The earth tilts and one hemisphere lengthens in the sun while the other shortens in shadow. The solstice stands in the balance.
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.
Happy Winter Solstice by Joanne Fisher
Jodie lost count with all the “Happy Summer Solstice!” posts that appeared on her newsfeed. She sighed and looked out the window at the snow falling. The trouble with people in the northern hemisphere is that they assumed everyone else was in the northern hemisphere as well, she reflected.
Earlier today she had been involved in some stupid online argument with an American who refused to believe that the hemispheres had different seasons. “Who else knows this?” he demanded.
Jodie resolved to reply to all the posts she saw with “Happy Winter Solstice.” Hopefully that might make them think…
The Edge of Summer by Hugh W Roberts
On the longest day of the year, his most prolonged problem was about to end.
Looking over the edge of the cliff, Adrian wondered if he could fly. After all, he was a little underweight, and although daylight had broken, nobody but his best friend would witness him flying.
At 04:31, his problem died when he took the final jump and placed his lips on the mouth of Richard.
As both young men enjoyed the moment, the butterflies in their stomachs did the flying.
The summer solstice of 2021 was the day they both came out to the world.
To Dance by Charli Mills
Maia met the girls at the Biting Fly for vodka shots. They toasted her ancestors, the ones who came from Finland with nothing but their knowledge of the old ways and hope for a new Finlandia in this place called America. They worked as mules in the copper mines and stayed after the boom busted. Maia, at 80-something, remembered her grandmother sharing childhood memories of the kokko, the massive community bonfire at Juhannus. Her girlfriends weren’t Finnish but they relished the hippie vibe of a solstice celebration on the beach. They swayed with men, and Maia danced with ghosts.
Time by Sascha Darlington
A British playwright wrote: “Youth is wasted on the young.” I think about that now as I navigate a landscape in which I am no longer young.
We made a pact that we would meet on the solstice of our 50th year. Regardless of everything. Not to mention that we’ve not kept in touch.
My sister said I was foolish. “He may not even be alive.”
The Devon beach is empty. I swirl like a young woman, the one you used to know, until I see you.
“You’re like a dream.”
“Until I open my mouth.”
Time is nothing.
Going North, Going South by Doug Jacquier
They met during the Transit of Venus in 2004 and married during the second Transit in 2012. What they’d forgotten was that eight Earth years are an unlucky thirteen Venus years and what they thought was their beginning was, in fact, the beginning of their end. Their lives became a series of eclipses, their different suns blotting out each other’s sky. When the divorce came through, she went North and he went South. Now, come the solstice, across the Hemispheres, their world atilt, her day’s long and filled with light and his short, darkness descending in the late afternoon.
Love’s Solstice by Michael Fishman
The body knows when we’re in love. Hands, like magnets, pull and accidentally touch. Shoulders brush when preparing a meal or sitting on the couch. Bodies pass closer when walking through a narrow hallway.
A smile that last longer than necessary because the mouth and lips, they feel and know.
Love guides not just our hearts and souls, but our bodies.
I’m not sure when our smiles started to fade or when our hands decided to go back to holding things instead of each other.
Or when we stopped talking.
It happened while neither one of us were watching.
Solstice by Anita Dawes
To call them stones
As if you could skip one across the pond
Is to belittle their majesty
I stand in front of them
Waiting for the sunrise
Wishing I could walk back
Through a living moment of history
To see the stars, fly by
To see the sunset and rise over it again
Until I reach the moment when
Salisbury Plain was just that, plain
To watch the first hole being dug
The upright slip into place
On around the circle like a child’s game
Of ring a ring-o’roses
I feel my heart beat with the rising sun…
Solstice by Robert Kirkendall
As the wheel of the year once again reached its midpoint of light’s apex and increasing darkness, humanity stood at a precipice. Going forward on its current path meant certain destruction. Turning in either direction was safer but still treacherously close to the same steep edge. Reversing away from the precipice was the safest option, but counter to the prevailing forward inertia.
At the earthly turning point the instinct for group preservation fought against the forces of self enrichment. And those attempting to save humanity tried to get across that when at the precipice, progress is a step backward.
Time Travel by Rebecca Glaessner
Neuro-tech students gathered on a rooftop, beneath the City-dome, drinks in hand, and watched the decade’s worst electrical storm.
“Shortest night… solstice?”
“I went in today.”
“There was no fear, y’know? Back then. They just lived. Under the sun for hours at a time.”
“Barbecues, beers, no sunscreen. It was-“
“Wow- what’s he saying?”
“Have at it! Literally. Offered his memories for the taking. To anyone.”
Lightning cracked purple and blue above, beyond the dome. The sun’s heat always lingering.
“Now? Absolutely! Best way to escape the summer.”
Summer Dream by Sue Spitulnik
Michael told Dr. John about a recurring nightmare. “The important ladies in my life are dancing around a fire like you’d see on the summer solstice, but my wheelchair’s in the fire.”
“Are they celebrating its destruction? Perhaps suggesting you give it up?”
“I hate the prosthetic legs.”
“When I’m in the chair, people look me in the eye and notice my upper body physic. When I wear the prosthetics, that’s all they see. I’m more than a pair of metal legs; besides, the chair has become my band’s trademark.”
“Seems the chair’s more for recognition than comfort.”
One Bloody Solstice on June 21 1919 by Bill Engleson
“Many of the strikers were demobilized soldiers?”
“Yeah. There they were, returned from that awful war, Spanish Flu sucking the breath out of the world. Put that together with the allure of the Bolshevik Revolution, the magnificent people’s charge against a dynasty, soldiers, who’d been prepared to die for their country, hungry for payback, their due as fighting men…and when they returned, it was the same old poverty, the same old crap wages, same old profiteering rich bosses.”
“And that Saturday, the solstice, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, the longest day of the year and it and bullets killed the strike.”
The Crossing by Anne Goodwin
She couldn’t prove they were her triathlon medals, but he gave her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes the shortest, the skinniest, proved the toughest, enduring scorching days and freezing nights. They marched, jogged, uncomplaining; they melted into the shadows at his command. Crossing in summer was madness with dark’s protection paper thin. Tonight, the solstice: riskiest of all. Yet she pleaded, everyone did, handing him wads of cash. Desert’s dangers the final stepping-stone on freedom’s trail. Now, minutes from departure, she arrives with a baby on her hip. Slim chance they’ll reach America. Certain death unless she tries.
Perfect Timing by Rebecca Glaessner
The crew struggled, working endlessly to keep their great hulking mass of a ship sailing across the fabric of space without tearing apart.
Their destination orbited a minuscule point of light. Almost too far now with damaged engines.
Directly ahead hung a glittering planet of ice. They met it among the limits of its orbit, the distance protecting the ship from its swollen red star.
Its solstice their saviour.
They sunk close to the icy surface before their velocity pulled them back out, the planet’s gravity well adding speed to their motion as they resumed course.
Memories of Grandma by Nancy Brady
My grandma’s birthday was the same date as the summer solstice. I’d often stay with her for a week during summer vacation; we’d spend time at the park after window shopping at Woolworth’s. We’d rarely buy anything except for a sweet or two.
She painted a picture of me when I was young and had a ponytail. It hung on a wall of her tiny house for years, but after she died, the painting was nowhere to be found, only her original sketch. Even now, I wonder what happened to the painting.
one sugar cookie
Summer Night Fire by Duane L Herrmann
Summer Solstice, or Sommersonnenwende, still going strong in Franken in 2019. I and daughter were there. Unlike far past times, just one fire per community and that created, and extinguished, by the local fire department. A time for bier and brats, family and friends. We were included. Being in my great grandfather’s village, with family who still live there, meant we were not strangers, though there are no strangers around a fire. We ate, we drank, we tried to talk, but with little English on their side and little German on ours, we mostly smiled, glad to be together.
Solstice BBQ by Kate Spencer
Sitting on the back porch, Jim bit into his sandwich. “Ran into Bill this morning,” he said between chews. “He and Millie are hosting a Solstice Barbecue at their farm on Saturday.”
“Millie called about it,” Gladys said, shooing away a persistent wasp.
“She said everyone there will be fully vaccined. Apparently, their granddaughter prepared invitations for the event, calling it Granny’s Loop-de-Loop party in honor of the never setting sun.”
Jim chuckled. “Were these mailed?”
“Goodness no. That’s why Millie’s phoning everyone.”
“You bet we’re going. ‘Bout time oldies like us get out and had some fun.”
Plans Change by Mr. Ohh!
I look to the solstice more than any other day. I will spend it outside I will absorb every drop of sunlight that the day has to offer. This is my fantasy I have seen the winter and conquered its dismal days. The solstice is mine, paid for by months of depression and hope. I shall seize this day.
I set an early alarm so I can make the coffee and proceed to the porch and watch most glorious Sol in his rising. When it rings, I am faced with dark clouds and lightning. It’s still a great day
Summer Solstice by Missy Lynne
The dark winter lays behind and the sun has been steadily taking back the sky. And I, too, have been making the same trek. Beating back the darkness of winter. Basking in the light of the sun. Burning out the old to bring forth the new. The summer is ahead. Days full of sunshine. Lazy, simple days. Without burdens or schedules. The sun lights my spirit. It takes me from days trapped indoors to freedom. From covered and cold to bronzed and beautiful. A renewal. A transformation of self. The darkness has been cleared in my mind and spirit.
“You never do anything right,” he yells.
As usual, I ignore his remark and close the door to my home office. He storms up the stairs to his area of the house as if he owns it all.
I settle into the eye of my stormy life. My parents laid the concrete block walls for the first floor when they were in their sixties. This room was born from their love and commitment to each other.
My coon cat stretches out next to the phone. Automatic as breathing, my hand is petting him long before I know it’s happening.
Solstice by Reena Saxena
Inequality pervades the system, so that equality remains a cherished goal. Solstices are celebrated because the seemingly opposing forces of day and night are equal only twice in a year….
The pages of the diary flutter as he drops it off. It never struck him that she was feeling neglected and the inferior being in the relationship.
He was busy balancing the check-book, making income and expenses meet. It was the only equality he chased.
Her contribution to the bank account was like that extra stretch of daylight – he did not notice while working late. She saved money.
Days of Future Present by Geoff Le Pard
‘It’s the summer solstice on Tuesday, Logan.’ ‘
‘We should celebrate.’
‘Why? It’s just another day.’
‘No, it’s not. It’s the turning point. The longest day, the start of summer.’
‘It’s the beginning of the end of the year. Everything gets darker and colder from here.’
‘There you have the difference between us.’
‘You’re all airy-fairy and I’m rational.’
‘I live in the moment; you don’t.’
‘You ignore what’s in front of your face.’
‘And you miss the joy in embracing the now.’
‘Have you been at the mindfulness muesli again?’
‘I think I’ll become a Druid…’
Silver for Sale (Part 3.5) by Nicole Horlings
Vellenio paced in his office. The solstice was quickly approaching, and it was becoming increasingly clear that he had hired a nincompoop to do his dirty work for him, which was increasingly frustrating after all of his carefully played chicanery to drive away the Travellyn family. How difficult was it to search an empty mansion before the royal historian accidentally stumbled upon the silver chalice that he needed, and put it in a museum or someplace stupid like that? After the chilling runaround he’d already had to give Tyla, he wanted to deal with her at little as possible.
This story is continued here.
At Dusk’s Door by D. Avery
We are all familiar with the tale of Red Riding Hood. Now consider it as a solstice tale.
Grandma’s weakened and wan, but her granddaughter lingers and picks flowers… This is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the patient and confident wolf personifying night.
I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, less punished for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.
Grandma, you know too
reflected light in dark eyes
Cloaks grown heavy shed
hung without shame at dusk’s door
borne again at dawn; he yawns
Solstice Story by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She clambers atop the cardinal’s shoulders
Gently hooks soft knees over scarlet wings
Grasps the longest feathers of his crest
Her cape of midday flutters a hopeful breeze
Knapsack packed with morning dew, wild strawberries
Golden bee pollen
Time is the essence.
A sweet request, whispered in a red bird’s ear
He lifts his wings, ruffles his crest
Together they soar toward a land
Far beyond East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Finally, they reach day’s end
With all her strength, she pulls its edge
Time to turn the page.
Dark-eyed Winter nods, beckons her home.
Till the Next Solstice by Saifun Hassam
The Great Mages Portal in the Forest of the Spirits opened at dusk only on Solstice Day. Beyond the portal were caverns, treasures of wisdom, of magic incantations of Ancient Mages. So it was said. Under cloudless cerulean skies, the day turned into a warm and sultry late evening. Just beyond the Forest, Estrella the Sorceress rested on the shores of Swan Lake. Dusk turned into night. Estrella awoke to the fragrance of jasmine and moonflowers, the hooting of an owl. Cygnet the Swan glittered in the night skies. Dawn was breaking. As wilted as moonlight flowers, Estrella cried.
In Good Company by D. Avery
“Wholly shift, Kid! Reckon Shorty’s been puttin’ in some long days.”
“The longest. It’s summer solstice.”
“Shorty’s stretchin’ hersef an’ growin’ the CRLC.”
“Carrot Ranch Literary Community. An’ now she’s got hersef a LLC.”
“What the /L/ Pal? CRLLC? That extra /L/ stands fer… lite; no Shorty’d never have lit lite. Lift! Carrot Ranch Literary Liftin’ Community.”
“A LLC is separate from this here literary community, Kid. Has ta do with business.”
“Leveragin’ Loads a Cash?”
“Limited Liability Company. But thet’s none a yer business.”
“Oh. Well this company’s liable ta write with limits.”
“Yep. Jist 99 words.