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August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

The sun dips late, casting its copper hue over Lake Superior. The lower it sinks, the redder it grows and forms a brilliant pink path from horizon to shore. The sky takes forever to darken in the Northern Hemisphere even after summer solstice. Sparkling planets and stars pop like diamond studs across a jeweler’s midnight blue velvet.

This is the season of the Perseid meteor showers. Time to wish upon shooting stars.

JulesPaige reminded me about the connection of comets to my WIP, Rock Creek. In 1858, before Cobb McCanles left Watauga County, North Carolina with his one-time mistress, Sarah Shull, a comet had featured in the October sky and slowly faded by the time the two left in February 1859.

Cobb’s Father James McCanless, known as The Poet, marked the occasion of Comet Donati:

THE COMET OF 1858

Hail! beautious stranger to our sky,
How bright thy robes appear,
Noiseless thou treds thy paths on high,
And converse with all our stars.

In radiant flame of glowing light
Thy silent orb rolls on,
Through vast eternities of night,
To mortal man unknown.

Thy magnitude thy fiery glow,
Thy towering wake of flames,
But mock our wisest skill to know,
We’ve barely learned thy name.

Through boundless depths of space unknown,
Beyond the realms of days,
In blazing language of thy own,
Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.

This week, I’m sharing a different kind of post, a longer scene that features the Comet Donati. I shared this in 2014 when I wrote the first draft of Rock Creek. Although my novel has evolved from this early writing, including my later decision to give Cobb two bs to his name, this scene holds an essential piece of the later tragedy that unfolds for the McCanles family who had hoped to escape the coming war.

Perhaps the comet was not the glorious sign James thought it to be. It turned out to be a natural phenomenon occurring before an unnaturally violent war between families and neighbors. Unfortunately, human contempt is not as uncommon as a visible comet.

Excerpt From Rock Creek:

“Truthfully, it grows fainter as it passes us by. Comet Donati,” said James.

“That’s a pretty name.” The cider was sweet and warm as Sarah drank.

“It’s named after the Italian astronomer who first sighted it last summer.”

“Is it an omen?”

James leaned against the oak tree and looked skyward. “Omens are for old ladies.”

“What do the old ladies say? It’s not as if any speak to me.”

“They say that such terrible lights burn for killed kings and slain heroes. They say a bloodbath is coming.”

Sarah shuddered. “And what do you say?”

James raised his upturned hand to the comet. “Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.”

A clomping of hooves sounded from the snow-covered road. Cob was walking Captain and leading another horse.

“Evening, Da, Sarah. Are you ready, lass?” Cob swung down from Captain and stood eye-to-eye with his father.

“Might I dissuade you son?”

“You may not. What it done, is done and now I must flee. Leroy will follow with his family and mine in the spring.” He grabbed Sarah’s bundle and began to tie it to the saddle of the second horse. Sarah wondered if she would have to walk.

“I cannot imagine a more beautiful place than Watauga, this lovely vale. I brought my children here to make a home. And now my children leave. My grandchildren, too.”

“Da, come out with Leroy. Get out of here before the war.”

“Bah! These traitors who talk of succession are just blustering. A new President. We have a Constitutional Unionist on the ticket…”

“Enough of politics.The west is were we can prosper.”

“Yes, and I hear that Mormons can have many wives.” James looked pointedly at Sarah.

“Leave her be, Da. Mary knows I’m getting her out of this place so she can have a fresh start, too.”

“Do not be leading your family to a cruel fate, David Colbert.”

The two men grasped arms until James pulled Cob to him. “May angles guard over your journey. Your mother and I shall weep in our old age, not seeing the single smokestack of any of our offspring.”

“Come with Leroy, Da. At least go to Tennessee. It’s safer at Duggers Ferry and you’ll have two daughters to spoil you in old dotage.”

“Ach, I’m not leaving my native land. How could I stray from the Watauga River? Who would fish her silver ribbons the way I do?”

“Then mind yourself angling and take care of mother. Fare thee well, Da.”

To Sarah’s surprise, Cob reached for her and slung her up into the saddle as easily as he had tossed her bundle. He swung up behind her and seated her sideways on his lap. He nudged Captain and the horse responded with a spirited trot.

Sarah heard James call, “Farewell.” His voice sounded choked with tears, yet she couldn’t deny her joy at leaving this place. She would be a free woman.

It was hard not to fidget and the night grew even colder. Sarah watched the comet as they rode up the mountains, cresting the ridge and breaking through drifts of snow. Occasionally they would pass a cabin or farm, a coon dog barking in the distance, but no other signs of life.

“Where are we going, exactly,” asked Sarah. West seemed like a grand place, but she had no idea where west or how long it would take.

“We’ll catch the train at Johnson’s Tank.” His voice rumbled in the cold silence of the mountains.

Johnson’s Tank was a start. Sarah had never seen a train and now she would get to ride on one. Somehow she failed to summon the earlier excitement and she glanced at the comet, hoping it meant nothing at all. Yet, it had to mean something. It was no coincidence that it appeared in her darkest hour of despair or that it was still present the night she escaped the damnation of her family’s punishment. It had to be a sign for good. Her lucky star.

Sarah must have dozed off because she awoke, startled to see the light of dawn shining from behind them. They had ridden out of the the mountains and the land before them was rolling with woods and fields.

“You awake?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I have to stop.” Cob reined in Captain. “Slide down,” he told her.

Sarah did and hopped to the ground that was wet with dew and free of snow. Cob dismounted and handed her the reins. He stepped a few paces and with his back to her, she heard him urinating. Her face grew flush and she realized she needed to do the same, but how could she?

“Do you have to go?”

“No.” She stood uncomfortably aware that she had to go even more now that she had denied it.

“Just go.” He took the reins from her.

“Here?”

“Pick a clump of grass and sprinkle it with dew. How about that clump there?” Cob pointed to a small bent row of grass in front of Captain.

Sarah looked each direction and finally walked around to the other side of the horses. Lifting her skirts and spreading her knickers she squatted with her back to the horses feeling somewhat shielded. Her stream sounded like a roaring river in her ears. Rearranging her underclothes and skirts, she turned around to see Cob leaning against Captain staring at her with a big boyish grin. “I knew you had to go.”

“Do not watch me!” Sarah turned away, feeling the flush rise from her neck to her scalp.

“It’s natural.” He chuckled.

“For men, perhaps.” She turned back around and glared.

“Oh? And women politely pass on pissing? What happens when you have to…”

“That’s enough!”

“Time to mount up, my damsel in distress.” Cob bowed as if he were a gallant.

“Rogue.”

###

Thank you for indulging my historical fiction as a post this week. For those of you who’ve kindly expressed interest in my veteran saga, we are still in a holding pattern, waiting for news on whether or not the Hub will “get a bed” in Minneapolis. His therapist is now pushing to help that cause, as well.

On the Keweenaw homefront, we have the urgent sense of savoring every last ray of summer sunshine. Winter is coming. And for our writing prompt this week, so are comets.

August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 21, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

 

Origins of Comets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah spread a quilt on the knoll above Rock Creek to watch the night sky.

“The year before I was born, stars landed.” Yellow Feather pulled a pitted gray stone from his medicine pouch. He passed it to Nancy Jane.

“Feels kinda like lumpy metal.”.

“It’s heavy, too. This is a star?” asked Sarah.

Yellow Feather said, “My grandfather found it where many small stars burned the prairie grass.”

“Look – there’s one,” said Nany Jane.

“I saw it! Did you see Comet Donati last year?”

Yellow Feather laughed. “Comet Donati? That was just First Shaman urinating across the sky.”

Peering From the Woods

Peering from the woods, we feel the watcher. Friendly? Curious? Dangerous? The woods around the world can be jungle, bush, forest, a backyard. It’s a tangle of shadows, a spot to hide.

Writers contemplate the watcher’s next move. They craft the place and people involved. Peering from the woods, stories emerge. (Photo Credit: J. Madland)

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes an act of “peering from the woods.”

PART I (10-minutes)

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Forest by Jack Schuyler

I peered into the woods and the woods peered back.

“Enter into my respite.” Said the woods. It spoke in tongues of wind and beckoned me with all the rhythms of the earth. “Walk beneath my shade, swim in my streams, eat of my harvest.”

“But mother told me no.” I replied, “She says beasts of night roam your shadows and sweet poisons wait beneath your trees.”

“All true,” growled the forest, “and you would do well to heed her advice. But if you stay in the shelter of the village, do not expect to share in my treasures.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mountain Lion by Heather Gonzalez

“Aren’t there mountain lions in these woods?” Samantha shivered as she pulled her sleeping back closer to her body.

“Stop worrying so much and just enjoy it.” Jack turned off the lantern and settled in.

Noises kept coming from beyond the clearing. Jack had fallen asleep and no amount of whispering for help would wake him. Samantha slowly unzipped the tent to peer out upon her fate. She saw the eyes peering from the woods and froze in fear. There was nowhere to run.

A soft meow came from behind the bushes.

“Some mountain lion you are.” she laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Luminesce (from “Lynx Valley Biohabitat”) by Saifun Hassam

Valerie and Carmen tracked Luminesce to a tumbled mass of boulders and ledges. The bobcat’s den was hidden by tangled vines and woody shrubs.

Lynx Valley Biohabitat was a mix of woodlands and open scrub land. Tall grass grew along the Lissoire River. From the Rover, Valerie caught the glint of eyes peering from the woods.

Luminesce stole into the tall grass. A panicked rabbit shot out. Near the river, the red deer froze. With powerful strides, the bobcat pounced ferociously on the deer. She dragged it through the tall grass, to her waiting cubs at the woods’ edge.

🥕🥕🥕

Sad Cat Diary: Wildlife Edition by Robert Kirkendall

The mountain lion came up to the forest’s edge drawn by the scent of food. She peered from the woods at a flock of livestock in a nearby pasture.

One of those sheep could feed me and my little ones for a week, the mountain lion thought as she longed for the forbidden sustenance, but if I take one, the humans will come after me and kill me! I only want one, the lion moped, and they have so many, it isn’t fair.

The dejected feline slouched in defeat. Why must the humans be so cruel? she wondered piteously.

🥕🥕🥕

Lone Ranger by Nancy Brady

Going crazy, our cat saw something in the dark that she felt shouldn’t be in her territory. At first, I couldn’t see anything, but her night vision is better. But then I noticed the glint of dark eyes staring at us from the wildflower garden. A tangle of weeds and flowers blossom on the edge of the property, allowing for fauna hiding within, and on this night, the masked bandit was hiding inside.

Why the raccoon was there wasn’t apparent until the next day when we discovered our sweet corn was decimated, a tasty snack for a midnight marauder.

🥕🥕🥕

Watching Out for the Birdwatcher by Anne Goodwin

Birdseed on the fence post again. My heart skips. Who would dare feed animals when people starve? An ornithologist, that’s who. Another forbidden word.
Scrambling over the layers of barbed wire, I pick my way through a soggy carpet of mashed leaves into the shelter of the trees. Birds flit from branch to branch, their sweet song sweeping all worries from my mind. Then I hear it, smell it: someone’s stopped at the fence.

Peering from the woods, I must be dreaming. Whacko has a gentle side? Something to use against him the next time he brandishes his cane.

🥕🥕🥕

Possum by kate @ aroused

Polly swung through the forest
of large macadamia trees
drawn by the scent of ripened fruit

She spied a woolly alpaca herd
grazing contentedly with a horse
Buster watched on from a distance

But Polly was blinded by the sun soaked
fields as she was accustomed to the dark
yet the orchard beckoned heavy with fruit

She would have to wait until dark
to scamper across those open fields
to gorge on a gluttonous banquet

Alpacas and horse would by asleep
but Buster might be on alert
so she would need a sprinting spurt!

Polly’s long peep was fruitful!

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Di @ pensitivity101

Here’s Looking at You.

Did you hear it? That gentle rustling in the leaves.
Did you see it? A quick flash of a white flagged rump.
Did you catch it? Yes, but only on film.
Did it see you? Most definitely, it was looking right at me.

I often wonder what animals think of us humans when they see us intruding on their domain. I am certain there are more creatures looking at us than we realise.
The woods are alive with insects, snakes, animals and birds.
It is their world, and we abuse it. In fact, we’re killing it with our pollution.

🥕🥕🥕

The Heat of the Day by Carol Keefer

The clearing in the forest was so bright, filled to the rim with hot sunlight suddenly free of trees to beam down and touch the earth with its heat. I had had enough of the sun’s heat and wanted only to observe this quiet, serene oasis from a point in the shade of trees so I peered from the woods. Suddenly, a black grizzly and a doe sprang from the trees on the other side. What could be pursuing them? They were running together. It was only a few minutes later when I smelled the smoke wafting towards me.

🥕🥕🥕

Fox Cub by JulesPaige

Seeming to be always at as well as on edge;
creeping closer just to see if it was safe. Like
her namesake, senses on high alert – always.

They had left her to fend for herself. Was there
a lesson to be learned? Distant from community,
yet wanting to be a part – included, but always
to some extent excluded.

They made up excuses for her lack of cooperation. Dim-witted, ignorant, lame; would limping be her way of life.

The forest had felt safer when the sun was out.
But there were predators everywhere. Perhaps
that was the lesson They taught?

🥕🥕🥕

The Fawn by Rosemary Carlson

She watched him when he was a fawn. Come summer, he grew spikes. A young buck. He was unafraid of her. He grew accustomed to her apples. He came to the porch and snatched the food from her hand. She grew to love him that winter. She was alone.

The next summer, he was a four-point buck. He came to the porch. She tried to make him go away, fearful he was too accustomed to people.

It’s been ten years. An old buck comes to the porch. He takes the apples. She knows by his eyes that it’s him.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering Through by Peregrine Arc

Mary stood in her bedroom, staring closely into the antique mirror hung on the peeling wallpaper. Music crackled on the radio from across the hallway.

An oil painting hung behind Mary of a lake and cabin scene at dusk. A man was smoking a glowing pipe patiently, peering from the woods. She could smell the smoke.

But every night, after Mary finally turned away from the mirror, the man vanished. The painting returned to normal, barren of any figures.

But the light was left on in the cabin tonight. And its front door was left open, quiet and inviting.

🥕🥕🥕

The Connection by D. Avery

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What? The research? The constant camping it requires? Or…us?”

“All of it. I’m just done.”

“Ok. I’m sorry if this crazy venture made our relationship impossible. I’ll hike out with you. I’ve given up on ever finding Sasquatch. I’m done too.”

It wasn’t just his obsession with his work. She’d never felt a strong connection with him. She knew now that she could have more.

While he packed up the equipment, she hid the tufts of hair she’d found under a stone, brushed over a footprint.

Sasquatch peered from the woods, relieved and sad.

🥕🥕🥕

Knowing by D. Avery

They trudged to the logging road together, loaded the equipment into his truck, rode in silence to the general store where her car was parked.

“I guess he doesn’t exist”, he said to her as goodbye.

“I guess not”, she replied, and went into the store as he drove away.

Resupplied, she returned to where she had seen the signs and had felt Sasquatch’s presence. She was learning that finding Sasquatch doesn’t require any electronic equipment, only being fearless and open-hearted.

She smiled to find wildflowers left for her on a log, smiled that he’d known she’d be back.

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise! by Norah Colvin

She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked.  Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.

🥕🥕🥕

Feral Natives by Chelsea Owens

The small natives, unkempt and unruly, peer from a shadowed arch. They stop, keenly watching an inert female creature just ahead.

The first whispers, “What’s she doin’?”

His companion checks. “Nuffin’. Sleepin’, most like.”

Urrrrhaghaaah! She moans. They scamper back to shadow’s safety.

“Did she see ya?” The younger sucks a finger.

A quick peek. “Nah. I think she’s fakin’.”

One second later: “Now what’s she doin’?”

He looks again. “Rolled over.” He scowls. “-Wait! I saw a light. She’s got her phone!”

“She’s awake!” Excited, the younger boy grips his brother’s arm.

Drat, she says.

“Let’s get ‘er!”

🥕🥕🥕

Becoming Wild by Paula Moyer

February, 1966: Jean’s family did a suburbs-to-small-town move. Home was a two-bedroom rental at the edge of town. Behind the house, a woodsy spot. Jean was 13, Sam 11, Donny 9.

When summer came, that spot grew dark with leaves. Sam and Donny disappeared into it every morning after breakfast. They would grab lunch and vanish again. Jean ignored them, practiced the piano.

“Jean, go get the boys,” Mom called from the kitchen. “It’s supper time.”

Sounded easy. Jean stood at the trees’ edge. “Guys, supper!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Taste of Wisdom by Molly Stevens

Mary tapped a forbidden cylinder from the box. She couldn’t believe her good fortune, having found half a pack beside the road. She peered through the woods at her home, struck a match, and took her first drag.

I didn’t even cough. I knew I’d be good at this.

Later she shuffled home, wondering how to conceal her headache and nausea.

At the sound of the screen door, her mother said, “What have you been doing?”

“Does God give you what you want to teach you stuff?”

Her mother smelled cigarette smoke, observed her daughter’s pale countenance, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Peering by Floridaborne

“You say you’ve never been camping before?” He asked, with a twinkle in his eye that I didn’t like.

I looked down at two sleeping bags thrown on top of ferns and bristled.  “We don’t belong here.”

“Don’t worry about that rusty, no trespassing sign,” he scoffed.

“She told me we’ll die here tonight,” I replied, pointing at a deer peering out at me from the bush.  “We’ll be thrown into a mass grave.”

He threw his sleeping bags into the back seat and we drove to the paved road in silence.  Yet another relationship ruined by my gift.

🥕🥕🥕

Caught In The Act by Ritu Bhathal

“Well Annie, that was fun! We should make these meetings of ours interesting more often.”

Petey unzipped the front flap of his yellow tent, allowing for a slice of light to cut through the darkness of the forest.

He stepped out and stretched, post-coitally, opening his eyes to the beauty of nature.

And stopped.

What was that?

Peering from the woods, he swore he saw the face of his wife, Susan, eyes open wide in horror.

A rustling sound followed.

“Come back Petey honey, we’ve still got time.” Annie’s voice brought him back.

Petey feared his time was up.

🥕🥕🥕

Ready by The Dark Netizen

Cadet Billy peered from the woods.

Perseus’ bullet had missed. Medusa had spotted them. Things were not going well. This was his first field mission, and he already felt that he was out of place. These were not mere humans. What chance did he have of contributing at all? He could see Medusa approaching, almost gliding towards them. He began to feel numb. Was he turning into stone? No. This was fear. He watched as Perseus drew his heavy pistol drawn. Keynes caught Billy’s eye, and nodded at him. Billy could not let his mentor down.

Billy was ready.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minutes)

Devastation by Diana Nagai

Night fell over the property. A leather lead dangled useless in his hand. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up. The firefighter shook her head. So, his horse had not been found.

“It’s time to evacuate.” She paused, then added, “Please.”

His heart constricted and he wiped a tear.

As he turned to the flames engulfing the barn and beyond, he could have sworn he saw eyes peering from the woods behind the fire line. God, he hoped so. He screamed a silent prayer. Run! The eyes disappeared. He never saw Diamond again.

🥕🥕🥕

Fawn Within Fawn by Late Night Girl

“Oh deer! No headlights this time; Just eye to eye”, I thought to myself when I encountered this beautiful beast unsuccessfully trying to camouflage as a tree. Its two-leaf ears gave it away! My green coat may have equally looked like food, too, but I actually was looking for some game, yet couldn’t bring myself to break it to the fawn, gun in hand!

What now?! We could both pretend neither is here or just hop on to the next best eatable opportunity down the food chain.

I leave it to the reader to decide what happened next.

🥕🥕🥕

Imagination – Another Strange Meeting by Gordon Le Pard

“Then they looked out of the wood – and saw dinosaurs!”

The novelist put the papers down. “A good way of ending the episode?”

The palaeontologist nodded, “Wonderful, what an imagination you have.”

“You too must have imagination, to create lost worlds out of fragments of bone.”

“But not like you.”

As he left he thought of the bones in his workshop. His imagination had created something very special, the Missing Link, but no one would realise it wasn’t real for many years, if ever.

His friend was just a great writer, however he was the greatest scientific hoaxer ever.

🥕🥕🥕

Dashing by Miriam Hurdle

Peering from the wood, something got its attention. It dashed across the road.

Thump, thump, thud!

“Oh, no. I didn’t see it coming.” Sid and Cindy jumped out of the car.

“The impact was forceful. It crushed the front of the car.”

“Is the deer okay?” Cindy looked at its head.

“Let’s wait. It’s trying to get up…”

“It’s limping across the road.”

“It went across okay… No, it flopped and lied still.”

“Do we want to go camping?”

“The engine suffered the impact. Let’s go home.”

* * *

“Our car took the last breath getting us home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘You can’t see the woods for the trees, eh?’

‘That’s another stupid expression. All I was saying was I saw something in there.’

‘Ghost? Phantasm?’

‘Seriously, it was alive.’

‘Ent? Tree-sprite?’

‘It could be that weirdo.’

‘Any specific weirdo?’

‘I’m going home.’

‘Don’t be a wuss, Morgan. Probably a deer.’

‘Or a lion.’

‘In Surrey?’

‘You know they say a tree makes no sound if there’s no one to hear it when it falls. Do you think you can see a lion if you’re not there when it appears?’

‘You’re a moron as well as a coward, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Deadly Hunt by Anurag Bakhshi

Travis looked at the cute, round-as-buttons eyes peering at him through the woods, and smiled.

He had spent half his life searching for the Ringa-Tinga-Ling, the mythical oldest animal species in the world. Today, he and his cameraman had finally found him.

Still smiling, Travis raised his rifle, and took careful aim. His cameraman saw what he was doing, and shouted, “What the…” But before he could finish, Travis had fired.

And even before the cameraman had hit the ground, Travis took out his handgun, and shot himself.

The Ringa-Tinga-Ling looked on with his cute, round-as-button eyes, and smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

Going on a picnic was a treat for the family. Dad carefully cleared a circular patch in the undergrowth while the children collected rocks. Dad packed the rocks around the cleared patch to ensure that the fire he was building was well contained. Everyone was busy preparing for the fun of cooking their lunch sausages on sticks over the open fire.

“Where’s Hayley,” Mom asked.

She was nowhere to be seen. She must have slipped away while they were all working.

Sheila smiled with relief when she saw her peering from the small copse of trees nearby. Thank goodness.

🥕🥕🥕

Who’s Watching Julie by Oneta Hayes

Four-year-old Julie, intent on filling her basket with flowers, wandered from camp, unaware that eyes were peering from the woods. She walked deeper and deeper into the brush and trees. Julie – as sweet and innocent as Little Red Riding Hood going to her grandmother’s house.

Fortunately Julie’s Grandmother was not sick in bed; she was in the camp. Where’s Julie? She sounded the alarm and campers began the search. Aha! It wasn’t long before Grandmother herself found Julie. Neither was aware of the Wolf who slunk away without a sound except for the hungry growling of his stomach.

🥕🥕🥕

Pee(r)ing Through the Woods by Deborah Lee

Jane hunkers down in the foliage. Her knees already ache from the awkward stance. She checks her pants and shoes; both should be out of the splash zone.

Just as she relaxes her muscles, feels the stream start beneath her, of course that’s when she hears voices.

She’s been here for hours, hoping for someone who might buy a paper. Naturally, it’s not until she can’t hold it anymore, with the nearest public restroom an hour away, that anybody comes along.

Jane narrows her eyes, peering through the bushes. If she can’t see them, they can’t see her…right?

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by a story forms my mind

Startled. Her eyes snap open. The right side of her face and mouth pressed into wet pine needles. Above her the sky, barely visible through the dark canopy of spruce.
Her arm aches and somehow her dress has been torn. She unfurls herself from the forest floor, searches for her phone, her bag, anything that will explain why she is here.

Nothing.

The only sound, the creaking of trees as they move in a wind she cannot feel. She sees eyes peering brightly from the trees and hears the roar of traffic from the highway.

Then nothing but cold.

🥕🥕🥕

Those Two by Reena Saxena

All the persuasion by his friends failed to make him participate in a jungle picnic. He looked petrified, and his wife insisted that he be left alone. The friends decided to take him to a counsellor later.

Nobody realized that he was consumed by guilt. It was a crime committed in the first flush of youth. He finished college, found a job and married a beautiful girl.

But, those two eyes never stopped peering at him from the woods. Those two eyes spewed fire, and swore revenge. He did not know if those two eyes were dead or alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Silhouettes by Bill Engleson

At that time, the lake was more a swamp.

Stumps rose like rogue cannons, wooden effigies of flooded farmland.

We hiked the deer path that edged the water.

Eventually, we found a grassy knoll that afforded a cushion of comfort and privacy.

Our adolescent fumblings did not betray us.

Soft sun bathed my lover’s skin.

Still, something, real, imagined, concerned her.

“Are you sure we’re alone?” she whispered.

I was sure of very little then.

“Why?” I asked, looking into the nearby bush.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It just feels creepy.”

That did it.

We hightailed outta there.

🥕🥕🥕

Cache Only Memory Access by Deepa

I could feel Thomas hands intertwined in mine. I could hear him. He was telling me about the memories of our adventures. I am not sure how long I had been lying in the coma.

Thomas gently caressed my hands and peered into my eyes, “the auburn color of your hair reminded me of the woods, and now it shines like the snow. You ask me why I didn’t seek adventure over the years.”

How could I do it without you? We are partners in crime.

Thomas was an adventure freak. Tears trickled from my eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Sanctuary by abhiray59

Deer calf was peering through the bush. It was looking curiously at the movement of humans down the trail. Other members of its family and friends were nearby having their daily feed of green grass. This calf was curious.

Sam raised his rifle to aim at the deer. “Don’t shoot. This is a sanctuary. Wild animals are expected to be safe here”, said Sid, a fellow hiker.

A leopard pounced on the calf. Curious calf was enamored with humans. It forgot about other lurking dangers in the sanctuary. After all, it was a sanctuary for the leopard too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hollow by Kati MacArthur

It was a dim, dark forest. I stood on the edge, looking in at a large green fern, solitary in the darkened clearing, spotlighted by a single dusty beam of filtered verdant light. No crickets here, no birds. Just sunlight and darkness: cool, green, quiet.

I see these things when my serenity is threatened. They are images from the hollow where my friend goes to mourn her horse.

In times of strife, I remember this: melancholy sunshine with cool, green quiet a few steps away. Two separate worlds, one before me, one behind me. Which way do I turn?

🥕🥕🥕

From the Woods by Allison Maruska

I crawl through Darkness, the ever-present being, one I can’t touch but knows me completely.

Darkness wants to keep me here, in these woods, surrounded, lost. If I have no hope of escape, Darkness gets her wish. But if I find the way out, Darkness is powerless to stop me.

So I crawl, unsure of direction. I could be heading farther into her depths. But then, I see it: a light. It’s a pinpoint at first, but it gives me direction. And so I crawl.

Finally, I find Darkness’s edge, and peering out from the woods, I see hope.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Anita Dawes

About an hour into the woods, I thought I heard a sound. Just ahead of me, peering through the trees I could see 12 standing stones with a large stone table in the middle. I had never seen these before so I took dozens of photographs.
The air seemed to whisper with strange sounds, almost words I could not hear.
I reached home and downloaded them. My breath was taken by the sight of King Arthur and his knights. There had been no one there. Had my imagination imprinted these images, or was it my desire to be there?

🥕🥕🥕

Silence by oneletterup

She likes it here. How the breeze blows her hair as she swings. Back and forth.
The soft sweat pants protect the scabs on her legs.

“What’s your name?” the little boy keeps asking.
But she keeps shaking her head. Silent.

The little girl asks “Ya wanna swing with me?”
She smiles and nods.

In mid swing she sees it.
A flash of red. Movement.
In woods across the street.
Foot down scraping grass.
Swing slows. Jumps off. Stares hard.
Fists clench.

Someone is peering at her from under a tree.

Turning around, she runs.
The little girl follows.

🥕🥕🥕

Unwelcome Guests by Susan Sleggs

“My Dad told me the new people in the fenced mansion belong to the Mob,” Rock said.

“I heard it was some rich old guy with a sexy young wife,” Dude answered.

Crazy, always needing excitement, suggested, “Let’s sneak through the woods to see what we can see by their pool.”

Shortly the rowdies peered around dense manicured bushes at scantily clad young beauties.

A body guard turned their direction saying loudly, “I can feel eyes on us.” He reached behind his back bringing a gun forward and fired a shot above their heads. “Next time I won’t miss!”

🥕🥕🥕

Fred’s Confession by Sherri Matthews

Fred peered out from behind the garden shed into the steely-eyed glare of Ethel through the kitchen window. He froze.

‘Hello my sweet, you look lovely today,’ Fred squirmed.

‘Get yer hairy arse back inside, now!’

Fred padded gingerly into the kitchen and gulped. ‘Ethel, me and Mavis…’ He caught his reflection in the mirror, distracting him from his confession. Funny, the dentist hadn’t mentioned how long and sharp his teeth had grown. And his hair, so grey…

‘Shut up yer gormless twit,’ Ethel fumed, ‘Mavis is a slut, but you…you’re a bleedin’ werewolf and it’s full moon tonight.’

🥕🥕🥕

The Lewis and Rebman Expedition by TN Kerr

Lewis increased his pace to catch up and have a word with Rebman, “I expect our way will be blocked when we round the next bend. Have you seen them?”

“Seen whom?” Rebman asked. He glanced about, now noticing flashes of bright crimson and deep indigo between the dense trees. He asked, “Who are they?”

“The locals here are autochthonous,” Lewis advised. “They claim to be descended from Lellages, the purported elder son of Belabub. Who, in turn was a Philistine god. The Hebrews called him Beelzebub, the Christians, called him Satan.”

“Dangerous?”

“I believe so, Rebman? I believe so.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Target by Patrick O’Connor

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Better focus.

Small adjustment.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

The wind is negligible.

No one would be able to see me from this perch as I peer from the forest.

I am a good mile away anyway.

Looking through the scope again.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Don’t move at all.

Last check. I’m ready.

Big inhale. Slow exhale.

Squeezing the trigger until…

BAM!

Three, Two, One.

Looking through the scope again.

Right on target.

That guy won’t be a problem anymore.

Lone Wolf to command.

Mission accomplished.

On to the next target.

🥕🥕🥕

Outlast by Kerry E.B. Black

We’ve always lived in the woods. Of course, back in the day, woods stretched for acres. Now they’re confined to a small patch surrounded by manicured lawns and asphalt.

Few venture here. They linger along the outskirts and peer into the cool depths beneath the leafy canopy, as though they fear once they enter, they’ll never return to their civilization.

They’re right.

We wait here, sneering at their brash attempts to confine us. We bide our time.

Soon, they’ll become negligent groundskeepers, and with quiet tenacity, we’ll reclaim land, break through turf, swallow structures.

We will outlast, as always.

🥕🥕🥕

So They Say So by D. Avery

“Hey, Aussie!”

“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”

“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”

“’Appears so Aussie. Dang!”

“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”

“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”

**********

“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”

“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”

“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”

“Aussie! Pal! I’m back.”

“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”

“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”

“You call that campin’?”

“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”

“Bigfoot?!”

“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”

“Phooey!”

🥕🥕🥕

Times Past: What is Memoir

By Irene Waters

I started off this series for Charli saying that I had already written about what memoir is and at the time I chose not to repeat it. However, in summing up for the last post in this series, I thought it is probably worth revisiting what a memoir is.

Firstly, memoir belongs in the creative nonfiction genre. These works are described as true stories that are well told. They generally utilise the fictional techniques of dialogue and high definition description of scenes. The truth is told in a way that is compelling for the reader.

Memoir is derived from the French term for memory. Memoirs also come from this word, but memoir and memoirs refer to two different things. The plural form is interchangeable with autobiography (the complete life story of a person in chronological order). Memoir, however, refers to a modern form of life writing that looks at only a part of one’s life and is told in the compelling way discussed in the previous chapter.

Although both autobiography and memoir are true, an autobiography tells facts that can be found by researching the life. The information should be verifiable. It is the history of a life. Memoir, on the other hand, is coming from within. It is the story of self and is how one person remembers a portion of their life. These memories are true to the author but are not necessarily verifiable by anyone else. When I write a memoir it is true to my memory but not perhaps to others. We all approach an event with a worldview that is our own, and the memory we will take from that event will be influenced by it, thus giving us different perceptions of the same event. This does not mean that anything can be made up. There have been a number of fraudulent memoirs written such as famously by James Frey and Norma Khouri. In these, the incidents in the book did not occur or were grossly exaggerated.

There has been an explosion of memoirs since Mary Karr and Frank McCourt each wrote their memoir, both of which are credited with being the start of the modern memoir boom. These paved the way for anybody to write their own story – we have misery, travel, dogs, celebrity, grief, illness memoirs and the list goes on and on and on. Memoir is often similarly seen in the nonfiction world to the way romance is seen in the fiction world. Why is this? Most likely because everyone has a story to tell and many who aren’t diligent in editing and writing publish. Sometimes people see it as narcissistic – to my mind, this is usually an unfair assumption. Those writing feel they have a story that may help others by the knowledge that they gleaned in their processing of what happened to them. This reflection is an integral part of memoir. Others write because they feel they have a good story to tell but again there will be a change in the person because of the event, and this reflection will be shown in the narrative. For those that want revenge or a cure for self, publishing a memoir is not the way to go.

How do you tell if it is fiction or memoir? The name of the author should be the same as the ‘I’ character in the narrative. Phillipe LeJeune coined the term “The Autobiographical Pact” whereby the author is the ‘I’ character and pledges to the reader that the narrative is a true story. The reader reciprocates by agreeing to believe the narrative is the truth. Reading memoir is different from reading fiction, and that abuse of trust hurts if the memoir writer does not tell the truth.

As for writing memoir – know your audience, know your theme and keep the focus narrow. Use dialogue and high definition descriptions of the scene, use small detail that only someone that was there could have known. Use your voice. Personally, I think there should be a combination of telling and showing so that the reader is left in no doubt as to how you changed as a result of the events being told. Always show unsavoury characters – let the reader be the one to decide that they are not too nice – don’t label or condemn. As a result, time may have to pass before writing. Time should be played within the narrative.

Before sending it out for publication – make sure that it has been copyedited and proofread. I hope in the writing you enjoy owning your story. Thanks Charli for giving me the opportunity over the last few months to talk memoir. There have been some good discussions, and although I have never wished to change anyone’s thoughts on memoir, I hope that it has given everyone some food for thought.

Times Past will continue monthly. Join in Times Past where this month we are looking at Horses and Childhood Dreams.

August 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

Ed peers at me from behind the ferns. He’s caught between the darkness of the deep woods and the sunlight pouring through the opening in the trees. I’d like to think Ed is “Ed McMahon” with a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake check the size of a refrigerator door and enough zeros to last a lifetime of book-buying. Or Ed, as in the name of a yet-unknown publisher who knocks to say, “Golly-gosh, we love your writing – here’s a contract.”

No, Ed is a deer. A soft-eared doe with big dark, curious eyes peers at me from a glen in Minnesota that I’ve never seen. The photo is a gift, one of several that Keto Man gave me after an interview.

First, Keto Man is the very last member-owner of a co-op I will ever interview. He marks the conclusion of an era for me, the final one after seventeen years of interviews. During that time, I caught the stories of hundreds of co-op members, organic farmers, artisan cheese producers, and entrepreneurs.

Peering back at that time in my life, I see all who I interviewed as part of a colorful tapestry of a vibrant community food system. Food cooperatives in the US rose out of the need for people to have whole food. The movement countered processed meals, added sugar, and expense. In Berkley and Minneapolis, co-ops adopted the symbol of a fisted carrot: Food for people, not for profit!

Sound familiar? Carrot Ranch…Words for people! Sure, I lopped off the “not for profit part” because I emphatically believe literary artists, like all artists, should be valued and paid for their work. The name Carrot Ranch acknowledges community activism centered on fairness, and as a literary arts community, I believe in the power of writers to rise and say something powerful in the world tussle between chaos and order.

Literary art belongs to the people, not the ivory towers or pocketbooks of profit-first publishing. People first. Nothing against publishing dynasties or ivory towers. I love New York and vow to go back as a published author one day. But the industry strangles voices with a profit-driven model. And I’m not against higher education — I’m headed back to the ivory towers of liberal arts next month.

Of course, my position at Finlandia University suits my inner maverick. As an adjunct, I’ll be teaching a CTE Marketing course to high school juniors and seniors who get to enroll in college. Already I get to circumvent some of the pomp of being a full-fledged prof. I’m invited to the week-long orientation for new professors, but I can pick and chose which events to attend. I like that.

But I did have to get fingerprinted and entered into the FBI database. That’s a requirement of the Copper Country School District. I understand and made the most of my jail visit to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department. I even got to sit in the sheriff’s office and talk to him about teaching (he used to be an adjunct at Finlandia, too). He agreed to talk to my class about how professionalism is part of his department’s brand.

In fact, I’ve been reaching out to many local business owners, companies and entrepreneurs to speak as guests. I hope to have one a week. I want to expose my students to many varied ideas about what they could do with a marketing career. And I want to drive home the only rule my classroom will have: always be professional. If any disciplinary issues arise, as administrators fear given that this is the first time they’ve opened their campus to high school students, I can begin with, “What would a professional do?” One required reading for the course will be “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

Keto Man didn’t think our interview would last 20 minutes. My former client wanted one more member-owner profile after I completed my last project for them. As is the case with such last-minute stories, they turned over a willing candidate to interview. Keto Man didn’t think he was interesting. He wasn’t. He was fascinating and inspiring.

For starters, he led me to a dark place, as dark as the woods behind a deer. Like me, he has no cable television thus eliminating the 24-hour news media nonsense. While I support journalism and believe in a nation’s free-press, the US saw the information age give way to the misinformation age. Keto Man directed me to Jordan Peterson and The Intellectual Dark Web. I’ve only watched a few clips and not anything I’m compelled to share yet, but I fully understand the allure of intellectualism, of long conversations, of discourse.

As a literary writer, I support what Jordan Peterson says: When you are in college and have those years carved out for you, read every book you can in the library. Yes! Read deep and read broadly. It reminds me of how I often struggled as a writer in my twenties because I felt I didn’t have anything to say. And I was right. The twenties are for reading, for digesting. Sure, writing is a huge part of processing what you think about what you read, but you must input information and experiences, first.

Also, I’d add – go live! Go be a parent and understand that dirty diapers are daily, and you’ll get over yourself in a hurry. Go to college and cram all night, write every day and read every book until your eyes cross. Go work a job, any job, especially a job that doesn’t fulfill you, so you can understand what does bring you satisfaction. Go to the mountains, to the sea, to the desert, to the city, to someplace new. Go travel and talk to people who are different until you understand they are just like you.

And never stop. Never stop learning, experiencing, and using your voice to say something. Observe. Create. Express. Write. Repeat.

I connected with Keto Man. I understood his interest in long conversations and civil debates. I like the idea of the Dark Web for taking hot social topics and debating them on a long forum and following up with audience questions. Yes, I long for more intelligent discourse. However, I also long for more compassion. As with everything, balance.

Further in the interview, Keto Man explained a health crisis he experienced to which he responded by eliminating all sugar and grains. I felt inspired by his action. He’s on a ketogenic diet which has eliminated the culprit of inflammation. He is able to process his health so differently from many veterans like the Hub. Next time a VA doctor says the Hub is normal for his age, I have a comparison.

My adjustment with the Hub correlates to a phrase Anne Godwin gifted me with last week: my veteran’s a reluctant patient with a hard-to-diagnose condition. He’s not normal for his age. Even the 86-year old man who conversed with me at the beach/office today could hold focus better than the Hub.

I’m writing, and occasionally peering at others, as I’m officing from a picnic table at Hancock City Beach. A man with two teeth approaches and tells me a joke in such rapid Finnish-English I laugh, not because I understand but because I don’t. Then I tell him a joke. Evidently, this is a Finnish custom for opening a conversation. He lingers and asks why I’m at a picnic table with a computer on such a beautiful day. Exactly! It’s such a beautiful day, I wanted to go down to Portage Canal and write.

Tomorrow we have the first of several evaluations for the Hub. They will be peering into his service records, his medical records and at his old bones. I’d rather be peering at rocks or at a deer that might be named Ed. That will come later.

August 9, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes  an act of “peering from the woods.” Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 14, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Ed in the Woods by Charli Mills

Ed was peering at me again. I could feel his gaze crawl across my shoulders. Let me finish the chapter, Ed. The Legendary Leaphorn is in the arroyo. The tickle continues. I persevere, finish the chapter and set down Tony Hillerman’s latest southwest detective book.

Snagging a sip from my gin, tonic, and blueberries, I grab a fresh-husked corn.

Ed still peers at me from the edge of the woods. His ears twist like radar. Slowly I raise my offering. He hesitates, leans in and nibbles from my hand. The deer dashes off, leaving me to read in peace.

Yellow Tents

Bright as egg yolk, yellow tents hold stories from fortune-tellers to cowards. You can’t miss a brightly colored tent in the wilderness or the backyard. But what is going on inside?

Writers stepped up to the challenge like queueing up for the circus. Some rogues found romance, some yearned for Yellowstone. The dialog, tension, and humor flows from the imaginations and shared memories of writers from around the world.

The following are based on the August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent.

PART I (10-minute read)

Boxing Up the Past by Heather Gonzalez

They say you can’t go home again. Lucy and Rick had to deal with what to do with their childhood home now that their parents were gone. Covered in cobwebs and memories, it was like stepping back in time to the 80s. Boxing up the past, Lucy came across a box of photographs.

“Hey, Rick! Come look at these!” Lucy held up a photo of them in their homemade fort as children.

Using a bright yellow sheet, they recreated their childhood. Under that tent, they felt young again, letting the loss of time melt away into the linoleum floor.

🥕🥕🥕

The Crawlspace by Bill Engleson

“Help me?” she pleads.

“Sure. With what?” I reluctantly query.

“The crawlspace…under the back porch. It’s a fire hazard.”

The world is ablaze, I think, and she’s worried about the dank confines of the porch.

“Okay,” I concede. “I’m too big to slither in there, though.”

“Fine,” she says, ticked. “I’ll slither in…hand the stuff to you.”

Delighted with my negotiating skills, I wait while she inches in.

“This is heavy…smells to high heaven.” She shoves out the old canvas tent, once khaki, now splotchy yellow.

“Full of sweet memories,” I opine.

“And fat spiders and mummified mice, sweetheart.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Yellow Tent by Anita Dawes

I have never been camping, nor slept in a tent
But I do know that yellow is the colour of magic.
Maybe I should try sleeping under a yellow canvas
To see where magic might take me.
To an enchanted forest with a babbling brook
Listening to the music made by flowing water
With fairy lanterns to light my way.
A castle where I might find my own Prince Charming
King Arthur and the Round Table
With Merlin by his side.
The golden chalice having been found
Back in its rightful place
Maybe there, I will find my happiness…

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Reena Saxena

During a session in neuro-linguistic programming, she was asked to imagine the peak of happiness, and visualize being swathed in golden-yellow light. It was like a magic bulb she was supposed to switch on in depressing moments, to migrate to a different mindset. It seemed like quackery, then.

Fifteen years later, she had lost her husband and retired from work. There was not much left to live for. But she brightened up talking about events in her prime, during interactions with her old-age home inmates.

It was the yellow tent she sought shelter in, to protect her against misery.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunny Cindy by kate @ aroused

Most prefer to blend into the bush when camping but not Cindy. When searching for firewood she had a tendency to often wander off completely distracted by an insect or looking for rocks or flowers. Hence she found a bright yellow tent was much easier to spot from afar.

And let’s face it if there are other campers about they cannot wander into Cindy’s by mistake as it’s so distinct. Besides yellow suited her personality as she was a sunny type of lass always smiling and chatting to anyone with the time. Ready to help or listen whenever needed.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by the Dark Netizen

“You know its a one in a million chance, right?”

The two were sitting in their yellow tent, entrance flap open, hoping for a shooting stars shower.

“You have said this before, Sammy. But, I really want to watch it.”

He wrapped his arms around her.

“I know that.”

She placed her head on his shoulders. And then it happened. Suddenly, the dark sky was filled with a stream of white stars. He held her tighter.

“For once, I am glad I was proven wrong.”

“It happened because we are one in a billion.”

He smiled.

“That we are.”

🥕🥕🥕

With Intent II by Norah Colvin

“I have to work.” She feigned disappointment.

“That’s okay. Come after work.”

“But I’m working late. It’ll be dark.”

“It’s well-lit all the way.”

“But I don’t know the way.”

“That’s okay.” He punched the address into her navigation device. “Just follow the directions.”

“How will I find you when I get there?”

“I’ll be watching for you.”

Conjuring no more excuses, she wasn’t yet ready to explain her attraction to him didn’t include camping.

Later, when entering the campgrounds, deserted but for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” her fears melted.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sunshine Kid by Kay Kingsley

I emerged at dawn to a silence only those who have known solitude in the forrest long for. The sweet dampness of the morning burned the smell of warming Redwoods into my memory as I sat quietly by the fire perking coffee I drank from a tin cup.

The smoke rose into the forrest’s canopy as the fire pit crackled and popped and as peace settled in the sun broke free, cascading a kaleidoscope of light all around and from our yellow tent emerged my favorite person of all, my sunshine kid, beaming a smile from ear to ear.

🥕🥕🥕

Blonde Dreams? by JulesPaige

Yellow was the color of my true love’s hair
Never quite long enough to act as a tent
For me to hide in –
But with hugs and silent strength
(even when a very few times when
patience ran thin)
I’ve always had that haven…

Camping out in a yellow or any tent –
Not high on my radar.
However I hope that when we retire
We can travel in or out of country
(we’ve not yet been to all fifty states –
I’ve been to a few countries)
Maybe the hotel walls will be
White-washed yellow – and that will
Be enough…

🥕🥕🥕

No Vacation by Paula Moyer

Jean was 10 years old when she saw it in the catalogue: a bright yellow tent. It gleamed and beckoned. Oh, wouldn’t it be so marvelous – to live in that tent, with her family, on a vacation?

She sighed and dreamed.

“I’ve camped enough.” Her dad’s flat response woke her up.

Twenty years before: “the war.” Simple name.

Clarence, her dad, served in North Africa, Sicily, France. Like everyone else – “for the duration.” Three years in a khaki tent – no playful yellow.

“I’ve camped enough.”

Years later, in her own yellow tent, with her boyfriend, Jean swatted mosquitoes. Understood.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wretch Like Me by Sherri Matthews

‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…’

Will sang to his heart’s content, as tuneless as he cared to in his truck and no chiding from Pauline back home fixing dinner, no ma’am.

‘That saved a wretch like me…’

The radio cut dead and Will clamped the breaks. ‘Well, I’ll be damned…’ A tent as yellow as Pauline’s lemon pie covered Bud Wilson’s field and not a soul in sight.

Then he heard it again, but from the tent. He walked inside.

‘I once was lost, but now am found…’

Bud found Will’s body next morning, comforted by his smile.

🥕🥕🥕

The Birdcage Cover by Susan Sleggs

My sisters and I were gathered around an open trunk from our family home. Angelina took out a piece of yellow fabric that was shaped like a small Christmas tree skirt but only had a tiny hole and snaps along the open edge. I asked, “What’s that?”

Deanna said, “Do you remember the yellow canary we had when you were little?”

“Yeah, it sang when we ran water and louder when anyone whistled.”

“Mother made this from a tablecloth after Dad put the umpteenth cigarette burn it to cover its cage at night. I wonder why Mom kept it?”

🥕🥕🥕

Luxury Home by D. Avery

If you’ve ever sat and watched a mountaintop succumb to dusk’s misty cover; if you’ve sat long enough to see the fog reveal the mountaintop again but linger in the cuts and valleys; if witnessed a westward mountain reluctantly letting go its grip on the slanting sunlight that battled clouds all day, now trailing yellow rays, grasping at the underside of high branched leaves, streaking yellow ripples across the water, then you know. You’re just a poor camper, with all the riches that heaven and earth have to offer, the late evening sky the roof of your yellow tent.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Judy always loved the countryside drive. All that fresh air, the postcard views, the streams, the tattered American flags—some confederate ones too. She could almost hear the hymns of old spilling from the window-less clapboard church, its steeple at a tilt.

But the yellow tents were new.

Her breath caught. A camp, but nothing like she’d seen, with black and brown bodies, childrens’ hands grasping a gleaming chain link fence. Judy’s foot found the gas pedal.

Judy thought the scene belonged in Europe. In the news. Debated from podiums. Instead it was sitting between cornfields, confronting her scenery.

🥕🥕🥕

Before The Gold Rush by Liz Husebye Hartmann

We’d started loading at the dawning of the third moon. Triage overflowed after the fifth wave from the Kipstanian Crisis. We tried to get the word out to all survivors; transport off our doomed planet ended today.

There would be no more planet to doom.

Flashing a light in the evacuees’ eyes, I direct them to the three loading tents. Green equals “Go”, red “Stop”, and yellow “Caution.” The Kipstanian crisis made id-ing dangerous types easy. Red eyes never made it off the planet. Blue, Brown? Approved.

Then SHE came, one eye blue, one green.

I point. “Yellow tent.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Autumn Leaves by Kenzie Farrington

Autumn leaves wander aimlessly through the breeze
They’ll tell you stories of the trees, if you bother to listen
Hear them pass, hear them humm
Past the city streets they run
Past the children
Past the swings
Beyond the buildings–
To where the river sings
Listen, listen, watch them glow
Green, red, orange, yellow
They’ll bring you something–
Something familiar, but far away
You’ve seen it before
Sometime last May

You were lying in your yellow tent
You met the moon, and she was beautiful
And those autumn leaves made you cry
Because there, you knew you were alive

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by oneletterup

“Are you okay kid?”

The last thing she remembers is a truck door closing.
Then sleeping in this soft lap.
She struggles to open her eyes. So tired.
Where Am I?

“Kid! What’s your name? Who are you?”

She turns toward the voice. A kind voice.
A smooth hand covers hers. Gentle and warm.
Something in her untwists.
Tears escape, sliding down her face.
She feels herself lifted up. Hears a door opening.

She peeks. A blue house. Flowers. Swings.
A little girl. A little boy.
A little yellow tent; flap up. Toys inside.
“Ya wanna play?”
She smiles.

🥕🥕🥕

Solitude, Wait for Me (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

The tide was out. Sand dollars were scattered across the wet sands. Diamante pitched his yellow tent near the broken wood fence, and walked along the deserted seashore. Solitude.

A yellow butterfly fluttered past him. Seagulls swept out to sea from the dunes. A dragon kite sprang into the skies, its tail a ribbon of yellow flags, its eyes glinting with multicolored sequins. Children’s laughter rang out on the warm sea breeze.

Diamante sighed. He loved butterflies and kites. He loved the villagers. And it was time to fix the broken fence. Solitude would have to wait another day.

🥕🥕🥕

Bright Yellow Tent by Teresa Grabs

“Let’s get you guys this one,” Lucy said, picking up a dome tent.

Amber and Gin moaned.

“Girls, the tickets alone were nearly a thousand dollars. I am not buying a top of the line tent for a music festival. Besides, how many people there will have a bright yellow tent?”

They knew she could still change her mind about letting them go and she had a point about the color of the tent. No one wanted a bright yellow tent. When they arrived and was blinded by sunlight lying on the ground they learned how wrong she was.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘Logan, what are you doing?’

‘Trying… what a stupid idea to use this tent.’

‘Why? It’s fine…’

‘It’s so small I can’t even fart…’

‘That’s one blessing. Anyway, you’ve happily spent hours crushed with 100,000 strangers by the main stage, dancing to Metallica…’

‘I didn’t know them. I know you.’

‘Surely it’s the other way round?’

‘No… is that what I think is sticking in my leg?’

‘My elbow.’

‘On the tube, if a stranger stinks, elbows me, I get off. Here, I’m stuck with you.’

‘I don’t smell. Do I?’

‘No Morgan. Are you sure that’s your elbow?’

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Big Yellow Tent by Sascha Darlington

Have you ever heard sunshine in laughter?

It was moments before I saw her, head tilted back, laughing up into the cerulean sky so free-spirited that I was charmed.

But then there was her big scary yellow tent.

“Hello,” I said, always great with words.

She grinned. “Hello, yourself.”

“What’s with the tent?”

“It’s my big yellow taxi.”

“Pardon?”

“Where’re you from?”

“Edinburgh.”

“Scotland. Ever heard of Joni Mitchell?”

I shook my head. Politician? Actress? Reality TV?

“One of the greatest singer/songwriters who ever existed.”

“Oh.”

“My big yellow taxi takes me away.”

And, somehow, it took me too.

🥕🥕🥕

The Porch by Late Night Girl

Reinhold Messner sought the Heights
and found his Porch
No Mansion by the Beach
or Villa in the Hills
can bargain with him
in exchange
for his little Yellow Tent
on top of the Peak
touching Paradise

No incentive of a fake Sky
via a tasteless satellite dish
can pay him to observe
electronic stars and purple rain
sprinkle down upon his Summit

The Snow is his Sand
the Tent his Castle and
the Sky his Umbrella
to protect him from
a moderate Life

The Crisp Air is his Coffee
the Moon his Bread
and the Earth his Bed

🥕🥕🥕

Being Yellow by floridaborne

Two pictures sat on mom’s kitchen counter; my parents standing near a yellow tent, and a rich bitch wearing yellow standing next to my dad taken days after he’d abandoned mom for her when I turned one.

Mom and I lived in subsidized housing. I made straight A’s in school, had a free ride to the local state college, and mom died a month after I received my degree.

The doorbell rang. I opened it to stare into eyes just like mine.

“Go to hell. It’s yellow there, just like you,” I said, slamming the door in Dad’s face.

🥕🥕🥕

Sales Shopping for a New Dress by Anne Goodwin

“You don’t have it in a different colour?” Or a different shape? It could be fancy dress. Marvellous! they’d say. You’ve come as a tent.

“Not at this price,” says the assistant. “But yellow’s definitely your colour.” How does she know? Because of my sunny disposition or because I’m a coward? Or because this frock is taking up space she needs for the winter stock.

“I’ll take it.” If only to hang in my wardrobe along with several other outfits I haven’t the courage to wear. “On second thoughts … Snap off the sales tag! I’m wearing it home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent y Robbie Cheadle

“I bought us a two-man tent so we can go camping.”

“Really,” said Helen, “are you referring to the child-sized, yellow tent you just put up in the garden.”

“Yes, and it’s not child-sized, the man in the shop said it would sleep two people comfortably.”

“Does it have a bathroom and kitchenette?”

“No,” said Dave.

“Does it have wi-fi, air-conditioning and plugs for my laptop, iPad, iPhone and hairdryer.”

“You’re being ridiculous, of course it doesn’t have those things. It’s for camping. We’ll have a great time experiencing the great outdoors.”

“You mean you’ll have a great time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cowardly, Chloe Goes Camping by JulesPaige

I knew I’d be a heel if I didn’t go camping with him. He said it was a time to heal, being in nature. He’ll provide everything he said.

I dreaded him coming down my lane. All night I
had lain stiffly prone trying to sleep in the comfort of my bed… I tried to dream up some excuse not to go. I couldn’t find any…

Maybe one night wouldn’t be so bad? We got to
the lake and he set up a yellow tent. He brought
an air cushion …

No indoor plumbing. I’d be peeing in a can.

🥕🥕🥕

Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent for Sale by Peregrine Arc

“Yellow tent for sale, never used. Complete with stakes and poles. Good for camping trips. $99, OBO. Sleeps four comfortably. Inquiries at…”

I squinted at the ad as I picked up the phone. Files littered my desk. Paper clipped photos of children stared back at me vacantly.

“Hello? I’m interested in the tent. Would $70 do? Great, I’ll pick it up today. Cash only–I understand.”

I grabbed my keys and stuck my head into my boss’ office.

“Got another tent for a family. Be back in ten.”

🥕🥕🥕

Misunderstanding by Kerry E.B. Black

They pitched their tent at the top of the hill, its brilliant golden canvas welcoming as the sun.

A hundred other campers went about their lives at the hill’s base. They lit fires and toasted marshmallows, roasted hot dogs, and gossiped around the flickering flames. “Why’d they build their tent atop the hill? Do they think they’re better than us?” “Yellow’s an ostentatious color. Why not pitch blue or grey tents like ours?” “We distrust them.”

Atop the hill, they hoped for visitors. They baked scones, percolated coffee, and fried platters of bacon and eggs to share.

None came.

🥕🥕🥕

At the Midway by D. Avery

It was a yellow tent, not well placed in the carnival midway, but its owner sang out to prospective customers, enticing them to come closer, come curious, come in.

*Come in, come in, all will be revealed
Lived well, or sinned, come see how you’ll be dealed.
Step through the yellow tent
See how your end of days are spent.*

Most went in just for a lark, laughing.
Some came out beaming, said the tent had the buttercup color of sunshine summer days. Others came out shaken, said the tent was sulfur colored, reminded them of lightning, striking close.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fortune Giver by D. Avery

Also on the midway, an exotic red haired Portuguese gypsy woman spun fortunes from words. Her tent was unmistakably the color of sunshine, which drew people eager to spend their 99 cents for the gift of story. In every story the gypsy spun, they heard their own story and left emboldened enough to tell their stories themselves. This yellow tent buzzed and hummed with story as more and more people came to hear and to tell. The gypsy woman glowed, basking in her good fortune, measured not in the 99 cents, but the 99 word stories of her community.

🥕🥕🥕

A Cold Night by Anurag Bakhshi

It was a cold night, and my teeth were chattering as I made my way towards the yellow tent in the middle of the desert.

There was a feeling of warmth emanating from inside the tent that seemed to be calling out to me.

I peeped in through a small hole, and saw a girl, alone.

Unable to resist any longer, I rushed into the tent…and fell right into a boiling cauldron.

And the last words I heard before I lost consciousness were, “Aah, rattlesnake soup will be just perfect to keep me warm on this brutally cold night.”

🥕🥕🥕

For All In Tents and Purposes by Nancy Brady

The truck pulled up and parked on the side of the road. The two men climbed out of the truck. Arrayed in green shirts, khaki pants, boots, and a utility belt to rival Batman’s, they attached their belts and shimmied up the telephone pole.

With the sky looking overcast, the men put up a little safety yellow tent on the telephone line. Looking more like a tiny house than a typical pup tent, it hung there fifty feet above the street. It sheltered the two men as they worked furiously to fix the phone lines before the storm hit.

🥕🥕🥕

The World Through Prismatic Glasses by Chelsea Owens

“When I grow up,”
I say
From too-tall counters, unfair portions, summer bedtimes.

When I grow up,
I hope
For friends, a car, no one ever telling me, “No.”

When I grow up,
I think
Promises will be kept, rules followed; the world blacks and whites.

Grown up,
I see
Crumb-filled countertops, imperfect pieces, little sleep.

Grown up
I wish
For friends, fewer expenses, parents’ good advice.

Grown up
I learn
People are human, rules bend; the world….

Is rainbowed

I take a crayon and draw my mind:
Greening forest,
Glittering sky,
And a yellow tent,

Glowing from within.

🥕🥕🥕

Not What She Had in Mind by Molly Stevens — Shallow Reflections

“What are you watching?” asked Chester.

“The Travel Channel,” said Ruth. “Don’t you wish we could drive an RV across the country? There is so much to do and see.”

“I’m pretty happy right here,” said Chester scratching his ample belly.

But he saw the wistful look in Ruth’s eyes.

“I’m going to run into town,” he said.

When he returned, he was as radiant as a cloudless July sky.

“This is going to be our home at Park’s Pond campground up the road in Clifton,” he announced.

“Oh, Chester, I was longing for Yellowstone, not a yellow tent!”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Frank Hubeny

Perhaps it was the sunshine yellow that attracted the bear or the food or curiosity. Bill had a camper over his Ford pickup truck, but he could not stand up in it and so he bought the tent.

He thinned naturally grown trees on clear-cut paper company land. This kept him alone in the woods for a week at a time or until the project finished.

He thought the tent was perfect until the bear came. It pushed its nose into the fabric deeply breathing. Bill swatted it and it ran off.

After that they left each other alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Tent by Miriam Hurdle

“How was your sleep last night?”

“Awful. I’m not the camping type. My back hurts.”

“You slept in a cot. Didn’t it help?”

“It’s just the idea of not having walls around that gave me a nightmare.”

“The tent is our wall.”

“But that yellow color is so light that I could see the moonlight.”

“That should be soothing and relaxing.”

“But, but… it’s like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear chasing me.”

“The bear didn’t chase you. We had a bear visit and stole our food last night.”

🥕🥕🥕

Thin Layer of Bravado by Oneta Hayes

Our traditional Kidz Kamp was marked by tent colors: blue for boys, red for girls. Mine, as Counselor, was yellow. I said it meant “courageous” and the young children believed me. Bigger kids would catch on right away. It stands for “coward.”

That was not always so. “Just give me a flashlight and let me at ‘um,” was my motto. I was an owl-chasing specialist. Until the “spider” incident. I screamed. The kids came running to offer their help. Betsy stepped on the spider – barefooted.

Those kids have grown; the story is dead. But it sticks with me. Coward.

🥕🥕🥕

A Beatle’s Wasteland by Late Night Girl

‘How did I get myself into this mess?!’ he thought while trying to find beauty in his surroundings, with freeze burn on his toes.

His mind was frozen from the cold. And in this solitude all he managed to do was to hum a tune to try and stay awake.

All that came to mind in this ironic turn of events was a song he used to sing with his friends under a starry night around the camp fire:

“We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow sub…mmaa….riiinee…”

And then he dosed off into the stars.

🥕🥕🥕

Lovers by Patrick O’Connor

Strolling through the woods on a hot summer afternoon.

We’d been three days in the forest, looking for a place to camp for the night.

Coming to a small clearing, we noticed a tent.

It wasn’t really much of a tent. More like a lean-to.

Looking closer at the material, it looked like a tarp that was once green but now a dirty, faded yellowish, grey.

Walking around the front, we got the shock of our life.

Inside the lean-to? Two skeletons. Obvious lovers, cuddled together.

They must have been there for years.

A sad ending to two lives.

🥕🥕🥕

Watching From Above, Waiting by TN Kerr

peering through his scope at the landscape below
looking at
an encampment, an encampment of one
that almost went unnoticed.
a flax coloured tent with a muted hue, sombre. quietly
blending into the background,
perfectly camouflaged.
a cold camp, no fire and the only sign of life is a yellow dog
stretched out and still
near an assortment of gear, stacked to one side
it has to be him
it must be Munroe
nothing to do now except stand by,
Munroe will be back.
a disturbance from behind, then a voice, whispers,
“Hullo, Sutherland. What took you so long?”

🥕🥕🥕

Yellow Light District by Ritu Bhathal

A rustling noise caught my attention.

I trudged through the forest, kicking up the leaves, trying to trace the source of the sound.

A glow emanated from a clearing up ahead.

As I got closer I saw the glow came from the inside of a yellow tent.

It was a hastily erected contraption, and accompanying the rustles were giggles.

The light created shadows.

Two people.

There were definitely two.

The giggles became moans.

The shadows moved slowly, the moans became more intense.

I turned around, embarrassed to be there, until I heard “Oh Petey!”

That was my husband’s name…

🥕🥕🥕

Tent Tense by D. Avery

“Yellow?!”

“Hello?”

“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”

“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”

“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”

“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”

“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”

“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”

“I see.”

“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”

“I prefer moonshine.”

“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Monty sits on what remains of Cynthia’s deck in Ripley. Much of the rubble from the landslide remains, and yet life boldly rises. The apple tree uprooted and hanging over the fury of water that flooded Ripley Creek after the mountain slid, grows like a tree from a fantasy novel out of the gray and green rocks. Apples hang heavy in its branches.

A clump of roses takes root in a barren patch of dirt and kale spreads like weeds. Milkweed, nectar to butterflies, protrudes in clusters, tall green and promising to flower. A daylily nods its orange head by the deck. Purselane spreads across the rocky ground like nature’s band-aid.

I watch the Hub pet Monty, Cynthia’s charming rescue dog, a Daschund. He’s sitting down, which is good. Typically, the Hub would be gnashing his teeth at the pain in his knee, but he tells me the gel shot he got on Mondy is working. He’s tired, and no shot will take away the instability of both his knees.

The Hub gave us a big scare on Tuesday, ending up in an emergency room. His VA doctor offered to drive him after determining his blood pressure was through the roof. The day before, when he got the shot, the nurse raised the alarm over his dangerously high blood pressure, but he told her she measured it wrong. He can be surly to deal with in such circumstances.

On Tuesday we went to the local clinic for a weekly visit. Afterward, he wanted to see the Marine nurse he likes. I like her, too. She fights for him to get the care I’m fighting for him to get. She and his primary care doctor are the best. But often the referrals they make get denied by the VA. Slogging through the system is never easy.

I returned home to conduct a phone interview for a profile I’m writing, so the Hub drove back. He asked the Marine nurse to take his blood pressure because she does it right. She said it was THAT high. The doc came in, and both told him he needed to go to the emergency room immediately.

When his calls came through to me, I was on another call — the DVIBC had called me back, and it wasn’t a call I could miss, so I ignored his. He only told me he wanted to “talk” to the Marine nurse. I didn’t know he was checking up on his blood pressure. Or that he was in crisis.

I was managing the ongoing crisis — the Hub’s head. We’ve been down a scary path of weakening executive function over the past eight years. When it got bad, I pestered him to get seen for PTSD. I didn’t know what else it could be. His family and friends always talked about how changed he was after service, and I knew his quirks and moments when I’d call him out as “Sgt. Mills” because of his intensity.

But these past few years have been crisis hell. I couldn’t understand why, when we lost our rental two months before we could get into our next one, that he’d insist on going into the wilderness. I’m still traumatized by the experience. That’s when I started fighting hard as I ever have to get him into the VA. Before it was his knees. This time it was his shifts in thinking and behavior.

The VA had no trouble diagnosing him with combat anxiety even 33 years after the event. But he wouldn’t stay put. Next, we were off like a rocket to Mars (southern Utah) because it was a chance for him to get back into his aviation career which he loved. But he couldn’t do it. He was fired for PTSD symptoms.

That’s when I got scared. My husband was not acting like my husband and yet he couldn’t see it. I grieved terribly. I felt like I lost him, and in many ways, I have. A few widows have put it in perspective for me though — I still have him. It’s a bitter pill. But I charged on, getting him up to Michigan with him resisting the entire way.

Even now, it’s a weekly battle for two therapists and one ready-to-give-up wife to keep him here. I love my new community. I love being close to my eldest and youngest. I love Lake Superior and her tempestuous moods and generous rocks. I love new friends like Cynthia and Cranky. I love what the Red Cross discovered when they came to the Keweenaw — we are an intact community.

The Hub wants to leave. He hates mosquitos. He hates snow. He hates feeling bored, and he hates not being able to connect thoughts. He hates that his knees hurt so bad after years of needing a replacement.

You might notice a difference in attitude, and that’s part of the rub. But still, I fight to get him care. His therapists were the ones to catch on that something more was going on with him. That led to suspicion of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It would take sleuthing the pieces to puzzle out what happened.

We all knew about his hard landing into to combat.

The Hub’s mom got a phone call early in the morning of October 25, 1983, that her son was on his way to Grenada. A determined US president confirmed on television that he deployed US special forces – Navy Seals and Army Rangers – to rescue US medical students on an island that Cubans had fortified to build a runway for Soviet planes. So much for a dairy farmer’s wife to comprehend.

How could she know her son was jumping with a concussion? He didn’t even know.

Less than a week earlier, a fellow Ranger spearheaded the Hub in the face during a soccer game and knocked him out cold. He was ticked off to get pulled from the game. Knocked out cold and that’s all that happened. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” Within days, he was flying in a C-130 to combat.

The Hub jumped with a T-10 parachute which Airborne uses for mass combat jumps. His rate of descent increased with his heavy load — a mortar round and all the communications gear for his unit. He hit so hard he bounced. He hit right knee, hip and head…bounced…hit his head again. He wore an M1 helmet which the Army acknowledges was not designed for impact. He essentially wore no head protection for 174 career jumps.

It would take almost five years for the Hub to realize that the pain in his knee after that jump was from bone fragments and a complete internal derangement of his knee. He had continued to jump, play soccer and rugby, all on a broken knee. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” As much as I’d like to smash that tough attitude, I also recognize that it conforms to his identity.

When we go to the VA, I fight him as much as I fight them. I must be “Ranger Wife Tough.” He’ll ignore pain or report it’s low, then go home and rail about the pain. I won’t go into what it’s like to be married to a veteran, really only other veteran spouses get it, and many of them are exes. It’s not a glorious role.

But I know the Hub is a good man. He’s been a good dad, and I always felt safe with him (up until wilderness homelessness and Mars wanderings). Just as I did when I was raising three children, I ask, “Why this behavior?” Each new puzzle piece comes with a “why.” I keep arranging, searching the scientific studies, reading articles from the National Football League, reaching out to experts, asking for more tests.

We now understand that the Hub’s symptoms at the end of his military service and after he came home were likely due to TBI. PTSD certainly factored in — simply surviving Ranger Battalion required the maximum effort and PTSD is proof that one is a survivor. Another piece of the puzzle was linking his combat dive specialty after Grenada, after a TBI. It compounded the lack of healing.

But the brain can and does heal. The problem is what they call second impact syndrome. After a concussion, the brain releases tau, a protein which destroys more of the brain’s neurons. It leaves the brain vulnerable until it heals. If the brain suffers another impact (even a jolt), more tau is released. This is why repetitive concussions are dangerous. They lead to degenerative brain disease.

Chronic Traumatic Encephaly (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death through autopsy. Researchers are studying the brains of retired and living NFL players to look for clues. One marker is the presence of white matter brain lesions which also manifest in dementia. The Hub’s brain MRI reveals white matter brain lesions.

Symptoms include loss of executive functioning which explains why at age 55 the Hub was diagnosed by a VA psychiatrist with ADD. He never had ADD as a child or teen, or even hinted at it with learning or behavioral problems. But loss of executive functioning in adults is often confused as ADD. So it makes sense.

It’s why, when a doctor tells the Hub he needs to take the pills to lower his blood pressure, the Hub argues with him that he doesn’t have high blood pressure.

But today was a victory. In therapy with his Vet Center PTSD counselor, he recognized himself in a younger veteran he recently met. The signature wound of Iraq and Afghanistan is TBI. And most soldiers with TBI have PTSD. The VA, once it began to understand the immensity of the problem through recent TBI research, began screening all post-9/11 veterans.

The Hub is pre-9/11. When he came home, his parents wanted help, but no resources existed.

The fact that the Hub could see his own symptoms in another person was a huge moment of clarity. He understood why we were focusing on the two in-patient treatment options we have. He’s agreed to either one that comes through for him. I’m beyond relieved. He’ll have a team of medical and mental health professionals to work with all his issues.

Like Cynthia, though, we wait. We wait to find out if and when. She will rebuild a new home. We will rebuild a different life.

As I watch the Hub pet Monty while talking roofs and walls and how to live in a house with no running water or floors, I feel we are all going to be okay. I feel like it’s a yellow tent moment. We’ve pitched our tents and wait for the stars to come out. My tent is yellow. The color of sunshine and hope.

August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does it belong to? Think of how the color adds to the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 7, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.

Stranded Suitcase

Along the way, you find a stranded suitcase. Could it be a journey interrupted? One just begun? Or the end of the line? You ponder what might be inside, who left the bag behind.

Such was the task for writers who penned stories about the stranded suitcase. Read on to discover what a stranded suitcase can hold.

The following is based on the July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase.

PART I (10-minute read)

Persephone by Jan Malique

Everyone thought they knew the true facts of her abduction by Hades. Only Hekate knew, and she vowed to keep the secret to herself. The Hidden One assisted in every way possible to enable the sacred rite to reach its conclusion

Persephone went as a willing sacrifice, carrying the symbol of her death and rebirth, the pomegranate. It was safely packed in a well used suitcase. her favourite. It took days to reach the mouth of the Underworld. Dark days.

The pomegranate was taken out and offered to Hades who stood at the entrance. The suitcase was left behind.

🥕🥕🥕

Three Sisters by D. Avery

Three sisters came upon a worn suitcase in their path.

“Unattended baggage!” the first cried.

“Abandoned,” lamented the second.

“Lost,” declared the third.

The first sister would not go near the suitcase.

The second sister found the suitcase too heavy to move.

The third sister found that she could manage the suitcase.

All three sisters gathered round to peer inside.

The first sister saw fear.

The second sister saw worry.

The third sister saw hopes, dreams and wishes.

She left the wishes. She took hope and her best dreams. Continuing their journey, her steps were lighter and more certain.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by Anita Dawes

To some people, I am a simple suitcase, something to put your belongings in to travel.
I am lost and Sally cannot find me.
I have been in the dark hole of a plane, dropped from the cargo hold and left on the tarmac.

You would think my bright yellow colour would help unite me with my owner, but rain or shine, no one sees me. Sally waits for me to be found, to be reunited.
You see, I am her good luck charm, Sally will not travel without me.
Has my luck run out, will Sally find me…?

🥕🥕🥕

Luggage by floridaborne

My daughter laughs at an abused green suitcase. “I remember that thing!”

“You used it for a summer in Morocco. I trusted you…”

“I know, I know,” she chuckles at me. “You kept it in pristine condition and I returned it all beat up without the wheels, BlahBlahBlah… Why won’t you throw it away?”

“Together, we explored the world. I had a career… a life. I met your father…”

“Then you had me, so it’s all good!”

What if I’d told him no?

Too late…

Like this dusty attic, I hold the memories of a lifetime no one understands.

🥕🥕🥕

Life in a Nutshell by Deepa

There lies a suitcase deserted on the tracks of life.

On the top left corner rudiments of past are carefully lined at the bottom only to be taken out when there is a need.

The hidden secrets hide underneath the lustrous covers zipped tightly not to be stripped and found by anyone.

There are also some catastrophes packed into an airtight bag isolated from the colorful facades that occupy the most space.

Isn’t the world too big to be carried into this small suitcase?

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The Suit Case by Patrick O’Connor

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.

“We have your honor.” replied the jurist.

“Please state the verdict.” followed the judge.

“We find the defendant, Maxwell Suit, on the sole count of fraud, guilty as charged.”

A shocking gasp came across those in the gallery.

Maxwell stood there, dumbfounded. How could anyone reasonably find him guilty?

Maxwell Suit, once a highly respected CEO would surely go down in history as a disgrace.

“Order! I’ll have order!” barked the judge.

“The defendant is hereby sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1.5M. Court’s adjourned.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Case by kate @ aroused

The suitcase lay abandoned on the line … would the owner have less clothes at the other end? Had staff been incompetent when loading the baggage? Or had someone tossed it off to be retrieved later?

In 1939 nobody considered bombs or sabotage. Odd things happened in times of war and extreme poverty.

People noticed the case but speculation was preferred as nobody approached it. Reluctance to get involved held them back. Everyone thought the other should investigate the contents yet nobody touched it!

What was in that suitcase and who had lost it … mystery and intrigue prevailed!

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Shreya Punjabi

Since his childhood, the suitcase had been scared of the dark. He had traveled the world, but hotel rooms are comfortable in the dark. The only ghost he met was reasonably friendly.

When the suitcase fell out a train, he panicked. The wind was cold, the tunnel in front of him looked like it would never end. The sun was setting slowly, like it would never stop.

But it did.

There was nothing but the dark.

He heard the familiar horn of a train. The tunnel exploded with comforting light that came closer by the second. The suitcase smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Unopened by Jack Schuyler

I saw the old man down the street in the paper this morning. His obituary was short and assured me he’d left nobody to mourn his absence. I visited his abandoned hermitage on my walk today, either out of curiosity or respect for the forgotten, I don’t know which. I opened the door, stepped inside, and was met with the relics of a lonely past. There were torn doilies, stained armchairs, an astrolabe, and a hundred letters spilling out of an old suitcase. I picked one up. It was light and pale, sealed with a kiss, and never opened.

🥕🥕🥕

The Case by The Late Night Girl

This is the case of a man who walks the tracks, burdened with a bundle that life over time has loaded on his shoulders. He loves the stillness and the protective feel of the walls.

He carries his suitcase and the load on his shoulders as he reaches the threshold of a tunnel, not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the darkness at the end of his life.

He leaves his case on the tracks as he doesn’t need it anymore and walks into the tunnel. This is the case of a man who once lived.

🥕🥕🥕

A Case of the Unexpected by Norah Colvin

“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.

“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.

They looked around. No one anywhere.

Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”

“Looks old,” said Nicky.

“Probably been here for years.”

“So dirty.”

The rusty catches were unyielding.

“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.

“Let’s see,” said Jamie.

They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.

“Go on,” said Nicky.

“No, you.”

“Both.”

“Okay. One, two, three … open!”

The children’s eyes widened.

“What is it?” asked Nicky.

“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”

🥕🥕🥕

Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.

“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”

“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”

“It’s a suitcase.”

“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”

“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”

“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”

Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.

🥕🥕🥕

Unfaithfully Yours by Anurag Bakhshi

Running away together had not been an easy decision, but they didn’t have a choice. His wife had started suspecting them, and their life could be destroyed any day now.

But right now, he was waiting for her, alone, with the suitcase. Maybe she too had abandoned him, left him stranded, like that suitcase.

His eyes teared up as his thoughts turned dark with despair. But then, someone patted him on the back. He turned swiftly.

“Let’s go,” she said breezily, “Hope you’ve checked the suitcase again. All the money from our last robbery is in there, right Dad?”

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Chaste Case by kate @ aroused

The old bus with no windows slowly wound it’s way up the twisty steep Himalayan road with barely enough space for traffic to pass. The journey was hot, dusty and arduous.

Our luggage had been tossed up with the market produce and locals who all rode on the roof. Well aware that we were overloaded and listing didn’t instil confidence.

Watching in disbelief I saw my suitcase fall from above to tumble down the mountainside. So I had no choice but to disembark and follow the windy road back to where I could see my case laying far below.

🥕🥕🥕

My Denied Destiny by Roger Shipp

My heart is lightened remembering the first time I had pulled this old thing from our attic. Its ebony wool was frayed and one of its brass corners had been removed. It had be Great-Aunt Gertrude’s carry-on for her train-ride to the West.

For me, it was my get-away bag. My denied destiny… the rodeo.

Girls weren’t to climb trees, bust horses, or chew…. according to Father. But I was better than brother at all three.

I was packed and gone – three whole hours- when Grandpa found me headed toward Tulsa.

We compromised.

But I never did unpack it.

🥕🥕🥕

Quantanelle: Stranded in Space by Saifun Hassam

The stranded suitcase glowered at the receding spaceship flying through the wormhole. Andromeda Alice was so excited about finding the Looking Glass, she jumped and forgot to activate the suitcase. But Quantanelle was no ordinary suitcase: she was an automaton, and that suitcase was a brain that worked at lightning speed.

Quantanelle was not one to sit and mope. She was a suitcase who had traveled vast interstellar spaces. She measured her existing activation energies.

The nearest spaceport was on the planet “Carrot Ranch”. Quantanelle beamed an SOS with her co-ordinates. She would follow Alice on the next spaceship.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

The suitcase lay in the weeds at the side of the tracks. Today, the mischievous brownie had been discovered and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper.

The satchel scrutinized the desolate landscape. The brownie, a shapeshifter who could change into a suitcase to mingle with the humans, waited. Someone would come along. They always did.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” the old man said. “Look Ethel. Isn’t that the bag you saw in the general store?”

“It is. You said we couldn’t afford it,” she pouted.

“Well, you can afford it now.”

The valise grinned. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

🥕🥕🥕

Rose’s Suitcase by Nanct Brady

Rose packed her bag as she was told. Underwear, socks, dresses, and, of course, her teddy bear Samuel, who knew everything. Sam listened, comforted, and kept secrets. Samuel was her best friend.

Her parents and Rose walked to the train station; she carried her whole world in that suitcase.

The men made Rose put her suitcase with the others. “They’ll be on the train,” they said, herding everyone into train cars.

As the train pulled away; Rose saw all the suitcases still on the platform. Her little suitcase was dumped, contents rifled, and the bear tossed onto the bonfire.

🥕🥕🥕

The Respite Suitcase by oneletterup

She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.
The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.
Dirty. Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.

Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.
She jumps, turning to go back.
Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.
Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.
An old suitcase stranded in the brush.

She stumbles over to it, considering.
“I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.”
She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.
Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.
As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.

🥕🥕🥕

Matty Resists the Call by Ann Goodwin

Clark Gable is pinning a red rosette on the bodice of her second-hand dress when the maid shakes her none too gently by the shoulder. “I wasn’t asleep,” she lies. On the parquet beside her feet sits a battered brown suitcase. “Are you leaving us, dear?”

“No, but you are, they’ll be here any minute to escort you to Tuke House.”

“Tuke House?” Matty knows of the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall. She knows of the Folies Bergère, despite its salacious reputation. She has never heard of Tuke.

“Thank you, dear, but the current arrangements are perfectly acceptable.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Child Left Behind by Kerry E.B. Black

Melanie studied her students as they completed their exams. Threadbare clothing revealed malnourished limbs. Although clean, the children sniffled and coughed. Melanie bet most hadn’t visited a doctor in several years.

Poverty stunk of limited opportunities and unfair challenges. Concentration waned when stomachs growled. While choosing how to spend a small income, most opted for food and heat rather than school supplies. Melanie provided some for the kids, or they’d be without.

She’d experienced difficulties in her life, certainly, but they paled when compared to her charges’ life-threatening situations.

She’d give them skills to help them negotiate life’s perils.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Takin’ It Easy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

I bin standing on this corner in Winslow Arizona since she tossed me out. Well…me, a half dozen t-shirts, some ragged jeans…

The wind blew them sideways –not so far as his nasty boxers, but not hard and vertical, like his Gameboy.

Gravity.

She’d smelled Lulabelle on him late last night. He left for work. She began hers. ‘Cept she treated me gently, even cried a little when she put me out here. I’d been his grampa’s suitcase.

And now, Lord! She drives up in her flatbed Ford.

She slows down, stops. I see she’s looking at me…smiling.

🥕🥕🥕

Recycled by JulesPaige

I am and will always be a ‘valise’. Of a rare heritage. Vintage large blue marble Samsonite.

I held the young wife’s Trousseau – and was passed on for her daughter to use. Though I am heavy, I held all of that little girls things as she was bounced around to different locations.

Until finally I was filled up with old things – Not as old as I. And donated to charity… After all age took its toll, my seams were coming undone and my lining frayed.

I am in an old house again. Filled with blankets, for a Mother cat.

🥕🥕🥕

Message in a …… Suitcase?? by Rosemary Carlson

It was twenty years ago. I was shopping the antique stores looking for unique things to furnish my house. In one store, hidden in a corner, was a leather suitcase. An old one with straps around it. I pulled it out and decided I loved it.

As I was cleaning it up, I felt a bump and heard a crunch under the inside liner. I worked the one-page note out the edge of the liner. Dated 1945, it said, “Meet me by the hickory tree. If you aren’t there, I’ll know you didn’t mean it.” It was a man’s writing.

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You Can’t Be Too Careful by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that?’

‘A suitcase.’

‘I know what it is…’

‘Why’d you ask?’

‘What are you doing with it.’

‘She asked me to watch it.’

‘Who?’

‘The woman who asked me.’

‘Are you nuts. It might be a bomb.’

‘She looked nice.’

‘Or a body…’

‘Green eyes…’

‘Or laundered money…’

‘Home-knitted cardigan…’

‘Or drugs…’

‘Though her shoes seemed ill-fitting…’

‘Cocaine…’

‘You know, like she got them cheap…’

‘Heroin…’

‘And wouldn’t admit she’d made a mistake…’

‘A mobile crystal meth lab…’

‘And it was too late to take them back…’

‘Blood diamonds… ill-fitting shoes?’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘My mother?’

‘She’ll have a latte.’

🥕🥕🥕

Missing Luggage by Robbie Cheadle

The luggage conveyor belt went around and around. I felt dizzy watching the same bags come into view and then disappear. None of them were ours. Mom’s face flushed red. Her agitation at the missing bags grew by the second. Willy tried to climb onto the conveyor belt and Mom grabbed him by the scruff of his neck.

The crowds of people claiming baggage thinned and soon we were the only ones left.

The empty conveyor belt stated the facts. Our luggage was missing. Dad sighed. “We’ll have to go to missing baggage,” he said.

“Oh no, more waiting.”

🥕🥕🥕

Abandoned Fountain of Youth by Paula Moyer

Be alert to unattended items. We learn this now. But here is a suitcase at the St. Paul Amtrak Station, the new Union Station with its vintage look. Made to look old. And there’s the train – headed points west, so far from the suitcase now. The night train.

The Amtrak employee removes it. The dog sniffs. The security guy opens with tongs and finds … curlers, cosmetics, anti-aging cream. Calls the number on the tag.

The train station tries to look old. The sleepy lady answering? She was peeling away the evidence, but left her accomplice on the track.

🥕🥕🥕

Stranded Suitcase by Miriam Hurdle

“The passengers picked up their suitcases. The one went around in the carousel is not mine.”

“The dark green color and the size look like yours.”

“Mine has a red and green stripe.”

“Let’s go to the customer services.”

~

“I couldn’t find my suitcase. This one has men’s clothes.”

“Let me check… Have a seat.”

“I need things when we get to the hotel.”

“Excuse me, Madam. A passenger has mistaken your suitcase as his. He lives two hours away and is driving home. We’ll exchange them and deliver to your hotel.”

“Oh, well… at least it’s found.”

🥕🥕🥕

Worrying Too Much by Reena Saxena

I wondered, or rather worried aloud why the train stopped between stations.

It was a bomb scare. All rail movement on the tracks was brought to a halt till a detection squad arrived. The sniffer dog ran towards the suitcase, as if eager to meet a long-lost friend. He sniffed and sniffed, and moved all around it. A team member in full armor came forward to open the dreadful case.

The dog stepped forward to partake of the feast, as dog biscuits tumbled out. Did somebody leave it for him, to deflect attention?

Maybe I was worrying too much.

🥕🥕🥕

The Suitcase by Michael Grogan

The calls for the next flight were met with mass movement. Beside us sat a black suitcase. We waited for the traveller to return but the longer it sat there all alone, the more on edge we became.

My sister alerted the airport security and immediate there was a clearing of the area. We were questioned to make sure it was not ours.

Within minutes the area was cordoned off, security barriers erected and everyone moved back. Then there was an explosion, and the suitcase was no more.

We often wondered if the man returned to retrieve his underwear.

🥕🥕🥕

In Brief by Sascha Darlington

“There’re two ways to approach this,” Joe says.

Emily shakes her head. “Nope. One. We got to make sure it’s not a bomb. Protocol, Joe, protocol.”

Joe presses his lips together. Thirty years ago, they would have checked to see who the suitcase belonged to. Now they got to check for a bomb. Who’d want to blow up the train station in Tuttle, a town without even a traffic light to its name?

He nods at Emily. “Do what you must.”

That’s how they end up with a blown-up suitcase full of $20 bills and a pissed-off FBI agent.

🥕🥕🥕

Other Peoples Stuff! by Bill Engleson

You see it often on country roads, goods left out at the top of driveways.

Sometimes there is a sign.

FREE!

I scored a nice office chair that way, once.

Well, it had a wobble.

But so did I.

Today, someone’s put out a non-descript hard suitcase, popular back in the day.

It is pale green.

My parents once told me about Jack Graham who blew up a plane with his mother and forty-three others back in ’55.

He put a bomb in her suitcase.

Their advice: “Always pack your own suitcase.”

These are great words to live by.

🥕🥕🥕

Perdu and Dod o Hyd by Chelsea Owens

Henri couldn’t believe his luck, stranded at Aberystwyth with only the clothes on his back.

“Don’t worry; you’ll only need your carry-on,” his wife had said. “You can even put your wallet and passport in there.”

He stared up at the station timetable, trying to make sense of the ridiculously long Welsh words, and sighed.

Gwilym, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck. As a pickpocket, he needed to be careful working the stations; and yet, he’d not lifted a single wallet for today’s find.

Once outside the Hereford station, he opened the battered suitcase. “Henri, eh? Merci, mon ami.”

🥕🥕🥕

Possession by Di @ pensitivity101

No more could he take the tormenting dictatorship of his life, the personal sleights, the ridicule.
He packed everything into a battered old suitcase. There was no connection to him and he could walk away.
The train was due in five minutes. This place was perfect and deserted when he tossed the case off the bridge, ignoring the voice from within screaming
‘Let me out! Let me out!’
The train smashed the case into a thousand pieces, the dummy inside with it.
The head landed at his feet, and the sinister smile said it all.
He’d never be free.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase by The Dark Netizen

The suitcase lay abandoned on the forsaken track.

The reason why this railroad was deserted and operations were abandoned was because people feared the cursed area. Anyone who ventured out on the track, would never return. Entire trains had disappeared, simply vanishing into thin air. People believed the abandoned suitcase was the only remaining sign of some poor soul who had joined the ranks of the missing people. However, there always remained some foolhardy bravehearts who would go looking for the suitcase.

They did not know that the suitcase had been placed there, by those living in the tunnel.

🥕🥕🥕

A Bereft Duffle by Susan Sleggs

My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

They played Three Little Birds at the funeral. Close enough I suppose. Time’s up and my suitcase is full. Not like most of us get a choice, anyway. Though my baggage is spare. stranded memories of work, tuna salad, regret, the real stuff I packed away for safekeeping. My first love’s smile. The kids. That dawn with Dad in the wet grass and the big moon. But you’d be surprised at what lingers for eternity. Mom’s death. The hot lash of her slap on my cheek. Lower back pain. The pulse of summer in the woods. Every little thing…

🥕🥕🥕

The Chase by Late Night Girl

In the stillness, a sudden noise from the horns of a train erupted in the tunnel, followed by a blinding light. Out came the man running for his life. About 20 meters into the tunnel he had second thoughts that were immediately confirmed by an oncoming train chasing the man back out of the tunnel.

But his case was gone already, while his life was found again. Exhausted, he sat by the side of the tracks, feeling the guilt of almost having involved an innocent train driver into an involuntary act. New hope and the chase for life begun.

🥕🥕🥕

Suitcase of Hope by Ritu Bhathal

Opening the bedroom door, the first thing I saw was the abandoned suitcase, open on the bed. Half packed, it had been left, bereft at not being full, zipped up, and off on another adventure.
I walked over, closed the lid, fastened it and placed it to one side. “Don’t worry, he’ll be better soon, then you can both go on your travels, with no worries at all.”
Pops appeared by my side, having taken a few moments longer to climb the stairs than me.
“It’s okay Pops, rest up. I’ll pack your case when the time is right.”

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting For The Right Train by Teresa Grabs

“There’s rumors of this line,” the old man said, “they say all those lost eventually find their way home.”

“Nonsense!” Charlie knew this line. Who was this old tramp to tell him of this line — his line? “Been here over thirty years and never heard anything of the sort.”

“I would sure love to go home. Go all the way back to Ma, the farm, to Lucy. Back to the day I made the wrong decision.”

A suitcase fell from a train crossing the bridge overhead landing gently in the old man’s lap. He opened it and went home.

🥕🥕🥕

Good Measure by D. Avery

“What’s in that case, Kid?”

“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”

“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”

“Guess.”

“Bacon?”

“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”

“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”

“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”

“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”

“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”

“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”

“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”

🥕🥕🥕

July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

The train has left the station, and a suitcase remains on the tracks. Which is bereft? The passenger who will miss what she packed, or a transportation company who has failed to make good on its reliability? Maybe the suitcase grieves.

Perspective can change any story. It can even change our personal narratives and shape our identities. How much choice do we have when it comes to success and failure? Is it a matter of perspective?

I’m walking the surf at McLain State Park, relishing in the windswept waves, pondering another perspective — the difference between worries and wishes. I’m thinking about wishes because every time I bend low to search a patch of water-tumbled pebbles for a possible agate, I find a wishing stone.

My daughter, who has an undergrad degree in geology, told me about wishing stones — any rock encircled completely by a mineral vein. Usually, I find one or two basalts with a vein of quartz, or maybe feldspar ringed with epidote. Today they are abundant.

I wish…to find a big agate!

I wish…to have a successful class at Finlandia U.

I wish…for Cynthia to get her house rebuilt.

I wish…for the Hub to be happy in his present condition.

I wish…

That’s when the worries slam down like an unexpected big wave, taking away my breath. I realize wishes and worries are equal energy wasters. Both feed off the same emotions. Both give control to matters beyond myself.

Instead, I recall that accountability leads to empowerment. I will do my best to create and lead a successful class at Finlandia. I can define what success looks like. That will help me shape the course. Students will be an unknown factor. I’ll focus on one rule: we are a marketing class, and we will behave professionally. I’m sure I’ll be pushed to define that over the year, as well.

But more than wishing, I can be accountable for each step and response I make.

For my friend Cynthia, I’ll continue to offer my help. She’s now in our RV which is parked at a beautiful home in the country not far from her beloved Ripley. I’ll stay in communication with her, attentive to ways I can offer my strengths and let others offer where I can’t fill in. Together, we are a community, and that’s empowering to all of us.

As for the Hub, his happiness is his own. It’s hard to watch a loved one falter. No doubt, life has dealt him an unfair hand, yet we all encounter such losses in life. He will have to come to terms with the impact of long-term TBI and how it complicates PTSD. It’s both neurological and psychological. Some days I want to flee. Mostly, I stand in the gap for him to hold the space he cannot.

But I’m no saint, and wishes and worries wash over me as I comb the rocky beach. I’m no hero, either, yet I’m on my own journey to be who I can be.

What about those who don’t or won’t? Or can’t because of circumstances stacked against them? Can the hero’s journey extend to those who don’t answer the call or step out of the cave?

And so I’m brought back to perspective. My perspective is that I believe I can push through and be all I can be. Funny because that’s the US Army slogan — be all you can be. Where did that get the Hub? Bashed knees by the age of 25 and damaged brain matter by 50.

It reminds me of the Vietnam vet who said, “Those who fight for the freedom for others are never free.”

My perspective progresses; my husband’s stays locked in the cave. I want to shout into the dark, “You have the key! Get out, get out!” But the sound of his own troubled perspective groans louder.

The suitcase remains on the rails. I want to pick it up — it seems so natural to me. Even success and failure are but different perspectives. If I don’t find an agate, I have failed in the hunt. Yet, I can average the number of agates and hunts and say that my success rate is high. Or I can call other finds a success in the absence of an agate. I might even claim that any day spent with feet in Lake Superior and eyes upon her rocks spells s-u-c-c-e-s-s.

I don’t want to perceive failings because I want to spend my energy pursuing what brings me joy. If I fail, I can try again. If I fail, I can learn from the experience. If I fail, I can choose another way. Failure can lead to resiliency, breakthroughs, and unexpected opportunities. More than perspective, it’s also a matter of choice.

So there the suitcase sits. It doesn’t matter why. It’s what happens next.

July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.

Respond by July 31, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

 

Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.

“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”

“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”

“It’s a suitcase.”

“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”

“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”

“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”

Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.

 

Legend of Fannie Hooe

They say she drowned in Lake Fannie Hooe. They say a bear left behind only a spilt basket of blueberries. They say a lot about a woman who returned to Virginia to live a full life after time spent at the remote wilderness Fort Wilkins in 1845.

Writers imagined between and beyond the facts of the real-life character of Fannie Hooe whose legend and name remains upon a lake at the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The following is based on July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe.

INTRO TO FORT WILKINS by Charli Mills

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

🥕🥕🥕

PART I (10-minute read)

Fanny Hooe, Oh Fanny Hooe by Chelsea Owens

She came from The Virginias and she settled in our town.
Her eyes sparked just like agates and her hair was copper brown.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

She settled at Fort Wilkins, to help her sister’s child.
She settled in the soldiers’ hearts whene’er they caught her smile.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

One night they sought young Fanny but found she had gone away.
The soldiers mourned her memory and call her still today.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

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Where Did You Say She Went? by floridaborne

“Breathe,” Fannie whispered, staring at a man six feet tall. Shiny leather boots … broad chest decorated by rows of buttons, she desired … needed …

With a charming smile and a nod, he said, “Howdy, ma’am.”

“Pray, tell me your name?”

His smile gleamed at her. “General Al Eyeon. And you?”

“Miss Fannie Howe,” she said coyly. “What brings you to Fort Wilkins?”

“Want to see my ship?”

At lake’s edge, he lifted her into his arms and jumped through a door she couldn’t see. Fannie loved his starship’s interior. He appreciated the taste of succulent meat.

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Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up by Norah Colvin

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

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Fanny-tastic Names by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m trying to find Fanny Hooe.”

“Fanny who?”

“Yes, Fanny Hooe.”

“Right… Fanny who?”

“Fanny Hooe!”

“Look, I need the surname for the announcement, mate. So, Fanny who?”

“Listen mate, it’s bad enough her grandma insisted on naming her Fanny. Stop taking the mick with it. Her name is Fanny Hooe. As in H – O – O – E.”

“Okay. Calling out for Fanny Hooe. That’s Fanny Hooe, as in H – O – O – E. Fanny Hooe please come to the service desk. Fanny Hooe!”

“You know they all call me Fran here, not Fanny… Now I’ll never live it down!”

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Straight From The Horses Mouth by Teresa Grabs

The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.

“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”

“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.

Everyone laughed, shaking their head.

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A Sister’s Sobriquet by JulesPaige

Legends
Disguise fact
Fannie Hooe, her
Sister’s helper – was never
Lost

“They say” Lucy Frances’ disappearance was due to bear, drowning or murder. So they named a lake after her… in Michigan. I wonder if she knew…

…a memoir letter…

“I was thirty seven when I went to visit my sister and help her birth her child at Fort Wilkens. I told Richardetta I couldn’t stay long. I had my own beau waiting for me back in Virginia. And his name was Mr. Chester Bailey White. Our brother Thornton thought I’d be a spinster. I wed Chester in 1949.”

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Hiding on the Inside by Paula Moyer

“Who’s my Fannie Hooe?” Jean asked herself after hearing the UP story. “Who’s my lost girl who’s never found?” Of course, it was herself.

Jean was never missing – not for that long, anyway. She hid in plain sight, though. Went through the motions, learned the rules of the party games. But inside, she was somewhere else: riding a magic carpet, soaring like a bat through hidden caves, gliding down a promenade staircase in high heels – never tripping.

Let the birthday girl’s mom spin her. Around and around. Jean would be dizzy, stumble, blindfolded, toward the donkey. Inside? Somewhere else.

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Honey, Don’t Pull a Fannie on Me by Neel Anil Panicker

“How do I know you’ll not do a Fannie Hooe on me?”

“A who?”

Richard looked at his beau from across the window.

Overcome with emotion, he leaned forward and held Janet’s hands.

Her fingers had turned moist, just as her eyes.

“I meant don’t do the disappearing act just like Fannie did eons ago.”

The train’s giant wheels were already trudging forward.

As Richard’s hands slipped out of her fingers his parting words were, “Listen, I know not who or what this Fannie thing’s all about. All I know is we’re going to get married in six months.”

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The Lesser Sister by Nillu Nasser

They say she had hair like spun hay and her pretty soprano voice soothed the most wretched heart. They say the touch of her lips fell like satin on the roughest cheek, and old crones wept when they looked upon her, in mourning for their lost youth.

But I know her legend to be a lie.

Always the lesser sister, the one who hooted at others’ misfortune, interested only in men’s purses, not their hearts. That lake was the making of Fanny Hooe. When she emerged from it, her sins had been washed away.

She finally found new life.

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Fanny Hooe by Anita Dawes

Last day of our holiday Dad said he’d like to drive to Lake Fanny Hooe.
After an hour’s drive, Tommy was still giggling about the name.

The lake was stunning, the bridge even more so.

Dad was here for the legend about the five kids who drowned after daring to jump from the bridge. Dad snapped away, hoping to catch a shot of them. Thing is he was missing the beauty.

The grape design on the bridge was so beautiful.

Tommy slipped his hand in mine. ‘I can hear them, Alice. They’re laughing as they jump from the bridge.’

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A Daughter’s Love by Anurag Bakhshi

All I remember is my name — Fannie Hooe.

And that I’m looking for my Daddy.

Mommy told me that he was a soldier at Fort Wilkins, and I would recognize him if I ever met him.

I’ve met so many soldiers till now, but none of them is my Daddy.

I see another soldier walking past. He seems to be of just the right age.

“Daddyyyyy…” I call out to him.

He turns, starts walking towards me.

Now I just need to wait for him to drown in my waters before I can be sure if he’s my Daddy.

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The Legend of Makwa-ikwe by Colleen Chesebro

They say Fannie Hooe drowned, but my daddy told me a different story. He said she didn’t drown, she transformed. After a bear mauled her and rolled her carcass down the hill to the beach to die, the Chippewa found her.

The Indians nursed her back to health. Daddy said she was deformed after the bear attack. The Indians didn’t care. To them, she was Bear Woman, *Makwa Ikwe.

Fannie fully integrated into their native society and became a powerful shaman. Her magic was very strong. I know, because she healed me, and I lived to tell this story.

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Fannie Hooe by Frank Hubeny

Fannie disappeared and they searched for her around the lake. Jake went missing as well, but he often went missing. He would pop up again later. No one cared.

Fannie was someone special. She smiled at you and made you glad you were alive.

They searched for days until her sister told her good neighbors to stop. She declared that Fannie was gone.

She never returned except as mythic remembrance. It took them over two months to wonder why Jake hadn’t turned up either. Fannie’s sister suspected why but she let her silence give them a chance to escape.

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Hiding by D. Avery

“They say.” The old woman rocked forward and hocked one off the front porch. “They say old women shouldn’t chew,” she cackled. “It’s unseemly. They say.”
She directed her sharp eyes at the young woman sitting on the step. “They say all number of things, made up things, hurtful things, say them as cowards, after you’ve turned your back on them. They can’t take a turned back; makes them wonder about themselves.”

“Great Aunt Fannie, they say you disappeared.”

Phwoot! She hocked another into the tall weeds. “Yes, they’ve always said that. Because they can’t explain me being here.”

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Lingering by Miriam Hurdle

“It’s a perfect day to walk in the wood, Dan.”

“Yes, good that you walk with me, Sally.”

“We can pick some blueberries.”

“Lovely ideas. You like making blueberries muffins, I like to eat.”

“Oh, look. A lady walking by herself.”

“She looks frantic, she must be lost.”

“Let’s find out.”

“Humm… She disappeared.”

“Oh, Dan, it was Fannie Hooe. Some people saw her. She’s still finding her way out of the wood.”

“I thought she returned to the family home in Virginia.”

“See that white house down the hill? She lived there. The light goes on and off.”

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Tiny Fannie by Ashley Oh

Fannie tumbled downstairs to the same blueberry pancakes she’d eaten for forever because of the overproducing blueberry bush outside her house.

To change her breakfast fate, Fannie headed out to a nearby a lake, where her nose led her: a bush. Finding a pink, round berry, she picked it in curiosity and ate it. Suddenly, the sweetest, magical taste filled her mouth. Grabbing some more, she walked in, when suddenly, her body tingled head to toe.

Her grandma call out, “Fannie Hooe!”, and she frantically waved her hands, so she would notice her, but she just passed her by.

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In The Shadow of Fannie Hooe by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know sweet FA, Logon.’

‘You know what FA means?’

‘FA? Eff All.’

‘Nope, it’s Fanny Adams, an eight year old murdered and dismembered in the 1860s.’

‘You’re a mine of irrelevancies. Why’s a dead girl come to mean Eff All?’

‘Navy slang. A euphemism. Navy introduced tinned meat. Sailors loathed it and said it must be the dead girl. Sweet Fanny Adams became sweet FA which then became another way of saying eff all.’

‘Like that Hungarian director… he said, ‘you think I know f**k nothing when I really know f**k all.’

‘You always lower the tone, Morgan.’

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Fannie Hooe by TNKerr

Grandma pointed at the faces in the photo one by one.

“That’s Bea, she was my mother. These here are her sisters; Beryl, Fannie, and Clint. Bea became an oilman’s wife and your great-grandma. Clint ran the ranch for as long as she could. Beryl taught at the schoolhouse. She was a teacher of mine when I was young, and Fannie – well Fannie disappeared up north. Some say she was a spy or an assassin. That her life caught up with her, others say she was a gambler; killed in a poker game at a saloon in Kewenaw.”

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The Fanny Bay Butt, What If, Talks: Sponsored by the Fanny Bay Hysterical Society by Bill Engleson

“They say…”

“I bet they do,” she interrupts.

“As I was saying…they say a woman by the name of Fanny Hooe boarded a freighter in San Francisco sometime in the early 1920’s, disembarked at Victoria…and then took the train up Island to Fanny Bay.”

“So, our little Piglet was named after her?”

“Hamlet. Not Piglet.”

“Forgive me. Was it?”

“Named after her? No. The source of the name, Fanny Bay is murky. Nevertheless, most authorities agree that our…little community…was named long before she arrived.”

‘Did she stay?”

“No. Two days after arriving, she disappeared.”

“Ever found?”

“Not a trace.”

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In Every Rumor by Sascha Darlington

Every rumor holds an inkling of truth. Or so they say.

I never intended to stay in Fort Wilkins. Once my sister had her baby, I’d return to Virginia and the life Jonas and I planned along the Potomac River.

“Miss Fanny, I wish you’d reconsider,” Frederick said.

“I’d loathe these Michigan winters,” I said, attempting to ease my way out.

“I would see to your every comfort.”

While pleasant on the surface, Frederick possessed a darkness I’d seen in men before, a ruthless persistence, which would not end well.

Only my sister knew the truth of my disappearance.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Who? By Ann Edall-Robson

I’m looking for information on Fannie Hooe.

Fannie who did what?

No, Fannie Hooe.

Like I said, Fannie who did what?

No, no! Her name was Fannie Hooe.

Round in circles we’re going on this one. Again, I ask, Fannie who did what? Unless you are willing to share more information than her first name, I can’t help you in your search for this person.

All I know is the name, Fannie Hooe.

Sorry, can’t help you.

Wait, you must, she was related to my grandpa’s wife and I need to find her.

What was her name?

Fannie Hooe!

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Lucy Frances by D. Avery

The summer of ’44? That’s when I visited my brother and my sister out in that God forsaken place. Their eyes shone like copper when they spoke of the Kewenaw, but I couldn’t wait to leave. The summer bugs were fiercer than the bears and wolves. Can you just imagine the winters up there?

I had enough of wilderness, and I had enough of my brother and sister who insisted on calling me, a grown woman of seventeen years, by my childhood appellation.

Let them go west and keep going. I returned East to civilization, happily became Mrs. White.

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Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.

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History’s Full Circle by H.R.R. Gorman

Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

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Fannie Hooe by oneletterup

“Let them think I’m out picking blueberries!”

Fannie’s mind raced as she ran through the woods; not noticing her long dress catching on low branches. Leaving a fabric trail.

“Fannie this Fannie that. Do they think I’m just a servant? I’m mighty tired of taking care of everyone.” She dreaded going back to Virginia. And she loved it here near Fort Wilkins. Beautiful and calm.

“The lake! There it is!” She smiled. Sweat dripped from her face.

“FANNY HOOE!”

Thornton must be looking for her, but she didn’t care.

It was so hot and the water was so close.

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The Hero’s Wife by Anne Goodwin

They hailed him a hero, she called him a fool. Someone had to save the kid, he said.

Maybe, but why you?

She couldn’t look at him at dinner. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t watch the evening news, took herself to bed. But even with her eyes screwed tight, she saw him, grinning, dripping lake water on the shore.

Later, he found her, let her cry in his arms. I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t think. Dived right in.

Why should he think? He never met her father, the hero dead before her teens.

Rescuing a girl from drowning. Fannie Hooe.

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Fannie’s New Family by Di @ pensitivity101

Fannie’s game of hide’n’seek had gone sour, and now she was alone in the dark having fallen asleep in her hiding place.

She heard breathing behind her, and turned to see a wolf looking at her quizzically.

She reached out her hand to stroke it, and the animal backed off slightly, but didn’t run away.

She started to shiver, and the wolf came closer, lying down beside her and wrapping her in its warmth. Fannie wasn’t afraid, and curled up against its belly, falling asleep again almost immediately.

When she awoke, she was somewhere else, but she didn’t mind.

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Fanny Who? by Anisha Jain

All of them call the old Japanese woman by the lake crazy. But she’s the only one who knows the truth.

They say Fannie Hooe was the daughter in law of an officer at Fort Wilkins who disappeared mysteriously, either eaten by a bear or abducted by a tribal.

But only she knows the truth. Fannie was a Jorogumo — a shape-shifting spider from Japanese folklore, who’d turn into a seductress and lure young men to the lake, playing her flute before drowning and dining on them.

No one believes the old Japanese woman, who used to be her teacher.

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Frannie’s Disappearance by Nancy Brady

Frannie Hooe disappeared one starry night. What happened to her was pure conjecture, and yet only Tillie knew the real story behind her disappearance. First off, it must be stated that Frannie was an adventurous young woman. Most people weren’t aware of her wild proclivities; frankly, they considered her a mouse—meek, mild, and well mannered. A real milquetoast, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her imagination took her everywhere. Paris to Marrakesh to Rio to London to Singapore and beyond, she traveled the world in her dreams. Until the night, while stargazing, she was abducted by aliens.

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The Wrong Choice by Robbie Cheadle

She was born with a caul. Her mother carefully removed it, dried it and gave it to her brother, a sailor, before he set sail for the Caribbean.

“Take this,” she said, “it will keep you safe from drowning.” The young man appreciated her thought and tucked the wrinkled brown piece of skin into his Bible.

How was Fannie’s mother to know that she was the one who needed the caul. She was the one who would set off on an adventure and be lost in the cold, blue water of the lake. The lake was named after her.

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“Ariel’s Island: Prologue” by Saifun Hassam

Clouds turned deep indigo in the fading light of the setting sun. The last slivers of sunlight shot up through pinholes in the towering cumulus clouds.

Fannie Hooe was aboard the passenger ship The Rosalinda, sailing from the Carolinas to Bermuda. As a novelist and poet she was entranced by the intensifying storm. But the ship’s officers had ordered everyone to remain in their cabins.

Gale force winds buffeted the ship. As darkness descended, a thunderous boom echoed through The Rosalinda, churning in surging, seething waves. In the next instant, Fannie and the ship sank deeper into the ocean.

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Selkie Mom by Wallie and Friend

Annie always wondered why great-grandmother never insisted on the truth. She wondered why the old woman allowed the legend to persist, when the twists to the story were often so lurid.

Then one day as she sat listening to her husband talk to their little daughter, she realized.

“And that’s how I met your mother,” he said. “I told the selkie king I couldn’t live without her. And he saw that it was true. That coat in the closet there, that’s her selkie coat.”

Annie listened to the little girl’s awe. And for the first time, she understood great-grandmother.

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The Talisman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She held the rock to her lips. Copper and silver shone where her fingers caressed.

For a moment, Gichi-gami rolls beneath this secure Virginia town. A birchbark canoe glides through a long inner lake, a steady plash of paddles dip into dark water. Her strong shoulders stretch in delicious ache of the final reach and scrape to rocky shore.

Two friends part, a talisman given. What had she gifted her?

“Mama! Come tuck us in.”

“Fannie! Where are my silver cufflinks?”

Slipping the stone into her pocket–all her dresses had pockets—she turned away from the gaslit street.

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Fannie Who by kate @ aroused

The child was born with a lisp so we kindly indulged his impediment by copying his adaptions. R’s and w’s were particularly difficult to pronounce so Muriel became Mooel, Frances became Fannie, and Howe became Hooe.

He’d quickly become attached to Fannie who was a plain but pleasant young lady visiting her sister in Kenenaw before she gave birth. So when Fannie went missing the child could be heard wailing Fannie Hooe, Fanny Hooe.

But Molly, the wise one, had watched the rapport build between Fannie and the local chief’s son. Unacceptable to either race she had silently vanished.

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Legend or Truth by Susan Sleggs

“Dad’s taking us to Fannie Hooe Lake in upper Michigan for a week this summer. He wants to visit Fort Wilkins. Says that he had a relative stationed there years ago.”

“That should be interesting. I wonder how the lake got a ladies name.”

“Legend is she drowned in it, but Dad’s family story is she ran off with a gambler. She was so wild her parents were thankful so they gave her dowry money to the town fathers who had to agree to never tell the truth. The money was used to build store-front board walks.”

“That’s funny.”

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Paparazzi by Reena Saxena

Fannie Hooe came and disappeared in a flash, leaving tales behind.

The paparazzi failed to notice that her sister’s child was not seen after that. Her sister was a single woman, and soon left town, but nobody enquired about the father.

In fact, it should have been about the mother of her child. Fannie Hooe was a celebrity, and her sister had agreed for surrogacy. They had planned to be as discreet as possible, but Fannie’s fame followed her.

Now, the media says that a look-alike had visited the old, dilapidated township to get photographed and create a flutter.

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Fannie Hooe: Michigan Auto Workers by Peregrine Arc

“We gonna get some overtime, you think?” Earl asked, pulling on his coat.

“Only if they can pay us for it. Otherwise–could be lean times!” a second worker proclaimed.

“We survived the recession, right?” Earl insisted. “It can’t be that bad. What do you think, Fannie? You’ve been here longer than any of us.”

“I’ve seen Michigan get through harder times yet,” Fannie said. “But right now, we’ve all got warm homes to get to. Let’s go!”

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Any Who by D. Avery

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”

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July 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

White-washed buildings gleam beneath a blue sky streaked with high clouds. They’re the kind of clouds that don’t do much more than add brush strokes to a painting. No humidity. No heatwave. No black flies. Sunshine rests comfortably on my head as I carry a box of books and my computer to the western garrison.

I’m at Fort Wilkins to give a presentation on how to use flash fiction to explore history.

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

Mowed summer grass surrounds the fort grounds as it faces a lake — not Lake Superior, but Lake Fannie Hooe. A small gurgling stream flows from the lake, past the fort and mingles with the greater one in a half-moon cove with pinchers of craggy rock at each point. The John Jacob Astor floundered in 1845 after missing the safety of the harbor.

Champagne doused her prow on the shores of Sault Sainte Marie – the first tall ship built on Lake Superior. The pride of the American Fur Company, she bore the name of its progenitor. Cutting across heaving waves, she carried cargo and passengers. Eight could squeeze around her dinner table. Fully loaded with winter supplies for Fort Wilkins, she sailed for the harbor. Crashed upon the rocks, every man in the garrison soaked by surf and slashing rain fought to release her. No one died, but with supplies lost to the Great Lake, together they faced a winter of rations.

After I set up in the lecture hall, I eagerly head to the harbor. An artist’s rendering superimposes a modern photo of the harbor with the wreck of the John Jacob Astor. It’s part of an interpretive display to explain the shipwreck. The cove seems pleasant, not one that could take down ships, but I’ve seen Superior on high energy days.

It’s neither too cool nor too hot. It’s a perfect spring day, a gift in mid-summer. The greater gift is the death of black flies. Those winged beasts fed upon my blood just a week before when I came to Copper Harbor to hike in the old growth cedar grove. This evening, I’m alone, savoring my time on the rocky beach.

I settle into a seat of warm pebbles to eat bison jerky made with cranberries and seeds. Almonds and dried apple rings finish the light meal. My energy rises before a presentation, and I eat little. Afterward, I’ll be ravenous! Likely the fish and chips will be closed by then, and I’ll make do with organic fig newtons.

For now, I relish the moment of perfection. Life rarely offers such a perfect mingling of nature, anticipation, tasty fare, sunny skies, warm pebbles and lapping water. I watch the Isle Royale Queen approach the harbor and promise myself that one day I will have a writer’s retreat on the island.

It’s a bucket list kind of place — so remote in Lake Superior, it takes six hours to reach.

Wolves sheltered on the dock in crates. Daddy’s expression never changed but I could feel his tension. He didn’t want wolves on his island. This was our third summer on Isle Royale since Daddy became National Park Superintendent. Mother said some zoo in Cleveland wanted to purge its wolves, but they were too used to people to set loose on the lower 48. So, they shipped them to Daddy by boat in crates. That summer, shadows followed me and my sister, but never materialized where we walked or played. If wolves knew of people, they knew to stay away.

Recently I collected the oral histories of two sisters who lived in Ripley but summered on Isle Royale where their father had served as the National Park’s second superintendent. It was happenstance that I met the women. In flood-torn Ripley, of all places. They described their childhood to me, living next door to Cynthia’s house and attending school at what is now an apartment complex next to the fire hall.

99-words is catching on in the Keweenaw. I love its artistry, the form’s ability to distill a story in surprising ways. I love how it births creative moments, solving problems with a constraint. I love how it can be a tool. To the entrepreneur, 99 words are 45 seconds. One 99-word story can express a vision. Eight can launch a compelling pitch. To the historian, 99 words can digest historical facts, fictionalize the gaps and imagine times past.

Fiction lets us question history, to dig deeper than the facts and records. Writing historical fiction is all about asking what if…and why…and how…and who would… We might know when, but we want to know so much more. In my own historical research, I find that these questions drive me to examine the records more closely.

I learn about the mystery of Lake Fannie Hooe. A friend from my veteran spouses group grew up not far from Copper Harbor, spending her summers exploring old mines and logging camps the way I did in my hometown. She told me that legend has it, Fannie was a little girl, perhaps the daughter of an officer, who went missing. As they circled the lake they called, “Fannie…! Fannie, hooe!

They say, they never found her body.

As a story-catcher, I have an affinity for “they say” stories. Usually, they are not accurate historically, but they contain a nugget of humanity. “They say” stories express our fears or need to be entertained. I find “they say” stories fun to research. When I lived in Idaho, I wrote a column for a magazine that explored local history beginning with they say. From there, I tried to match the story to historical records.

Questions help discovery. The night of my presentation, I had planned for attendees to write their own Fort Wilkins flash fiction. I forgot that writing can be intimidating to non-writers. I tried to convince a wide-eyed crowd that they could pencil their own historical fiction. Realizing their trepidation, I led the questioning and did the writing from their responses.

The one prompt they all wanted to explore was, “Who was Fannie Hooe and why did she go missing?” Two historians from the fort sat in on the presentation and knew a great deal about the real Fannie. She was from Virginia and came as a single woman to Fort Wilkins to help her pregnant sister. She was not a girl, but a young lady. They say she went missing, mauled by a bear or murdered by a spurned lover.

Truth is, she returned to Virginia, married and lived a long life.

Flash fiction remains my favorite tool to explore history. It allows me to write quickly from multiple perspectives and test different points of view for my characters. If I don’t like a POV or discover a different path for a character, I’ve only committed a batch of flash fiction to the discovery instead of having to overhaul chapters or revise an entire draft.

Flash fiction lets me push into the space between the gaps. It lets me crawl under the skin of those the record shows were there. It tolerates my line of questioning with 99-word answers.

July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe. Although she is a legend in the Kewenaw, feel free to go where the prompt leads.

Respond by July 24, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

 

Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.

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