You will be surprised to find what’s across the water.

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.

Can They See Me? by Michael Fishman

Crisp October morning. Steam fog rises and swirls like smoke over the marsh. The wispy veil slowly moves across the water following the sun’s lead while a group of Canada Geese, hidden in the cattails and bulrush, honk and bark.

I see faces in the swirling steam. Faces of loved ones long gone. Can they see me?

The sun rises, the air warms; the steam fog slowly melts.

If I knew it to be true that we see those who have moved on in an afterlife, I’d close my eyes and lie down now.

I miss you that much.


A Matter Of Life And Death by Hugh Roberts

Holding on to Richard, Adrian looked out across the water.

“I told you I’d come back as a cat,” laughed Richard, “so I’m not keen being by the water.”

“But we promised we’d come to Brighton beach, ride the carousel and look out across the water on this date every year. Why wouldn’t we come this year?”

“Because it’s still too soon. Grief left empty-handed when you opened the door and let me in, but the answer to your future lays across the water.”

“But I can’t swim.”

“Who said anything about swimming to your future?” echoed Richards’s voice.


The Middle of a Lake by Donna Matthews

They find themselves in the middle of the lake.

Just that morning, they were arguing again over the stupidest thing…a dirty cup left in the sink. When did their conversations become so hard?

Now, here they are…quiet…lines in the water and lost in their separate thoughts. This unspeaking worse than fighting.

Her reverie’s broken by a sudden drop in temperature and wind on her face. Looking across the water, the sky darkening a deep green, a storm approaching. She chuckles at the irony of this mirror of nature on her marriage. Bring it, she thinks…she’s done with this silence.


The Wind by C. E. Ayr

I arrive at the headland, exhausted.
The wind-driven snow in my face has made the trip long and hazardous.
These hills can be dangerous even in calm weather.
Across the water I see the lights of home.
Where she is, with the children, my love, and my life.
Not far by boat, but I am on foot.
Another fourteen miles hard trek.
Suddenly the wind lifts again, and I am instantly alert.
My hunter’s senses are keen.
Something is not right.
Bad tidings sweep across the bay.
The sound of misery.
The scent of fear.
The smell of blood.


Short Story to Rouse Your Imagination by Myrna Migala

Arriving finally at the shore of a large lake, the children were excited. “We can see all the way across the water,” they said!

“Look, see that home. It looks so tall and scary.”

“There is a footpath, and we can walk all around the lake to the other side; what an adventure. We will pack a lunch and go tomorrow.”

They followed the path the next day; within a few hours, they were in front of that large home, now looking across the water to where they came.

“Look! Across the water, there is that scary house again!”


Across the Water by Sue Spitulnik

Who is it
Looking across the water

The fisherman searches for a set of concentric circles
Showing him the fish

The boater gauges the choppiness
Whether he’s in for a rough ride or not

The new skier enjoys smooth glass
It’s easier to maneuver behind the boat

The child jumps in delighted and unafraid
Not caring about the temperature

The skin diver goes below the surface
Enjoying the beauty and quiet

The bird takes advantage of the bugs
Hovering at dawn and dusk

The Vietnam veteran stares at the surface
Remembering bamboo straws that allowed submerged enemies to


Styx and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann

His nails were dark and sharp, spreading before him as he stretched first one paw, then the other. He backed further under the Juniper hedge.

She should’ve stayed home, not taken the canoe across the water.

He’d felt the storm coming, and had refused to board with her. She’d laughed, secured her furs for trade, and pushed off, waving her paddle before turning toward the far shore.

Rain was relentlessly cruel. Thunder pierced his sensitive ears. Waves crashed cloudy red, tumbling pebbles.

 Nightfall, pressing in, might calm the storm. He’d wait here for her.

 She always came back home.


Down East by D. Avery

When her husband left she was most concerned about retrieving the boat. 

She hasn’t run the boat for years now, has her groceries delivered dockside every other Thursday. Told Jeb she’d understand him being late because of rough weather, but if he ever showed up early or out of the blue she’d tan him. 

She’d be polite when he delivered, just; said ‘thank you’ then ‘have a good one’; his signal to go. Jeb didn’t even cut the engine.

Was Jeb of course that found her, sprawled on her rocky shores as if still looking beseechingly across the water.


Her Lover Returns by Joane Fisher

Her love was across the water. She walked along the beach counting the days until his return. One day word reached her that his ship sunk and was lost beneath the waves. She grieved, wishing for his return.

One night on the beach she saw him: his hair was now seaweed and his skin was a pallid green thinly stretched over his bones, but it was definitely him.

“My love!” he croaked, holding out his arms. She hugged him, but his embrace was so tight she could hardly breathe or break free as he dragged her under the waves.


Is He Dead or Alive by Miss Judy

The cottage was cozy and warm, the porch perfect for unwinding. A wine and cheese gift basket welcomed her. Exhausted, Carrie was glad to be in her homeaway home. She understood her mission, knew her target, nothing left to be done tonight.

Grabbing a glass and the wine, she retired to the porch. Lights flickered across the water but not his. Had he arrived? Lulled by the quiet and warmed by the wine, Carrie fell asleep.

BANG! flashes of light shattered Carrie’s sleep. Across the water his house was ablaze. She has to know, “Is he dead or alive?”


The Tradewater by H.R.R. Gorman

Across the water is a country of luxury. My family loads our keelboat with goods and drags a raft of timber behind us. Across the river we float, trickling down to the exotic city where we trade.

Our family trades logs for some silk, corn for new shoes, and furs for sugar. We sell the raft to lighten the load back upriver.

I ask Pa, “Why do they trade their riches for our poor goods?”

Pa pushes the keel. “They live in a desert. To them, we’re the rich ones, but we’re all rich once we’ve shared our treasures.”


Crossings by D. Avery

When Epenow was taken across the water he saw how the English are. He used their words, spoke of gold so the English would return him to Noepe where he escaped. Epenow is their enemy. He became sachem of his people.
Epenow saw that I know the English too, was wary about how I was with Dermer.
Another English ship came. Many people were murdered. When Dermer returned afterwards Epenow mortally wounded him. I was taken captive and placed with Massassoit.
Now a ship harbors near Patuxet. These people, though weak, will be my strength.
I will become sachem.

*Epenow, of the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard) had been kidnapped and taken to England in 1611, four years prior to Tisquantum’s abduction.


In my mind, I’m there by Anne Goodwin

Across the water, there is no hunger. Across the water, there is no pain. Across the water, there is justice. Across the water, there is peace.

I’d build a boat, but the waves would break it. I’d start to swim, but I’d be food for sharks.

I turn my back against the water. Dressed in rags, I face another arduous day. Sweating, toiling, aching, weeping; if I paused, I’d starve to death.

In my mind, the water freezes. I don my skates and fur-lined coat. With a smile, I glide to freedom. In my mind, there is no fear.


New Worlds by Rebecca Glaessner

Across the water, something glistened. Had he finally found it?

Racing, stumbling through waves, he slipped. The water dragged him under. He kicked and thrashed for an age.

Ever sinking, tired now. He’d searched for nothing.

A voice, otherworldly and infinite, reached him beneath the river’s roar, “fight, human.”

One final moment, through agony, he gave his last, then stilled.

He gasped, heaved painfully. Air?

He’d finally found it, waiting nearby, whole worlds glistening within. He touched it. It thrummed, infinite, otherworldly. Impressed? Shoulders squared, he disappeared with it, leaving his world behind.

After-all, he hadn’t fought for nothing.


Water Initiation by Charli Mills

Seele’s initiation to Monitor Creek came in the summer of 1975. Hot asphalt burned the tender pads of her feet. Town kids rolled truck innertubes along the highway, Seele trailing reluctantly. Her Aunt Bonnie suggested she make friends. Did these local kids have iron feet? The cool rushing water soothed until Seele pushed off the edge to follow the others. Rapids grabbed her innertube, swelling over a jumble of hidden rocks, spinning her backward, and slamming into boulders. Rubber bounced, plunged, and rose. At the bridge they all got out. Seele couldn’t wait to go across the water again.


Rainbow Flotilla by Norah Colvin

She wrote a message on each piece of paper and folded them into tiny boats. At the lake, she launched them from the bank, then watched the rainbow flotilla sail across the water. Curious ducks investigated, capsizing one or two, but the rest sailed on. A turtle popped up, knocking one off-course. It smashed on the rocks, but the rest sailed on. A dragonfly alighted on one, enjoying the free ride as the rest sailed on, finally reaching the other side. A child fished one out and opened it to dry. He read the message, then smiled and waved.


Wood Ducks in the Golf Course Pond by Paula Moyer

There they are, year after year, Jean said to herself as she pondered the wood ducks. On the other side of the fence at the end of my block. The golf course pond was where, each spring, a mother wood duck brought her hatchling into the water. And there they glided, across the water as smoothly as skaters on ice, the little caravan of mother and ducklings. She had her “ducks in a row.” Under the water was the messy part, legs churning, making it all work. Just like me, Jean thought. The mess is underneath.


Kolaba Fort, Alibag by Reena Saxena

Silly me! I led my colleagues to a fort in between the sea, without checking high tide timings.

And there we were …. stuck in the fort for the entire day, because we couldn’t go across the water to reach shore. Luckily for us, there was a feast on in the temple inside. They served us lunch at a nominal price.

The waves still looked daunting at 6 pm. Again, the locals came to our rescue and a 10-year old helped us navigate the waters to reach the shore.

What a blissful feeling it was to touch the ground again!


My Magical Creeks by Duane L Herrmann

My tiny piece of land has two creeks that join together. They are damned upstream, so they don’t always carry water. Sometimes one, or the other, or even both, have water. It ‘s magical when they do. When there is enough water, it gurgles over the rocks causing the creek to sing. Because this isn’t constant, it is more magical and special than otherwise. I would like to listen for hours, but always there is work to do. I have a path across one with two large, flat rocks. When water is running, I easily step across the water.


Poe-ssion by Kerry E.B. Black

Quaint and curious volumes to ponder
Yet across the water I wander
To find my friend’s lost love Lenore

For he so lost in dreams does linger
That it has quite stilled his fingers
And he writes wise words no more.

‘Tis a fate I can’t abide,
For in his tales I do reside
And hope his muse to restore

In his harried footsteps flounder
Looking for the bard profounder
In the night’s Plutonian shore

Sadness overtakes my searching
A Reaper Grim in gutters lurching
And a Raven quoth, “Nevermore.”

So much more my woe.
My beloved Poe.


Across the Water by FloridaBorne

The son of a Native American and a French-Canadian fur trapper continued his father’s trade, wandering through the wilds of Canada. In Roxton Pond, Vitaline Bernier became smitten with him, marrying the man who impregnated her.

He rarely visited and she only lived long enough to have three children.

There are many Bernier’s buried in the church graveyard. Vitaline is not among them. He never returned after her death.

His son left home at the age of 14, and worked on a cargo ship bound for destinations far across the pond, for Vitaline’s children were never a welcome addition.


The Near End by Jane Aguiar

Our boat inverted unknowingly, we were thrown into the water, darkness came before my eyes and not a single word uttered.

Husband tried to save me, but the water was pulling me away. I held my breath, so that water from the nose and mouth would not get into my stomach, even tried to paddle.

I tried desperately to get across the water, but I started to go under the barge that was anchored. My heart sank, when I saw the end near. Even in that situation, my eyes got wet in the water and I closed my eyes.


Theory of Species X by Simon

It’s dangerous across the water, don’t go to land.

No it’s not. I have practised, I can breath on ground too, it isn’t dangerous.

What if it is?

I’ll survive, we fight monsters everyday undersea, our next level of survival is going to be on land.

You are going to die.

No, you are.

Across the water, it discovered itself. It took different forms, it faced hell and heaven. Today, it took a form of Human, you, me, and everyone around us, is because of that species, challenged itself to change the world.

Theories are not stories, isn’t it?


Beyond the Horizon by Bill Engleson

I do not see the mountains I must cross.

I know that they are there, beautiful obstacles that I will need to traverse to reach my destination.

Even before I set out on this journey, my eyes see only the dream.

The dream to be there.

I will embrace the journey, feast on every stone, every creature along the way.

I am as prepared as could possibly be.

My affairs are in order.

My mission is clear.

My first step will be to walk across the water.

I will begin at the shore.

Once there, I will be free.


Reflections by Doug Jaquier

For us,
all things seem possible when we look across blue water,
planning a thousand buoyant courses.

We do not weigh our stamina against the undertow
nor the wind strength against our craft;
we have enough gods
to warrant speculation.

But there are those who stand upon the solid shore
who are already at the end of their worlds
and our imagined journeys
are their fated drownings.

For them,
sailing into the blue
seems a truly godless journey.

So they sit watching us,
like hermit crabs,
waiting for us to set out,
and picturing life inside our empty shells.


Grandmother by Saifun Hassam

A heron flew across the water. In the early morning, mist drifted among pine, birch, and wild honeysuckle along the creek.

I paused on the weathered, rickety narrow wood bridge across the water. The creek was clear. A few weeks ago, heavy rains turned the waters into a roiling muddy flow. I took a risk on those days, walking on that precarious bridge. The yearning to go across the water was all too powerful, to visit my grandmother’s empty cottage. She was dead now. Her life linked me to other shores, India and Africa. Would I ever go there?


A‘Wake’nings’… by JulesPaige

A ring across the water, circular trips mostly.
Two in manmade lakes.
One where three rivers met.
Curious tours for Ah-ha moments.
Three of the paddlewheel boats out of four –
One was turned into a diner theater –
Permanently docked – the actors
Making moves across the stage
While wait staff made rings around
The tables – for the service of patrons.
Making their own history, memories for me.

Four different states
Settled perhaps by four different sons
(Or daughters… all had mothers).
All have different pages in history,
Different openings to lead and guide.
So it was for those hosted rides…


Across the Water by Robert Kirkendall

The family drove through the mountains then the highway straightened as they approached the seaside town. Their young son was on the edge of the back seat eager to get a better view through the windshield. He felt anticipation as they moved closer to their destination.

They entered the outskirts of town and he tried to look past the buildings as they got closer to the coast. They drove ahead and he finally saw the ocean. He looked across the water gratefully as his view stretched as far as his eyes could see, unlike the valley where he lived.


Smooth Sailing by Annette Rochelle Aben

It was the summer of 1968. The year the Detroit Tigers won the pennant and the year our family bought a pool for our backyard!
The pool store threw in a variety of pool toys as a bonus, one of which was a six-foot Styrofoam surfboard. Temptation got the better of us and as long as our parents were at work…

We used the deck to hold it in place and with a running start, we’d jump onto the board. The force sent us sailing into the opposite pool wall. Oh yeah, we were never bored on that board!


In the Clover by Nancy Brady

Aloysius, the white cat, was running alongside the black horse. The horse leaped over a fence; Aloysius jumped through the slats, and they continued across another open field nearing a swiftly flowing stream.

The horse easily jumped across the water, but Aloysius stopped on the bank.

Aloysius didn’t particularly like getting wet (and what cat does?), but there was no way he could make the lengthy jump the steed did. He didn’t want to use his blue jay feather to fly though.

Standing in green clover, Aloysius wished there was a bridge, and in the wishing, a bridge appeared.


Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Kid! Where ya been? Was worried ya weren’t gonna make it this week.”
“Havin’ the same worry, Pal. Findin’ this anuther tough prompt.”
“Hmm. Figgered ya’d sail with this un, Kid. Or kayak, or swim, or even ride yer hoss across.”
“Yep, they’s plenny a situations could arise. Coulda had the creek rise, mebbe involve Ernie or Curly. But none a that feels right. Have been down ta the creek though, where it pools unner the trees.”
“An’? Catch a story?”
“Nuthin’. Jist set there watchin’ water bugs a-sparklin’ in the sun, skatin’ an’ scurryin’ across the water.”


Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Shift, Pal! The creek is risin’!”
“Thet’s okay Kid, they’s plenny a room fer thet. We’ll be alright. The Ranch is a safe place after all.”
“Curly’s stuck on the far side.”
“Gary Larson’s Far Side? Seems fittin’ fer Curly.”
“No, Pal, she cain’t git back across the water. Come help!”
“Cain’t cross or won’t? Look’t Kid. She’s over there takin’ up with a fam’ly a beavers.”
“Dam! That’s why the creek’s a-risin’.”
“Yep. Yer hoglet’s heppin’ them beavers make a pond. Thet’s good fer all.”
“But… d’ya think she’ll come back? Or has she b’come a lodge member?”


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