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April 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

Sloppy snow pools like white slush and I realize this so-called return to winter barks but doesn’t bite. It can’t hide the push of life from the exposed patches of earth. In fact, the heavy moisture feeds the burgeoning life. Yellow-green shoots of new grass blades poke up like stubble from the grit the city snowplows left behind on curbside lawns. Most yards still house sagging snow drifts, pocked and dirty. At least the spring snow adds a dash of freshness.

This week, I have two new friends — one a neighbor and the other a long-lost cousin.

I’ll call my neighbor Cranky as long as you realize that’s not her disposition. Cranky is delightful. She’s an antique Singer Sewing Machine shop owner and seamstress who specializes in the same era for which I write historical fiction. How is that for neighborhood serendipity? We met right before winter when a stray cat turned up at her house. She stopped by to see if the cat belonged to us. Then, last week she stopped by to see if I’d go walking with her.

It’s thrilling to get asked to walk with a neighbor. Except for the walking part! Since winter closed off the rock beaches to me, I’ve not walked much or far. My glutes and calves are feeling the burn from the hilly roads we live on, but it feels good to get outside and observe spring. We spotted two red robins on our walk last night and located the neighborhood murder of crows. We even saw two nuthatches and heard a few unidentified birds.

Along one house where the southern exposure to sun melted the snow, we marveled over the spears of daffodils. We plan to walk three days a week and even talked about field trips. Cranky is a real birder, meaning she has expertise in identifying birds whereas I have lots of curiosity. As you can imagine, we have much to discuss about 1860 as we walk.

My second friend found me through Ancestry. We connected when he sent a message regarding errors in my tree. It’s a working tree, thus I appreciate any corrections from others. Then he asked about a lost cousin who had red hair and disappeared when she was seven. I realized he was asking about me. It’s stunning that we have found each other all these decades later. I feel more like I’ve found a long-lost brother. Already, he knows me too well which has made me laugh. He’s got a great sense of humor and a big heart. He’s creative and witty and I’m so pleased to get to know him again.

With ongoing VA appointments, I’m feeling batty this week. How we can be back to square one with the Hub’s knee is mind-boggling, but here we are asking for yet another orthopedic referral. His primary care doctor is lighting fires, but the system is practiced at snuffing them out. While we don’t have complete answers to the memory tests, we did conclude the Hub has an extraordinary memory. It’s his focus and attention that is suffering. With the onset, we are not ruling out traumatic brain injury. At least we have some validation that there is indeed something screwy with his brain.

Considering the ignorance of the military 30 years back, the way Rangers train is similar to American football players. Tough blows made the young man. We are learning more about TBI as these men age.  The Hub’s unit never had medical physicals after combat. Instead, they deployed to another hot spot. Today, or at least beginning with the Iraq War, soldiers are examined, and they deploy with psychiatric units. Let me tell you, that makes a difference. Hopefully, the Hub will get what he needs for a better quality of life.

With all these scattered thoughts beneath sloppy white stuff, I have one more to add — white-nose syndrome. This deadly disease impacts bats and often they become unseasonably active and die in winter instead of hibernating. In Iron Mountain, where we frequently travel to go to the VA hospital, scientists study the bats at Bat Mine, which is considered one of the most significant hibernating and breeding concentrations in the world. They begin to emerge in late April.

Last fall, 47 North Belly Dance Troupe, dedicated a dance to the bats. Before the dance began, they played this creative video as a public service announcement. It includes several of the dancers, and my SIL lends his voice to the narration. The second video shows part of the bat dance.

As we move through life, we become aware of those around us — neighbors, environment, family. Awareness opens us up to curiosity and possibility. The more we learn, the more we grow. We are all part of the web of life, a fitting idea as we connect through the playful activity of literary art in constrained form. Each week, I appreciate how diverse the individual stories are, and how they express a deeper meaning in a collection.

Yes, we are going to get batty this week.

April 12, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by April 17, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

Lullaby of Bats (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Logs of cottonwood crackled and threw flames toward the night-sky. Most of the travelers had left the bonfire to bed down beneath their wagons. The baby Sarah heard crying earlier had stopped. Night insects chirped, and somewhere near the wagons a horse stomped. Night sounds of camp. Sarah relaxed on a log stool while Cobb played a slow fiddle tune. Back and forth he rubbed the bow. Bats darted in and out of the visible light, bobbing to the gentle lullaby with wings spread. Sarah sighed, looked toward the stars and watched the last of the evening’s dancers fly.

Sun Sillies

INTRO

Have you ever thought about how silly our planet is? When it’s spring in one hemisphere, it’s fall in another. And yet, we can share stories of sun sillies across the world. We all experience the elation of sunshine and how we can respond.

Some writers found serious topics, such as melanoma. Some simply discovered seriously silly stories or crafted sheer wordplay.

The following are based on the April 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a silly sun story.

PART I (5-minute read)

Sun of a Gun by Bill Engleson

“Sun.”

“Beach.”

“Blanket.”

“Bingo.”

“Smoke.”

“Cigarette.”

“Bogart.”

“Bacall.”

“Bogart.”

“NO.”

“OH! Robards.”

“Shakespeare.”

“Huh?”

“Bard?”

“Oh! Jason.”

“Friday.”

“Huh?”

“The Thirteenth.”

“Huh?”

“Voorhees. The Killer.”

“Spoiler Alert!”

“You’ve never seen it?”

“Saturday.”

“Sunday.”

“Monday.”

“Tuesday.”

“Grace.”

“Slick.”

“Oil.”

“Water.”

“Beach.”

“Ball.”

“Fornicate.”

“Sex.”

“Male.”

“Postal.”
“Duh! M.A.L.E.”

“Mail.”

“Postal.”

“Going.”

“Crazy.”

“Nuts.”

“Squirrels.”

“Stew.”

“Wart.”

“Frog.”

“Hollow.”

“Empty.”

“Pool.”

“Swimming.”

“Sharks.”

“Jaws.”

“Dentist.”

“Teeth.”

“Sharp.”

“Pencil.”

“Lead.”

“Follow.”

“Gimme a break. LED.”

“FOLLOW!”

“Fine. FOLLOW. Fanatic.”

“Believer.”

“True.”

“False.”

“Teeth.”

“Choppers.”

“Bikers.”

“Gangs.”

“Mafia.”

“Italian.”

“Pasta.”

“Fettucine.”

“Parmesan.”

“Cheese.”

“Whiz.”

“Urinate.”

“Water.”

“Thirsty.”

“Desert.”

“Sand.”

“Beach.”

“Sun.”

“Swim.”

“YES…”

🥕🥕🥕

Sponge Cake Petit Fours by Kerry E.B. Black

Cali hummed as she spread a thick layer of buttercream icing over the pink sponge, creating perfect petit fours. She dotted each with stripes of dark chocolate and the first initial of each of her four children’s names. Proud of the accomplishment, she set the completed deserts on a paper doily. She washed the bowl and spatula, put away scissors and discarded tell-tale plastic wrappers.

When each kid came home from school, starting with the eldest, they eagerly grabbed their treats. When they bit into them, though, the cake rejected their bites. “Hey, these aren’t sponge cake! They’re sponges!”

🥕🥕🥕

Family Portrait by Heather Gonzalez

The Parkers were already posed and ready to go. As the photographer was about to take the shot, the sun hid behind a cloud.The Parkers tried hard to hold their perfect smiles as they waited.

The longer they waited, the more their smiles faded. Little Bobby started poking Suzie. Grandpa began to yawn and scratch himself. Grandma even began to fall asleep. Mr. Parker kept his smile as if he noticed nothing. Mrs. Parker visibly showed her disappointment.

After seeing the photos, Mrs. Parker chose a photo of a dog in a Santa’s hat for their Christmas card.

🥕🥕🥕

Missing Winter by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Outside my window is a dour study in black and gray and soggy white. No wind, no blue sky, even the evergreens are evergray. Twenty degrees below what we’re supposed to have in April, looking at another tiresome visit from the Abominable Snowman next weekend. So many reasons to whinge.

Yet months ago…

Deep snow, lovingly scratching the long bellies of my skis.

Thighs burning from herring-bone stomps uphill.

Butt-ache from sitzmarks and sliding sideways.

Boots clomping down grocery aisles, grabbing salad and oranges,

Feeling strong as Skadi.

Driving with windows wide open.

Mouth howling wide, joyful Classic Rock.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunny Spring Weather? by Patrick M. O’Connor

Yay! It’s Spring!

I’ve been waiting for the trees to start budding, flowers to bloom, and all the sensory feelings of spring.

I wake up and get dressed. Shorts, Flip-Flops and a T-shirt. It’s going to be a great day.

Moving to the kitchen, I eat a hasty breakfast.

A game of soccer to kick off the day. Kick off the day. Ha! I crack myself up.

Grabbing the keys, I open the door. Brr! A frigid cold chills me right to the bone.

I check my phone. 30 degrees. Ugh!

So much for spring in Upstate New York.

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Sillies by Deborah Lee

Torrey steps out the front door and into full spring. Azure sky tops the budding trees, home to birds gone mad with singing, still-ragged yard blooming. Happy to be out of bulky sweaters and boots, Torrey knows she is a vision in cream slacks and shell, draped cardigan in petal pink, neutral pumps, her favorite pink-and-gold-chain envelope bag barely still fashionable. Sunshine. Spring, finally!

Thirty minutes later she emerges from the parking garage on Pike Street into a downpour. Of course, she left her umbrella at home. Of course, she’s wearing cashmere and suede.

Spring? April Fool’s, silly girl.

🥕🥕🥕

Unconvinced by D. Avery

We don’t believe you, they cried. That is a preposterous story!

It’s true, you insist. It has an incredible mass, which keeps our spinning planet orbiting around it. As our planet rotates, you explain, it appears to ‘rise,’ bringing light and warmth- day.
Prove it, they demand.

Again you pull out the globe, the flashlight, begin to demonstrate. That’s not proof they groan, and disperse to the gym, the greenhouses, to the light therapy reading rooms.

You sigh. How silly, you muse, that there are still windows. Outside the gray is sprinkled with snow. You struggle to remember otherwise.

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Silly Preschoolers! by Ritu Bhathal

Billy hung precariously from the climbing frame.

Jane was running round and round the playground like a crazed lunatic.

Another group was taking great pleasure in pulling the flowers off the line of shrubs in the planter.

And there was more…

Mrs Jackson sighed.

She’d heard of the full moon doing something to the children’s behavior in school. Not just heard, but experienced many times over the years.

But after a long winter and delayed spring, this was the first time she had seen the effect of the long awaited sun on her charges – truly sun silly, they were!

🥕🥕🥕

The Exam by Luccia Gray

“Come outside and watch our dance!” Beth called waving her arms in the air.

Sister Mary looked out of her open, classroom window, squinting at the blaring midday sun. “Play in the shade, the sun will make you frisky.”

“We’ve been rehearsing a dance!” They shouted in unison, twisting and turning rhythmically.

“You’d better study for this afternoon’s biology exam.”

“Please, sister, just five minutes!”

She sighed. “Very well, but then you’ll sit in the shade and revise.” They nodded.

As their teacher walked out, Susan crept inside, opened her drawer, snapped a photo of the exam and grinned.

🥕🥕🥕

Running in the Sunshine, Dancing in Shadows y Norah Colvin

Dad was working and didn’t look up.

“Can we play outside?” the children asked.

“It’s very hot,” said Dad. “Wait until it cools down.”

“We’ll stay in the shade.”

“We’ve got sunscreen on.”

“I’ve got my hat.”

“And sunglasses.”

“There won’t be much shade,” said Dad.

“There is a little bit.”

“Can we?”

The deadline loomed.

“Well, stay in the shade,” he conceded.

When finished, Dad sought the children.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Dancing in each other’s shadows,” they laughed.

“But you’re in the sun.”

“We have to be. We don’t have shadows without the sun, silly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Overturning David Harum by Irene Waters

“Jazzy ain’t spring grand.” The dog scratched. “Yep. Blue sky, melted snow, blooming daffodils and tonight romance. Just fantastic. A glorious day my boy.”

If only you’d develop a different philosophy and treat the fleas, I’d be happy. Bugger the sky, the melting snow, and romance.

xxxxxxx

“A nightcap?” Winston invited the girl. “Come meet Jazzy.”

Jazzy scratched. “He’s got fleas.”

“David Harum says its essential for a dog to have fleas. Keeps ’em from brooding over the fact they’re a dog.”

“Treat that dog, or you’re getting no romance.” Winston produced a can of insecticide.

Thank you lust.

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Silly by Frank Hubney

“Wake up, kid! It’s that time of year when spring fever makes them run. They’ll soon all be sun silly. We don’t want to miss it.”

“Why do they run, Pa? There must be some scientific explanation for it. Don’t they have brains in their heads?”

“I don’t know why they run. They run. They’re stupid.”

“Yeah, but if we knew why they ran maybe we could encourage them to run more often?”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“So we don’t have to get up so early? So we can harvest them more than once a year?”

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Hat by Sherri Matthews

Bob couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.

‘Pick up the milk on your way home and don’t forget to put out the rubbish before you go,’ screeched Vera.

‘Yes, dear.’

At the allotment, Bob hoped the only screech might come from an owl in the woods.

Sunlight escaped through the grey clouds, despite the weather forecast predicting rain.

Darn, left my hat at home. Never mind.

Bob set out his tea flask and sandwiches for later and turned on his radio. He started digging as he whistled along…the sun has got his hat on…coming out to play…

🥕🥕🥕

The Silly Sun by Michael Grogan

It was such a silly event. We all laughed, oh how we laughed. Winter had arrived with its long dark days. But we awoke to a sunny morning, and it was simply ridiculous because we realised it was the sun playing its silly tricks once again.

Sure enough within a half hour of being fooled into thinking it was a sunny day it disappeared behind dark wet clouds, and the cold descended, as it is want to.

We giggled to one another as we packed away our shorts and t-shirts, thinking that silly old sun was giggling with us.

🥕🥕🥕

No Laughing in Church (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Reverend Smith’ voice rose to heaven and plunged to hell, persuading his brethren to choose the higher path. It was the first sermon before wagon trains broke winter camp.

Nancy Jane had promised to make “holy garbage” for supper. She and Sarah stood behind the crowd. The venison stew required horseradish and a priest’s blessing, but a circuit preacher would do. Sarah remained skeptical of both the sermon and her friend’s recipe. Breathing deep, she fought back the giggles.

When Sarah saw Cobb switch out Reverend’s water for what was probably moonshine, she succumbed to full out sun sillies.

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Sillies by Susan Sleggs

The new pastor was determined to bring some energy into the rural church. The week after Easter, with snow flurries still happening on a daily basis, he announced, “Next week, services will be in our barn at 3pm. I’ve heard a lot of you worked on parade floats there in years past so you know what a fine space it is. We’ll have a potluck after and music to do a little dancing like we have the sun sillies.”

The following week attendance doubled, everyone forgot their winter blues and baby goats antics were the hit of the event.

🥕🥕🥕

Man Down by Eric Pone

I was down wondering how the hell I got here. “Sorry LT you are going home.” I had prepared for Ranger qualifying school or Q School for months. I had sacrificed everything girlfriend, friends, my family thought I was at church camp. But here I was flushing my dream down the toilet.

As I laid on the cool Earth having collapsed on a company run, I looked up at the sky. The Sun — like a coy little bitch breathed above the tree line at me. “I guess it’s time for plan b,” I said to it, and everything went black.

🥕🥕🥕

The Awakening of the Fey by Colleen Chesebro

The hibernating Rusalki fey dangled from cocoons attached to the rafters. They stirred when the rays of father sun streamed in through the window. One by one, they hatched. The tiny creatures floated on newly formed wings.

Lada was not amused. “Not in my tea,” she sputtered placing her hand over her cup. “Sister Serafima, are they like this every year? How do you put up with it?”

A chuckle escaped Serafima’s lips. “They’ve hibernated with me for years. Do you know what this means, sisters?” Lada and Vasilisa shook their heads. “The silly sun of Ostara has arrived.

🥕🥕🥕

Call Me Madame by Juliet Nubel

She was out early in the long-awaited rays of sunshine. The others would arrive soon, but she longed to be the first to feel the gentle warmth waken the bright colours she wore.

She moved between the new blossom and the virgin daisies, drinking in their springtime scents.

The sun made her feel silly and daring, so she tried an aerial cartwheel then backward flip, landing effortlessly on the wooden garden table where a man sat watching her in admiration.

“The first Red Admiral of the season. He’s a beauty!”

He? Could he not see? She was Madame Butterfly.

🥕🥕🥕

The Ringmaster by Robbie Cheadle

The sun is the ringmaster. He introduces the clandestine night circus with a great show of fiery splendor and then disappears. The stars sparkle and shine in their flashy tutus as they dance and twirl, walking the tightrope and riding bareback across the night sky is all part of their show. The pale moon enchants the crowd with her fantastic control of the oceans. The tides rise and fall at her beckoning. An array of thrilling creatures and heroes make guest appearances before the ringmaster reappears and closes the show with a splash of yellow, pink and orange light.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (5-minute read)

Boys of Summer by Christina Coster

We were heading down the Pacific Coast Highway cruising with the top down; hair dancing in the breeze. Tank top and shades on; Mr. Sunshine had his hat on and was out to play. Not a cloud in the sky.

We didn’t have a care in the world on those blissful summer afternoons. Just me and my four girls: young, beautiful, free. The radio blared the tunes of the day. We laughed turning it up as the voice of Don Henley came through the speaker. We sang until our voices were hoarse, ‘after the boys of summer have gone’…

🥕🥕🥕

Sun Citation by Molly Stevens

“I can explain, officer,” said Myra.

“I doubt that,” he said.

“I’ve endured harsh Maine winters my whole life. For decades I’ve seen this atrocity dangling in the sun on the first warm spring day. It traumatizes me more than finding a spider hulking in the bathroom sink.”

“I’m listening.”

“Every fifty-degree day this disgusting visual stains the beauty of budding trees and melting snow.

“Get to the point.”

“I knew mine was more splendid, more befitting the season.”

“So you’re saying I should give you a pass because your bosom is better looking than your neighbor, Chester’s?

“Exactly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Don’t Blame the Sun by Miriam Hurdle

“It’s the sun’s fault when people get melanoma, the visible kind, Erica.”
“Why do people choose to sunbathe long hours just to get tan? Don’t they know that they ask for cancer?”
“Are you saying people don’t get skin cancer if the sun hides behind the clouds?”
“I didn’t say that, Joyce. The ray is powerful that it penetrates through thick clouds.”
“I get it. You’re saying the sun is at fault to impose cancer on people even when the clouds try to protect them, right?”
Hey, look, don’t blame me, just wear suntan lotion wherever you are, okay!

🥕🥕🥕

Seasoned by FloridaBorne

This is Florida,” The ancient man with a white beard and grimy baseball cap chuckled. “We have three seasons.”

“Three?” The Midwestern tourist asked.

The way she said her “a” sounded like fingernails down a chalkboard to him. His southern drawl made her skin crawl.

Idiot, he thought; while she was thinking, moron.

“Wanna know what they are?” He asked.

“Sure,” she sighed.

“Pollen season, flea season, and tourist season,” He grinned.

“That is ridiculous!”

“Y’all have two. Silly season and winter.”

“We also have a lovely fall,” She said, with umbrage.

“So that’s what y’all call ski season?”

🥕🥕🥕

A Straw Cap for Spring? by JulesPaige

Winds whipping the lake waters at twenty one miles an hour
made them look like ocean waves. And I was fool enough
to try and walk into town. Only because the sun still shone.
I’ll not attempt a nature walk on Lake William’s trail this day –
with a high of twenty seven Fahrenheit even without wind.
Since snow is supposed to fall mixing with freezing rain.

(Alice was fooled by a bump on her head. I wonder if I’m in
a snow globe …that the March Hare is shaking.)

New England in spring
as unpredictable as
Wonderlands Heart Queen

🥕🥕🥕

Spring Fever by Chelsea Owens

Nature whispers warming tones

“No,” the pessimistic minds reply.

Determined of a White Witch winter, they grumble in groundhog shadows.

Meanwhile –

Shaking snowflake buds unfurl

To chirping, flitting birdsong

Pushing, pulsing, happy faces open;

Drinking deeply from dew-warmed sundrops

Sparkling

Stretching

– Springing –

“Six more weeks,” the cynics warn,

Waking in the pre-dawn cold;

Shivering over cold, black cups of darkness.

Nature laughs and paints the sky

In God’s finest pastel shades:

Pink, yellow, grey, but

blue Blue BLUE

Blossoms turn to watch;

Dancing

And we, caught in Springtime’s lively song,

Can’t help but laugh,

Smile heavenward

And sing along

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

The sun was on the backswing when Lia led me to the parquet dance floor. The bridesmaids oohed and awed as she set her arms around my neck.

I stumbled along, breathing in the sweet smell of flowers, a hint of sweat. My best friend had lived in a cocoon of long sleeves and coats, but now, in a haze of pollen…poof!

“Hey,” she said. A tiny speck of icing on her lips. I swallowed, trying to figure out where in the heck to put my hands. Lia rolled her eyes, giggled, and moved them to her waist. “There.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Laughing Matter by Anne Goodwin

“The sun’s out,” says Flora. “Let’s away!”

A threadbare shawl cloaks my shoulders. I’d been saving my coin for a new one, but this will suffice until November’s snow.

The queue snakes around the close, jigging and joshing as if at the Highland Games. Sobering as our turn approaches, as if for Kirk.

Mr Hill seats each individual, helps us adopt the most appealing pose. On checking the light, Mr Adamson dips beneath the camera hood. “Hold!”

I avert my gaze from Flora’s gurning. But when the calotype is printed, you can see the laughter leaching from my eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Shorty’s Sun Sized Heart by D. Avery

“Pal, what ever happened ta Shorty’s big heart?”

“Still big, near as I know, Kid.”

“No, I mean a certain someone was offrin’ prizes fer similes in the March 15th roundup.”

“Oh. Yeah, the undisclosed amount fer that one was a picture book fer Shorty, on behalf of Aussie, Jules, Still Waters, Susan an’ Liz.”

“Ya jist disclosed it.”

“Oh well. Don’tcha agree a book amounts ta more’n money? Money cain’t bring happiness, books do.”

“Some do fer sure. Like the Anthology.”

“Yep, that book rocks. But this ‘uns about rocks.”

“Perfect. Ever’body needs a rock book.”

“Even Shorty.”

🥕🥕🥕

Open Call for Guest Writers

The well has gone dry, writers! We’ve had a terrific run of guest writers who have explored and shared their creative projects and processes through the Raw Literature series at Carrot Ranch. I’m not convinced we’ve run out of creativity to share because the well is deep and we just need to go further.

If you want to catch up on our 2018 series, be sure to bookmark these terrific Raw Literature Guest Essays:

Carrot Ranch offers several options for Guest Posts. They publish on Tuesdays and will run until September. That’s when we start preparing for the Flash Fiction Rodeo. You might want to write a guest post for several reasons:

  1. To build your writing portfolio.
  2. To expand your writing platform.
  3. To bring visibility to a book you or another community writer has published.
  4. To try your hand at an advanced creative writing prompt.
  5. To get better acquainted with the community at Carrot Ranch.

If you are interested, I’m signing up guest writers for the following:

Raw Literature explores the creative process and early creations in writing. The series is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it.

Platform shares successful marketing tactics for authors or bloggers. Carrot Ranch upholds that every writer’s platform is different according to how it’s built from the basic bricks that include branding, credibility, community, and target audience. This series examines how to use a platform for marketing books or developed content.

New! Peer Book Review is intended to grant space to regular writers and readers of Carrot Ranch to share the books of others in the community. Many of the Rough Writers & Friends are authors, and you can find a variety of good reads on the Books page. Reviews are the best way to support authors, and this series seeks to encourage peers to offer thoughtful book reviews.

In addition to guest essays, Carrot Ranch challenges literary writers to push their craft with Advanced Flash Fiction. If you are interested, you can take these advanced challenges at any time. Post on your blog and link back to Carrot Ranch or submit as a potential guest post.

6th Sense Challenge reminds writers to explore the world with more than the eyes. Writers create visual images for readers through all five senses of sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste. This challenge is to write the same 99-word story five times using one of the five senses. In the final sixth story of 99 words, create a sixth overall sense that combines the best of the sensory elements.

History Challenge encourages writers to dig into the past to find forgotten stories. Possible places to look include one’s own family tree, vital records, scrapbooks, school yearbooks, archived newspapers, town histories, local cemeteries and old house records. The idea is to start with a name and date of a person’s lifespan. Using local libraries, museum reading rooms, state archives or online sources, piece together vital facts and imagine a story. It can be told in one, three or five flash fictions of 99 words each.

Ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge imitates the five steps of writing a book. It’s a progressive, five flash writing activity. Your own results will surprise you and improve your approach to book writing. This advanced challenge welcomes all writers, especially those who write books or want to better understand how.

It’s a five-step process:

  1. Free write for five minutes;
  2. Write a 99-word flash fiction;
  3. Reduce it to a 59-word flash fiction;
  4. Reduce it to 9-words;
  5. Build it back up to 599 words in three-acts.

You can submit a post, essay or story to wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Tour Around the World: Crown Jules of Pennsylvania

Today’s tour stop is from Rough Writer, poet and master masher, JulesPaige – because “words are like Jewels on a Page.”

JulesPaige is one of the bright jewels of Buckaroo Nation, whose curiosity for words leads her to share new vocabulary with her fellows. She can take multiple prompts and create what she calls a “mash-up” response to them all in 99 words. That’s not an easy feat! Jules shines brightly, offering a helping hand and welcoming words to others who make their way to the Ranch.

Join her in Pennsylvania today to learn more about her creative literary art: Jules in Flashy Fiction.

Next week we jump across the Pond to Lisa Reiter’s UK.

April 2018 #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

Social media was built on the idea of being social, but many writers using the various social media tools think this means being social with readers. Charli and her literary community have demonstrated that connecting with other writers can be an important part of our regular online activities. So this week, think about how you are connecting and engaging with other writers through your social media.

Of course, the easiest way to connect with writers is to follow them on Twitter and other social media accounts, but this is also the least engaging connection. Reading other writers’ posts can help you get ideas for what you should (and should not) be sharing on your accounts with your own followers, and you can see the kinds of interactions that other writers are generating on their posts. If you are following a lot of writers but not engaging with them, you might be missing out on some wonderful insights. This month, try to make a point of interacting with at least one new writer by commenting on their posts or posing questions to them.

A second way is to follow others in the literary field, such as journals, publishers, editors, agents, and anyone who promotes writing. These professionals can help you identify trends in the field as well as opportunities for new writing outlets. They can spark ideas for writing and help you stretch your writing chops in new challenges. But again, simply following without engaging can mean you are missing out. Look for ways to engage with these professionals in meaningful ways. Try asking their opinion about a new development in the field.

Finally, you might want to try having public conversations on social media with other writers and professionals in the literary field. It can be daunting, but public conversations are visible to more than just your followers. If the thought of going public terrifies you (as it did me, initially), try finding a fellow writer you trust to create conversations. I have done this with a writing friend; we talk privately on a daily basis and have the same approach to social media. Once we realized this, we took some of our conversations about writing or scenes that weren’t working to Twitter. The conversations generated more engagement than simply posting updates or sharing information online.

As storytellers, we should be able to mold social media to meet our unique needs, but sometimes this means stepping outside of our comfort zone—not the easiest task for introverted writerly types. So this month, try to find ways to focus on creating conversations and stories in public with other writerly types. This approach may be less intimidating when exploring social media.

April Challenge

For this month’s #Twitterflash, your goal is to create connections and conversations by building on someone else’s story. You can do this in different ways:

Options (in no particular order)

  1. Search for #Twitterflash on Twitter and find a story from a previous challenge. You can expand on/continue the story, write it from another character’s perspective, or use it as inspiration to create an entirely new story. Tweet the outcome, tagging the original story’s author.
  2. Join the “Small-town Diner” #Twitterflash started by the Head Buckaroo and fellow Carrot Ranchers (for details, check out the March share post).
  3. Collaborate with fellow writers to create your own multi-author #Twitterflash (a la “Small-town Diner”), then use Twitter Moments to summarize your story in a visual form.

Play around, have fun, and come back at the end of the month and let us know what you learned. Remember to use #Twitterflash when you tweet your stories and then check out what your fellow writers are doing on Twitter.

Ready…set…tweet tweet.

C. Jai Ferry is a flash fiction freak, human trafficking warrior, and Master Ninja at novellaninjas.com, an online space promoting published short stories and novellas to readers. Her titles include Unraveled, a collection of microfiction and flash fiction stories, and “Skeleton Dance,” 2014 winner of the Vermillion Literary Project Short Story Contest, which was turned into a film and included in the 2016 Nebraska Noir collection. She tweets from @CJaiFerry

Carrot Ranch’s Twitterflash 2018 is a monthly challenge focused on expanding writers’ use of Twitter as a tool for writing. Throughout the year, writers will experiment with storytelling via tweets using the following areas of focus:

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

 

April 5: Flash Fiction

Spring in the Keweenaw, I’m discovering, is like having a mood disorder. Blizzards, squalls, and gray skies make me feel lethargic. My fingers plod to tap keys. My shoulders hunker, and my eyelids droop. I realize it’s not me; it’s the cloud cover.

By afternoon, Lady Lake parts the snow clouds like she’s our local Moses, and I can see blue so deep it must be heaven’s direct gaze. A choir of angels hums in my ears. My shoulders straighten. My fingers quicken their pace, and I feel wide awake. I take another swig of water and feel energized enough to think of rocks on the beach. So close!

We’re headed to the VA hospital in Iron Mountain, a five-hour roundtrip in good weather. It’s the first no-snow day since spring equinox. On Easter Sunday I sat clustered with families in a small dark chapel on the tip of the Keweenaw while a full-blown blizzard raged outside the windows. The Son may have risen, but the sun did not. Today, the cerulean sky over white snow stirs spring in my blood.

We turn a corner following the curves of the Portage Canal to Keweenaw Bay and instead of an expanse of white sea ice through the stands of naked white birch, azure beams back at us. Open water! Back in Hancock, the canal remains froze over, but local gossips spread rumors of the Coast Guard ice-breakers opening the shipping channels. Nothing says spring in a northern climate more than blue.

Blue beckons robins and hastens snowmelt. Open water calls to migrators braving a journey north to mate and nest. Just around another corner, a mass of iridescent green heads catches sunlight where mallard males sleep on a snow bank above another opening in the bay. The white surrounds the blue like crown jewels of diamonds and sapphires. The duck heads glimmer like little emeralds.

VA visits increase, yet they all hedge around what to do with the knee. At the hospital, the Hub hustles down a corridor outpacing me as if we’re on a road march. His gait rolls and dips like a pirate with a peg-leg. The last orthopedic we saw two weeks ago claimed the Hub had no limp after asking him to take three steps around the tiny examination room. I’ve followed this limping gait for years and know the effort it takes to muster through it.

Limp or no limp, the last ortho didn’t even have the MRI that took us three years to get. They sent the left knee image instead. The last ortho before last saw it and said it was pointless to view because the Hub has no meniscus left to examine and she said she’ll monitor the degradation of the knee as bone wears down bone.

Other appointments don’t require my advocacy because they are the actual care the Hub needs. After years of asking, doctors referring, Iron Mountain has approved much — acupuncture, physical therapy, and chiropractic. Next up, the Hub has several medical tests and memory tests to get a better idea of what is happening above the orthopedic system within the matter between the ears. Whatever the results, we will make a plan, continue to push for a knee replacement 30 years overdue, and take moments to appreciate the blue.

It’s now evening, and the sun still sits above the wooded hills of Hancock. As the solar orb sinks toward the western horizon, the abandoned Quincy Mine reflects a copper light as if to say, “Here they dug copper.” Sky ablaze, I walk into the local co-op to grab pecans and dried cranberries for my morning cottage cheese, feeling energized by a full day of sunlight. It’s nearly 8 p.m. and still light.

The cashier laughs with me as we joke and dream about it nearly being grilling season. She then tells me, “You have the sun sillies!”

Turns out, sun sillies is what she calls the energetic high people up north experience after the return of light following a long dark winter. I laugh. I do feel silly and full of spring fever. I feel hopeful. I feel like I’m on extended holiday full of Nowruz, Easter and Solstice celebrations. Is it no wonder we play April Fool’s jokes on April 1? We’re full of sun sillies!

Speaking of April Fool’s Day, my favorite toilet paper company, Who Gives a Crap, pulled a fast one and I fell for it. They sent me an email announcing the release of Crappy Coffee. I thought it brilliant. I wanted eco-friendly, small-batch roasted Crappy Coffee, so I signed up to receive it. Instead, they emailed me, “Aprils Fools!”

Time to get silly.

April 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a silly sun story. Up north, “sun silly” is the energetic and playful response to returning sunlight. It could also be an April Fool’s jest, a silly story, or a reaction to spring fever. Be silly and write playfully! Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by April 10, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

***

No Laughing in Church (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Reverend Smith’ voice rose to heaven and plunged to hell, persuading his brethren to choose the higher path. It was the first sermon before wagon trains broke winter camp.

Nancy Jane had promised to make “holy garbage” for supper. She and Sarah stood behind the crowd. The venison stew required horseradish and a priest’s blessing, but a circuit preacher would do. Sarah remained skeptical of both the sermon and her friend’s recipe. Breathing deep, she fought back the giggles.

When Sarah saw Cobb switch out Reverend’s water for what was probably moonshine, she succumbed to full out sun sillies.

###

Flying Fingers

INTRO

Fingers fly fast in activity. Speed hints of passion and ability. Pianists trip fingers over keys, authors type to the speed of imagination, and tricksters ply nimble fingers.

Writers followed the lead of fast fingers and contemplated the characters attached to such digits. Each story flies with creativity.

The following are based on the March 29, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly.

PART I (10-minute read)

Lifetime Savings by Ritu Bhathal

Nervously, Frank handed the package over to the girl.

“Now, be careful with that—” He paused to look at her name tag “—Jennifer. I worked hard for those dollars. Now they tell me I gotta keep it in a bank, and not under my mattress. Safety, they say. It was plenty safe with me – until they got that new cleaner in. I don’t like her. Always tidying. I know she knows where I keep my money…”

Frank watched as Jennifer’s fingers flew, deftly lifting and counting the bills, like a seasoned pro.

“You will keep it safe, won’t you?”

🥕🥕🥕

Showdown: Nickel Man vs. the Ballerina by njoyslife

It wasn’t a fair fight, that Halloween night. He was a towering fifty-something; she was five, standing below him in her tutu. He offered nickels, not candy, for correct answers to three questions:
“Who was the first president?”

“George Washington.”

She took her nickel.

“Who’s president now?”

“Bill Clinton.”

She took another.

“Who discovered America?”

“Native Americans.”

“Wrong!”

“No!” She stomped her foot.

“Christopher Columbus!” he said, withholding her reward.

“He was a murderer and a thief!” Her tiny fingers flew between them as punctuation, “they were already here!”

She left him red-faced, three nickels clutched in her fist.

🥕🥕🥕

I Love Garlic by Anony Mole

“Drop your spoon!”

My grandma’s favorite spoon clacked to the floor, batter spraying her shoes.”

“What in God’s name are you making?”

I popped the tupperware lid and showed her.

“And what are you going to do with those?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“Well, I expect the best.”

Arrayed like a fan I delivered them to the table.

Grandma took one bite and spit it out. “These are awful.” Picking up a handful she threw them toward my face.

I ducked and grinned mischievously as the squadron of Lady Fingers flew across the room and exploded against the wall.

🥕🥕🥕

Flying Fingers by Irene Waters

The girl giggled. The babysitter’s fingers acted the songs he sang, flying before landing suddenly on the bed beside the child. They tweaked her nose before flying upwards. Rosalind laughed, clapping her hands. Down came the fingers landing on the rabbit adorning her nightdress. They lingered, tracing the bunny’s outline on Rosalind’s chest before flying into the air to dance. Down they came touching her arms lightly before flying up to the sky again. Rosalind shrieked gleefully. Quickly the fingers pounced, on her tummy, walking lower and lower.

“John. We’re home.”

“Next time sweetie.” John promised Rosalind before leaving.

🥕🥕🥕

Innocence of a Child by Heather Gonzalez

“Am I a princess, mommy?” Emma looked up at her mother with big innocent eyes.

“Of course you are.”

Emma twirled with glee in her new glittery dress. Her hands soared through the air as if she could fly away. She imagined she was a magical princess who could fly.

As she felt the air move through her fingers, her father entered the room. Emma was so excited that she didn’t notice the smell on daddy’s breathe or the scary look in his eyes. She never noticed the way he touched mommy. Instead, she was a princess flying away.

🥕🥕🥕

A Memory Truer Than Not by Bill Engleson

I don’t think I really noticed my father’s hands until I was eight or nine.

They were always big.

I knew that for sure.

When he wielded the straps, one rubber, one canvas, his nose would flare, motley red, drizzling sweat.

Strapping was a rare occurrence.

But always a possibility.

At some point, I saw the space where he should have had a whole finger.

One day I worked up the gumption to ask.

“Haying,” he said. “Stupid.”

I wanted to ask if it had hurt.

I wanted it to have hurt.

Sometimes, I was a selfish angry kid.

🥕🥕🥕

pound the pavement (haibun with renga series) by JulesPaige

At the end of my hands my fingers are flying. I get…
my holiday meal started, belonging to an interfaith
family presents its challenges. We will prevail!

morning – time to pound
the pavement; work before play –
before all arrive

prep work done to ease days’ load;
always last minute details

dueling crock pots up,
eggs to boil, soup to brew,
table welcomes you…

smaller compliment around
town as holidays collide

the present hearts will
expand to fill the places
keeping traditions

may each day bring abundant
joy-filled memories to share

let differences
be set aside, so we can
accommodate – love

🥕🥕🥕

Just Close Your Eyes by floatinggold

A woman with long, gold hair, wearing a white, floor-length dress enters the stage and sits by the majestic, wooden harp. She starts pulling on the strings, and the room goes quiet. Everyone is enchanted by the sound that is now surrounding us.

I close my eyes, and I turn into a cloud, carelessly floating in the sky. Light and free.
Peace and serenity all around.

***

My Mom always wanted to play the harp. I am sure that now she sits in Heaven, overlooking my apartment, and letting her fingers gently fly over the strings, humming a lullaby.

🥕🥕🥕

Detached by papershots

Key turns into keyhole, door opens, door closes, keys end up in a bowl on the sill on top of the radiator. The heat goes on. The light goes on. Laces untied, shoes in their compartment. Slippers are found, put on, as well as music, wine poured, glass taken, on a tray beside the couch. “Sorry about…” Like, like, ha ha, like, sad, sad, ha ha, wow. Hold on, interesting, go back up a bit. “… the loss of…” Freezer, bag, content, pan, oven, program 3. “… your friend.” Ha ha, wow. “Can’t make it tonight.” “Congrats on your new job.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reluctant Reader? by Anne Goodwin

Ma made me read ten pages. Every. Single. Night. At first I tried. Really. But with shape shifting letters, disappearing words and baffling sentences, I preferred to watch cartoons. Still, she made me. I learnt to screen a soccer game in my head while staring at the text until it blurred. Flying fingers flicked through pages one to ten. Done!

Books, magazines, how I hated them. Until Miss asked me to show her a football programme. Explain how my team won the match. Print still jumped about and disguised itself. But now I want to discover what it says.

🥕🥕🥕

Cart Before the Horse by Reena Saxena

“I need to enroll for that class. Finger speed matters in whatever we do.” My son was taken in the by the fancy ad placed on the front page of newspapers.

“Sure, you must join. I just want you to develop other faculties alongside.”

“And which ones are those?”

“Feet fly either to achieve something, or in response to danger. The first is planned, while the other is a reflex. Fingers will fly to write, type, dance or paint but what needs to fly first is the mind.”

“Hmmm…. I guess I was putting the cart before the horse.”

🥕🥕🥕

Piano by Sarah Whiley

I lifted the lid of the piano, running my fingers over the keys, tinkling a jumble of notes.

It had been ages since I’d practiced and I was filled with trepidation as I sat down to play.
 I leafed through sheet music, and found Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

Resting my gaze upon the familiar notes, I poised my hands and began, cringing as I stumbled over the notes. My fingers clumsy; getting it all wrong.

I stopped, took a deep breath and tried again.
 Giving over to muscle memory, I smiled as my fingers started to fly over the keys.

🥕🥕🥕

Lady Luck by Matt Copping

“Action is to you.”

The words cut through the constant slosh-slosh of the paddle wheels and several sets of eyes turn to you. A waft of smoke burns your lungs as the wind shifts across the open-aired deck of the S.S Katrina.

You turn your head, burying a fit of coughs into your fist; wiping the spittle from your palm against your chest when the fire subsides. You suppress a smirk as good fortune finds your hand dramatically improved.

A click by your ear precedes the metallic pressure against skull.

“Those fingers really do fly, don’t they?”

🥕🥕🥕

Twenty-one by Christina Coster

I watched the croupier manipulate the deck; the overhand, hindu and riffle shuffle demonstrated with ease as her fingers flew.

I heard Twenty-one was a game of probability. The way she mixed them cards had me unconvinced. All players were transfixed.

Hand dealt: Four of Clubs, Nine of Diamonds. House: Queen of Hearts on display.

“Player has thirteen, your move?” she encouraged.

“Hit me.”

“Six of Hearts. Player has nineteen.”

“Hold.”

Confidently she turned over the Hole Card: Ace of Spades.

“Blackjack.”

Should have listened to Papa, “ain’t no way of winning Snapper, House always comes out on top.”

🥕🥕🥕

Perched by D. Avery

Plumes of paper rooster-tailed from the adding machine, the cocky accountant’s fingers like frenzied birds swooping and diving at the keys.

She held her pencil thoughtfully, carefully examining the numbers, pecked and scratched at the paper. She didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, but something didn’t add up. Her fingers tapped out a message on her computer keyboard.

The investigation had barely begun when he flew the coop, though he was unable to line his nest as planned.

She got a feather in her cap. The promotion would help her grow her nest egg, which she tended prudently.

🥕🥕🥕

The People You Meet by FloridaBorne

I noticed the “look” first, pity followed by disgust, and chuckled at a T-shirt that said, “Hillary won.”

“Do you need medication?” She asked, with feigned concern.

“I have Tourette’s,” I replied. “My fingers fly across a piano, and my intelligence is above average. Unfortunately, intolerant people don’t understand when my arm flies outward. I grimace and I sniff, too.”

“That must be embarrassing.”

Just what I needed, fake tolerance. “My husband doesn’t mind.”

“You’re married?”

I sighed. “Did you know that Mozart, Samuel Johnson, and Howard Hughes had Tourette’s?”

“Who?” She asked.

“That explains a lot,” I snickered.

🥕🥕🥕

 

Blink And You’ll Miss It by Geoff Le Pard

‘Blimey Logan, where’d you learn to type so fast?’

‘Self-taught, Morgan. Back in the day.’

‘That’s a stupid expression.’

‘Like your fingers.’

‘Fingers aren’t stupid.’

‘Yours are slow and clumsy. Isn’t that the definition of stupid?’

‘But you really mean me. You can’t anthropomorphise fingers.’

‘So learn how to speed up your fingers.’

‘Why? They do what I need, when I need them. I don’t see the point of speed for speed’s sake.’

‘Get with the programme.’

‘That’s stupid too. And my digits are quick enough.’

‘Really.’

‘Yeah. There.’

‘Ouch! That was my bloody eye.’

‘Blink faster then.’

🥕🥕🥕

Flying Fingers by Jan Malique

The dancer’s hands unfurled like the wings of a bird, speaking in a tongue so easily understood by the true sight of the heart.

The music beat out a rhythm that enveloped the onlookers like a lover’s embrace, full of gentleness and grace.

They gazed entranced at the dancer’s figure, watched her hands weave a hypnotic spell, watched them perform a feat of extraordinary flight.

They spoke so eloquently, more than the voice could ever, ever express.

Her body overflowed with passion sublime, crowned by the delicacy of her hands, reminiscent of the dance of the Bird of Paradise.

🥕🥕🥕

Her Fingers Flew by sarahsouthwest

Nobody was coming.

Her fingers flew over the keyboard. She’d accepted that there was no escape, but she wanted to tell their story, so that if anyone came here, they would know not to go into the lava tunnels, not to disturb what was down there.

She wondered if there was anyone else left, now. There had been screams from the infirmary, but they had quietened now. She might be the only person alive on this world.

Not for long, though. The creatures would find her eventually, might be outside the door even now. She typed on, frantically.

🥕🥕🥕

Scarlet Strings by Juliet Nubel

She wondered if anyone ever noticed the scarlet drops running down the strings onto her long black skirt.

Perhaps if she wore the white of angels they would see the abstract red splashes of blood and scream at her to stop.

And if she wiped off her painted smile they may see the pain beneath.

But every night she forced her lips wide as she hugged her harp, fingers flying deftly over the nylon, plucking sweet notes from its lengths and scattering them over the hushed auditorium.

They would applaud loudly when the lights dimmed.

She would cry silently.

🥕🥕🥕

 

PART II (10-minute read)

All Fingers by Lady Lee Manilla

Him Indoors plays the piano well
Be it a Chopin or a Beethoven
Like he’s always serenading me
He also has a green finger
He plants seeds, mostly chilli and impatiens
Our garden full of dahlias, lavender, sweet peas
He doesn’t mind getting his fingers muddy

As for me, I like typing my blog
I may not use all my fingers, just the two
But I can type fast and hope the words come
That all’s well that ends well
I hold my mother’s hands
old and wrinkled, years of experience
they used to caress me when I’m upset

🥕🥕🥕

Hands of Age by Ann Edall-Robson

Hands resting gently against the frail body. Every so often fingers come to life. Flitting in the air mimicking thoughts of birds, butterflies and making a point. Settling once more in the aged lap until the story needs their tiny bit of exuberance. No more are they raw and ripped from the daily chores of scrubbing floors, wringing out the laundry and pulling weeds. These hands of time have experienced many lives and now they spend their days reminiscing and playing out the memories. They have become props for the mind of one who remembers but does not see.

🥕🥕🥕

Watch Your Words by D. Avery

It was hard for him to catch everything she said, she talked so fast. When angry she talked even faster, emphatically, replete with innovative swear words. Just now she was on a creative streak. She was swearing mad. At him.

“Slow down”, he pleaded. “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

That got him an eye roll. He didn’t need to catch every word. He knew what he had said was wrong and was hurtful. They’d been talking about having a baby. He had signed that he hoped their baby wouldn’t be born deaf.

That’s when her fingers flew.

🥕🥕🥕

Contention by Deb Whittam

The exchange was growing heated, tempers growing frayed, the point in contention – whose duty it was to organize the vehicles to transport the bride to the chapel. She assured him that he had insisted on completing the task for he could get the best deal, he argued that it was outside his jurisdiction – he was the best man, she was the matron of honor. In silence the bride watched on, frowning as she watched the fingers fly before turning perplexed to her deaf brother seeking enlightenment. The insincere smile pinned to his lips did little to inspire confidence.

🥕🥕🥕

Winter Bride by Kerry E.B. Black

Opal frowned. “Do I dress first, or you do my hair and makeup before I dress?”

Her granddaughter Heather took the simple ivory wedding gown from its hanger and helped Opal into it. “I’ll drape a towel over it while I fix your hair and makeup. Sound good?”

Opal patted Heather’s hand. “You’re a dear girl.”

Heather kissed her Grandmother. “I love you! Now let’s get you ready.” Her fingers felt like a massage as they twisted Opal’s pearly hair into an elegant up-do.

Opal took Heather’s elbow. Harps announced her march as joined her husband at the altar.

🥕🥕🥕

Fading Squares by Allison Maruska

When I was a little girl, I watched Grandma crochet. The hook and yarn moved through her flying fingers with such ease she could hold a conversation as she worked. She connected the squares into blankets or placemats, or single ones became coasters. As I grew up and she grew older, her squares took more effort, until one day, they weren’t squares at all. Her mind wouldn’t let her fingers fly any longer. So I sit with her now, her hook and yarn in my hands, creating the squares she once made. Her smile tells me I’m doing well.

🥕🥕🥕

Floaters Not Sinkers by Susan Sleggs

As the only non-Jew in the house, I cringed when my new husband’s father demanded to know at the dinner table, “Who made these matzoh balls? They aren’t round.”

A female cousin said, “I tried to show her, but she said I was taking all the air out of them by rolling them in my palms. She barely touched them with her fast fingers and dropped them into the boiling pot of broth. They floated.”

“Well that’s it then. When it comes to matzoh balls, floaters are much better than sinkers. She is to make them from now on.”

🥕🥕🥕

In Praise of Flighty Logic by Molly Stevens

The server waited with pen poised to take the order. “I want turkey hands pwease,” Kyle said.

“He means chicken fingers,” his weary mother explained while swabbing the baby’s drool.

“What a remarkable mind he has!” said his grandmother.

“Is a chicken a birdie?” he asked.

“Yes,” grandma said, “it is a birdie.”

When the food arrived, Kyle grabbed a strip of chicken, hurled it high into the air, and watched it plop into grandma’s water glass.

“Kyle, why did you do that?” Asked his mother, exasperated.

“I wanted to see if chicken fingers could fwy.”

“Brilliant!” said grandma.

🥕🥕🥕

Spring Seeker by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Where is it?” she lifted her face, seeking a clue in the morning breeze. So many possibilities; the winter had been too long. She clawed at the ground furiously, dirt embedding itself under her nails.

A dog barked in the near distance. Annoyed, she abandoned her spot for another nearer the oak. Sun ribboned through naked branches, leaving the false light of morning frost in shadow.

Again she plunged her paws into the earth, seeking treasure.

Her pups stirred in her belly as she scampered and scrabbled. Finally, fluffy gray tail flagged in victory, she withdrew a shiny acorn.

🥕🥕🥕

Swings in Spring by Chelsea Owens

Bright, springtime rays smiled upon the two children as they ran down the Tonaquint Park path. Nature wrapped them in a warm blanket, exulting in her final release from winter’s grip.

“Can’t catch me!” Jack teased. He giggled -downright, giddy giggling– as his sister tore after him through the desert foliage.

She was laughing as well; couldn’t help laughing, beneath a cobalt sky and chirping birds.

They discovered the just-emptied swings. Jack scooted right on and Jill followed suit. Their toes found sendoff grips, their legs pumped them heavenward, and their outstretched fingers flew aerodynamic arcs through blue.

🥕🥕🥕

Fingering Automacity by Miriam Hurdle

“Shirley, why didn’t you take the exam for Piano Performance Certificate from Royal School of Music?”

“I’m not good enough.”

“You’re perfect.”

“Thanks, Sara. My friend started piano lessons before 5. See, the brain neurons connected to finger movements must be tapped on before 5 years old. With learning, practice, and repetition, the fingering becomes automaticity.”

“When did you start?”

“I started piano lesson from my mom at 8 years old. I had other piano teachers when my skills were advanced.”

“You’re my best accompanist.”

“Thanks. I’m happy to teach piano and accompany singers like you and my husband.”

🥕🥕🥕

Once He Moved the World with Flying Fingers by Anne Goodwin

The fingers of his left hand dance across the piano keys. The fingers of his right just dance. And jerk. Spasm. Fly. A dance without pattern to the movement. Or not one his brain can predict or control. If he weren’t consumed with self-pity, he’d laugh. The day will come when he’ll remember this as freedom. Nostalgic for his flying fingers whether making music or senseless noise. As one by one his motor neurones cease firing, leaving him a drooling mannequin in a wheelchair. The man whose virtuoso playing moved the world, unable to move himself beyond a blink.

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My Friend Majda by Faith Colburn

I type at 100+ wpm—until I broke my hand.That’s not my story. Let me tell you about Majda. Majda had barely escaped Bosnia with what she could carry. From the plane, she rushed to the hospital with an angina. I was supposed train her in American journalism. English was her fifth language. In Bosnia, she’d been arts and entertainment editor for Oslobodenje, a major newspaper in Sarajevo. Her fingers flew over keys as her mind flew over paintings and sculpture she’d seen; music she’d heard. Now, like me with my broken finger, she speaks and writes more slowly.

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Flying Fingers by Kim Blades

Rachel had had writer’s block for days. Why now, just six days before her completed, edited, polished manuscript was due at the publisher? She went for a long walk. This time deeper into the forest. It was very quiet. But then she heard whisperings coming from behind a large pile of fallen branches. Rachel crept closer, her eyes widening in wonder at what she overheard. She tiptoed away and then ran home. A short while later her fingers were flying over the keyboard of her laptop; as she hurried to translate the pictures in her mind into written words.

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Flying Fingers by Robbie Cheadle

It was incredible to watch the story taking shape on the pages as the ideas leapt from her mind and chased her fingers across the keyboard. It was like watching puppies play as the words and phrases tumbled across the screen, chasing each other and sometimes almost rolling over each other in their eagerness. He had never experienced energy like this before, never seen fingers flying, eyes sparkling, and cheeks flushed with enthusiasm. He looked at his own long, thin fingers and his brow furrowed as he tried to comprehend and understand this strange and moody female-child of his.

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Donning by D.Avery

Once upon a time there was a time that all wished there never was; for this was not a forwarding time, but a time when the world went backwards. In that time there was an Emperor, which there was not supposed to be in that time. His hands, never having known good work, were known to be small and soft. He was fast with his fingers, his trigger finger itchy, always pointing at someone else, never at himself. Sociopath, he poked the keys to provoke through social media, stirred unrest with his jabbing digits. The world was thoroughly shaken.

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Camaflouge Crazy Quilt by Susan Sleggs

The famous quilt designer greeted me, “Good morning. I’ll let you know if I need help.”

She perused the solid section then moved to the Batiks and inspected the color options. She pulled out bolt after bolt visualizing the array, then brought the pile of multiple shades of very drab greens, browns, and greys to the counter. She ran her fingers up and down the stack. “A half yard each please.”

I wasn’t surprised when I saw an award-winning quilt entitled “Camouflage Crazy Quilt” in a magazine the following year that had multiple kinds of black floss embroidery stitches.

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The Burden of Brilliance by Anurag Bakhshi

“I had heard that your fingers fly when you chop, cut, or carve, but this…You truly are a genius,” my latest apprentice Jonathan exclaimed wide-eyed as he saw me in action on the slab.

“Awww, it’s nothing,” I replied with exaggerated humility, “anyone can learn to do it with sufficient experience, even you.”

“I don’t think so,” said Jonathan weakly, and then, he threw up royally as a finger came flying and hit him on the nose.

What a pity! I’ll now have to look for another apprentice to help me dispose of the bodies of my victims.

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The Ring by Michael B. Fishman

One final look in the mirror on his way downstairs and the waiting limousine. Hair combed: check. Tie straight: check. Looking like a man about to get married: check. Gary picks up his keys and reaches for the ring.

“Where the hell’s the ring?”

Nothing behind the dresser.

The limousine honks.

Drawers open, fingers flying, he rifles through underwear, socks and shirts.

Nothing.

Another honk.

The flicker under the bed catches his eye and when he bends down to pick up the ring from where it had rolled is when his pants tear.

“Jeanine is going to kill me.”

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PART III (10-minute read)

Rumors of Quick Draws (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Grab the mochila, boy!” Dock wasn’t any older than the new crippled stock handler, but he oversaw the mail exchange.

Sarah watched from the barn. The new handler grabbed the leather cover from the panting horse and draped it over the saddle of the waiting mount. The rider clambered up and sat on the mochila containing US mail.

“Haw!” The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company rider departed Rock Creek.

Hickok’s fingers flew, grabbling leather straps, unsaddling the weary mount. His injured arm did nothing to hamper his agility. Rumors had it, the boy was a gunman.

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Flying Fingers by Frank Hubney

Faster than drawing a gun his fingers peppered the keyboard and hit “Enter”. Later he will wish he thought more, but now, oh, the rush! It was the perfect point, typos and grammar and all, and he wanted to make it before someone else did.

Later, second thoughts like snail mail arrived. Then third-thought packages containing arguments he should have considered punched him It occurred to him maybe someone else should have made that idiotic point.

Then it happened. Just when he thought it wouldn’t ever be over, it was over. No one cared anymore and neither did he.

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Dancing Fingers by Michael Grogan

As he aged he found the only part of him that resembled flight were his fingers and the advent of arthritis was threatening that.

It was the pleasure he derived from his morning sojourn into his blog and the generous fellow bloggers commenting on his humble writing and who allowed him to venture into their respective blog worlds.

He loved it when his fingers danced across the keyboard composing a response to the latest prompt that came his way.

His fingers were what kept him alive and wanting to be part of the wide and wonderful world of words.

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Idling by D. Avery

Fingers cracking the pod and rolling the peas out into the pot in one deft move. Had that favorite paring knife, remember, always got the thinnest peel off a potato, all in one piece. She taught us all to knit, though none of us have ever gotten our needles clacking as fast as hers. She even tickled trout, would go down to the brook and get all she wanted and not a line or a net. Now she just lies in bed, her papery hands fluttering to her face over and over, like she can’t believe she’s still here.

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Counting on Fingers by Norah Colvin

Everyone said she had a way with numbers. Even when still in nappies she was counting effortlessly to large numbers in multiples of twos, fives and tens as well as ones. The parents didn’t dare think they’d bred a genius, an outlier. They wished for an ordinary child who fitted in, unnoticed, like them. They strove to inhibit her talent and discourage her enthusiasm. She tried to hide her ability by delaying responses with finger actions resembling calculation aids. But they slowed her none and flew too fast, earning her the nickname “Flying fingers” and ridicule instead of appreciation.

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Flying Fingers On Keys by Lisa Rey

Maria sat down to type the next part of her book. For a few moments she looked at the blank computer screen deep in thought, characters having conversations in her head. Then she began to type. Her fingers flew along the keys as her heart kept telling her head what to say. Writing wasn’t just her job. It was a joy, a passion. It never felt like a chore. Before she knew it, her third chapter was in the bag barring that demon editing. Spellcheck, Grammarly and the gang. Her fingers wouldn’t fly when it came to those enemies!

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Money is Sweet Honey by Neel Anil Panicker

Professor Amritanand had done his job — he had prepared the years’ Matriculation Mathematics paper.

Now, all he had to do was seal it in an envelope and lock it in the strong room.

He was about to do so when his mind sprang alive with the conversation of the previous evening.

The man over the telephone had said “Please hand over a duplicate question paper”.

‘That’s cheating’, he had retorted, adding, ‘I won’t do it.’

“For Rs 30 lakhs you definitely would, Sir.”

Professor Anand let his fingers fly.

He never was one to say no to money.

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The Piano by Luccia Gray

Ada’s hands flew wildly over the table as her head swayed rhythmically. Alistair stepped closer, curious to see what she was doing. She had drawn black and white symmetrical rectangles along the edge of the table. His wife had been unfortunate enough to have become mute at an early age, and now after their forced relocation she had obviously lost her mind, too. ‘Mummy can’t live without her piano, daddy,’ said Flora. Alistair shook his head. ‘We had to sell it. We all had to make sacrifices when we lost everything.’ ‘But daddy, we can speak about our feelings.’

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Study Hall by Krisgo

His fingers were lightly tapping on the table as he sat close. The pads making a noise that sounded like distant rain drops, yet they were right there next to my arm. I wondered if he was leaving fingerprints on the slick surface of the table. I wanted him to lift up his hand so I could check for the lingering prints. No, what I really wanted was to feel him lightly tapping on my skin. The hair on my arm rose, as I thought of how feeling his fingers flying up and down on my arm would feel.

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The Drum and the Harp by Wallie & Friend

The whole city was in the city hall, I swear, to hear Bob and Kevin face off. Those two had been at each other’s throats since they were first neighbors, and it was time something was done. Bob brought his drum and Kevin brought his harp. “That’s a girl’s toy,” said Bob. “Alright then,” said Kevin. “Any old baby can beat a drum.” How we were going to settle who was the best I don’t know. But there never was such fun and by the end of it, Kevin and Bob were exhausted, sore-fingered, breathless and the fastest friends.

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Piano by Paula Moyer

Jean watched her mother play the piano, watched Liberace slide his fingers in an upward glissando. When she got to be seven years old, Jean got to play the high C of her mother’s cross-hands piece. Finally she asked her mother. “Can you teach me how to play?” Her mother called around and ordered beginner’s piano music. While she waited, Jean could just see herself playing requests, improvising wildly. Her fingers would fly. Then the music came, lessons began. Oh, so hard. This stuff on paper, the piano keys. It was three months before Jean graduated to “hands together.”

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Island Escape by Kay Kingsley

He was born on the island. Trapped as it were by the beauty that surrounded him. So many people came here to vacation, break free from the outside world, unwind in paradise. Yet here he sits on the sprawling beach, sand occupies his entire vision, 180 degrees. The water is breathtaking. An almost dreamlike mix of Turquoise, Sea Spray and tan. Above the horizon the planes fly in the distance. Lifting his hand eye level, he stretches out his arm and extends his finger pacing the plane. Flying fingers is the closest he is to an escape, for now.

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Equal Knocks by D. Avery

“Where ya been, Kid?”

“Jest made the perfect vegie-tarian Easter dinner.”

“Eggplant?”

“Nope. Bacon and brussel sprouts.”

“Kid, bacon ain’t vegie-tarian.”

“Whoa, Pal, thought we’d all agreed this was a culturally inclusive place. Don’t tell me how ta be a vegie-tarian. My people like ta include bacon.”

“Hmmph.”

“Well, what’ve you been up to? Got yer fingers in ever’one’s pot I s’pose.”

“Na. I been stayin’ outta the way. Ridin’ fence mostly, lookin’ out fer signs a spring.”

“Lookin’ fer greener pastures, Pal?”

“Don’t go pointin’ any fingers, Kid. No, there’s plenty a range here at the ranch.”

“Alleluia.”

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