Red 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.

January 12, 2024

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.

Regarding the Red Wheelbarrow by D. Avery

We know William Carlos Williams’ eight concise lines, but can only guess their meaning.
An Imagist who said, “No ideas but in things”, Williams famously expanded a red wheel barrow by focusing on it. (Or was his focus the rain, or chickens? The poem’s more common reference unduly influences the reader; Williams titled it xxi.) While the poem provides a clear picture of three subjects, we are left to imagine the importance of them, if any. Through the poem’s simplicity, Williams has us scratching for complexities. We can be fairly certain though, that the wheelbarrow was, in fact, red.

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Red by Kerry E.B. Black

It splashes across the vision, coating sense until all perceived is passion, single-minded, unadulterated, unrestrained. It’s what parents fear blooming within the bosoms of their teens’ hearts. Like that oft-quoted Shakespeare melodrama with fledgling hearts unfettered, it consumes, untempered by experience, primary and primal. It bursts atomically, an uncultivated crescendo certain to bury any in proximity of its super-nova half-life. As intoxicating as wedding wine, as biting as cinnamon, as summer burned as bodies along a shore, this red blooms in the center of every heart, even the most meek.

So why then do you only wrap me in pink?

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Seeing Red by Sweeterthannothing

Seeing red, Alice stormed up to her sister’s door banging on it aggressively.

Martha opened the door with a smirk, nothing entertained her more than her elder sister’s drama. “What has that old fool done this time?” She guessed.

“Oh, I think you know what!” Alice fumed waving a piece of paper in front of Martha’s face.

She frowned, “He’s been cheating?” She asked with a gulp.

“How would you know what the letter says, you’ve barely looked at it… It seems we’ve both recognised whose diary the page has been ripped from!”

Martha turned crimson, “I can explain.”

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Coloured In by Geoff Le Pard

The Little Tittweaking colour palate offers several choices: the ‘browned off’ for those forswearing sun block; ‘feeling blue’ recalling the 1970s disco craze for groping ginger-headed Australians wearing toe socks and cheesecloth ; ‘yellow bellied’ has its antecedents in the time when it was considered the height of sophistication to have localised stomach jaundice, the result of the application of mustard poultices; and ‘seeing red’ following application of the Vietnamese beetroot diet. Recent additions include the ‘teal deal’ offering diners a choice of either greens or blues and ‘epoxy denim’ that contains notes of the current craze for stick on trousers.

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Vermilion Red by Reena Saxena

Roses are red, violets are blue…

She was not aware then, that a bouquet of red roses to propose marriage would lead to the onset of blues in her life.

The vermilion on her forehead, glass bangles, and the bridal saree were all red. It is the color of passion – a targeted passion that went astray.

The blood flowing from her wounds was also red.

And now, the red signal she flashes will stop all his illicit activities. The police are at the doorstep.

She will surrender her family, her married life, and her husband to an undefined future.

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Red Bargain Basement Sales in the Sunset of the West by Bill Engleson

I didn’t buy it for a minute. He was good though. Had me by the guilt hairs, saw I was getting sadder by the day, wars, inequality, and said, “Look around brother. People living in boxes. Richest bosses making more in the first few minutes of the year than a working stiff makes all year. “
Whatever he was doing, he wasn’t trying to sell Putin.
That wouldn’t fly.
He was just an old-fashioned Commie, a pinko underwear brigade type, sitting in his wheelchair, barely breathing, remembering the past, long shored fifty years, clinging to his wacky red dreams.

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Red Handed by Joanne Fisher

They found me kneeling by the body, my hands red from all the blood. I was arrested, though I told them I had been trying to stop the bleeding. With no murder weapon found, everything against me was circumstantial. They eventually realised someone had forced the window open, killed my flatmate, and taken some items, so they let me go.

Once I got back home, I opened up the secret compartment, full of things I hadn’t wanted the police to find. No one had disturbed them. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I had got away with another one.

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Red is for Revenge by Dianne Borowski

We always play games during recess. Today’s game is Red Rover. Since I’m not exactly popular I’m usually the last one to get called when we play. When Bossy Betty finally called “Red Rover let Ginger come over” I ran hard. When I reached Betty and Sue they dropped their hands and I fell face down. I ran into the school building crying.
Later during gym I said I had a migraine, grabbed Betty’s shoes, took my red nail polish and decorated the bottom. I was happy with my artwork. A word of warning, don’t mess with a redhead.

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Red, Riding With Penaché by Sadje

She loved her red hoodie. And wanted to wear it all the time, even when it became too warm to wear it, loving when her mom called her little red riding hood!

On her 4th birthday, she got her heart’s wish, a small bike with trainers. With an inborn talent, she learned to ride it skillfully in a week.

Mom was very protective of her little girl and wouldn’t let her ride her bike on the street, despite it being a quiet neighborhood.

She would always accompany her girl, despite the obvious flair she had for navigating her bike!

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The Arena of Life by Goldie

Andy’s blood boiled. He couldn’t wait for the door to open so he could find himself face to face with the enemy. Andy was going to destroy him. “Let’s go!” he bellowed.

When the door finally came ajar, all Andy saw was red. His firmly planted feet drove forward without a second thought. “Full speed ahead!”

The dust span in the air, making it harder for Andy to see, but there’s no stopping him when he’s in such a state. “I can smell you!”

The crowd roared as Andy continued his efforts to impale another brave but silly human.

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The Name Game by Margaret G. Hanna

My name’s Red. Just “Red.”
Yes, I have a surname but that’s another matter.
I asked Mom, “Why Red?”
She said, “Your dad and I had a big blow-up argument about what to call you, and I saw red, as they say. That’s why.”
No one has a colour for a first name. Just me.
Oh sure, there’s “Mr. Black” or “Mrs. Brown,” but that’s different – those are surnames.
People get confused. Some think it’s a nickname. Nope.
Some think they’ve misheard – “Did you say ‘Fred’?” Nope. Wrong again.
Maybe I should change my name to Fred. Or Sue.

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Bound by Crimson Strings by Rockstar Girl

Red tied like a bow

I was wearing a red ribbon

But I was saving the heart on my sleeve

for Valentine’s Day

But I wish I could ask you the question

In those five words

Will you be my valentine?

I was hoping hear a yes or a no

But it seems that you are hanging my heart

on a stamp of red roses

and leaving me guessing the other

While I was waiting for a kiss

to simmer down on the love letters

that were stamped with a red heart

on the outside of the closed envelope.

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The Reluctant Sightseer by Nicole Horlings

If it weren’t for the mystery Liz had promised was waiting atop the hill, Paige wouldn’t’ve agreed to the task of climbing it. (Hiking the flat forest trail hadn’t been her idea either. However, Liz had insisted that it’d be fun, and said, “Please?” so sweetly.) Her niece was far too persuasive, Paige reflected, as she paused to pant for a moment.

When she finally made it to the top, she scanned the area for anything interesting, and her niece sheepishly said, “Surprise!” gesturing to the view. Despite her initial scowl, Paige admitted that the red sunset was gorgeous.

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Seeing Red by Sue Spitulnik

A couple in their early stages was walking the mall. She pulled him into a Victoria’s Secret store and picked up a frilly red nightie.
He scowled. “You aren’t wearing that for me.”
“But Babe, red is for love and romance.”
“Blood and anger,” he retorted.
“You said you left the service five years ago. You gotta let it go.”
“You hold your buddy on the battlefield with blood gushing out of his guts and get over it.”
“It’s in the past…”
“It’s every night in my colorful nightmares.” He stormed away, leaving her there with no way home.

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Five Days a Month by Anne Goodwin

As her shift dragged on, her skin got progressively tighter until she feared it would pop. Her innards simmered like a pan of tomatoes on the stove. Now and then blood seeped through the surface: when the chisel slipped and cut her finger; when her boss tenderly applied a plaster and she blushed. None of her colleagues had what she needed in their handbags – they didn’t have handbags – and the shops were too far away. Working the lathe, her mind toured her home, rearranging the shelves in her bathroom cabinet. Locating the aspirin. Counting the tampons in the box.

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The Red Button is Returned by Sue Spitulnik

The boy was often left to his own devices while Mummy sewed extravagant dresses and coats for the elite. He couldn’t help being jealous of the beautiful clothes and fasteners. One day, she was working on a new wool coat that was to have soft red velvet-covered buttons. He nicked one when he was sent from the room, which caused a big to-do since there were no extras.

Years later, when his mother passed, the man tucked the thread-bare button inside her hand while she lay in her coffin. “I’m sorry. I needed a part of you with me.”

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New Kitchen Curtains by Duane L Herrmann

When my mother set out to redecorate our kitchen, for some reason I’ll never understand, she decided on bright, fire engine, solid red curtains. Before, there were no curtains, but the wallpaper was a soft green print of climbing ivy. I don’t know why anyone would tire of green, but I guess she did. I don’t remember what she replaced the green with, the screaming red curtains overwhelmed all else. She was not one for subtly The second day after the new curtains were up, a neighbor stopt by concerned. He was worried that our house was on fire!

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The Three Sisters by Colleen Chesebro

“It doesn’t look like much,” Violet said.

Marigold pointed. “There’s a cheerful red door.”

Holly stared in disgust. “This is what Aunt Magnolia left us—this dilapidated tea shop? What a terrible name, Ye Old Tea Shop.”

The women stared at the peeling paint and dirty windows.

“No wonder Aunt Magnolia went broke. You know, we could fix this place up and make it our own,” said Violet. “It needs paint and our magical touch.”

“We could call it the Three Sisters Tea Shop,” Marigold said. “We can serve special brews and treats.”

“Let’s do it,” they murmured together.

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Red by Anita Dawes

Some say red is the colour of luck, others the colour of life.
Seeing it through the eyes of a raging bull
Would you feel its fear, his passion to destroy
the matador waving a cape in his face?
If you pierce the side of a unicorn, does its blood run red?
Walk into a church to drink a cup of red wine
to be told it is the blood of Christ
Taste it, can you trace it back to the crucifixion?
As you stand there beneath the cross
You wonder, can You bring back life without the misery?

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The End, Begun by Ron. Lavalette

“Well, that’s not a common shade of red,” he thought, bolting toward the door, trying not to trip over the lamp, the alarm clock, and the tattered pages of her recently discovered secret journal now scattered across the carpeted bedroom floor among the shards of the champagne bottle and glasses. The soles of his shoes squished and slid almost silently toward his hasty exit, while the only other things he could hear were the echoes of her final declaration and the sound of sirens, still in the distance but approaching far more rapidly than any jilted lover might desire.

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Red Or Yellow? by Hugh W. Roberts

Red walls? The time machine had red walls!

It also had a large red ‘inviting-to-touch’ button.

I could smell smoke and see flickers of flame before deciding whether to push the red button or the smaller yellow one. But that must have been my drunken imagination playing tricks again.

“Here goes!” I yelled as my hand with red-painted nails pushed the red button.

My eyeballs bulged when the time machine travelled down rather than up or sideways.

“You should have read the instruction book before pressing the red button,” cackled a horned being. “There’s no way back from Hell.”

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Fat Tuesday by Sue Spitulnik

It was January when the college student started planning. She collected multiple plastic milk jugs over the next few weeks to make the desired shapes. She bought white duct tape and the correct type fire-engine red paint. She went to Amazon.com and purchased a long white night shirt. The construction was more challenging than she had expected, but on parade day, it proved worth it.

The red stove pipe hat said BIG in white letters, and the raised red button that covered her front read EASY.

Author’s Note: New Orleans’ nickname is The Big Easy, and the red Easy button is from a TV commercial for Staples office supply store.

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Ship Shape by JulesPaige

They strolled together from forward to aft. She, with her hair flowing over the butterfly shawl that draped her shoulders… Soon, they arrived at the ‘Piano Bar 88’. She was dressed in a red shift covered by red lace. She got to dance to the Twist – holding his hands, as if she could move forward by that type of movement. Goodbye 2023. She would be crossing over to the New Year of 2024 within minutes along with the rest of the world). Once the song ended she would sit back, catch her breath and revel in the new memories.

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Red Trail by Etol Bagam

The chickens are loose, happily pecking on the ground of the farm.
One of them raises her head, trying to listen.
Silence.
She goes back to pecking.
Fron the woods at the end of the farm, a red fox watches. He’s hungry.
Slowly the fox steps closer to the field. The chicken gets alert again, looks around.
Silence.
Once she’s back feeding and relaxed, fox makes a run towards them. He’s fast. Like a red lightning, it passes by. Once you realize what’s happening, he’s gone.
One chicken goes missing. A trail of red dots leads to the forest.

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One Person’s Opinion by Sue Spitulnik

Age 10 — Mom’s red geraniums don’t smell sweet like a flower should. I don’t like them.
Age 20 — When I see a red geranium I remember my mother. She liked their bold color.
Age 45 to present — I live close to the cemetery where my folks rest. I pot red geraniums near their headstone each spring, and they survive the summer no matter the weather, with no care.
Age 68 to present — I plant red geraniums at home so I can enjoy the memories.
After I pass, I hope my children plant them for me.

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Ephemeral Morning by Michael Fishman

The gray car sped through the red light and met the silver car. They stopped in the intersection, a right-angle conformation of metal, glass and steam.

The man in the sliver car opened his eyes. A trickle of blood on his forehead, bits of glass falling into his lap. People were talking to him.

What do they want?

He opened his eyes again. The voices, louder now.

I’m fine.

Sometime later the man pushed open the twisted car door and stepped outside. The people were gone. All was quiet. He walked away and the door closed softly behind him.

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I Am Red by Ann Edall-Robson

I have not always been this colour. As a matter fact, I’ve not always been this shape. But as the seasons progress here in the back country, both change. My top hat becomes pink and smells pretty. Within its centre rests a dustings of pollen for the bees. When my aromatic hat is finished showing off and feeding bugs, it leaves on the wind. The important one, that’s Me, transitions into winter garb. My once green topcoat becomes vibrant hues before the snow flies. I am ready for whatever comes my way. I am rose hip. I am red.

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Mom’s Favorite Color by Nancy Brady

Red was her favorite color. There were always red rose bushes in our flower beds. She was both strong willed and tenderhearted. She wore deep red lipstick.

When she died, Dad picked out her gray slacks, a turtleneck, her red wool blazer, and a pair of soft slippers (so her feet wouldn’t hurt).

The casket was closed except to family. The people who came to the visitation didn’t see her. She didn’t want anyone staring at her; instead, there was a photo of Mom and Dad on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

she always loved
the color red
graveside geraniums

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Seven and 11/17 American Sentences by D. Avery

Beginnings, endings; color of births, of deaths.
The first unwary sunrise dawned red as an apple found in the fall.
Creation and destruction share a palette, both brushes bristle red.
Threads spun, dyed, red cloth woven; cloaks that choke, pulled tight round innocent necks.
Cardinal sins and capital crimes hum red tunes, drum a pulsing beat.
Red rims dry eyes that see only sadness yet have no more tears to cry.
Faces colored by guilt and shame and anger shine as fire sweeps the streets.
The last sunset red as the iron scented stain of blood on one’s hands.

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Bananas by D. Avery

“Her Ford?! Kid, Shorty’s Ford ain’t red, it’s orange.”
“Said ‘Hereford’, Pal, not ‘her Ford. I’ll jist ‘magine all the cattle rangin the ranch are Herefords an color me done with this prompt.”
“You kin do better ‘an thet, Kid.”
“Okay. Mebbe I’ll write bout ranch hands aroun a red glowin fire.”
“Souns nice, Kid, ‘cept fire is more orange.”
“Hmmph. Then mebbe I’ll write about redheaded Azorean buckaroos.”
“Could, I s’pose. But ever notice redheads are actchally more orange-haired?”
“Dang ya, Pal, I’m beginnin ta see red!”
“Good! So?”
“So what?”
“So, orange ya gonna write bout thet?”

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Kid’s Caper (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, I’m wond’rin if mebbe ya’d sashay ‘cross the paddock in that red shirt I got ya fer Christmas
“Whut, this fer a photo shoot er somethin? Would make a good ranch postcard, me in this shirt in the paddock.”
“Right. Through the gate an off ya go, Pal. There, a story should come ta me now.”
“Whut? Whut kinda story?”
“Might be a tragedy, Pal. The bull’s got ya in his sights.”
“Bull? Shift!”
“Run, Pal, run. See Pal run.”
It weren’t Pal’s first rodeo. But one slip could make it the last roundup fer that ranch hand.

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Kid’s Caper (Part II) by D. Avery

That bull weren’t the only one seein red. Both of ‘em were snortin an blowin steam outta flared nostrils, Pal runnin fer the rails, the bull closin in on Pal. Suddenly, Pal tore off the new red shirt, brandished it like a matador’s cape. Olé! Now Pal, who, by the way, is some heavier since first we met, had a chance. Out-maneuver the bull, ruther an try an outrun it. Finally, Pal managed ta git ta the fence an dove through, red-faced an fit ta be tied.
“I’ll git ya fer thet, Kid!”
“Keep yer shirt on, Pal. Please.”

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All Write an Well Read by D. Avery

“Cain’t believe ya put me in with thet bull, Kid!”
“Needed a story, Pal. ‘Membered yer shirt, then thought on how bulls go after red…”
“That’s bull, bulls are colorblind. But that was purty dang reckless, riskin my safety fer a story.”
“Writin’s bout takin risks, Pal. Thank ya fer yer service. Anyway’s I ‘magined you’d come out okay in the end.”
“I ‘magine you won’t be so lucky, once I get ahold a ya, Kid.”
“Lighten up, Pal, jist went where the prompt led, is all.”
“An I almost got stomped ta death!”
“But yer all write now.”

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

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2 Comments

  1. Norah

    A wonderful collection as usual, with so many aspects of red, but only a few mentions of redheads. Great reading. Well done, everyone.

  2. Jules

    On both sides of my family gents were nick-named “Red”…
    In my youth I was a ‘Strawberry blond!”

    Fun stories some…others leaning towards that edge of no return.
    Red can be like that.

    If I were feeling better I’d stop at individual stories… but I’m still a tad under the weather.
    So – just ‘Thanks’ to all who contributed.

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