Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.
We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Stacking Stones by Norah Colvin
Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.
“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.
“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”
His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”
“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”
“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”
“How high has he got?”
“How far does he want to get?”
Her Favorite Memory by Scott Bailey
One summer, Mom and me spent a week at the “Tip of the Thumb,” Port Austin, Michigan. At a state park on the pebbly shore of Lake Huron, Mom spread a blanket while I played in the cool water and stacked stones on the shore line. To warm up a little, I sat next to her and she put her arm around me. We laughed when she said my toes looked like little pink raisins. It was always sunny and warm on that blanket. Eighty years later, and not a day goes by I don’t think about that day.
A Local Mystery by Nancy Brady
It’s not private, but this public beach was tucked away, a hidden treasure. Teens, especially, enjoyed the beach; on summer nights, they’d head there, start a bonfire, and chill with friends. One teen had always been fascinated with building things. As a toddler, Marco played with blocks. As a boy, he loved building things with Lego. So naturally, whenever Marco went to the beach, he’d gather stones together and build a tower. After learning about them, Marco built his first Inukshuk. When the rock tower was destroyed, he returned, resurrecting his Inukshuk. Marco secretly built them day after day.
The Trail Home by Gary A. Wilson
“Oh – thank God!
“Ruthie, sit with Grandpa while I catch my breath.
“It’s my fault we got lost, Sweetheart. I used to know these trails, but I’m not young anymore. Now – they all look alike.
“Here – let me dry those tears.
“Look – your mother has saved us. See that stack of stones? I showed her how to do that and send a message. We’ve seen other stacks, but that one is hers and her message is clear.
“It’s that one colored stone in the middle, unlike the others. She’s telling us to take this trail to find home.”
Disappeared 22×2 (1-2) by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Slow down, girls!” called Bethany. The Twins raced past the sign memorializing the 1937 disaster, scrambled up the limestone incline, and disappeared onto a deep shelf in the cliff.
Eloise dug her tennies into whatever foothold she could find, pulling herself past Bethany and onto the ledge. “Hold it right there, you two. We’re not leaving Mom behind.”
Bethany cursed her sandals, though they were casual Friday wear, pulling herself up beside her three daughters. “How do you know where to go?” she panted.
“Shadowman said look for the stone cairn, two right turns past the Speakeasy escape vent!”
Disappeared 22×2 (2-2) by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“We gotta hurry. Andrew just got burned and he’s half-spelled!” Chuckie pulled Bethany to her feet.
“If he says those words, we can’t bring him back!” Ducks yanked on Eloise.
“Who the hell is Shadowman?!” snapped Eloise. “Is he another pervert from your dad’s…”
The twins froze, horrified. “Language…” They looked sidewise at Bethany.
“Oh screw that,” Bethany brushed the sand off her feet and drew a calming breath. “If Andrew’s in trouble, we’ve got to help him.”
Bethany’s heart pounded as she squeezed through the cold cave entrance. “Flashlight, Eloise. Now where is this cairn? You girls lead.”
The Fairy Stone by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Grandmother, what’s the stone with the hole in it?”
“That’s a fairy stone, Granddaughter. If you peer through the hole in the stone, you’ll see into the Kingdom of the Fae.”
“How did it get a hole in it?”
“Moving water erodes a hole in the stone.”
“Okay, so why are we stacking these stones in a pile?”
“Granddaughter, we leave this cairn of stones to warn others of this magical place. Take the fairy stone with you and use it as a talisman against the evil eye.”
The tree dryads rustled their verdant leaves in approval.
New Direction? (Spot On?) by JulesPaige
Reigns like bleached silence
Balanced there like that stone cairn
Beyond the gates’ view
Since Gertie had gifted the secret garden to Jane, she had gone there at various times of the day. Always building another stack of stones in memory of what she had lost. One morning a heron came to the spring that always seemed to remain in the shadows.
The heron slowly walked towards the back green ivy covered gates, nodded, then flew off. Jane hadn’t noticed the hidden words. After gently pulling some ivy away she read; THE WAY.
Open Sezme by Scott Bailey
“If I stack these stones in just the right order using just the right stones, the individual frequencies of each stone will combine to form a specific ‘word’ or ‘key’ and the boulder sealing the entrance to the cave will hear that and move away.”
“You get that, right? Everything has at least some measure of natural frequency and by blending them just right, a language of sorts is created.”
“There, the last stone is on top, I think I feel something happening. The stones are vibrating! The boulder is moving away!”
“Come on Lassie, our treasure awaits us!”
Secret of the Stones by Hugh W. Roberts
“These stacked stones are where I buried Fluffy.
When I cried, Fluffy comforted me.
When I had nobody to talk to, Fluffy would always listen.
He was a big part of my life, but he shouldn’t have told me to keep our secret.
Things got a bit out of hand when I told my teacher, Mrs Price, the secret.
Fluffy got angry, so I had to kill him.
Now I come to the stacked stones and talk to him every day.
It’s a good job. Fluffy is only an imaginary friend; otherwise, we’d both be in lots of trouble.”
Granite Grumbles and Other Rocky Moments After WW2 by Geoff Le Pard
Little Tittweaking’s survival depended on Herb Garden’s emetic gorse-flower cordial and Rocky Outcrop’s bespoke cairns. Returning soldiers had a Hobson’s choice: be perforated picking gorse-flowers or suffer from a condition known as Outcrop Flat finger from building untoppable stone pyramids. Neither business survived. Herb left to become a peripatetic priest, while Outcrop shut his factory after a strike – known locally as the Cairn Mutiny. Questioned what he intended doing with all the left over stone and how he’d make money in future, he told the interviewer not to worry as he planned on making mullions.
Who’s Afraid? by Michael Fishman
An armchair historian, I sit with others like myself at Porkey’s eating Danish, sipping coffee, and remembering the invasion of Boarsville. The invader, a shaggy beast, filled his mammoth lungs and blew Boarsvillian houses made of sticks and straw to dust and ate the inhabitants. Three survivors huddled in the last house in Boarsville. A sturdy house of brick and stones that was impervious to the invader’s powerful breath. Exhausted and breathless, the invader took one last breath, wheezed, and dropped to the ground. The survivors poked him with a stick, then summarily skinned, seasoned, cooked and ate him.
Author’s Note: With thanks to James Halliwell-Phillips
History Stacked Against Us by D. Avery
“I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with these larger stones.”
“I have no idea what you’re going to do with any of these rocks Gramps.”
“Getting ready. These here? Perfect for chucking by hand. These ones? They’ll fit in a slingshot.”
“Oh. Then how about a catapult for the larger ones? Gramps, are you feuding with Mr. Nelson again?”
“No, that’s done.”
“Then why the piles of stones?”
“You’ve heard of World War I?”
“Yes, and I’ve heard of World War II. What’s that got to do with you stacking rocks?”
“I’m getting ready for World War IV.”
When the Truth Is Revealed, Who Will Be Watching? by Miss Judy
On January 6, 2021 the US Capitol was attacked. Was it an angry mob incited by a Rally or a detailed, organized, planned attack? Who was responsible? A Committee has found the answers. Seven Hearings will reveal their findings and document for history the events leading up to and during that attack. American’s lives have changed. They are tired. The time for truth is now. Hearing 1 presented a Synopsis and previewed testimony. The next six hearings will give details; the case will be built, stone by precarious stone. Truth will be revealed. The World is watching. Are Americans?
The Tower of Babble by Doug Jacquier
The cornerstone of the Tower of Babble that is social media is carved from the rock of truth, with all the inconvenient, pointy and lacerating shards of fact dulled and polished beyond recognition. The walls are the stacked rocks quarried from the heads of tall-tale tellers, with the resulting emptiness used as imaginary mortar. Unsuccessful climbers exit quickly, via the slippery slopes created by throwers of gaslit marbles. The rooftop can only be reached by staircases designed by Escher and there successful climbers will find luxurious couches fashioned from otherwise useless recycled bedrock, from which they gaze upon Hell.
Held Together With Hope by Kerry E.B. Black
Three children gathered at the banks of Russet River. Connie, the eldest at twelve, drew smooth rocks from the mud, wiping them with an antique, embroidered handkerchief. “Pick stones with flat sides,” she instructed her friends Mary and George. “They’ll stack better.”
Building materials selected and cleaned, they closed their eyes.
“We place this first stone to represent faith.” They balanced a second atop, “for friendship,” and a third, “for good health.” From their pockets they drew small, treasured items and rested them atop.
“Accept our sacrifice.” George examined the structures.
“What keeps them from falling?”
Connie smiled. “Hope.”
Teaching by Example by Sue Spitulnik
Michael sat at a strategically placed table, stacking and restacking seven stones until they all stood one on top of another. Then he turned to the female soldier in a wheelchair by the parallel bars watching his every move. “Walking with prosthetics is all about balance.” Ignoring his comment, she pointed at the stones. “That looks like a useless monument.” “It is, to our legs.” “And dancing. And being whole,” she whined. “Your mind’s whole. Embrace being different and flaunt it.” “How long did that take you?” Michael’s eyes twinkled. “Everyone’s different. Success depends on practice. Shall I demonstrate?”
The Game of Sitolia by Ruchira Khanna
“Hurry up, and stack it,” Pran shouted at his pal, trying to pile the stones in order.
Pran’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was slurry as he called, “He is aiming the ball at us. Run if you can’t stack them.”
Jay raised his hands and shouted, “Done!”
“Darn it!” shouted Parv at Vishnu, “Couldn’t you have been two seconds faster? They won since they could stack the stones on time. They get to hit the pile one more time while we’ll have to chase the ball.” he lamented.
“Come on, Parv. It’s just a game; lighten up!”
Un-glued by Reena Saxeena
“Stand away. Those stones can fracture your toe.”
“Don’t worry, Ma’m… the stones will not fall.”
“But I can feel a windstorm brewing.”
I’m in the desert state of Rajasthan, and stone-stacking to build a fence around homes or farms is common practice.
“Have you used glue?”
Back home, I make a candle stand with stacked glass blocks, and use transparent glue. It works.
Years later, I placed a painted glass on a glass-top table.
I’m still trying to unglue it.
The paint acted as glue.
Glass or stone … the difference lies in the glue.
Granma’s Rocks Duane L Herrmann
Granma collected rocks. When she went on a trip, which was only after her children were grown, she would often bring a rock home. Along her flower garden, she had a line of rocks and each rock was different, yet they were all of similar size. The range of colors was amazing. More amazing, she could remember where each rock came from! Some could be stacked, yet we knew not to take them away. They were Granma’s rocks and special. No one else knew where they were from, or which rock was from which trip. Are they still there?
Lost Homestead by Ann Edall-Robson
A trail led her to the base of a hill that turned out to be stacked rocks covered in moss and foliage. Was this the original perimeter of the land the group had been given permission to explore in search of a story? The stone fence ended abruptly, opening an additional chapter of the history surrounding her. In small clearings, stone huts had been built. Their roofs of hand hewn timbers covered with sod had slid into the cavity of the buildings. Their former existence left to the imagination of the observer. The lost homestead hiding in plain sight.
Working Together Tears Down Walls by Frank James
“Why drag me out here?” Barak hollered at Joshua.
“I need your help,” he replied. They stood at piles of stones.
“Too much violence happens outside village walls,” Barak said.
Joshua began stone-stacking.
“Ludacris,” Barak snorted.
“It’ll do more than you know. Stones, please?” Joshua asked.
“Only a fool builds just one wall,” Barak snickered.
Joshua believed, and the pair worked through sweltering heat. Barak looked at Joshua, “Well?”
“It’s the perfect height,” Joshua kneeled.
Joshua peered up, “We built this wall hoping to tear others down.”
Barak prayed, too.
Seven Stones (Pitho) by Sadje
Pitho was a very popular game when I was growing up. Two teams of minimally two players each could play this outdoor game. All you needed was a tennis ball and seven flat stackable stones.
This game involved hitting and scattering the pile of stones with the ball and then trying to put it together again without getting out. It was a wonderful way to run, use excess energy and have lots of fun.
Seeing this photo took me back many decades. We kids were able to entertain ourselves without any gadgets or devices.
Beautiful, fun-filled youthful days!
The Wrong Turn by Bill Engleson
We’d gotten turned around. Trails crisscrossing, the sun teasing us with bright splashes, greens, greys, yellows, crazy fiery colors zipping in and out of the tall trees, a kaleidoscope of shooting stars blazing into our eyes, hurting our eyes.
“A day hike,” Langston had said. “What could go wrong!”
Nothing did really, except we were lost.
Langston stared at the Forest Service map he’d downloaded. “It may be dated,” he finally conceded.
And then we saw the stacked stones. Moss layered. A scrawled note in cellophane. Lost! Starving! FAREWELL! These woods are hell- John and Julia, May 4, 1968.
Unturned (Part I) by D. Avery
“What’s it Look like I’m doin Pal?”
“Looks like ya’ve got a heap a stones an now yer stackin em jist so, Kid.”
“Buildin a wall, Pal.”
“On Carrot Ranch?! Someone there is thet don’t love a wall.”
“Buildin four walls. Gotta pen up Curly, she’s gittin inta everthin lately.”
“Ah! To a piggery, go!”
“Climb outta the Poet Tree an hep me Pal.”
“Nah. Injoyin this vantage point. Ya seem centered Kid.”
“It is satisfyin, workin with stone.”
“Surrouned by peace?”
“Them wall’s gittin real high Kid. Ain’t no way Curly’ll git out.”
Unturned (Part II) by D. Avery
“Hey Kid! Whilst ya been buildin thet pig pen, I penned a buckaroo-ku up here in the ol Poet Tree:
when ya build yer walls
stones stacked from the inside out
leave an openin
stones unturned keep Kid penned in
no key fer a gate ain’t there
“Heehee! Kid ya built thet pen aroun yersef with no openin!”
“Tanka very much fer watchin me do it Pal. Now git me out.”
“I’ll think on it. Here’s Doc Ranger. Mebbe she kin hep ya outta yer enclosure.”
“I can try, but Kid you have to really want to get out.”
Unturned (Part III) by D. Avery
“Why a course I wanna git outta this stone stacked inclosure Doc Ranger. Why wouldn’t I?”
‘That, Kid, in the final analysis, is the key question. How do you feel in there?”
“Feel trapped Kid?”
“Didn’t feel trapped til ya brought it ta my ‘tention Pal. No, I was injoyin stackin stones. Was admirin the patterns of the walls. Feels comfterble in here.”
“Kid yer stonewallin. Yer trapped in yer new pig pen. A stuck Kid.”
“Kid, what are you escaping by penning yourself away?”
“Jist gimme a pen, Doc, so’s I kin write myself outta here.”
Thanks for inclusion
Every contributor makes the collection a whole, Sadje! I enjoyed learning about Pitho and how you brought me into the moment with the youngsters playing.
Thanks Denise. Always a pleasure to join in
Don’t know if you’ve have heard the expression “rainin’ like a cow p***ing on a flat rock” but I thought these particular pieces of micturition were expressed by rock stars. 😊
Scott – We laughed when she said my toes looked like little pink raisins.
Gary – “It’s that one colored stone in the middle, unlike the others. She’s telling us to take this trail to find home.”
Colleen – The tree dryads rustled their verdant leaves in approval.
Jules – Gray heron Standing still Balanced there like that stone cairn
Hugh – Fluffy is only an imaginary friend; otherwise, we’d both be in lots of trouble
Geoff – and his ambitious millionaire
Michael – The survivors poked him with a stick, then summarily skinned, seasoned, cooked and ate him.
D – “I’m getting ready for World War IV.”
Ruchira – “Come on, Parv. It’s just a game; lighten up!”
Ann – The lost homestead hiding in plain sight.
Bill – “A day hike,” Langston had said. “What could go wrong!”
Seriously, Doug — that’s an expression in Australia?! ‘Cause that was a westernism I grew up with and I’m remembering a story about a city slicker who came to the ranch and had to pee outside like the rest of the cowpokes but didn’t have the sense to not be like a cow. One of those stories I’ve had stuck in the attic of my mind. Rock stars! Ha!
And, I want to point out that you are an excellent writer because one, you write weekly, and two, you take time to discern the writing you read. Your Tower of Babble takes the original allegory and applies it to modern communication, showing monstrosity without ever saying so. The hellscape, the climb, and the construction are written as superbly as a master carves marble.
You’re right, it’s an expression I came across many years ago about rural American slang. That one, along with ‘dumber than a bag full of hammers’, somehow stuck. To trade local jokes, a Texan braggart who had the biggest of everything was visiting an Australian farmer when a kangaroo bounded in front of them. ‘What the hell was that?’ said the Texan. The Aussie farmer replied ‘Grasshoppers are bad this year.’
Seriously, I deeply appreciate your superlative words about my Tower of Babble. They’re what every writer dreams of and so rarely hears.
Thanks Doug. I appricate your summary, and visit. I enjoyed your piece too.
Being a fan of Escher… I can picture clearly that image.
PS Your link goes to your blog not your story – I was going to leave another comment there for you – but I can find it your blog… I looked in prompted stories and stories… and couldn’t find it.
Simple answer: I don’t always post my contributions on my blog in case I want to use them elsewhere because some idiot publishers count that as having been published.
Gotcha. Thanks. Sometimes I just mark posts private or password protected. Thanks for letting me know. I try to read when I can. It’s been a busy week here with some house repair in progress.
[…] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Stacking Stones“ collection from last week. And there’s always the Ranch Yarns with Kid and Pal’s […]
Great stories, with lots of variety. A couple things stand out for me this week, one is Garys’ trail marker stone stack. I like how he brought the middle generation into the story without actually having her there. That, and the sentiment of finding my way home, I always found that to be very powerful.
Next was Dougs’ Tower of Babble. Wow, that’s some fancy writing’ (and all that other stuff Charli said about it)! Maybe one day I’ll be able to write like that, but until then, it’s nice to read such good craft.
Thank you, Scott. Deeply appreciated, I assure you.
There’s wit and wisdom, humor and hope, stacked in these fine flashes. Call them inukshuks or call them cairns, everyone found their way as they went where the prompt led. And here we are, at another fine collection of stories at the Ranch.
I read ’em all – Some I visited. I like the way Doug lines up everyone. I appriciate it.
I’m thinking of doing something like that or at least trying to visit more folks each week.
We just had a minor home disaster…(inside water damage…) Insurance will take care of most of the repairs.
I always learn something new with the different stories and views. Thanks everyone!
Just for fun… “Texas park earns Guinness record with 24,459 painted pebbles…” SEPT. 9, 2021 while it may be old news I just read about this the other day and while they weren’t stacked… the record sure stacked up!!
[…] The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Stacking Stones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot […]
Another great week of stories with such variety; they sure stack up. I am always impressive with the imaginations that produce these stories. ~nan
should be “I am always impressed.” I hate typos….especially mine.
[…] https://carrotranch.com Hosted by Charli MillsWelcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories based on the visual prompt above. https://carrotranch.com/2022/06/16/stacking-stone-collection/ […]
Late entry! 😊
These stones were not rocks. They were pure gems. As always, I was totally amazed at the variety. I learned some new words and some new games and got to see the world through others’ eyes. A fine collection. Thank you everyone. I read and enjoyed them all.