Message in a Feather 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.

July 14, 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.

The Feather by Joanne Fisher

A messenger came bearing a long red feather. Mingmei instantly knew what it meant. It was a rare phoenix feather. She immediately began packing her belongings into a knapsack, and within the hour was walking down the road. It was a long way to the Eastern Provinces, and she had journeyed for weeks by the time she finally arrived. Going into the mausoleum, she stopped at a tomb. “I have come, finally. Sorry I wasn’t here sooner. I return your feather, my friend.” Mingmei said. She laid the feather on top of the tomb, bowed her head, and left.

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Magpie’s Warning by Margaret G. Hanna

I once soared overhead, a witness to all below me. Now I lie here and feel your scorn.
You despise me, call me thief, killer, scavenger, raucous busy-body. Look at yourself.
You call me killer, but you kill my brethren, and your own, indiscriminately.
You call me thief, but you steal from my brethren and from your own kind.
You call me scavenger, but leave your own kind to scavenge amongst ruins.
You call me raucous, but you pierce the air with hideous noises.
You sneer and cast me aside. How many more feathers must fall before you learn?

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Viper by Simon

I’ve blown away, like a feather
Her words were like Jasmine flower
Met her 1000th time, I decided to gather
Courage God give me the will power
to request her can I be her lover
I promise caring and sharing forever
her vibe sent chills like I seen a Viper
Snake hiss like her breath I shiver
Fingers soft and light against the weather
Goosebumps on skin like it snows I shiver
Where is the hope to get together
Who is she, a mystery to uncover
Lover, a viper, or a dark power
Why? she disappeared in the air.

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Messages From Above by Hugh W. Roberts

A lone feather quivered in the attic’s cobwebbed corners, bearing a harrowing message from the netherworld. It spoke of a cursed talisman begrudged by an evil spirit who craved mortal souls. Its whispers echoed through the air at night, driving those who lived below to hear scratching sounds they were too afraid to complain about. The more the victim put off grumbling, the more the lone feather transformed into a shadowy figure, hunting its next prey. It warned all who dared hear its message; once entangled, escape was futile. And those who contemplated complaining would die upon seeing it.

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The Queen’s Test by Nicole Horlings

The room was bare, with just a desk and chair by the tower window, and on the desk merely a quill, ink pot, and several sheets of paper. The view from the window showed only the rocky cliff face the tower had been built beside. “No source of inspiration. Only whatever’s in my own mind,” the prisoner murmured. “Yet I must write a poetic masterpiece that pleases the Faerie Queen to earn my freedom.” The quill floated off the table, and wrote, “Want me to write it for you?” “Tempting… but I probably shouldn’t cheat,” the prisoner replied soberly.

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Wish by Reena Saxena

The history of flights taken by my owner is testimony to my contribution. I lament my irrelevance floating in the air, or grounded – close enough to be gobbled up by a curious kitten or puppy. Did the bird support me, or I supported her? Whistling winds and blue skies cast an inviting glance, but I need a carrier … if not a bird, a writer to use me as a quill with ink …. on the condition that it spells out my story not on its pages, but the sky … in radiant letters. One can always wish. Maybe….

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Vive la Resistance by Anne Goodwin

Sauntering into the station, Pierre adopted a nonchalant air. But, beneath his fake uniform, his heart thundered in his chest. He scanned the crowd for his contact: a woman, he’d been told, with a parrot feather in her hat. Pierre knew nothing of parrots, but presumed their plumage would be brighter than the birds on the family farm. There: a vibrant green with a turquoise eye. The woman didn’t blink as he slipped the papers into her pocket. Mission accomplished, almost free, a revolver stabbed his back. “That’s a peacock feather,” said the Nazi. “Don’t you know your birds?”

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The Silent Witness by Daphne Howard

When Reverend Cullins was butchered, only the mute who laboured for the church knew the culprit’s identity. Even if the boy could communicate his knowledge, it was unlikely the townsfolk would listen. He could only watch as neighbour interrogated neighbour. After thirty days, the boy grew weary of the relentless prayer—mourners begging God for a sign. It was a relief when a single black feather landed upon the boot of Samuel Bridget who was promptly hanged. Nobody saw the boy climb the tree and drop the feather. Just as nobody saw him plunge a knife into the Reverend.

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Message Received by Sweeter Than Nothing

The feather rested ominously in the flickering light of the candle, a roll of parchment lay sealed next to it but he had no need to read it, the message was clear. A light breeze fluttered the feather, sending it drifting along the castle floor to lay at the feet of the new king. New and soon to be former. Why had he listened to his mother? Yes, he had the truer bloodline but did that make it right to wage a war? He picked it up, bright red blood dripped from its ivory quill. The vigilante was coming

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What Adventures by Michael Fishman

Do you remember? The mighty Beefaroni, our four-foot robot with his paint can head, Vegg-All arms and legs and Dinty Moore belly. Remember the Kelly twins, coming to play with your sister, running scared when they saw him guarding your front door? We laughed until we cried hugging our robot that conquered a neighborhood. Four balloons tied to a splintered pallet. They lifted us, light as feathers, and bore us around the world in one afternoon. Spiney Tree trail. The dark path only we could bike and that swallowed others whole. Oh, what adventures we had. I miss you.

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A Thank You Note by Dianne Borowski

My name is Ivy. My nest is in your tree. I am a Bald Eagle. Your home will be very popular this year. Many folks will visit your tree just to see my babies and me.
My mate and I chose your tree because it is sturdy, healthy and comfortable. Feel free to collect any feathers you might find. They are beautiful, of course, and since you will be our gracious landlords they will be our gift to you. Please keep an eye on your dog. He might frighten our little ones as they learn to fly.
Yours truly,
Ivy

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Retro Made by Geoff Le Pard

Ann Teak runs Little Tittweaking’s All Things Retro emporium. Her music section sells videos and cassette tapes, eschewing vinyl after its resurgence. In fashion you’ll find quick-drying nylon pants and stay press slacks next to doublet and hose. Homeware contains lead based paints and a handy packs of daub and wattle. And stationary is stocked with inkwells and quill pens for every occasion. Indeed Ann’s quills are fully utilised as she seeks permission to instal a portable midden to service her cafe’s customers. If visiting you are asked to remember it is cash for preference, but cheques are acceptable

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Feather by Michael

Gabe gasped loudly, Stella tracing the duster from neck to unbuttoned jeans. “Quiet,“ she whispered, fingering his lip. “You’ve been a dirty boy. You need cleaning.” Gabe nodded obediently. “Yes, Ive been so dirty.” Desire coursed through them. Eyes locked. They burst into fits of laughter. “Kiss your mother with that mouth?“ Gabe joked. A feint but familiar child’s cry sounded from next door. “Oh well. Looks like were sharing the bed love,” said Stella, kissing Gabe tenderly. “Ill take the spare room,“ said Gabe smiling. Stella tossed him the feather duster. “Take that, the corners need doing.“

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Feather Duster Blues by Bill Engleson

Feather duster,
cleans the dust.
Sweeps the cobwebs,
as it must.

Feather duster
tickles my nose.
That’s the way
this story goes.

Dreamt a dream
the other night.
Darkness seemed
in full blown flight.

Dreamt that dream,
touched the sky.
The feather seemed
light as a lie.

Told that lie
a thousand times.
Don’t know why
so many crimes.
Lie to a lover.
Lie to a friend.
Under the cover
as the world ends.

Feather duster,
can’t clean my soul.
All a fluster
as down I go.

Reached for the ceiling,
touched the floor.
Lost all feeling
for evermore.


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Tales from a Feather by Miss Judy

Roxanne Jones, entrepreneur by day, was vivacious, blond, athletic. People loved her, she told stories that made them happy. No one knew what she did, whatever, it was lucrative. She wore designer clothes, handbags and shoes the ultimate in fashion, poise, and grace. Roxie Rochel, entertainer by night, shedding her daytime attire for a downy white feather, she danced. Suggestively she dipped, twirled, twisted, and turned weaving tales of seduction, desire and longing with the flutter of a feather. Perhaps some did know Roxanne’s work, who will say? Whether Roxanne or Roxie, you might agree, she was an entertainer.

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Someday I’ll Fly by Kerry E.B. Black

Angela hunched home, dejected by another day of bullies and scholastic frustration. No reason to hurry. Only chores and homework waited. A snowy feather floated on a whispered breeze. She snatched it, admiring the strength of the slight thing. Soft whisps lined the translucent quill that narrowed where the feather stiffened. Angela brushed the edge along her cheek, imagining a gentle touch from someone who loved her. “I’ll be like a feather. Seem delicate, but in fact I’ll be strong.” She flicked her wrist, admiring the way the angled feather cut through the air. “And someday, I will fly.”

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A Black Feather by Norah Colvin

There was nothing unusual about the morning as Sarah scoured the beach for treasures. Nothing unusual until …
The feather. Iridescent black, shimmering blue and purple, it sparkled in the sunshine. It stood upright. Like a flag. Like it had been placed there. On purpose. But Sarah and her aunt were alone on the island. Not another soul for over five years. No other footprints. Sarah frowned. And what was the feather from? They’d only ever seen white birds. Was it a sign?
“Aunt Sophie!” she called as she ran. Then, from nowhere, an enormous black bird swooped …

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With Feathers by D. Avery

“Mommy?” Hope stood uncertainly in front of her mother. “What’re you doing?”
“Thinking.” She twirled a feather in her fingers. “Sometimes you’re given a sign to help your thinking.”
“A feather. Are you leaving?”
“Look Hope. It’s a soft belly feather. For warming eggs. It fell from that nest. See?”
“Right over your rocking chair?!”
“Can you imagine a better place than this porch for a nest?”
“No!”
“How about a nest right in the rocking chair?” She pulled Hope into her lap, cradled her in her arms. Hope giggled as her mother tickled her with the downy feather.

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Feather Message by Duane L Herrmann

Turkeys leave feathers behind. Do they select one? The most beautiful? The most useless? And pull it out? For me? Or, do they care?
I’m usually the only one, the only human, who sees them. Sometimes I pick them up. Sometimes I don’t. I have a vase on top the microwave with feathers sprouting out. They look interesting there, almost like a bouquet. What will I do with them, other than to look? What will my children do with them after I’ve left? Will anyone have any interest? Will they even know what bird they’re from? I doubt it.

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Ruffled Feathers by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa said, “Yes, Mother.” She lay the cell down, exhaling a big sigh.

Michael looked at her. “Now what has her feathers all ruffled?”

“She found out I went over to Lexi’s and didn’t invite her. She says I’m excluding her on purpose. Truth is, when she’s there, Lexi and I can’t get a word in, and usually, she’s instructing Lexi how to care for Harrison.”

“Tough situation.”

“Yeah. Then I have to spend my time smoothing feathers instead of enjoying the fact we have four generations. Maybe I should call Mom Feathers.”

Michael laughed. “Not to her face.” NOTE: This story doesn’t quite fit the prompt, but it’s what came out.

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Feathers Bring Good Luck by Sadje

There I see it- green and multi-hued it shone in the light of the setting sun.
The parrots must have left it for me, a reminder that good things are on the way. To let go of stress and despondency and to seek good fortune.
I have always believed in feathers being the bearer of good news, of good things to come.
I need these reminders from the universe often as my life is quite overwhelming with problems and without a sign from the heavens, I won’t be able to cope with my problems!
Maybe, I’ll win the lottery!

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Una pluma para un escritor (…for Harry) by JulesPaige

9) Harry sat at a table at the Saddle Up Saloon in his borrowed Hawaiian shirt looking through a box of photos and postcards. Kid and Pal were doing chores around the bar. Each tending their own thoughts. The mirrors in the Saddle Up had displayed some odd messages after Harry had popped in out of nowhere. He’d been wearing a tux at the time. One photo had a woman from the Victorian age. A beautiful feather in her head piece. Hard to tell the color in a sepia photograph. Taped to the back was part of a quill feather.

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Una pluma para un escritor (…for Harry) by JulesPaige

10) The fancy dress sparked a memory, did it have something to do with where he had come from? Harry pushed part of the feather vane aside to see if there was any writing. The script was faint.There were some x’s and o’s and hearts. But nothing to tell who the woman was. Harry sat back and closed his eyes. A blank formal dance card. He’d been wearing a tux! He also remembered that he didn’t really want to be at the cotillion. Someone had told him about how he could escape to the basement speakeasy. This place wasn’t it!

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Una pluma para un escritor (…for Harry) by JulesPaige

11) Harry opened his eyes and looked at the quill. The tip seemed to be wet. Carefully he removed the tape from the spine of the rachis, reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a pad of paper he didn’t even realize was there… looked at the nib and put it to the paper and started scribbling lines. After a moment the words formed themselves, even though Harry was holding the quill… “Really? You can do better than just squiggles, can’t you?,” the quill seemed miffed. “Make proper use, will you! After all, this place is a writer’s haven.”

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12) Could Harry Tow the Write Line? by JulesPaige

‘Cue’ had been waiting to be found. Miss had taped ‘Cue’ to the back of her photo. How her image ended up in a box mixed with postcards and other paper that had captured other images was a mystery. The quill leaked just a little ink when the box had gotten jostled from under the bar at the Saddle Up. Maybe someone would find ‘Cue’ and would know what to do. Creative magic was what all Mislive needed to find their way home. Lucky that ‘Cue’ had some residual magic – that’s how the pad got in Harry’s shirt pocket…

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Horsefeathers

“Ostrich ranchin ain’t a novel idea, ya know. Started out in the 1880’s, had another boom in the 1990’s.”
“Oh, hey Frankie.”
“The first boom was most ta do with feathers, not fer writin quills, but fer fashion. Nuther reason I don’t never claim ta be a lady.”
“But what if we offered a whole quiver a quills? Ostrich feathers fer novels, humminbirds fer quick flashes; peacock feathers fer colorful language… what d’ya think?”
“Wanna know what I think, Kid?”
“No Pal, I don’t. Was askin Frankie.”
“I think it’s a great idea, Kid. Long’s ya git a cuckoo-bird.”


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Sizin Up an Takin Stock

“Wanna know what I’m thinkin, Pal?”
“Prob’ly not, Kid.”
“Thinkin we oughtta start raisin ostriches on the ranch.”
“Think agin, Kid. Raisin them big birds fer meat, hide, an feathers might be off-puttin ta folks, leastways ta the ostriches.”
“Thinkin they kin be free range an we’ll only take some a the eggs. Serve omelets at the Saloon. Only take feathers that fall out natchurly.”
“Kid, leave the ranch stockin decisions ta Shorty.”
“But this is a writin ranch an writers need feathers fer quills.”
“Them feathers is way too big fer flash, Kid.”
“Yeah… How bout hummin birds?”

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

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10 Comments

  1. Sadje

    A lovely colorful collection

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    This collection flies and sings!
    (Thinkin the last two, the yarns, are out of order, ie, Horsefeathers meant to follow Sizin Up)

  3. Anne Goodwin

    Another fine collection. I especially enjoyed
    The Silent Witness by Daphne Howard
    Feather by Michael

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Great collection! ????????????

  5. Jules

    Feathers that are collected, shuffled, and ruffled. Fun reads all!
    Kudos to all the ‘birdie-brains’ who got ideas and wrote ’em up!

  6. Michael

    so many great takes

  7. sweeterthannothing

    Such an interesting collection this week! Thanks for hosting as always.

    • Charli Mills

      Each collection has a unique imprint each week. I love sharing the collaborative results, and I’m better understanding how we are collectively going deeper into the psyche as writers.

      • sweeterthannothing

        Love this! Yes, I love going through the collection each week too, it’s astonishing how it’s such a collective experience while still being individual.

      • Charli Mills

        It’s such a validating creative experience both individually and collectively. I think it shows how interconnected we are as a human family. We each retain our individuality but are also part of something greater than ourselves. <3

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