A Smear of Jam Collection

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

February 23, 2023

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.

Smear of Jam by Reena Saxena

It’s not a kiss, just a smear of jam
says the head of an unhappy fam
tears in eyes not wiped or noticed
the child moves to solitary confines

says the head of an unhappy fam
don’t spare the rod to spoil the child
the child moves to solitary confines
in her old age, she cries for the fam

don’t spare the rod to spoil the child
It’s not a kiss, just a smear of jam
in her old age, she cries for the fam
tears in eyes not wiped or noticed

It was love, not smear of jam


Nature’s Jam Smearer by Kayla Morrill

I sat watching a woodpecker. His red head and beak worked together to repeatedly hammer at an old tree in my backyard. I thought out loud to him, “Go peck another tree, I like that one!” He continued to eat his breakfast of bugs, unfazed by my words. I sighed and watched nature destroy my favorite tree.

Besides that, the day was nice. Sun out, clouds puffy as incessant hollow echoes moved through the air. Looking at the woodpecker again, I laughed. His head moved so swiftly that he looked like a smear of red jam on the bark.


Breakfast in Faerie by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy went downstairs for breakfast. They saw many others sitting at the tables. Jess ordered some breakfast. A few moments later it was set down in front of them. Jess spread a thin smear of jam across some bread and took a bite. She then looked astonished.

“You have got to try this.” Jess insisted handing the bread to Cindy. She took a bite. It was as if she was eating the ripest and sweetest strawberries she had ever tasted.

“Wow!” Cindy stated. She knew any jam she now ate at home would never taste as good.


Disrupted Plans by Nicole Horlings

Arlo Proudfoot was not very happy.

He had been expecting to have a nice relaxing Saturday afternoon, reading poetry in his garden’s warm afternoon sun, enjoying soft freshly baked bread with a nice thick spread of jam for tea time.

Instead, he had been picked as one of five Hobbit delegates for the multi-race debates discussing recent local dragon activity, spent all day in a dour dwarven hall, and during a rushed, nearly forgotten break, had been given slightly stale toast for tea with only a stingy smear of jam.

If only the curious young dragons would bugger off.


High Tea* by Jenne49

‘Leave the jam alone.’

‘But Mummy, my bread needs jam.’

‘Don’t make me tell you again, John’

He thumps the dish down.

There’s an uneasy pause.

Then a sulky muttering.

‘Don’t see why I can’t put jam on my bread.’

His mother sighs.

‘You’re eating soup, that’s why. Nobody eats jam with soup.’

‘Why not?’

His two sisters snigger.

‘Well why can’t I…’

‘John, don’t push it…’

‘Leave the boy alone, Ellen.’

Everybody looks at Granpa who never speaks unless he has to.

‘The food all ends up in the same place anyway.’

Ronald smirks – and Mother retires, defeated.

*Author’s Note: High Tea – in Scotland the evening meal, generally eaten between 5 and 6 o’clock, is a combination of a hot dish with the elements of afternoon tea – best of both worlds.


All My By Self by Duane L Herrmann

“I did it all my by self,” my baby brother, four years old, proclaimed as he entered the garden behind the barn from the house. He proudly held bread in his hand. Our mother, myself and my sister were working in the garden.

Our mother investigated the bread he was holding. She opened the two slices. In the middle of them was a blob of peanut butter and, on top, a blob of jelly. He had, for the first time, made his own “samwich.”

“You certainly did,” she said as he beamed in pride. He was empowered.


A Smear of Jam by Norah Colvin

Teddy hoped he’d get away with it. His paws were clean and his eyes unblinking as he crossed his heart and hoped – well, what could a teddy bear hope?

Ollie decided to have some fun. He overloaded the slow-thinking Teddy with questions faster than his processing speed.

“Admit it. You ate my jam.”

“Okay.” Teddy crumbled. “How did you know?”

Ollie smiled. “I don’t need to be Sherlock. You’re the only one here. Besides, you’ve a smear of jam on your nose.”

“Sorry, Ollie.”

“Never mind,” said Ollie. “But be honest next time – or hide all evidence.” They laughed.


Band Jam by Pete Fanning

“Smearojam?” Dad asked, turning to me. “That’s the band’s name this week?”


“Hmm, okay.”

I glanced up from my phone. “What? What’s wrong with Smearojam?”

“Nothing. Well, we had Pearl Jam back in my day.”

“Pearl Jam?” I couldn’t tell if he was messing with me. “What does that even mean?”

Dad tapped the steering wheel. “I think it was an aunt, or—”

“Never mind. I knew you wouldn’t get it.”

“Oh, I get it,” he said, pulling into Ben’s driveway. “Pearl Jam was huge.”

“Ugh. Okay, thanks for the ride.”

“Have a good band practice, kid.”


A Smear of Jam by Susan Budig

“I’m not lying. I haven’t touched your precious concoction.”

I stared at my new teenager, incredulous. Does she think I’m stupid?

“You want me to believe you were not in the kitchen all morning and you did not swipe a taste of my submission to the State Fair Culinary Arts Exhibit?”

“Exactly. I was not and I did not.”

“Neshia, you are a bald faced liar,” I can’t help myself as my voice crescendos.

“Whatever,” my daughter rolls her eyes skyward. “You never believe me anyway,” she shoots out like venom.

“Go. Go and look in the mirror, kid.”


Jammy by sweeterthannothing

“Shh, stop giggling he’ll hear you!” Samantha hissed from behind the hand clamped over her beaming grin. 

“I can’t, I can’t stop picturing his face. Is it on display enough?”

The two girls dared a peek around the tree they were crouched behind but the sound of a twig snapping sent them scuttling back, muffling their giggles. 

In the glen of the woods, where the three siblings had built their secret base, James came to a sudden stop, his scream shattered the peace. 

“Is that a body?…”

The girls burst into fits. “It’s a dummy, dummy- covered in jam!”


Pots And Kettles Geoff Le Pard

Middle England is often stereotyped as genteel. The stereotypers have clearly not studied the competitions between rival Women’s Institutes. The bloodiest so far recorded are the Scone Wars between Little Tittweaking and its neighbour, Dollop.This year it was Dollop’s turn to set the challenge: a marmalade infused riparian rusk. The scandal that followed jammed the airways: was a rusk a scone? Dollop said of course it was, accusing their rivals of being jammy dodgers. Little Tittweaking said it had been smeared and it would wipe the floor. It was clear neither side was prepared to take the biscuit.


If Not Jam Then…by Gary Wilson

Orson was enjoying the sunroom warmth when his nurse came in. “Good morning, sir. I have your muffin and tea.”

“Thank you, Peggy. What do we have?”

She whispered like she was delivering a secret treasure. “One of your favorites; cornmeal smeared with elderberry jam.”

He forced a smile. She had again forgotten that covid had stolen his sense of taste.

“Anything else sir?”

“Yes, please bring the aloe for the dry patches on my face.”

“Certainly. I’ll be right back.”

I can’t taste jam, he thought, but my skin can still taste the cool, refreshing nectar of aloe.


Dirty Neckties by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa stood looking at the memorial necktie quilt and wondered why the creator had not tried to clean the neckties. When she read the explanation card it said, “These ties were bought all over the world, where ever we traveled for golf tournaments. I purposely did not try to remove the stains as they reminded me of the meals we had in each location. The light blue paisley tie with the red jam smear stain was the one my husband wore at our son’s wedding. The jam smear was compliments of our granddaughter. It was his favorite dirty necktie.”


Hunger by D. Avery

There was, at least, the familiar comfort of waking in his arms.

Always they had lingered before rising, talking quietly, sharing their dreams. ‘Night dreams or daydreams’ she used to respond. Their daydreams were their shared aspirations. Wanting to do well in their careers; buying a home; having children; growing old together.

But now?

“Tell me your dreams,” he said softly.

“We should get going.”

“Just one thing.”

“Okay. Night dream. There was bread. With jam.”


She left out how she’d gobbled all the bread without sharing.

They gathered their few belongings. She never dreamed they’d be refugees.


The Final Straw by Anne Goodwin

Grace glares at the digits on the dashboard, willing them to turn in reverse. As sweat trickles down her spine she regrets not fixing the aircon; she regrets her leisurely breakfast and second slice of toast. She won’t open the windows: blaring horns and thumping pop have already rocketed her pulse.

Checking her make-up in the rear-view mirror, there’s a smear of jam below the collar of her shirt. Dabbing it with the last of her drinking water simply spreads the stain around.

It’s hopeless! Grace kills the engine, gets out, starts walking. Abandons the car to the jam.


Out of a Jam by Kerry E.B. Black

It started with a smear of jam atop a buttered crumpet, jam so red it rivaled fresh-spilled blood. It fascinated Paul as it settled into the nooks and crannies of the muffin.

Snow White’s mother used drops of blood spilled on fresh snow and a raven’s wing as inspiration for her unborn daughter’s beauty. Paul intended international audiences for his babies’ births.

Paul licked his lips, admiring globs that clung like clots. He conjured zombies and gunshot wounds, a madman’s rampage and a demon’s delights. He’d perfect his recipe for artificial blood before they began their first filming project.


A Smear by writerravenclaw

It looked like a smear of her grandmother’s jam, as she stared at the blood glistening in the moonlight.
Early to the full bloodletting, it was an unexpected find. He shouldn’t have been on the moors at that time of night anyway. Who would be fool enough? With a werewolf on the loose no less.
It was my first roaming, or so they called it. Normally, a stray, injured animal, who ventured out after midnight. This man, as he dragged his victim into the marsh.
A murderer deserved all he got, I thought, as I gently covered her face.


Thoughts and Prayers, Only Words by Miss Judy

Awoke this morning to reports of another mass shooting. This time an American university. Three students dead, five injured, shooter dead. Thoughts and prayers. Senseless bloodshed that has become all too familiar in today’s American culture. Calls for reform are drowned out by the gun advocates and lobbyists that empower political systems to relax gun laws rather than constrain. Whether it is a random shooting or a mass shooting, it is a proven fact gun violence in America is on the rise. Americans are growing desensitized, even accepting perhaps. Senseless bloodshed, as a smear of jam on American faces.


All It Took by Hugh W. Roberts

ChatGPT recommended the jam and put it on her shopping list.

Two days later, she spread a smear of the sticky jam on her toast and took little notice of the tiny handprint on the side of the jar.

Spitting out the toast’s remains, she drank a glass of water to eliminate the awful taste of the jam.

Moments later, she felt a strange sensation in her mouth, looked down and saw something moving in the jam.

In the instant before she craved human flesh, she knew the smear on the jar wasn’t a handprint; it was a warning.


Catching Up by Colleen M. Chesebro

After the optimism spell ritual, Hilda stayed behind to wash the dishes and clean up Coven Hall. It gave her more time to think.

She knew her spell had helped the human because the heaviness in her heart disappeared. This was a good feeling.

Hilda brewed a cup of mint tea. Famished, she smeared a bit of jam on a piece of bread. She sat down to write a love letter to nature, specifically Mother Nature.

Dear Mother Goddess… she wrote.

I’m sorry I ignored your warning and got Covidwitchitus. I promise to keep my immunizations current.

Love, Hilda


A Smear of Jam by Elizabeth

A smear of jam on my white shirt, the school uniform I always complained about.

A smear of jam on my white shirt, the school uniform I always complained about.

Now, after many years, better to say, many decades, I miss that time. I miss the lightness portrayed in my memories when the worries were the exams and friendships.

The breakfast and lunch were always ready before and after school, as well as delicious snacks to take with me. Peanut butter and jam were savoured in hurry between laughs and books.

The smear of jam on my white shirt was inevitable.

No worries, the shirt would be washed as soon as I got home.


Tree Treat by JulesPaige

I attempted Mulberry (kind of like long blackberries) jam after weeks of harvesting enough to boil down with some sugar. I played with a basic recipe. Basically any berry, especially those that are mostly water, just get cooked until what’s in the pot thickens.

I got what berries I could reach – though I think the birds got the majority of the berries. And just to be kind to my mother-in-law who had dentures, I strained those tiny seeds out of one batch. Probably less than an ounce – but it was enough to make her smile and that was good.


Breakfast by C. E. Ayr

I barge into the kitchen, still fumbling with my tie.
Mora, my wife, is feeding the baby, and our other two are torturing cereal in bowls.
At my place sits coffee, orange juice and toast.
Where’s the jam, I demand.
Open wide, sweetheart, says Mora, the spoon hovering before a closed mouth.
Where’s the jam?
Eat your cereal, chicks, or you’ll be late for school.
I glower around, but no-one notices.
I thrust my chair back noisily, grab my briefcase.
I’m off, I bawl.
In the cupboard where it always is, says Mora.
She looks up, smiles.
Bye, honey.


Jam-Bull I’m a Liar -Or, More to the Point, Why I Didn’t Pick Blackberries Last Summer by Bill Engleson

‘Happy Valentines Day, darling’

‘You too, sweetie. Want some pancakes?’

‘I so love our February 14th ritual. Of course I want your pancakes. We don’t have any blackberry jam, do we? That’s such a big part.’

‘No, didn’t make any last year. None got picked last summer.’

‘Shoulda got off my duff and picked them.’

‘That would have been an idea.’

‘Yeah. An idea. They were just down the trail. A few footsteps away. Thousands of them.’

‘I know. Millions. They grow in such abundance.’

‘Thick and juicy.’

‘Shame they didn’t get picked.’

‘So, store-bought jam?’

‘Afraid so, lover.’


Strawberry Smash-up by Kate Spencer

Claire’s red Audi TT screeched to a halt just as the ambulance pulled away. She rushed into her sister’s house.

“What happened to Dad?”

Ellie waved her into the kitchen.

“He saw Maggie biking her trailer full of strawberries toward town and chased her on his scooter.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Claims he loves her.”


“But there he was, racing along, calling her name when he smacked into her cart, fell hard onto the toppled berries, and smeared his lovelusted ego.”

Claire smiled… “He’s quite fond of the jams she makes. Perhaps he wanted to order some.”


Memories by Charli Mills

A smear of jam, and Dot is three-years old again, licking the wall where she’d bumped her PBJ, her mom howling with laughter. A first memory? A false memory?

A scent of jam, and Dot is dressed for First Communion, running down 4th Street, outpacing her mom just to watch her new skirt flounce like chickadee wings. A strong memory.

A smear of jam across her mother’s cheek, and present-day Dot winces at the fragility of the golden olden years. Carefully blotting a wet napkin, memories snap like the whip of broken film.

In a breath, last memory comes.


Love in a Jar by Margaret G. Hanna

First breakfast on my own. First breakfast without her.

Tea kettle’s boiled so I pour the water into the old brown betty pot. How many cups of tea has it steeped over forty years?

How many cups of tea has she steeped?

Eggs and bacon for breakfast. That was her job, gathering the eggs, packing them to send to the creamery. I’ll have to do that now.

I sit at the table and reach for the jam. Strawberry jam. Jam that she put up this summer even though she was dying. I spread it across my toast.

Tears fall.


Making Jam at Home by Sadje

My grandmother was an accomplished cook. She would cook delicious food daily, but what I remember most about her was the preserves, pickles, and jams she used to make with seasonal fruits.

Orange marmalade, apple jam, plum jelly, and guava jam were her specialties. I’d often stand with her when she was making the jams. she’d show me how to test for the readiness of the mixture.

“Put a smear of the jam on a plate and drag your finger through it. If the two parts remain separate, your jam is ready to be bottled”!

I do miss her!


Follow 15 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack and Jill arrived, taking turns carrying the yoke and buckets. The castle’s drawbridge stood open, and rosy-fingered dawn turned to apricot. They heard dishes clanking, steam hissing then quieting. The two peeked around the main gate.

A long table was set in the courtyard with a white tablecloth, silver teapot and serving bowls. Flowered porcelain cups floated in their saucers. An aproned woman bent over a fragrant, butter-oozing waffle iron.

“They’re here!” squeaked a dormouse from the sugar bowl.

The woman looked up and smiled, a smear of jam on one cheek. “Welcome! I’m afraid we’ve already started!”


Two Heels by Ann Edall-Robson

The squabbling would soon begin. All in good fun, but the aroma of bread baking wafting through the house, was the instigator.

“It’s my turn!”

“No, it’s not! You got the heel last time.”

Reminiscent of conversations that had been passed down from generation to generation, the sound of her grandchildren’s words made her laugh.
It was as if they had forgotten that each loaf came with two ends, and therefore had two heels, which resulted in each child receiving the homemade treat of thick sliced warm bread slathered with butter and a smearing of homemade sour cherry jam.


Testy Times by D. Avery

“Dang! Kid, you an thet hog et all the jam!”

“Don’t git so testy bout yer toast, Pal. Shush, cain’t ya see Curly’s sleepin? Look’t her eyelashes flutter an her legs twitchin. Reckon she’s rememberin flyin in Pepe’s hot air balloon?”

“These days thet could be a nightmare. Dang it. My dream was toast fer breakfast. With jam. Shift, there’s some, smeared on yer shirt. Whyn’t ya clean yersef up?”

“Cuz the washtub’s got turned inta a base fiddle fer the band. Asides, this stain looks like Curly. I aim ta keep it.”

“I’ll aim fer it too.”



Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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  1. sweeterthannothing

    A great selection, very nostalgic this week.

    • Charli Mills

      Sweet, how that nostalgia spills across the collection, eh?

  2. wyxecle

    like this

    • Charli Mills

      A good jam this week!

  3. Liz H

    So many flavors and circumstances for jam this week…a diversity of creativity right out of the jam pot!

    • Charli Mills

      Mmm, hmm! Lots of jam to taste!

  4. Colleen M. Chesebro

    What a fabulous selection! This was an explosion of imagery! Where’s the fresh bread and jam?

    • Charli Mills

      Right?! I was just hankering a PBJ!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Now, I’m really hungry! YUMMY!

  5. Jules

    A fun read to eat with tea and jam… or PBJ…
    Thanks everyone!

    • Charli Mills

      I was craving the peanut butter, too, Jules!

      • Jules

        Still haven’t had mine (pbj)… maybe tomorrow. 🙂

  6. StonerGypsy

    Great collection! Thanks for sharing ????


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