This Is Awkward 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.

March 14, 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.

More Awe by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s old centre comprises a series of courtyards. One in particular is linked to various religious sects that have sought sanctuary in its cloistered corners: the Bouncing Nuns of St Hilda who were accused of not keeping their feet on the ground; the Road Monks after they were driven out of their Abbey;  and the Happy Clappers whose gratuitous bell silencing did not a peal to everyone. All were welcome into the Awe Quad where everyone could express their devotion in the cutest of environments, with newcomers heard to express their awe, as in, ‘Aw, this is lovely’. 

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Sorry by Sweeter Than Nothing

“Oops, Sorry.”

“Sorry, I-”

“I wasn’t looking.”

“Didn’t see you there.”

“Sorry.”

“Sorry.”

They both chuckled awkwardly. 

“After you.” Sarah gestured.

At the same time, Greg said, “Ladies first.”

Another chuckle, a brief, awkward pause… Sarah moved once again towards the exit, at the same time Gregg had decided she wasn’t going to go first and went to head out as well. 

Their eyes met as they collided once more and sparks seemed to fly. 

“Oops.”

“Sorry.”

“Sorry.”

“Will you two just get out the bloody way?! There’s a whole building trying to evacuate here.” 

“Sorry,” they both said. 

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The Awkwardness of Access Denied by Anne Goodwin

When the mist lifts, Matty finds herself standing before the pearly gates. A handwritten sign attached to the railings reads UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. She’d hoped her mother would be here to meet her with a nice cup of tea.

A gentleman jogs towards her, tightening the knot in his tie. “Welcome. I’m St Peter. Let’s get you checked in.” He retrieves an electronic device from his jacket pocket and clips it to her finger.

“Matilda Osborne?” St Peter scans a scrap of lined notepaper with a ragged edge. “You’re not on my list, Matilda. I can’t let you in.”

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The Magic of a Meadow by Nicole Horlings

Arlo Proudfoot needed a break. Work had been busy, especially after the election and the transition to a new mayor. Unfortunately, the old mayor was as consistently incompetent, stubborn, and hot headed now as he was while he had been in charge, and thus ensured that nothing went smoothly. But while things were awkward now, Arlo knew that everything would be better in the long run.

When a gorgeous spring day came along, his wife Zinnia packed him a picnic lunch and told him to go to a meadow to enjoy it. Arlo soaked in the solitude, finally relaxed. 

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The Rant by Reena Saxena

“Whenever you call but receive no response, think of the negativity or indifference you sent their way.

It is caught in subliminal spaces between the neural pathways in the receiver’s brain and decides to act up when your name is called.

Don’t complain when you pride yourself on being Super Star of the Malicious Show in friends’ living rooms.

Entitled patriarch that you are, you deserve nothing less than disdain and nothing more than revenge.”

The supercilious woman upturned her nose, instead of feeling awkward on hearing this diatribe.

She wonders where the putrid smell of heartburn emanates from.

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Wrong Turn by Charli Mills

It’s after the First Round of Lincoln Douglas Debates in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m far from the Nowhere North Idaho town where I live with my old Uncle Bud. Don’t ask. But he likes that I get straight As and won the state debate title that got me to the Western Regionals. I’m at the mirror, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, unsure my affirmative arguments sounded strong enough. That’s when three boys walk in. We’re all surprised. I smooth my skirt. A total brain fart. I walked into the boy’s bathroom.

“Awkward,” one of them says.  

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Oops, Sorry by Ladyleemanila

The syllabus read “…attempts to study how those positions, motions, and properties affect people on Earth.” The concept was different from what he was expecting.

“Perhaps we’re still in the early stage.” He was getting more confused. The instructor was talking about how it’s being used as a pastime.

He couldn’t stand it any longer and raised his hand. “Excuse me, Miss, this is Astronomy class, right?”

“I beg your pardon, Mister, you’re in Astrology class!”

“Ooops, sorry, I think I’m in the wrong class,” and awkwardly left the classroom, as the rest of the class looked at him.

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Oh, No by Sadje

I wasn’t a studious child but was blessed with photographic memory, so I didn’t put too much effort into my preparations, just one reading and I was ready to ace my paper the next day. 

Mostly it worked but once it didn’t, landing me in an embarrassing situation. 

I was very confident that the next exam was maths, my favorite subject, and I was ready for it. 

I was in for a shock when we got our question paper, it was physics exam.

I was sweating and nervous because I hadn’t done any prep for physics. 

I passed, barely!

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Awkward by Sue Spitulnik

I can’t help myself, and sometimes, this leads to awkward situations. I grew up taking nature walks with my mother and older sisters. I learned that fitting into nature brings me peace of mind.

Recently while walking by a building I could hear a goose honking. Without a thought, I emitted a nasal honk in return. It thrilled me when it answered. I spotted the bird sitting on the top edge of the building so I stopped and we continued the back and forth. When it flew away I discovered another human had been amused while watching and listening.

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The Elephant in the Room by Doug Jacquier

She was a selective lifetime collector of crafted elephants. Like the proverbial toothpaste tube, the spectacular row that led to their separation was the elephant eggcup. When she discovered it in the dishwasher, minus it’s trunk, she went from sobbing to incandescent rage in seconds. She left.

Sometime later, he invited her for coffee at Gino’s.

She came and he said ‘I have a present for you.’ She unwrapped the vintage elephant eggcup. She stared at it for a long time before saying ‘You know it will never be the same.’

He said ‘I understand that. Let’s go home.’

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Awkward/Awkword by Bill Engleson

Ah, the rites of spring. No, Make that the writes of spring. They have truly sprung a bunch.

A bunch?

No.

Truth is they have sprung a leak. I have sprung a leak. The words give it all away. Leak, dribble, wet little things that puddle up in mud, wait for gumboots to tromp through them.

My mind masticates. Masticates is the word. At least it is the word I want to run with.

No.

Maybe a run-on sentence filled with words, but words do not run.

They appear, sit there, catch their breath, and fill us with silence.

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What’s in a Name by Michael Fishman

Tonight would be special.

I used my best dishes. They didn’t match, but they looked good on the tablecloth I bought at the Dollar Valu. I lit two candles and had the Boone’s Farm strawberry on ice.

I held the engagement ring, sat, and waited.

A knock.

I startled and jumped. The candles toppled and the tablecloth caught fire.

“Door’s open!” I yelled.

The smoke was thick. Cheap plastic.

“Ray, what’s—”

“Chrissy, hi! You look good. Call 911!”

Panicked, I tossed her the ring. “You wanna get married?”

Chrissy turned and walked out.

“Where you—”

“I’m Gail, you jerk!”

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Based on a True Story: Awkward by Simon

I’ve always despised my dad’s older sister. She not only resembles my father, but even talks like him. It’s her attitude, not her voice, alright!

When in my early adulthood, there was a family gathering, I decided to drink with my colleagues.

Unfortunately, I got completely wasted, told my good friends to leave me so I will go home safely.

Thinking doing me a favour, they dropped me off at home. Not only was I embarrassed, but I also saw HER, and I cursed her Loudly.

An awkward silence. Guess what happened the next day when I woke up?

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Dear, You Were Right by Kate AKS

Do you need more time?

Just a few moments, thank you. I will make it. – The woman touched the
car’s wheel. – I am not the first and won’t be the one who couldn’t make
it.

Are you sure? – The instructor looked at the smiling husband.

She wanted this car, so she need to drive on it. – Winked the husband.
Woman closed the door to the new car.

You were right, dear. I will take an exam on your old car.
Instructor at the last moment catches the failing husband.

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Return of the Insects (and an Awkward Memory) by JulesPaige

The ‘Man’ was supposedly the leader of the community center; and married with children. It was awkward for me to witness one of the higher up educated female ‘Underlings’  – holding hands and hanging on him out there in the open in the patio area, as if they couldn’t be seen. She even reached up, affectionately to kiss him. That wasn’t a very professional display for either of one of them. I lost respect for both of those people that day. 

gnats to swat,
stinkbugs, boxelders,
mosquitoes…

I respect Dung Beetles more than some people who are ‘shady’ players.

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Awkward Telling by Marsha Ingrao

A filthy man wearing clothes two sizes too big and no jacket stood at my window. 

“What’s the balance?” he asked.

I pushed a paper under the window.

“I forgot my glasses at home.”

I shouldn’t say this out loud. 

“Thirteen thousand. How much do you want?”

“Seven thousand.” He pushed an oily strand off his forehead.

Customers watched the money run through the counting machine. 

“Be careful. Do you have a safe?” I said as I counted them into his hand. 

“I’ll bury it,” 

He shoved the bills down the front of his pants and walked away.

“Next.”

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Wardin (Part I) by D. Avery

“Heard Shorty’s news, Kid?”

“Yep. Shouldn’t ya be roundin up the herd, Pal?”

“Jist makin sure you ain’t doin anythin untowards.”

“No worries. Reckon Shorty’s got us headed onwards an upwards.”

“Unexpected. What’re ya doin, packin yer wardrobe? Shouldn’t take too long. We only ever wear the same thing.”

“I noticed that whilst packin, so I’m makin a ward robe. Ya kin wear it backwards or forwards, inward or outward. It’s seamless.”

“So it would seem. Shapeless too. Kinda like this flash. Kid, ya’ve used half the prompt ward, sorry, word, several times, but not the prompt.”

“Hmm. Awkward.”

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Robed an Ready (Part II) by D. Avery

“Ok, Pal, I got my seamless ward robe on. I’m ready ta hep with the move. Reckon the other residint characters know ‘bout it?”

“The answer ta thet’s blowin in the wind, Kid. If’n I ain’t mistakin, the LeGumes are headed our way.”

“Ello, mes amis! Dees ees quite a beeg movement, no? We weel have a new house!”

“Hopin the new bunkhouse is jist like this old’un.”

“Doc Ranger says change ees awkward, Pal. But in dees case eet ees necessary. We must transplant ourselves.”

“Transplant? The Poet Tree!”

“Kin ya dig it?”

“Have ta. Roots an all.”

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Addressin a Awkward Oversight (Part III) by D. Avery

“Here’s Frankie an Burt, the one woman, one hoss Carrot Ranch pony express.”

“If by ‘express’ ya mean ‘ta convey or communicate’, thet works, but if’n ya mean speed, well ya might consider a dif’rent word. But yep, here they are. Hey, Frankie.”

“Hey. I got wind from the Legumes ‘bout this big move. Reckon I’ll ride around ta the others an spread the word. Wouldn’t wanna leave anyone behind.”

“Okay. Frankie’s gittin the word out. Kid’s tendin the Poet Tree. I’ll roun up all the cattle an hosses.”

“An?”

“An the unicorns. Ya gotta roun up the unicorns.”

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Of Bread an Wunder (Part IV) by D. Avery

“Thet was a little awkward. Cain’t believe I fergot the uni-corns.”

“Ya know, Pal, I reckon the magical critters a the ranch’ll find their way ta the new spread. Anyways I got bread in the oven.”

“Yer bakin bread now? What fer?”

“Breadcrumbs! We fergit anyone, they kin trail us.”

“Hmmff. Oh, here’s Ernie. Hey Ernie.”

“Howdy ever’one. I’m all packed. Figgered I’d come by an help gather the carrots an carrot seed ta bring along. Whut happens ta a virtual ranch gits left?” 

“Mebbe the old ranch’ll be like a ghost town, dust an tumbleweed whisperin old stories.”

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Fashion Flashin (Part V) by D. Avery

An awkward silence fell over the gathered group a fictional characters. Purty sure  it was cuz a Kid’s gitup. Logatha LeGume was obviously some’t distracted by the unusual ‘ward’ robe a Kid’s.

“Mon Dieu, Keed! Ees that a sheet you are wearing?”

“Sheet? No! It’s a ward robe, kin go ever’ which way. It’s purty comfy too.”

“Could you make eet queelted? For da leetle squirt.”

“Sure. What ‘bout you, Frankie? Want one?”

“No thank you! Might be fine fer the Legumes’ bambeano, but jeez, Kid. Eye fer one cain’t tell if yer comin or goin in thet outfit.”

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Loavin A’fore Leavin (Part VI) by D. Avery

There was anuther awkward moment. It did look like Kid was wearin a sail. An there was lots ta do an us all jist flappin in the breeze. But we’d all turned inward at the thought a the ‘riginal Carrot Ranch bein a ghost ranch. Then Kid spoke.

“Reckon Carrot Ranch is like sourdough. It’s bread that’s sustained us. We ain’t gotta bring bread, jist gotta bring along our livin, breathin starter. It’ll grow an make more bread wherever we are, bubblin with the spirit a old stories and the knead ta create new stories. We won’t go hungry.”

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Ward Word Up (Part VII) by D. Avery

Kid weren’t done yet!

“I was at the Poet Tree, thinkin I had ta work at the biggest, most important shovelin job a my life. Thinkin I had to git all the roots up ta transplant thet beautiful ol’ tree. Then I noticed a sucker.”

“Hey, Kid! Who you callin sucker?”

“Not you, not anyone. I saw how the Poet Tree not only has deep spreadin roots unnergroun, it also grows shoots ta make new trees— clones.”

“Who you callin clown?”

“Clone. The Poet Tree’ll git itself ta the new spread.”

branchin out
immeasurable reach
storied roots

“Awk!”

“Word.”

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

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6 Comments

  1. Doug Jacquier

    Congrats to all contributors. These ones caught my eye for various reasons:
    More Awe by Geoff Le Pard – Pundemonium to the level of awesome awkwardness
    Sorry by Sweeter Than Nothing – Death by evacuation? 😉
    Awkward/Awkword by Bill Engleson – ‘words do not run. They appear, sit there, catch their breath, and fill us with silence.’ – A gem.
    What’s in a Name by Michael Fishman – Gail’s right. 🙂

  2. Norah

    Awkward!

  3. restlessjo

    Excellent! And poor Matilda, turned away at those gates!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Um, this is a little awkward… even though it doesn’t contain the word awkward, this is what I came up with for this collection? It might have gotten lost in the mail. (This one is less awkwardly written than the one that went into the mail)

    In the Running by D. Avery

    Ready as he’d ever be, he nodded encouragingly to his image in the mirror.
    In the hall he shook hands with all who greeted him. Entering the hotel conference room, he raised his hands victoriously to the applause. He took up the microphone but stepped down from the podium, wanting to be closer to his supporters.
    “I’ve been in your shoes,” he proclaimed. “The path has not been easy. But we are just steps away from achieving our goals.”
    He strode confidently, still oblivious to the toilet paper streaming from his shoe.
    “We’re blazing a trail to our future!”

    What a stellar collection! Truly more awe-some than awkward. Cool beans everyone. Good luck with the ongoing transition Ms. Mills.

  5. Colleen Chesebro

    How awkward! I got waylaid and forgot to go back to the prompt. Bravo to everyone who joined in.

  6. pedometergeek

    Great stories, all. Truly some awkward moments here.

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