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To dress up is to put on a new persona, look, or role. Writers considered the myriad of ways we dress up at any age.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Caught by Joanne Fisher

Thinking he was alone, Kyle dressed up in his sister’s clothes. Looking in the mirror, he wondered if he was really a girl. Just then Hannah unexpectedly walked through the doorway.

“What are you doing in my room freak?” she asked. In a panic he ran to his own bedroom. A short time later Hannah knocked on his door. “Can I have my dress back? That one doesn’t fit you anyway. Here are some of my older ones that would be more your size. Just don’t go in my room again.”

She left Kyle a box full of clothes.

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Glamour Girl by Anne Goodwin

“Trust me,” said Geraldine, as we un-noosed our school ties in the station toilets, “Trust me,” as we tottered to the train in miniskirts and high heels. When I blinked, mascara clogged my eyelashes. My waxy lips left prints on the bottle, as I swigged lemonade.

We’d dressed up as kids, for watered-down Shakespeare. I’d scoured my sister’s wardrobe behind a locked bedroom door. But this was serious. Public. If my dad got wind of it, I was dead.

For one weekend, I’d play glamour girl. Later, when my mother found the tell-tale Polaroids, I faced the consequences alone.

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Mirror of Hope by Hugh W. Roberts

Despite the bruises, Andrew admired himself in the mirror. A princess looked back at him.

“Don’t forget your shoes.”

The red high heeled shoes, although too big, complemented his mother’s burgundy dress he had on.

“You’re pretty,” remarked the princess.

The faint noise of his father’s car’s unexpected arrival caused panic in Andrew and the princess.

“Hide behind me,” yelled the princess, “before he beats you again.”

Crouching behind the mirror, he tried making himself invisible.

As the smell of alcohol and the unbuckling of his father’s belt reached him, tears made their escape down the young boy’s face.

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When I Grow Up by Goldie

It was the night before Halloween when Stephanie realized Tommy needed a costume for school the next day.

“We need to create a costume. What do you want to be?” she asked, frantically rummaging through her arts and crafts bin.

“I want to be like Daddy!” Tommy buzzed excitedly.

Steve grinned with pride. Being a police officer had been a family tradition for generations.

Tommy disappeared from the kitchen to return wearing a black ski mask.

Stephanie and Steve froze, mortified.

“I saw you last night wearing this, telling Mom how much fun you had. I like having fun!”

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Here Comes Gingie by Bill Engleson

This kid, Gingie Rawlins, is a friggin’ showboat.

Don’t know how he does it.

I go outta the house with mismatched socks the old lady hauls me back in, waves her fat finger up my nose, points the way to my sock drawer.

Gingie’s folks seem normal. His old man’s usually suited up.

Even in the house, eh!

His mom wears puffy dresses, June Cleaver like.

Gingie however usually shows up at the paper shack in some god-awful mismatch…like, tights and shorts.

Tights!

Even wore ginch over his pants last week.

This goofball’s from Mars if you ask me.

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Makeover by Heather Gonzalez

Dorothy gave her sister a cup of hot tea that afternoon. Rose sipped the tea and complained about the weather. Suddenly, Rose got very silent. Dorothy knew it was the perfect time to give her sister a much needed makeover.

Being very gentle, she adjusted the dress she had picked out for her. She even remembered the matching hat and shoes. Applying makeup was a little harder since Dorothy’s hands had gotten shaky with age. After one last coat of lipstick was applied, Dorothy stepped back to marvel at her work. Too bad, Rose wasn’t alive to see it.

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Defending the Frontier by R. V. Mitchell

Captain Ezekiel Talbert mustered his men outside the bastion of Fort Frederick. A war party of French aligned Shawnees had been spied near the Potomac and he and his detachment of the Maryland Forces were going to intercept them before they could get up to any mischief.

His trusty band of volunteers were going to more than enough to deal with the Shawnee threat, after all they were well equipped with the latest Brown Bess muskets from Japan, and most understood the rudiments of Bland’s Manual. Now all he needed was for his sergeant to finish his phone call.

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Dressing Up by Joanne Fisher

As the sun set, they rose out of their coffins in the crypt.

“Shall we hope someone walks through the graveyard tonight? Or shall we get dressed up and go into town?” asked Samantha.

“Yes let’s go into town!” Katherine replied.

They dressed up in their finest gowns and coats, then headed off. When they got to town they were surprised by the sheer number of people there.

“Are you going to choose one?” Samantha asked after a while.

“There’s just too many of them! I can’t decide!” Katherine replied. Samantha rolled her eyes. Why did this always happen?

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Phasing by Rebecca Glaessner

Phasing began.

Tahvket donned the cloth to be worn to Center. House-family fitting it while praying for energies to take and seeds yet unformed.

Elders braided Tahv’s endless white hair.

Hair to be shaved if one’s seed fails. If one doesn’t Phase at all.

Shaved to free the energies within.

As few seeds take form and even fewer are granted life. Energies are never spared.

Would Tahv’s fail? At nearly twenty-two cycles, hope of Phasing had waned.

Yet here Tahv stood, before Center, heart pounding, hands rippling over smooth, now-fitted cloth, the outfit offering all the strength Tahv needs.

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World Book Drag by Ritu Bhathal

“But I don’t wanna!”
Little feed stomp, but I’ll be damned if my hard work won’t be worn today.
World Book Day.
The bane of every parent’s life.
I’ve been planning this costume since last year, after seeing the spectacular costume Jenny Harris-Smythe’s mother made for her daughter last year.
She was dining off her win for months!
So, I’m sorry, but today you WILL be wearing this, because I say so.
I don’t care if you think you look silly, and no, you can’t be Captain America! Ready-made costumes. Pah!
The prize will be mine!
Sorry, yes, yours…

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Dress Up by Anita Dawes

I never had the opportunity to dress up as a child
It never entered my head
I was far too busy, swimming, skating
Riding any bike I could borrow
I had a cut-out book
Where I dressed a paper doll with different clothes
This, however, wore off too quick
I wonder now if it might have been
The lack of imagination, or up bringing
Parents need to understand a child
As my granddaughter does with
my little great grand daughter
I love to watch her run around
In nothing but her hat and wellies
Or her father’s big boots…

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A Relentless Quest by Donna Matthews

I’m surprised to find my daughter lying spread eagle on the floor.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“Yes…no…maybe, in a minute.”

Hesitating a hair of a moment, I lay down next to her.

She doesn’t move away.

Lying on my side, I study her profile and realize she’s pierced her nose. Should I say something? Let it go? Her willingness to try on different personalities is something I admire in her. Her relentless quest to find which fits her best.

“Love?”

“Yeah?”

“You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m thinking about who I want to be. I just can’t see it yet.”

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Setting the Wedding Date by Sue Spitulnik

On a hot summer day at Tessa’s parents when the combined family Thanksgiving was mentioned, Michael and Tessa gave each other a knowing look as if they were blushing but weren’t. Michael cleared his throat to garner attention. “Would there be any objections if we invited friends also and asked everyone to get dressed up?”
He got a lot of ‘what do you mean’ stares.
“Tessa and I were thinking the occasion would be ideal for our wedding.”
The answer came in a cacophony of positive sounds and exclamations. Satisfied, they left to recreate the scene at Michael’s parents.

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I Do by Annette Rochelle Aben

Weddings are generally fancy-dress occasions. Even the venues are decorated beautifully with that which symbolizes the excitement of the happy couple.
Her mother’s home was no exception as there were flowers in every room. From the massive spray of gladiolas on the piano to the dozens of carnations in the family room. So pretty!
The bride sat crossed-legged on the kitchen counter in jeans, a tee-shirt and bare feet. Caught up in the beauty around her, she bolted when the Minister inquired if she had a pretty dress to wear since the ceremony was to begin in five minutes.

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Wedding Trappings by Kerry E.B. Black

This wouldn’t be the wedding of her dreams. Finances had seen to that.

However, it wasn’t about the trappings, or so she kept telling herself.

She smoothed the front of the gown. It registered more as the ivory of aged teeth rather than the dazzling white of a Hollywood smile, but it was an antique. Something old. A relic from Gram’s wedding. She spritzed the high collar with perfume to overpower the lingering mustiness the cleaners couldn’t remove. No fairy-godmother’s transformation for her.

When she saw her groom’s appreciative smile, however, she knew. Their wedding wasn’t about the trappings.

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As”mo”mi Returns by Kavita Deo Miracle Moments

Asmi, a new mom, stood in front of the mirror and took a good look at herself. The pregnancy glow was replaced by stress of being a new mom. She sighed, “I need to look and feel like my old self”. She opened her wardrobe and then took out a kaftan. A glamorous yellow kaftan in chiffon with beautiful grey motifs printed on it. She put it on, wore her favourite bead necklace and dabbed make up . Then she sprayed her favourite Chanel perfume. She wore heels, took a selfie in mirror, posted on Instagram As”mo”mi returns.

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Warm Welcome by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Olivia was new to this climate, and new to the area. Naturally shy, she was unsure how to dress herself properly, so she’d gotten up the gumption to visit Lena’s Outdoor Outlet for help.

Lena was a peach, listened carefully, looked her over good, and smiled. This girl obviously needed a friend; Lena could use any and all sales. The sense of mutual balance pleased both.

At the Pumpkin Moon Fest, Olivia blushed and shivered, despite her layers. How could others be fine in thin flannel and cargos?

Lena waved her over and whispered, “Don’t worry. Just be comfortable!”

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Gifts from the Heart by Saifun Hassam

Down by the pines, the bird feeding station was busy with cardinals, bluejays, and sparrows. Straight after breakfast, Farah’s mom helped her to dress: boots, jacket.

Her birthday scarf embroidered with bluebirds.

The young artist’s drawing notebook was already filled with doodles of birds and flowers. Her imagination was fired up from Grandma’s surprise birthday gift: a CD all about drawing and painting birds and flowers.

Drawing a real cardinal was pretty tough. Suddenly from a nearby birch tree, a bird called out. Grandma was right. An entire world was out there waiting to be explored. Artist and explorer.

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Mother of Assumptions by Ruchira Khanna

We, individuals, love to dress up our minds with assumptions.

An assumption is a state of mind where an individual can draw a very colorful or an ugly picture.

Isn’t it amazing how an individual builds his castle over his assumption?

A classic example is how an individual presents himself, his dressing mannerisms, or his public behavior. They are all human-made assumptions.

This boils down to being aware of what we think, which eventually becomes our assumptions.

If the assumption is the mother of all disasters, bring in the father who has a clear vision and channel the thoughts.

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Lights, Camera Etc. by kathy70

Saturday night and the theater lobby lights sparkle on the sequins as we walk around. We are in our suburban neighborhood and no paparazzi are stalking us for photos. It is opening night. Who’s idea was it to make this a fancy dress event? It seems pretty silly all these years later. Yet, the photo of us from that evening is one of my most treasured items. Who would imagine that adults would play dress up for all the world to see on such a “normal” day. Imagine we really were that young and playful only three + decades ago.

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It’s a Compliment by Simon

Are you doing chores with an apron? Like a house wife? (Auntie chuckled)

I dote to Sprint like Dutee Chand

Fight like Greta Thunberg

Play like P.V.Sindhu

Fly like Gunjan Saxena

Ambulate like Anjali Lama

Drive like Veeralakshmi

Indite like Malini Agarwal

Do chores like my wife

Manage house like my Mom

Cook like my grandma

Doing anything like them is not a revilement, it’s a compliment.

You are withal a woman. Now tell me, are you complimenting me or vilifying me?

(Sa…Sa…SA..) Sam, I was complimenting you dear.

I deciphered it when you sa…sa…said… Auntie, Thank you (Attitude)

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He Wished He Had … by Reena Saxena

He saw a huge crowd carrying similar placards, snaking its way through streets.

Is that Emily? Yes, she is leading the procession. But why?

Later in the evening ….

“You don’t qualify to be called domestic help.”

“Really? Who has been managing the house for 10 months now?”

The sarcasm froze him.

“But why should you be leading the pack? You don’t work for others.”

“I want house help to come back. I wish you’d helped with the chores….”

He seriously wished he had. It would’ve saved him embarrassment.

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Doing Chores by Ann Edall-Robson

Calving, snowstorms,
temperature dropping,
water holes to keep open.
Sleigh horses harnessed,
hay stacked high
frozen skis crunch snow.
Mercury slithers, creeping
down, frosted breath,
feeding rituals double.
These months called winter
everything’s expected,
without warning too often.
The temptation to stay
by the wood fire, warm,
nothing but a fleeting dream.
​Every day a silent wish
tromps through the thoughts
yearning for winter to end.
A want for longer days
Chinook winds blow,
snowdrifts dissolve.
Spring and green grass
replaces manure laced mud
frozen days, gone.
To the ranchers feeding
cows and country
thank you for doing chores.

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Riding the Zipline Down Under by Norah Colvin

Many hid behind Norah’s fear of heights, speed and enclosed spaces. “I’ll do anything Norah does,” they’d boast, feigning bravery. D. said she’d ride the zipline from its start, high up in the US, all the way Down Under, if Norah did.
Dressed for warmth and to prevent chafing, they adjusted their harnesses. “You first,” said D., still not believing Norah would do it.
“Whee! I’m flying; flying without wings,” sang Norah, zooming across the landscape.
“I’m dying,” screamed D., squeezing her eyes shut.
“We’re here,” said Norah. “Welcome to Australia.”
“That was amazing,” said D. “I did it!”

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Double-hog Dare by D. Avery

“Kid? What’re ya doin’?”
“Dressin’ up.”
“I kin see thet. But fer what?”
“Fer Aussie.”
“Fer Aussie? Aussie favors the Michelin Man? An’ dang it, Kid, are those my pillows ya got duct-taped ta yersef?”
“Yers, mine, any I could git a hold of. Need paddin’.”
“Why’s thet Kid?”
“Wanna be prepared fer a crash landin’.”
“Crash landin’?! From what?”
“Zip-linin’.”
“But ya cain’t stand heights Kid.”
“But Aussie double-dog-dared me.”
“Hmmf.”
“Pal?”
“Yeh?”
“Take good care a Curly fer me.”
“Oh, Curly an’ me, we’re comin’ ta watch.”
“She might git scared.”
“Does, she’ll squeal like a Kid.”

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Dressed ta Swill by D. Avery

“Jeez. Kid, ya let thet critter snuggle in bed with ya, ya won’t git her ta stop.”
“So?”
“So? She already weighs two stone.”
“Stone? Yer a week late Pal.”
“It’s a unit a measure. Ya seen my flannel nightshirt?”
“Heehee. Curly, yer eyelashes tickle. Flutterin’ butterfly lashes.”
“Butterflies? Thet’s so last week.”
“Last week… ‘member visitin’ Ernie… then comin’ back an’ piggin’ out afore a long nap.”
“T’weren’t pretty. Hey! Thet pig’s wearin’ my nightshirt!”
“Ya soun’ angry, Pal. Is’t ‘cause Curly looks better in it then you do?”
“Give it!”
“Here ya go. Want some lipstick too?”

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January 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Enough snow covers the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan to hear the occasional whine of snow machines blasting through town on a trail 100 yards from our house. We’ve had more thaw and freeze cycles than we’ve had snow. Last year by this time we had 215 inches. The normal snowpack is 184 inches. We have barely 50 inches of snow. Vessels continue to ply the shipping lanes that ice usually shuts down in Lake Superior. Lady Lake has no taste for winter following a year that has disrupted the world.

And I have a puppy.

This is no COVID puppy. She’s a mock-therapy dog, not the real deal as far as a certificate is concerned, but a calming presence for a veteran suffering neurological impairment. She’s also a healing balm for my heart. The downside — besides trips outside every two hours to potty train and the wincing pain of puppy teeth — is that when I rest with this warm, pulsating bundle of pure love and trust, I feel all the emotions I’ve set aside to plow ahead with my MFA.

No one escapes grief or death in this life. We don’t linger on this reality because each day is too precious to waste on worry. However, a snuggling puppy melts my defenses leaving me bare like ground accustomed to the protective blanket of snow. I don’t remember what used to be normal. Does it matter? And then the warmth spreads, the puppy breath hovers, and I witness the perfection of life measured in a moment.

When she wakes, my laughter rises. Her eyes are deep and mesmerizing. So much soul in one so tiny. So much spunk. He round rump and stubby legs romp the hardwood floors. Her ears perk into a determined flop when she pounces on a toy. At first it was only a leather squirrel and a brightly colored canvas duck. Today, Amazon delivered her puppy chew-toy kit, including an orange rope carrot with green threads for a top. It’s her favorite.

This was not my preferred time to get a puppy. But the Hub was missing dogs in his life and struggling to find purpose. The pup has restored confidence — dogs are familiar territory for him. She’s a German Short-haired Pointer (GSP) which is his favorite breed. While she has his full attention and love, she also challenges his focus. It knocks him out most days. That leaves me puppy-parenting when I know he needs to reset and recharge. I’m not complaining. She’s amazing grace with paws.

If you want a proper introduction to the puppy, be sure to read Kid and Pal’s exclusive over at D. Avery’s Saddle Up Saloon.

My looming thesis deadline, capstone projects, graduate certification for teaching creative writing, and application to graduate with an MFA in May have me spread thinner than that snow we don’t have right now. I need someone to cook, brew coffee, and puppy sit for me until February 7. Even if that happened, I have serious doubts about finishing my thesis. I know I will pull through and get it completed but my brain continues to feel like mush.

During these unsettled times I want to be here with you all, believing in better days, writing into the stories we want to tell, the wordcraft we want to master, and the connections we want to make. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned in my MFA program through different avenues. Let’s keep writing through it all. Be gentle and generous in these times. Everyone is struggling.

And let’s have some fun! Anne Goodwin asks readers in her recent newsletter if they enjoyed dressing up as children. It made me recall how much my own kids loved to play dress-up. We often looked for hats and high heels at garage sales to add to their costume box. In fact, my eldest has never fully grown out of dressing up because she gets to design and wear costumes for her dance troupe. I think a part of what my son and DIL enjoyed about their wedding was the chance to dress up, too.

Get out your costume box, put on your whimsy. We can rise above the doom and gloom and play like pampered puppies or imaginative children.

Thank you for your patience at the Ranch! It’s important we stay connected and keep writing each week.I may not be on target with my timing but I’m here with you!

January 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 19, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

High-Desert Princesses by Charli Mills

Maggie stood patiently for the braiding, imagining how she’d look with ribbons of pink and sea-foam green. Jayda wore the same braids and ribbons, which made Maggie snort to think they’d be matchy-matchy. She cherished the days they played dress-up together in the barn. They’d go outside and parade up and down the dirt lane, the ranch hands pausing their dusty work to cheer like the two of them really were high-desert princesses. The magnificent act of play lingered. Later, after Jayda removed the ribbons and satin, Maggie tried to tell the other horses about the magic of make-believe.

Butterfly and Stones

Between the contrast of whisper-thin wings and bedrock, 99-word stories take flight.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

PART I (10-minute read)

I See the Sky by Bill Engleson

I see the sky,
a band of blue,
your sweet-sought dreams,
a life anew.

Wing away friend,
soar to the heights,
butterfly dreams,
a life in lights.

I am the earth,
the solid ground,
what I can grasp,
certainty bound.

The eastern sun
will always rise,
set in the west,
each day a prize.

And though I wait,
weighted by stone,
it ‘tis my way
and not your own.

Each way is best,
and yes, best yet,
to live a life
without regret.

And so, you write,
you shape, you mould,
each thought a word
a tale well told

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Home School — More Than Academics by Ritu Bhathal

“More school, at home, again?” Megan wailed. “I hate it when you teach me, mum!”

Pushing the computer aside, I turned to her.

“Tell you what, today, we’ll do some learning, my way.”

 I found some flat stones we’d collected at the beach a couple of years ago and got the paint out.

“Today, we learn about random acts of kindness.”

We painted all sorts on the stones; hearts, butterflies, flowers; and then in the afternoon, we took a walk and placed the colourful stones in random places.

“There, we can still put a smile on someone’s face, sweetheart.”

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Butterfly Rock Garden by Sue Spitulnik

In the springtime, the Homefront Warrior’s group worked quickly under the threat of rain to arrange rocks and then plant seedlings and bulbs for a memorial garden.
Now it was a sunny, blue-sky August day and they gathered for a picnic near their handiwork. One woman who had little knowledge of plants stood admiring the various colored blossoms with a puzzled look on her face.
Tessa noticed. “What has you perplexed?”
“Why did we plant weeds in with the flowers?”
“If you mean the milkweed, it’s the only thing a monarch butterfly will eat. Look, here comes one now.”

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The Fairy Garden by Kate Spencer

“What’ya doing?” Tommy asked, dropping his toy cars beside the sandbox.

“I’m building a fairy garden,” Lily said, placing small stones alongside her castle.

“It’s my turn to play.”

“’Tis not.”

“’Tis so!” Tommy shouted, kicking the sand.

“Mommy!”

“Stop it!” their mother’s voice echoed from the house.

Frustrated, Tommy sat down on the rim of the sandbox. Finally, he announced, “I’ll build a fairy car garage over here.”

“Well, okay,” Lily said and gasped, “Look, a fairy!”

Tommy looked up. “It’s a butterfly, you ninny.”

“You’re silly,” Lily giggled. “Don’t you know? Fairies are beautiful butterflies in disguise.”

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That’s No Butterfly by Joanne Fisher

In the garden Katy saw the most beautiful butterfly fluttering by the roses. Out of nowhere a stone went flying past, only narrowly missing it. Katy turned to see her brother Scott was there about to throw another stone.

“Why are you throwing stones at the butterfly?” Katy demanded.

“That’s no butterfly!” Scott replied. Looking closer, Katy saw it was actually a fairy.

“It’s beautiful!” she said putting her hand out. The fairy landed, then unsheathed a sword and plunged it deep into her palm. “Ow! That fairy stabbed me!”

“Why do you think I’m throwing stones at it?”

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A Butterfly Promise by Norah Colvin

Jack scrambled over the rocks to their favourite place for discussing the wonders of the universe and the meaning of life. And death. He took Grandma’s special stone from his pocket, turned it this way and that in the sunlight, and admired its iridescence. ‘Like butterfly wings. Like life.’ Grandma said she’d come back as a butterfly, if she could.

‘You shouldn’t have left me, Grandma!’ Jack didn’t try to stop his tears. He blinked when a beautiful butterfly alighted on the stone, tickled his nose and circled his head before fluttering away. ‘Grandma!’ called Jack. ‘You came back!’

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Learning by D. Avery

In “Teaching A Stone To Talk” Annie Dillard states that we’ve desecrated the groves and sacred places, “have moved from pantheism to pan-atheism”, and so “Nature’s silence is its one remark”; “The silence is all there is” and this silence is our own doing.

I wonder; who are we then, to presume to teach a stone to talk? We need to learn to listen!

It isn’t easy work; it requires great attention and practice. But the stone has much to say about patience, endurance, and transformation.

Look. A butterfly lands whisper-winged on a lichen-cloaked stone. Watch and learn. Listen.

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The Butterfly Stone by Donna Matthews

I pull up at the state park known for its dinosaur fossils. Dinosaurs in Texas, I chuckle to myself. But, of course, creatures roamed before Texas a thing. My vision, my perspective so little today, a gossamer mist clouding my thoughts.

This is why I need these wild places. They connect me back to grace. They remind me.

I find the tracks, and I sit, the trees rustle overhead. My fingers trace dinosaur feet, ancient leaves, ocean shells; I imagine a butterfly settling down after her last flight, resting, dying. I outline her imagined wings; I whisper thank you.

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Wish With Care by R. V. Mitchell

At the streamside among the stones the butterflies ascended to take a drink. The occasional droplets splashed onto the bank provided enough to meet their meagre needs. As they waited for the current to provide them with the next sip, a dragonfly circled and then then skimmed the waters surface to take a deep drink.

“Oh, I wish I could drink whenever I wanted,” Addie the smallest of the butterflies said.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Bia responded.

Just then a trout leapt from the water and devoured the hapless dragonfly.

“I see what you mean,” Addie gasped.

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(93) Damned Family (Jesse Finds Inner Strength) by JulesPaige

I am woman, hear me roar! Yet the butterflies in my stomach twitter uncontrollably. I’ve got to get me some stones, find my own cojones. I stared at the phone. I had to call Mae Norwich. And honesty was the best policy.

Jesse dialed the phone hoping at first to just leave a message, maybe set up a time to meet at a public place. But at three O’clock Mae was having some quiet time in her office when the phone rang. So she picked it up and calmly responded; “This is Mae Norwich, how can I help you?”

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Opposites by Paula Light

Everyone on the street called him Stone. He was tough, ruthless, and got the job done. He didn’t seek out violence, but when it became necessary he acted quickly and efficiently. When she came along, broken and beautiful, they named her Butterfly. Stone protected her, for he remembered how it was to be fragile. Wherever she flitted, he stopped to admire her gold-dusted delicacy. But the jealous ones plotted to drive her away with lies. After she left, Stone crumbled to pieces and scattered himself in the places she’d been, his grief mingling with the ethereal traces of love.

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A Way to a Man’s Heart by Goldie

Pete was Lucy’s summertime neighbor. Both of their families loved visiting Vallecito Lake to “unplug.” The kids rolled their eyes whenever they heard that term. There was no cable or Internet, so the only thing to do was to go outdoors.

Not wanting to act “like a girl,” Lucy ran through mud, hid behind bushes, and fought with sticks as swords.

After a couple of summers, she developed a crush on Pete.

***

“What pretty butterfly,” she mused just before smashing it with a rock.

She read somewhere that butterfly dust was a key ingredient in a love potion.

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Beyond by Rebecca Glaessner

The stones of worship returned, settling into position around the throng of hopeful.

Would they feel the great Beyond this day?

Their paths carried scholars and explorers between countless neighbouring worlds, but never Beyond.

The crowd buzzed with nervous energy beneath the spread of stars, wrapping themselves up in each-other as one.

One being. One mind.

Their minds opened, connected, energy growing, reaching out and up, past clouds, skies, satellites, their sun. Other suns. Stars. Felt the warmth. Pushed further.

It came as if a whisper of an Earthen butterfly’s wings.

As one, they felt the Beyond reach back.

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Safe, New World by Hugh W. Roberts

“Look at all these small, round stones, Alan. Is that some writing on them? It looks like some foreign language. And aren’t the rainbow colours on all of them stunning? It’s like they’ve been hand-painted.”

“Hand-painted by who or what?” asked Alan as he picked up a stone.

They both gasped with astonishment as a rainbow-coloured butterfly fluttered up from under the stone.

“Are there more of them under the other stones?”

“Only one way to find out.”

Within minutes of the last overturned stone releasing its prey, all human life ceased to exist on the safe, new world.

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Beatrice, the Alchemist by Saifun Hassam

When Beatrice’s father died, the inner garden of poisonous flowers and herbals shriveled up overnight. A circular stone wall separated that garden from extensive outer gardens. Only certain bees and butterflies ventured into that inner garden.

Over the years, Beatrice became an alchemist in her own right, learning about botanicals and medicinals. Her own blood was forever tainted with poisonous vapors from her father’s garden. She rejoiced at the sight of the dying garden.

Beatrice’s new garden flowered with plants from everywhere, even faraway India and China. Cerulean blue butterflies and emerald green hummingbirds lit up the blossoming garden.

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Stone Butterfly by FloridaBorne

“I remember the day may father gave this to me,“ Reyna said, lifting her necklace toward the camera. “I was 17 and so embarrassed.”

“You’re 20, and famous,” The talk show hostess said, “Why wear that thing?”

“I’d yelled at him, ‘this is ugly! I hate it’,” Reyna said. “I thought he’d divorced my mom, then lost his job. He’d saved the money for it by sleeping without heat in his efficiency apartment.”

“Why does that matter?”

“He had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mom told him she wasn’t his nurse and threw him out. Last night, he died in my arms.”

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Kindness Rock by Kerry E.B. Black

Frustration etched furrows in the young mother’s face. She bounced a painted rock in her palm. “You obviously missed the point of the kindness rock project.”

“I got it.” Her daughter caught the rock and pointed. “See the purple butterfly? I put pink hearts on its wings. And on this side,” she turned it over and pushed it toward her mother, “I made a bright yellow sun. What could be nicer?”

“The images are lovely, but you ruined the ‘kindness’ message when you pitched the thing through Mrs. Hanstead’s window.”

The girl shrugged. “Wanted to be sure she got it.”

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Petrified by Anne Goodwin

At three she was a butterfly. At thirty, a stone. Prancing, dancing, in a stolen tutu, no-one warned her butterflies soon die.
At thirteen, she learnt of other insects, with other-coloured wings. At fifteen, she became one, but found the winds so fierce, she never learnt to fly.
By forty-three, she was settled, merged with solid rock. She recognised her former dreams for what they were: fairy tales, ephemera, lies.
Then came a lepidopterist, brandishing a chisel. When he chipped away her armour, it hurt. She feared it would kill her. Or could a butterfly emerge from a stone?

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Butterfly Stone by kathy70

We went to an abandoned quarry entrance to see the best view of the city and mountain that lay ahead of us. It was some type of marble quartz that was being pulled we were told. Walking up to the top of the hill I looked at the well-worn path. I spotted a pretty shaped stone and reached down to put it in my pocket.

My friend collects heart shaped stones on her travels and this looked like a beauty. Once in my hand the pinkish stone appeared to be more of a butterfly than a heart. New goals.

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Butterfly Kisses by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He lay, entombed in mud and ice and darkness. He’d lain there so long that fine, tough filaments had grown over his limbs, the bridge of his nose, twining around the desiccated, corded column of his neck. He’d pull the blanket higher, cover the chilled vee of his pajama top…but no…too much of an effort. He’d gone too far away.

Then he heard it, the sweet lilt: the child’s voice. A faraway light broke overhead; he felt her smooth cheek against his own, unshaven and unwashed. Her lashes brushed his cheekbone, once and again.

Wake up, Grampa.

🥕🥕🥕

Butterfly Lips by Ann Edall-Robson

Where the water once gushed
Over stones and green shoots
Wings steady delicate bodies
Their minuscule feet dancing
Barely rising from the remains
Of the escarpments drying life
Cruel summer heat evaporates
Yet the Admiral and Swallowtail
Bewitched with the droplets
Unseen by the naked eye
They stay to kiss the mud
Wetting parched butterfly lips
Breezes lift their feathery wings
Sharing fissures with others
Until they are satiated
Before the ground
Becomes baked clay
And they lift skyward
Yet, return they will
To where the water once flowed
Over the rocks and grass
To this place of life

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Flapping Heck by Geoff Le Pard

‘Oh no, bloody buskers.’
‘We’re going home. Stop being a misery.’
‘I wouldn’t mind if they were any good. Less the Stones, more the Gravel. The
aural equivalent of grit in the ears.’
‘Didn’t you ever aspire to be something creative? Play an instrument, write a book?’
‘I painted a butterfly once.’
‘There you go, Logan. Yours could be a new school.’
‘Oh sure. My art teacher, Fosdyke, told me if it flapped its wings, the only wind it would whip up would be of the flatulent sort.’
‘You just needed encouragement.’
‘Or talent.’
‘That’s our flight being called…’

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Hair a the Hog by D. Avery

“Pal? There anythin’ ta eat?”
“Where ya been Kid?”
“Walkin’ the hog.”
“Uh-huh. Where’d ya go?”
“Ernie’s.”
“How’s he doin’? Still not drinkin’?”
“Not drinkin’. Thinkin’. Sets there on a big rock. Jist sets. Yer there ya gotta set real quiet too. Ernie says they’re conversin’. Him an’ that stone.”
“Huh. He ain’t drinkin’?”
“Not even growin’ corn. But he’s got a garden. Thought Pepe was there. Was them plants. We got anything ta eat? Don’t know why I’m so hungry. I et plenny a Ernie’s cookies. Hey, lookit the butterfly.”
“Thet’s yer piglet.”
“That’s what the stone said!”

🥕🥕🥕

January 7 Flash Fiction Challenge

A week into the new year, and I’m ready to “do” again. For the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring what it means to be a human being. The reflection was inward, and the parameters were mine. I was “being” like no one was watching. You know, like the saying — “dance like no one is watching.” What fulfills each of us is a design as unique as our thumbprints. I spent time to be with my self-design.

What I did was deep vision work. I didn’t just bounce from cloud-dream to cloud-dream. I distilled those vapors and thought about what elements give me purpose.

Vision work never ends. When we talk about evolving as a person, we are acknowledging how our vision shapes our understanding of who we are in the world. The more insights we often gain, the greater change it brings. The more we understand our vision, the better we get at defining our purpose. Visions don’t change; we get better clarity.

Think of it like this. Your vision is the landscape of the dream that drives your life. We can feel it in our gut and heart. We can see it in our mind’s eye. At first, it looks fuzzy. We have to define outlines of wispy clouds and name what we feel. When we first start playing with our visions, we imagine what our life looks like in five, ten, twenty years if we grow into who we want to be and what we do.

Then, as we continue to accomplish vision work each year, we get better at definition. These are the insights that come to us. A picture emerges from the clouds of dreams. We begin to recognize vision feelings in our every day lives. So, we push into that clarity and begin to see our vision’s thumbprint.

For example, many writers have a clear vision of a moment that defines success — they can imagine what they wear and say and how they feel when they sit on Oprah’s couch to discuss their book. Some writers include that moment in their vision. And why not? Vision work dreams big. Martin Luther King had a vision that drove his purpose, which was so strong it continues to inspire others today.

When we reflect on our vision, we realize that Oprah and her couch are symbolic. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But a vision is about purpose, about who we are as human beings as much as it is about what we do or accomplish. Go back to Oprah’s couch. Why are you there? What are you discussing? How are others around you feeling? How do you feel?

This is deep vision work.

I’ve had a dream of winning an Oscar from the time I was nine years old. I really don’t know what spawned the dream other than two things happened that year, and maybe that was enough. First, I got to go to the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, Nevada, where I had my photo taken with a lion in a building that spared no detail on Hollywood glamor. Second, I had a bit role in the school play and discovered I love being a different person than the scared, awkward, and bullied kid I was.

That year, I watched the Oscars and noticed how the show looked like it was filmed at the MGM Grand Hotel, and the slick actors from films seemed as awkward in person as I felt despite their glamor.

I never told anyone about my fantasy or what I pretended any time I got to revisit the hotel in Reno and walk down the red-carpeted stairs. I discovered writing several years later and realized I could also become characters on the page. However, it popped up during vision work. And do you know what I did with that dream cloud? I blew it away because I thought it had nothing to do with my writing vision.

I was wrong.

Three years ago, I decided to not ignore the Oscar dream. I wrote it down in my ten-year vision. If I encouraged others to dream big, why not do it myself? Then I began to reflect on what it means to me. How it feels. How I feel in everyday life when I get that “Oscar” feeling. How winning an Oscar has anything to do with what I write.

A picture began to emerge. I live a rich inner life, and it is the source of my creativity. It’s not that I want to hide (on the stage or page); actually, I want to use bigger than life personas to express who I am on the inside. Surprisingly, my desire for Oscar recognition has to do with being seen for who I authentically am. It aligns with my top personal value of authenticity, which drives me to live the life I feel best expresses my purpose. That’s me, that’s my Oscar.

Also, I recognized a more practical application. My writing vision has to do with the kind of fiction I want to put out in the world — stories that express love in all its manifestations, characters who overcome adversity, books that uplift readers. I find myself looking for these stories in film to get quick fixes.

My writing Oscar is to write a story that would make a binge-worthy Netflix series.

Do I plan to set a goal to win an Oscar? No. That’s not the point. A vision might use accomplishments to express a person’s driving dreams, but a vision is all about living the fullest life available to you. Goals, the things we do, should take us to our vision. Every year, I will take this time to dive deeper into being. My vision balances who I am with what I do.

It’s not the arrival that satisfies me but the journey. I am a writer with an Oscar in her heart. I don’t need to get a statue; I need to express who I am on the page. Who is that? I’m still learning, but loving the transformative ride.

It’s good to be back to the Ranch and among writers. Look for Kid and Pal’s exclusive next Monday on the new baby critters headed tho the fictional ranch and the real ranch headquarters. Welcome to 2021!

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Periwinkles on the Pack River by Charli Mills

Stones pulsed with a periwinkle heartbeat. Danni walked along the Pack River where the snow melt had retreated to expose banks of smooth stones. Her steps disturbed clouds of tiny blue butterflies that flew ahead to land, folding up wings to expose the buff color of granite underneath. As quickly as they fluttered, they disappeared into the camouflage of their coloring. G-Dog and Detlor burst past her, running to the creek with happy, floppy freedom ears. Blue periwinkles and brown dogs. The day would be perfect if Ike were here. She tossed a stone in his favorite fishing hole.

🥕🥕🥕

Year-End Break

Happy Holidays to one and all, no matter what or how you are celebrating this year!

Last night, I bundled up and stepped out into a howling snow-gale, making good on my Solstice intention to walk every day. Wind whipped snow from every direction, burying my neighborhood in drifts. I walked down the middle of the back alleyway and when I turned toward Roberts Street, tall maples cast shadows against the house lights.

We never know when creativity will call us. In the middle of the street in the middle of a blizzard, I played with the shadows, walking up and down trees, crossing over on branches. When I returned on my walk, I laughed at my own tracks. It looked like booted elves had danced in the road. Just one elf. Me.

I continued to have fun and made a large peace sign in the snow covering my driveway. Sometimes we don’t need to share our art with the world. Sometimes we create and let the storm obliterate our moment of inspiration. Yet, the part of us that wants to share creation, we act thoughtfully on the what, how, where and when.

This end-of-year closes a chapter in my calendar book and I like to reflect on what was and deliberate on what will be. This is my visioning time of year and I take my vision play seriously. If you are serious, you might be interested in a download of my course, Writers Vision Planting.

If 2020 doesn’t blow up 2021, I have plans to graduate with a completed thesis. We do not receive a grade for a thesis — either the program accepts it, or not. My advisor has five weeks to give me feedback and she’s cautioned me that second drafts are not ready. She says it took her six months to get her accepted thesis ready for submission. I will do what it takes but anticipate shifting from student to professional.

My MFA has a dual path. I’ve also been training to teach creative writing online. I’ve crafted a plan with feedback from my profs, and I want to break it into phases. So I’m taking a year-end break to dream, think, play, and plan. Oh, and write my second draft. There’s always that!

In the meantime, I want to encourage you all to find moments to celebrate, rest, dream, and plan for what next. D. Avery, Ruchira Khanna, and H.R.R. Gorman will see you through the New Year. D. will be at the Saddle Up Saloon, December 28 and January 4. Ruchira and H. will post their columns December 29 and January 5. We have lots lined up for Carrot Ranch in 2021! The Saloon will continue every Monday, featured columns on Tuesdays with three new writers, including Hugh Roberts, T. Marie Bertineau, and Anna Rodeiguez who is in my MFA cohort.

Weekly challenges resume January 7, 2021. And Mause comes to live with us January 10!

Stilettos

Stilettos attract attention, no doubt. This week writers took to the heels (an occasional points) like balanced pros to deliver a variety of stories that sparkle like glitter.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

New Age by Rebecca Glaessner

Several eons passed since they last visited Earth, they discovered humans viewed other-world strangers warily now, without the awe of old.

Their job – gathering insights into human minds – meant molding their DNA to conform while on-planet. They looked human, though in this new age, reed undergarments, intricate piercings and feathered crowns weren’t widely desired.

Human views on appearances had changed.

The aliens adapted, yet one didn’t account for their stilettos’ height.

Travelling the city, the aliens-as-humans towered over passers-by, attracting attention.

Glorious feathered crowns were no longer worshiped, but height had them feeling once more like gods amongst men.

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Wing-Woman by Ritu Bhathal

“I have to wear those?”

Melissa nodded.

“No, really. Me? Wearing those death traps?”

Eliza gingerly picked up one of the sparkly high heeled stilettos and dangled it in front of her eyes. A pointed toe that was sure to pinch at her feet. And the heel. Dear God, the heel. Six inches of danger.

She cleared her throat. “Mel, do you want to walk into the club with style, or be shoved into Dan’s arms unceremoniously, as your hapless wing-woman ends up tripping, and taking you with her?”

“Well, at least he’ll notice me, that way,” Melissa smirked.

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First Dance by Marsha Ingrao

“West Coast Swing?” Roger asked, sweat popping from every pore.

“Learning.”

He glanced at her gold stilettos. “Brush your soles.”

“Why?”

Roger reached out his dimpled hand, “Slippery.”

He announced each step as they danced in their tight corner. “You’re doing well.” He spun her onto the main floor.

With each back step and pull on her arm, Tanni felt laughter bubbling inside. Her ankle turned. Roger never missed a step as he flung her off the floor around him. When she landed, glistening as brightly as her stilettos, she picked up the beat with a back step.

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Learning to Walk by Joanne Fisher

Briana selected the pair of red stilettos and began putting them on in store.

“Excuse me, um, miss, are you sure want to try those on?” the store assistant asked frowning at her.

“Yes I have to learn how to walk in heels at some point.” Briana replied.

She stood up and tried to take a step. She swayed, and eventually began to topple over, the store assistant managing to break her fall.

“Again, are you really sure you wouldn’t prefer some flats?”

“A girl’s gotta try.” Briana responded as she stood up again and took one more step.

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Gender Glitter by Charli Mills

Jace carefully dressed to costume up with the other college drag queens. He, she…no, he…set out on cross-country skis to the campus theater, stilettos tied with cord and slung across her back. His back. No one paid much attention to the petite contender for Frostiest Northern Queen until none could deny her presence (at last!). In a silver beehive wig to match nine-inch glittering stilettos, she won crowd and crown. Jace had to keep the victory secret. She (born that way) headed for the girl’s dorm no longer getting to express the person of a man becoming a woman.

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Sizing Up by D. Avery

Poised proud on the dashboard, they shone through the windshield.

“Shouldn’t you return those shoes to whoever left them in your truck?” Liza was chastising but also hopeful to get the sparkly gold stilettos as a consolation prize. Tom’s dad, still oblivious, also chastised the young man.

“It’s a might unseemly, keeping trophies out in plain view like that.”

“Yessir,” and he gathered the stilettos in one hand, pulled his scruffy duffle bag from the front seat with the other. “But they’re no trophy. They’re mine.”

Tom studied his own dusty work boots, as if for the first time.

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A Mile in Her Shoes by D.L. Armistead

Mitch crammed his feet into the improbably spiky heels, six inches high with marabou pompoms, and hobbled to the starting line with all the other guys. His work buddies had laughed. But it was his idea to join and honor all the people, male and female and – what was that new word? Non-binary? – who had been subjects of sexualized violence. From the snide remarks at Susan’s office to the death of that poor kid Troy, beaten senseless for daring to say he was really a girl. Mitch’s sign read, “Good Man Crossing.” He picked it up and started walking.

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(64) Damned Family (Doe Eyed Maeve) by JulesPaiges

doe eyed, full
of innocence, grandiose plans to
save the world

Mae remembered when she had embraced the full character of herself as Maeve, as she read the text from the Faithful Stag, and reminisced about the first time they had met. It was at a New Year’s Party in Washington, DC. My, those were the days. Women wore sparkling stilettos to gain some height, along with gold or silver sequined cocktail dresses or dramatic gowns with slits up to their armpits.

Now Mae thought, if only she could ‘save’ those closest to her. Like her nephew Norman.

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The Writer Knows Her Limits by Anne Goodwin

“I can’t. Just like I can’t put a cigarette in someone’s hand.”

My muse rolls her eyes.

“It’s a step away from Chinese foot binding.”

“Doorstep or dance step? You don’t trip over those.”

“It’s a moral issue.”

“Who do you think you are, Mother Teresa? Nobody cares.”

“I care.”

“Some writer, only mentioning things you approve of!”

“Anyway, it’s impractical. She’s a murderer. She needs to run.”

“You nailed the weapon yet?”

“Nails can’t kill without a hammer. She won’t find either at a masked ball.”

“She could wear it.”

“The hammer?”

“The stiletto, idiot! On her feet.”

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Stilettos by Reena Saxena

Spending a fortune on a pair of high heels did not help much. The discomfort remained as with the lesser pairs, and I had it to pad it with cushions and toe covers, and practise walking on preciousness.

I did think renting would have been a better option. But what if Prince Charming came looking for me with one shoe? He would land on Rent-O-Mojo.

Little did I think a fall would take me to the police. Diamonds concealed in the shoe spilt out, and now I don’t know whether to call it a bane or boon.

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Miranda by R. V. Mitchell

Miranda’s profile on the escort site was constructed in every detail to get the attention of Big Hank McCloud the head of the local syndicate. Weeks of research, and a knowledge of his “tastes” assured that the call would come.

Miranda arrived at the hotel attired in a revealing black dress and some stilettos that were to die for. When she was frisked by the bodyguard, she let out a little moan just to play up the persona.

Once alone in the room with the boss, the assassin struck. Did I mention that the stilettos were to die for?

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No Shoes by Kate Spencer

“So what’ya gonna give me for them?” Marco asked, leaning into the counter.

George knew better than to ask Marco how he got a hold of the goods he brought into the pawnshop. 

“These are shoes. You know we don’t take shoes,” George said.

“They’re red stilettos George. You gotta lady don’t you? Imagine her wearing them Christmas morning.”

George examined the long dagger-like heels one more time. His fiery Roxy sure would be sexy in them.  But those heels. They can kill.

Closing the lid slowly, George pushed the box away.  

“Like I said, we don’t take shoes.” 

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A Matter of Self Defence or, Miss Fluart’s ‘Admirer’ by Gordon Le Pard

“So Miss, do you know who I am?”

Miss Fluart looked down at his twisted fingers.

“I think you are the man who liked assaulting women.”

“Harmless, until you took a hand. Now for some fun. No one will hear you scream.”

She looked round the empty Park, stepped back and took a grip on her parasol. He laughed and moved closer to her.

There was a click as she twisted the handle, and withdrew a twelve-inch blade.

He looked into her unblinking eyes, as she held the stiletto to his throat.

“Will anybody hear you scream?” She replied.

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Turning the Tables by Saifun Hassam

Alice clambered down the rabbit hole. Her teenage sister’s stilettos swung from her sash around her waist. She’d worn those stilettos surreptitiously when sis was away at her job.

Alice stood eight inches taller in the stilettos. None of that awful “drink me” or “eat me” stuff.

The Red Queen coveted those shoes as soon as she saw Alice.

“Give me those shoes! Or off with your head!”

“Give me your crown!” Alice posed, tall, one leg forward, hand on her waist.

The Red Queen glared. She spat: “Here!”

Queen Alice smirked. Stilettos and crown. “Off with her head!”

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Don’t Call Me Buffy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Shit!” Her ankle wobbled as she made her way across Old Towne Cobblestone Bridge. The rain had been brief, but drenching. Temperatures were dropping precipitously.

She’d made sure he was following.

Her stilettos clicked, thin against the moonless night. She crossed to rough pavement, surer in her steps as she led him into the graveyard, to the family crypt. She felt, rather than heard his respirations quicken.

She turned, mouth red and ready, as he caught up to her on the steps. He bent to her, his mouth cold.

Stiletto in hand, she plunged it deep into his heart.

🥕🥕🥕

In the Still of the Et Toe by Bill Engleson

A contortionist of some renown,
he dreamt of times departed.
The twists, the turns, the ups and downs,
His life, how it was charted.

He‘d not fully stayed the course,
his mind and body wandered.
Pleasure’d been his driving force:
his other duties squandered.

Late in life, an epiphany,
a desire to mend his ways,
and so, he travelled to Sicily
to pass his remaining days.

Then one dark Italian night,
in a mutilating blow,
he swung a blade with guillotine might
and severed every toe…

But one, and with much practiced torsion,
he chewed off the remaining portion.

🥕🥕🥕

Red-headed Jenny by kathy70

Jenny was tall for a woman, 5’6″, when we were friends she was always the tallest one around yet she loved the highest stilettos she could find. Days she worked as a clerk in a small shop and she danced her nights away at a club with live music.

How did she manage to head this billion dollar company. From the time she was 15, shortly after her mother died, she had one kind of business or another. Each business taught her some valuable lessons and one was to appear to be head and shoulders above everyone. Shoes gave her strength.

🥕🥕🥕

Winter Sun by Ian McNaughton

A child was kicking the back of my seat.
His mother loudly whispered for him to stop.
The plane was filling with winter sun-seekers.
A large woman got on carrying two screaming babies
My heart popped up into my mouth to have a look.
I whiplashed my head around. No empty seats
Squeezing in beside me, she smiled. I smiled back; I was dying inside.
After we took off, she asked me what time we would arrive in Minnesota. I laughed and told her It’s a flight to Orlando.
She showed me her ticket.
I kicked and screamed.

🥕🥕🥕

Snake Killers by Ann Edall-Robson

Sitting on the bed, she watched the four-year-old tapping the heel of the stiletto on the palm of his hand. Did the upturn of his lips mean happy or sadistic? Tap. Tap. His piercing eyes bore into her groggy mind. Why had she agreed to go to the party wearing those shoes?

“You know what these are good for?”

“Not dancing,” she muttered.

Tap. Thump. The shoe landed on the floor.

“Killing snakes!” He giggled.

She laughed as she slid her foot into her favourite heels.

This morning her feet thanked her for bringing her cowboy boots.

🥕🥕🥕

Faded Steps by AJ Prince

In the far back of the closet shelf, I pulled out that faded shoe box. Lifting one heel out, it felt heavy in my hand. The shininess long faded into a dull black as the years passed. A few stitching’s had come undone, but the leather was still buttery soft. I slipped the other out of the box and held them side by side, inhaling deeply as if to remember the clicking sounds of my steps. I removed my fuzzy slippers and squealed as my toes slid into those old stilettos, as if I had never taken them off.

🥕🥕🥕

Cupid by Gloria McBreen

My sister Ann insisted a night out would stop me lamenting over my recent break-up with my boyfriend Joe.

‘Wear your red suede stilettos.’
‘Are they not a bit fancy?’
‘Not for where we’re going,’ she smiled.

I followed Ann to our table in the restaurant—that was already occupied by someone else.

‘What are you doing here?’ I blurted.
‘Meeting my sister,’ he replied.
‘Eh…no you’re not,’ said Ann.
She scarpered. I sat opposite him.
‘You’re wearing my favourite shirt.’
‘And you’re wearing those shoes.’
He grinned and I blushed.
‘I’m sorry Joe.’
‘So am I.’

🥕🥕🥕

Stilettos by Anita Dawes

The office Christmas party
Something I didn’t look forward to
Mark would be there
In dreams, he does not see the scar on my cheek
Walking home,
a beautiful pair of stilettos caught my eye
I bought them, hoping he would
see only the sparkles on my feet
At school I could never hide
from the harsh words of others
These days I can wear my hair long,
it helps, like closing a curtain
I walked around the house
wearing these shoes
Feeling like a fairy princess
the office party would be fine
Because in dreams he loves me…

🥕🥕🥕

The Young Cook by Ruchira Khanna

“Daddy, your lunch is ready,” ten-year-old Mel shouted from the kitchen while trying to balance herself and the plate in her hand.

Dad was quick to rush into the kitchen, “Impressive, Mel.” he said with arched eyebrows as he was quick to get the plate from her hands and then help her stay still.

“Yummy! PB&J Sandwich, my favorite!”

“I can understand the apron, but what’s up with the stilettos, doll?”

“Mom used to wear her heels everywhere. I’m just trying to mimic her, so we don’t feel her absence,” she said while trying to wear a brave smile.

🥕🥕🥕

Mom’s Shoes by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Lizzie, are you ready for school? You better not be in my closet again, young lady. Besides, the bulb burned out, you can’t see anything.”

The eleven-year-old sighed. How did her mother always know what she was up to? All she wanted was to borrow her mom’s shoes to match her dress for picture day.

Lizzie stumbled in the darkness and stuffed the shoes in her book bag.

“See you tonight, Mom.”

At school, all eyes were on Lizzie wearing her mom’s black stilettos as she wobbled across the floor to take her place for the sixth-grade class picture.

🥕🥕🥕

The Princess Wore Stilettos by Norah Colvin

The princess clattered around in stilettos and beads, giving orders and making demands. Servants attempted to fulfill her requirements, but nothing was ever quite right.

“Do this.”

“Don’t do that.”

“No!”

“Now!”

“Not now!”

Should they dare bring her juice in the wrong cup, she’d bat it away, “Not that cup. My special cup.”

They would quickly consult, but no one knew what was deemed special for this occasion.

As she grew more unbearable and uncompromising, the suggestion that she retire to her chambers triggered more hostility.

When she finally surrendered to sleep, crumpled on the floor, peace reigned.

🥕🥕🥕

Stilettos by FloridaBorne

“Mrs. Jones, you’ve worn stilettos for… 56 years?” Dr. Harris asked the 59 year old woman.

“Yes.”

“You report pain in your knees and hip. The amount of force the front of your foot has endured over the years created metatarsal problems and made your bunions worse. Abnormal growth of nerve tissues in the toes, shortened calf muscles…”

“I can’t lower my heel to the ground, or walk in normal shoes” she said.

“I can help you, if you’ll agree to follow our physical therapist’s guidance for a year.”

Tears falling, Mrs. Jones replied, “I don’t have a choice.”

🥕🥕🥕

Military Pranksters by Sue Spitulnik

Michael and Tessa were watching TV when Michael started chuckling after seeing a shoe commercial. Tessa was puzzled. “What’s funny?”

“Nothing. It reminded me of a Thanksgiving eve discussion between the vets about gentlemen’s clubs around the globe.”

“And?”

“Seems almost everyone there had been to or knew about one called Stilettos in Washington state.”

“Why?”

“The old-timers on the post made sure to encourage new guys to attend the extravagant midnight show.”

“Why?”

“It was performed by transvestites and some of the guys never caught on. It was a perpetual fun prank.”

Tessa harrumphed. “Soldiers and their pranks.”

🥕🥕🥕

Kid’s Christmas Present by D. Avery

“Yer up late Kid.”

“Writin’.”

“A flash ‘bout stilettos?”

“Hmmph. How kin ya write ‘bout somethin’ ya cain’t walk in? I’m writin’ a letter. Ta Santy Claus.”

“Ya know he ain’t fer real.”

“Course.”

“Then why?”

“Miss him.”

“How kin ya miss Santy if ya know he ain’t real?”

“Reckon I miss believin, an’ all the other things I use ta know. Miss when Christmas weren’t so much ‘bout missin’ folks an’ what’s past an’ fears fer what’s future.”

“So what’re ya askin’ fer?”

“Nothin’ Pal! Jist listin’ ever’thin’ an’ ever’body I’m grateful fer. Right now.”

“Write on Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Party Like It’s Only 99 by D. Avery

“Kid! Thought you said thet piglet was potty trained.”

“She is. She’s right here with me Pal.”

“Then what’s thet smell?”

“’Elloooo!”

“LeGume.”

“Oui, it ees me.”

“Thet’s right, fergot yer bunkin’ with us. Seems someone cain’t keep all her stories straight.”

“Hey, Pepe! Look’t you. What’s all this! Bells? Bows?”

“Oui, Keed, an’ geefts for you and Pal and thees leetle evergreen tree. Eets got roots, we can plant it later.”

“Shut the front door! Why it’s Tip and Top Lemmon.”

“Dey want to perform for us.”

“The Lemmon Queens’re gonna dance?”

“No. Dey weel prance! In stilettos!”

🥕🥕🥕

December 17: Flash Fiction Challenge

As much as I love the landscape and people of the American West, I’m content with my decision to leave the cradle of my family for seven generations. They came from the Pyrenees, Azores, Brazil, Denmark, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Most came directly to California and the rest from North Carolina. A few yet reside in Colorado and eastern Washington. Still, California and Nevada hold my family’s experience of America.

And then I met a veteran from Nevada and lived in almost every western state, thereafter. Sometimes I think it’s odd that we ended up in the Upper Midwest, of all places. But after struggling with the economic hardships of the rural west, we educated up and headed out. My husband grew up milking jerseys, and I worked ranches and logging camps.

Our grown children hardly know the difference between a heifer and a gelding. None of them ride horses. Yet, they matured among diversity, spent teen years swing dancing, going out to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and prancing at the Gay 90s. Some of the stories, like a mishap with a bubble machine at a drag show, I’m only now learning. They’ve supported transgender friends through transformations, traveled to other countries where they had to learn the language and customs, and embrace a changing world with mindfulness.

I miss my kids. It’s a parent-thing. Maybe, it’s simply human nature to be nostalgic for what we create and give back to the world, not ours to keep. Every Message from Svalbard, phone call from Wisconsin, or text from nine miles up the Keweenaw, and I light up like Venus on a cloudless night. Every tear, worry, and pain, I feel. Any close relationship can relate. I’ve felt this close to a horse, and I know people who feel this close to their faith. We feel what we feel, and sometimes, deeply.

This time of year tends to expose tender nerves, whether emotions, unresolved situations, or memories. The veil between the past and present and future thins, and we expect to wake up like Scrooge to frosty ghosts and rattling chains. Sometimes we sit down at the kitchen table and wonder why we are here. We feel losses keenest when it seems like everyone else has what we do not. It’s an illusion, not true. We all suffer losses. Some deal with it differently.

No wonder bells, bows, gifts, and trees delight us. We want the lights, the sweets, the full celebration. Anything and everything to chase away the chill and dark thought. We make merry to make it through.

A good friend texted me tonight saying, “There’s so much pain at the hem of the world. So much.” She should know; she’s our region’s grief counselor who sits at that hem. She’s the person who witnesses the loss others feel despite her father having terminal cancer and her 22-year-old daughter recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive lymphoma. She left her daughter’s side to attend the grief group she leads.

I have another friend, who is my personal witness. She gets me even when I’m not sure I understand myself. She lets me be silly and serious in varying degrees. She sits at my six (military-speak for “got your back”). We should all be so blessed to have such friends and to be one in return. Sometimes, I think she sits at my six, so I can sit at my grieving friend’s six, so she can sit at her group’s hem so the world can watch out for one another.

But I also understand that some feel no one in the world is watching their back. Isolation is deadly. I mean the mental kind where we don’t feel connected. Drop extended COVID protocols, disagreements, and polarizing politics into the world, and physical isolation turns mental. Bitterness is the inability to remember love. Love begins within. Take care to guard your hearts.

Be merry. Be bright. Someone needs you. Maybe you need you. Maybe your neighbor needs a light in your window to connect. Maybe a friend needs a goofy text. Maybe you need to forgive someone — not for their sake, but for your peace.

Write. Seriously, write. Scream into the page. Wet the ink with tears. Write a love story, a horror story. Play with words and remember what it was like to play as a child. Let that child breathe. Write like grammarians aren’t watching. Write nonsense. Write a manifesto for your creativity. Write an artist’s statement. Write a poem that doesn’t rhyme. Write a syllabic dialog. Talk to yourself. Talk to someone you miss. Talk to God, the Goddess, the Divine. Write the unexpected. Write what is typical of you.

Your authentic voice is needed; wanted; deserves breath. Tell stories. Any story. Your story.

You all gather here, weekly, intermittently, bashfully, or boldly stating opinions. What a grand space you make this! What a community! I know we can’t all possibly agree and yet for nearly six years, we’ve focused on how creativity flourishes among differences. You’ve forgiven me for rants when my injustice quota fills up and pours out onto the post. You’ve looked the other way, or rolled your eyes, when someone else writes — literally — the opposite perspective from yours. I feel like this literary anthropologist every week, weaving stories that are not alike.

We are not alike. And yet we are all so very human. So up and down. So vulnerable. So resilient. Contradictions and contrast, trying to connect.

Regardless of where you are from or where you are at, I’m happy you are here.

My daughter assured me that this video will bring a smile to any Grinch. She is a dancer and her troupe is delighting in this Christmas number, texting each other 🔔🎀🎁🎄. They are choreographing their own version on Zoom. I admire that the dancers with Todrick pull it off in stilettos, thus the prompt this week. I hope “Bells, Bows, Gifts, and Trees” brightens your day!

December 17, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stilettos. Who will wear them and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 22, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Gender Glitter by Charli Mills

Jace carefully dressed to costume up with the other college drag queens. He, she…no, he…set out on cross-country skis to the campus theater, stilettos tied with cord and slung across her back. His back. No one paid much attention to the petite contender for Frostiest Northern Queen until none could deny her presence (at last!). In a silver beehive wig to match nine-inch glittering stilettos, she won crowd and crown. Jace had to keep the victory secret. She (born that way) headed for the girl’s dorm no longer getting to express the person of a man becoming a woman.

🥕🥕🥕

I Never Dreamed

Hearts and minds hold dreams, and yet life can deliver the unexpected. Sometimes, what unfolds, we never dreamed. Writers imagined those possibilities as they wrote this week from differing viewpoints.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

An Artist’s Dream by Saifun Hassam

Jamila lost her right hand when she was 5. She learned to use her left hand. Her sketches and watercolors showed incredible talent and imagination. She loved to draw starscapes and unknown planets in faraway galaxies.

She never dreamed the prosthetics of science fiction would one day be a reality for her. She never knew of the extensive prosthetics research until Hussein returned from the Iraqi war. His left leg was an experimental prosthetic from Altamont VA hospital.

She volunteered for an experimental wrist. She never imagined her extraordinary cyborg art would blossom into science fiction and anime stories.

🥕🥕🥕

Final Score by Hugh W. Roberts

Living his life in the closet, Alan never wanted his father finding out he was gay.

He loathed going to watch football every Saturday afternoon with his father. But he never showed how disappointed he was with the season ticket his father gifted him every Christmas.

But on the Saturday after his father’s death, Alan carried on with the tradition.

“Hello. I’m Tim,” came a voice from behind. “Where’s your father today?”

Alan never dreamt that a season ticket would be the key to meeting the love of his life and no longer living his life as a lie.

🥕🥕🥕

Some Dreams Fulfilled by Sue Spitulnik

Becca, Michael’s sister, knocked and let herself in. She saw him sitting on the floor by Emma’s toys but there was no baby and his wheelchair wasn’t in sight. “I have baptism pictures.”

“Thankfully it’s you!”

“Why, have you been monkey scooting around the house again?”

“Yeah, it makes Emma laugh. Whoever dreamed my long arms would be used for such a thing. “

“Maybe the same dreamer that pictured you holding a grandchild in Tessa’s family pictures. Can you believe her ex didn’t show up?”

His eyes twinkled. “Two out of three parts of that dream ain’t bad.”

🥕🥕🥕

Her Place by Joanne Fisher

Gina unlocked the door and walked in to her place. After a lifetime of renting, she never believed she would finally have her own house. Already her furniture was here, along with all her other belongings lying in boxes everywhere.

No longer would she have to worry about landlord’s demands, or being suddenly evicted for accidentally missing rent or some other reason. This was her house. She looked out the window and saw the garden and imagined herself pottering away in it to her heart’s content. She deeply breathed in the air of her home. This would be awesome.

🥕🥕🥕

The Ancestors by Bill Engleson

There he would stand on the bridge of time,
peering over the railing into the vast…
into the vast canyon of dreams,
and catch a glimpse of ancestors,
still nameless, lost in the vacuum of memory,
of so many passing’s, stories left in the grave,
the movements of people, migrations,
both big and small, the shifting of lives,
the young, the old, new loves, sweet, sour,
journeys by endless sea, across dark landscapes,
images of all who had ventured forth,
there on the bridge of time, he would stand
in abject awe peering over the railing into the vast…

🥕🥕🥕

My Riches by Gloria McBreen

I have wished upon the great big stars
Many times if truth be told
I only wished for simple things
Not riches and treasures
Not diamonds or gold

The stars they’ve been kind
My life has been fulfilling
My wishes all granted
My dreams I’ve been living

My kids they are my riches
My husband he is my gold
My friends they are my diamonds
My treasures each day they unfold

When my days aren’t going so well
And my smiles are very few
I thank the stars that fill the sky
And feel grateful my dreams came true

🥕🥕🥕

Atheist by Simon

Can we go to church?

I don’t believe in God

Show me your face? Is this real?

I never dreamt that I would say something like this, until I questioned the existence of everything.

Don’t mess with God. You’ll be punished

O.K, answer this question, who created God?

Nobody created.

Wrong answer, WE created god.

Are you drunk?

No I’m not, but You all are drunk, drunk gallons of lies created by yourself.

God will never forgive your sins.

(Laughing), thanks, God don’t have to.

What’s wrong with you?

I talk reality, I wish you think what I think.

🥕🥕🥕

The Victor by R. V. Mitchell

Donny had never really taken life to seriously. He had been the class clown in high school and coasted through college with an art degree which he admitted was based on work that was derivative at best, or just throwing colour randomly on canvas. He got himself a job at a gallery by connections with a girl he had dated in college and lost it about as fast as he lost her. So how could he now be standing in front of a cheering crowd as their mayor? He had only registered as a candidate as a drunken dare.

🥕🥕🥕

Old by kathy70

It’s tough to be invisible, some days I wonder do I really exist. Was I 55 or 65 when it happened, is it only with young people or have I achieved an unknown life goal. Next year I’ll be 75 and things will reverse, maybe. This is not a goal I dreamed of as a child or adult but I worked for it. I still have goals and dreams and learn and teach new things. Will the end be Covid or Cancer or Crazy. Never forget old people can dream, hope, create and accomplish the presidency even. It’s time to go home?

🥕🥕🥕

Brain Fog by Reena Saxena

They found me in a village 14 kms away from the hospital.

My covid-affected legs are not strong enough to walk the distance. I don’t know how I reached there.

A white rabbit which kept jumping in and out in an unusual manner attracted the attention of the search team. What if the rabbit had not been so sympathetic? Nights out are chilling for a 80 year old like me.

A brain fog for sure, but how did I summon the strength to walk the distance, I’ve never walked in my senses.

It is something nobody had imagined.

🥕🥕🥕

Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe by Kate Spencer

“Time 10:52pm.” Abby flipped the switch, turning off the continuous beep from the patient monitoring system.

“When will this end?” mumbled the nurse pulling up the sheet.

“Not today.”

Wearily Abby turned to check on her next Covid patient, longing for the days when she’d be treating simple cases like broken bones again. She was jotting down instructions for yet another patient when her pager buzzed. It was Emergency.

Now what, she wondered, rushing to triage.

There was her irate son, sitting in a wheelchair, yelling at the orderly. He wanted to see his mom. He’d broken his leg.

🥕🥕🥕

Dreams Fulfilled by Norah Colvin

She dreamed she could control the weather, but never believed she could.

Until she did.

She wished it would rain.

‘It always rains in spring,’ they scoffed.

‘From a blue sky?’

‘Sometimes,’ they said.

She wished the rain would stop.

‘Showers never last long,’ they said.

‘I love rain,’ another said.

‘Can you make it rain forever?’

She wished.

Rain fell, first gently, then in torrents.

It rained for months, overfilling rivers and washing villages away.

They begged her to make it stop.

‘I can’t,’ she said. ‘I must have dreamed three wishes. I never dreamed this would happen.’

🥕🥕🥕

Welcome to the North Pole by Donna Matthews

“I’m so nervous!” Ella exclaimed, pacing outside the little round building on the corner of North and Pole.

“Relax,” Easton, her husband, soothed. “You’ve got this!”

Suddenly, the heavy wood doors creaked open, and Ella heard her name called. Here we go, she thought.

Sitting in front of the diminutive manager, the questions began…

“What experience do you have with polar bears?”

“I once taught a six-week dance class!”

“Elves?” she asked.

“None so far, but I’m excited to learn!”

“You love Christmas?”

“Very much!”

Jumping up, he yelled, “You’re hired!”

“What? Really?”

🥕🥕🥕

Never Dreamed by FloridaBorne

“This planet sucks,” I told the 4-eyed being who’d rescued me 10 years before.

Being in love with a creature that bites off the end of its tail, swallows it (eggs and all) and becomes food for its own young can be challenging.

“You’re a fine pet,” It replied.

Yes. It reads minds. When its snake-like body wraps around me, I feel so much love.

“Why am I on Earth…again?”

“Him.”

“I’m happy with you.”

My mind smiled with its joy. It gathered sperm from the “him,” so that when its children were born they would have pets, too.

🥕🥕🥕

A Writer Never Dreamed by Duane Herrmann

Repeatedly the young, hopeful writer had applied for a writing fellowship. This year the call for submissions was not made. He was busy building the house his family was living in, room by room, and couldn’t devote much time to wondering. One morning he was upstairs in the master bedroom working while admiring the wheatfield outside. Wind made waves rustling softly in the sea of green.

The phone rang.

“Your submission last year was so good, we decided to give you the award this year.”

Stunned, the young man collapsed on the bed.

“Duane? Duane? Are you still there?”

🥕🥕🥕

(56) Damned Family (Norman: Dream, Dream, Dream…) by JulesPaige

Norman had never dreamed that he would fall in love. He was introduced to her by a contact that perhaps had perhaps conflicting motives. One was to get Norman a normal life or was it to get another ‘agent’ in the ‘network’? And then Ned had convinced Norman to let her go…

Now Norman could only dream that Jesse actually had his journal and could somehow find her way to him. This morning he’d found out that Jesse had left the protection detail in the dust. No one knew where she was. He hoped she was dreaming about him.

🥕🥕🥕

She Never Dreamed by Hanna Steng

He was it.

Ever since she was a little girl, she’d heard it proclaimed from every podium she’d ever been around: “this is what to look for in a man, and here’s the list of things to avoid”. Every pharaphrase eventually came to the same conclusion- “make sure he’s God-fearin’, and if he isn’t, stay as far away as you can”.

She’d been so sure she knew what she wanted, she could have never dreamed that just a smile from this scuffed up, kind- eyed, “worldly” man would have her questioning everything and leave her with only one answer- he was it.

🥕🥕🥕

I Never Dreamed by Pete Fanning

The dogs are tangled and frisky in the chill of the evening. I’m focused on work, bills, Covid-19, when I stop in the road.

My Christmas lights glow warmly on the house. Framed in the window, my wife holds our baby girl. My son is upside down on the couch, kicking his feet in the air, no doubt firing off questions. A well of curiosity that never runs dry.

The span of the window holds my good fortune. A life I never dreamed would happen. With a smile I walk in the house.

And then the baby starts crying.

🥕🥕🥕

The Art of Cooking by Ruchira Khanna

“Yummy! did you cook this?” inquired my teen as he licked the last crumbs off his plate.

“Obviously! In this shutdown, I’ve been cooking every day.” I said in an exasperated tone, which was easily caught upon.

“Chill, Mom. I was complimenting your cooking.”

That praise made me quickly come and hug him since getting appreciated for my cooking was the last thing I had ever dreamed would happen.

I had become better at planning my meals with limited ingredients, but to make a delicious one was like a cherry on the cake.

I guess: Practice makes one perfect.

🥕🥕🥕

Harold’s Dream by Doug Jacquier

Harold never dreamed he would one day build his own classic science fiction saucer, containing everything he needed. Kitchen, sitting room with a panoramic view through reinforced glass, bedroom with a skylight to the stars, composting toilet. (Although he did have to settle for sponge baths because of the weight of water.) Powered by an anti-gravity perpetual motion generator of his own invention and steered by a GPS-guided rudder, Harold could travel the world, and did, chuckling at the UFO sightings reported on the interweb. It’s just as well Harold didn’t actually dream of this because it never happened.

🥕🥕🥕

At Heaven’s Gate by Colleen Chesebro

December 14th began like any other Monday. However, in the early hours before dawn, he watched the green flashes of Geminids meteors whiz by in the early dawn sky.

A few hours later, he watched the blackness creep across the land as a total eclipse of the sun descended, leaving South America under a cloak of darkness.

Surely these auspicious astronomical events foreshadowed a significant event.

The angel named Beau glanced out over the cosmos. He smiled. A total eclipse of the Sun had officially confirmed Joe Biden as the President of the United States—a dream come true.

🥕🥕🥕

What if I Had Only Dreamt? by Miss Judy

I never dreamt of seeking fame or fortune. I never dreamt of my success or failure. When two roads diverged, then, and only then, did I decide which path to follow. I look back sometimes and wonder, “what if I had chosen the other?”

The road has been rocky and steep at times, but I am happy and thankful for what I have become, the people I have met and for family. There will be more paths to choose and bridges to cross in this life. And, as I look back, I wonder, “What if I had only dreamt?”

🥕🥕🥕

Twins Reunited by Anne Goodwin

As kids they shared a bedroom, a secret language, clothes. Finished each other’s sentences; dressed dolls and made daisy chains; raced cars and fought with sticks. The elder by forty minutes, Faith didn’t mind ensuring Ryan adhered to playground etiquette, doing their homework, answering questions from grown-ups.

She never dreamt he’d wander where she couldn’t follow, where no-one sane would go. She never dreamt he’d shrug off her protection, make his own mistakes. Never dreamt he’d turn up to mock her mortgage, her daughter’s music lessons, her middle-class friends. Spoil her soirée. Make her wish he’d leave for good.

🥕🥕🥕

Hot Pepper Takes a Chance by Charli Mills

Carlotta rode a mustang named Hot Pepper. Her gelding was a small but snorty horse belonging to the Two Bar Ranch. She taught school at the one-room cabin on a desolate hill of sagebrush central to the ranches in the valley. Hot Pepper trotted the full three miles to school and back where Carlotta passed a ranch house half-built. She often wondered why the rancher never finished what looked like a beautiful design with promise. She never dreamed the horse would throw her in front of the house, meeting the young widower who never dreamed he’d find love again.

🥕🥕🥕

The Banshee of Ruby Valley by Charli Mills

The banshee rode a ghost-horse named Pogonip. Her steed snorted a chilling frost that withered primrose blossoms and diminished frail spring calves. She bedeviled the broad basin between the Ruby Mountains and the Smokeys, preying on the people who built ranches and tended cattle among sagebrush and trickling waterways of the Nevada desert. The banshee and Pogonip extinguished the young rancher’s bride, delighting in how he halted construction of his house, never lifting his brown eyes from sorrow. The cold-hearted banshee never dreamed that harassing the flighty gelding the new teacher rode would renew joy in the haunted valley.

🥕🥕🥕

Not So Prodigal Kid by D. Avery

“Hey Pal, how’ya doin’?”

“Livin’ the dream Kid.”

“Yep. Never dreamed I’d git dreamed up ta live out my days as a ranch hand.”

“Whoa. Kid, ain’tcha never movin’ on?”

“Where would I go? Sure this is a virtual ranch, but we got it real good here.”

“Dang. Never dreamed I might be ferever stuck with a greenhorn. Kid, shouldn’t ya follow yer own dreams, seek fame an’ fortune an’ sech?”

“This here’s fiction, Pal, but that there’s illusion. Done made my way ta where I am. Here I be.”

“Be-lieve yer livin’ yer dream Kid.” “Write on, Pal.”

🥕🐶🥕

Pawsitively by D. Avery

“I’m purty excited Pal. Never dreamed Shorty’d git us a puppy.”

“Shorty ain’t gittin’ us a puppy.” “But… I thought…”

“Get real, Kid. Thet’s Charli Mills is gittin’ a puppy.”

“Well cain’t we git a puppy too? A ranch needs a good dog.”

“Now yer an expert on what a ranch needs?”

“Well…” “Did a ranch need elefints?”

“Was jist an idea, Pal.”

“Does a ranch really need goats? Where are them goats now? You couldn’t even keep a cat unner yer hat, Kid.”

“We’re gittin’ a puppy, Pal.”

“Ain’t neither.”

“We are, ‘cause I never dreamed we wouldn’t.”

🥕🐶🥕

Doggone (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid, where’n heck ya been?”

“Saw a advertisement fer young dogs, fer sale at the Slim Chance Ranch. Slim seemed real tickled, me wantin’ a dog. Hopin’ you’ll be happy fer me too Pal.”

“Hmmf. Uh, Kid yer pup’s got kinda a flattened face.”

“It’s its breedin’, Pal. This here’s a puglet.”

“Uh-huh. Kid yer puglet ain’t got much fur. It’s kinda pink.”

“She ain’t fully growed. Like baby rabbits or mice.”

“Uh-huh. Kid, why’s yer puppy wearin’ booties?”

“Slim did that ta pertect her paws, said they ain’t fully developed yet. Never dreamed I’d have my own puppy!”

🥕🐶🥕

Doggone (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, it behooves me ta tell ya somethin’ ‘bout yer puppy.”

“What kin ya say ‘cept how dang cute she is? Look’t her waggin’ her tail. Might call her Curly. What d’ya think a that?”

“Oh, it’s a fine name fer yer puglet, Kid, but—”

“Look’t how she likes ta be scratched behind her ears.”

“’Bout them ears, Kid…”

“Hey, it’s Shorty.”

“Hey Kid, hey Pal. Oh, Kid! Yer gonna raise yer own? Musta gone down ta Slim’s.”

“Yep, got a puglet of my own. Gonna train it ta hunt.”

“Really? Never dreamed there’s truffles on the Ranch.”

🥕🐶🥕

Doggone (Part III) by D. Avery

“Truffles?”

“Truffle huntin’ might work out, Kid, but I figgered you’d be raisin’ this piglet up fer bacon. Not surprised ya went ta Slim’s when he advertised young hogs fer sale.”

“Hogs?”

“I’m more of a hoss person, but I’d say ya got yerself a real fine piglet, Kid.”

“Piglet?”

“Jist keep her outta the carrot patch. I ain’t fergittin’ yer trouble with goats, Kid, but reckon we kin accommodate yer bacon project.”

“Bacon?”

“Takes a lot Kid, ta raise yer own, ta look yer food in the eye.” “

Never dreamt I’d give up bacon. Come Curly. Good girl.”

🥕🐷🥕

December 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Somewhere in Nevada between an active gold mine and a desert reservoir the size of a pond where wild horses drink sits a dilapidated ranch house. The summer sun mummifies the boards and magpies nest in the rafters. From a distance, the brown boards blend into the tawny landscape like camouflage. In 2010, my dad drove me in his old Willy’s Jeep to this site. He stopped and said, “This was someone’s dream.”

It wasn’t the first time I heard him utter that phrase. He logged in in the back-country where prospectors and pioneers searched for promises of a better life. They all carried apple seed. At the Nevada ranch house, the husks of mountain cabins, and countless remnants of cellars apple trees grow wild. The ones who planted have disappeared, leaving spring blossoms and fall fruit to bear witness.

I’ve always been curious about these dreamers. I think about my dad’s regard for their lost dreams, or the stories I heard as a child from the old-timers. I think about the evidence of people who lived and dream long before the homesteaders came.

Yet, history doesn’t record the trickery that led people west to attempt to make a dream work. It benefited the government and then the railroads and then the company mines to lure people west to settle or work. Ads circulated in city and rural papers back east and overseas, attracting immigrants with promises of land and livelihood. Railroad companies often provided land, jobs, and one-way tickets.

My favorite buckaroo sings the story in the first-person point of view account that blows a hard wind into the listener’s soul. I shiver when I hear the refrain, “I never knew, I never dreamed.” Dave Stamey sings Montana Homestead 1915.

Ten years earlier, the railroad brought Italians to Elmira Idaho where I lived for four years next to the schoolhouse built in 1910. It was the dream of those immigrants to educate their children. It is the setting of my novel in progress. Whatever the Italians dreamed, they abandoned in Elmira and moved on after the railroad ended their work. My character Ramona Gordon is the descendant of one of these immigrant families.

The house my dad showed me in Nevada is one I gave to Danni as a ranch where her father worked. I picture Danni riding out along the small creek lined with cottonwoods, of her dad showing her the Paiute sheep camp that had existed for centuries before the Bureau of Land Management moved them out in the 1950s. Danni’s dad and my dad witnessed the loss of such dreams as boys who grew up in the hard migrant work-life of buckaroo ranches.

Despite this melancholy, I still believe in dreams. I know that my own have fed rivers of hope and resiliency. If you know me, you are not going to be surprised that I get excited this time of year to renew my dreams in a visioning activity. Not to be confused with resolutions, vision planting guides those apple seeds to fruition. It take dreams and puts them into action.

One of my dreams has been to teach creative writing. While working on my MFA, I’ve simultaneously worked on earning a master’s level certification to teach creative writing online. And thanks to COVID-19 and my online courses, I’ve learned new tools and techniques to bring in-person workshops to the virtual world. I have a break between Christmas and New Year, thus I decided to bring one of my favorite courses online — Writers Vision Planting. It’s one of the four parts of To Cultivate a Book series that has been COVID-disrupted.

If you have a dream, consider signing up either live or for the digital download. It will be a fun and creative way to plan your 2021 year as a writer.

But for our prompt, we are going to go back to what it’s like to experience something we didn’t dream. I never dreamed that a year after my last GSP died, I’d be chasing a puppy. I never dreamed that a pandemic would keep my daughter in the arctic so long. I never dreamed I’d own such a beautiful old home with a hand-carved staircase. I never dreamed that I’d get to live on a peninsula in Lake Superior. I never dreamed the northern lights would be so breathtaking (and evidently fertile, so be careful). I never dreamed I’d be 54 and expecting…a puppy, people, a puppy!

December 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 15, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Hot Pepper Takes a Chance by Charli Mills

Carlotta rode a mustang named Hot Pepper. Her gelding was a small but snorty horse belonging to the Two Bar Ranch. She taught school at the one-room cabin on a desolate hill of sagebrush central to the ranches in the valley. Hot Pepper trotted the full three miles to school and back where Carlotta passed a ranch house half-built. She often wondered why the rancher never finished what looked like a beautiful design with promise. She never dreamed the horse would throw her in front of the house, meeting the young widower who never dreamed he’d find love again.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Traditions

December brings various holidays and family traditions. If ever there was a year to yearn for nostalgia or break away, 2020 would be it.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

From Biriyani to Paella by Saifun Hassam

Twins Nadia and Nilufar were toddlers when their parents emigrated in the 1980s from Kenya to the US, first to Pennsylvania and eventually to California. They were Muslims, their ethnic background Indian, with family roots in India.

Family tradition called for the sumptuous rice dish of biriyani and samosa pastries to celebrate everything from birthdays to Eid. As teenagers, Nadia and Nilufar included hamburgers, tacos, and ice cream sundaes.

Now they had families of their own. Nadia’s husband Juan introduced them to delectable seafood paella. Family members came from Canada to celebrate: Nadia and Nilufar’s restaurant: “Adventures in Food.”

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Family Tradition by Kerry E.B. Black

Bob reached deep through the prickly branches to hang the shaped green glass ornament near the fragrant trunk of the pine tree propped in his living room. “Gotta make ‘em look for it, y’know.”

Pam smiled, charmed by the hospitality her new beau and his family had extended. Holidays could be lonely for a recently divorced ex-pat. “So, whoever finds the pickle first on Christmas morning wins an extra present?”

“Yep.” Bob tilted his head to test the ornament’s placement. “Dylan usually gets it. Like she has an affinity.”

“Maybe it’s because her nickname’s ‘Dill Pickles.’”

He chuckled. “Maybe.”

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Christmas Conga Line by Donna Matthews

T’was the night before Christmas when all through my house, the kids are scattered, quiet as a mouse. Into that room and the next, their faces glued to phone screens…even my spouse. Not one cared about St. Nick.

That is until the ancient record player comes alive and starts blaring, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and I begin to dance! Bouncing from one room to the next, grabbing hands and hips, forming a conga line throughout the house. As the song winds down, we sigh and laugh, and before they scatter again, I declare, “Now, a hot chocolate before bed!”

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Family Traditions by Eliza Mimski

I come from a wacky family. Every Christmas the grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings are assigned a name to buy a silly present for. From near and far, we come together for a Christmas dinner of turkey and dressing, casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and apple pie. After dinner, the presents are heaped together near the Christmas tree. We search for our own and either keep it or exchange it with somebody else’s. There are pet rocks, wooden back scratchers with acrylic nails, a T-shirt that says I Strip for Chocolate Macaroons.

Best presents ever.

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Virtual Turkey Trot by Ruchira Khanna

“Are you ready for tomorrow? What time should I wake you up?” inquired A.
“Do we have to?” asked P with a lone sigh.

“Of course! We ought to keep the tradition alive. So what if we can’t run the Turkey Trot with people. Let’s do it by ourselves.”

“And just like all the times, I’ll keep the pie, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, and lasagna ready.” I chipped in with a broad smile to encourage my son.

“Yum! So everything’s the same as old times.” He beamed with joy over it, “How does 7 am sound for our 10K?”

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Out with the Old, In with the New by Norah Colvin

Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”

“No!”

“Try it. You’ll like it.”

“I won’t.”

“You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”

“Dessert first. Then veg.”

“We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”

“No! Dessert first!”

“If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”

“Will so.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.

Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.

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Topsy’s Turvy Christmas Eve by Sascha Darlington

“Your family’s three families,” Mrs. Crawford always told Topsy.

Topsy didn’t understand. Not until she turned nine and her older brothers spent Christmas elsewhere did she comprehend.

Slightly.

“Why aren’t they here for carols?” Topsy asked.

Mother who bit her lip—or her tongue—constantly these days said, “They’re starting their own families and traditions.”

“But carols are sacred,” Topsy whispered.

And even Joseph, her big brother-protector, remained in his room, unwilling to sing carols, which left Topsy, Mom, Dad, and Sandy.

As they sang Silent Night, a tear slid down Topsy’s cheek. This night was far too silent.

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The Christmas Visitor by Anne Goodwin

She hung her stocking for Santa above the fireplace. She helped Gran lay the Jesus figurine in the cardboard-box crib. She joined us singing “Good King Wenceslas” at the piano. She gobbled up Dad’s stewed sprouts. So why did she refuse to play Cluedo, preferring to sit with a book? She wasn’t averse to whodunnits. She’d plucked Evelyn Hardcastle from the guest-room shelf.

But she taught me the meaning of Christmas. Whether Christian or secular, it’s not about believing in myths. It’s a time to renounce our own ego. When we merge with the group, reunite with our tribe.

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(47) Damned Family (Jesse No Solid Bases, Yet) by JulesPaige

traditions hold limited
value when lacking
emotional attachments

Jesse thought about some of her family traditions. Like the one she had totally blown off this year. The mini-family reunion down by the shore. Which this year was cut short by finding the dead body of a man who she thought was her ex-husband in her rental unit. Usually she wasn’t big on any holiday traditions. With her family, someone was always out of town or working. She had hoped to start something new with Norman, but the divorce had ended that. Would this year be any different for her?

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Christmas Family Tradition by Doug Jacquier

Dad would start drinking with the invited neighbours from around 11 a.m. Around 1pm we’d do the presents. His would never be satisfactory and his petty envy of the presents of others would not be disguised. When time for lunch came, as a matter of what little pride he had left, he would ceremoniously carve the roast. My brother and I would write our bets on when the explosion would happen on slips of paper we passed to each surreptitiously. And every year, like clockwork, some imagined slight would set off a stream of invective that would kill Christmas.

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Festive Traditions by Geoff Le Pard

‘What did you do for Christmas, Logan?’

‘?’

‘You must have some family traditions?’

‘What? Like waking up with Santa dribbling into the hall carpet because he fell asleep there when he came back from the pub, having to be quiet all morning, watching the Queen and wondering what she was talking about, waiting for my gran’s bowels to move so we could eat lunch at 4pm and then having to eat sprouts – Devil’s turds btw – and mum’s stuffing that I’m sure was shredded underlay… that sort of thing?’

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Hell, I loved it.’

‘Explains a lot…’

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Childhood Christmas by Willow Willers

Nothing ever happened until Christmas Eve. Mum took us all shopping, on the bus. We’d buy all the food and tree, all six of us had a bag to carry. When we got home decorations were made and hung.

Then Mum started the baking and the boys would pinch it.

In the evening the Turkey and veg were prepared. At eleven pm they all went to Midnight Mass with Dad.
I was too young so mum and I stayed home and decorated the tree. I loved staying up late and when everyone got home the tree was magically ready.

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A Tradition Begins – and Ends by Gordon Le Pard

The old singer watched as the happy crowd left the cathedral. The Bishop came over to him and shook his hand.

“I didn’t think it would be like this, it was just an old tradition.”

“Yes, but a wonderful one, you would go round the town singing carols and using them to tell the Christmas story. I just brought it inside.”

“But it was wonderful, will you do it next year?”

“And the next, and others will do it as well, soon there will be carol services everywhere. It was once your family tradition, now it will be everybody’s.”

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Family Traditions by Colleen Chesebro

“Grandma, hurry up or we’ll miss the first song.” Kallie impatiently tugged at Grandma’s sleeve.

“I’m coming. Don’t rush me!” Grandma chided.

The church was packed. Typical for the Christmas Eve service.

“Kallie, I saved you seats,” whispered a voice. A few titters of laughter rumbled through the back row of pews.

“Thank you, James,” Grandma murmured as she heaved her body into the seat. Kallie blushed crimson.

James grinned. He only had eyes for Kallie. “Of course. Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without you both.”

The trio joined the congregation as they sang, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

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New Family Traditions by Sue Spitulnik

The Monday after Thanksgiving Michael and Tessa received a beautiful Christmas arrangement from Tessa’s mother. They each raised their eyebrows, skeptical of Jenny’s intentions.
Inside the thank you card she had written, “I had no idea cooking for two days for other people could be gratifying. I hated eating leftovers on Thanksgiving, but gathering our family together with Michael’s on Saturday was the best celebration of thanks I have ever attended. Let this be our new tradition. Love, Mom.”
A tear ran down Tessa’s cheek. “She’s coming around isn’t she?”
Michael’s eyes watered. “Wait till I show my parents.”

Note: “cooking for two days for other people” refers to last week’s flash that mentioned the band members families preparing the dinner served at the No Thanks.

🥕🥕🥕

Our Ramadan by Douryeh (Hajar)

It may be four thirty and we all rise

I had made soup yesterday and warm it slowly

Husband and then children, get food on the table

Fruit, bread, yoghurt are usually part of our breakfast

Always someone cracks a joke or has yesterday’s story

Breakfast must end punctually, even when there’s no adhan

Prayers, sleep a while, then daily routine is done

The season decides at what time we’ll have dinner

Whatever is served, there’s always some milk and dates

🥕🥕🥕

Henry’s Traditional Christmas by Anne Goodwin

Some years he’d treat Christmas as an ordinary day, turn off the television and eat beans on toast for lunch. Some years he’d put up a tree, wrap presents and roast a chicken, set an extra place at the table for Tilly, and another for his dad. Yet however he began the day, tradition claimed the final hour: leaving him seated by the fire, with enough whisky to engender a headache but not enough to assuage his grief. Or his shame in spending the day in frenzied anticipation of the greatest gift imaginable: his sister’s knock upon the door.

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Apple Strudel by Frank Hubeny

I gave my brother peeled apple slices. He placed them one-by-one on the strudel dough that we older ones helped stretch across a cloth on our dinner table. He put some in his mouth. Then came the raisins to scatter on the dough. When it was finished I held him so he could watch our mother lift the cloth underneath the strudel, roll it into a long, thick pastry that fit on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

We made many strudels for Christmas and everyone helped.

I’ve never had a dessert that tasted so good.

🥕🥕🥕

Hunting Spot by D. Avery

Nothing, not women, jobs, not even a move, had ever interfered with their tradition. No matter what, he and his brother took the first week of deer season and spent it at camp, just the two of them. He was determined to see the whole week through this year too.

Now he paused instinctively. The large buck he’d been tracking stepped into view. He raised his rifle, took aim. Then he lowered the rifle, leaned it against a tree.

“It wasn’t really about the hunting was it?” he said aloud. The buck bounded away. He scattered his brother’s ashes.

🥕🥕🥕

Christmas Angel by Myrna Migala

The children were excited; tomorrow was Christmas!
The tradition, to catch their Christmas angel.

Imagine now the little ones jumping up and down, rolling all around, trying to catch their angel.
The tiniest of all jumped so high while clasping his hand and shouted, “I caught mine!”

Holding his hands together with a big smile, being careful not to let the angel escape.

Minutes passed by, and as he watched the other children leaping with joy, his big brown eyes widened; looking at his hand, still holding tight, he turned to his grandmother, “please, do you have a cage?”

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Raksha Bandhan by Ritu Bhathal

Nalini scowled at Rakesh.
Stupid baby.
Her nine-year-old heart hadn’t quite come to terms with this mewling infant thrust upon her, when her mother’s expanding belly suddenly deflated.
He was taking up everyone’s time and attention.
Usually, the whole family doted upon her, but recently, it was all “The baby this, the baby that.”
“Come on Nalini, time to tie a rakhi on Rakesh. Lucky girl. You finally have a brother to bless.”
Sacred thread tied, she went to turn away, when her mother called her back. “Don’t forget your gift.”
A gift? He wasn’t so bad, after all.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Traditions by Anita Dawes

Each of us grows
Changing throughout the year
Come Christmas,
that would seem to be a lie
if my family don’t get Jaye’s mince pies.
When I say I am cancelling Christmas?
They turn into peasants and revolt
If you could see the looks, I get
Enough to kill the Bah Humbug in me
Can’t we just have Jaye’s mince pies?
No, I say. Cancelled means cancelled
I managed one year
Then a great granddaughter came along
Children to me mean Christmas
So here we go again, it’s game time
Charades, old tabletop games
Screams of you cheated, mum!

🥕🥕🥕

Fertile Northern Lights by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The stewpot was emptied of root vegetables, venison gratefully given, and thick brown gravy sweetened with brunost. Crumbs of spilled flatbread caught the flicker of resting embers, and a half-dozen children snored under heavy woolen blankets. The littlest, wrapped in rabbit’s fur, lay in his mother’s arms.

“Leave him. He’ll sleep well enough under the Northern Lights.”

She nodded, tucking him next to the oldest girl, and said a prayer for the children departed.

“The Lights shimmer tonight; propitious for calling another soul to our family,” he hefted their sleeping fur.

She followed her husband into the snowy night.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Tradition by Margaret G. Hanna

“A fence! Are you serious?”

“You mean, you don’t put a fence around your Christmas tree? Our tree isn’t complete until the fence goes up.”

“But a fence?”

“This isn’t any old fence, it has history!”

“Do tell.”

“My uncle made it when I was a toddler. I was told that I could not touch anything that was behind the fence.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Seventy years. The ‘posts’ are askew and the silver garland rope has seen better days, but it’s as essential as the angel on the tree top.”

“I suppose it has history, too.”

“Yep.”

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Christmasque Treevia by Bill Engleson

One year, it appeared.
An artificial tree.
I can visualize my parents buying it, thinking, hell, the kids are gone, we don’t want to be traipsing out into the tulies to chop down some innocent sapling.
Gone: one of our few traditions.
Over the next fifteen, twenty years, I made it home pretty much every second Christmas.
Sometimes every third.
That fake tree took such a beating. On each visit, it had fewer plastic needles.
Somehow, its escalating emaciation didn’t matter.
For me, it encapsulated a simple withering truth about my family and how time had forever changed us.

🥕🥕🥕

Whose Traditions? by Reena Saxena

There is a distinct sense of unease around the oncoming festival. She knows that certain things can’t be done.

“But we aren’t having any visitors”, said her husband, \’just cook and eat and decorate the house as you like. Post some pictures with a wistful write-up on social media.”

“It’s all a joke for you”, she was cross.

“Do you remember how you defied my mother’s traditions?”

“These are mine, hence important.”

“So were hers..”

“Remember whom are you going to spend the rest of your life with.”

It was time for him to shut up and comply.

🥕🥕🥕

New Traditions by Charli Mills

That night, the sheepherder made room for two wayward cowboys. The snowstorm blinded their passage back to the Two Bar Ranch and their horses found refuge in the small enclave of Basque who herded sheep in the Sierras every summer. All herds hunkered down in the valley to survive winter. Jess and Roy knew they’d miss beans and card games for Christmas, but the smell of mutton stew raised hopes not all was lost. After tasting saffron bread for the first time, and learning new carols to a tabor pipe, the cowboys adapted their cattle family traditions to sheepherders.

🥕🥕🥕

This Christmas by Joanne Fisher

“So what did you do at Christmas?” Stacey asked.

“Mum would make us scrambled eggs with lots of butter and toasted homemade bread. Then we would open presents. One of us would hand them all out, and then we’d open them one at a time going round the room. In the evening we’d have dinner with the rest of the family, and of course, open more presents.” Hannah replied.

“Nice.”

“But I’m missing it this year since I’ve been kicked out for being lesbian.” Stacey hugged Hannah.

“We’ll just have to start our own traditions then.” Stacey told her.

🥕🥕🥕

Roots Crop (Part I) by D. Avery

“Purty sure we’re gonna have a Yule log this year.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? Thet ain’t our terdition.”

“Gonna be a holiday season like no other Pal.”

“Why’s thet, Kid?”

“Gonna be masked up.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? We’re fictional; exempt from all thet.”

“An’ we gotta snuff yer candles Pal.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? That’s my fav’rite terdition fer this time a year.”

“Thought ‘stead a roast beast we’d have baked beans.”

“Baked beans??? LeGume!”

“Yep, Pepe’s gonna join us.”

“Thet Pepe LeGume’s a rootin’ tootin’ ranch hand.”

“Yep. So we wear masks. No open flames.”

“Hmmf.”

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Roots Crop (Part II) by D. Avery

“LeGume hangin’ out with us stinks, Kid. I ain’t likin’ it.”

“Pepe needs a place ta go.”

“Thet was last week’s prompt. Ain’t LeGume got his own folks?”

“Pepe is estranged from his wife.”

“He’s a-strange alright. Answer’s ‘No’.”

“Hate ta burst yer bubble, Pal. I already invited him.”

“An’ I said oui, merci. Pal, Keed, I weel keep my deestance.”

“Mmm… Thet date nut bread yer bakin’?”

“Dere was not so much available, so I am improvising.”

“Never thought I’d say this to ya, but thet smells good.”

“Eet’s all good, Pal. Ees sweet bread from raw carrots.”

🥕🥕🥕