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November 28: Story Challenge in 99-words

We gnawed the turkey bones clean after we soaked the twenty-pound bird in a Riesling and herbs brine, slid sage and butter beneath its skin, and roasted it for five hours. Turkey sandwiches with a slather of mayo and cranberry sauce consoled me after my children flew away. Once again, the nest is empty.

The visit was divine.

Bug and her partner, Josh, arrived from Montana the Sunday before Thanksgiving. They had flown to the states earlier to attend a good friend’s traditional Indian wedding in Washington, DC. Then, they returned to their properties and stuff in storage in Montana. It’s complicated living overseas on an arctic achipelago but they do well. It’s been five long years since I had seen my favorite middle daughter.

My favorite eldest daughter and I waited up until 1 am before their plane finally landed on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We were giddy! We hugged, hugged, and hugged some more. The couple stayed at the Ghost House Farm and I was there every day. Todd got to visit, too and by the grace of the brain gods, he handled the week well.

On Wednesday, my favorite son, Kyle, and his wife, Leah, drove over from Wisconsin. The siblings were like a reunited pack of pups. Mause was beside herself. She barked at first. She recognizes Allison, but the other two smelled of faraway places, one of polar bears, the other of cheese. Mause adjusted. We had everything from a 100-year-old recipe of enchiladas to cast-iron Brussels with bacon and Parmesan. Thanksgiving fit as the final meal unless you count pie and leftovers at breakfast the next day.

We puzzled. The kids brought me a gift on Wednesday as I was cooking all day — a puzzle with pieces that feel like velvet. The colors are matte so there is no glare. It’s a game-changer. Speaking of games, I lost every one I played but I could not be happier. It’s been so long since we all chased sheep as Settlers of Catan. We played Scrabble, and they all marveled over my kayaking/camping Scrabble board. And, of course, the Ghost House favorite — Wingspan.

The house is quiet and decorated for Solstice (when flights and cars depart, I turn to decorating and Trans Siberian Orchestra for solace). Mause whines. I tell her they will not be away for so long again. I tell her we can go visit the dog park or her farm cousins. I’m so blissed out and blessed to have had the time to be fully present to my grown children.

Alas, the transition back to teaching and tutoring at Finlandia has returned quickly. I have no idea why, but the silly phrase, “not my monkeys, not my circus” created an earworm. Not a song, but it gives me a funny visual as I attempt to re-enter the post-visit world.

November 28, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by December 3, 2022. Please use the form if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines. Stories must be 99-words.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

For Queen and Country by Sherri Matthews

On a warm July day in 1977, the Queen came to Ipswich for her Silver Jubilee. My friend, Helen, and I, had left school the year before in that long, hot summer of ’76. Now we were stuffed like sardines on Ipswich High Street, waiting hours for a glimpse of her.

The Royal Cavalcade arrived at last. Prince Philip, hands clasped behind his back, came over first. Then came the Queen, resplendent in yellow and her sunshine smile. My Kodak Instamatic at my eye, finger hovering above the button… Snap. The woman in front of me leapt up to wave, giving me a wonderful close-up of her pink, feathery hat, the Queen’s a flash of yellow in the background.

Though one among several warm memories I share with Helen – bonded since flute recital at middle school in Stowmarket at thirteen – I admit I found the Royal Family a bit stuffy, uninspiring. Yes, it was exciting to see the Queen so close, and as close as I ever would again, but I took her for granted. She was always there, all my life.

Up until then, my brief and passing interest in the Royals came by way of an assigned school project for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle in Wales. It was 1969, he was twenty-one. I was ten. Beneath various cut-out newspaper and magazine photos which I pasted into a scrapbook, I wrote my summary in blue, felt-tip pen. Like a news reporter. Pens and paper and glue and scrapbooks were some of my favourite things. I look back now to 1969. It was also the year my parents split up, when we left our home in Surrey for Suffolk, a million miles away. Another planet. Yet I vividly recall the sense of empowerment and achievement that project gave me, immersing myself into something creative.

But The Royals? Back then? Not so much.

And then came Princess Diana and everything changed.

Through the divorces and the scandals, and accusations and tragedy to follow, the Queen was a constant presence through seventy years of reign, when bunting and street parties decorated the land for her glorious Platinum jubilee. After two years and counting of a global pandemic, 2022 has not seen the end of it. But it’s also a year to get back out there and live. Though life, as we know, is never without its triumphs and disasters. In early July, the Foo Fighters concert my wonderful family had surprised me with was cancelled. Tragedy struck with the shock death of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins.

We kept our Airbnb reservation in London as planned, not wanting to miss a chance to spend time together. And as it turned out, I ended up going to a Guns ‘n’ Roses gig with my sons, but that’s another story for another time. On Saturday, we took a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. Random, but it’s something we’d always wanted to do.

Almost 1,000 years of that history is retained within the walls and ancient flagstones of Westminster Hall. Plaques inscribed with dates of trials of the likes of Guy Fawkes and Thomas Moore (executed by King Henry VIII) mark the very spot where they took place.

And where, centuries later, the Queen’s father, King George VI, lay in state after his death in 1952.

The tour took us through the House of Commons and House of Lords and back outside, a stunning view of Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben. In the summer sun, it gleamed as clean as I’ve ever seen it and no scaffolding. After what felt like a long time away, this iconic London sighting imbued a measure of hope for recovery for my country.

We returned home on Sunday. On Monday, our government collapsed. Boris was fired. But more importantly to me, The Foo Fighters had announced a tribute concert for Taylor Hawkins. And there I was in London again with my family on September 2nd, watching Dave Grohl play at Wembley to a crowd of 80,000 fans and counting.

On September 5th, we got our new Prime Minister. Two days later, she had her first audience with the Queen in Balmoral. On September 8th, our beloved Queen died.

Our nation entered a period of mourning. I, along with millions, watched as processions and vigils and honour guards marched to our collective, final goodbye to our Dear Lady. There she rested, Lying in State, in Westminster Hall, just as her father and mother had done before her. And for four days and nights, thousands upon thousands filed past, paying their respects.

Thank you for your service, Ma’am.

Our country remains in political and economic crisis, and since starting this article, we have yet another new Prime Minister. But God Bless the Queen, I say. And God Save the King.

My mother remembers watching the Queen’s coronation in 1953. My grandfather purchased the family’s first television set to watch it, inviting all the neighbours. Mum was sixteen. But for everyone younger than 70, we’ve never witnessed such a momentous and historical time such as this.

All those decades ago when I did my school project, the very idea of Mum and I watching the Queen’s state funeral together in 2022 was so far from our thoughts to be impossible to contemplate. It gave me pause when Charles was proclaimed King Charles III on my birthday. He had a long wait.

Today, Mum struggles with cognitive impairment, but she remembers that scrap book of my school-girl write-ups of a young Prince of Wales. She still has it, she’s sure, somewhere in her loft. Apparently, I got a gold star.

Sherri’s non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry are published in magazines, anthologies and online at her blog. As a young mum of three, she emigrated from the UK to California and stayed for twenty years. Today she lives in England’s West Country with her family and two black cats. She is working hard to bring her debut memoir to publication.

Lies Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Lies by Michael Fishman

Jerry’s mind was everywhere but where it was supposed to be. His quick eyes darted away from the person in front of him to look out at the crowd.

He spied an attractive brunette and wondered what she looked like from the back. Then what she’d look like lying down. He looked forward to answering those questions later.

Then he saw Robin and smiled at the warm memory.

Jerry turned his attention back to the man to his right and tried his best to focus.

“…and do you, Jerry, take Elizabeth to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.”

🥕🥕🥕

Living a Lie Via Zoom by Gary A. Wilson

Bryce watched his screen as peers discussed an expense management slide.

Progress is so tedious, he thought.

Suddenly his kids ran into the room screaming joyfully with his wife scrambling to silence them. He quickly muted the microphone and roared.

Furious, he was on his feet cursing and threatening his family when his phone rang – it was his boss.

“Hello Marcel.”

“Bryce, you’re in my office in an hour. We thought we knew you but, your outburst; unacceptable and completely out of character.”

He’d turned the sound down, not his mic off.

“Your options are intervention or termination.”

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Lies Can Be Expensive by Frank James

“Have you been drinking?” The Trooper asked Molly. She shook her head: no.

“License and registration, he replied. Her hands trembled, offering them.

“Are you sure?” He repeated.

“I never drink and drive, and it would be stupid to lie to a Trooper,” she snorted.

He smiled, “Uh huh, you don’t want to lose your truck.”

He asked for a simple test. Feeling spry, her eyes followed his pen. They wobbled a bit.

“Okay,” he reluctantly said writing a warning ticket.

She grinned, pulling away. She didn’t see a beer can tumbling from the bed. He radioed a wrecker.

🥕🥕🥕

Incompletely Lost or Completely at a Loss? by JulesPaige

Blanks in the data bank memories of mother…
Disillusioned tweenager, angst filled teenager
Angry adult (at established rules and thieves)

There will always be holes, those holes filled with lies
Like ‘The check is in the mail,’ or where to place blame
With either ‘Ida Know’ or ‘Not Me’

Lies completely fabricated, Lies completely created for comfort
Lies by omission -The little white lies we pretend are OK
As to not upset the person who couldn’t cope with truth

That magician’s gun that was supposed
To have blanks but the murderer switched bullets…
And now there’s a big blank.

🥕🥕🥕

Tell The Truth by Sweeter Than Nothing

Deb had never been one for the truth, ever since she was little. Who wants horrible, pointy realty when a nice soft blanket of lies can cushion and comfort you?

She used that motto for good and bad.

For example;

“Of course you don’t look fat in that dress”

And

“No, I would never cheat on you, I love you.”

Debbie hid behind her lies right up to the very last moment of her life.

“Who knew she was sick? She always said she was fine.” Said all, shocked.

Now here lies Deb, finally, telling the truth at last.

🥕🥕🥕

De-merger by Reena Saxena

It’s an interesting family tree.

Each carries a different name by choice, with scant regard for belonging or social identification.

Anna tells me it was reinvented after her grandfather left the field open for choice of names.

“I’m sure there’s a lot behind that story. I’ve heard about his multiple marriages and large number of foster children”. I can’t resist digging graves for a good story.

“It’s actually much more than that. Multiple marriages meant multiple failed relationships, and this was the lesson he gave us.

The greatest lie ever spoken in love is about the merging of identities.”

🥕🥕🥕

Galactic Encyclopedia Entry by Duane L Herrmann

Nouvelle France had developed its trading empire deep into the interior of Amérique du Nord, reaching into the heart of the Grandes Montagnes which formed the massive spine of the continent. The initial small trading posts where the Natives and French had met to trade furs had become towns and cities in their own right. Many, many of the French traders had taken Native wives and now fifth and sixth generations of descendants were the major population. Wars among the natives had ceased long, long ago: it was bad for business. Brits had been expelled long ago for rebellion.

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The Letter by Margaret G. Hanna

“Dear Father,”
The start of the lie. Part of the conspiracy. Would he fall for it?

“Emigrating to Canada was a grievous error.”
It was not. Another part of the lie.

“I want to return home, to England.”
No! Her sister Bessie wants to come to Canada.

“Alas, I can not afford the fare.”
Father could. He had promised to send it. If he did, she’d send it back to Bessie.

“Please send the money. I will be forever in your debt. Your loving daughter, Mary.”
He bought the lie. He sent the money.

Bessie arrived four months later.

🥕🥕🥕

Black Poppies by Anne Goodwin

Their mother would miss them, but the Motherland called. They stowed away on a ship taking rum and molasses to Liverpool and docked the day the country declared war. Eustace lied about his age to join up with his brother. When hostilities ended, he buried his brother in France.

He grieved, but was proud to have served the Empire. Until he learnt the flag that united the colonies was a colossal lie. When riots raged in Liverpool’s docklands, he feared for his life. He learnt that Black men could die for Britain, but they couldn’t live there in peace.

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An Economics Lesson at the Food Bank by Anne Goodwin

“I don’t get it,” says the volunteer, as she distributes bashed soup tins between supermarket plastic bags. “Run it past me again.”

The politician sighs, but her colleague interrupts him. “Remember Robin Hood?”

“Steals from the rich to give to the poor? Of course.”

“Well, this is Robin in reverse.”

The woman sets aside a tube of charcoal toothpaste. The politician flashes a smile. “We scrap the wealth tax. People spend more. The benefits trickle down.”

The woman surveys the empty shelves. “Can’t see that working.”

“Be patient,” says the politician. “We’ve only tried this method for ninety years.”

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Am I Fine? by Ruchira Khanna

“Can you please get my meds from the counter?” requested Pam as she settled with her cup of tea.

“When you have no physical aches, why are you still consuming these pills?” asked a concerned Dave.

“It’s the mental ache, and these pills keep me high,” she said with a forced smile.

Dave frowned and was about to give his opinion.

Just then, the phone rang.

“Hi, Lisa!” said Pam while keeping eye contact with her beau.

“Life is super! I’m rocking it, my friend,” said Pam with shrugged shoulders and a downward glance while fidgeting with the blanket.

🥕🥕🥕

The Big Lie! by Tessa Dean

Lawrence hung down at the bar with a bunch of young men about his age. He claimed he was 21 and old enough to drink. They played darts and flirted with the women. Lawrence wore loose clothes that just hung on him. The other guys were dressed similarly.

One night, while Lawrence was drinking, Anson mentioned that he looked like he was gaining weight. Lawrence just shrugged it off. Suddenly he let out a scream and grabbed his belly. Rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that he was a she and that she was pregnant and in labor.

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A Little White Lie by Sadje

“What does it matters, it’s just a little white lie”

“That’s how it starts my dear and then one becomes two and two becomes too many. Lying becomes a habit that is hard to get rid of”

“But nan, I meant no harm. I just didn’t want to hurt Mel’s feelings by telling her I won’t come to her party, I’d already promised Cindy that I’ll hang out with her”

Then my sweet, you should tell her the truth, gently. If we start to hide behind lies, we will lose our true selves!”

“Okay nan. I promise, never again!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Catastrophe by Nancy Brady

It started innocently enough. My younger sister and I were playing Monopoly. Because I was sniffing a pine-scented cat sachet at the same time, out of the blue, I said the most outrageous thing, “I bit our cat’s ear,” never expecting her to believe me.

“You didn’t, did you?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, filling in details that made the lie real.

My sister was gullible; she believed me. What prompted this preposterous fabrication, I still don’t know, but finally I told her the truth. That I had never done anything like that to our cat, nor would I.

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Lies Are Allowed for Surprises by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa called her mother and invited her parents to dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant in the next town.

“Tessa, can’t you change the meal time to 7:00 PM, you know your father doesn’t like to eat early with the blue hair crowd.”

“Mom, the restaurant was already booked for prime time hours when I called, it’s the college’s Homecoming Weekend. You can eat a big late breakfast and an early dinner.”

“I suppose.”

***

Tessa called her sister,” I lied to Mom to get her to agree to the time. I’m sure she isn’t suspecting an anniversary party.”

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They Lied by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

As a child, I began to write. I constantly had pencil and paper, diaries and journals, just like Ernest Hemingway. I learned early on, to stop showing my father my poetry and prose. He told lies. His remarks snuffed out my confidence. 



“You’ll never be a writer. Not possible!” He’d say, tossing my papers up in the air.

I’m now sixty-four years old and guess what? I’m not a Mark Twain or a Hemingway but I am, an author and a poet. Be careful telling someone what they can not be!

🥕🥕🥕

Poison by Simon

He always said
when I lied
He knew, he said.
This time, I said
He never knew When I lied
When I constantly lied
Because the doctor said
He cannot be cured

I lied to his face
Hiding the truth behind
I lied to his face
Smiling with tears behind
I lied to his face
When I killed me
I lied to his face
When I killed him

It was the kindest poison
I made with love and passion
A lie, I named it as a Lie
Kills slowly but definitely we die

Before he died
I died happily

🥕🥕🥕

Laying Down About Lying About the Lie of the Land by Doug Jacquier

His drive had landed in the rough and he groaned when he saw the thicket of trees between him and the green of the par four 17th. Quickly scanning for witnesses, he picked up the ball and dribbled it out of his trouser leg on to the edge of the fairway. His second shot landed just short of the green, making for an easy chip and putt. When his partner asked for his score, he said ‘Four’ and strode to the next tee. His partner grunted and wrote ‘4’ in the box, sighing to himself ‘Whatever you say, Donald.’

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The Big Announcement by Miss Judy

The night had arrived. The audience was gathered. Time for the big reveal. Everyone knew what was coming. Tonight it would be official.

People expected fanfare, fist pumps, and high energy from the wannabe king. It was his castle; he was coming back.

He rambles in – more a wounded goose than a strutting swan. His head hangs, no fist pumps, no energy. He’s alone; he speaks.

The same tired montage of lies, unfounded theories, derogatory remarks of his enemies.  Finally, he proclaims MAGAGA*. A tired crowd cheers and walks away, mostly glad that it’s over. Time to move on.

*Make America Great and Glorious Again

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Talents by Devine Success

“Hello.”

“Good morning sir.”

“Is Muna there?”

Anita’s eyes popped. Why couldn’t Muna take permission before going to her cousin’s wedding? Now what should she say?

“Sir… she’s not feeling well, she went to get drugs from the pharmacy.”

“Oh… it’s alright.”

Barely 5 minutes after the call their boss arrived. Anita’s heart thumped. “Muna isn’t back from the pharmacist yet?”

“No sir she didn’t come at all, she went to her cousin’s wedding,” answered innocent loquacious Priscilla, another colleague, before Anita could reply.

“Really? Anita?”

Another lie brewed instantly. ”Sir she changed her mind, she’s not feeling well.”

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Lies, Damned Lies and Surprises by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Reptilarium (owner: Jack Natter, something of a toad) comprising: Lounge, a swarthy narcoleptic lizard; Sid, a hissing salamander; and Griselda, a Peruvian gecko with attachment issues was struggling. Sid’s susurrating serenades slumped and when the preternaturally adhesive Griselda stuck herself to some passing Jedi missionaries, things looked bleak. Trying to prove Lounge was a natural levitator by feeding him an exclusive diet of mosquitos was a desperate bid to stave off bankruptcy. His film of Lounge, describing a high-pitched, helium-induced parabola fooled no-one and his humiliation complete when the paper ran with: Fake Newts Shame Little Tittweaking.

🥕🥕🥕

The Betrayal by Joanne Fisher

The Grond had invaded to subjugate our lands and people. We knew we couldn’t defeat them alone, but if we allied with the Olomik people, then together we would be strong enough to send the Grond back across the wide sea.

I traveled through the narrow ravine to meet the Olomik leader. We toasted our alliance with fermented yaks milk and agreed to meet on the field of battle. But when that day came, we faced the Grond alone. Though we Talchek would be defeated this day, we would carry the Olomik and their lie in our hearts forever.

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Family Tree-Sons by Bill Engleson

“Tis so true.”
“T’aint.”
“Tis.”
“No, tain’t”
“We’re goin’ ‘round in circles.”
“If we are, you’re the dizzy one.”
“All I said…”
“I know what you said…”
“All I said was I look like Ma. You, mebbe not so much…”
“She ain’t here to ask, is she? And mebbe I don’t care ‘cause I take after Pa.”
“That’s a crock. Neither of us takes after Pa. I mean, he was gone before I even popped.”
“True enough. And I was in diapers. Got that one picture though.”
“There’s that. Pa sure looked like that actor fella, Gary Cooper.”
“Yup.”

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White Lies (Chapter 1) by Ann Edall-Robson

“I can’t live with these lies anymore.”

The words made him look up from the book he was reading. His heart lurched seeing the anguish on her face, tears pooling in her eyes. Did he dare ask, or let her say her piece and see where the conversation went? He thought better of reaching out for her when she walked past to sit in her favourite chair. Legs curled underneath her, shoulders shaking with sobs.

“Should we talk about this?” He ventured, not knowing what else to say.

She nodded. “There has to be a way to resolve this.”

🥕🥕🥕

White Lies (Chapter 2) by Ann Edall-Robson

Sniffing, she searched for the hankie she always kept in her pocket. Looking at him, she started to laugh.

“You think this is about us?”

“I’m not sure. I didn’t think we had any lies between us.”

“We don’t!” She hiccuped.

Relief settled across his face and he reached across the end table to take her hand in his. She clung to his fingers, letting the words fly out of her mouth unchecked. They sounded silly when she spoke then.

“Every product in our laundry room is a lie! I am so tired of white lies. No pun intended.”

🥕🥕🥕

White Lies (Chapter 3) by Ann Edall-Robson

They were both laughing. “Nothing’s white. Everything’s dingy. I want our linen and clothes to look and smell like my Gran’s used to.”

He stood, pulling her up into his arms.

“I think we can do that,” he said quietly.

“How? I’ve tried all of the products.”

Remembering the stories his own Gran and Mother swore were true, a plan started to formulate in his mind. It would take some doing, but where there is a will, there is a way. He couldn’t wait to get started on the upscale, outdoor laundry space showcasing none other than a clothesline.

🥕🥕🥕

Younger Cousin by D. Avery

The first lie was mine. ‘It’ll be fun.’

We lied about her age to get in. The crowd swallowed us up and we were separated. I was worried sick about her and when I finally found her, I was sick. She said she was okay, said she’d be alright.

She started living life as if it didn’t matter. Said she was in control. Said I could mind my own business, she was a good mom. When she started using, she said she could handle it.

‘Stop,’ I begged her.

“Why?’

‘Because I love you.’

‘You’re a liar,’ she said.

🥕🥕🥕

Geneva Steele by Chel Owens

Geneva Steele was often asked about her name. After all, she shared it with the local mill (closed). The mill gained its moniker from the nearby resort (gone), which its founder named after his daughter (dead).

But Geneva couldn’t answer with any of that.

“I’m Swiss,” she said.

Or, “I’m from New York.”

Locations and events became more elaborate, until Geneva’s great-granddaughter dragged Geneva to school for show-and-tell. Looking at all those faces, the truth exploded:

“I was conceived at the steel mill, out near the railroad tracks.”

Truth might be satisfied, but Geneva isn’t allowed at school again.

🥕🥕🥕

Jobs by Hugh W. Roberts

“How was work today?” asked my wife.

“Good,” I replied as I stuffed notes into a pair of old boxer pants at the bottom of my sock drawer. She’ll never look there.

“Are the people nice?”

“Yes.”

“Will I meet them someday? Perhaps we’ll bump into them when out?”

“Maybe.”

But they’ll never know who she is. And she can never know who they are.

I told her my new job paid well and would take me worldwide. It does both.

I may have lied about what I do, but becoming a male escort is my best job ever.

🥕🥕🥕

A Skeleton in the Cupboard by Norah Colvin

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.
“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.
“Mum lied,” said Lucy.
“About what?”
“The skeleton.”
“What skeleton?”
“The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”
“You won’t find it.”
“Why not?”
“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”
“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”
“Not those sorts of skeletons.”
“Then what?”
“Secrets.”
“Secrets?”
“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”
“So, Mum did lie.”
Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

🥕🥕🥕

Deep in The Wood by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Natalie was born in Enoch Bunch’s trailer bed, a-way pas’ midnight, under a rare third moon in chill October. Or maybe she was left there.

He was early-widowed, growing older, she a promise finally kept. No sign of a mother, so he raised her hisself, taught her all he knew of the woods and river. The rest she figgered out for herself.

Under Natalie’s wisewoman care, he lived longer’n anyone woulda guessed. She buried him next to his wife, then took the truck, built a home deep, and deeper in the woods.

Some swear that house sprouted chicken legs.

🥕🥕🥕

Chickens or Eggs by Miss Judy

My parents are fairly intelligent people. They grew up on farms. Raised cows, pigs, chickens. They would solve a dilemma plaguing my young mind.

I asked Mom, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Well son, of course it was the chicken. Without the chicken there would be no egg.”

This makes sense, but I must ask Dad. “Dad, which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Son, it was the egg. Without the egg there would be no chicken.

”DRAT! Why are they messing with my mind? One of them must be fibbing. I am so confused.

🥕🥕🥕

Lyin Like a Rug by D. Avery

“Kid! Git up outta thet bunk. Ya ain’t made a move on the latest challenge.”

“Au contraire, Pal. This is ma move. I’m havin a lie in.”

“Ain’t thet kinda lyin. Shorty’s talkin bout fibs.”

“Cain’t tell a lie. Won’t. Carrot Ranch ain’t the place fer it.”

“How kin a virtual gatherin place fer fiction not be a place fer tales bout a lie?”

“This is a place where fiction tells truths. Where fictional characters are as real as kin be imagined. Truth be told Pal, gonna set this one out by lyin here.”

“Wolf! Curly’s gittin drug off!”

🥕🥕🥕

Tip Top Truths by D. Avery

“Tip. Hey.”

“Yer lookin glum, Kid. Pal weren’t jist cryin wolf bout Curly?”  

“Huh? Oh, Curly’s fine. Thing is I’m worried bout her anyways. Feel like Curly’s a pathological liar. First that confusion whether she were a dog or a hog. Then she had that time amongst the beavers. An now this. See, she was the wolf.”

“A pig in wolf’s clothing?”

“Yep.”

“Kid, we Lemmon brothers sometimes are in drag.”

“So?”

“So that ain’t lyin bout ourselves or to ourselves.”

“Reckon.”

“Curly’s true ta herself.”

“S’pose.”

“Kid? Kinda lied ta ya bout one thing.”

“Yeah Tip?”

“I’m Top.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

November 21: Story Challenge in 99-words

The petunias and I were not ready for the return of Lake Superior’s great snow machine. The flowers had remained colorful longer than any other autumn I’ve experienced on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Then…suddenly…white stuff. Ah, that’s the way of it. Winter has arrived.

Soon, so does my Svalbard daughter. I’m beside myself with excitement. I cleaned all day, realizing I don’t do much house cleaning. Oh, my. Lots of grit made its way down the drain or out the door. I cleaned the refrigerator, oven, and all my rocks. Well, most of my rocks. I have a lot of rocks.

It’s been five years since all three of my grown kids — all in their thirties — have been home. Home has been a moving target. I decided home is where we gather. Maybe home is truly nothing more than a shared campfire, a gathering of warmth and stories. And turkey.

The turkeys from Minnesota have arrived in Michigan. I know the turkey farmers and their farm used to be a frequent stop back when I wrote about local food, farmers, and artisans. It’s the turkey I always prepared when the kids were teens and young adults and home was defined by house and place. We can still share a beautiful meal. And beautiful it will be.

My eldest is now buried in snow on her farm. She sends us this fun romp with her two farm dogs, Oberon and Uther. You can clearly see we are all adjusting to the snow and the annoying way it clings to furry rumps.

I’ll keep it short and sweet. The midnight flight is nearing and I’m going to go to the farm and wait with Allison. I’m wishing everyone a beautiful week whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Know that I’m grateful for each and every one of you at Carrot Ranch. Aanii!

November 21, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by November 26, 2022. Please use the form if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines. Stories must be 99-words.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Squeaky Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Squeaky Wheels by Sadje

The squeaky wheel alerted the neighborhood that Frank was there with his wares.

He would load anything he thought he could sell on his pull-cart and do a round of the area twice a day. He had rescued stuff from the dumpsters, things that were found discarded along the road, old toys, and sometimes a chair too.

He would just stand on the walkway, hoping to sell some things, and make enough money to buy food for himself. I’d usually go outside to check his wares.

Today, I found a stuffed Teddy and he got money for his dinner.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Squeals of Joy for Falling Stars and Fairies by JulesPaige

Her head came up to their hips
They were leaving somewhere – it was evening
The adults babbled, words were way above her head

They missed the comet
But she remembered that falling stars
Needed wishes to keep them alive

OK maybe that was clapping for Tinker Bell
During that stage play with Mary Martin…
As Peter Pan…

There is a very dark, perhaps ancient side
To the boy who left the nursery
And headed into the garden…

But she didn’t know that until much later
And now she doesn’t remember the ‘wish’
But she remembers the squeakless comet…

🥕🥕🥕

Something Lost by Joanne Fisher

Amy was quickly sorting through a box of papers when she thought she heard something squeak. She pressed down, and sure enough, there was definitely something squeaky in there. She dug through the layers and pulled out the hand puppet that belonged to her daughter Stacey.

Stacey went everywhere with the hand puppet seemingly attached to her hand, squeaking all the time. Amy took it to her daughter’s room. At the doorway, she breathed deeply before opening the door. Her daughter’s room was pristine, with everything neatly arranged on shelves and surfaces. Amy hadn’t been in here since the funeral.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Silences by D. Avery

The red convertible sat quiet in the driveway, the top still up.

On the return trip home, he’d told stories from their shared past; sometimes ones she’d forgotten, some appended with an insight she hadn’t considered before. Talking wore him out so his narratives would be followed by long silences, though silence had its own percussions; his raspy inhalations punctuated by the squeaky pulse of the portable oxygen tank.

She hadn’t told any stories, didn’t talk over his whistling breathing, even though the sound grated on her.

Now she was surprised at how haunted she felt by its absence.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rule of New Food by Gary A. Wilson

“Eww – mom, what is -?”

“Austin; you’re nine now. Remember the rule about meals while visiting Aunt Clara?”

Sigh – “No complaints before an honest taste.”

“It’s all familiar stuff served differently. What do you see?”

“Um, mash potatoes, egg, onions, something leafy. “

“That’s cabbage.”

“I see carrot chunks and um, bacon pieces, some kind of oil.”

“Butter; it was fried in butter. Does any of that sound bad?”

“Do I like cabbage?”

“Since you were five, yes.”

“Aunt Clara, what’s it called?”

“Bubble and Squeak dear boy.”

“Eww. Food shouldn’t squeak.”

“Just taste it will you please.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Squeaky Husband by Hugh W. Roberts

“Can you hear that squeaking sound?” Gemma asked her husband.

Peeking over his newspaper at his wife, Malcolm shook his head.

“You must be able to hear it! It’s coming from your direction.”

“I don’t hear anything, darling,” came the reply.

It wasn’t until Malcolm’s death that the squeaking stopped. But as his body began its journey into the ground, Gemma was convinced the squeaking was back.

“Where’s that squeaking noise coming from?” she asked the other mourners.

But nobody could help Gemma because only she could hear the squeaking because only Gemma knew where she was burying Malcolm.

🥕🥕🥕

Alarm System by Ann Edall-Robson

Leaving the barn, she stopped in its shadow, listening to the sounds of the coming night, but tonight there was more. Moving toward the house, her steps muffled by the grass beside the gravel path, she hoped the loudness of her beating heart wouldn’t give her away. Across the yard, the gate she always kept closed at the front of the house, was hanging open. She had meant to oil the hinges until she realized the squeaking noise they made had become her alarm system. The moving silhouette rounding the corner of the house confirmed she was not alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Busted by Greg Glazebrook

Doris lay in the dark. Something had jolted her from slumber. Its source, elusive in that waking haze. The pungent smell of booze was strong enough to induce drunkenness. There again, the squeaky hinge she’d asked Artie to oil.

A bolt of electricity radiated outwards to the tip of each tiny hair standing on end. Carter was asleep down there! She prodded Artie but the oaf might as well be dead. She bounded downstairs grabbing the kitchen broom en route.

Pushing through the door she was greeted by Carter half outside, her ass up, legs dangling from the ceiling-level window.

🥕🥕🥕

The Windmill (haibun) by Colleen M. Chesebro

as autumn flows into winter,
the squeak of the old metal windmill
vibrates in the wind—

The fierce winds howl across the Montana prairie. The brown grasses undulate like waves on a tumultuous sea. There’s a bite in the air. I shiver.

Today, I’m captivated by the wide expanse of winter-blue sky. Clouds hem the gathering storm to the north, a sure sign of the snow to come.

The wailing squeak of the old metal windmill reminds me of the wailing of the banshee back home in Ireland. I swallow my homesickness and make my way to the mines.

🥕🥕🥕

The Master’s Voice by Anne Goodwin

Although I had all his novels as audiobooks, I preferred to feel his words on the page. Literally, as my fingertips danced across the dots. So when he came to talk at the library, Rover and I went along.

From my front-row seat, I heard the clink of his water glass. Heard him inhale, ready to read. But the squeaky voice so startled me, Rover growled. Flustered, I asked the person next to me if this was really Hilary Mantel. I hadn’t realised my favourite author was a woman. I assumed only a man could produce such powerful prose.

🥕🥕🥕

Squeaky Little Alien Tale by Simon

Abandoned Squeaky Alien toy found by a Hippie, he closes his eyes and it communicated to him.

Lonely nights at dark

Dogs bite me and bark

Fell in basket for a smile

Lost in 2 days for a while

I tried, but lost, no tears to cry

just feelings inside a toy

Thought Larry is my bestie

Last seen Larry on west Field

Before he lost control

and hit the bank of petrol

You should take me before I tell you what he did to lose the control.

Ahhh!!! I see, You has tales to say. I got company….

🥕🥕🥕

Voting Intentions by Geoff Le Pard

This year Little Tittweaking’s election to the Parish Council was mired in scandal. Local bylaws required the decision to be through the ancient ritual of pork barrel politicking, which involved the returning officer standing on an ale cask and calling ‘Pigs For’ or ‘Porks Against’. Supporters and detractors made appropriate porcine sounds, the volumes were measured and the winner anointed with the first pint. Harmony ended when Italian fashionista, Cosmo Politan brought his pigs to add decibels to his candidature. Protestors demanded the returning officer hold a re-squeak, a campaign dubbed in the local press as ‘Stop the Squeal’.

🥕🥕🥕

Housesitting by Kerry E.B. Black

Nothing terrifies like an unexpected sound on a creepy night. Alone on a couch, housesitting one autumn evening, a bowl of buttered popcorn resting upon a lap wrapped in a sherpa-soft blanket, a classic horror film flickering on a television so ancient it requires an antenna.

Ears prick. A squeak of an overhead floorboard in an otherwise abandoned house. A groan emitted by the long-disused hinge of a door leading to a decaying basement Poe would admire. The sigh of the wind sneaking into a home believed secure, one betraying its sole inhabitant by seemingly allowing admittance to specters.

🥕🥕🥕

Squeak! by Nancy Brady

With temperatures getting colder, creatures of all sorts look for a warm place to live during the winter, and that includes field mice. Last winter, one appeared in our home. It must have entered the cellar through the fieldstone foundation of our old house.

One evening I heard our cat Regulus racing around the kitchen, his claws scrabbling on the kitchen floor. Wondering what he was up to, I checked on him; I heard some small squeaks, but I couldn’t figure out the cause until Regulus turned towards me. Hanging out of his mouth was the mouse’s wiggling tail.

🥕🥕🥕

Emma’s Got the Beat by Sue Spitlnik

After the Veterans’ Day luncheon at the No Thanks, the Band of Brothers found their favorite places, behind their instruments. They played different genres of patriotic songs while the crowd sang along. Little Emma was dancing by herself until she noticed a register near the end of the bar. She soon figured out she could make it squeak by stepping on a specific corner. Just about the time Lexi was going to make her stop Michael grinned and pointed to the toddler then changed the words in the song. “Listen, my granddaughter is squeaking in time to the music.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Remembrance by Margaret G. Hanna

The bedsprings squeaked as John tossed and turned. Tomorrow he was flying his first sortie. Tomorrow he was flying into danger.

He had always wanted to fly, that was why he had chosen the Air Force rather than the Army like his brother. He had trained for this day, and now it was here. Was he ready for the responsibility? Of bringing his Wellington back? Of bringing his crew back? Of the carnage he would leave behind?

Other bedsprings squeaked. John wasn’t the only one fretting about tomorrow. But tonight . . .

He closed his eyes and dreamt of prairie skies.

🥕🥕🥕

Squeaky Squawk Talk by Bill Engleson

“Caught ya!” and she flips the switch as I pull back my cookie-grabbing mitt.

“You’re pathetic,” she adds. “You know that door squeaks, which,” she pauses, then hammers home, “you should try and fix sometime before the end of the world.”

I want to say, “curses, foiled again”, but it would go over her head.

She never was into cartoons.

So I plant a diversionary seed. “It was watching that Manson movie. I got to wondering what crazy Squeaky Fromme was up to these days. Couldn’t sleep. Got the munchies.”

She shakes her head.

She’s not gonna bite.

🥕🥕🥕

Hollowness Personified by Reena Saxena

Hollowness became tangible in her person.

She sought entry into every household she was acquainted with at some level, and emerged excited, squeaking secrets to every person she met on the street. She felt gratified by inclusion, and boasted about it as ‘closeness’.

She was greeted by a wry smile or snarling glance, when she mouthed so-called ‘nuggets of wisdom’ on topics she knew nothing about.

I imagine her dissolving into nothingness, in solitary confinement. She will not find fuel for sustenance, without borrowing or stealing from others’ lives.

Her existence is a miracle, her physical form an illusion.

🥕🥕🥕

Squeaky Pip by Duane L Herrmann

“I squeak, you squeak, we all squeak for Pip Squeak!” Sajili sang and danced around the room.

“I’m not squeaking!” Objected Pip in her high, shrill voice.

“Oh, but you are,” assured her father gravely. “We always know when you’re happy.”

“Your voice gets higher and higher,” her mother calmly added.

“Oh.” Pip said as her voice dropt.

“Come here,” her father reached out his big hairy arms to hug her.

Pip gratefully lunged into his welcome embrace, sniffling.

“It’s alright,” his deep voice rumbled around her.

Daddy’s arms felt SO good.

🥕🥕🥕

Bedtime Antics by Kayla Morrill

“Have you ever realized how annoying a squeaky door can be?”

“Well yeah, hasn’t everyone come to that conclusion?”

“What about a squeaky chair?”

“Yes, even more annoying.”

“What about a squeaky floorboard when trying to walk along the floor at night?”

“The worst.”

“Worse than a squeaky person?”

“People don’t squeak.”

“Eee ooh eee ooh eee ooh eee….”

“Alright stop,” I interjected, “I suppose the worst thing is your squeaky questions.”

“Questions are squeaky?”

I rolled my eyes, realizing she wasn’t going to stop. Little sisters never do.

“Goodnight, squeak tight,” I replied.

She giggled, eyes closing.

Success.

🥕🥕🥕

Squeaking Hello! by Tessa Dean

Rex, the hamster, ran on the wheel in his cage, happily squeaking away to whoever would listen to him. He was not the only thing squeaking as I needed to find some oil to try and oil the hamster wheel before it drove the whole family and me crazy.

After finding the oil, I gave Rex some treats so he would get off his exercise wheel, then I oiled it well, so it no longer squeaked. Rex finished his treats and then jumped back on the exercise wheel and began happily running and squeaking to anyone willing to listen.

🥕🥕🥕

Last Word (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, did ya hear that?”

“Hear whut?”

“A creakin soun.”

“A creak or a screech?”

“More of a cheep.”

“But not a squeal?”

“No, like I said it was more of a cheep.”

“Oh, or maybe a peep.”

“So ya heard it?”

“No, Kid, I didn’t hear nuthin.”

“Thought I did. A cheep, or mebbe a peep.”

“Probly jist where them branches rub on the Poet Tree.”

“Look, Pal, now there’s a glowin light out there.”

“Now yer squealin, Kid. But yep, I see it. Hear whut souns like chatterin squirrels too. Why, it’s—”

“Helga an Hess!”

“Huh.”

🥕🥕🥕

Last Word (Part II) by D. Avery

“Helga. Hess. Hullo. Welcome back ta Carrot Ranch.”

“Heehee. Thanks Pal. Hey, Kid.”

“What brings ya back this way?”

“Heehee. We’re here ta tend ta high-pitched whines.”

“Ya mean Kid?”

“Heehee. No, not Kid. We’re tinkers, here ta grease any wheels or movin metal bits that screech, scrape or squeal.”

“Heehee. We’ll put the spin back in yer spurs.”

“The gates will swing great. Heehee.”

“Heehee. No twinges in the hinges.”

“We’ll even put a shine on yer shovel, Kid.”

“Shift, thanks, Helga. Hess. Would ya ruther stay in the bunkhouse?”

“No thanks. We’re squeaking in anuther camping adventure.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

How Not To Allow A Blank Screen To Defeat You When The Words Go Missing

Some believe writer’s block is a myth, while others claim it has ruined their writing career. It can last a few days or many years. How do you deal with writer’s block?

Fortunately, I discovered writing challenges early in my blogging journey. I found them beneficial when staring at a blank screen and words failing to travel from my brain to my fingertips.

But there have been times when I have faced writer’s block when taking up a writing challenge. For whatever reason, the prompt does not motivate me to write. My creative cogs refused to budge, and even walking away from the screen and going on a walk failed to get them turning.

Has this ever happened to you?

Last week, I had one of those blank-screen moments while trying to write something for the weekly 99-word flash fiction challenge here at the Carrot Ranch.

After coming back from a long walk, I thought I’d be able to knock down the writer’s block wall, but it would not budge.

As the blank screen became a nightmare, I started panicking and thinking I would fail. Then I had one of those bright spark moments when I thought, write anything.

As the words began their journey to the screen, a story in my head began to form. I saw a woman sitting in a comfy chair, staring at her husband, who she thought was ignoring her again.

Why was he ignoring her? I asked myself. The words began to flow.

Then another question popped into my mind. ‘Why did the wife think her husband was ignoring her?

It wasn’t long before I had a story from two perspectives.

After writing both stories, I set them aside for 24 hours and allowed them to rest. The next day, I read both stories and began editing them.

I don’t know about you, but I never publish the first draft of anything or write and publish something on the same day. Didn’t I read somewhere from a well-known author that the first draft is always, umm, shall we say, something that attracts flies?

But although writer’s block seemed defeated, I now had another dilemma. Which of the two stories was I going to cut down to 99 words and publish?

I could have asked for feedback on which one, but I had a gut feeling about one of the stories and went with it.

Do you always go with your gut feeling when making a decision?

Given all the many pieces of flash fiction I’d written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge, I knew which of the two stories my readers would like the most. Another gut-feeling? Yes, but I saw a dark edge to one of the stories, something I always hope readers will pick up.

I cut the story to 99 words and weaved in the dark edge, trying to make it slightly more obvious.

You can read my piece of flash fiction, The Squeaky Husband, here.

A couple of days after staring at a blank screen with failure sitting at my side, I was having fun rewriting and editing a story born from writing a Christmas wish list.

Yes, that piece of flash came from writing my Christmas wish list. Any words help. It doesn’t matter what they are.

Writer’s block? What is writer’s block? Did it exist on that day, or was it something I’d made up because other writers believed in it?

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you conquer it?

Copyright © 2022 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.

About the Author

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues, including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping, and walking his dogs. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived in various parts of the United Kingdom, including London, where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is, “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

You can follow Hugh’s blog at Hugh’s Views And News and follow him on Twitter at @hughRoberts05.

November 14: Story Challenge in 99-words

Ninety-six years ago on November 14, 1928, Nellie Edith Emmons married Emmett Wilbur Colescott in Grand Junction, Colorado. Nellie’s sister, Gladys stood in as a witness. The minister, Franklin Fenner, apparently did not know the couple. You see, they lied to obtain a marriage certificate.

Edith and Emmett are my great-grandparents, the parents of my dad’s mom. Like all my family lines, they are colorful. My dad has shared stories with me that his Grandpa Emmett wrote down in his later years (he died in 1980). My own memories of him are fuzzy; nothing distinct.

Emmett began his story with the marriage of his parents. He writes, “Well as you can see by the enclosed Marriage Certificate, Mr. Edward “Scolescott” and Miss Belle Morse were united in marriage December 14, 1898. Witnessed by Dads Father and Eugene Rountree, one of the biggest drunks in Desoto, Kansas. The name Colescott probably misspelled by a drunk justice of the Peace.”

I did say, the Colescotts were a colorful lineage. The drunken marriage occurred between two teens a week before Christmas. I wonder how the holidays were that year? The Morse family was not like the Colescotts (a theme that often plays out in my family tree). Some families have a wild branch. Mine is the wild tree with the occasional upstanding branch hastily grafted to no avail. We are survivors of our own shit.

Emmet further explains, “Dad’s father was a little Wiry Irishman and an onyeyer [ornrey] little Devil never lived from what I can remember. Not mean in disposition but one who would fight a Buzz Saw at the drop of a hat over Politics, Religion or most anything else you might want to mention. He was a drinker and when he got on a tear you had better look out.”

He continues, “Dad’s mother from what I could ever gather was a Red Headed Scotchwoman and very pretty. I think she died in childbirth. Dad had a sister Maude who was a few years younger than he. Also he had a Brother John.” From records I’ve uncovered, it’s plausible that Emmet’s grandmother Mary Colescott died in childbirth. She was 29 years old and left behind four children, although my great-grandfather fails to mention Anna Colescott. She married a Rountree and was dead within three years, five years before Emmett was born. She slipped into oblivion, childless and unremembered.

It’s those graves that call to me the most when I explore cemeteries for stories. The graves of young women who nowadays would be of college student age often get left behind. Families move. Young husbands remarry. Later nieces and nephews grow up unaware of the young aunts no one mentions. Graves sink. No one places flowers or flags. What would my second great-grandaunt have studied had she’d been given the chance? Would she have voted had she lived longer? Was she redheaded and ornery, too?

Back to Emmett, the Colescott chronicler. He mentions the Morse family as “entirely different.” They, too, were Welsh. I wonder if Emmett knew his Grandpa Stark Morse fought in the Civil War as a Kansas Jayhawker? Even though the Morses were different and Caroline Winklman was raised in the faith of the Pennsylvania Dutch, I see a bit of the wild woman in his Grandma Morse. After all, someone of her faith married a Union Soldier at the start of the Civil War. What did her parents think?

Emmet recalls Grandma Morse (Caroline) hunkered down outside along the sunny side of their house in De Soto. According to 1915 Kansas census records, Caroline was staying with her daughter Belle and SIL Ed Colescott. Emmett was five. Why was Grandma Morse hunkered down outside? One explanation from her obituary is that she was an avid gardener, and the day before her death she was planning her next one. However, Emmet writes, “With her old brown shawl over her head and shoulders, she smoked her little clay pipe and made a hole in the dirt with a little stick to spit in. I used to love and set and watch her.” I think I would have, too.

Keep in mind, in 1915, Kansas was a blue sky state, meaning alcohol and tobacco were illegal. Grandma Morse may not have been all that different from the rapscallions of the Colescott clan. Perhaps young Emmet understood. My great-grandfather sums it up like this: “Well, as you can see this combination makes me Scotch, Irish, Welsh and Pennsylvania Dutch…Just Better say plain old American.”

He writes, “My earliest recollections are of the combination Restaurant, Soda Fountain and grocery store Ma and Dad ran in Desoto…Ma made homemade bread and pies and sold them and did most of the cooking. Don’t remember how much help she had but not much…Dad was a Booze fighting, woman chasing ringtailed humdinger and he loved to hunt and fish. Well our side of the Colescotts were simply not strictly law abiding citizens…Dad bootlegged Cigs from Missouri and also Whiskey.”

I grew up hearing stories from my Grandma Jean about whiskey in the sasparilla. The soda fountain in the restaurant and grocery store that her grandmother ran was a bootlegging front that eventually led to that side of the Colescotts having to leave Kansas. Emmett followed his father’s and grandfather’s ways in Colorado. All three men welcomed the Prohibition for the chance to make money bootlegging. According to family lore, but omitted from Emmett’s writing and as of yet unverified, something happened after the family moved west.

All Emmett has to say is, “I don’t know if we left Kansas by desire or request but I know we left when I was seven. Things get a little mixed up for me for a time.” He writes of hard times, of cattle freezing to death in Nevada, of a cousin trying to shoot his mother, of jackrabbits so thick, of being broke and eating tamales. Eventually, they went to Colorado and Emmett’s Dad found work, property, and continued to bootleg. According to family lore, his dad’s father was shot and killed in a raid. In 1926 Emmett married Edith.

My granduncle George was born in 1927 in Delta, Colorado followed by my grandaunt JoAn the following year. The Colescotts continued to live on the fringes of law-abiding citizenry and Emmet was arrested along with his dad for running alcohol distribution in 1928. It’s not clear if he did jail time but my Grandma Jean was not born until 1930. And, she was born in the Sierra Nevada mountains where I grew up because they were hiding out from the law. By 1935 they returned to Delta. I remember my grandma telling me about her earliest memory of living in Colorado. Her mother had the girls sing to their daddy outside the county jail. Grandma Jean sang and cried. A theme she’d repeat throughout her life. Yet, no matter where her monster of a husband drug her and the kids off to, some hidden Nevada ranch to escape consequences, she gardened and whistled like a songbird.

Emmet and Edith came to California permanently during WWII. They settled in an obscure area that remains remote today despite its proximity to Silicon Valley. Paicines. The old store where Grandma Jean took me to buy penny candy when she picked up her mail reminded her Dad of the store his family once had in De Soto, Kansas. Emmett stayed out of trouble thereafter. Edith must have been creative with a desire to perform. Small snippets of news exist to say she was in a play or won a poetry contest. I wonder what my great-grandma’s dreams were? She died at the age of 52 from the toxins she encountered as a fruit picker when the family fled to California for the first time.

So, the lie?

Emmett Colescott was not 21, nor was Edith 20. Nellie Edith Emmons was 22 years old and two months pregnant. Emmett was barely 16. I always knew that she was older than him, but I had no idea how young my great-grandfather was. When I think about how his life turned traumatic after leaving Kansas, I wonder what it was he sought in a relationship with Edith. Their early years of marriage must have been tumultuous with the bootlegging, raids, and children. California became a sort of peace, I think, though he lost his wife young.

November 14, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a lie. What is the lie? It can be subtle or blatant. Who tells the lie and why? Is it an unreliable narrator? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by November 19, 2022. Please use the form if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines. Stories must be 99-words.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Wheels Keep on Turning Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Coal Miner’s Son by Frank James

“Keep the wheels turning, boys. We have a deadline to make,” Reb, foreman yelled at coal miners pushing squeaky metal carts to collection. Wyatt, eighteen, struggled with the largest one.

Reb throttled his eyes at him, “Your job relies on speed.” Wyatt stumbled.

“I took a chance on you, so man-up,” Reb growled. Wyatt stood, grunting to collection.

Elliot his father stopped Wyatt, “Family depends on you.” A cart broke free barreling toward Reb, and Wyatt rammed his cart in its path. Coal dumped everywhere, and Reb smirked. “I guess you can handle the job. Clean up the mess.”

🥕🥕🥕

Up the Mississippi by Tessa Dean

Rodney anxiously waited his turn to go and see the paddleboat exhibit that was being shown at the river near him. At one point, those boats floated up the Mississippi and other places, and the paddles kept the wheels turning to propel the boats up or down the river.

Rodney struck up a conversation with one of the people around him, and he found out that there were still authentic paddleboats that you could actually ride on up and down the Mississippi River. The old boats carried people and animals up and down the Mississippi River over the years.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wheels Keep Turning by Colleen M. Chesebro

The wheels of America’s evolution keep turning
everybody’s talking, but no one’s listening
all they want is to win the argument

Opinions over facts—lies deny truths
social media—the louder we talk
no one hears what the other says

Political and financial earthquakes
shake our democratic foundation
to the breaking point…

We’re headed for a breakdown
the wheel of time spins us into the darkness
unstable powers abound, time slows,
distorted reality, our new actuality

Will we find our collective turning point?
What if the desired results aren’t met?
From within the darkness…
can we find the light?

🥕🥕🥕

Wheels of Time by Duane L Herrmann

There are anniversaries that mark centuries. Awareness of these, one gains understanding of one’s place is history. Members of the Bahá’í Faith recently marked two such anniversaries: the births of the Herald and Prophet-Founder of their faith. Though only two centuries ago (every religion has to begin some time), the changes in that time have been massive: steam power, flight through the air and space, the contracting of the globe to a single neighborhood, and today, with zoom, anyone is just a computer screen away. Two hundred years ago our everyday life would have been a fairy tale miracle.

🥕🥕🥕

A World in Motions by Geoff Le Pard

Lazarus Pomegranate, High Factotum of Little Tittweaking’s science faculty launched his novelty invention prize to much fanfare. There were many entries seeking to meet the one requirement: to create a perpetual motion machine. Some went old school with spinning wheels and clicking clogs, some were more hi-tech, amalgamating the latest developments in antigravity Pilates and bifurcating voting patterns. The winner, which the judges considered best embodied Little Tittweaking’s motto – Life is like a sewer: what comes out depends on what goes in – continued to produce an endless stream of little turds despite everyone’s best efforts to turn it off.

🥕🥕🥕

Halloween City Planner by Gary A. Wilson

So, my options range from fully-cancel to doing nothing. Both are too extreme, a straight jacket of safety or the risks of chaos running free.

We know that tales of razor blades and needles in candy were mostly urban myths, but are the current reports of fentanyl disguised as candy true or just more politically motivated media-hype?

Halloween is supposed to be playfully scary, not a modern Russian-roulette with candy.

A city-sanitized celebration would surely fail, but what if parents or schools hosted the parties with known safe-sourcing? Would and should other parents trust them?

Best call our attorney.

🥕🥕🥕

Hallowe’en Wheelies by Bill Engleson

Gaylord Hawksbury struggled out of his grave on Monday night. It was the first Hallowe’en after his expiration. He preferred expiration to death. Death always seemed so final. Expiration was like a carton of milk…the date of expiration was flexible.

Gaylord appreciated flexibility.

In the graveyard, Lucas Wallenby, a smartass thirteen-year-old was grave-hopping.

Gaylord hovered above his tombstone and watched Lucas, a local skateboarder, wheel through the cemetery, clipping stones, flying high, fast and loose.

“Damn kids, these days,” he bellowed, shocking Lucas in the middle of a backside heelflip, causing Lucas to crash onto Governor Edgar Baxter’s headstone.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wheel Keeps Turning by Sweeter Than Nothing

A life is taken, a life is given and so the cycle continues. 

Not many people would admit to liking being Death, but I do. I am not a gruesome monster here to feast on your flesh. I am here to help and guide confused and lost souls into a world far greater than this. 

The bad side of my job is gathering souls for recycling from the ether and bringing them to life. Sure the humans are ecstatic with their newborn but I know the suffering they will endure in life until I can guide them home again.

🥕🥕🥕

Wheel Keeps Going by ladyleemanila

Fiery and fascinating is what I’m hoping
Claiming a masterpiece I could sing for hours
As I create something, interpretation is open
With stretched imagination, scene is flowing
Seek and I shall find rainbow powers
As the wheel keeps going, my pride’s glowing
Make or break, ours, yours or theirs
My closet is full of creation at the moment
Waiting for critique from my peers
Staying at home this is one way of coping
Creating something or doing some repairs
With clay in my hands and frog’s croaking
And in the afternoon, enjoy the rain showers
Fiery and fascinating

🥕🥕🥕

Spinning Our Wheels by Nancy Brady

The prompt is given; the wheels start spinning around in my brain. Ruminating for a day or two, I consider ideas. I discard one idea in favor of another. Finally, I begin to write, fleshing out the details, and then editing.

Meanwhile, in our cellar, Rob plays with his British locomotives, their wheels running around and around the English countryside. Starting at the station, the engine and its cars filled with coal pass the forest filled with deer, the lake, frothy with waves, and the stone circle. The locomotive continues on returning to the station once again to refuel.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wheels of the Limo by Norah Colvin

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”
“Why’d ya stop?”
“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”
“But the wheels are turning.”
“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”
Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.
“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.
“All aboard!” she called.
The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

🥕🥕🥕

Rollin Fer Norah Colvin by A. Kid

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Ain’t no fear a-showin
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get that pen a-flowin
Raw lit!

Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get them ideas growin
Let them stories keep unfoldin
Raw lit!

Through work and play and life-stuff
keep on writin, hang tough
Buildin a story bit by bit.
then comes more revision
choosin words fer their precision
Cuz only 99 words will fit.

Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Cross ’em out, write ’em down
Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Raw lit

Keep writin’, writin’, writin’
Though yer muse is fightin
No need ta be frightened
Raw lit!

🥕🥕🥕

Spin-A-Thon by Reena Saxena

steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
race against fears, step up acceleration
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning

race against fears, step up acceleration
conquer the world as you know it
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running

conquer the world as you know it
steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation

I call it Time, you may choose another name
It’s the universe, everything is spinning

🥕🥕🥕

Non-stop Thinking by Sadje

The wheels turn in my mind as it thinks unceasingly. Take a pause or a break, I advise it sagaciously but often to no avail.
Only when I am deeply engrossed in another activity that my brain stops this incessant cycle of thinking. Sometimes I tire of this and try to divert it to more relaxing activities, but it likes to spin like rat on a treadmill all the time.
What’s wrong with thinking, you question!
Nothing at all, if it doesn’t go around in circles and keeps on creating questions and answers to problems that don’t yet exist!

🥕🥕🥕

Our Minds in Constant Motion by JulesPaige

Similar to cogs, the brain’s synapses are like wheels that have perpetual motion. Even in sleep there are visions recounted or bringing forth clues to resolve issues.

That ‘darned’ testing company was quick to process the test, quick to send the results to health care providers and quick to send an unjust bill. But not so quick to send results to the person who would have liked to know the outcome sooner than later. The CEO’s going to have their engine running after receiving the letter the customer churned out because of all the wheels not lining up right.

🥕🥕🥕

Stuck in the Revolving Door by Anne Goodwin

When the vestibule is clear of people, Matty enters the space and nudges the metal bar. The compartment advances, and she with it, the brush-rimmed verticals making a satisfying shush. When open-air supplants curved walls, she stops and stands before the outside world. Five steps would take her to the rose bed but, although her nose would welcome a sniff of perfume, her feet refuse to leave the building unaccompanied. Another day, perhaps. Back through the revolving doors to the foyer. Back to the ward. Back to the empty life of the long-stay patient. Back to what she knows.

🥕🥕🥕

Wheel of Freedom by Simon

The wheel keeps turning.

Yep, can see that, I wonder why?

Because that beggar turns on that wheel.

I see. How many wheels have you been turning on lately?

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Is that a question?

No.

I see.

I see a beggar turning a wheel.

Shut up! And get back to your Job every one!

The Jailer yelled at prisoners staring at the beggar somewhere far from the prison.

What’s happening? The jailer continues staring.

The beggar puts a fire on the wheel and the wheel came towards the Jail faster.

A big blast, and all the prisoners walked away free!

🥕🥕🥕

Onset of Night by Chel Owens

The sky wasn’t as bright this evening.
She puttered around, feigning finding things she had forgotten she was looking for.
Ah well; it would all come to rights or she’d do without.

The stars seemed dimmer tonight.
She settled in the rocking chair, having given up on pretense. Only the cat saw, anyway.
No matter; likely, she’d get to it or it would get to her.

The sky outside looked darker.
She turned her head, and rocked to the rhythm of purring.
She’d see; the sun would come out tomorrow.

Night fell on incomplete dreams.
Worlds shifted. She slept.

🥕🥕🥕

Pursuing the Dream by Margaret G. Hanna

I could read his mind.
Every afternoon he brought home the paper. Every evening, he read it. Always the same section – “Farms for Sale.”
He was looking for a farm. His farm. The farm he’d always dreamed of owning. The farm he’d left England to find. The farm he was saving every hard-earned penny for.
I could almost see the wheels spinning as he read. This one’s too expensive. This one’s too far away. This one’s got poor land.
He never stopped searching.
He found it, eventually. We moved there, raised our family there, lived out our lives there.

🥕🥕🥕

The Harvest by Joanne Fisher

“The wheels keep turning, the seasons keep circling” Cindy said to herself. Another year had passed and again she watched the combine harvester move through the south field harvesting their corn. It had been a bumper crop this year, something she felt grateful for. The income from the harvest is what kept them going for the rest of the year, despite Jess’s many side projects…

“We should think about buying a new tractor.” Jess suggested.

“What? You mean you’re finally sick of trying to fix our broken one?” Cindy asked.

“A girl has to admit defeat, eventually.” Jess replied.

🥕🥕🥕

And The Wheels Keep Turning by Miss Judy

Frank and Anne, best friends since grade school, graduated and got married, the wheels of life turning.
They were ecstatic when Anne gave birth to a baby girl. Then the baby died, the wheels of life turning.
Devastated and angry, they fought, Frank drank. Transcending into an abyss, a nervous breakdown sent Anne to “The Home,” Frank drank, the wheels of life turning.

Two years since Frank crawled back from the abyss, alcohol free. Anne, still at “The Home,” is a recluse, the wheels of life turning.

For better or worse, wherever our lives transcend, the wheels keep turning.

🥕🥕🥕

Steady on the Wheel by Kerry E.B. Black

The weather cools, we celebrate another successful harvest, and we experience the seasonal wheel turn. Some call this a metaphor, but we dwellers of Vex Hollow know. As the earth wheels through the cosmos, and we with it, hapless holders-on at the mercy of the whims of nature, we recognize our tentative and fleeting existence.

Call us superstitious, but we acknowledge old ways. There’s a spirit within each simple seed. We give thanks for the gifts, because we’re beholden to fickle fate and are but one poor harvest from starvation.

So give thanks for staying steady on the wheel.

🥕🥕🥕

Not All Wheels Turn Easily by Charli Mills

Once upon a time, I had to turn the flywheel on your truck, the old Red Rooster. A tooth was missing, and the flywheel wouldn’t turn the engine. I’d have to face blizzards, smack the hood hard to release the catch, brush the snow from the bumper, perch over the engine with a socket-wrench and manually turn the flywheel. I’d think, one day, life won’t be so damned hard. Twenty-five years later and you have a tooth missing in your brain wheel. Life’s never gonna be easy, I realize. Why didn’t I take time to enjoy the falling snow?

🥕🥕🥕

Resolution Revolution (Part I) by D. Avery

Some a ya might know from Kid’s comments back at the challenge thet Kid got all cranky bout storyin an decided ta take a break at Ernie’s. Thing is, sometimes a story jist hits ya, outta nowhere.
See, Ernie was up the hill workin on a sustainable energy machine made from empty casks from his previous ennerprises. Was Curly, Kid’s pet hoglet, thet kep it turnin. All it took was a carrot on a stick an gears an axels an sech. When Curly heard Kid down below, she rocked that cask off the rails and rolled write over Kid.

🥕🥕🥕

Resolution Revolution (Part II) by D. Avery

Kid was splayed out, arms an legs like spokes. Curly was squealin, Ernie was stutterin an sputterin, wonderin an prayin Kid would be all right. Kid was dead quiet didn’t utter a word fer the longest time.
Later Kid would recall it felt like spinnin, spiralin down inta a dark cave, would recall havin an epiphany a sorts. Yep, folks, the story thet hit Kid was the rebirth type. Kid got up newly resolved ta takin the wheel when it come ta story prompts, ta takin charge an steerin the storyin afore gittin flattened by a unplanned plotless tale.

🥕🥕🥕

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

November 7: Story Challenge in 99-words

Farms can be squeaky places. Fence posts squeak over time. Dust in the truck brakes or unoiled wheelbarrows creak. Wind rouses anything loose or unhinged. Various critters and humans encountering the unexpected can emit all kinds of high-pitched responses. Even fresh cheese curds made can squeak with each bite.

The mystery of daylight savings time has descended upon the Keweenaw and it’s now officially the dark of the year in this place. Driving to my daughter’s farm, I can see through the woods after all the leaves have dropped. Naked trees wait for their winter coats of snow, reminding me to get my wool coat to the cleaners.

At the farm, apple trees denuded of leaves still cling to fruit. Some globes are yellow, others red. A future farm project is cider but for now, the farmers have enough to do with goats and pigs. One herd has expanded while the other munches dropped apples during their last week before they go to the local butcher. The farm sold all their pork shares in a single day and gained six new goats over two weeks.

I’m here for goats, not bacon. I want to watch the babies and see the wonder of Pegus Sue’s triplets.

Nubian goats don’t squeak. They scream and bleat. The mamas vocalize, calling for their babies. Beast, the only remaining male goat from last year’s herd is the companion to the billy, Big Chip. His mama is Belle, a small half-Nubian and half-dwarf goat who is a bit off. She was a freebie when my daughter and her husband started their herd last year, and Beast was born at Ghost House Farm. She also gave birth this week to a buckling and when she calls for him, Beast responds outside. What, Mom? I’m right here, Mom! Mom? A new brother is confusing Beast.

Molly had two bucklings a week and a half ago, and Peggy gave birth two days ago to triplets — two bucklings and a doeling. The oldest two rascals thought Auntie Peggy sprawled in the hay to play with them. My daughter found Peggy in labor with Molly’s buckings jumping on and off the prone goat. Peggy accepted the play in stride, but when Belle pushed Molly out of the barn, chaos followed. While Allison and Drew helped Peggy, Belle attempted to kill her nephews.

It must have been a hot mess at the time. Molly bellering outside the barn, run off by Belle. Belle silently head-butting and stomping at Molly’s twins in a corner. The twins crying, terrified. Belle’s new baby bleating and Beast calling from the divide across the barn where he and Big Chip live temporarily.

My daughter told me how she stayed with Peggy who was struggling with her second birth because the amniotic sac hadn’t broken. She said Drew built a fast makeshift divide while he also attempted to keep Belle from killing Molly’s twins. When Allison couldn’t get the second-born goat to breathe, she said she hollered for Drew but he had fenced himself off from her and Peggy. All’s well that turns out well. The second goat (named Carrot, by the way) found his breath.

A calm followed the chaos. Goats were safe and less vocal. Everyone had access to the hay chute. When it seemed the craziness had ended, Peggy dropped a third baby. Triplets. No wonder she had been in such discomfort the past three weeks. She’s a good mama, though and she lets all three nurse. The doeling is Vidalia, and the third sibling is Cabbage. The bucklings are spotted like fawns but will keep their markings. The doeling is an exact copy of Peggy.

I did not get to experience the high drama of Peggy’s labor because I’ve been submerged in Film Fest as if it were an artesian well ready to fill mine. Film was the first tool I learned from my mentor and advisor when I was in an undergrad writing program. From my prof, I learned how to study story structure and scene transitions, as well as plot and characterization. I’ve used film to teach my English comp students, too.

41 North Film Fest arrives with the dark of the year. It is my light. The best movies are the ones that inspire me. The worst ones are the films that depress me and leave viewers without a resolution or hope. But nothing viewed goes wasted. Discussions expand my perspective. Listening to filmmakers describe their vision or reason for their films, enlightens me. Hearing panels of researchers respond to documentaries gives me a deeper understanding. While the farm turned, I snort-laughed, cried, and sparked an internal eternal fire of creativity we all share.

If you want to view a sample of films I watched over four days, I created a playlist of trailers for my students. I used these trailers to teach analysis.

My favorite film and why? “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Brilliant movie. Brilliant writing. Brilliant mastery of everything everywhere having to do with storytelling. You know how in the persona’s journey the first scene is to show the ordinary world? Well, this movie begins there but creates a brilliant hub. In part, the genre helps — it is sci-fi meets contemporary as the ordinary world swings in and out of the multi-verse. It’s the combination of how to tell a story that makes this film relevant and absurd all at once.

One of my favorite scenes follows a trippy fight between mother and daughter. As they battle, the two characters slip in and out of their many selves in different universes. Written, the scene is short sharp staccato sentences. On the screen, it’s a flashing disco ball of action. Then, suddenly the shot spans wide over a desert scene. The action stops. And this scene unfolds:

Leave it to me to think the best scene ever written this year involves the existential battle between two rocks. I snort-laughed out loud. Twice. And squealed. Rocks.

November 7, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by November 12, 2022. Please use the form if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines. Stories must be 99-words.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino November 2022

Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon where we feature interactive characters, real-life authors & poets, the occasional Carrot Ranch announcement, and a Cowsino story game every first Friday of the month. You can learn about the craft of creative writing, introduce your own characters to the Kid & Pal crew, discuss the writer’s journey, and be part of making literary art accessible to anyone.

“Hey Pal. Yeehaw! Another Cowsino Night at the ol Saddle Up Saloon!”

“Glad ya could make it Kid. Whut took ya so long?”

“Had ta git ma Cowsino git-up on. Got ma green visor, ma arm gaiters.”

“It’s quite a git-up Kid, but ya do realize we ain’t dealin cards, right? An, despite the most recent prompt, there ain’t no roulette wheel. Not sure ya need thet fer the slot machine. Speakin a which, let’s git on back there an see what the one-armed bandit has fer us this time.”

“You ain’t done that yet?”

“I ain’t the one whut pulls the lever. Shorty does thet.”

“Oh. All this time I figgered you done it Pal. Yer usually here ahead a me an I jist assumed.”

“Nope. Shorty.”

“So Pal, what zactly do we do?”

“Thet’s a tough one Kid. The rules a play is already posted… Folks jist come by an play and socialize… hmm. Reckon we don’t do much Kid.”

“Well, leastways one of us looks good not doin much a anythin.”

“Hmmf. Let’s go Kid, it’s time.”

“Write on Pal!”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more than one story).
  5. Say howdy to those playing with you! Be friendly and have fun!

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and built the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

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