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Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills

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Escape is not all it’s cracked up to be.

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.

Helen’s Prospects by Kerry E.B. Black

For her sister Helen’s graduation, Augie bought a huge bundle of helium-filled balloons, each proclaiming pride in the attainment of higher education. Springtime gusts worried them like windchimes, braiding their strings, as she crossed to her car, a storm-blue Prius. Pushing them into the back hatch proved tricky, each poking out like ‘whack-a-mole.’ Driving with the encroaching bunch also presented challenges, as they obscured her rear view. Upon arrival at the celebration, Augie threw open her hatch, but another energetic wind whipped the hard-won strings from her fingers. They soared high, as unstoppable in their escape as Helen’s prospects.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rehearsal by Kate

Tim tosses his sister her playtime nurse’s outfit.

“But I want the stethoscope,” Sally says.

“Can’t, ‘cause I’m the doctor.”

“Says who?”

“Me. Now hurry!”

Sally throws on the costume, grabs her doll off the bed, and plods along behind her brother. They tiptoe down the stairs and are sneaking past the coat closet when they hear a shout behind them.

“Doc. Over here!”

“Run!” Tim yells, racing out the front door, Sally right behind him.

In the kitchen, John asks his wife, “What’s that all about?”

“Sally’s upcoming tonsillectomy. The kids are rehearsing her escape from the hospital.”

🥕🥕🥕

Moon Race by Jeff Gard

Aiden peddles uphill toward the Milky Way and a silver coin moon. The image etched in its luminous surface might be his mother’s, but no matter how much he stands on the pedals and leans into the handlebars, he can’t reach her.

Back at the mobile home, Dad fades into his armchair and exercises his thumb with the remote control, vigorously discarding moving images from the screen.

When the sidewalk ends, Aiden skids across dirt, scattering pebbles. He sighs from his bike and walks it downhill. Tomorrow night, when he catches the moon, he’ll ask her where she went.

🥕🥕🥕

An Escape by Rebecca Glaessner

The nightmares are haunting, full of strangeness. They call me through them. Who or what, I don’t know, but they’re out there. Waiting.

And I need to go.

She’s nice and all, but she’s not them. There’s something more waiting elsewhere. Maybe it’s where I belong.

I climb out the window in the cold, dark of night, when the sun won’t burn me, and I find the car waiting. I pay with her card and direct the car to the countryside, out west, toward the calls.

There’s something inside my head, something different, something they know.

Maybe that’s home.

🥕🥕🥕

The Escape by Willow Willers

The escape was silent, no one heard. All asleep upstairs. Gently at first it grew fierce it fled the kitchen and headed for the stairs. Where they all slept on in their beds

It was cold outside so the doors and windows were shut tight. Unseen it swirled around the house. It filled every room, hallway and cupboard. Silent and invisibly it filled the house and their lungs. They slept on.

Tim awoke at about three AM. His head hurt. He went down to the kitchen to make a drink. He clicked the ignition on the hob. Flash Boom!

🥕🥕🥕

Escape to the Beach by Kim Smyth

I wish I could jump into the Diamond Art Paintings that I do in my spare time. Especially when it’s a beach scene, as that is my favorite place to be on vacation. I want to live on the beach though, I’m tired of only going on vacation there. Life is short and, at my age, only getting shorter.
When I’m doing Diamond Art, the world melts away. This is my current mode of escape, other than drinking. When I’m “painting”, I’m not stressing, worrying, or feeling guilty. Making a picture come to life is so fun and satisfying.

🥕🥕🥕

Freedom by Donna Matthews

“Come on in. Can I get you a glass of wine?”

“No thanks.”

“Really?”

“Yeah…actually…I don’t drink.”

“Like ever?”

“Yeah,” chuckling.

“How? Why?” As we sit on her porch with our now glasses of water.

“Well—when I drink, life gets way out of control. I use it as an escape, but instead, it becomes a trap.”

“How then do you relax?”

“Oh, lots of ways…some better than others. Like taking a walk instead of shopping on Amazon.”

We giggle.

“I can’t imagine giving up alcohol.”

“I know. I still think about it some days. But there’s nothing like freedom.”

🥕🥕🥕

Escape by Anita Dawes

Over the past few months
I have felt like a caged bird
I will be 75 come the beginning of April
I cannot wait to get outside
To pop into my charity shops
See my wonderful ladies smiling
Pick up the odd piece or two
For me, this is my big escape
I have to make the most of every minute
Never knowing how many I have left
My son will take me from the confines
of my four walls to the coast
A bag of hot salty chips in my hand
As proof I made it outside, free…

🥕🥕🥕

Escape by D. Avery

With no argument left, Silas embraced his wife and mourned with her, allowing his own tears to fall for Robert’s pain, witnessed only by her and the granite markers of their other lost children.

Walking together back to the farmhouse they met Robert carrying a bundled rag.

“What is it Robert?”

“Mice. From the kitchen.”

“Oh, just kill them!” Anna instantly regretted her command, but Robert smiled forgiveness.

“A mother and pink babies. Surely you could allow them to live in the stonewall.”

“Anna, maybe our boy isn’t the man we’d expected. He’s different. But he’s a good man.”

🥕🥕🥕

Words for Tommy by Simon Prathap D

What you looking at?
Don’t look at me like that!
You got nothing to do, except wake up in middle of the night and jump around to leave the door open so that you can poo at your peace.
(Sigh) Look at us, run like a horse every single day. Don’t turn your head you dog, you ARE a dog, I can’t change that if you bark.
I hate this life, but, I learn this from you. You teach me every single day to live “NOW” Love you Tommy🥰… is that my shoe? you are dead Tommy… stop running!

🥕🥕🥕

The Great Escape by Ritu Bhathal

I gingerly opened the cage to add the birdseed into the pot. Heer sat there, staring at me with her beady eyes.
She had a tendency to peck, so the faster I could get my hand in and out the better.
Having deposited what I needed to, into the pot, I slammed the door shut, and breathed a sigh of relief and turned to see the cat watching me, or rather watching something behind me.
Somehow the cage door had bounced open again, and Heer had hopped out of the cage!
That great escape was going to end badly!

🥕🥕🥕

In a Flap by pensitivity101

It was all a matter of timing, patience too. They both knew that.
One looked smugly out from within, the other longed from without.
They were never friends, one forever teasing the other but the tables could so easily be turned, and that time was fast approaching.
Now, totally alone, the cage was nudged, generating a gentle sway, and the die was cast. A furious flurry on the inside ensued an erratic momentum thus becoming more dangerous for the trapped, who didn’t want to escape or be freed.
The question was who would dine and who would be dinner?

🥕🥕🥕

Hanging Around by JulesPaige

Soon it will be full fledged time
To escape the laundry room
The clothes have been drying
On inside lines and racks
When e’re twere possible

Still in the washer they will tumble
But on the outside lines
Sheets, towels and bedding
As well as other unmentionables
Will flutter in the warm spring breezes

Unlike the fierce March wind now blowing
That is knocking dead wood out of trees
A strong westerly pushes reverse ripples
Upon the muddy creek waters
That are now livened by ducks and geese

allow our homes’ foundation
to grip
ground secure – we’re still staying put!

🥕🥕🥕

Can He Escape the Need for Rescue? by Anne Goodwin

Some set out on faraway adventures. Others keep watch for the wanderer’s return. Henry didn’t choose to be the one who waited, but families need an anchor in order not to sink.

Time ticked on. Henry fostered hope his sister would release him from the waiting game. His patience and loyalty would eventually reap rewards.

He lacked the mental flexibility to imagine an alternative ending. One where he possessed the power of escape. His emotions froze at six years old when she left him. Too small to reach the handle; too bruised to open the door and walk free.

🥕🥕🥕

Escapade by Bill Engleson

“You want to report a what…?”

“Don’t know what you’d call is…a reaction, I suppose?”

“To your Covid-19 vaccine shot?”

“Yeah…”

“What was this reaction?”

“Okay. But you’re not gonna believe me. Don’t know why I’m even bothering…”

“Just tell me…”

“Fine! I got the shot and went home. I was a little tired, rested a bit and then started binge-watching Cagney and Lacey.”

“Who’re they?”

“Old TV Cop series, two women…great show.”

“And?”

“Suddenly, I’m there. Actually with them in the TV. Having coffee in Precinct 14.”

“That’s nuts.”

“I’m thinking it’s the AstralZeneca vaccine.”

“It’s AstraZeneca.”

“Oh!”

🥕🥕🥕

Wish To Escape by Douryeh/Hajar

As people, we can escape from our current place
When it no longer serves our purpose of security
But, often we escape to a safe, soothing sanctuary
It’s only a five minutes walk to the place
It’s not on any map; yet, its my design
It’s shades and blue and green hues are benign
Sun and Moon light foliage, water and friendly beasts
Bugs, criminals or meat hunters can’t have their feast
This place is always safe, soothing, kind, and inspiring
When I’ve been there, I can start daily working
@}}-

🥕🥕🥕

Music For All Occasions by Sue Spitulnik

When Katie arrived at the No Thanks to stock before opening, she was surprised to see all the band member’s cars except Mac’s. When she stepped onto the macadam she could feel the thump of a bass and hear muffled sounds of a heavy metal band. Strange! She went inside, and recognized Tyrell’s cousins playing the extra guitars. Michael was pounding on the piano like it was an enemy. When the song ended she looked their way. “What gives?”
Her father grinned. “Just an escape. Playing out our anger at how the VA can screw things up so easily.”

🥕🥕🥕

The End of Days by Geoff Le Pard

‘One more day, Logan.’
‘Yes, thank heavens.’
‘It’s been a blast, hasn’t it?’
‘What has?’
‘Don’t be obtuse. America, hunting the ranch, fostering two goats…’
‘That bloody Kid. If I ever see him again…’
‘He was a character.’
‘Oh sure. You couldn’t make him up.’
‘?’
‘And you think ten days of quarantine has been fun?’
‘We’ve had a chance to do all sorts.’
‘I didn’t think it possible to binge watch every episode of the Simpsons without losing your mind.’
‘Hidden depths.’
‘More like exposed shallows. There’s one thing I’ll miss.’
‘Yes?’
‘You.’
‘Really?’
‘No, of course not.’

🥕🥕🥕

Free Birds by Doug Jacquier

You could resign, storm out in high dudgeon and let the cards fall where they may. You could fantasise about finding another job where your skills are finally appreciated and imagine submitting your resignation with an air of smugness. You could become unmanageable and take the fired escape. (Except there’s the money, your unemployable middle age, the mortgage and the kids and your partner’s anger and the looming wasteland of your irrelevance to your former colleagues.) Or you could accept that you built this escape-proof prison and raise birds to release through the bars, before they become like you.

🥕🥕🥕

Welcome To the Great Society by Larry Trasciatti

‘It’s so out of control,’ Deasy told Monahan.

‘The totalitarians are mad. Don’t eat this food. One group is offended. Don’t say that word. Another group is offended. Then it was masks because of some trumped up pandemic. Now we’re all on our way to permanent solitary confinement.’

‘I know,’ Monahan replied. ‘All our language and history have been rewritten~roads and vehicles restructured too, so there’s no Escape.’

Just then, promptly at noon, the sun went down for the night.

Clancy snuck an old book into their cubicle, and they looked at it, observing where the exits once were.

🥕🥕🥕

Escape by FloridaBorne

Her friend, Ana, warned her. “Elena, I answered an ad for a modeling agency, too.  The scars on my wrist were from the bindings.  I was sent to my uncle’s home and told never to speak of my shame.”

Elena had checked out the agency.  She’d called their number for the address.  They were professional, the office looked so clean, but she awoke, her wrists bound, too drugged to resist, handed off to men on the American side of an unfinished wall.

During a different administration, border patrol intercepted Ana’s captors.  Now, there’d be no one to save Elena.

🥕🥕🥕

For Tradition and Appearances by Nicole Horlings

The glass patio doors had been opened wide, but the room was stuffy. Eliza was held prisoner by tradition for appearances and her parents’ reputation. They were very much aware that she strongly disliked their current company, and that she had made previous plans with a friend. Yet, here she sat, amongst conversation that excluded her in its topics and jargon.

“What a wonderful meal!” their guest declared.

“Just wait until we pull out the dessert,” her mother winked.

“I’ll go get it,” Eliza offered, standing up. In the kitchen, she was finally free to drop her fake smile.

🥕🥕🥕

Breaking Away by Joanne Fisher

Laura hated living in her small town. It was difficult to be yourself when everyone thought they knew you. She knew if she ever dared to tell her rather conservative Christian parents that she was really a lesbian they would probably throw her out of the house or send her to one of those camps that attempt to turn you straight, and everyone would know.

She decided to grit her teeth and wait the year out. Once school ended, she decided she would escape to the city where she could be herself and love who she wanted to love.

🥕🥕🥕

Wish to Escape by Charli Mills

Soothing and stirring, a rush of water tumbles over Hungarian Falls, carrying Beryl’s life. Not her body or soul, which remained firmly planted in her boots at the water’s edge. She didn’t scream, gasp or lunge for her cell phone when it slipped from her fingers. My life, she thought. The roar covered the sound of cracking. She imagined the screen with her fingerprints smashed to bits on rocks. Who was she without a phone? The water churned. Her thoughts lifted. Her soul escaped the hold of technology. Had she really tossed it to make a wish? She had.

🥕🥕🥕

Cut and Run by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Scrubbing her hands over her face, she replayed the voicemail. Listening for clues that said otherwise, she accepted that nothing had changed. She was to comply, absolutely.

Her chair creaked protest as she thumped one heel, then the other, on the heavy wood desk. Lamplight illuminated a circle on the ceiling, flooded the desk with sickly yellow light. Her hands lay in surrender on her lap.

She’d hoped for compromise. Release meant she could cut her losses, move on. They demanded their pound — and more — of flesh.

Clenching her fists, she turned to the window.

The fire escape beckoned.

🥕🥕🥕

Escape by Faith A. Colburn

She sat, shredding tissue in her lap, waiting for a counselor. Once he’d passed out, she’d tied her husband, spread-eagled, to their four-poster bed using two pairs of thigh-hi nylons. Then she beat him with his own belt—the buckle end. Bruises and abrasions on her own body still throbbed. The old ones made her skin a rainbow. He was a lawyer. Every time she’d tried to leave, he’d found a way to block her. If she could make them believe she was a danger to him, maybe they would check her in and save her life—and his.

🥕🥕🥕

Take Flight by Norah Colvin

One day followed another — everyone in uniform, head down, following unwritten rules known by heart. Only Olive questioned, “Why?” She longed for adventure. Blue skies whispered promises on gentle breezes that rustled leaves and tantalised with sweet exotic perfumes. Her tastebuds rebelled. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, take another bite. She crawled into a shell and hoped to sleep for ever. Kaleidoscopic dreams flitted in a mash of memories and futuristic movie scenes. What was real and what imagined? She awoke renewed, seeing the world as if from other eyes. She unfurled her wings and flew to kiss the welcoming skies.

🥕🥕🥕

Tales from “Dragon” by Saifun Hassam

For Sorceress Freya of Dragon Cavern Villages, everyday life was filled with helping the farming communities. She visited farms and village markets, helping villagers with everyday life problems, reciting incantations at wells, rivers, and lakes.

She was famous for her herbal gardens. Mages, sorcerers, and sorceresses often visited her.

To escape the humdrum village life, she turned into a magnificent eagle, flying over hills and mountains, to Jujub Lake. Here she camped for a few days. In the secluded forests, she found new herbal plants, communing with forest spirits, learning their magic. She hiked back to the villages, content.

🥕🥕🥕

Ageless Prison by Mr. Ohh!

Journal Entry Date Unknown
I have to get out of here. Sure, the walls are cloth but they might as well be iron bars. The giants have trapped me here and until I find a way out, I must suffer the indignity of my prison.
I have asked Mr. Dinkle but he seems to have gone dumb, and hasn’t uttered a word since the giants used that odd language of theirs. I know they speak English; they use it amongst themselves. But to me It’s always Goo Goo and Gah Gah
Oh, how I wish the teddy was smarter

🥕🥕🥕

Redirected Scents of Escape by D. Avery

“Pal! Yer back! Ya jist missed Pepe.”
“Don’t never. Ya sure seem in a better mood Kid.”
“Yeah, that Pepe. He’s a breath a fresh air.”
“Wouldn’t describe him like thet. But yeah, LeGume’s a gas all right. Did he hep ya with the prompt? He knows ‘bout escapin’. He’s always lettin’ somethin’ loose.”
“Pepe said ta me, ‘Kid, sometimes ya write, an’ sometimes ya don’t.’ Told me not ta worry ‘bout it. Then he give me a wheel a cheese, said, ‘Here Kid, have some cheese ta go with yer whine.’”
“Cheese? Yum. Where?”
“There. Pepe cut it.”

🥕🥕🥕


19 Comments

  1. Some excellent pieces for this prompt, Charli. Wishing you a lovely Easter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ritu says:

    Brilliant! Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. restlessjo says:

    Smiles, sighs and scowls- they’re all there! With a couple of favourites. Not telling 🙂 🙂 Have a good Easter, everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Norah says:

    As always, an eclectic but wonderful collection – some funny, some sad, some winsome (and now I want to say ‘and some lose some’ but that wouldn’t work). All worthy of inclusion. Well done, everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Reading all of these responses proved to be a nice escape 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Some new names here (which is great) and some of the best writing from some time (which is even better). Clearly a theme that almost everybody can relate to at some level. Particularly appeciated the pieces from kerry, Kate, Jeff, Rebecca, Willow, Jules, and Bill for his AstralZeneca 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great collection to escape into. I am impressed by all the ways the wranglers found to explore this theme. Enjoyed them very much..congrats all.
    ~nan

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] Submissions now closed. Read the full collection here. […]

    Like

  9. This is a wonderful little collection I love them.
    ,,
    ,,,
    ,
    ,Spread Laughter Today

    Like

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