Ready to get muddy?
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.
Zen and the Muddle by Jack Keaton
I took my dog, Vivian, out for her morning walk yesterday. Halfway through, she lunged towards another canine across the street. I lost my balance and stepped into a deep mud puddle.
I got angry at Vivian, but it’s on me; I trained her poorly. As the walk continued, I was reminded of what a yoga teacher said at the end of each practice: “May you live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.”
I often wish I could be like that lotus. But it’s a process, and sometimes a muddy shoe prevents you from achieving Zen.
Jackpot by Frank James
“That’s a winner!” The warden yelled as Zeke pulled his giant carrot from the muddy soil. Inmate Zeke grew vegetables for the prison kitchen. His enormous crops became a bedrock for prison life. Zeke also saw mud as freedom. The garden taught him farming and self-worth. It represented responsibility for feeding others. Something he never had.
The garden bolstered desire to change his future. The muck became the foundation for his life. The warden ratified this after taking his carrot to the state fair, returning with a blue ribbon and parole papers.
The warden shook his hand, “Success awaits.”
Mud and Laughter by Sue Spitulnik
Any mud puddle was a golden find when I was a boy. Pictures prove it.
I ended my best high school football game, covered in mud, gleefully holding the winning ball.
I ran miles in Army basic training. Good memories flowed while cleaning mud off my boots.
My Army duties took away time for mud and then my legs.
I rebelled against the prosthetics, preferring a wheelchair.
Waterproof metal legs got my attention. I had to admit they would increase my mobility.
When Jester and I purposely run through sloppy mud puddles, my inner child comes alive with laughter.
Kidnapped by Simon Prathap D
I aimed at my friend with handful of mud.
A strange girl got hit.
I ran to her and helped to clear off the mud.
You look better now. I said
Not beautiful? She asked innocently
Beautiful too, I blushed.
She left her phone unlocked.
It’s me? I asked surprised.
Full of you, my phone loves you, just like my heart does.
Yes, I’m in love with you.
I blushed even more.
Stop blushing, or else I’ll kidnap you right here, she said.
If you are my kidnapper, I’ll keep blushing.
She kidnapped me, as she promised.
A Muddy Conclusion by Norah Colvin
“It’s just mud. It’ll wash off.”
“But it’s everywhere. Those children are unruly. My children would never —”
“And where are your children now?”
“Hmpff!” said the neighbour, stomping home, muttering about impudence, inconsideration and downright rudeness. “You haven’t heard the last of this.”
“Come on,” said the mother. “Let’s get you and the fence cleaned up.”
With buckets, brushes and rags, the children washed the fence. When it was done, they turned on each other. “Bullseye! Got you!” They tussled and tumbled. Laughter filled the air.
The neighbour glowered at the mud-covered children. “Well, I never,” she said.
Still Standing by Missy Lynne
“Well at least I can shower myself now,” she said as she stood in front of the mirror staring at the jagged scars that ran across her chest. Suddenly realizing all that she had overcome. She had been mutilated for the good of her health, rendered temporarily helpless, and exposed to endless pain. But here she was. Scars healed. Still standing. And no, things would not be the same but she was determined to make them better than before. She would step into this new life fresh and free from burden and live in constant rejoicing of everyday forward.
Facedown in the Mud by Charli Mills
Max howled when her ankle buckled, sending her face first into the Keweenaw mud. Rain pounded. The trail morphed into a rivulet. She refused to drown in a mud puddle. She pushed up; her upper body still Marine-strong. That blasted leg. Useless foot. Unreliable ankle. Her second howl had nothing to do with unhealable soft tissue. Without her unit, without a purpose, life sucked. Embrace the suck. She managed to rise to one knee, the other leg mired. When her dad emerged from the woods, her relief was genuine. Even if he was wearing a wet pink gauze skirt.
Aloysius Embraces the Mud by Nancy Brady
Every so often, Aloysius would wander down to the farm where the pigs lived. He considered those pigs his friends.
The pigs, which Aloysius saved, loved wallowing in the mud especially if it was hot. That’s what they were doing when Aloysius arrived. The pigs invited the white cat into joining them, but Aloysius declined.
The mud looked messy and sticky. Aloysius was a fastidious feline, and he didn’t want to clean the mud off his fur afterwards.
When a piglet fell into the puddle and began to flail around, however, Aloysius willingly jumped in, pulling the piglet out.
From Mud by Colleen M. Chesebro
Breathe in the daffodil-yellow moonshine glow
as dawn’s sacred songs wander like a sweet water stream
through the dark-colored rocks to the rapids below,
where magic smolders in the beauty of the moment.
Wander deep inside this thick verdant forest garden
where the moss-rock green spirit world
meets the darkness with pure light,
where sun sweetened songs play in harmony
as peaceful night moon lichen blooms
in a fertile Eden sanctuary,
born from spring rains and winter’s mud.
Therein lies the enigma of nature’s rebirth…
each periodic cycle originates from soil and moisture
and terminates with air and fire.
What’s buried in the thick mud?
Time was running out.
It wouldn’t be long before he got found out.
Burying it, he quickly removed any signs of disturbance.
The heavy rain and thunder didn’t help.
With mud stuck to his hair, his clothes, and over his hands, even his fingernails would give the game away.
Although the mud had swallowed up the object, he couldn’t relax.
“Adrian!” exclaimed Richard. “I’m home.”
Just in time, thought Adrian, as he lay a folk next to a tea plate.
When Richard cut into a slice of chocolate mud cake with the folk and discovered the ring, he’d propose.
Was There Love Beneath the Dirt, or Indifference? by Anne Goodwin
The memory was muddied, all detail obscured by layers of grime. A brother, a sister, an indistinct gift. He’d tried to restore it, but the water was fouled with boarding-school bullying. The cloths frayed by military constraints. Later, with a cupboard full of fancy cleaning products, Henry hesitated to use them. Afraid of what he’d find underneath.
Was there love beneath the dirt, or indifference? Was there heart behind the promise as yet unfulfilled? Was the muck an oyster shell with a pearl inside it? Or were appearances undeceiving and it was it simply what it looked like: trash?
Just Not Today by Donna Matthews
Rifling through my backpack, looking for a piece of mail I KNOW I put in here, and I pull out my brother’s folder instead. The folder containing all the will and lawyer info, bills from collectors, landlord notices, and such.
I decide I’m tired of it sneaking up on me like that, so I throw it on the desk where it now lies under the weight of other papers…
Just not today papers.
After the denial, it was quicksand. Now it’s not so much drowning as slogging through mud. Legs, arms heavy. His final affairs impossible to move along.
Dire Straits? by JulesPaige
How can good mud dare
Claim with instructions to rinse and repeat
Promise to make ones face fair
Seems to me to be a cheat
Can a pretty face compare
To a day belonging to a summer’s retreat?
I’ve worked so hard to place every hair
Yet, all strands flare, is this defeat?
I flutter and preen
To impress the beau
My true self remains unseen
Hidden, so deep, below
I cry when tossed for the beauty queen
I’d love a pond of mud to swallow…
Her true personality is quite mean!
Should I take back the rebounding fellow?
Dreamware Beta by Rebecca Glaessner
Sweat made my clothes stick. I finally found him in the greenhouse.
“Need help?” he said… unsure.
I slogged through muddy thoughts; bath, dinner- produce still low; new fertiliser, new supplier?
He waited, annoyed.
“I’m fine,” I said, words too stuck. I left.
That night I dreamed of tangible thoughts, tendrils reaching, seeking connection. He welcomed them, and I saw myself through his eyes, but without anger, just-
Early next morning, he rolled over, “you finally tried that new neural-dreamware, how’d it go?”
“Uh, I-” I smirked, “love you too?”
He grinned, “never doubted it, muddiness and all.”
Truth at 2 a.m. by Paula Moyer
For years, the draft’s middle section had bothered Jean. Other writers read it — a saga of her marriage’s abuse and betrayal — and said, “So therapeutic!”
Ugh. Jean sighed and thought, “We don’t publish our therapy.” Something else was underneath, needing to surface.
That night at 2 a.m., Jean opened her laptop, stared at the end of the section. There it was. Under the mud. The brilliant gem of purpose.
“This is for the other Jeans.” The book could give courage.
The difference between liking the Resurrection and living It. She hit return twice. Typed out, “For all the Jeans.”
Not Mr Nice Guy by Michael Fishman
Craig decided years ago he wouldn’t grow old gracefully.
Daily walks, the gym for cardio and weights, a low-fat diet. Pills and powders, and his treasure: testosterone. His skin care routine set him back nearly $100 a month. He had Just for Men on auto-ship.
Craig left his first wife when she gained weight, his second when she let her hair go gray. He advertised for his third to be 5-10 years younger than himself.
He had no relevant thoughts as he stood in front of the mirror and peeled off the charcoal mud mask and washed his face.
Can’t Help It by Sam ‘Goldie’ Kirk
“You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” Bob asked rhetorically while unloading groceries from the car. He knew his wife took no prisoners.
Bridget looked up from the side mirror. Her makeup still flawless. “What?” she asked, shocked.
Bob knew better than to answer.
“That bitch thought she could cut in front of us. Someone had to teach her some manners!” Bridget shrieked. Her cheeks crimson with fury.
“Like pig to mud,” Bob uttered under his breath.
“Mud? Here’s some for you, PIG,” Bridget shouted as she picked up a handful of mud and slung it at her husband.
Mud Slinging by Kerry E.B. Black
Her head of PR threw the paper, disgusted. “This is going to ruin us.”
A gentle smile touched her lips. “You worry too much.”
“No, I worry the right amount.” He found a news outlet on his smartphone. “This story’s everywhere.” He pulled at his tie, as though loosening it would release the grip of the media.
She set her hand on his shoulder. “We knew when we entered the race our opponents would rake as much mud as they could find.”
“This’ll kill your campaign.” He swallowed, face read. “Aren’t you worried?”
“No. I trust the electorate process.”
Mud by Doug Jacquier
“Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”
Claudius watched the daily parade of insanity pass by until incredulity died within him and he could but sit, glazed-eyed, and pray for early deliverance. What could possibly save the human race from a world where logic was considered madness, everything was a commodity and compassion had been sent to the museum for children to laugh at, along with the other moral antiquities? His only comfort was that such a society would soon implode under the weight of its iniquity and sink into the mud of history and he would do all that he could to hasten that moment.
“Double, Double, Toil and Trouble”(~ Shakespeare) by Saiffun Hassam
Will struggled to write a play about Scottish Kings and murder most foul. His thoughts mired in mud, he walked in the forest, silvery in the moonlight.
In a clearing, he saw a cauldron over a fire. Three witches stirred a potent brew of hemlock, leaves of yew, dragon scales. The Fae fled deep into the forest, away from the bewitching spell rising from the cauldron.
Will listened to the chant:
“Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble”.
In his mind, he saw the story of Macbeth, greed for power, hands stained with blood, and madness.
Late Night Mudslide by Liz Husebye Hartmann
The dirt road that stretched into the darkness was flooded. Their car, tire flattened, windshield cracked and leaking, had slid into the ditch.
“You’re sure this is it?”
Thunder rumbled an ominous warning growl.
“Mapquest says yes, Leonard.”
“What was the address again?” Dave cocked a thick eyebrow, and jumped as lightning seared and split a tree not more than ten feet away.
“Well, at least I can read the work order now,” Leonard tipped a soggy paper toward the burning tree. “It’s 666 Eldritch Lane.”
“OK, that’s the place,” Dave sighed. “I really hate working for Geek Wizards®.”
Mud by FloridaBorne
“We’ve found the planet! Captain Aliston shouted,” overjoyed at the discovery.
His second in command said, “Perhaps we should observe their rituals prior to disembarking.”
“June,” he chuckled. “You Earthers are a suspicious lot.”
“I’ll watch the ship so that you and your brother can embrace the eternal mud pit.”
“That’s acceptable,” Aliston said.
The reptilian twins entered their small shuttle with full armament. The insectoids greeted them, happy to show off their eternal mud pit. Peace…sleep. Minutes later, the insectoids tore apart the brother’s comatose bodies.
June grinned. “They should have done their research before giving me command.”
Stuck in the Mud by Joanne Fisher
I’m only on this godforsaken planet because I was sent here. Why anyone would actually want to live here escapes me. Frankly it stank, large areas were covered in mud, but not the mud you would find anywhere else.
One time I got stuck in it. It was a metre deep. I hoped someone might find me before I died of hunger or thirst. Luckily a search party rescued me. How many others had also got stuck, but never been found? I was so glad to see the settlement again. Though I saw quite an amazing sunset out there.
Daughter of the Earth by Reena Saxena
Mother Earth gifted him a daughter. King Janak always knew she’ll ultimately return, just like she emerged in a pot – a cute baby asking to be reared – but aware all the time she is the Mother.
He did his best to raise her like a princess, and married her to a Prince. But fate took her to the forests from the palace. Stories about womanhood and fairness of the patriarchy emanated from her journey, stories that still make people ponder what is right.
The story of Sita will never end, just raise questions. She was born to do that.
Mud Cake Recipe by Norah Colvin
How to Make Mud Cake
A patch of loose soil
A generous supply of water from the sky, hose or bucket
Rays of sunlight
A sprinkle of imagination
A torrent of laughter
Add enough water to soak the soil. It must be wet, not moist.
Stomp until well-mixed with no visible remnants of dry soil.
Squish the mush by hand until the hands are completely encased.
Spread by hand the gooey mixture over face, hair and clothing until well covered.
Terrorise the neighbourhood.
Leave in place until dry in the sun and the mud cakes.
Slip Sliding (Part I) by D. Avery
“Marge, Nick’s here! Does he have to stay?”
“I was here first Ilene.”
“How can that be? You just got here.”
“I mean I was here, you know, in this town, working and hanging out with Marge and Nard and Lloyd, well before you showed up.”
“I know why I don’t like you Nick, but I can’t figure out why you don’t like me.”
“Forget about it. Tell me how you lost your leg.”
“Who said it’s lost?”
“Come on, what happened?”
“Mud wrestling gone bad.”
“What? Really? How’s that happen?”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”
Slip Sliding (Part II) by D. Avery
“You two stop your bickering or you’re both going home.”
“Yes Marge. Ok, Ilene, what are you drinking? I’m getting a round.”
“Mudslide, please and thank you.”
“Whoo! Mudslides? Those can be a slippery slope.”
“Naw, they’re nutritious and delicious.”
Nick put aside his beer as well as his animosity and drank mudslides along with Ilene.
“Ilene, you do lean you know,” he slurred. “Tell me again how you lost your leg.”
“What?!” Nick slammed his drink down on the bar, looked down at his legs.
“Torrential rains, slippery slope— wipeout.”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”
Slip Sliding (Part III) by D. Avery
“Seriously, Ilene. What happened to your leg?”
“Enjoying these mudslides Nick? It’s a change from your usual beer diet.”
“They’re definitely delicious and nutritious. And I ain’t feeling any pain. But you’re avoiding the question. What happened to your leg?”
“I’m answering the question. See, you will feel pain. Tomorrow. No, stay the course, Nick, it’s too late now. You’re on that slippery slope. See, I once had such a headache from drinking mudslides I wished for anything to make it go away. The Devil appeared, traded my leg for the headache.”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”
Slip Sliding (Part IV) by D. Avery
Marge and Ernest helped Nick and Ilene out of the bar and into Ernest’s truck with Nick arguing that he could walk home.
“It’s raining Dumb-ass. The way you’re flopping all over the place you’d end up face down in a mud puddle. Get in.”
“Jeez. You’re never like this on beer. Whatever prompted you to drink mudslides?”
“He saw that’s what the cool kids drink,” said Ilene. “Thought it might give him a leg up.”
“Hey! What happened—”
“— to Lloyd tonight?”
“Oh. Lloyd’s looking for my leg.”
“Just pulling your leg.”
Mud Lark by Bill Engleson
‘I’m in a fix.’
‘ ’Bout what?’
“My mind’s all muddled.’
‘I got that. What’s troubling you?’
‘No. My mudder.’
‘Good thing it’s not your mother. I thought she passed.’
‘She did. Years ago. No, like I said, it’s my mudder.’
‘I’m still confused. What’s your mudder?’
‘Oh, sorry. Didn’t I tell you?’
‘Tell me what?’
‘I bought a mudder.’
‘That is…clear as mud. What did you buy?’
‘A mudder. A racehorse. That runs in mud.’
‘You bought a horse? To race in the mud?’
‘Supposed to be a great deal. Might even clean up.’
The Mudflaps of Maine by Madeline Murphy
Mudflats Mema, not mudflaps,” the young girl said. Mema smiled,
They stood on a low cliff looking over the Maine mudflat.
“Come Mema,” said the little girl, grabbing her grandma’s hand and pulling her towards the path. They climbed down, grasping clumps of grass for leverage.
At the bottom, the little girl plopped onto the mud. She pulled off her sandals and wiggled her toes, squishing the mud in between them. She reached over, untying Mema’s sneakers. Mema took the sneakers off and pulled her precious granddaughter to her muddy feet. Off they plodded to search for sea treasures.
Glorious Mud by Faith A. Colburn
When my sister and I were young, we spent every day it was fit to be outside investigating the farm our family owned. Spring was best when the seasonal creek ran under the bridge. We waded in warm, squishy almost-liquid. Soft, viscous ooze squeezed between our wriggling toes and little creatures tickled our legs. Mom gave us a flour sifter to filter whatever lurked hidden in that murky fluid. Imagine our delight when the sieve came out swarming with tiny creatures. We put them in jars where we could see them and watched them grow into toads.
Mud Fun by Duane L Herrmann
When I was very little, 3 or 4, our country driveway had no rock where it met the rural road. Fine dust would settle there. I remember the fascination of my discovery that that amazing mud would ooze up between my bare toes. I loved to watch it do that. I didn’t know I was watching a lesson on vicosity, I just new it was awesome to see mud act that way. When we got gravel the driveway was no fun to walk on, wet or dry, but my father was happy – no more stuck in the mud!
New Questions by Rebecca Glaessner
Mud coated my exosuit boots as I moved toward the day’s co-ordinates. My breath replaced the once-rhythmic wash of waves.
“Water levels still decreasing, decided when you’re returning?”
“Another season won’t hurt,” I glanced at the data, deep activity readings implied microscopic life, “hate to lose ground.”
The receding waters left behind new questions previous researchers hadn’t wanted to ask.
“Too much ground out there to lose.” Seated on opposite ends of the world, our laughter was dry. The comms crackled.
Rust-red soil glistened as I imagined secrets beneath the Martian surface, an expanse of hidden life, watching, waiting.
Leech by Jane Aguiar
The water was released from the small masonry dam to the field to grow vegetables
Once the lake dries up, people flock to catch fish. I also went to catch fish and set my foot in the mud and got stuck there.
The more I tried, the more I got stuck in the mud. Suddenly, I saw something on my leg and thought it was a baby snake and screamed.
My limbs began to tremble with fear. I felt dizzy and fell in the mud. Friends carried me and pulled out the leech which I thought was a snake.
Dirty Story by D. Avery
“Well, Pal, I cert’nly didn’t see this post comin’.”
“Reckon thet’s ‘cause ya got mud in yer eye, Kid. Looks like ya mighta already embraced the muck.”
“Yeah, was fetchin’ sticks fer Curly an’ her beaver friends. But I don’t wanna talk ‘bout that no more. NaNoWriMo? Is Shorty serious?”
“Gonna do it Kid?”
“Yer jist a stick in the mud.”
“Dammed if I am, Pal. I got chores ta tend to. Asides, I ain’t got any novel ideas.”
“That ain’t nuthin’ new. Since ya got yer whine out Kid, a toast— here’s mud in yer eye!”
Got No Story by D. Avery
“Well, Kid, mebbe this mud yer callin’ coffee will motivate yer writin’.”
“I ain’t so worried ‘bout slingin’ mud, Pal. Reckon I kin come up with 99 words in two weeks.”
“Still worryin’ ‘bout NaNoWriMo, Kid?”
“That’s more’n 99-words times 505!”
“So? Thet’s less’n seventeen 99-word flashes a day. Ain’t gotta be perfect neither.”
“All strung t’gether inta one big story! I ain’t gotta prayer.”
“Could be yer premier novel Kid.”
“Thinkin’ thet’s premature thinkin’ Pal.”
“Don’t prescind from this opportun’ty. You kin do this.”
“Much ’preciated Pal, but I cain’t promise prose if I ain’t got a premise.”