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Flight of the Pigs

The impossible has come to pass. And look — pigs are flying!

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

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

Landing A Flight Of Pigs by Mr. Ohh!

Barnyard Air Four Three Niner this is Old MacDonald tower. Do you copy?

Oink Oink Here

Roger that. The winds are out of the north at two knots, we will be asking you to use runway one eight zero. That’s the one by the silo. Do you copy?

Oink Oink There?

Roger. The other runway is currently blocked by cows Frankly It’s just everywhere a moo moo, down here. Also be advised that Colonel Porker will want to see Captain Swine upon landing. The call letters are Epsilon, Indigo, Epsilon, Indigo, Oscar. Acknowledge

Here an Oink There an Oink

🥕🥕🥕

A Healthy Pork-Life Balance by Bill Engleson

It started when I built that house of brick. You remember that story, right? Made the social media rounds. Pretty soon every pig and his brother wanted to know how to build a brick house.

I kept on saying, read the book. That’s what I did. One hundred years old.

Lots of pressure from my brothers.

“You wanna be a one-brick piggie all your life?” they asked.

Anyways, soon I had to become a consultant.

Flying all around the country.

Showing porkers everywhere how to build brick pig houses.

Brought in a lot of bacon, let me tell ya.

🥕🥕🥕

The Pigs In Their Perfect World by Larry Trasciatti

The big Piggies chase

After the small Piggies

Their bacon supply is low

There is a flight

To freedom at midnight

Only available to those

Who have purchased tickets

Most local streets are vacant

Except for the ones

That lead to escape

The Large Piggies demand equality

‘Conform at all costs’ is

Their defiant battle cry

Equality is conformity for

All in their world

There are porcine gunmen

Always patrolling the streets

For some reason the

Road leading to the

Airport is much foggier

And icier than the

Other roads around here

Equality is the ultimate

Priority for pigs

🥕🥕🥕

Unexpected Cutoff by Rebecca Glaessner

“Apologies all, our project must end,” the speaker announced.

“One more day!” Someone stepped forward, “we’re so close. Their brain’s are simple. I can prove-“

“No. We leave now. It’s not safe anymore, they’re volatile.”

With a thought, doors opened and the nervous crowd filed out.

Their commotion grew as others joined.

“Hostile movement ahead.”

Someone triggered a different thought-command, halting the hostiles.

The speaker hesitated, shouted, “run!”

As a crowd of feathers, fur and wool flew by, armed humanoids watched, immobilised by their own neural-chips.

Headlines the following morning read: Intelligent Lab Pigs Plot Mass Breakout. Now Citizens.

🥕🥕🥕

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad by Doug Jacquier

As he tentatively trottered onto the plane, Napoleon ticked off another first for an upright pig. Squealer followed close behind, as always, and when they settled into their first-class seats, the hostess brought them complimentary champagne. Both pig-men were excited to be attending the first international convention of animal farmers, where Napoleon would deliver the keynote speech and covertly lobby to become their President. The plane shuddered into the sky but, after leveling off, suddenly changed course and flew towards the ocean. At the controls, a revengeful Mr. Jones was ensuring the flight of pigs would remain a myth.

🥕🥕🥕

This Little Piggie Went… by Deborah A. Bowman

The little piggie that went to the store, while the other stayed home, are usually connected to a foot. Tiny little toes and big fat pigs. Go figure?

How did we get this size thing all switched around and upside down? Humor and fantasy are close knit friends.

I see a minuscule world on the tip of my tongue. The clouds are my cheeks; the sun my nose; the Universe is violent shades of color, depth, and rambling highways mimicked in arms and legs.

When I scream, the darkness in my throat is a black hole.

I am complete.

🥕🥕🥕

Head for the Hills by FloridaBorne

“Tell me again why your pigs fled for the hills?” Officer Benton asked.

Farmer Fred held a hiking staff, his backpack sporting a sleeping bag and supplies. “Granny says there’s an earthquake coming.”

“Where’s your granny?” Officer Benton asked the man of 70.

“Over there,” Fred said, pointing at the family graveyard.

“Your dead grandmother told you?”

“I was 30 when she said, They’ll be an earthquake here when pigs fly. You’d better tell folks to flee north.”

Fred walked away toward the hills. Benton drove away. A mile from town Earth shook; then the ground opened beneath Benton.

🥕🥕🥕

Fear of Flying Course by Anne Goodwin

The registration desk is closing when I show the clerk my booking reference. After scanning my phone, she scans me. “You didn’t bring a pet?”

Hours searching for Marmaduke had made me late. “My cat had other plans.”

“No problem. You can pick one from the menagerie outside.”

I try to decline but she insists the treatment won’t work without an emotional support animal. I follow the direction of her thumb. The dogs, cats and hamsters are all taken. No way can I cuddle a rat. I board the plane with a piglet. Hoping pork can assuage my fears.

🥕🥕🥕

My Guardian Angel by Annette Rochelle Aben

Roxanne’s daughter, Tiffany, made a bed in the hay, right next to her pet. Angel. The young sow was ill and the Vet said they had done all they could. Kneeling down next Tiffany, Roxanne covered the crying child with a warm blanket. It seemed like the only comfort she could offer.

“Mama, tell me something. Will Angel go to Heaven when she dies?”

“Honey, I believe she will always be with you because she found Heaven in your heart.”

“So, she’ll be like an Angel, I mean one who watches over me, right?”

“Right.”

“Will she have wings?”

🥕🥕🥕

Beer Flights and Bar Fights by D. Avery

“That your girlfriend?”

Ignoring the two men beside them at the bar, Nard and Marge continued talking about Nard’s beer brewing projects. “I finish it in plastic 2 1/2 gallon dispensers, called pigs. I’ve got different kinds of beer going, Marge— a flight of pigs!”

“Your girlfriend looks like a pig.”

Just then Kristof arrived and kissed Nard.

What those two men said next needn’t be repeated.
They hadn’t seen Ernest also come in. Ernest lifted both those chauvinists off their barstools and tossed them squealing out the front door.

“Bravo, Ernest! Now that was a flight of pigs!”

🥕🥕🥕

Pigs Don’t Fly By Cara Stefano

Ava didn’t have one of those picture-perfect childhoods; her parents were either yelling or absent. The one thing they got right, however, was getting Ava a library card. Every day after school Ava walked to the library for her daily escape. When her parents got home, usually long after she should’ve been in bed, Ava tried to share her excitement. “What if I was strong like Superman, Mommy?” “Can I be an astronaut when I grow up?” “Can we go to Mars, Mommy?” All she ever heard back was, “When pigs fly, kid!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Time is Now By Cara Stefano

When Ava started reading books about animals she finally learned that pigs don’t fly. After so many years of hearing that her dreams might come true if ever she saw a pig fly, this was a particularly devastating revelation. Imagine her surprise when one day after reading a really great book about farm animals, she happened to look up at the sky; to her delight, there among the clouds Ava saw a flight, a flock, a swarm of pigs, all sporting tiny wings that held them aloft! Her mother stared, open-mouthed, amazed.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Shenanigans by Sue Spitulnik

Who said a forty-something shouldn’t feel like an excited young bride? The ladies in Tessa’s family invited her friends for a personal wedding shower. Michael’s and her sister oohed and aahed as she opened each special gift, but they held one box in reserve to be the last presented. Finally, the most elaborate paper and bow lay on the floor. Tessa held up a life-size felted pink piglet with curly tail and sparkly silver wings for all to see. She didn’t understand the present.
The sisters exclaimed, “Michael swore he wouldn’t get married till pigs could fly!”

Everyone laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Do Pigs Fly? by Myrna Migala

The day! An excellent turnout if Miss Suzi Qque had anything to do with arrangements. Everything flawless, decorations to the menu.

These ten women had something to celebrate! What was it? A party to rejoice after they worked hard to lose 50 lbs.

The mascot chosen for laughs and keep them on their guard. A pig!

Pigs were the center of the decor; a tasty treat to nibble on was pigs in a blanket, a dish consisting of sausages wrapped in pancakes.

These women also had a catchy slogan, “Do we miss those 50 pounds? Do pigs fly?” NO!

🥕🥕🥕

Drunkard by Jane Aguiar

A man used to come home drunk. One day he fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. He promised his wife that he would quit drinking. He then recovered and came back home.

When he woke up the next morning instead of drinking tea, he started running out of the house. Seeing him wearing sandals. His wife asked him, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I’ll be back soon.”

Wife understood his intention and she tried to stop him. He said, “I’m trying to quit drinking from tomorrow.” His wife ironically replied, “surely you’ll change, when pigs fly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Swine Song by Kerry E.B. Black

We lived outside of Gerasene, a land where the Chosen never harried us.

Or so we thought.

A man swathed in sunlight called to a madman chained in the nearby tombs. “What is your name?”

The darkness within the madman growled, “Legion.”

The glowing man sent Legion into our doylt.

Cold settled into our bones. Acid ate our flesh. Demonic whispers infiltrated our thoughts.

We acted before Legion controlled us as it had the madman of the tombs.

Together, we leaped from the cliff, truly flew, suspended in our divine act before gravity called us to the primordial sea.

🥕🥕🥕

Flying Pigs by Joanne Fisher

“Don’t those pigs have wings?” I asked looking up at the pigs in the laboratory.

“This is our research into flying pigs. We crossed them with bats. Unfortunately vampire bats, so not only do they fly, but they’ll swoop down and drain your blood. Hence the protective safety glass.” My guide tapped the barrier.

“Just one question: why?” He shrugged his shoulders.

“We thought there might be a market for it.”

“Flying vampiric pigs?”

“Well maybe not vampiric…” He conceded. “We’ll iron out the problems in the next trial. Hopefully they won’t escape the lab this time.”

“This time?!”

🥕🥕🥕

Grafted Rethink by Connor Dickinson

Xenotransplantation Zoom Conference.

‘Germany flew twenty chimera-pigs secretly to Bavaria, high-tech laboratory professor Santiago.’

‘Swines. A scientific dew-claw. As FDA Argentinian Chair, I vote pannage for livestock, and no to human-pig trials Doctor Mateo.’

Week later.

I’m hospitalised with sixty-degree, pig-iron burns, my flesh putrid, steaky, nauseating.

‘Sign consent form for xeno/pig skin graft? Most like human skin,’ says silhouette.

‘NO.’ I die from painful heart attack.

Yet a day later I live, with a new pig heart. German maverick doctor glares at me. ‘Now, ethics committee advisor will you say yes to human pig trials?’

‘Definitely!’

🥕🥕🥕

Flying Pigs by Norah Colvin

Children’s squeals drew the principal to the window. Ms Irena’s children were running about the yard tossing bits of paper in the air. What were they up to this time?

“We read a book about a flying pig,” explained Ms Irena. “The children decided to make their own pigs and see if they could fly. Then they wanted to see whose would fly the farthest or highest. After, we’ll write stories about our pigs. So, it’s literacy, art, maths and science rolled into one — STEAM!”

The principal smiled. “A flight of pigs. With Irena, even the impossible seems possible.”

🥕🥕🥕

Indigo Wings by Nancy Brady

Aloysius loved to fly. Yet, he rarely stuck the feather behind his ear unless he found it absolutely necessary.

The day he wandered into farm country, a few pigs had escaped and were being chased by a dog. Squealing in fear, they ran. Aloysius wasn’t fond of dogs either, but he wanted to help.

Finding it absolutely necessary, the white cat put his feather on, grabbed the pigs, and tried to lift off. They were too heavy until the feather turned a deeper blue. Aloysius and the pigs rose, taking flight, sailing over the field back to their barnyard.

🥕🥕🥕

ALotta Piggies in Flight by JulesPaige

Me, be an editor?! When pigs fly. Apparently the pigs are flying. I can now list on my resume that I am a co-editor of a poetry book! I’ve done my part in spell checking, design, and general co-creator! That’s what you get when two people can work together (via the internet) and encourage each other.

like moths to a flame –
do pigs fly when the moon’s full?
maybe in autumn

I’ve zoomed, zigged and zagged. Now I can sit back and cheer. Thanking all the folks who counted syllables to create enchanting verses for ‘The Moons of Autumn’.

🥕🥕🥕

Sometimes a Miracle! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Maximilian munched on his last MLT sandwich. The sun set over the mesa he lived atop. Years ago, it’d split away – like magic! – as the surrounding continent had sunk under the ocean. The sheep dwindled, while lettuce, tomatoes, and wheat thrived.

He knew it would be fish sandwiches from now on.

Max’s wife, Valerie, had known about his shameful craving for a BLT; pork was unlikely in their situation. On her death, tired of hearing him kvetch, she’d shrieked “When pigs fly!”

He sighed. And then heard the faint squealing and flapping of tiny wings, high above and circling.

🥕🥕🥕

Once Upon Impossible by Duane L Herrmann

“When pigs fly!” She said dismissively because, of course, pigs can’t fly. Generations pass. Chemical pollution generated mutations. Animals sprouted features they’d never had before. New shapes, unusual combinations, appeared. A form of bird lots its feathers, except for the wings, which expanded. It also grew two extra feet, out of its chest, and began to walk on all four. Being closer to the ground, it began to root around and the beak became blunted. It developed a pot belly. They became named: Schwein Vogel, and would fly in herds.

Soon, impossible things occurred, now that pigs could fly!

🥕🥕🥕

Sometimes, You Don’t Need What You Wish For by Frank James

Herbert the guinea pig escaped a cardboard box, scurrying outdoors. Boom! Talons snagged him, and up he went. An eagle found dinner, but Herbert writhed in air. He squealed as the bird swooped into a nest where chicks squawked.

Herbert struggled harder, but the bird squeezed his neck harder. He flipped him into the center of nest. Herbert saw an opening in the nest wall, dashing for it. A hungry chick grabbed his back, but Herbert yanked free into the hole. He hopped down limb-by-limb, except the last one. He had to jump.

“Whee!” He squealed, landing his master’s arms.

🥕🥕🥕

Campout: A Mini-Memoir by Michael Fishman

I dated a farm girl who loved camping. Me? My farm knowledge was the words to Old McDonald, and camping was a room at the Holiday Inn.

You do things when you’re in love and that’s how I found myself camping in her brother’s yard one July Saturday night. The bathroom was close, and all things considered, it wasn’t so bad.

Early Sunday morning I woke to a shove. I opened the tent flap and was face-to-face with a very large pig. The pig snorted. Molly reacted with some deep-seated farm knowledge. The pig ran.

I didn’t scream.

E-I-E-I-ohhhhhh.

🥕🥕🥕

When Pigs Fly by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Come one, come all, the circus is in town,” bellowed the bearded lady.

Me and Jude stood at the side of the road and gawked at the circus wagons. The calliope played with such fervor we had to cover our ears from the noise. We’d never smelled so many smells at the same time.

When the wagon of monkeys stopped, the critters screeched and pointed, like we were the funny ones.

“What do you think, Jude? Is your ma gonna let you go?”

“I hope so. Last year when I asked her all she said was, “When pigs fly!””

🥕🥕🥕

The Fair Opens Early by Charli Mills

For three days, diesel engines have geared low to turn at Satori’s Corner halfway up Quincy Hill. Carnies arrive, hauling chunks of amusement rides and galley games. Trucks towing hot dog shacks, popcorn houses, and ramshackle campers follow. Carnie food and homes. Perpetual travelers from across the nation bring fun and excitement to rural counties on a continuous loop. The Houghton County Fair opens on Thursday. When a trailer full of 4H pigs escape and the Ferris Wheel operator leaves popcorn in a seat before the test ride, a flight of pigs launches the first attraction a day early.

🥕🥕🥕

Sure Enough, I Saw by Artie Camenzind

A herd of roller-skating tortoises by the pond. A beaver family dancing salsa atop their dam. A rookery of herons singing Cosi Fan Tutte. A patch of hazel-nut trees debating souffle’ recipes. A group of teens with mobile phones off. A dog talking about irrigation flow efficiency. A yoga class of cats in downward dog. A stroller pushed by love bright as sun. A flight of pigs, none named Bacon Sandwich.

On Geisel’s Ferry Boulevard, I sure enough saw all this and more; sure enough I did do not say I did not – you were there, you saw.

🥕🥕🥕

Pig Aloft (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid? Kid, where ya at?”

“Psst! Pal. I’m up here in the hay loft.”

“Ya sure flew the coop at this prompt. What’re ya doin’ up there?”

“This’s a cruel an’ unusual prompt. Figgered I’d put Curly in hidin’.”

“How in heck’d ya git yer dang pig up there?”

“The hay elevator. ‘Cept I had it runnin’ too fast. Poor Curly went flyin’ across the mow. Now she won’t come near it.”

“Hmmf. How now d’ya pr’pose ta git thet pig down outta thet hay loft? She’s too big ta carry anymore.”

“I’ll figger somethin’ out.”

“When pigs fly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Pig Aloft (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, kin ya mebbe lower her down? There’s a block an’ tackle over the hayloft doors.”

“Poor Curly’s so upset from her elevator ride I cain’t git near her.”

“Now whut’s all thet squealin’? Did ya catch her?”

“No, but she’s all caught up in somethin’. Some sorta sign. Her hooves’ve gone through, she’s wearin’ this thing like a… a wing! Look out below! She’s skidded inta the wild blue! Curly’s flyin’!”

*When pigs fly
Aloft on good grace
Prayer wings*

“Landed at the Poet Tree. Hep her outta that wing.”

“Thet wing was Shorty’s rodeo banner.”

“Uh-oh.”

🥕🥕🥕

What’s your Style of Conflict?

Conflict is necessary when writing a story. Tension is the conflict’s little brother. While conflict might be more visible through a friend’s fight, a lover’s betrayal, or a tragic accident, it will keep the reader on edge from one scene to the next as they wonder how it will all come to an end.

If omitted, readers may decide to skip your novel entirely.

The principle of conflict is that it should rise and fall at uneven intervals. Escalation and resolution should occur so that conflict has motion. As a writer, you will want your characters to respond. For example, a woman leaving her husband can not happen without reason. Here, you begin to see how certain factors in story-building affect one another. 

We have to consider the degree of conflict and how that will impact your characters. 

Eventually, as writers, we try to make peace with the characters involved in the conflict. We try to think about their personality traits, their motivations, or their goals. We try to be in our characters’ shoes by considering what they will do. How would my characters respond, or does the conflict change them? The transition could be a bumpy one. 

Similarly, when we conflict with others, we ought to learn to make a truce.

The above applies to our lives. 

A conflict in our day-to-day lives helps us stay alert and, in some cases, grateful. If nothing ever went wrong in our lives, we would never have a chance to grow stronger. On the other hand, life, all rosy, would be so dull, aimless, and bland. A rise and fall at uneven intervals can keep us on guard and allow our intellect to make decisions when we are in a puddle. It’s also a test of our intelligence, which makes us different from any other living species. 

Conflict is the vehicle for change in our society, our personal lives, and at work.

Martin Luther King, Jr., looked at conflict as a means of making positive social change. It is how we handle conflict that we need to consider.

According to the Thomas-Kilmann, Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), used by human resource (HR) professionals worldwide, there are five major styles of conflict management—collaborating, compromising, avoiding, competing, and accommodating.

Collaborating: 

While working in collaboration with another peer at work, an individual could create concerns and needs. Although partnership could generate creative solutions, foster respect, trust, and build relationships. But it can also lead to competition to create a win-win solution. 

Collaboration is far more powerful than competition. Your body and brain work best when you’re joyful and peaceful, not when you are pushed to the wall.

Compromising: 

People who work as compromisers are willing to sacrifice some of their goals while persuading others to give up theirs. They are ready to walk the extra mile to help maintain the relationship. Although the compromise is not necessarily intended to make all parties happy, to split the difference, game-playing can result in an outcome that is less creative and ideal.

Avoiding

People who use this conflict style deliberately ignore or withdraw from it rather than face it when in such a situation. However, they hope the problem will go away if they lay low by not taking responsibility or being involved. But then avoidance can be destructive if the opposite party perceives that you don’t care enough to engage. The result could be a loss for both parties since the argument could result in angry or hostile outbursts by not dealing with the conflict. 

Competing

People who compete come across as aggressive, confrontational, and can be intimidating. Having a competitive style is mainly to gain power while pressuring a change. However, this style could help in making difficult decisions and can harm relationships beyond repair. 

Accommodating

People who adopt this style of conflict usually keep aside their own needs because they want to keep the peace. Accommodators are cooperative and keep their egos at bay. They wouldn’t mind losing and allowing the other person to win.

Conclusion

How we respond to someone challenging our ideas or questioning our views is an essential aspect of our personality that we would be wise to recognize. At work or within the family, how we engage with others can make the difference between a positive and mutually beneficial relationship or one that is fraught with distrust and frustration.

We might consider this mode as our instinctive reaction to conflict. Knowing our mode can help assess whether we are the right person to engage in a row.

My two cents

By first gaining self-awareness, engagement with others can be more thoughtful and considerate, which is critical in improving one’s work situation and achieving professional objectives. 

Different situations demand different conflict approaches as long as we continue to heal ourselves with any process. 

So, what’s your style of conflict?

=========

This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Instagram: ruchira.khanna

Saddle Up Saloon; Picture Prompt

“Kid? It’s awful quiet aroun’ here… do we got a guest? Who’s takin’ the stage this week?”

“Ain’t got nuthin’. Again. But don’t go blamin’ me, Pal, I cain’t do it all. Our dang writer— ah, shift, here she is now, this cain’t be good. D. Avery, where in heck ya been? We could use a little help runnin’ this here saloon.”

“Sorry Kid. And no, I don’t have anyone lined up for you to interview. My computer is on the fritz, I’ve been working and playing hard, and quite frankly it isn’t easy corralling people to be interviewed by you.”

“D., yer excuses is lamer ‘an a old broken down nag.”

“Whoa, back up. Shush, Kid. Yer workin’ D.? Thought ya was retired. What’re ya doin’ now thet ya ain’t teachin’?”

“Working at the local hemp farm.”

“Hmmf! Hemp? Ya makin’ rope or smokin’ dope?”

“None of the above. It’s CBD marijuana, cannabidiol type. You know, for medicinal oils and tinctures.”

“Sounds like snake oil ta me.”

“All I know is it’s a growing business. And I get paid to exercise outdoors on one of the most beautifully situated farms in the great state of Vermont.”

“Exercise? Thinkin’ ya mean manual labor.”

“Yes, but you know what the 4-H kids say.”

“No, I don’t. What d’they say?”

“Well the pledge is, as I recall, ‘I pledge … My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world’.”

“Ya tryin’ ta tell us this’s some sorta 4-H project? Growin’ pot?”

“No, Kid, but it sure does my heart, health, and head good to be working with my hands again. And I’m among good people and the operation is all organic. Worse things could be going on on that acreage.”

‘S’pose thet’s a fact. So what’ve ya been doin’ there, D.?”

“Well, this past couple of weeks it’s been a lot of weed whacking.”

“Weed whacking the weed?”

“Yes, clearing the weeds and ground cover that are around the plants. Clearing the way for harvest. And, from that work, maybe there is something we could run for the saloon this week Kid. See, when you have row upon row of repetitive work to do, your mind gets to travel a bit.”

“Uh-oh…”

“The crew and I are out there, dressed for our work, you know, long pants, boots, and a harness that helps support the straight shaft weed whacker. We march in and transform shaggy fields into regimented, groomed rows of sturdy plants.”

“Uh-huh…”

“Anyway, my mind went back to a scene from a family visit to Arlington National Cemetery a couple years ago.”

“‘Cause a them straight rows?”

“No. Because of the weed whacking brigade. On our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the Marine in full dress uniform makes his precise drills, I noticed men in drab green work clothes marching through the rows of headstones. They moved with precision and as a unit, their weed whackers held expertly as they maintained those hallowed grounds, keeping them in pristine condition.”

“I kin see how ya made thet connection whilst weed whacking with yer crew, D., but what’s thet got ta do with runnin’ somethin’ fer the saloon?”

“I’ve had these pictures handy for over two years. The picture in my head is stronger. I’ve thought there is a story there, but I have yet to write it. So maybe—”

“A photo prompt! Mebbe folks’ll connect ta these picture an’ they kin provide some stories!”

“Yes, exactly. Any length they wish. They can post and pingback through their own sites and/or leave their story below in the comments. And it doesn’t have to be exactly this scene. Their story could be about going to an acclaimed event, but then they see something that leaves an unexpected impression… my visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is more memorable for me because of the parallel scene.”

“When I’m at a rodeo sometimes I miss the action in the arena cuz I’m takin’ in the re-actions in the stands. An’ thet’s what I end up ‘memberin’ the most a thet event.”

“Yeah, Pal. So what’s the prompt?”

“Folks, if these here photos inspire ya ta a story, or lead ya ta a memory or story ‘bout a time thet weren’t the main event, please share in the comments or with a pingback ta yer post. Ev’ry pi’ture tells a story. What d’ya have ta say ‘bout what ya see?”

The Unknown by D. Avery

The boss calls me Manuel, calls me Mexican. Manuel is not my name, Mexico is not the country I come from. I am Guatemalan. “What’s the difference?” he asks, but does not really want an answer. 

Hundreds of people come every day to this cemetery where I do this work. These people honor their soldiers. They are awed by the endless rows of headstones, each engraved with a name. 

My father, my mother, my brothers and sisters— they had names. My village had a name. 

The boss says I am lucky to have this job. I know that’s true.

 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 now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at 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.

August 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

The carnies have come to town. At any moment, I’m anticipating a flight of pigs to buzz Roberts Street. I’d wave, and think nothing of it. Stranger things have happened, and I never expected to be standing in my own classroom this week. Pigs must be flying.

My daughter and SIL have pigs. They think of their homestead herds as animals on the payroll. The chickens (okay, flock) provide their market garden with nitrogen. The goats clear brush and brambles. And the pigs root. After the rooting, the chickens on nitrogen duty perform a secondary function — they follow where the pigs rooted and pooped to eat the parasites. Yup. Pigs have parasites. Everybody has to eat in this environment.

Lately, I’ve been spending more time learning about soil and the health of the environment. My dad is working on a document to inform BLM in Nevada how trees communicate underground. Recently, he sent me a book called, Finding the Mother Tree. It gave me an idea for why my fictional tree wizard showed up in my writing as a lumberjack wearing a skirt. Neither my dad nor the Finnish shaman I’ve met would fit the description of cross-dressers. But through them, I’ve learned more about the varied ways we humans connect to the forests. Clear-cut tree stands are missing their mother. It’s plausible that my character embraces the feminine sacred to embody what the trees are lacking — a mother.

Such is the rambling of my imagination, my creative brain. I’m teaching my students about different ways to think. Our brains can be both analytical and creative. Our hearts think with emotion and out guts think through intuition. Writing is thinking and we use the full-bodied expression. I’m delighting to create weekly modules to support my syllabi and learning outcomes. My students make me think, especially about the future because what they do daily at college is all about their future.

This is the part where I expect to hear squeals overhead. I though pigs would fly before someone ever called me prof. On Monday, one of my students thanked me for the class and said, “See ya later, Prof.” Everything stilled as if I were in a movie and the director was ready to say, “Cut!” But this is real. As real as the memory that implanted itself on my new office door. I recalled the door to my attic hideaway in the Markleeville General Store and the life-sized monochromatic poster of Indiana Jones.

I wanted to be Indiana Jones. It was a deep dream, the kind you don’t tell other people. It’s the kind of dream I tell writers to explore when they craft their vision of success as authors. It’s the impossible dream that contains possibility. What about Indiana Jones captivated my young mind in 1981. I had wanted to be an archaeologist before the movie came out. I kept my own notes. I also wanted to write historical novels, and I crafted elaborate stories and genealogies for characters with names like Nicodemus and Silver. I sought travel and adventure. And deep down, I want all that Indy had — the exploration of people and cultures, the world travel, the knowledge and storytelling, and the college classroom.

When I was in my MFA program, I also worked toward a masters certification to teach writing online. It aligned with my plans to develop writers workshops, and I learned how to coach and teach. My peers dreamed of college teaching, too and I never shared my deep-down dream except when prompted to write reflective essays. It’s a muddy career because most college professors hold PhD’s. Such instructors have served as lecturers and teacher’s assistants in large universities. However, MFA’s are terminal degrees and count toward teaching in college. Typically, MFA holders are expected to have had at least one, sometimes as many as five books published.

I’m unpublished (yet) although I have an extensive writing portfolio of magazine articles, profiles, essays, and short stories. I have an MFA but no classroom experience. Yeah, I figured I’d get hired in marketing before I’d get hired at a university. But the stars aligned like magic as they often do when you commit to your North Star and express the deep core of your dreams. I sat at my office desk Wednesday and could see my old movie poster materialize on the door across the room. Indy winked. “You got this, Kid,” he said.

Then a flock of pigs flew past my window.

Okay, I’m daydreaming out loud now. But you know the feeling — when only fiction can describe the depth of a moment so profound. I’m not daydreaming in the classroom. I’ve arrived. And I love every aspect of it.

I love having my office mate text to set up another “Ladies Coffee” where she and I sit over a press pot and shared lunch to discuss what we hope is the launch of our college teaching careers. I love having my friend who also teaches at FinnU loan me a plant for our office. I love that one of the full-time English professors who is impassioned about literature and students reach out to ask how my first week is going. I love that the bookstore manager expressed excitement for my choices of reading material. I love that I’m already using the 99-word format as a teaching tool. Micro-essays are a thing now.

There have been hiccups and technical glitches. My contract never arrived and I began to panic that the school found out about that time I was in a gang except that I never was in a gang but fiction writers can easily slip into guilty minds. I did imagine it. But it was a name issue, namely the Annette/Charli thing that I’m going to make my dad write me a note to explain it to employers. And the insane number of programs I have to log into just for a single class to happen. But, as my office mate said, it’s refreshing to be at a university focused on the student learning and not the prestige image.

Yes, I like where I have landed.

The wonderful thing about a work schedule is that suddenly I feel less scattered. It’s hard for me to compartmentalize when my chair remains the same. When I go on campus, I know what I’m doing. When I go to my office, I’m productive in less time. I feel like I have more time and focus. Thinking has cleared, writing has flowed, and I get errands done quickly when before it would take weeks and weeks. I’ve even gone to the lake four days in a row! My new schedule outside the home made me realize the toll personal life chaos has taken on me.

I might go live among the pigs and build a she-shed on the back property with a three season writing nook. Who knows? I’m open to change and a future that doesn’t feel stark and stressful. My future is looking bright as the shine of deep dreams emerge.

August 26, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a flight of pigs. It can be farm or fantasy-related. The idea can be a tale, poem or memory. You can use the phrase as an expression. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 31, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Fair Opens Early by Charli Mills

For three days, diesel engines have geared low to turn at Satori’s Corner halfway up Quincy Hill. Carnies arrive, hauling chunks of amusement rides and galley games. Trucks towing hot dog shacks, popcorn houses, and ramshackle campers follow. Carnie food and homes. Perpetual travelers from across the nation bring fun and excitement to rural counties on a continuous loop. The Houghton County Fair opens on Thursday. When a trailer full of 4H pigs escape and the Ferris Wheel operator leaves popcorn in a seat before the test ride, a flight of pigs launches the first attraction a day early.

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Stars in the Sand

Take a walk through storyscapes and stars below the heavens.

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

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

Walking Through the Galaxy by Joanne Fisher

Their spaceship had crashed. The survivors had activated an emergency beacon. Ta’an left the wreckage in search of nearby settlements.

When Ta’an got to a plain, she beheld a breathtaking vista. It was as though there were two galaxies before her: the Milky Way above, and it’s mirror opposite below; stars in the sky and stars in the sand. The surface was so reflective that as she walked onwards, it was as though she was walking among the stars. They surrounded her. Looking downwards she saw red lights swiftly approaching. She looked up: the rescue ship was above her.

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Shelley by Connor Dickinson

Immortal sorcerer you wizard words on holy parchment.
I’m an inflated balloon, electrostatically charged.
Buoyant, seduced by my shadow-trickster: a sinking and drowning clown.
The prettiest words I would need.
Warped inside, wanting to honour you with pride.
Chewed-up by Devilish-diction. Reluctance, frustration, defeated. Capsized.

But your eternal-spirit rejuvenates my soul.
A revelation, ‘Don’t compete.’
‘Enjoy my odes and your writing journey.’
Millennia crush my bones to white ash.
Enchanted solar-winds carry my iridescence.
Let us share a Moon Fountain of lunar-sand.
Our pearl essence, caressing and cascading metres or miles-high in ballistic trajectories, timelessly.
Togetherness, stars in the sand.

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Stars in the Sand by Sue Spitulnik

Sand and rocks, all the same color. Windy. The sand didn’t care whose clothing it sifted into; US troops in full battle gear, residents they were training, or the enemy they had trouble identifying.

Then came the explosion. Michael’s legs in a million pieces, splattered in every direction. His driver’s body torn apart. The identifiable parts gathered reverently to return home in a flag-covered casket.

The General visited the compound. His soldiers knew he would come. He had their respect. He cared about their well-being. His stars shone in the sun, the same color as the unforgiving relentless sand.

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Idas and Marpessa by Anne Goodwin

Evenus insisted the man who married his daughter should first prove his worth. Challenged her suitors to a chariot race; a hundred losers’ heads graced his palace walls.

Idas loved Marpessa. She loved him. Yet, when Idas beat her father, Evenus set him ever more difficult tasks. Finding a needle in a haystack. A unicorn on a ranch.

Idas was a patient fellow, but he couldn’t waste another year searching for stars in sand.

Marpessa wept when he left her. But busied herself returning a thousand needles to her sewing box. Gathering a million stick-on stars from the beach.

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Midnight Dream by Jane Aguiar

Midnight, all flat,
Everywhere is quiet.
The twinkling of the stars,
And the moon’s dim light!!

Far away where the horizon is seen,
The sky yearns to meet the ocean.
There, We met each other,
And the pain vanished!!

Slow gusts of wind sound,
Innumerable stars around.
Suddenly you hugged me,
And pulled me on the ground!!

You dragged me into arms,
I stared , through the window of my eyes.
You kissed and cuddled me,
And I gave a good response!!

Suddenly I woke up,
And realised.
My dream was shattered.
But,I saw the stars
In the sand!!

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The Kaleidoscope by Larry Trasciatti

I’ve wandered into a kaleidoscope

The rules aren’t the same here

As I walk on by

I often peel the clouds from

The blue noontime sky with friends
Shall we share a most breathtaking

Lunch of sweet tangerines and marmalade?

Do whatever you want as long

As you get home by midnight

Meet the deadline and you’ll

Always be so very happy

During the frequent truly fine moments

You can truly relish the sparkling

Of the Stars In the Sand

The kaleidoscope will tell no secrets

Let it be your daily adventure

A splendid time is guaranteed for all

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Lake Michigan Midnight (Shore Lunes) by JulesPaige

too soon, the path will
allow me
to arrive coast side

I, imposter here
among the
good trees; hide from day

seek constellations
the sky’s book
notwithstanding dark

Black light at the ready to harvest rocks with iridescent spots. I will seek the stars in the sand as well as in the sky. Did the stars fall millions of years ago? I will create my own origin stories.

From this great lake with its north and south beaches… gifting up fossils, glass spears; marbles, lost china from sunken ships. Those can go to the day hunters. I’ll hoard Yooperlites!

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A Change of Climate by Floridaborne

Sigrid had looked out her window at the steep fjords white with snow many times, and as many times she’d turned her gaze toward the wall mural of Florida she’d once loved.

She’d dreamed of the palm trees, sleeping in the empty hammock strung between them, and shining white beaches with tiny stars sparkling in the sand.

Her plane landed, a taxi carried her to a beachfront hotel with the promise of hammocks amid the palms. She fell asleep to the whisper of waves, awakening inside a Miami hospital.

“Third degree burns,” the doctor said.

Sigrid longed for home.

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Stars in the Sand by Kerry E.B. Black

Lonely footprints in the sand marked her progress, footprints watered with her tears and the exuberant salt spray. She sniffed sadness with each step as she left her marital home.

The moon danced in the dark ocean’s waves and laughed at the woman’s consternation. This orb’s influence led the sea astray, pulling the waters along lunar whims. Likewise, it diverted the woman’s husband, enhancing his basest instincts. Like a madman, he romanced in moonlight with howls, dances, and gore.

In despair and fear, she fled, unaware with each resultant spray of her passage, she revealed stars in the sand.

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Stars in the Sand by Doug Jacquier

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott-Thomas, their characters besotted with each other, gaze at the stars in the desert heavens and glory in both their mass and their individuality. Suddenly the sky is more sand than stars and they realise they are about to be enveloped by a khamsin. They make it to their truck and spend the night pursuing their mutual obsession as the sand buries them. They have no fear or trepidation because the English are very patient. In the morning, they dig themselves out and their journey continues, because the sand cannot bury stars of any kind.

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Stars in the Sand by Reena Saxena

“Join me to start a new initiative – social, creative or commercial”, I said. “It’s the closest friendship I can think of.”

They give me blank looks.

“You’re busy in a lockdown?” I hear amused remarks.

I stay away, not wanting to be a part of the idlers’ club.

I’m politely labelled unsocial, and treated as if I’m anti-social.

“You’re not counted in the close circle. Nobody likes you,” hisses my venomous mother.

Actually, nobody understands me. Is it fear or envy?

Some day, I’ll write my story with stars on the sands. I’m already visualising my Ted Talk.

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Heavenly Body by Annette Rochelle Aben

She absent-mindedly heard the tide rush towards the shore but felt it touch her toes as though trying to get her attention. A million miles beyond the moon was where she was tonight. Could the water take her to that distant galaxy where she felt she belonged?

One step at a time, she followed the promise of the tide that had obviously been sent like a taxi hailed by her heart. As water swirled around her ankles, she closed her eyes and smiled. She walked until she was floating above her tears which glistened like stars in the sand.

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Promised Waters by Rebecca Glaessner

Solar floodlights expose the beachfront like daylight. Crowds gathered there nightly to escape the endless heat, their music drowning the waves. I move on over slippery rock-pools and round the cliffs further up the coast.

Human sounds fall away as the cliffs lower to reveal a river mouth and marshy swampland, visible now beneath unburdened starlight, and rest upon a tree root.

They don’t have oceans on Mars, yet. That’s why they’re sending me.

Starlight glints off flecks of sand beneath my bare feet.

They say there’re stars in the sands of Mars.

Perhaps the waters will free them.

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The Collector by Hugh W. Roberts

The Collector has an important message for the people of the planet Earth. Will they listen?

***
One hundred and twenty million years had passed since its last visit.

It didn’t like the feel of the granular material, but the stars that had fallen into what humans named ‘sand’ needed replenishing to keep the planet alive.

Picking up an item the waves washed ashore, the Collector studied it. It smelt and tasted good. For every one of these items it took away, it left a star.

As beaches around the planet shone, humans wondered where all the plastic in the seas had gone.

It would only be another twenty years before the Collector returned.

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Aloysius on the Beach by Nancy Brady

Although the family, who believed they owned Aloysius, tried to keep him in their house and yard, he often wandered further afield.

One day he made his way down to the shore. The sunshine was shining brightly on Aloysius’s fur; the yellow beams created stars on the sand.

Like any normal feline (and Aloysius was anything but), the white cat reacted as most cats would, he pounced upon each and every star he saw. Aloysius vanquished them all, never looking back. Swishing his tail back and forth triumphantly, he padded back home, each footstep leaving behind another sand dollar.

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Foraminifera by Simon Prathap D

It’s boring here, give my brain something to chew.

How about sand?

Sand? what is there about it? are these alive?

how these sands looks like?

Star shaped?

Stars in these sands, are a living organism,

Living? are you kidding me?

Foraminifera, a single celled organism, found in open ocean, along the coasts and in estuaries, and they are ALIVE!

ALIVE! now I have hundreds of questions about it.

Good, now explore it and stay curious.

This is not fair

Now you got what you asked for, learn yourself, world is an amazing place to learn before you die.

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The Sea by Saifun Hassam

He is an old fisherman. He knows the seasons. When the Cygnet is high overhead, he walks barefoot along the dark shores.

He listens to the surf, far out, coming ever closer. Phosphorescence creatures ride the waves, sliding down along the walls of waves. Momentarily the dark wet sand comes alive with brilliant greens and blues. Millions of tiny universes scintillate like stars in the sand. The stars dim. Another wave spills its surf on the sand. Instantly the stars light up. Fiery and fluorescent the stars ride back to the waters, lights bound up with their watery universe.

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Stars in the Sand by D. Avery

Grandma says there are stars in the sand.

A lot of people think Grandma’s crazy.

I think it’s crazy that I have to go to school where all I learn is to keep quiet and avoid bullies.

Come on, Grandma says when I get home, Let’s go star gazing, and heads down to the beach, hours before sunset.

It’s not the right time, I say.

We can handle time she says, and we do. Wordless, we marvel at the glittering sand; we smooth it, sift it, lie in it.

You’re a star she says, and I know she’s right.

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The Crooner by Bill Engleson

I was on a late-night stroll along the sea wall. The moon was half full, slipping through the shadows of trees along my way.

I was alone, the last person on earth.

A comforting imaginative thought.

As I rounded a corner, I saw him sitting on a bench, singing: “Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, don’t let the moon break your heart…”

Suddenly I was a child again, mimicking Perry on the Motorola, flubbing the lyrics: “don’t let the stars in the sand get in your eyes…”

Mother would correct me.

I’d try again.

Loved her laugh!

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Stars in the Sand by Norah Colvin

Works of art, created from random pieces of this and that, were incomplete without a generous sprinkling of glitter. When stars were available, the children were in heaven. Though insignificant to others, the works held meaning for the artist, at least for a moment like a particle of glitter passing through a sandglass. Peta watched George painstakingly place his stars. She turned his paper around. “Stars don’t go in the sand, silly. They go in the sky.” George turned it back. “They’re starfish. Starfish go in the sand. Don’t you know anything?” “Oh,” said Peta. “They are beautiful starfish!”

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Ode to the Sandman by Myrna Migala

One day in the home of a happy family, the tiny little boy asked his mommy! “Where was I before I was born?”

“Oh dear, you were the twinkle in daddy’s eye.”

“Like stars?”

“Yes! Like stars.”

“Wow!” He kept saying as he excitedly ran to tell all his friends.
After a few days had gone by, he woke up rubbing his eyes on one fine sunny morning and noticed some sleepy particles on his fingers.

“Mommy, mommy, look and see the sandman came last night to visit me.
“I do hope he put some stars in the sand.”

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Stars in the Sand by Sarah Whiley

That’s right

I’m the sidekick
Riding the tailcoats
Of those braver than I



Too shy
Too scared
To bare my teeth
And so I smile






Push me around?
You can for a while
I promise, I won’t mind
Instead I smile

My knuckles are white
I grit my teeth
Composure like armour
“Yes,” I smile

My soul awakens
She tries to get out
Shh. No one cares
I falter…

Gently I push
Gently I prod
The cocoon opens wide
And I fly right out

I am bioluminescent
I’m ready.
Projecting my stars in the sand
For all to see

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Stars in the Sand by Anita Dawes

They told me that Egypt, the pyramids
Would be the holiday of a lifetime
Leaving the rain behind
Take off delayed
They forgot to load the luggage
Not a good start
We might have left the rain behind
The black cloud had followed us aboard
The hotel turned out nice, mood lifted
Next morning, with the tour guide
We made our way to the pyramids
Wow! They really are something
Somehow, I got separated from the tour
The sand dunes I found myself on
As beautiful as any painting
That’s when I found three lucky stars in the sand…

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To the Stars by Duane L Herrmann

“To the Stars Through Difficulties” is my state motto, a constant reminder that nothing is attained easily and certainly not stars. My life can be defined by its difficulties: social isolation, emotionally crippling effects of abuse, intellectual struggles with dyslexia, ADHD, and the limitations of poverty. There were certainly no stars, nor sand, but dirt – yes.

We farmed the dirt.

Despite all that, I continued to try. Rooted in that dirt, I reached for the stars and now, after decades, have attained some success: being published around the world, in several languages, one I can read and even others.

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White City Sand by Charli Mills

Copper miners’ families crowded the double-decker steamer. Wives and children sported tiny brass stars on collars and lapels. Solidarity for fair treatment twinkled across the open decks. An anonymous patron had provided the striking miners with an exclusive excursion to White City. Thirty-minutes east of closed mines, the summer-weary strikers and families anticipated their lucky day. Respite. The promised carousel, dance pavilion, and ham picnic came into view. Mine enforcers emerged. Hundreds. Clubs in fists. The boat docked. They say you can find stars in the sand where the working class were tricked and beaten into submission in 1909.

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99 Carrot Stars by D. Avery

“Kid what’re ya doin’ lettin’ thet dang hog a yers root an’ dig ever’where?”

“If it’s okay fer Mause, it’s okay fer Curly. We’re lookin’ fer stars in the sand, Pal.”

“Thet ain’t sand, Kid, thet’s Shorty’s garden.”

“Close enough. Hey, another one! Good Curly.”

“Thet ain’t a star, Kid, thet’s jist a carrot.”

“Jist a carrot?! Carrots fer the people, Pal. Tell ya somethin’ else. The people that show up ta the ranch is all stars. Their stories shine! An’ while we ain’t got beach sand here, there’s plenty a folks with grit.”

“Reckon so, Kid, reckon so.”

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Porch Talk

I write within a porch in the heart of the Keweenaw. It looks out over a bustling village street, an old railway line, a ball diamond. There’s a Veteran’s memorial down the lane, flags flapping, begonias blooming. One name listed there belongs to a relative I never met, though I knew his Grandpa, my great-uncle. That memorial connects me to half of my family, to mining immigrants, to this place. That’s the way it is around here.

It is in this porch I sit each day, beside a patchwork bird on a wooden pedestal and a tabby cat who lounges in the sun. It’s a feminine space. An old space. Once cold and dark, it has undergone a transformation in recent years. A transition. The walls and floor have been insulated, the thin window replaced, the door repaired. It’s been painted and papered, received fresh lighting, a sturdy boot box, and a line of aged-bronze coat hooks to hold outerwear. It has become a conglomeration of the passing times. Just as I am a conglomeration of ancestry. 

I imagine this old porch was once like many Keweenaw porches. Or sheds. Or mudrooms. The walls were probably lined with wooly coats, peas of ice melting from their cuffs, scant puddles forming in rings below. I envision galoshes strewn about on its bare wood floor, rag rugs soaking up the slushy weep from their soles. Somewhere in its past lies the smell of damp dog. Of coal. Of firewood. Maybe even pasty or pannukakku. There have been times sitting out here I swear I can almost hear the voices of past residents coming from interior rooms—the Finnish or the Cornish or perhaps the French Canadian—chatting over morning coffee or afternoon tea. I imagine the clink of their cups. The slurp of liquid from their spoons. They speak with confidence, with pride, with identity. Unhindered, they raise their voices in their mother tongue. They laugh, sing, whisper. They are who they are and are licensed that freedom.

There are days I sit and think about that. I think about the freedom to speak the language of one’s choosing, and I act upon it. Though on most days I may be writing or editing from this porch, there’s at least one day a week reserved for the study of language—Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe people, my maternal blood. I log in remotely to a makeshift classroom hours away. I don my headset, turn on my camera, and join a group of others like me, students of all ages hungry for the words of their ancestors.

It is in this porch once built by immigrants that I’ve come to understand the beauty of an Indigenous language. And the value. It is here, where European descendants have stomped their boots and hung their overcoats, that I have learned another side of me. Beyond the French Canadian that contributed to my father’s blood. Beyond the Cornish of his mother.

My journey began over a year ago, in stutters and stammers. I could hardly speak. I saw my face in a small square on the screen. Other faces, too. Strangers, all of them. All of us wondering who we were. Why we’d come. What had drawn us to that virtual classroom. “Aaniin, boozhoo,” I said, my voice timid, the words foreign. And that was the beginning.

These days I introduce myself in the language with greater ease, a rhythm gradually developing, though still far from adequate. Like a graying toddler, I pick up syllable by syllable, word by word, the elders my teachers. Each week I grow in the culture, learn history, hear stories. The elders tell jokes and tease one another. And we laugh. “We don’t want to make it too heavy,” they say.

Though each member of our class comes from different walks of life, from different locations across the country, many share a similar linguistic history: Our Anishinaabe grandparents didn’t pass down their language, because they feared for their children—and their children’s children. They feared they would be taken away, feared they would be punished, as that is how it was back then. And so our parents grew up hearing the language, but not speaking it. They grew up understanding some of what they heard, but not storing it away. And we, as their children, grew up without it.

So, that is why we gather.

To honor.

To restore.

To revitalize.

I sit on this porch on a Thursday morning caressed by wisps of mashkodewashk, the scent of wiingashk in the air, nibi at my side. Sage, sweetgrass, and water ready me for the day’s teachings. We’re reading a story during this lesson, each slide on the screen a page of the storybook. I review what I see before I’m called on. To my surprise, I recognize the words, understand their meaning. There are tears in my eyes. A lump in my throat.

“Giinitam,” the elder says to me. Your turn. He wants me to read out loud what I see on the screen.

Before this day, I’ve never understood as many words grouped together. I’ve never passed a slide without relying on the English translation for clarification. I’m excited. In disbelief. “Before I begin,” I say, “I just want to tell you that I understood some of this before I read the translation. And that almost makes me cry.” My cheeks are warm. My heart glows.

“Nishin,” the elders say, nodding. “Nishin.” They are happy with my progress, proud of their student, grateful that Anishinaabemowin will not be forgotten from Aki, this Earth. I feel in this instant that somewhere in the distance my Ojibwe ancestors are smiling and nodding, too. En’, they are saying. Nishin, n’doo noozhishenh. Yes. Good, our grandchild.

It is Wednesday now, a writing day. Beyond my Keweenaw porch cars pass, children call, neighbors mow their lawns. My keyboard clacks amidst the delicate snore of the cat. I often grumble about the noise, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. I know, if I wait, there’ll come a lull in the din. The cars will quiet. The children will go home. The lawns will be tidy, and the cat will rouse herself and wander off in search of kibble. I’ll pause my typing in those moments. The click-clack of the keys will fall silent. And I’ll listen. I’ll listen for the sounds of those familiar voices—the voices of the Keweenaw immigrants. The miners and the railway workers and the lumbermen. The Finnish. The Cornish. The French-Canadian. But these days, if I listen close enough, I’ll hear another voice, too. One fresh to my ear, like a robin’s spring call. It rises from an inner space. Claims a place in the dialogue. Adds to the melody of my history. “En’,” I’ll say, for I know who it is. It is the voice of my other half. The voice of the Anishinaabeg. And I’ll smile.


Photo by Natalie Carolyn Photography

Born amidst the copper mining ruins of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, T. Marie Bertineau is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the L’Anse Reservation, migizi odoodeman. Her work has appeared online with Minnesota’s Carver County Arts Consortium; in Mino Miikana, a publication of the Native Justice Coalition and Waub Ajijaak Press; and in the annual journal U.P. Reader. Her debut memoir The Mason House (Lanternfish Press, 2020) was named a 2021 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. Married and the mother of two, she makes her home in Michigan’s Keweenaw.

Saddle Up Saloon; Receipt Rustlin’

“Shouldn’t thet title say ‘Recipe Rustlin’’ Kid? Er did ya go an’ change the plan? Agin?”

“No, we’re good ta go. We put the word out fer summer recipes an’ some folks has sent us their receipts.”

“Receipts? Are we payin’ folks fer their recipes, or are they payin’ us? What’s the word Kid?”

“The word could be receipt or recipe. According ta Merriam-Webster 

‘Both recipe and receipt derive from recipere, the Latin verb meaning “to receive or take,” with receipt adding a detour through Old North French and Middle English.’

“The dickens, you say!”

“Yep. Receipt’s jist the older version a recipe. In fact, still accordin’ ta Miriam-Webster, 

‘The form recipe is the Latin imperative, and its original use, a couple hundred years after receipt, was not in cooking instructions but in prescriptions, where it was used to preface a list of medicines to be combined (as though to say, “take these”). Eventually that word got abbreviated to an R with a line though the leg, which we later would render in print as Rx. So on a doctor’s prescription pad, Rx originally indicated the command to take that which was listed after, and Rx (or the R with a line through the leg) eventually came to serve as the universal symbol for a pharmacy or pharmacist.’

“Well Some good summer recipes— receipts— might be good fer what ails us. Geoff LePard has an innerestin’ one here fer what he calls summer pudding that looks as easy as one, two, three. Says it’s a simple way to use up any surplus summer fruits—strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants, blue berries, etc.”

You cook up about 800gms with a tablespoon of sugar until the juices are released. 
Then you line a l litre pudding bowl with slices of white bread — the cheaper the better — that you have de-crusted and soaked in some of the juice. When the bottom and sides are complete you put the fruit gunk inside and cap with more soaked bread. 
Put a plate on the top, weigh it down and chill for a few hours.

When needed turn out and eat with cream/ice cream/yoghurt. You can freeze it too. 

“Oh, that’s seems yummy, Pal. But it looks like we put dessert first. Here’s a marinade fer some hearty barbecue an’ a substantial an’ tasty macaroni and shrimp concoction from ranch hand and columnist Sue Spitulnik. These two recipes are some a her family’s favorites.” 

Bar-b-q Chicken Marinade

2 eggs – beaten well

2 cups brown cider vinegar

2 rounded tablespoons poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients together, pour over chicken (with skin) to cover

Marinate at least 24 hours

Cook chicken over charcoal fire turning and basting a few times.

Macaroni – Shrimp Salad

   1 box macaroni rings – cooked

   5 or 6 hard-boiled eggs – chopped

   2 cans baby shrimp with liquid

   4 green onions – cut in small rings

Dressing

   1 cup sour cream

   3/4 cup mayonnaise

   2 tablespoons brown cider vinegar

   1 teaspoon grated celery seed

   1 teaspoon salt

   3/4 teaspoon black pepper

“An’ all the way from South Africa is Robbie Cheadle’s mielie milk bread recipe, a staple a their braais.”

“Their what?”

“Braai means barbecue, Pal.”

“My word!”

“Yep.”

Mielie Milk Loaf

Ingredients

4 x 250 ml (4 x cups) self-raising flour (or use plain cake flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder)

10 ml white sugar

5 ml salt

1 x 400 gram tin creamy sweetcorn

300 ml low fat milk

15 ml oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Grease a loaf tin.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Add sweetcorn and incorporate. Add the milk and oil and mix well.

Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

In South Africa, cooking meat, and other things like corn on the cob, over an open fire is popular and traditional. Here it is called a braai as opposed to a barbecue and the meat that is cooked is usually steak, boerewors (a traditional Afrikaans sausage), chicken pieces, and chops. 

The men braai and the women make the salads and other side dishes including mielie pap and tomato relish and this delicious mielie milk bread.

“Those recipes all sound real good Kid. Innerestin’ too. But what about our writer? Nuthin’ from her?”

“Shift, Pal, she don’t have too many tricks up her oven mitt. She was gonna share a couple a her father’s pickle recipes, but… 

Yep, she was all proud a hersef, was preservin’ her brother’s plethora a picklin’ cukes along with preservin’ her father’s legacy fer fine pickles. Thought that was a fine thing ta do, what with him gittin’ on in years an’ all. Was gonna organize this treasure chest too. Reckon if she don’t find them pieces a lined paper he writ on she’s gonna have ta go back an’ ask fer the secrets all over agin.”

“Hmmf. Makes ya wunner what her receipts file looks like.”

“No. It don’t. Speakin’ a recipes an’/or receipts, here’s more from Merriam-Webster:

The sense of receipt that we know today—that of a statement documenting the receiving of money or goods—began in the 16th century, and by the 17th century, both words were referring to cooking instructions. While recipe is the preferred word for that meaning today, the memory of being handed down “a receipt for cookies” does get handed down—like a beloved recipe—from older generations:

I was after a recipe (or “receipt,” as my mother called them) for corn bread that came from the heart of the Old South. 

— Theron Raines, Gourmet, May 1988

Her receipts, as she insists on calling them (rightly, too), are in the best tradition of New England cooking, often rich perhaps in eggs and cream, but not exotic… 

— The New York Herald Tribune Books, 13 Dec. 1942

“Reckon when our writer does git aroun’ ta rootin’ through thet recipe box a hers she’s gonna stir up some memories a people an’ places from her past. I know she’s been purty selective ‘bout what she collects fer thet box. There’s stories in there.”

“Yep, our fav’rite foods come with stories, Pal, ‘sociations. Mebbe some a our Saloon patrons’ll leave a recipe or a family food story in the comments.”

“What d’ya say folks? D’ya call it recipe er receipt where ya come from? D’ya have a old family recipe been handed down over generations? D’ya have a favorite cookbook or one a these file card boxes?”

Brined in 99

The cucumbers are cut lengthways and set in a crock of brine. Like him, the crock and its contents are a presence. His grandkids love or hate his infamous sour pickles. They goad one other, laugh through watering eyes as their faces twist and pucker. Some claim to like them and go back for seconds.

The Old Man’s bent walk is more labored, the slicing and onion dicing more challenging for his swollen hands, yet each summer he pickles. His progeny find the crock in its place, solid and reliable, pickles sour yet surrounded by sweet memories. Like him.

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 now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at 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.

August 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

How does a little dog eat a big lake? One bite at a time.

Lake Superior has locked Mause into an eternal game of chase-my-waves. At nine-months-old, this petite GSP is smart. She calculates the roll and trajectory of beach waves and begins her chase at the crest. The waves slant, hitting one part of the beach first and splashing further down. Mause devours water.

It’s been a hot week full of intense work after two weeks of meetings, training and deadlines. I made a water promise — to be in or on it regularly. I load Mause or the kayak into my car and we head out to escape the unseasonable warmth for a brief break.

Despite the high temperatures (today it was 90 degrees F), chasing waves and biting water chills the pup. When we get back to the car, her towel is warm. Mause shivers until I wrap her up and rub vigorously. She has gained an appreciation for a thorough toweling.

Today Mause learned to appreciate a sandy beach. It was hot enough that I wanted a dip, too.

We drove out past the blueberry farm. I saw the ghost of campfires past and imagined I smelled Dutch oven beans. I laughed, seeing that the campers in #5 set up next to my favorite pine to leave a leak. I let the good memories walk with me on the beach, my bare feet scrubbed by the quartz grains. I told Mause, “There are stars in the sand.” She tried to find them and dug.

The water created a new game — fill-in-the-holes. Waves elongated and smoothed over Mause’s star mines. This only made her dig faster. Rooster tails of golden sand shot backward three feet. Water filled the hole. Mause pawed the momentary sludge, digging water, then sand again. In the end, the beach kept its treasure. Except for the grains that ended up on Mause’s towel.

The trouble with trying to eat a big lake is that it overfills a small puppy bladder. We stopped three times on the way home so she could leave her leak outside the car. She’s so tired she didn’t whine when I watered the potager garden without her. I had herbs to cut, banana peppers to pick, and a bunny to greet. She shelters in my lavender bush. I watered beneath the watchful gaze of the elegant Lemon Queens and thought about next week.

Next week, I’ll be in my office on campus. Next week, I will meet my students and discuss success with them. Next week, I have a coffee date with my office mate, a soprano who teaches music appreciation. Next week, I get to Zoom with Sue Spitulnik’s writing group. Next week, I’m going to my first Rosza concert (outdoors) since the pandemic began — Beethoven and Banjos, a celebration of water through classical, folk and indigenous music and dance.

Next week feels like I found a star upon the beach.

Both my classes will learn about clarity in writing, after all, whether a written piece is informative or artistic, the goal is communication. In English 103, we will focus on clarity in what we read and how we form critical thought. In English 104, we will focus on forming critical thought to write clearly.

As literary artists, clarity might vary in degrees. We are practicing what to include in 99-words, and what to leave out. Did you know that the clearest sentence in the English language is the SVO construction? Subject-verb-object. As literary artists, we can vary our sentence lengths. Long sentences slow down the pace. Short ones speed it up. The SVO sentence can be punchy and well-placed after a long, ambling sentence. Or three in a row can build tension. Syntax is a writing element that impacts both clarity and style.

However, in fiction, syntax must also advance the plot and character arc. Marylee McDonald explains how to observe syntax in fiction and create your own cheat sheet of author’s sentences that you admire. Deconstruct the sentences to see the mechanics underneath. She refers to Hemingway’s SVO sentence structures as SV, but otherwise, its an excellent primer and tool on syntax.

To clarify, since we are talking clarity, syntax is a writing element. It has to do with language construction. Craft elements, on the other hand, are the mechanics of fiction. Dialog and world-building are craft elements. Syntax plays a vital role in clarifying who said what, as well as defining a new world experience. As a writer, it is your word choice and sentence construction. As a fiction writer, both craft and writing elements carry the action and emotion from a starting point to a conclusion.

Never doubt there is always something to learn, practice or master in our craft!

For now, let’s chase stories and stars.

August 19, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!

Respond by August 24, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

White City Sand by Charli Mills

Copper miners’ families crowded the double-decker steamer. Wives and children sported tiny brass stars on collars and lapels. Solidarity for fair treatment twinkled across the open decks. An anonymous patron had provided the striking miners with an exclusive excursion to White City. Thirty-minutes east of closed mines, the summer-weary strikers and families anticipated their lucky day. Respite. The promised carousel, dance pavilion, and ham picnic came into view. Mine enforcers emerged. Hundreds. Clubs in fists. The boat docked. They say you can find stars in the sand where the working class were tricked and beaten into submission in 1909.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony

A car alarm screeches, a unicorn snorts, and a spaceship breaks the sound barrier. But writers use the cacophony of sound to craft stories.

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

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

Cacophony by Norah Colvin

Children’s voices rose from the street with excitement, until laughter exploded like fireworks, startling a flock of corellas into screeching flight.

Mrs Black in #4 slammed her door and windows tight, excluding the abhorrent noise daring to smother her favourite show.

Mr Judd from #5, pruning his grevilleas, shook his fist and said, “Stone the crows! What’s with all that racket?”

Mr Dredge in #7 dozed on, snoring in decibels way higher than those outside.

But Mrs Twigg in #3 flung wide her window, inhaling the children’s merriment that inspired memories of her own childhood antics so long ago.

🥕🥕🥕

This Sickness by Kerry E.B. Black

Someone with a ball peen hammer pounds every joint, stretching muscle and ligament until bone grinds cartilage.

An orchestra warms-up between the ears, its cacophony deafening, with pulse matching its erratic rhythm.

Eyes receded into aching sockets, where lightshows dance along the periphery.

Shadows sink into vision, obscuring. Strained eyesight triggers migraines, with comic book enthusiasm. “Bang, Pow, Pop!”

Razorblades reside in vocal cords, stripping speech to a barely audible squeak. Amusing to the children.

An anaconda squeezes the midsection, shrinking stomach capacity.

Hazy zombie turns to exhausted fever dreams between doses of medicine that promise returned good health.

🥕🥕🥕

Laying in a Hospital Bed by Susan Spitulnik

An inward sucking noise
An outward swooshing
Over and Over
The ventilator keeps perfect time

The incessant beeping
When the IV bag is empty
“Someone” please turn it off
Where is everyone

Now a fall-alarm is blaring
My adrenalin rushes but
I hear no one running in response
Don’t they care

Too busy to answer call buttons
But I can hear them talking
How many people are working
Where is my friendly nurse

The meal-cart wheels squeak
Compartment doors slam
The tube prevents eating
My mind says I’m hungry

My God, it’s finally quiet
It’s peaceful
Am I dead

🥕🥕🥕

Night Sounds by Bill Engleson

The crow came to my window at midnight,
cawed his screech,
his dark bird speech,
like a bent rusty nail caught in his throat,
pulled out by the sinister hammer of night,
the crow’s squawky plea
in much the same tone,
a raw shattered bone
stuck in his craw
as when he flies the zone
far above my head
In the dead
of day.

The crow stayed at window ‘til morn,
and beyond,
a bent broken bird
sprawled on the sill,
rotting away,
flies pecking its flesh
as the sun lit the day,
as the crows had their say.

🥕🥕🥕

Dream a Little Dream by Sarah Whiley

There’s a cacophony in my head.
And it won’t go away.
I’ve tried sleeping pills
But there’s no guarantee.

I drop some helium
To cull the birds
Coz the tweets are endless
A faithless dirge

And so I’m held
Too painfully aware.
Is it possible to hope?
Do I dare to care?

This fustian pair
Between my ears
See that decisions are made
for me in arrears

Wishes are portable
This I do know
Thoughts are transferable
Wherever I go.

So while there is still
a slit; a gleam
I have to believe I can
Dream a little dream

🥕🥕🥕

Well, Why Not? (Part 4) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Sister Indelicata left the cacophony of squeals and laughter behind her; the tall, hardwood door sneezed delicately shut, blessing the happy, healed family. Indelicata’s bare feet whispered swift and sure, softer than the guttering of the beeswax candles that provided more scent than light.

She caught the perfume of open sea before she saw it, and glided through the marble hallway to the worn spiral stairs and ocean access.

She shimmered; habit, wimple, and net slid free into the freezing waves. Flicking her mermaid’s tail, she dove.

Goodbyes were easiest if her charges never liked her to begin with.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Changes by Nancy Brady

Aloysius had just finished lapping at the fountain in the middle of the maze. He sat, licking his paws and whiskers. His bath complete, the white cat sauntered away.
Aloysius’s tail flicked from side to side causing a cacophony of colors to burst out. To the left and right, he left a trail of lush wildflowers in his wake. Purple and blue lupine, poppies of red, and yellow and orange coneflowers with deep indigo centers sprung up all around him. Green ferns, too, could be seen waving their fronds.
Not only had he changed, but so had the garden.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Came the Night by Frank James

Footsteps captivated a smile into a wrinkled face
A final prayer begged forgiveness to no response
Boots thumping grabbed his throat
The lock clanking shivered his body
Rattling chains extorted a moan
His whimpering proclaimed the end was near
Dragging feet marked his last seconds, as guards pulled him down the long hall
Rapping and squealing opened the door to the next life
A priest praying welcomed him into the tiny chamber
A final protest fell hushed by manacles clasping arms tight
His last word: Please
A flip of a switch silent came the night
Whoosh went the spirit

🥕🥕🥕

Voiceless by Joanne Fisher

Harriet loved Lily. She felt deeply connected to her, though Lily never spoke to Harriet. All she wanted was a chance to speak to Lily to tell her how she felt and what Lily meant to her.

Now after years of pining away for her, Lily had unexpectedly consented to meet her in a cafe.

“So you wanted to tell me something?” Lily asked.

With a cacophony of voices behind her, Harriet gazed longingly at Lily’s blonde hair and perfect skin. She found herself unable to speak, as if she didn’t know where to start or what to say.

🥕🥕🥕

A Wooden Sanctuary by Donna Matthews

a past week cacophony clamors around inside my head
harsh self-loathing
a death certificate
grief picked open
bizarre new dizzyness
money— work— purpose— insecurity— anxiety
discordant thinking no one else can see
all reaching a deafening crescendo— when did this concert grow so noisy?

spinning
spinning
spinning
thinking too much

I lace up my boots— and walk
one foot in front of the other
into the cover of a wooden sanctuary.

The clanking noise inside drowns out
a new cacophony—
cicada hum above, babbling creek below.

My breathing settles into a new rhythm—
that wondrous, peaceful melody of now.

🥕🥕🥕

Copse of Cragged Cliff by Connor Dickinson

3pm. Granite bowl. Foxglove pestled. My knotted-knuckles s-n-a-p and c-r-a-c-k:
sinewy-veins, grinding roots of poisonous digitalis for marrow-bone-broth. His last supper.
‘Soup . . . . honeymooner?’
‘Mmm . . . . Clarissa.’
Choking.

Eventide.
His mother’s soul-less s-c-r-e-e-c-h-i-n-g statues me at convulsing ribbed-shutters. My nostrils torch as Romani’s blazing umbilical tail, scorches and whips a million spruce leaves, raven-black.
Thanatos cometh.
Her cavernous, d-e-t-a-c-h-e-d. face: misty-mottled-blue. Hovers around me.
Howling putrid breath, lacerates my barked flesh.
Thrashing her bitches’ acidic tongue, licking bones clean of skin.
Gypsy-blood cursifying. Fracking my bones. E-x-o-r-c-i-s-m.
My jowl r-a-t-t-l-e-s ─ but no-body hears.

As, she entombs me.

🥕🥕🥕

Batter-born Biscuits by Charli Mills

Batter-born biscuits dropped to a sizzling cast-iron griddle. Max held her lips in formation. The day before, her mother complained Max was too pretty to withhold her smile. Max adjusted her prosthetic foot to stand near the outdoor flames. The arrival of a squawking blue jay, twittering squirrels, and her father in a silk robe announced morning with forest cacophony. Weird as her dad might be, she’d take him at her campfire wearing what suited him best over the silent pretense of her mother’s morning prayers, rules, and cold cereal. Funny how grim her mother looked, reading her devotions.

🥕🥕🥕

Judy Says ‘No’ by Doug Jacquier

As she stood in the queue at the bank, Judy was approached by a smarmy suit and patronisingly advised that she could complete her transaction at the ATM outside. Judy said loudly ‘No, I’d prefer to keep a teller in a job, not in another queue, at the unemployment office. That way they can pay the rent and feed their kids.’ The suit approached others and a chant of ‘No’ began to gather in strength, rising to a cacophony that had the security guard retreat with his hands over his ears. But to Judy, it sounded like a symphony.

🥕🥕🥕

Tower of Babel by Anne Goodwin

Beyond the wire, the night was silent. Within the camp, moaning built a tower of noise. Women called, but to little purpose. Words are worthless if those who hear can’t comprehend. Detainees complained in ninety different mother tongues.

A translator fished among the discord for languages she recognised. Echoed pleas in Pashto, Dari, Belarusian and Tajik. Others dredged for schoolgirl Urdu or dialects they’d heard their neighbours speak. Each language a stepping-stone to another, phrase by phrase community took hold.

That’s how they learnt that some were journalists, others lawyers. That’s how their fight for justice boomed and bloomed.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by Reena Saxena

shrill allegations
piercing souls
raised fingers
I’ll break some day…
What are they trying to
make me feel guilty about?

I want to give them mirrors
which show pictures
like those of Dorian Gray
podcasts which repeat
their word bullets
smash their eardrums

deep sense of inadequacy
their egos demand
unquestioning obedience
as they get uglier by the day

screaming
obstructing
objecting
blocking
now helpless…

They all disappear
I transcend
Into a state of being
alone, peaceful
On a solo journey
never to return

No destinations
nor a quest for happiness
finding eternal truths
shedding
Unhappiness
masquerading as Life

🥕🥕🥕

Burn by Anita Dawes

The spiralling crescendo of roman candles
Shot towards heaven
Pulls an ancient knowing from my soul
Like a half-remembered dream
I stumble forward for knowledge
That is stacked up behind me
Above my head, fireworks light the sky
The sound echoes in my bones
An old sound that never went away
The colours remind me of something hidden
The lost pages of the grand grimoire
which have everything to do with
the last cacophony of sound
that will never be heard again.
the world will fall silent
not if I get my hands on it
I will burn it…

🥕🥕🥕

Savannah Lands by Saifun Hassam

The dry winds intensified. The roar of the fire was deafening. Older forest groves were engulfed instantly.

For two days, animals streamed out of the valleys. They ran along ancient treks sounding warnings. Above the thud of pounding feet, you could hear the urgent trumpeting of elephants, the defiant roar of lions, the panicky laughter of hyenas, the howling of monkeys. Antelopes and gazelles ran, graceful, focused, silent. Elands and wild buffaloes rumbled along.

Majid, a biologist, and fireman followed the animals along a scorched forest road. He would do everything he could for the animals to find refuge.

🥕🥕🥕

Dawn by Joanne Fisher

Natasha dreamed she was with Ellie. They were holding hands and walking down the sidewalk. It was sunny and they were heading for the beach. Then she was suddenly awoken. The dawn chorus had begun in the treetops above her. Already there was a cacophony.of birdsong building up. Since the end times they had gotten louder.

Natasha reluctantly got out of her sleeping bag and looked around, in case there was a roving band of survivors nearby. She didn’t want to end up being eaten, or worse. Thinking of Ellie, she quickly packed up her things and moved on.

🥕🥕🥕

Tarnished Tranquility Rebecca Glaessner

She’s trudging through the forest as silence hits, sending chills through her despite the hike and heat of nearing sunrise. Could’ve been peaceful, under different circumstances.

Determined to find her missing friend, she persists. Body growing numb.

The forest’s stagnant silence thickens. Her mind reels.

Shouldn’t have ignored the reports, her friend wasn’t invulnerable.

And neither is she.

Sudden sound startles her, the cacophony yanking her senses back.

From nowhere, her friend emerges, barrels past, yelling “run!”

She staggers, follows.

Noise strengthening her after the eerie silence, they escape back to the comfort of a chaotic, sound-filled, life-affirming world.

🥕🥕🥕

Cicada Circus by Duane L Herrmann

Summertime. Hot. As heat rises: 85, 95, 100 (Dear God, NO MORE!), cicadas increase their chorus. Some in seven year cycles, others – eleven years. This, the eleventh year, they are out in full force shrieking their joy and life in the heat. Today 100, and they did not stop until long after dark when it cooled down to 85. Finally cacophony was over and we could all sleep. The sun would soon cook us another day. As a child I delighted in finding the cases they had emerged from, and attach them to something else, but no longer.

🥕🥕🥕

Myth by Simon

Dog’s are howling, someone’s going to die!

Who said that?

Dad said!

Death is inevitable and no one on earth could predict it.

But dad said, dog’s cacophony is a bad sign.

World is created by men like your dad, don’t believe anyone, question them, even me. Dog’s are our friends, they love us, the abandoned dogs feel lonely and they let out their feelings by howling, if some other dogs Howl, they share their feelings together.

I would like to adopt all our street dog’s.

All of them?

Yes mom, I don’t want them to feel lonely again.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer in Suburbia by Annette Rochelle Aben

The thumping bass of the stereo starts around nine in the morning and blares all day long. Cue the beer-drinking corn hole players who curse if they win and curse if they lose. Then there are the children who bounce from the trampoline into the pool while shrieking like bloody murder at the top of their lungs. Add to this, the poor dog who barks from one end of the yard to the other to remind them that he needs to eat. And when it starts at nine in the evening, it goes on until 4 in the morning.

🥕🥕🥕

Summer of Love by D. Avery

The pair of geese that patrolled the yard were first to sound the alarm. Then his father’s hounds bugled from the kennels. The Jerseys lowed as they closed ranks across the pasture and filed toward the barn. Finally there came the sharp report of the screen door springing shut behind his mother, anxiously wringing her dish towel on the familiar porch, laughing and crying at his approach.

These welcoming sounds began to quiet the shrieks and chants from the gauntlet he’d faced at the airport. But even as his mother refrained, ‘You’re really home’, doubts drummed like throbbing pain.

🥕🥕🥕

Cacophony by FloridaBorne

Summer. Time for fans in the window. In the kitchen, there’s a ceiling fan, and a window fan cools the concrete floor where dogs like to lay.

Each fan sings a different pitch, gentle background music when I used to sit on the steps to watch clouds float by.

Once, a cacophony of crickets, katydids, birdsong, and wind flowing through the pine needles blended together.

A peaceful sound.

People moved from city to country. They play music so loud you wonder if their children are going to be deaf before the age of 15.

Now, there is no peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Unbound Sounds by JulesPaige

All that’s left is crumbs.
Empty pie tin
Pitted the cherries
Cup of sugar…
Quartered the feast

(spoons rattled, clanged
oven door opened with a metallic creek
and closed, bang
fork scrapped the china plate…
scritchty scratch
buttons popping… tapping the wall, ping
rattled and settled, plop)

Ate each quart(her)
Cherries, cherries, yum, yum!
Patterns on her dress
Now on the floor –
Since it don’t fit no more.

(now resting stretched
out on the bed
with a soft pillow for her head…
content and full –
there not so dainty
started as a wheeze,
now an outright snore)

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Bela’s Evenings by Kavita Deo

Every evening Bela sat in her large patio overlooking a green hill and surrounded by greenery. A beautiful view for sure!

Bela enjoyed this hour with her coffee while winding up her day. Highlight of the coffee hour was surely the large gathering of crows that would start making a noise as if they are in a round table and trying to come at a resolution. Hearing them the parrots, the peacocks and sparrows would join them. Bela didn’t exactly mind the cacophony but would be all ears and wished she could get them to chirp in symphony!

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Surround Sound by C Mills

Shorty approached the Poet Tree. Ribbons and leaves bobbed in the breeze. Silence. Kid was off chasing Curly in a unicorn-y snafu. Somehow the piglet got stuck in a child’s floatie after Kid and Pal helped Marge dismount from her big bass adventure. Whatever cacophony hung over the lake between campfires in these parts, Shorty couldn’t hear. Ol’ Captain pulled at the bit. Shorty let the gelding have his head to munch the grass and swung a leg to rest across the saddle swells. Characters laughed, moaned, cajoled, and rose up in the distant ranch ether. All was well.

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Podcast Interview: Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin (UK) joins Charli Mills (US) at Carrot Ranch (imaginary place where real writers craft 99-word stories). Inspired Quill has recently published Anne Goodwin’s third novel, Matilda Windsor is Coming Home. She draws upon her experiences as a clinical psychologist in the 1990s when the UK dismantled its old asylums. The novel follows the story of a brother and sister separated decades earlier, and the young social worker who wants to contribute to a better world. Charli caught up with Anne in an interview complete with several readings.

Anne enjoys interacting with readers. In a previous newsletter, she asked, “Who were you in 1990?” You can leave us your answer in the comments below.

If you or anyone you know is in a book group, be sure to share Anne’s robust offer to book groups at her website.

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“A delightful story of a conventional Delhi girl who finds herself in the eye of a storm, ‘Bowled but Not Out’ brings out a whirlwind of emotions through its pages.”

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