It’s the place that contains memories and childhood, a place to escape or return to.
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.
Markleeville by Charli MIlls
I’m eight years old running after the bus, crying. A car stops. “Don’t cry honey. We’ll catch the bus.” I don’t know who she is, but I get in her car. She speeds, making good on her promise. She’s the mom of a girl in my class. I don’t make friends easily. I prefer adults, especially the old-timers no one visits. They tell me stories, like what Monitor looked like when it wasn’t a vacant flat of sagebrush. Hometown will always be the people who saw me. I carry stories of Markleevile in my heart long after they’ve gone.
From Queens by Larry Trasciatti
I haven’t lived in my Hometown, East Elmhurst, since about my twelfth birthday.
My parents and I went back to visit the old parish, St. Gabriel’s, in February, 2001.
I got to see my classmates, and the Sisters Of Charity and De La Salle Christian Brothers who taught us.
A lot had happened on Astoria Boulevard since Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ album was the rage.
The empty lots on yesterday’s street corners were replaced by fast food franchises.
It was interesting to see that world from the point of view of a spectator, merely playing a role, from a distance.
Same Place, Different People by Sue Spitulnik
Tessa and her father talked about memorable family events while planting geraniums by his parents’ headstone.
Walking back to the car, Tessa said, “I thought I would know everyone in town when I moved back, but I don’t. Sadly I see many familiar names here.”
“You were gone over twenty-five years. Folks passed on, and lots of your generation moved away.”
“Funny, my life was always changing, and yet I expected my hometown not to. Sort’a naive.”
Her father nodded. “What’s that saying, children don’t age if you don’t witness it happening.”
“I guess that applies to hometowns too.”
Home is Where the Heart Is by Norah Colvin
The playlist his children organised looped a soundtrack to his questions — retirement and grandchildren afforded time and reason — to resolve. Why did they flee? Why darkness? Telling nobody? Taking nothing? Disallowed of memories to share? He’d never felt he was completely whole. This hometown jaunt should patch the space within. But nothing matched the picture painted in his mind; no road sign, store name, building or a tree. Concrete covered sandy roads where once they played. Then a breeze swirled round a feeling of forgiveness and of freedom and he turned his mind and car to heart and home.
Hometown Growth by Frank James
Happiness swirls memories of my hometown. They make me sad, too. The haven fostered me to leave hometown life behind for university and new job. Excitement vibrated me, walking into the future.
I later reflected on thoughts of my roots. I looked around to see my present moment was nothing like hometown. Melancholy settled in, and then my uncle asserted hometowns are excellent barometers for reality. They provide a solid foundation to develop and seek opportunities. They also gauge whether the new place in life is good or not.
Come home to see how much you have grown.
Home Town Funeral by Doug Jacquier
Gordon surveyed the scattering of mourners, mostly people from his home town. Women in obligatory black, men in too-tight suits and black ties. He began.
‘The open casket has confirmed Uncle Ted’s demise, so relax. As you know, Uncle Ted never gave a damn about any of you. He was the epitome of indifference towards people that were not centred on him and his desires. He was a narcissist, a walking stiletto dipped in venom.
Knowing that, we must do our best to kill the Uncle Ted in all of us. So, who wants to push the furnace button?’
Haunted by Kerry E.B. Black
Every town hosts a haunted house, a place kids cross streets to avoid, an imposing presence that exudes menace. I wondered where ours was. I inquired, but neighbors looked askance without answering. Undeterred, I visited the local library, but history did not point an accusing finger. I trudged home, hands plunged into my cardigan pockets. Our front gate protested its opening. Unseasonable leaves skittered. Abandoned toys littered the yard, sad as gravestones. The front door creaked open. I patted our stone gargoyle on the way in when I experienced an epiphany. My house was the haunted one in my hometown.
Home Again by Joanne Fisher
This was my hometown. Now it was just nothing but piles of scabrous rocks weathering under a pitiless sun. There were once people here, and houses, even love and happiness, but then the Fire came and ended it all. Then there was chaos and confusion, and I took to wandering.
I wandered for many years, so many I had lost count how long I had been in the wasteland, but somehow I ended up back here. The place where it all began for me. Leaving the ruins behind, I wandered through the cemetery. The final grave bore my name.
When Death Comes Quickly by Hugh W. Roberts
The residents’ of Annabelle’s hometown were not as safe as they thought they were.
Finding herself abandoned by her parents, Annabelle settled down for the night. This was the first time she’d be alone in her hometown, and it was dark, damp and smelly.
Squeezing into a tiny corner, she sobbed. Why had her parents decided now was the time to leave their hometown without her? She was too vulnerable to be left alone.
It was a bright light that woke her before she and her hometown were covered in a minty mouthwash that instantly killed them.
Not even a germ was safe when its hometown was the mouth of a human being.
Lest She Forget Where She Came From by Anne Goodwin
“Your memory book!” Beaming, Scarlett slipped the slim volume onto Olive’s lap. “We’ve done them for all the rezzies.”
With hands like claws, Olive turned the pages. She’d taught the girl’s parents. Scarlett meant well.
She rarely looked at her photo album. Those Polaroids and Kodak prints a blur. These images were much sharper, like a professionally published book.
But page after page of her three months in India? A skinny cow, women drawing water from a well. “What is this?”
“Your hometown,” said Scarlett.
“I’m Cumbrian born and bred,” said Olive. “You’ve given me Joshil’s book by mistake.”
Change by Rebecca Glaessner
The old cattle shed sat three streets from her no-longer small childhood home.
The house’s presence hung heavy over town now, sprawling in its decadence and greed.
Perhaps they hadn’t changed.
A droid greeted her, lead her inside to a room bright with filtered sunlight and untouched delicacies.
The woman that entered both was and wasn’t her mother. Despite DNA, she wouldn’t recognise her only daughter sitting before her, pleading help.
“I’m sorry, Miss- there are appropriate channels required for advances.”
“Mum, it’s me-“
The woman just smiled, then turned and left.
She too saw herself out, alone.
A Hometown by Nancy Brady
It was not her hometown. Nor could it be; she didn’t grow up there. She was an import to the small city. Thus, she’d never quite fit in. That was okay with her since she found the pettiness of the locals still rehashing the urban renewal of the downtown back in the Sixties as silly as their current rant about the city’s creation of bicycle lanes causing general mayhem. There had been no deaths despite the dire predictions. She and her spouse loved the small city they now lived in, finding the area so livable (and also now bikeable).
Journeys by Saifun Hassam
Carlos grew up in Blue Cascade Township. His hometown was a ramshackle one-street town like others in the rolling foothills of Pinnacle Mountains. The towns sprang up as orchards and vineyards flourished. Children went to nearby elementary schools and high schools, making friends with each other.
Carlos was now a pre-med student at Cascade University. He wanted better medical services for those towns. In his literature class, he learned about William Carlos Williams, a physician, a poet, who made home visits to his patients. He met physicians with “Doctors Without Borders.” He could return home, live, and work there.
Curtains by Jenne Gray
What’s she doing here?
I thought we’d finally seen the back of her when her father died.
Poor man, what he had to put up with: the weird clothes, the hippy hair.
He always defended her, but we knew what he really thought.
And that husband of hers.
People should keep to their own kind.
It’s the children I feel sorry for.
Where do they fit in?
Certainly not here.
They’re watching from behind the curtains, Dad, still judging.
They’ll never understand.
I won’t be back.
There’s no point now.
We only ever came because you wanted us to.
No Buzz for What Was by JulesPaige
lost memories in
Stationary abandoned buildings; a ghost town.
You could barely see the horse image on the stable sign.
For all the hoarse ghostly voices that shouted; “Save this place!”
No one with ears had heard their cries.
Nothing had been written down on stationery, no protective petitions.
No philanthropic donors or relatives with deep pockets.
The bulldozers were coming, to make the area ‘safe’.
There were no plans so far to rebuild anything on those few dusty acres.
What was once someone’s hometown – would be forever lost.
Only sepia photographs were left.
Lost Dad by Simon Prathap D
Hometown is where I met my Lost Dad.
I was happy to introduce him to mom, but, she didn’t believe me.
I showed him. She didn’t speak to him, she took me away from hometown, then I became more social with new friends, I had so much fun. Mom was worried.
She brought me back to my hometown, I was locked, tortured by mom. Then I was arrested for killing her, but, I didn’t, nobody believed.
I met my dad again, he believed me, he also advised, “Living won’t talk to the dead and you should stop doing it”
Feather Found by Duane L Herrmann
Feather on the ground, it didn’t belong. From the air, what was it doing there? I marveled. Bright blue as sky, I know it’s source: Kukulkan controlled – social stability, crops, weather, the earth, and language. God of….. ancient, Native peoples, no less significant for that. Last remnant of dinosaurs.
I picked it up, wondering what did dinosaurs REALLY looked like? Did all have feathers? Or, just some? How is it that feathers, beaks and claws survived adaptation to modern birds? Creation is amazing!
Returning by Rebecca Glaessner
She and her brothers spent many summers out by the rusted cattle shed, before the sunburns became too much. They thought it was haunted.
“Pantry and freezer are stocked, should do you all till we get back,” their parents would say. Then they wouldn’t hear from them for weeks.
At first it was exciting, then it became routine.
They grew up.
The shed sat in the same dust-bowl, protected beneath the town’s new dome.
At least their parents’ money went toward the town’s protection, though more for themselves than anyone, probably.
But she had no where else to turn.
Do You Want to Come Home? By Donna Matthews
I feel the landing gear engage. What am I doing? I escaped 20 years ago; now I’m heading back?
Isn’t escape a little dramatic? I chide myself.
I don’t even know anymore. Some days I can’t believe I left. Dad and his new wife – a cliche and worn-out trope. Me, the leftover love child from the previous marriage. Uh, yeah, no thanks.
But yesterday, the call came. We haven’t talked in years, my cousin and me. He said dad had a stroke.
Do you want to come home and say goodbye to him?
Of course, I do…don’t I?
Hometown by Reena Saxena
The structure of the township has changed. I hope to find an old soul with whom I can reconnect, but they’ve disappeared or changed.
Then, I find some of them on social media. Facebook, WhatsApp help us reconnect. There’s a quaint group where everybody reminisces for sometime, and then conversations drop down to inane forwards or exchanging personal news.
Hometowns keep shifting, as I look for kindred spirits. It’s not easy for anyone. They need to travel back to where I came from, and then reconnect with the person I’m today.
Who’ll want to be in biographical journeys though?
Hometown by Shreya Shah
A lot of memories that never fade, making it special when I remember my hometown. The place where I was born, where I spent happy and carefree summers. But, what makes that place special are the people, essentially my GRANDPARENTS. I followed my grandfather everywhere while my grandmother knitted me a pair of socks or a sweater. In the afternoon, I would sit in the backyard, reading a book, waiting for the mangoes to ripen and fall off the trees. A place filled with childhood memories, from my first birthday to when I went to school with no bag!
First Love by C. E. Ayr
Grey. Dreich. Depressing.
Twenty years since I’ve been here, and I know why I left.
But it’s my home town, where I fell in love for the first time.
I wander down High Street, and my heart leaps.
She is coming out of a café with a good-looking guy, arms linked.
Her smile tells me that, even at this distance, she recognises me.
I cross over, say hello.
How’s your mum, I ask.
They look at each other.
Not long now, he says, and she nods.
This place’s still a dump, she says, taking my hand. Let’s go home.
Hometown by Robert Kirkendall
“Where’s the old UA Cinema?”
“Closed about twenty years ago.”
“Too bad, saw a lot of cheap movies there.”
“We sure did. Now it’s a church.”
“Really. How about Grocery Village?”
“It’s now some place that sells deck chairs and barbecues.”
“So where do people buy food, the Safeway down the street?”
“That Safeway moved a mile north into a bigger location.”
“On the last patch of open land?”
“So what’s left?”
“Not much, but it’ll always be our hometown, even though it doesn’t much resemble what it was.”
“Time marched on… but at least we have memories.”
No One’s Hometown by FloridaBorne
Archeological digs take years. It’s not a profession for the instant gratification crowd. Many a student chose to pursue another field after twelve hours of work just to nudge an intact jawbone out of its stone prison.
“What have we learned about migration in the Americas so far?” I asked.
“This country wasn’t stolen from the indigenous people,” a girl of twenty replied. “Ownership belongs to the strongest.”
“We’ve discovered European tools 26,000 years old,” I said. “Asian tribes moved here 15,500 years ago.”
“Asians eradicated Europeans, then Europeans eradicated Native Americans?”
Finally… understanding! “Welcome to human nature 101.”
Congrats to all but Homecoming Queens and Kings crowns to Norah, Kerry, Hugh, Jenne, Donna and Ceayr.
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Thanks for sharing crowns, Doug!
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I love your story, Charli!
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You’re welcome, Charli!