Between the contrast of whisper-thin wings and bedrock, 99-word stories take flight.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
PART I (10-minute read)
I See the Sky by Bill Engleson
I see the sky,
a band of blue,
your sweet-sought dreams,
a life anew.
Wing away friend,
soar to the heights,
a life in lights.
I am the earth,
the solid ground,
what I can grasp,
The eastern sun
will always rise,
set in the west,
each day a prize.
And though I wait,
weighted by stone,
it ‘tis my way
and not your own.
Each way is best,
and yes, best yet,
to live a life
And so, you write,
you shape, you mould,
each thought a word
a tale well told
Home School — More Than Academics by Ritu Bhathal
“More school, at home, again?” Megan wailed. “I hate it when you teach me, mum!”
Pushing the computer aside, I turned to her.
“Tell you what, today, we’ll do some learning, my way.”
I found some flat stones we’d collected at the beach a couple of years ago and got the paint out.
“Today, we learn about random acts of kindness.”
We painted all sorts on the stones; hearts, butterflies, flowers; and then in the afternoon, we took a walk and placed the colourful stones in random places.
“There, we can still put a smile on someone’s face, sweetheart.”
Butterfly Rock Garden by Sue Spitulnik
In the springtime, the Homefront Warrior’s group worked quickly under the threat of rain to arrange rocks and then plant seedlings and bulbs for a memorial garden.
Now it was a sunny, blue-sky August day and they gathered for a picnic near their handiwork. One woman who had little knowledge of plants stood admiring the various colored blossoms with a puzzled look on her face.
Tessa noticed. “What has you perplexed?”
“Why did we plant weeds in with the flowers?”
“If you mean the milkweed, it’s the only thing a monarch butterfly will eat. Look, here comes one now.”
The Fairy Garden by Kate Spencer
“What’ya doing?” Tommy asked, dropping his toy cars beside the sandbox.
“I’m building a fairy garden,” Lily said, placing small stones alongside her castle.
“It’s my turn to play.”
“’Tis so!” Tommy shouted, kicking the sand.
“Stop it!” their mother’s voice echoed from the house.
Frustrated, Tommy sat down on the rim of the sandbox. Finally, he announced, “I’ll build a fairy car garage over here.”
“Well, okay,” Lily said and gasped, “Look, a fairy!”
Tommy looked up. “It’s a butterfly, you ninny.”
“You’re silly,” Lily giggled. “Don’t you know? Fairies are beautiful butterflies in disguise.”
That’s No Butterfly by Joanne Fisher
In the garden Katy saw the most beautiful butterfly fluttering by the roses. Out of nowhere a stone went flying past, only narrowly missing it. Katy turned to see her brother Scott was there about to throw another stone.
“Why are you throwing stones at the butterfly?” Katy demanded.
“That’s no butterfly!” Scott replied. Looking closer, Katy saw it was actually a fairy.
“It’s beautiful!” she said putting her hand out. The fairy landed, then unsheathed a sword and plunged it deep into her palm. “Ow! That fairy stabbed me!”
“Why do you think I’m throwing stones at it?”
A Butterfly Promise by Norah Colvin
Jack scrambled over the rocks to their favourite place for discussing the wonders of the universe and the meaning of life. And death. He took Grandma’s special stone from his pocket, turned it this way and that in the sunlight, and admired its iridescence. ‘Like butterfly wings. Like life.’ Grandma said she’d come back as a butterfly, if she could.
‘You shouldn’t have left me, Grandma!’ Jack didn’t try to stop his tears. He blinked when a beautiful butterfly alighted on the stone, tickled his nose and circled his head before fluttering away. ‘Grandma!’ called Jack. ‘You came back!’
Learning by D. Avery
In “Teaching A Stone To Talk” Annie Dillard states that we’ve desecrated the groves and sacred places, “have moved from pantheism to pan-atheism”, and so “Nature’s silence is its one remark”; “The silence is all there is” and this silence is our own doing.
I wonder; who are we then, to presume to teach a stone to talk? We need to learn to listen!
It isn’t easy work; it requires great attention and practice. But the stone has much to say about patience, endurance, and transformation.
Look. A butterfly lands whisper-winged on a lichen-cloaked stone. Watch and learn. Listen.
The Butterfly Stone by Donna Matthews
I pull up at the state park known for its dinosaur fossils. Dinosaurs in Texas, I chuckle to myself. But, of course, creatures roamed before Texas a thing. My vision, my perspective so little today, a gossamer mist clouding my thoughts.
This is why I need these wild places. They connect me back to grace. They remind me.
I find the tracks, and I sit, the trees rustle overhead. My fingers trace dinosaur feet, ancient leaves, ocean shells; I imagine a butterfly settling down after her last flight, resting, dying. I outline her imagined wings; I whisper thank you.
Wish With Care by R. V. Mitchell
At the streamside among the stones the butterflies ascended to take a drink. The occasional droplets splashed onto the bank provided enough to meet their meagre needs. As they waited for the current to provide them with the next sip, a dragonfly circled and then then skimmed the waters surface to take a deep drink.
“Oh, I wish I could drink whenever I wanted,” Addie the smallest of the butterflies said.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Bia responded.
Just then a trout leapt from the water and devoured the hapless dragonfly.
“I see what you mean,” Addie gasped.
(93) Damned Family (Jesse Finds Inner Strength) by JulesPaige
I am woman, hear me roar! Yet the butterflies in my stomach twitter uncontrollably. I’ve got to get me some stones, find my own cojones. I stared at the phone. I had to call Mae Norwich. And honesty was the best policy.
Jesse dialed the phone hoping at first to just leave a message, maybe set up a time to meet at a public place. But at three O’clock Mae was having some quiet time in her office when the phone rang. So she picked it up and calmly responded; “This is Mae Norwich, how can I help you?”
Opposites by Paula Light
Everyone on the street called him Stone. He was tough, ruthless, and got the job done. He didn’t seek out violence, but when it became necessary he acted quickly and efficiently. When she came along, broken and beautiful, they named her Butterfly. Stone protected her, for he remembered how it was to be fragile. Wherever she flitted, he stopped to admire her gold-dusted delicacy. But the jealous ones plotted to drive her away with lies. After she left, Stone crumbled to pieces and scattered himself in the places she’d been, his grief mingling with the ethereal traces of love.
A Way to a Man’s Heart by Goldie
Pete was Lucy’s summertime neighbor. Both of their families loved visiting Vallecito Lake to “unplug.” The kids rolled their eyes whenever they heard that term. There was no cable or Internet, so the only thing to do was to go outdoors.
Not wanting to act “like a girl,” Lucy ran through mud, hid behind bushes, and fought with sticks as swords.
After a couple of summers, she developed a crush on Pete.
“What pretty butterfly,” she mused just before smashing it with a rock.
She read somewhere that butterfly dust was a key ingredient in a love potion.
Beyond by Rebecca Glaessner
The stones of worship returned, settling into position around the throng of hopeful.
Would they feel the great Beyond this day?
Their paths carried scholars and explorers between countless neighbouring worlds, but never Beyond.
The crowd buzzed with nervous energy beneath the spread of stars, wrapping themselves up in each-other as one.
One being. One mind.
Their minds opened, connected, energy growing, reaching out and up, past clouds, skies, satellites, their sun. Other suns. Stars. Felt the warmth. Pushed further.
It came as if a whisper of an Earthen butterfly’s wings.
As one, they felt the Beyond reach back.
Safe, New World by Hugh W. Roberts
“Look at all these small, round stones, Alan. Is that some writing on them? It looks like some foreign language. And aren’t the rainbow colours on all of them stunning? It’s like they’ve been hand-painted.”
“Hand-painted by who or what?” asked Alan as he picked up a stone.
They both gasped with astonishment as a rainbow-coloured butterfly fluttered up from under the stone.
“Are there more of them under the other stones?”
“Only one way to find out.”
Within minutes of the last overturned stone releasing its prey, all human life ceased to exist on the safe, new world.
Beatrice, the Alchemist by Saifun Hassam
When Beatrice’s father died, the inner garden of poisonous flowers and herbals shriveled up overnight. A circular stone wall separated that garden from extensive outer gardens. Only certain bees and butterflies ventured into that inner garden.
Over the years, Beatrice became an alchemist in her own right, learning about botanicals and medicinals. Her own blood was forever tainted with poisonous vapors from her father’s garden. She rejoiced at the sight of the dying garden.
Beatrice’s new garden flowered with plants from everywhere, even faraway India and China. Cerulean blue butterflies and emerald green hummingbirds lit up the blossoming garden.
Stone Butterfly by FloridaBorne
“I remember the day may father gave this to me,“ Reyna said, lifting her necklace toward the camera. “I was 17 and so embarrassed.”
“You’re 20, and famous,” The talk show hostess said, “Why wear that thing?”
“I’d yelled at him, ‘this is ugly! I hate it’,” Reyna said. “I thought he’d divorced my mom, then lost his job. He’d saved the money for it by sleeping without heat in his efficiency apartment.”
“Why does that matter?”
“He had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mom told him she wasn’t his nurse and threw him out. Last night, he died in my arms.”
Kindness Rock by Kerry E.B. Black
Frustration etched furrows in the young mother’s face. She bounced a painted rock in her palm. “You obviously missed the point of the kindness rock project.”
“I got it.” Her daughter caught the rock and pointed. “See the purple butterfly? I put pink hearts on its wings. And on this side,” she turned it over and pushed it toward her mother, “I made a bright yellow sun. What could be nicer?”
“The images are lovely, but you ruined the ‘kindness’ message when you pitched the thing through Mrs. Hanstead’s window.”
The girl shrugged. “Wanted to be sure she got it.”
Petrified by Anne Goodwin
At three she was a butterfly. At thirty, a stone. Prancing, dancing, in a stolen tutu, no-one warned her butterflies soon die.
At thirteen, she learnt of other insects, with other-coloured wings. At fifteen, she became one, but found the winds so fierce, she never learnt to fly.
By forty-three, she was settled, merged with solid rock. She recognised her former dreams for what they were: fairy tales, ephemera, lies.
Then came a lepidopterist, brandishing a chisel. When he chipped away her armour, it hurt. She feared it would kill her. Or could a butterfly emerge from a stone?
Butterfly Stone by kathy70
We went to an abandoned quarry entrance to see the best view of the city and mountain that lay ahead of us. It was some type of marble quartz that was being pulled we were told. Walking up to the top of the hill I looked at the well-worn path. I spotted a pretty shaped stone and reached down to put it in my pocket.
My friend collects heart shaped stones on her travels and this looked like a beauty. Once in my hand the pinkish stone appeared to be more of a butterfly than a heart. New goals.
Butterfly Kisses by Liz Husebye Hartmann
He lay, entombed in mud and ice and darkness. He’d lain there so long that fine, tough filaments had grown over his limbs, the bridge of his nose, twining around the desiccated, corded column of his neck. He’d pull the blanket higher, cover the chilled vee of his pajama top…but no…too much of an effort. He’d gone too far away.
Then he heard it, the sweet lilt: the child’s voice. A faraway light broke overhead; he felt her smooth cheek against his own, unshaven and unwashed. Her lashes brushed his cheekbone, once and again.
Wake up, Grampa.
Butterfly Lips by Ann Edall-Robson
Where the water once gushed
Over stones and green shoots
Wings steady delicate bodies
Their minuscule feet dancing
Barely rising from the remains
Of the escarpments drying life
Cruel summer heat evaporates
Yet the Admiral and Swallowtail
Bewitched with the droplets
Unseen by the naked eye
They stay to kiss the mud
Wetting parched butterfly lips
Breezes lift their feathery wings
Sharing fissures with others
Until they are satiated
Before the ground
Becomes baked clay
And they lift skyward
Yet, return they will
To where the water once flowed
Over the rocks and grass
To this place of life
Flapping Heck by Geoff Le Pard
‘Oh no, bloody buskers.’
‘We’re going home. Stop being a misery.’
‘I wouldn’t mind if they were any good. Less the Stones, more the Gravel. The
aural equivalent of grit in the ears.’
‘Didn’t you ever aspire to be something creative? Play an instrument, write a book?’
‘I painted a butterfly once.’
‘There you go, Logan. Yours could be a new school.’
‘Oh sure. My art teacher, Fosdyke, told me if it flapped its wings, the only wind it would whip up would be of the flatulent sort.’
‘You just needed encouragement.’
‘That’s our flight being called…’
Hair a the Hog by D. Avery
“Pal? There anythin’ ta eat?”
“Where ya been Kid?”
“Walkin’ the hog.”
“Uh-huh. Where’d ya go?”
“How’s he doin’? Still not drinkin’?”
“Not drinkin’. Thinkin’. Sets there on a big rock. Jist sets. Yer there ya gotta set real quiet too. Ernie says they’re conversin’. Him an’ that stone.”
“Huh. He ain’t drinkin’?”
“Not even growin’ corn. But he’s got a garden. Thought Pepe was there. Was them plants. We got anything ta eat? Don’t know why I’m so hungry. I et plenny a Ernie’s cookies. Hey, lookit the butterfly.”
“Thet’s yer piglet.”
“That’s what the stone said!”