’s your problem? You think I’m speaking in tongues?”

    “Pshaw! I didn’t say that. Now that you mention it, what were you speaking in?”

    “Lips. I was speaking in lips.”

    “Lips are pretty close to tongues. Either way, you’ve lost me.”

    “I’ll start again. When I say anchovies, it only means one thing.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Pizza. Papa Dave’s pizza.”

    “Don’t know it.”

    “It was from before. My old life in the city.”

    “Life’s often about loss.”

    “No one should have to lose the best pizza ever.”

    “Yeah. Anyways, finish your porridge.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 10 people

  13. […] Written for the Carrot Ranch Challenge. […]

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Jim Borden says:

    wonderful job with the masks; will we be able to read the article that you are writing about masks? the pizza prompt is certainly an intriguing one!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m in awe of you and your community. I don’t have a sewing machine to help out with the masks, but will check out the site. Just in case there’s anything I could help with. However, I have been using my intentions and knowledge of energy medicine to offer people in need remote healing #Mentalhealth.

    My take on your fun prompt: https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2020/04/pizza-night.html

    Liked by 7 people

  16. Liz H says:

    You live in a vital community–sounds like you landed in the best place, meant to be.
    And “cold pizza for breakfast”? I think I would like your mom!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      And, my mom’s tribe gathers…

      I’m grateful for having landed here and for getting fast-tracked into the community through the veterans. They are doing incredible things at the university labs even though the school is closed. These are the local researchers who live here and are racing against time to find ways to protect us all.

      Like

  17. You had to know this was coming, Charli 😉

    War and Pizza Store Menu

    PETA special – Contains no animal products but please note that wheat screams when it’s harvested.
    Four Seasons – Perfect for the procrustinator
    Meet Lovers – Could be anything but comes PDQ
    Blonde – Toasted open sandwich (they’ll never know)
    Neapolitan – Ice-cream pizza you can spoon
    Deep dish – Intellectuals special
    Frutti di mare – Italian for pretentious
    Viagra – No droop, all satisfaction
    Hawaiian – Take-away only, for the benefit of sensitive in-house diners
    Carbonara – For that burnt crust taste
    Pizza Cake – Easy combination of main and dessert
    Aussie – with a dozen eggs, half a pig, beetroot, tomato sauce and attitude
    OCD – exactly 17 olives

    Liked by 7 people

  18. […] Carrot Ranch April 2, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes pizza. It can be an original pizza pie (or slice) or something pizza-like. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by April 7, 2020. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jules says:

    Charli,

    There are many communities pulling together to make face masks. I spoke with someone who said they knew of another family that took in take out three nights a week in order to help small restaurants. Pizza is something I like to make in house with different crusts from the store. I’ve started using a Naan bread. It is nice though when one gets pizza in – May there come a time soon when we can celebrate as groups at our favorite places.

    I had some fun combining this prompt and perhaps stretching (like our favorite cheese toppings…) the truth here:
    With the Assistance of a Lyre…

    Each member of the choir held their quire
    As the dire driver of the van spun in the mud his tyre in the mire
    They were late, nearing the wire
    Of the time their pizza was to come out of the stone oven’s fire…

    Hoping no ill wrath from Meyer the sire of the shire
    it truly was their sole desire
    to put on a heavenly performance lead by their sprier Pryor
    once known as the shyer, friar Dwyer

    After downing all their slices, neatly in their elegant attire
    It was with relief they raised their sated voices higher!

    ©JP/dh

    Pryor is a name of ancient Norman origin. … It is a name for a monastic official immediately subordinate to an abbot having derived from the Old English word prior, meaning superior, and indicates that the original bearer of the name held this position.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. […] https://carrotranch.com/2020/04/03/april-2-flash-fiction-challenge-2/This week’s carrot ranch prompt has inspired a return of the two latter day philosophers, Morgan and Logan […]

    Liked by 3 people

  21. […] The following short was written in response to a flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch.  […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Charli, you live in such a wonderful community!
    Now about pizza and dogs … Maggie and Bruce both loved pizza, the crust or the entire slice, not that they got a slice to themselves very often but on occasion. We’d only have to say the word pizza and Maggie would wag her tail and sit waiting for it to be delivered or for us to go out and get it. The vocabulary she had was truly amazing. Anyways my flash this week is actually true but it’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw this week’s prompt.
    http://susansplace.blog/2020/04/05/did-someone-say-pizza/

    Liked by 4 people

  23. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (04/02/2020): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes pizza. It can be an original pizza pie (or slice) or something pizza-like. Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Liz H says:

    For those special evening’s in, of which we are having so many, these days 😉

    Romantic Evening in Quarantine

    “How long ago did you order that pizza?” Sheralynn tipped her wine glass to catch the last drop.

    “Hmmm?” Rodney examined the hole in his tube sock, intent on covering up his big toe without using his hands.

    “And did you get half pineapple and veggie for me, half megameat for you?”

    Resigned to having to use one foot to clothe the other, he didn’t answer.

    “Rodney! I know it’s Shutdown, but it’s been 2 ½ hours now!”

    “What? Do you need more wine?”

    “No! When did you order the pizza?!”

    “I didn’t do it,” he sighed. “Didn’t you?”

    https://valleyofthetrolls.blog/2020/04/05/romantic-evening-in-quaratine/

    Liked by 6 people

  25. Mmm, essence of cardboard! Reminds me of a friend asking a teenager whether she could cook, and being highly impressed when the teenager said she cooked pizza. Oh, how do you make pizza, asked my friend. Well, began the youngster, I’ll take it out of the box …
    Maybe that would have made a better 99-word story than the one I’ve gone for, although it is based on a scene from my novel Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home.
    It’s here with my post on finding echoes of our current crisis as I edit my novel https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2020/04/discovering-interesting-echoes-of-our-current-crisis-as-i-edit-my-novel.html

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Ann Edall Robson says:

    There are times when you need to listen to get it right.

    Sticky Pudding
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    His granddaughter was right on time for her Thursday afternoon visit. Spending time with her was the highlight of his week. They’d catch up on family gossip, play cards, or work on a puzzle. Like every Thursday, she had called before she came, to see if he needed anything. Today, he had asked her to bring some pizza for their snack.

    Lifting the lid he shook his head, “What’s this?”

    “Your favourite, sticky pudding, I brought ice cream to spiff it up. ”

    “I asked for pizza.”

    She laughed as she hugged her granddad.

    “I thought you said some pizzaz.”

    https://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/sticky-pudding

    Liked by 5 people

  27. “Kid! What’re ya doin’? Why’s thet little whip of a poet tree all caged in here behind the Saloon?”
    “Fer its own pertection, Pal. I got a bunch a kids!”
    “Kids, Kid? Wish ya’d leave thet to someone responsible an’ sensible, like Aussie.”
    “Not kids, Pal, kids, baby goats!”
    “Goats? Ya got ta be kidding.”
    “Zactly. Gonna raise ‘em up fer milk goats. Make cheese.”
    “Oh, doe yer not, Kid. Ya’d think ya’d been ranchin’ long ‘nough ta know ta look fer certain credentials, if ya know what I mean. These are billies, Silly.”
    “Buck! No goat cheese pizza!”

    Liked by 5 people

  28. … but some great roasts coming up 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  29. […] had a hankering to answer Carrot Ranch‘s […]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Norah says:

    I hadn’t even heard of pizza let alone tasted it before Pizza Hut opened here in the early 70s. It is a very popular takeaway here. We have it occasionally, a couple of times a year. I have but don’t often make it. I’d choose pineapple and omit the olives for mine.
    I love the way the people of the Keweenaw band together. What a wonderful mantra: ‘Protect you. Protect me. Protect Community.’ I like that. Over here they say, ‘We’re all in this together’. It frustrates me because some definitely are not.
    I enjoyed your flash with Rosa and Becky. I can certainly do without that cardboard pizza too. Mama’s sounds much tastier.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      You can have the pineapple on your half Norah, and I’ll keep the olives on mine. Pizza has a global reach, then. And the boxed stuff is not worth sharing, though many kids grow upon it.

      Our community, for the most part, is staying in, but I think it’s hardest on younger people or those who need face to face socializing. Some just don’t seem to think it matters to them personally. But in the US, they are starting to report more deaths among younger ages.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        The situation in the US is tragic. So many affected, and that’s not just those with the virus — families torn apart with fear and grief. We seem to be getting things under control here but it’s hard to accept the restrictions when there is no one we know with the virus. But if we keep going about, when we do know of someone, it will be too late. It’s a bit like most other situations in life — everyone thinks the rules apply to everyone else but not them.
        Thanks for the pineapple on my pizza. Sweet!

        Like

    • Jules says:

      Um that particular name brand pizza… to a traditionalist is well… not real pizza. But I guess it would do if one had nothing else.

      I’m not really a pizza snob. But being of Italian heritage sauce and cheese on cardboard might be a better alternative.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. susansleggs says:

    Hi Charli, My grandson goes to a private school and has pizza for lunch probably three times a week, from a wood-fired oven no less. We probably have it twice a month and like the same toppings. I do indulge and occasionally get a Mexican pizza like Mama in your flash made. Yummy. The quilt shops are doing the mask sewing organizing in my area and now the CDC has recommended everyone should wear masks when not able to social distance, the sewing has ramped up. It is indeed strange times…

    Pizza Memories

    At Tessa’s parents, Michael said, “This pizza is better than what I remember from high school.”
    “Who remembers that far back?”
    “I do. I came in one day and saw three pizza boxes on the counter. My mouth started watering, but I couldn’t smell them so I peeked in a box and it held quilt blocks. The other two boxes had the same. My hopes were dashed.”
    They laughed at the visual.
    Tessa added, “We now have square plastic boxes with handles to carry blocks in, but back then an unused pizza box was gold and hard to get.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • Poor Michael. Nothing against quilting, but a let down when you’re thinking pizza.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      A wood-fired oven! Oh, that is the best kind of pizza. I would love to have Mexican pizza but somehow, we end up ordering his/her halves. Maybe I need to sneak a call out, lol.

      While I was working on the article, I kept watching for the CDC to make their change — we knew it was coming but not when. I felt like a real journalist for a few days! I have more stories to cover the human angle. I’m not at all surprised to learn the quilt shops are leading the charge.

      Your story made me laugh for two reasons — the pizza box for quilt squares, and the recall to high school. The Hub often recalls things that I don’t keep in my brain box!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Pete says:

    Flirting

    Business was booming. I zoomed down the open road, pockets bulging with tips. My knitted face-mask hung at my chin as I sang along with The Police.

    “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.”

    Last house. I started up the stairs when a voice rattled through the intercom.

    “Please set the pizza on the porch.”

    Sure. The order was prepaid, came with a generous tip. I turned to leave when someone inside rapped on the window. A masked girl, with sandy blonde hair and a gorgeous set of hazel eyes. She gave me a thumbs up.

    “Nice mask.”

    “You too.”

    Liked by 4 people

  33. […] Feeding the Soul Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story that includes pizza. Word count:  99 […]

    Liked by 1 person

  34. mrmacrum says:

    I thought I posted mine yesterday. In case I did not, here it is again,

    Corona Dreams

    Back in Maryland after being gone ten years, what he missed most was the food that had comforted him as a child. The friend he had come to see asked, “So what do you want to do first?”

    “I want Ledo’s pizza. I don’t want take out. I want to sit in the joint and eat it.

    “You got it”, his friend said, “Ledos, here we come”.

    Sipping beer and catching up, his mind was more about the pizza than the conversation. He saw a waiter headed their direction……..

    “Hey, wake up. The kids want frozen pizza for diner.”
    __________________________________
    https://lostinthebozone.blogspot.com/2020/04/corona-dreams.html

    Liked by 2 people

  35. floridaborne says:

    Dad used to bring pizza home as a treat. Never in my entire life have I eaten a pizza that good.

    One day, it stopped, I asked, “Why?”

    “There was a roach on his counter.”

    I used to get up in the wee hours, looking for something to snack on. The moment I hit the light switch, a crowd of roaches scattered away to their hiding place. Dad refused to believe me.

    When you live in Florida, you have roaches waiting in your walls, your yard, or just outside your door.

    That day, I learned the meaning of hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. […] Click here to join other writers participating in the challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I only wish my partner liked pizza, Charli. I love the stuff, but I’ve never been able to eat a whole one. And I don’t fancy eating it cold for breakfast. Your mum’s liking for cold pizza reminded me of a neighbour who liked eating leftover Indian takeaway for breakfast. But I guess we all have our own tastes.

    Lovely to see all the different communities coming together at this time of crisis. And I was thrilled to read you have a ‘Roberts’ street in your neighbourhood.

    I’ve missed the deadline for my submission, but here it is anyway.

    https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2020/04/08/pizza-flashfiction/

    Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes! I’m glad to find someone else who doesn’t like cold pizza, Hugh. I’m now reminded how much I miss Indian Food. We get it a few times of year when the Indian Cultural Club prepares food for campus events. And sadly, no Naruz this year with Iranian food. I think I’m just missing all the foods I don’t have right now, but we certainly have plenty.

      Ha! One day, you and your partner should come to stay in the Rodeo Room on Roberts Street!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. […] prompt this week from Carrot Ranch is to write about pizza. Truth? I think pizza is just okay, certainly not what I would request for […]

    Like

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