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S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

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Enrichment

Does enrichment speak to our dissatisfaction? Do we need to add to our food, our wealth and our lives because we want more? Perhaps, instead, we appreciate what enriching life has to offer — nutritious food for children, opportunities for world growth, and sunsets to make us pause and feel the beauty.

No matter where the idea of enriching took our writers, they returned with a wealth of stories.

The following are based on the January 10, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment.

Part I (10-minute read)

A Positive Outlook by Susan Sleggs

“Grandma, when I bring in each box it sounds like you are saying ‘mint.’ Do you need a throat lozenge?”

“No. I’m saying enrichment over and over to convince myself this move is a good thing.”

“Mom said it was your idea to give up your house. I don’t understand.”

“I have found an unexpected enrichment whenever I have done something new. I know some pleasure or fulfillment will come from living here, but right now the newness is frightening so I am repeating a positive mantra. It keeps me looking ahead.”

“Sounds like it would help me too.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Recipe Box by Teresa Grabs

Lacy ran her fingers over the small, well-worn wooden box with a hand-carved rooster on it and sighed. Finally owning it was a bittersweet moment. She opened the box and wiped a tear from her eye as her Grandmother’s handwriting greeted her. Apple pie and peach cobbler, pot roast and her famous Thanksgiving turkey; generations of living, learning, experimenting, and sharing filled the small box. Now she understood why her grandmother said that lives could be enriched through food. Memories of one passed to another; the past and the future captured on a single notecard filled in with love.

🥕🥕🥕

Snack O’ a Sunday by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Basics first:
Butter, on countertop, softened with time
Sugar, stored frozen ‘gainst careless craving
Egg twins, room temperature, golden eyes wide
Dash of vanilla, razor-sharp sweet

Whip to shiny, slick peaks.
Mash bananas, fold, spatula stiff.
Elastic Spirit prepared.

Add the Dry:
Flour, slows to human time
Baking soda/powder rises, joins
Sweet body back to Spirit.

Pans glisten like hungry mouths,
Ready to receive the blessing.
Oven clicks, glowing red, sings scent of recipes past.

Further enrichment, Chef’s Choice:
Walnuts
Pecans
Cranberries
Pinch of cayenne
Cinnamon shake

All you desire, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes,
Give ‘r take.

🥕🥕🥕

Fortified Cocoa by Kerry E.B. Black

Fragrant steam wafted from the pottery mugs Oma filled. “Have a seat, little dear. Help yourself to a biscuit in that tin.” Mugs made little thumps on the knotty-wooden table while Oma hefted herself into a groaning seat beside Melanie. “Now, what inspired you to shovel my walkway?”

In the cloud of cream within the hot cocoa, Melanie saw her mother’s smiling face.

“Ah,” said Oma, “you’re Heather’s child. Give your momma my best.”

Oma poured a bit of something pungent into her own cocoa.

“What’s that, Oma?”

“A bit of something to help old Oma through the night.”

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise by Allison Maruska

The boy sits in a tight ball in the produce section. Arms clutch his folded legs and his eyes press into his knees. His back shakes with his breath.

Cautiously, I crouch and touch his shoulder. “Sweetie? Are you lost?”

His head snaps up, his brown, tear-soaked eyes fixating on me. “Necesito a mi mamá.” His eyes return to his knees.

“Cuál es tu nombre?”

His head snaps up again, perhaps in surprise that I speak Spanish. “Gabriel.”

“Yo soy Brianna. Vamos a buscar a tu madre.” Smiling, I reach out.

He wipes his eyes and takes my hand.

🥕🥕🥕

Wonder Bread by Faith A. Colburn

Hastings once had a Wonder Bread bakery. Grade school kids got to tour the plant every spring. We saw huge stainless steel vats of ingredients, sacks and sacks of flour, ingredients in boxes and barrels. We watched steel paddles rolling and kneading monstrous balls of yeasty dough. We smelled fresh-baked bread.

We learned that Wonder enriched its bread with vitamins and minerals to help us grow into healthy adults. We didn’t learn until years later that they supplemented the bread because they used white flour, milled in a process that removed bran and germ—the grain’s vitamins, minerals, fiber.

🥕🥕🥕

What Kind of Enrichment? by Norah Colvin

The meeting dragged. After analysing data, discussing duty rosters and responsibilities, lockdown and evacuation procedures, enthusiasm flagged. Jocelyn itched. Last on the agenda; her topic was enrichment.

As she took the floor, groans and tapping pencils defied her resolve. A phone ban meant some eyes were on her, at least. Her suggestions of enrichment were met with derision.

“They don’t learn what we teach ‘em. ‘ow are we gonna’ enrich ‘em?’ Everyone laughed.

Jocelyn’s mouth opened to respond but gaped as Taya burst in bearing an enormous cake with candles ablaze.

“Now that’s my kind of enrichment.” Everyone cheered.

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment by Floridaborne

Confined to her room. Again.

Her father believed it a fitting punishment. She looked out at a bright blue sky framing the foothills and stopped to appreciate a view that city folk paid dearly to see a few months each year.

People read books, abandoned them, and a growing collection filled the space under her bed.

“Your betrothed is here,” her father said.

“I’d rather stay in my room for a lifetime than be squeezed into a corset and forced into a marriage!”

“You will clean rooms until you listen to reason!”

Books enriched her life. Nothing else mattered.

🥕🥕🥕

Over the Years by Ruchira Khanna

“Always look into ways to enrich your life.” used to be the mantra of the moral science teachers of my school.

Initial years I would carry a frown and a confused look, but as the years added on; I realized the true meaning!

Studying in a convent school had its perks since being of service came upon early, along with the environment of my home which was very nourishing as my parents not only took care of my natural nutrition but also fed my soul the right ingredients to carry forth the idea of living my purpose in gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Learning by Tracey Robinson

For the first week she typed away at her novel while walking on the treadmill. And then she got stuck. She knew more needed to happen. Her characters were flat and lacked interaction with each other. All those mystery books she had read over the years and she had no idea how to pull together a murder mystery? How did Agatha Christie do it? She Googled away but none of the articles helped. She sighed as she turned to the community college website and found an on-line writing class. At her advanced age she was going back to school.

🥕🥕🥕

Oak Ridge Girls by Nancy Brady

Newspaper advertisements across the country said that a new firm was looking for young women to work in a factory in Tennessee. The job description was vague, but housing was supplied.

Girls from the Midwest flocked to apply. Many high school graduates were hired for this job. It was good money for the times.

These women went into the job blind, not knowing what to expect. They were trained to keep the dial steady between two points, and they did. Only later did they find out their contribution to the war effort: enriching uranium for the first atomic bomb.

🥕🥕🥕

Into Focus by Kay Kingsley

He felt she was a disappointment and didn’t mind reminding her daily. Life with her husband was underwhelming at best but she settled thinking he would have been her only suitor. Now trapped and miserable, they lived together alone, her self esteem non-existent.

Daydreaming from the counter she hears, “Vanilla latte for Kiley” and spun around bumping into the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Apologizing, he offered to buy her a new drink. “Wait, I remember you.” he said. “We went to high school together”. He smiled, she smiled and her once invisible life came into focus.

🥕🥕🥕

Enriching by Linda Ward

His only ambition in life was to be rich. Money, Money, Money became his soul purpose and reason for living. The obsession was unbearable. He built his bank account from the money from the oil wells. Searching, drilling, pumping oil was his life. The world needed his oil.

She loved him for his ambition. He loved her for her loving him. His whole  life was money and the oil. So she put on a mask (as usual) and robbed his bank account. His empire was gone. The heart attack was massive.

She left for Bermuda and Jimmy Buffet’s condo.

🥕🥕🥕

My Treasure by The Dark Netizen

This is mine, all mine.

The gold coins, glowing stones, studded goblets, and all the priceless paraphernalia, every bit of it is mine. They dazzle gloriously all around me. The bits and bones lying among my treasures bother me. They diminish the glory of my place. However, it was required.
Those puny intruders: The bold humans, the headstrong dwarfs and vile goblins, do not deserve to gaze upon my treasures, let alone touch them. Yet, they had the audacity to try and steal them. They were punished.

Not fit for a dragon’s meal, but my treasure satiates my hunger…

🥕🥕🥕

Enrich That Rush by kate @ aroused

Financial hardship started this journey of acquiring others identities. Since James passed we no long need the funds but with nothing to lose we enrich ourselves by indulging the adrenaline rush.

There is no sick child to rush home for … and although we haven’t verbalised it we simply don’t have the courage to try for another child. The sickness and then the loss rocked our core.

Try telling that to the courts or law enforcement people! Without the fear we have become most adept at what we’re doing. Numbing our social conscience is essential to our core business.

🥕🥕🥕

Found by Anita Dawes

My life became a whole lot better
When my father found me sleeping
In the street, after mum died
Now I sleep in a warm bed
Eat my food from a plate
Coffee served in a china mug
My father explained why
I had been left with mum
This was news to me
My father explained his part in this
He fell in love with someone else
His football partner, a childhood
Love they had to hide
Until my tenth birthday
When mum caught them together
This was when she ran, taking me with her
Now I am found…

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment by Robbie Cheadle

The nightmare recurred every night. My son was dying. Suffocating due to his inability to draw enough oxygen into his lungs.

Jerking awake, sweating and anxious, I believed I’d forgotten to give him lifesaving medication. The need to check on him was overwhelming. Looking at his sweet face lying on the pillow I knew I could not sleep again without him close to me. I collected him in my arms and staggered back to my own bed, tucking him in beside me.

The pain has been immeasurable but my dear one has enriched my life, bringing me immeasurable joy.

🥕🥕🥕

Life Experience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sitting with Ramona, Danni sniffled. The older woman said, “We all look to enrich our lives, Dear. You might say each experience is like putting dimes in a slot machine. We hope one gives us the jackpot, but before you know it, we’re out of dimes.”

“That’s not hopeful,” Danni said, wiping her nose with a paper towel. She hated crying. Saline didn’t solve anything.

Ramona continued to smile. “Enjoy the gamble, Danni! In the end, we all lose our dimes. You’ll be disappointed if you wait for one jackpot experience and miss the fun in all the others.”

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

Lowering her book, Ilene answered Ernest. “You just might like some of these stories.

But here, try this one first.”

Ernest took the anthology that Ilene handed him. “Congress of Rough Writers? Is it a western?”

“No, it’s not a western. It gives background on flash fiction with excellent examples.

These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.”

Ilene and Ernest were still reading when Marge and Lloyd returned from the garage, the poker game over. “If you’re wondering, bookworms, we both won, but didn’t get rich.”

“No? We both got enriched.”

Lloyd beamed. “Epic.”

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

“How’re your classes going, Ilene?”

“Good. I’m getting myself ready for an office job. It’s all about the spreadsheet.”

“So why a literary arts course? What’s this flash fiction stuff got to do with anything?”
Lloyd spoke from his perch at the counter. “Ernest, literary art is cultural literacy. It’s…”

“Epic?”

“Epically enriching.”

“Lloyd’s right. Honestly, the secretarial skills courses would be such a bore without the Literary Arts class. And it’s going to help me get the job I want, help me to sell myself.”

“Ha! I thought you were giving that up.”

“Marge, don’t be a Nard.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hobson’s Choice by Anne Goodwin

He could try kittens chasing coloured ribbons, but they’d have to buy a litter tray, and the baby was allergic to cats. He could film the baby learning to feed herself, chocolate sauce smeared across her cheeks, but, oh, the mess.

Or he could go the other way, pandering to prejudice, make himself the mouthpiece of those who feared foreigners and benefit scroungers had brought country to its knees.
His blog was at a crossroads, he had to feed his family. He tossed a coin: heads for vitriol, tails for cosy comfort. Did it matter if neither was him?

🥕🥕🥕

Alternate Prediction by Frank Hubeny

Three crows landed near Pablo. Two of them pretended to peck around for treasure while the leader laid into Pablo with an obnoxious, “Caw! Caw! Caw!. Fortunately, Pablo was fluent in this particular dialect of crow. Crows don’t stop by without a message they feel they must deliver:

“You will experience enrichment beyond your puny imagination. All those plans you’ve been making will fail. They are nothing compared to the reality that awaits you. Any questions?”

Pablo and this crow had previous encounters. “Do I have a choice?”

“Unfortunately, all you can do is mess things up a bit.”

🥕🥕🥕

Eating Healthy by Joanne Fisher

Victoria was a vampire who was rather fussy about who she drank blood from. She preferred to target people who did plenty of exercise and ate the right foods. According to her their blood tasted better and was enriched from all the vitamins and minerals they consumed.

She began doing this after an incident when she was needing to quickly feed from someone. She grabbed the first person she found and instantly regretted it. She could taste the fat in their blood from all the cheeseburgers they ate.

That was the last time she would go for fast food.

🥕🥕🥕

An Active Man by Bill Engleson

For several weeks, he was sitting all day.

And half the night.

Dormant.

Bereft of energy.

“You’ve gotta get moving,” she said more than once. “If you don’t, you’ll calcify.”

She was right.

Occasionally he put some effort into moving.

He didn’t have a dog, so he made one up.

Happy.

And took Happy for a walk.

That didn’t last long.

Happy, the imaginary dog, hit the road.

He’d forgotten to imagine a leash.

He came home.

“You weren’t gone long,” she observed.

“I got bored,” he answered.

“You should get a dog, darling.”

“Maybe I will,” he said.

🥕🥕🥕

Centering by Sascha Darlington

Sara thought she was good.

She gave to charity, volunteered at soup kitchens, and walked dogs at the shelter. She belonged to a group who sang at hospices and nursing homes.

But two weeks with her prospective brother-in-law taught her maybe she wasn’t that good. After hearing his opinions on gays, tattoos, Asians, she thought she might throttle him until he begged for mercy.

Rather than attending the brewery event with her fiancé, she went to the vets. There she whispered endearments to the dogs and cats in the ICU. She welcomed kisses and purrs. The world spun right.

🥕🥕🥕

Blind Faith by Di @ pensitivity101

It was hard to believe it was a year ago that she came into his life.

He remembered how he’d been preparing and looking forward to that day.

It was the first time for both of them, had been a long time coming, but the rewards were endless. She had opened up a whole new world.

Practice made perfect as they took their time to get to know each other.

It didn’t take long to bond, to anticipate each other’s needs and moods.

Now they were inseparable.

He reached for her harness and she was at his side immediately.

🥕🥕🥕

What Will Go With Me? by Reena Saxena

I see my father-in-law, aged 90, act in a childlike manner, and hear the reactions,
“He has lost it totally.”

He has to be reminded of his wife’s first death anniversary, and he quietens down for some time. There is no calendar memory.

Suddenly, he grabs an envelope on the table which is somebody’s medical report, reads and gives the perfect prescription for the condition. The medical intelligence of a doctor who was once hailed as a genius, is intact.

I know what will enrich, and go with me till the end. My core competence needs to be nourished.

🥕🥕🥕

Janice by Saifun Hassam

Janice passed away the morning after her brain tumor surgery. Tom and Janice knew the risks. The tumor was growing into the cortex. Numb with shock and grief, Tom remembered her last words. “I love you. And thank you, Tom.”

They had plans for their own financial services agency. Having children. Traveling. She was courageous, determined, doing whatever was possible. She worked until headaches made online work unbearable. She continued to tutor the children at the library. Weekends were with Tom’s parents; Janice’s parents drove down from Seasquall.

Each day became a precious gift. “Janice, my love, thank you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Farmer’s Wife by H.R.R. Gorman

Della’s nails always had earth under them.  Despite the bonnets and sleeves she wore, her skin would never be as milky-white as fashions required, as the folks in town would desire.

She surveyed the plains, ready for tilling and fertilizer.  Her horses swished their tails, her husband stood behind the plow.  In one hand she held the reins to another horse that pulled a wagon laden with manure, and with the other she held a pitchfork ready to toss the fertilizer onto the ground.

This smelly job would enrich the earth and keep the farm running, her family fed.

🥕🥕🥕

Amelioration for All by JulesPaige

in spring you can smell
the natural enrichment
of the local farms
*
mixed with petrichor
there is no denying the
return of spring in your face

until then though; smoke
rising from the chimney stacks
in attempts to ward off chills
*
animal compost happens
so stalls get cleaned daily
farmer’s own gold
*
enriching the corn
or other
crops packaged for sale
*
salvaged biosolids
are used
somewhere, everywhere, here and there
*
ancient kings used the
very same method for their
own private gardens

insecure to dine from the
public crops; were they enriched?

🥕🥕🥕

Bio-Enrichment by Chelsea Owens

“Whatcha got in your lunch, Bi890?”

“Nothin.’”

“C’mon. got plain ol’ Wondermeat again. You can’t have anything worse than that.”

…*Sigh*

“Hey, humanoids! What’s for lunch?!”

Greets, Bi880. I’ve got Wondermeat again.”

“Too mortal, Bi896! My parental unit sent me One Smart Cookie!”

No way!

“So future!”

know. Pretty spaced, yeah? …So, whatch you got, 890?”

“He won’t say.”

“Why not?”

“I just don’ wanna.”

“We won’ tell.”

“Sures. C’mon, ‘noid.”

*Sigh* “Homemade chicken noodle soup again.”

“What?! No way!”

“What is that stuff?”

*Sigh*

“It’s okay, 890.”

“Yeah, ‘noid. -not all parental units know what’s good for ya.”

🥕🥕🥕

Solitude by Joanne Fisher

Gertrude turned up the stereo while listening to Symphony No.2 by Sibelius. It was her most loved piece of music. She looked through the window and gazed down at the world below. The tower block she lived in was built by the Kren after they invaded the Earth and now she was so far up she could barely see the surface. It made her imagine she was down below wearing her favourite dress and among all the other people attending a concert in the new town hall.

The music enriched her drab life and enabled her to carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

Enriching by Pete Fanning

Occasionally while sitting down to dinner or passing through the kitchen, I’ll catch a glimpse of a family photo on the shelf. An adoring son in my lap, an arm around my wife. Happiness abounds.

Most of the time that’s it. Other times, however…

—TONIGHT, ON DATELINE. A BELOVED HUSBAND, FATHER…

Perhaps this blip in sanity is a chance to cherish my good fortune or to count my blessings. A chance to better myself.

—MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHED!!!

…be thankful for what I have.

—THOUGHT TO BE A VICTIM OF A BRUTAL…

Or maybe I just need to write it down.

🥕🥕🥕

Time to Kill by Neel Anil Panicker

It was his road map. Without it he was lost; like a duck out of water.
With one by his side, he felt like a king, almost empowered.

Books served as his enrichment; his intellectual succor that is.

A life without books he coudn’t fathom.

For this very reason he was chided too, even shouted at___by all, especially those who he knew, and that were quite a small number.

One was Ashni; his girlfriend, the girl he’d been living with for the past year.

Also, the one he’d decided to kill.

Sarthak felt no remorse when he thought about this.

🥕🥕🥕

There’s Enrichment And There’s The Other Thing by Geoff Le Pard

‘You ever wonder what dog food tastes like, Logan?’

‘Is this going somewhere?’

‘I saw an old advert, where some dog folder was enriched with marrowbone jelly…’

‘Oh yeah. PAL.’

‘Okay, mate?’

‘Mate?’

‘If you can call me ‘pal’ then I…’

‘The dog food. It was called PAL. Prolongs active life.’

‘You’re seriously dull. Anyhoo, dog food. Must be good if it’s enriched.’

‘Doesn’t follow.’

‘If you enrich something it’s an improvement.’

‘What about enriched uranium?’

‘Anybody tries anything fancy with my anium, they’ll wish they stayed in school.’

‘Morgan, you’re a complete wassock.’

‘True, but anyway dog food?’

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment, in No Particular Order by TNKerr

art and artists
knowledge and teachers
buildings, builders and architects
children and discovery
dogs and cats
food, farmers, ranchers
coffee and mornings
freedom and soldiers

big skies in Montana

friends and family
oceans and boats
giving without taking
help and contributors
confabs and conversationalists
ideas and thinkers
jobs and colleagues
mountains and fresh air
music and players
amor y novias

New Mexico and wide open spaces

poetry and poets
sculptures and sculptors
seabirds and majesty
shipmates and brothers
when a plan works
stories and storytellers
wives and daughters, or husbands and sons
books and authors
cake and ice cream

🥕🥕🥕

Mucking Rich by D. Avery

“Ya know, Kid, Shorty never did strike me as no blogger; this here’s a actual place, virtual or not.”

“Yep. An’ they’s real folks at the ranch.”

“Kid, you writin’ agin?”

“Kinda like the prompt. Got some strong ideas ‘bout enrichment.”

“They’s a strong smell of it it off ya. Don’t think Shorty’s meanin’ manure though Kid.”

“It’s a Ranch, Pal. An’ who else’s gonna muck the stalls?”

*They once was a Kid with good luck, it
Helped that the Kid’uz happy to muck shit
Every week got a prompt
All a Kid could want
Gathered elixir in buckets*

🥕🥕🥕

Raw Lit: From Mite to Might

By D. Avery

Their colors are those of Tibetan prayer flags, but these squares are not yet whispering in the wind. An unassuming plastic wrapped cube; they appear to be ordinary post-it notes. These are not ordinary post-it notes to be used for mundane purposes. This five-colored cube is composed of post-it notes destined for a special purpose. They will remain in their pristine packaging, neat and orderly until I’m ready to apply them to their designated task. For now I am inspired by their contained order while the story they will eventually help shape and organize swirls free-form in my head.

Ha! I happened to notice the word count (opening paragraph) — exactly 99 words. That’s seriously funny. And if there had been a prompt with “prayer” or “flag” or “post-it” those 99 words would suffice, no more, no less. 99 words come more easily since my early days at Carrot Ranch, but it is still very satisfying to meet the challenge of forging a 99-word story. To write even 99 words every week has been a worthy exercise, one I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. But lately, I am seeing how 99 words might, like another prompt, lead to more.

Yes, that second paragraph is also 99 words and is better for it. The constraint forced its construction to be more carefully considered, like with our flash fiction pieces. I enjoy crafting stories that are complete in just 99 words. Honing those skills is challenge enough. But recurring characters keep insisting I write their bigger story, even though I don’t know how. I’m not skilled or ambitious enough to write a big story. But then a funny thing happened after I published a collection of flash fiction and short stories. I found myself imagining how I might do it.

You will have guessed that the solution, like the previous paragraph, is 99 words. I might be able to use flash fiction as a tool to shape and sharpen a larger story. But there’s that word “might” again. Might. Its verb and noun definitions almost seem unrelated. As a verb, it is a form of “may” as in maybe, as in possibly. As a noun, might means strength, force, power. Maybe the noun and verb definitions are aligned. Maybe power comes from imagining possibilities and persevering to realize potential. Maybe 99-word flashes might be pieces of bigger stories.

If you are still reading you might rightly doubt me, might wonder if I could ever leave the comfort of 99 words; wonder if I could ever actually organize a big story. You wonder if I’ve forgotten those five colors of post-it notes. Nope; they are the color codes of characters and flashes. They are the pieces of a quilt, its pattern still emerging. The still unopened cube has been joined by a doodle pad where a scene gets hurriedly splashed onto its own page as it arrives unbidden. I might be getting ready for something I might do.

I will do it. I will write a big story. Because the mightiest outcome from writing weekly flash challenges has been in finding my creative courage, 99 words at a time, going wherever the prompts lead. These flashes and the encouragement of this community led to a book. It was through that experience that I finally got the idea of “raw” and finally accepted it in my own writing. It’s leading to more. I will write a bigger story because it is there. I will figure out how as I go along. Now it’s just a matter of time.

It’s all a leap of faith. But I will open that plastic wrapped cube, will start stringing my post-it prayer flags together. My characters and their stories will flash uncontained, will spread their wings to soar on the winds of possibility. In the meantime the hunting and gathering will continue, week to week, 99 words here, six sentences there, some flashes so raw it’s a health code violation, some satisfying and tasty. Risks will be taken, flaws will be evident, revisions will be made. I look forward to this self-imposed challenge; and then the next one after that.

Author of For the GirlsD. Avery, Rough Writer spinner of Ranch Yarns, shares prose and poetry at ShiftnShake. She has published two books of poetry, Chicken Shift and For the Girls. Her third book, After Ever, little stories for grown children, is evidence of her shift to fiction writing. You might find her funny, except when she’s serious, but you can certainly find her at Twitter and Amazon.

According to Sean Prentiss:

D. Avery has written a stunning collection of flash fictions that take us from here in Vermont to places far afield and from children to the elderly. These short stories in After Ever, though, all share one common thread, and that is tight, beautiful prose about the human condition, about the moments of our lives that make us weep from sorrow and from love.

<<♦>>

Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

January 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Technically speaking, enriched foods are those that manufacturers have fortified like adding calcium to orange juice. In the US, government programs support healthier foods for school children through programs that started during our Great Depression. Food enrichment progressed during WWII, finding ways to get nutritious C-rations and K-rations to soldiers. If you grew up fascinated by the developing space programs, you might recall “ice cream for astronauts” or used “dehydrated eggs” on a backpacking trip. All food enrichment.

But I like to think of enriching my lunch a different way. Instead of buying food from a laboratory, I prefer it as close to the farm as possible, or from artisan producers who source locally.

Artisan food producers might sound like a made-up word so grocery stores can charge more. A fad, a novelty, not real value. However, after sixteen years of writing profiles about farmers and producers, I understand the value of calling someone an artisan. At the invitation of the Wisconson Cheese Makers, I once toured the state for three days, meeting artisan cheese makers and masters.

So, yes, cheese features regularly on my lunch plate. Today, it was an aged cheddar (serve at room temperature, and you can crunch the tiny crystals that form). To further enrich my plate, I added artisan rosemary crackers made from whole ingredients (in other words, crackers from a bakery, not a factory). For health and taste, I included a crisp local apple, a sprinkling of raw pumpkin seeds, and a Greek gift to food artistry — dolmades.

It comes as no surprise that many of us seek to add value to what we do beyond eating — we go to school to learn more about a topic or trade, we gain experience to enrich our careers, and we blog to enhance our writing goals. Many authors resist blogging because they think it detracts from what they write (books), and other bloggers treat their blog like a business. Which writers are right? The ones who know why they do what they do.

Last month, I offered you the opportunity to work out a vision for your writing journey by ultimately setting your North Star. This gives you a clear picture of success and becomes the reason for why you do what you do.  Vision work can make you a more productive writer, and save you angst when you are trying to figure out what tasks to take on to further your writing goals.

So let’s compare some right/wrong ways to blog.

Authors who don’t blog because it detracts from their writing could be right or wrong. Authors who are resistant without a compelling reason beyond finding blogging a distraction, are likely to be behind on platform building once they publish their books. Blogging is not the platform, but it can build audience, community, brand awareness and credibility. So can many other tactics. If the authors know why they write, what success looks like and have set goals these authors can better decide if blogging is the right tactic. They can set goals for platform building and blog if it meets their needs, or not. Many successful authors do not blog, but they likely have a website, are active contributors to mainstream media, and have a brand presence.

Many bloggers treat their blogs like a business, which is smart. First of all, a blog is “owned” territory. That means it is a digitally accessible area that individuals own as opposed to corporate ownership (like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter). However, a good marketing plan includes a mix of these outlets. But some bloggers think a blog is going to make them rich and they use AdSense or spam techniques to boost traffic for pay.

Are any of these bloggers clearly right or wrong? Only the ones who don’t know why they do what they do. In other words, even the slinky scammer with a spam campaign is right if that person has a plan. Morally, and sometimes legally, they are wrong (these blog spammers), but they have a plan of enrichment.

Many of us probably have opinions about those who enrich themselves on the backs of others — in 1914, copper miners on the Keweenaw went on strike because they saw the mine owners getting richer, while miners struggled on their wages, faced deadly work situations, and had little respite from hard labor. Wal-Mart has a reputation for being a low-price retailer not because its stockholders suffer the cut in price but because their workers and manufacturers do. Recently, my stomach turned when I read an article about a certain wealthy leader who has enriched himself while in office.

Enrichment, in and of itself, is not bad. To find value, or add value to something is worthy. Dragons who burn villages to hoard gold are the villains of legend, while the heroes are myths like Robin Hood, the prince of thieves, who sought to take from the rich to enrich the poor. Like all things, perspective is a fractured lens.

Why do I blog? That’s a legitimate question to answer for those of you who regularly visit Carrot Ranch. My reason is summed up in my North Star — to make literary art accessible. Here, it’s to make it accessible 99-words at a time, meaning it is meant to be playful and inspirational.

You might find it puzzling, but I do not consider myself a blogger. It’s probably just semantics, and, of course, perspective. Obviously, I’m writing a blog post right now…but I consider myself a writer in every sense possible. I have aspirations, career, successes, and failures as a writer. More to the point, I’ve used my writing skills to make a living for more than 20 years. My portfolio of tear sheets fill two large plastic tubs, I’ve been published in seven books and more than 300 hundred magazines. I have no problem saying I’m a writer.

Blogging is part of my platform building and directly connects all my writing to my greatest aspiration of all — to write and publish successful historical novels. I’m in it for the long haul, the big journey. My North Star that guides me is a vision I have for why writing matters to me — because I want to be immersed in creative writing. I have craved this since I first realized I got as much joy from writing as I did reading.

The first book I ever wanted to write was about a girl named Silver Chalmers whose father was a mining investor who left California for his native England and never returned. It was based on a true incident. Local legend held that Mrs. Chalmers returned to the stage every day for word of her husband’s return. When he didn’t, she was sent away to the insane asylum in Carson City. Her mansion in Silver City (a ghost town where my father once logged when I was a kid) sat full of all her furnishings until someone broke in during the 1970s. My pinprick as a kid was, “what if they had a daughter.”

Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve wanted to write historical novels. I’ve devoured them as a reader, studied them as a student, and crafted my first real attempted as an independent project in college under the tutelage of a professor I still hold in high esteem. I learned to research, find stories in cemeteries, and where to look for the women who tend to be invisible in the American wild west.

I’ve also encountered barriers to success — things like, not everyone who dreams of writing a novel gets to make a living as a novelist. The closest I got to overcome that hurdle was achieving an undergraduate degree in creative writing. My bitter pill in 1998 was a choice — pursue an MFA to continue my novel and publish, or take my writing skills to the workplace. I had three kids and a husband, so I became a writer instead of a novelist.

What I missed during my career writing years was that connectivity to literary art. I felt shut out from it. Over the years, I enjoyed pockets of connectivity and began to realize that literary art was not just an academic experience. But other than going on retreats or back to school, how did I access it? In small ways, I included literary art in my workplace. I used to make my staff write cinquains before weekly meetings, and I taught nature writing classes locally.

Carrot Ranch was selfish — I wanted to feel connected to that spark I defined internally as my inner literary artists. I wanted kindred spirits who felt it too. And I no longer believed I had to get an MFA to publish (than you, pioneering independent authors). Carrot Ranch makes literary art accessible 99 words at a time. That is my North Star for achieving my dream of writing historical novels.

So, I don’t consider myself a blogger. And that’s okay if we differ on perspective. What’s important to me is that we have this safe space to create as we all go about our long-haul goals. My first novel isn’t even going to be in the genre I dream of writing. Why? Because I don’t know how to write a successful novel — yet. Oh, I know what goes into one, and I know tons about craft, process and even editing. I know more than I did six years ago about the book industry. I’m an expert in story-telling and branding.

But that first novel, ah, the agony of writing it right. And I’m not saying that as a perfectionist. I’m saying that as an artisan — from the maker we become the master. Many authors publish their first or second drafts, some take time to edit. You can do it many ways and anyway you want! (Remember, your dream and your goals belong to you, just be aware of them and what it takes). And other authors don’t publish their first three books. No way is wrong or right — as long as you know why you choose one way over the others — but in the end, most authors will tell you that it’s by the ninth manuscript they feel they have it right.

I’ve learned so much working on Miracle of Ducks. I had really believed it would be easier because I wasn’t adding that extra burden of historical research. But I’m pleased with what the experience is teaching me. And I’m pleased knowing that working it is working my dream.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey! We are like Chaucer’s pilgrims. Each of us has wild stories and varied reasons for taking the writing path, but what compels us inside is a shared joy in the creative endeavor we call literary art. No matter where you are, keep your North Star sharp, set goals that fit you like good hiking boots and keep on the trail.

January 10, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 15, 2019. 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.

 

Life Experience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sitting with Ramona, Danni sniffled. The older woman said, “We all look to enrich our lives, Dear. You might say each experience is like putting dimes in a slot machine. We hope one gives us the jackpot, but before you know it, we’re out of dimes.”

“That’s not hopeful,” Danni said, wiping her nose with a paper towel. She hated crying. Saline didn’t solve anything.

Ramona continued to smile. “Enjoy the gamble, Danni! In the end, we all lose our dimes. You’ll be disappointed if you wait for one jackpot experience and miss the fun in all the others.”

Looking Back

We look back to reflect, to see where we came from, to see what lingers in the shadows. Glancing over our shoulders or peering in the wing mirrors of cars, we try to better understand where we are going. And why.

Writers jumped into 2019 with both feet. Looking back produced a strong round of stories to start the forward momentum of a new year.

The following is based on the January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back.

Part 1 (10-minute read)

Hobos by Faith A. Colburn

“I thought I’d have a family.” He moved to the other side of the fire. “My mom and pop. They were so . . .” He poked at the fire, adding fuel.

“So . . . what?”

“I don’t know. Agreeable. They never fought or exchanged a cross word. They were just so good together.”

“Lovey dovey?”

“Not at all like that. Sometimes there’d be just a touch or they’d exchange a glance and it was so full of . . .”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Tenderness? Gives me the shivers.” He stared into the flames. “I want that.”

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by D. Avery

“I have to settle gran-mere’s estate. Such as it is.”

He watched her zip her duffle bag. She was a light packer. And an impulsive traveler.

“Can’t you handle this over the phone, or email?”

“I’d rather do it in person. It’s not that far. I shouldn’t be gone long.”

He and Hope stood on the porch in silence, watching her go.

She glanced in the rearview, then stopped. She backed up, turned the truck off.

“I bet Luciene would be willing to care for the animals. If you and Hope wanna go with me?”

Hope’s smile said yes.

🥕🥕🥕

Away by Mary Beene

Ellen should never have turned her head. Facing forward hid the single tear that stole down her mother’s cheek. Her skin turned to ice. This was not a happy visit to her uncle’s home where she would spend her time skipping on the lawn with her many cousins. She was never coming back to the tiny house in the city. All her mother’s cheer struck her now for the falsity that it was. The woman had finally accepted the truth; there was no way to feed them both. Ellen would now earn her suppers serving in the big house.

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by Deborah Lee

“Only whores pierce their ears and gad themselves up like that,” Daddy had said. Daddy had said lots of things and done worse, which had a bit to do with her running off at sixteen.

And which had a lot to do with why almost the first thing she’d done, alone and free, was pierce her ears.

And which had everything to do with why the first earrings she’d bought were the biggest, brassiest, whoriest pair of hoops she could find.

She feels eyes boring into back, but when she looks behind her in the mirror, she’s alone. Smiling.

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by Floridaborne

“You dare ask why?” I chuckled, my voice calm… eyes narrowed.

My friends stormed inside to help me finish off a man who thought nothing of using young girls as commodities.

For my 18th birthday, these same friends had pooled their money for a night of pleasure in the big city. One of the whores standing on a corner was my sister, who’d disappeared the year before!

Rehab couldn’t save the shell that remained. I dedicated my life to ridding the world of pimps, and other parasitic vermin.

“She was only 12!” I said, beating his face to pulp.

🥕🥕🥕

Autumn by Tracey Robinson

Kelsey turned her face to the sun. The warmth felt good in the crisp autumn air, the sun so different from a year ago in the desert heat. She could still taste the sand and hear the distant mortar explosions. She shuddered as she thought of the MRE she would have had for lunch. Her mind drifted to John but she would not go there.

Autumn is what she dreamt of twelve long months ago: life back in a four seasons world. Her heart beat with joy as she hurried to the diner and a tuna melt with fries.

🥕🥕🥕

Reminiscences by Trailblazer

Being the healthiest, she often prepared the inmates their favorite meal.
The way some recalled their life reduced her to tear s, but nothing from her own made her so.

Neither that she had to give up her st udies for the family’s sake nor that she got repeatedly cheated by the sole man of her life, leaving her and the kids destitute.
Barely the times she forgave him only to repeat the cycle and the numerous times her kids failed her, and finally abandoned her.

She had allowed what came in, let what left her and seen what remained.

🥕🥕🥕

The Summer of My Life by Stevie Turner

I’m sure it rained in the East End of London in the 1960s when I was a child, but my memories are of sunshine. The heat would shimmer above the roof of our car, as I roller skated in the road with friends or sat on our front doorstep with a pile of comics and a bag of chocolate buttons. Mum would be in the kitchen doing whatever she did, and Dad would be out in the garden dead-heading roses or cutting the grass with one of those old-fashioned mowers.

Life was good back when it was always summer.

🥕🥕🥕

Solace of the Land by Ann Edall-Robson

It calls her name. It always has. The quiet, the solitude, but most of all, the connection to her heart. The echo of the wolves penetrating the valley walls. The lazy hawk floating high overhead in the early morning light. The rustle of the leaves dancing to a summer breeze and the mournful wail of the north wind pushing snow through naked branches. Tiny dots of green and colour carpeting the meadow floor in spring. Where is this place where people are none? Where gravel roads turn into deer trails. It is the one place her soul finds solace.

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by Pete Fanning

Up until this summer, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make the baseball team. After all that time practicing, playing catch in the front yard. Dad with his glove, trying not to roll his eyes whenever I missed a grounder—which was whenever he threw a grounder.

“It’ll come,” he said.

It never came. But as team manager I got a jersey, team picture, even a shiny trophy. All without striking out and causing us to lose.

Then, about a month ago, I said forget it. What’s the point? That was also around the time I met Lia.

🥕🥕🥕

Decision Reimaged by Nancy Brady

Annie looked back on some decisions all the time, but only one continued to haunt her. In retrospect, she wished she had taken a chance; to be someone other than what she was: an insecure, flat-chested, glasses-wearing brace face freshman.

Annie remembers the autumn day in study hall when Dave, a junior, asked her to homecoming. She wanted to go, but worried this was a joke, she turned him down. If only she could have set her fears aside, acted confident, and laughed it off as a joke if otherwise, then she would have a night to remember, always.

🥕🥕🥕

A Different Point of View by Nancy Brady

Annie still shows up in his dreams.

Looking back to his junior year, Dave remembered he wanted to take Annie to homecoming. He’d gotten to know her during the previous summer.

His plan to ask Annie improved once he talked the teacher into assigning them to the same table.

Asking any girl out was always fraught with anxiety and vulnerability, but one sunny autumn day, he asked her. He was hurt when she said “No, my parents won’t let me.”

Dave ended up taking another, but had Annie agreed, it might have been a night to remember, always.

🥕🥕🥕

Safety in Snailmail by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She swore, smacking her forehead with her fist, once, twice, a third time. This couldn’t happen, not when perfect delivery was so critical.

She hung her head and shook out her shoulders. She was a planner, not a pantser–not free and spontaneous. She opened her mouth, hoping the words would tumble out, all passionate sincerity.

“I’m sorry I…” She drew a blank, and looked back at her notes on the table of her solitary apartment. The words were right there, but her memory was shit.

“It’s no use,” she sighed. “Delivery will have to be by US Mail.”

🥕🥕🥕

Something Sensational to Read in the Train by Anne Goodwin

She mentioned a diary; looked pleased when I invited her to bring it in. A slim substitute for a confidante, but somewhere for her feelings at least.

“January – twenty bananas and sixty slices of toast.”

Strange: the referral didn’t mention eating distress.

“February – fifty robins and three jays.”

A metaphor for escape?

“March – seventy sudokus and fourteen crosswords.”

Life was a puzzle? I shifted in my seat.

“April – eighteen library books.”

I couldn’t stay silent. “Did anything else happen that year?”

She closed the book, her face too. I cursed my impatience. Counting saved her. I should respect that.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Drops His Guard by Molly Stevens

Chester emerged from the bedroom and was surprised to see Ruth sitting on the couch surrounded by photo albums.

“What are you doing up so early?” he said.

“I couldn’t sleep. Guess the end of the year made me sentimental. Look at this wedding picture of us.”

Chester peered at the photo over her shoulder.

“Yup, that’s us. Young and hopeful.”

“We aren’t young any more, but we still have hope!”

Chester looked away, but not before Ruth saw the mist in his eyes.

“Awww, there’s the softie I married.”

“Harrumph. Where’s my coffee?”

Ruth smiled. “Coming right up.”

🥕🥕🥕

The End of One Year Just Might Be My Last by Bill Engleson

Some New Years, I think I’m sinking into a bog, a squalid sinkhole of quicksand.

There I am, what’s left of me, being sucked down into the slurp of time.

Those last few days of whatever year is fizzling out, I always want time to stop, to halt the wear and tear on my future.

Every New Year shortens my possibilities.

So, I mention this to my buddies.

They say, “get a life.”

I say, “I have one. I’d like to keep it.”

Then I go off into a corner, look out a window, knock back some brandy, whimper.

🥕🥕🥕

He Waited by Teresa Grabs

Erik rested on the hard, wooden bench and waited. The sun warmed his weathered face. Buttered popcorn, cotton candy, and the unmistakable aroma of fried batter swirled on the breeze. Children’s laughter made him chuckle. With his eyes closed, he watched as Alan and Harvey rode the ferris wheel while Mary called, “look at me daddy” from the pony ride. His hand remembered holding Sarah’s as they walked in the glow of the midway. Slow, deep breathing brought the memories closer. It was a warm summer afternoon.

“Join me on the ferris wheel?”

“I’ve waited for you.” Erik smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Old Thoughts by Anita Dawes

The road behind me looks thin, worn out
Too many people have trod this thin strip of memory
Wet tarmac shines back. Old thoughts lay forgotten
Old memories drop like winter leaves
Old friends come to mind
Too many lost to time
The road that lives behind me
Where memories linger, waiting to be revisited
There are many passages in my past
That are worth revisiting
Others I should leave in the dark
Looking back, digging over old ground
Isn’t the best use of your time
If you look back far enough
You’ll meet yourself coming around the bend…

🥕🥕🥕

Part 2 (10-minute read)

Treasure by D. Avery

They traveled at night, leaving the uncertainty and danger of the distillation camps behind. They walked, Ahden’s stories a mantra; stories of green, stories of trees that once cooled and soothed the land. Ahden’s most fantastic stories concerned the forked stick he claimed would point to water lying like buried treasure underground. He said he’d find water or die trying.

The three of them sipped carefully from their flask of water. This girl had joined them and hadn’t looked back. Ahden and Leena would tell her what they remembered, teach her all they knew. They lived for her now.

🥕🥕🥕

The Right Bank byTN Kerr

The night was wet.

Not with raindrops, but a heavy mist hanging in the air without ever seeming to fall on the pavement.

Luc moved up the Rue des Barres, away from the river as gargoyles from Église Saint-Gervais watched from above.

Glancing over his shoulder he caught a shimmer illuminated in the single streetlight below.

Only a flickering, as though the lamplight were refilling a space hastily vacated by whatever he had not seen.

There could be no doubt. They were on to him again.

He quickened his pace and remembered Aubree; her dark hair, and her laughter.

🥕🥕🥕

Don’t Look Back by Norah Colvin

Don’t look back. Don’t look back.

She pulled her coat tight, pressed her bag into her side and leaned into the wind, quickening her pace.

The footsteps pounded behind her, closing in. She knew, even over the wind’s roar, they were coming for her. She breathed in shallow quick gasps.

Don’t look back. Don’t look back. If she couldn’t see them, perhaps they didn’t exist?
Her eyes stung. The wind stole her breath. Her side split.

Lights ahead. Please. Please … almost.

A hand on her shoulder. A deep gravelly unintelligible voice. She twisted. “Noooo!”

“Miss, you forgot your umbrella.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ancient Truths by Colleen M. Chesebro

Staring into the river, Dennitsa felt the ancient memories drag her back into the past. As if she had lived long ago, the hazy recollections played out in her mind.

The truth stared her in the face. The Slavic witches were descended from the flying dragons who were the spirits of the fallen angels. They had tumbled out of the skies at the beginning of time. Those spirits copulated with human women, creating offspring who were known as the Vedma. The Vedma became the female witches, and the Leshovik became the dragon men.

Dennitsa had been born a witch!

🥕🥕🥕

When the Stakes Are High by Chelsea Owens

It wasn’t till the hungry flames were nearly at her hem that Briar’s thoughts turned to self-reflection. Before that point she was, quite naturally, declaring innocence whilst returning insults.

Her efforts were of no use. The fire rose higher, the smoke stung her lungs and eyes, the cackling jeers grew louder than the crackling logs. She could see her angry accusers through the wafting smoke lines.

“Witch! Witch! Witch!” they chanted.

These simple townsfolk had no brains. If she were a witch, wouldn’t she be gone? She sighed; coughed. She never should have left her staff under the bed.

🥕🥕🥕

True Love’s Kiss by Anurag Bakhshi

The memory of last night’s kiss, and what happened after, still lingered in the air. Post our 5th glass of wine, one thing had led to another, and…

What a ravishing beauty! Who would have thought that she would go in for an ugly mug like mine. I still couldn’t believe my luck.
Looking back, it had turned out to be a good, no great year. She had been disappointed, of course, when I hadn’t immediately transformed into a handsome prince afterwards, but she would have to learn to live with it, just like the 27 beauties before her.

🥕🥕🥕

Remember Lot’s Wife by H.R.R. Gorman

“Remember Lot’s wife?” Lance asked. He rolled the wire cord out, taking careful steps as he laid it on the ground. “God turned her to salt for lookin’ back.”

“That was Sodom and Gomorra, though, not the bowlin’ alley. You suppose God’d saltify us if we just take a last couple throws?” Despite his reluctance, Drew placed the charge mechanism on the ground and fed in Lance’s wire.

Lance sat down behind the blast shield. “Dunno ’bout that. Place coulda been full of sin.”

Drew nodded. “Boss’ll be mad even if God isn’t. Help me run the final checks.”

🥕🥕🥕

Buried Treasure by Jo Hawk The Writer

Cal dropped to his knees and gently lifted the book from the debris. Somehow it survived. If he wasn’t cradling in his hands feeling its weight, the caress of its leather cover, he would not have believed it possible.

Clutching the book to his chest, the memories coursed through him. Professor Dugan stood before him, telling Cal the odds were stacked against him ever succeeding. Cal felt defiance surge through him once again. They could laugh and sneer, but they were wrong. Sitting in the rubble Cal felt his destiny waiting.

He would show them how wrong they were.

🥕🥕🥕

Earthrise by Saifun Hassam

Julian was dying on the Moon. Somehow, something went wrong as his space shuttle entered the suborbital space of the Moon. The damaged space shuttle turned cartwheels before landing on the Luna Space Station. The medics had rushed to his rescue. He was barely alive.

Julian was a space-farer. An astronaut, geologist and geographer. It seemed eons since he had left Earth, for the Outer planets, and their satellite moons.

He drifted in and out of consciousness. His last thoughts were of flying in a reconnaissance orbiter, high over the Moon’s Compton Crater, and watching the blue Earth rise.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rush by kate @ aroused

I just hope he keeps following me. He’ll never suspect that Rick took the other car.

On reflection I wonder that we didn’t start this earlier but we were too busy conforming to societal standards. It all started when we couldn’t afford the best treatment for little James.

Is he still following me, better slow down a bit?

Now it’s the excitement as the adrenaline rush has really kicked in. We could retire comfortably but what for. Rick and I love these mind games then the chase.

Shame James isn’t here to share the fun of ‘acquiring’ their identities.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction: Wing Mirror by The Dark Netizen

There it is, that blasted black Bentley.

I can see it clearly in my wing mirror. My instincts are telling me to get as far away from it as I can. It’s a wonder that my sedan has been able to keep ahead for so long. In fact, I believe that the Bentley’s driver is toying with me. The black car is close now. I can see the driver’s face. Is that a fucking skull? Wait, where did he go?
Ohhh Lord! He’s in my rear seat!! Carrying a bloody SCYTHE!!

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear…

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by Frank Hubeney

Dean and Martha sat at the outdoor table after ordering coffee and croissants. They didn’t say anything to each other but started reading messages and typing into their phones. After the waiter delivered the order and left, Dean picked up a croissant from the plate. So did Martha. Then he turned in his chair and looked back.

That was the signal.

By some assessments the winners are those who are still able to walk away after the bullets fly. Other think it is not so simple. Blood creates a blur not only in space but across memories and lifetimes.

🥕🥕🥕

Now She Could Move On by Susan Sleggs

Dr. Stephanie Davidson, still limping slightly, came out of the courthouse feeling free and relaxed. Her happiness radiated onto the people she passed. Her divorce from the man that had hired a killer to make her disappear was finalized and both men were serving long jail terms. Thankfully there were no news cameras or questions as a divorce hearing was nothing compared to the attempted murder trials the year before. The police officer that had saved her life when the attempt had been made waited for her. He gazed at her with adoration and said, “No looking back sweetheart.”

🥕🥕🥕

Father Time Is Undefeated by @DaveMMAdden

He never should have been there in the first place. Everyone knew it—except him!

“I’m gonna train harder than ever. You’ll see!”

His team, family and coaches alike, bought, though weren’t entirely sold on, the idea of returning to the cage.

The adrenaline, the crowd’s deafening screams, his name printed in bold across the marquee: he needed this fix like a junkie’s blood itches for their drug of choice!

Through a ringing in his ears, he could hear what happened on the forlorn faces surrounding him.

Maybe this time he will hang the gloves up for good? Maybe.

🥕🥕🥕

Death Does Not Come by Robbie Cheadle

When I look back over my life, I note that I am lacking in one experience. Death. This greatest leveler of them all has always passed me by unscathed.

I heard it, like a rabid dog, whining relentlessly outside my door during a home invasion, when the car was hi-jacked and while I was perched precariously on the edge of a cliff as a child.

It barked madly for attention during my children’s lives when one stopped breathing, another had croup and throughout the twenty-eight anaesthetics and operations they collectively undertook.

It always slunk away, tail between its legs.

🥕🥕🥕

Part 3 (10-minute read)

Nothing Stays Perfect Forever (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Looking back, Danni understood that she gained more than Ike in a marriage. She said yes to the man she fell in love with and the ranch-home he offered with garden, barn, history, and horses. She said yes to his family, getting the grandmother she always longed to have. She said yes to North Idaho, a balm to a harsh childhood. She said yes to finally concluding her studies and working her hard-earned degrees. Looking back, Danni saw all she stood to lose. Would she have said yes that spring day had she known Ike would leave for Iraq?

🥕🥕🥕

Salto Quantico by JulesPaige

In retrospect Marietta had a breakthrough year. Though it took up way too much energy,
that long standing grudge that the sisters held for so many silent years. They finally were talking again. Though there were limits that had been set in cement. The two were not friends in their youth and most likely would not be best pals. But at least they were talking, and even laughing.

To be a peacekeeper of the hearth, that too was work. Etta hoped a slight name change helped.

shifting sands cannot
stand still while powerful sea
rearranges all

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by Kay Kingsley

And with that, I turned and walked away, heart pounding, I exhaled total relief. We were over and a 1,000 pounds of weight lifted off my shoulders. This was the right thing to do… wasn’t it? It only took me 10 seconds to second guess myself for the 100th time and my pace slowed. Don’t look back! But he would be sobbing, crushed by my announcement and only I could console him. I stopped and turned around ready to play the game again and to my utter surprise, he was gone and I was the one left looking back.

🥕🥕🥕

Looking Back by tearsofbloodinmyheart

“Stacy don’t do it…..” Carls voice trails off into oblivion as I put my foot on the first step.

“I’m telling you Stace…” By now his voice is fading. I’m on the fourth step of many, I wasn’t listening when Mr Bright and Sunny was running through his speil.

Carl is becoming smaller, although if I’m truthful I’m not looking down. By the time I’m at the top, on the small shaky platform, Carl is just a dot.

Ms Happy tightens the harness. I look back just before I step off the edge and smile. It’s time to go Carl.

🥕🥕🥕

Remembrance by Joanne Fisher

Jenny accidentally knocked the cup off the bench. She helplessly watched as it fell in slow-motion to the floor and broke into two pieces. She picked up the fragments crying. This had been the cup that Kirsten always used.

Jenny remembered the day Kirsten broke up with her and moved out, leaving the cup behind as a painful reminder. She never thought she would get over this loss or be able to love anyone ever again, but now looking back some months later she realised she had already come a long way. She would survive this and love again.

🥕🥕🥕

Then and Now by Di @ pensitivity101

I am not who I was,
Nor would I want to be
That empty crushed shell,
Used, misused,
Verbally abused.
I am not where I used to be,
Nor would I want to go back,
I have found my way,
Am loved, truly blessed,
My life is refreshed.
I know not where I’m going,
But I am not alone,
I have found my soul mate,
My saviour, my guide,
Always at my side.
It doesn’t matter what we were,
Together we simply Are,
Two drifting halves, forever joined,
Not perfect, but meant to be,
Us, exactly what you see.

🥕🥕🥕

Blackened Mirror by Reena Saxena

A penny drops. But he does not bend to pick it up. He moves ahead to grab the gold watch on the mantelpiece.

“He controls time now. He can choose to focus on certain parts, not necessarily in sequential order. Doctors call it selective amnesia or partial memory loss.”

The seer’s words are ignored as the family focuses on medical treatment.

Five years later, he is featured on a magazine cover, as the Most Successful Businessman of the Year. The world hears his bytes.

“I suffer from a handicap. I cannot look back, so I don’t remember any failure.”

🥕🥕🥕

Departing Alice by Susi J. Smith

Alice sat on the bench, staring at the rows of unlit buses. Wind rattled the glass panes. She pulled the tattered blanket around her shoulders and lay back, watching the blue and red sign flicker. Tomorrow. She’d leave tomorrow.

Jovial laughter woke her. Light peeked in through the dirty windows.

“Morning Alice.” Ted handed her a steaming coffee. She cupped it, breathing in the aroma.

Coffee downed, Alice crept towards the bus. She placed one foot on the metal step and stopped. “Not today. Tomorrow, I’ll leave tomorrow.” Head bowed, she hurried back to the comfort of her bench.

🥕🥕🥕

Happy New Year by Ruchira Khanna

As I ring in the New Year lots of memories flood before me: the good, the bad, the ugly while ‘am so involved with that flashback that ‘am unaware of the various expressions on my face.

When reminded ‘am filled with apprehension yet gratitude to be able to enjoy the coming year of whatever it may bring, as I continue to leave my carbon imprint.

I may be an ordinary person, but my consciousness allows me to breathe with appreciation as I ponder back and realize that I have been able to touch atleast a handful of souls each year.

🥕🥕🥕

Back Up by D. Avery

“Look where yer goin’, Kid!”

“I’m enterin’ the new year reflectin’ on where I been. Like Janus.”

“Yer an anus all right, walkin’ bass ackwards like thet. Turn aroun’ an’ look forward, Kid.”

“Looks good, Pal, lookin’ back. They’s a long trail a yarns, fer sure.”

“Yer gonna git tangled in thet yarn an’ trip.”

“Dang, I sure shoveled a lotta shit last year. Shorty even give me a badge. Ow! I’ve hit a wall.”

“Carrot Ranch don’t do walls. Jist backed inta the broad side a the barn with yer behind. Git up, look ta the trail ahead.”

🥕🥕🥕

Best Face Forward by D. Avery

“Hey Kid. See yer walkin’ facin’ the right way now. Have a seat.”

“Uh, no thanks, Pal… still hurtin’. Darn barn.”

“Ya looks as if yer hurtin’.”

“This’s ma thinkin’ face.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Thinkin’ back ta when I tried ma hand at writin’.”

“Yeah?”

“Thinkin’ ta do more a it. Send D. Avery packin’. Do ma own writin’.”

“Kid, it don’t work thet way. Asides, it’s a heckuva lot easier bein’ written than doin’ the writin’. An’ what if ya git D. Avery’s voice in yer head, huh?”

“She does claim we write ourselves…”

“Let’s keep our present arrangemint, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Buckaroo’s Journey by A. Kidd

“Been writin’, Kid?”

“Yep. Easy-peasy.”

“Gotta 99 word flash then?”

“Better! Jist started writin’, next thing I know, they’s hunnerds an’ hunnerds a words.”

“Yer a known shoveler. Which 99 ya gonna present? “

“Jist 99?”

“No more, no less.”

“Huh. Gotta cut to the chase then.”

“To the quick.”

“Down ta the bone. What’s it about?”

“A buckaroo who looks back.”

“Where’s the plot, the conflict?”

“Looks back while descending.”

“Descending inta a cave? An abyss?”

“Nope, jist cellar stairs.”

“What’s the lesson?”

“Look where yer goin’.”

“Where was she goin’?”

“Think they was some elixir down there.”

🥕🥕🥕

January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Like a groggy giant who has slumbered a thousand years, I feel stiff as stone as I try to re-enter my days. What is normal anyhow but the false idea that we can control our days? It truly is a gift each morning we rise to a new dawn. Well, maybe not at the crack of dawn. But you know — a new day. So I stretch back into routine, to build a sense of normalcy for what comes after a long slumber. Not a thousand years, but it has been since last year.

My computer sat closed and silent at my desk since before Christmas. I feel like a stranger to her keys, but quickly the tappity-tap-tap returns like muscle memory. This is the first day I’ve returned to my desk, following a minor accident that has my right leg healing — and throbbing. Sitting has been hardest to do, that and walking, or standing. Even lying down has challenged me.

Then I discovered myofascial release therapy, and it is aiding my healing. The therapist I’m seeing was able to unlock my foot and ankle, giving me back more mobility. It’s still painful, but healing with arnica rubs, immobility, and rest. I thought of all the things I could accomplish on the couch, and all I have to report is that I completed an epic novel by Brandon Sanderson (Way of the Kings).

However, I did use the front window often. For staring. Writers need to stare out of windows, and I stared which meant I processed. It’s what we do when we go for a walk or seek anything that relaxes the mind to ponder plots and develop character backstories. It’s what we do when the giants within us wake and ask questions. When we write stories, it’s not enough to explore “what if;” we also need to answer why.

What I’m referring to is the inner story which relates to the outer one. The outer story is all the action. It’s the plot. The inner story wants to know more than why is the protagonist on this journey; the inner story asks why it matters to her.

From the time that I fell down the basement stairs to gathering my laptop on the couch, huddled with an ice pack, not yet knowing if I had a sprain or a break, all I could think about is why Danni felt safe with a former Army Ranger. I could articulate the answer because of how my husband reacted, reminding me how willing he is to charge into danger on my behalf. Not that I endangered him, or imagine Danni endangering Ike, but as my teeth chattered in shock, the “what if” Danni got hurt question arose.

And that’s a great for action. But I wanted to explore it because I have been long struggling to answer why Danni and Ike are together. What finally emerged was a series of why questions regarding the “what if” exploration. Once I had opened this vulnerable terrain for my characters, I needed time to stare out of windows, to let the images in my mind come forward so I could better write them as words and convey the emotions I could feel to the reader who would need to slip into Danni’s skin and care about what the protagonist desired and feared.

As it was also the changing of the years. I spent time working on my vision which also required looking back. Windows are great for that purpose, too. A character in the Way of Kings is a special kind of historian who looks to the past to interpret the present. Like that character, I summed up past events to understand the crossroads where I now stand.

Crossroads equate to choices on the journey. This year, I did vision work that included three different scenarios. In each one, Carrot Ranch flourished as a place to encourage writers to create literary art 99 words at a time. This place is not a destination, it’s a traveling companion, a ranch on wheels. It’s satisfying to know that Carrot Ranch is here for the long haul. Try as we might, writers can’t escape the call of words. No matter what choices I make next in life, I’m still on the writer’s journey, and it’s like a pilgrimage — better to share the road.

Did you explore your own vision over the end of the year break? Did you try to follow or adapt the vision process from the last post? Have you taken time to look back so you can better understand where you are at and where you are going?

Regardless, here we are at the beginning of 2019. I hope you get to follow your calling and do what it is that makes writing meaningful to you. I encourage you to set goals and check in quarterly on your progress. Please share your goals or vision in the comments if you feel moved. You can share them privately, too if you want someone to bear witness outside the public eye (just contact me).

Carrot Ranch is ready to roll, and we have our first challenge of the year —

January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 8, 2019. 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.

 

Nothing Stays Perfect Forever (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Looking back, Danni understood that she gained more than Ike in a marriage. She said yes to the man she fell in love with and the ranch-home he offered with garden, barn, history, and horses. She said yes to his family, getting the grandmother she always longed to have. She said yes to North Idaho, a balm to a harsh childhood. She said yes to finally concluding her studies and working her hard-earned degrees. Looking back, Danni saw all she stood to lose. Would she have said yes that spring day had she known Ike would leave for Iraq?

A Productive New Year for Writers: 2019

Ho-ho-ho, or rather ha-ha-ha. 2018 seems to be getting the last laugh at me, but I’m punching back. I didn’t fall off the ends of the earth, but I did take a nasty spill down our steep basement stairs.

Good news is that I didn’t break a leg. Bad news is that I won’t be dancing for a while. Wait, I don’t dance. However, even writing or trying to sleep is excruciating and I can’t drive or walk. Friends are graciously helping me finish holiday errands, loaning me a cane, and taking me shopping with a motorized scooter. I’m laughing at the thought of trying to drive one already. I’d be more comfortable on a horse!

All week long, I had been collecting your stories for Cora Kingston and squealing with delight. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have writers join me in making historical fiction mud pies. Unfortunately, I hadn’t caught up on comments before the accident, so I’ll be doing that from the couch where I’ll be popping Advil and sipping hot cider.

It’s the end of the year, and those who know me won’t be surprised to hear me say it’s time to review our visions. I don’t mean the sugar plums dancing in our heads. I mean the vision each and every writer holds dear. Sometimes we hold it so close that we don’t give it wings to fly.

So that is the challenge until Flash Fiction Challenges resume January 3. We are also delaying the announcement of winners for the Bonus Rodeo until after the New Year.

Let me explain to you why I think visions are golden. Visioning is stating your North Star. Without it, you are a hunter with aimless goals. Dissatisfaction often comes from a lack of clear vision. You might seek the prize, but for what purpose? Why are your passionate about what you do? A vision imagines success, and a North Star guides you. You aim your goals toward it and use it when you get lost.

“When the vision is clear, the results will appear. Keep your mindset positive as you work your plan, flourish, and always remember why you started.” ― Germany Kent

Why do you write? What are your expectations, dreams, and goals?

A vision can be outrageous! You can have a vision to be an astronaut and still succeed as a writer. How? Write a sci-fi novel where you get to immerse yourself in the world of astronauts. You can have a dream to be a New York Times best-seller. Before you get there, you have to look at what success is on that journey. That’s why you set a North Star.

I’m going to share with you a process I use with entrepreneur and author clients. It’s my holiday gift to you along with encouragement to make space for visioning work over the next two weeks.

Part 1: Preparation

  1. Pick your topic. Be clear about what you are creating and why. What do you hope for an outcome? Focus on what you are creating, launching, or seeking to accomplish.
  2. Pick your timeframe. Visions typically span two to ten years. Five years is a good place to start. Your vision answers “where do you see yourself in five years.” This is not “how” — that’s strategic planning. Dream about what success looks like in a specific timeframe.
  3. Brainstorm for 10 minutes a list of “prouds.” Like contests you’ve won, or moments you overcame, or projects you finished, or reviews you received. Let good moments pop to mind. The idea is to build a base of positive energy and high-quality experiences.

Part 2: Discovery

  1. Write the first draft of your vision. Take between 15 and 30 minutes. Set a timer; this is a time constraint which prevents you from becoming bogged in the process. The most creative visions occur within 30 minutes. Believe in the process.
  2. Go for greatness. Think, MLK, “I have a dream…” Think big, specific, scary and exciting. Get past the 59 reasons why it won’t work.
  3. Write from the heart. Effective visioning happens from the inside out. Go with your gut, with what pours out. Ignore the inner critic.
  4. Get in the future. Imagine yourself there. What details stand out? How do you feel? Where are you at? What does your office look like?
  5. Write quickly. Use the hot pen technique where you can’t stop writing once you start. Don’t set down the pen or stop tapping keys.
  6. Get personal. Blend the personal and professional into a single, holistic vision. Include your passions. Grab the details that make your vision the dream that gives you jitters.
  7. Write it as a story. Use a date as a prompt and describe the story that is unfolding that day. Describe the many great things going on that make it clear that your long-term vision has come to be the reality you planned and believed it would be. Give details.

Part III: Revision

  1. Review and redraft. Let it sit a few days. Come back to your draft with a 30-minute review session. Read it out loud. Don’t erase what you wrote. Copy it and then cut and revise. Follow your gut. Don’t remove what sounds too bold or overly ambitious. Often, that’s what makes your vision special. Make it sound and feel inspiring. If it doesn’t make you feel stressed, you haven’t pushed deep enough.
  2. Get specific. Don’t say “founded a company” say where you located it, when and how many clients you have, how many products or ideas you’ve sold. Say which awards you’ve won. State how much of your income will come from your business. State how others recognize you in your industry. What do clients or customers say? Imagine them.
  3. Edit your vision. Work on the language, clean up the content and write a sharp vision in 99 words. But don’t cut the specific details or bold proclamations. Length is not an issue, but again, do this edit in 30 minutes.

Part IV: Polish Your Shine

  1. Seek input. Use only trusted sources to share your vision and ask for insight or feedback. The idea is to improve the vision, not kill it.
  2. Create your North Star. Once you have your vision, create a 59-word mission statement to set your North Star to guide you to your vision of success. Next, craft a tagline in 9-words.

Just like you, I’ll be working on my vision for writing and publishing. These are my visions for Carrot Ranch:

A Vision of Success (99)

Writers high-fived across the string of comments, appreciating craft and creativity in their sandbox, 99 words at a time. Carrot Ranch, an imaginary place made of real people from around the globe. A tribe. Buckaroo Nation.  Authors and entrepreneurs arrived too, looking to forge brands and learn how to tell stories around investor campfires. Readers found literary art in small bites palpable to a modern diet of busyness. A buckaroo wrangled the words and published collections, hosted rodeos for writers, and flashed her way to write novels about veterans, history and earth science. The vision for the future rocked.

Carrot Ranch and A Lead Buckaroo’s North Star (59)

Carrot Ranch understands that writers and entrepreneurs need safe space to explore the craft of literary art and harness the power of storytelling. Lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, gave up riding horses to write brand stories. Now she wrangles 99-word flash about history, veterans, and rocks. Flash by flash, she crafts award-winning novels, leads authors on retreat and coaches entrepreneurs.

Tagline: Making literary art accessible 99 words at a time. (9)

Originally, when I encouraged writers to join me in annual vision work, I shared a vision that included small and intimate writing retreats. 2019 will see that come to fruition. It won’t be at my beloved Elmira Pond, but it will happen at D. Avery’s beloved Vermont Lake. Save the dates for two sessions that have room for three writers each: July 12-14 and July 16-18. More details to come.

2016 was a disaster. 2017 was about seeking stability. 2018 was implementing some big changes toward achieving that stability. All along, my vision hung in the sky, and no matter what happened, I followed step by step. You will appreciate having a North Star because life’s circumstances have a way of tripping us.

2019 will be a prosperous year, or so I’m declaring. There will be some big life changes for me but the struggles of the previous year have prepared me. My novel continues to hammer into shape, and I remain hopeful on that account, too. Vol. 2 stalled out after our Father’s Day floods and diagnoses for the Hub, but I will recommit to getting what we started finished this year.

Once you have worked your vision, set quarterly goals that you can measure (and use the Rancher Badges to encourage achievement). It’s good to revisit your goals every three months to help you stay on track or readjust. Every month, do a quick planning and use a Daily Activities plan to direct your most important priorities and balance writing with career and life.

Also, if you have any clever ideas for challenge prompts in 2019 (like, “break a leg”) now would be a good time to discuss them.

Whatever your year-end holidays or non-holidays look like, I wish you all peace, joy and the prosperity to see your writing dreams through to fruition. I’ll be checking in with you all from my couch!

Cora Kingston

Cora Kingston left behind an enigmatic memorial in a miner’s graveyard along the coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Carved in marble, the stone proclaims: “Erected by Cora Kingston In Loving remembrance of her dearest friend John Yendow Born May 31, 1867, Died October 5, 1892.”

Writers from around the globe wrote stories about Cora, John and the mystery of this marker. Filled with tragedy, humor and unexpected parallels to other places, history inspires fiction.

The following is based on the December 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Cora Kingston.

PART I (10-minute read)

Sandcastle Souls by Bill Engleson

Every day, Cara Kingston walked down from her cabin, passed mine, waved if I was in view, which was often that first year.

I was still struggling with heartbreak back then.

She’d walk out on the tiny peninsula that slunk into the Salish Sea, stand on its slippery shore, and wait for her lover, Walter.

“It’s so sad,” my neighbour Molly had intoned when first I moved to Sandcastle Point. “They’d been together such a short time when he was lost.”

“Lost?”

“A storm surfaced. Another lost fisher.”

“When?” I asked.

“Oh! Eons!”

“Eons?”

“Yes. The pain never leaves.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cora’s Scrapbook (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni stood up, stretching stiff muscles after hours of sitting on the hardwood floor of Ramona’s bedroom. It was one thing to scour historical records for work, another to snoop through a box stashed under her husband’s grandmother’s bed. But Danni couldn’t pull herself away from the scrapbooks she found. One belonged to Ramona, another to Ramona’s mother, and a third to Cora Kinston Holman. Each documented events, recipes, photos and newspaper clippings. Was Cora Ramona’s maternal grandmother? The name was unfamiliar to Danni. Yet Cora’s scrapbook brimmed with poetry and sketches similar to Ramona’s stories and fairy drawings.

🥕🥕🥕

Memory in the Backyard by Trailblazer

Eighteen-year-old Andrew was familiar with the upright stone concealed in their bushy backyard, which read “Erected by Cora Kingston in memory of John Yendow.“

Everyone in the family was apathetic to his questions on Cora and John.

After many interrogations with the elderly people of the family and the locality, Andrew understood John was one of his forefathers, a spice merchant.

Traces of yellowish parchments in the underground garage, during his thirteen-day investigation, presented Andrew insights.

His forefather was a spy in disguise, who fell in love with a fellow spy Cora, a poetess for the public.

🥕🥕🥕

Core Values Part 1 by JulesPaige

Cora Holman King was named for her great grandmother. Entering into the King family which was splendid in its richness of history sometimes made young Cora pine for more knowledge of her Kingston relatives.

There was a story that in the a cemetery near Eagle River her great grandmother had erected a grave marker for a friend named John Yendow. There was no one to ask the how or why this was done.

In an old jewelry chest that belonged to the elder Cora, the great granddaughter found a false bottom with a letter. Maybe that held a clue?

🥕🥕🥕

Core Values Part 2 by JulesPaige

Yellow and brittle with a fine slant of fading India ink script, Cora Kingston was writing to John Yendow. It was not a love letter.

Dearest John,

Your family was so kind to help ours when illness struck. We who had been neighbors and had survived so many cold winters. Without your families aide that bitter winter when my whole household was laid with high fevers, you and yours came morning, noon and night to check upon us.

I have set aside private funds of my own earnings. I hope to use it someday to remember you.

Love, Cora

🥕🥕🥕

Core Values Part 3 by JulesPaige

Cora King wasn’t really any closer to finding answers as to how Cora Kingston knew of John Yendow’s death and how much was spent on the marker that was erected in his memory. What had her great grandmother done to earn that money. Why was the memorial just dedicated to John?

One could only guess that perhaps as children during that feverish winter, they had made promises that time wouldn’t let them keep. What Cora King could do was visit the white stone monument. Take its photograph and make sure it was kept clean. What more could she do?

🥕🥕🥕

Forbidden by Kate Spencer

Cora grabbed the net, hoisted her skirt hem and stepped into the rushing waters of Jacob’s Creek.

“I got it,” she said, securing the floundering trout John was reeling in. “This will fry up nicely.”

“It sure will.”

Like nesting turtle doves, they fussed over their meal and then sat on some rocks to talk about life before cleaning up their mess.

“Wanna see some mayflowers?” asked John after hiding the dishes in their usual spot.

“Show me!” laughed Cora grabbing John’s hand.

The underbrush crackled. Startled, Cora turned. Pointed at them was the barrel of her father’s rifle.

🥕🥕🥕

Out to Dry (Cora) by Papershots

Warm and cold weather she recognized by the time it took her laundry to dry, although she could never tell exactly when each item of clothing was dry; it had been pointed out to her that something can be humid but not necessarily wet – (“Never trust linen!”) – so she needed another hand to check what her touch told her, which was the light-hearted excuse for the forthcoming marriage, which is how neighbors and passers-by found out her friend had passed, clothes out in the wind for days on end, at the stretch of new balances, just to be sure.

🥕🥕🥕

Until Death by Jo Hawk The Writer

Cora read Papa’s letter again, hoping the words would change, knowing they would not. Her beloved John had succumbed. Typhoid. She pressed the letter to her heart and closed her eyes, remembering the last time they had been together, the day they said goodbye.

She was excited. Papa arranged for her to accompany cousin Olivia on her Grand Tour.

They would be gone a year and when she returned, she and John would marry.

The thought grabbed her heart, squeezing, constricting, making her wish for death.
She sat, immobile, cold, her life disintegrating. Papa’s letter fluttered to the floor.

🥕🥕🥕

Dearest John by Tina Stewart Brakebill

May 30, 1893

Dearest John.

It finally arrived. I was scared that it wouldn’t get here in time for your birthday but it came on the train yesterday. Daddy will be angry but there’s nothing he can do about it now. When I saw our names together I fell to my knees. I love you so much. We talked so much about leaving this place. Being together. Going someplace where daddy couldn’t stop us. Then you left me. Alone. But daddy can’t stop us now. In death, we can be connected forever.

Till tomorrow my love.

Always Your Cora

🥕🥕🥕

The Family Secret by Susan Sleggs

From the time Cora Kingston attended the one room school house she had eyes for no other than John Yendow, a boy four years older. At home Cora’s mother would rail the girl that he was unacceptable. As Cora grew older her mother tried to pair her with unknowns from out of town but Cora refused. After typhoid took both her mother and John, Cora finally accepted another and moved far away. Years later she returned to erect a tombstone for her true love. If only he had been Jewish like her mother. The best kept secret in town.

🥕🥕🥕

Best Friends by Nancy Brady

Suddenly, Cora Kingston moved away. Brokenhearted, she married the first man she met. The truth was that she would always love John, her best friend.

They became fast friends from the time they met. John and Cora played together from building tree forts to playing checkers to talking.

During their teens they were encouraged to go to school dances with other students. Despite this, they remained best friends, pledging their love to each other.

When John asked for Cora’s hand in marriage, her father said, “No. It was a secret I hoped never to reveal, but you’re my son.

🥕🥕🥕

Forever Yours by Kay Kingsley

A folded note at the base of the headstone read, “My dearest John, I’ve wept for you more tears than water in the ocean or sand in the desert or stars in the sky. Cat Harbor is no longer our safe harbor so I must keep going like we promised we would if something bad should happen. This headstone marks your time here and as long as people can read our names together, we’ve carved our place in history for as long as it stands. Until fate joins us, I’ll be seeing you in my dreams. Forever Yours, Cora”

🥕🥕🥕

The Offering by Ethan Edmunds

She was supposed to meet him on the wandering rocks that night. Of the innumerable promises she’d made to John that summer, it was the only one she ever broke.

Cora knew he’d kept their secret, because in all the years since he’d disappeared, no one had ever come asking after him.

She knelt down as far as her hobbled knees would allow and placed the small bundle in the grass, trying desperately not to think about what was inside. Cora rested her weathered hand on the stone, closed her eyes, and waited patiently for the vibration to start.

🥕🥕🥕

Sacrifice by Joanne Fisher

Cora Kingston and John Yendow were demon hunters, though they hid this from everybody else. For a time they managed to keep Keweenaw Peninsula free of them.

One time they visited Cat Harbor and found a portal. They began a ritual to close it. Once it began to close some tentacles shot out. Something was trying to come through. Without thinking John ran straight into the portal. The last thing Cora saw was John being wrapped in tentacles. Then he was gone.

Cora had a marker made for John. It was the least she could do considering his sacrifice.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Boy’s Club by Goldie

When I was a kid, whenever I would stay with him over the summer, grandpa used to take me out for breakfast Saturday morning. While grandma and my sister – Nicole stayed at home and tended to the house chores, we would go out to have “manly” talks. No girls were allowed. The truth was we would drive to Kingston to eat what grandpa normally wasn’t allowed, like crepes loaded with fruits, whipped cream and creamy chocolate hazelnut filling, and drizzled with honey-butter. Cora’s Breakfast & Lunch was our little secret.

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Cora Kingston, Artist, and Author by Saifun Hassam

The Yeandeau Lighthouse was on a rocky promontory, west of the rugged cliffs overlooking Yeandeau Harbor. The deep indigo and turquoise Pacific Ocean waters morphed into the blue summer skies.

Cora Timmons was a journalist, and loved to sail along these Pacific waters. The Lighthouse, originally built in the 19th century, was named after Jack Yeandeau, an avid naturalist and explorer of the bays and inlets. Her great-great-aunt, Cora Kingston was grief stricken when Jack disappeared in a ferocious sea squall. She was a talented artist, and later published Jack’s notes, journals, and sketches, including her own seashore paintings.

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Cora Kingston by Robbie Cheadle

Cora Kingston stood on the wooden deck of the ship gazing in wonder at the white sand and scrubby greenery of Algoa Bay.

The knowledge that the terrible four-month long journey by sea was nearly over filled her with relief.

The strong sun shone down on her as she cuddled her three-week-old infant in her arms. She was thankful that the government’s promise of a warm climate was true. Hopefully, the promise of 100 acres of land would also materialise. She offered a silent prayer of thanks that this baby would have a better opportunity in this new land.

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True Love by H.R.R. Gorman

He was a friend of mine. I bought his headstone and put him in the earth.

His parents were poor, but I was sure he wouldn’t have had even a wooden marker tied with twine.

He’d been kind to me at the stamp mill, seen me as an equal, a confidant. We were to be married, a convenience to him and freedom to me, if God hadn’t chosen to take him home. His parents were ever grateful that I was willing to hide their ‘mistake.’

But how could John’s life be a mistake when I loved him so deeply?

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Cora Kingston by Irene Waters

Cora looked into his eyes. Her belly warmed and tingled, her heart felt full while her head was clear. She floated on a cloud of love as soft as marshmallow but strong as steel.

“There is nothing left. I’m out!” John was adamant.

The base of her skull contracted, her jaw tightened, Nausea replaced the warmth. She followed him when he left. He was always in her sights. A phone call , a knock on his new door when he had a guest. A shotgun when it looked serious. Her name on his grave.  He’d never be rid of her.

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Name Recognition: You Just Need The Correct Association by Geoff Le Pard

‘Cora Kingston? Who’s she?’

‘Taught us English and Ethics.’

‘Ethics? I didn’t do Ethics.’

‘Why doesn’t that surprise me. Boring Cora. You must remember.’

‘A clue?’

‘Had a voice like dead gerbil.’

‘Nope. Distinguishing features?’

‘She liked tweed skirts.’

‘Geez, Logan that’s narrowed it down to about fifty. Anyway does it matter?’

‘I saw her in town. She wanted to be remembered to you.’

‘Me? Why?’

‘Ha! You sound terrified.’

‘Any teacher who remembers me worries me. My profile was so low it was concave.’

‘She said she borrowed a tenner from you…’

‘HER? Where did you see her?’

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The Wedding That Never Was by TNKerr

Seems that Cora was laid to rest that day at Mountain View Cemetery next to her husband, John Blackwell Holman.

She was buried with a photograph and a tattered wedding invitation. The photo showed a smiling young miner. Penned on the back of the photo in a woman’s hand the name John Y and a date – September 1892. The invitation was hand printed:

Cora Kingston
and
John Yendow

REQUEST THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE
AT THEIR MARRIAGE

ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF JUNE, 1892
AT 2 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON

OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE CONSUMPTION CHURCH
CAT HARBOR, MICHIGAN

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Taboo by Di @ pensitivity101

The marker miraculously appeared overnight on the unmarked grave of a poor man.
No-one in the family, now or then, knew who Cora Kingston was, or what her relationship was with John Yendow, a man with many friends, but no money.
He had made his way through life working the land as and where he could.
The Kingston Farm was one of the most profitable in the country, but there was no mention of a Cora. Unless it was a subterfuge to hide a relationship between races, beliefs and religion which would have resulted in death for both parties.

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Safe Harbor by D. Avery

A shooting star streaked across the night sky. Tears welled as Cora thought of John.

At his death she heard the sympathetic whispering. “Now they’ll never marry.”

Before his death they whispered, “When will they marry?” Maybe John was waiting until he had more to offer; maybe Cora’s parents were against the union. There was much speculation. But John and Cora clearly enjoyed each other’s company. The whispers sometimes became unkind.

Cora and John had loved one another. Now she alone knew why they would never have married.

“Rest in peace, dearest friend,” Cora whispered to the starlit night.

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Cora’s Love by Ritu Bhathal

Cora wept as she carefully reread the card in one of her hands.
Tears blurred her vision but the words were etched on her eyeballs.
“You are cordially invited to the union John Yendow and Cora Kingston…”
The proofs of their wedding invitations had arrived earlier that week,
but so caught up was she in her grief, she hadn’t looked at the mail.
Instead of stepping into the church as a blushing bride-to-be,
she had entered it to bid farewell to her one true love.
In the other had she held today’s order of service.
“In loving memory of…”

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Identity Found by Ann Edall-Robson

She loathed the old law obliterating a woman’s maiden name when she married. Erasing her true identity, leaving only her first name intact, sometimes. She had been searching for years to fill in the blanks of where she was from, who she was from. The obituary took up half the column. An invitation to a family reunion/memorial, and in the middle of the list was her full name, her town. Someone else had been searching too and found her, and her kin. They were all descendants of Cora Kingston. A perfect stranger had unlocked her life’s history pages.

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Jane Eyre meets Cora Kingston by Anne Goodwin

After fleeing Thornfield with only the shabby apparel I arrived in, the coachman set me down at a crossroads in a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland. Skirts snagged by the heather, I sought a place to rest my bones.

By God’s grace, I encountered another lonely female, whose kindness in sharing her meagre repast of bread and cheese brought forth my sorry story.

“Why, pray, did you not go with him?”

“He was married to another – although he came to regret it.”

“Perhaps you did not love him enough.” Cora took my hand. “Have you ever kissed a girl?”

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A Century Later by Reena Saxena

It was a painful moment of my life to erect this memorial. I lost the person who mattered most to me. The loneliness in the island often makes me think how John would have taken it, if I had died earlier…

A century later, I laugh amidst the waves crashing against the shore. John is immortalized, only because of what I did. The curiosity of researchers is about my story.

I wish they would go around a little more, and find the other tombstones I built – in memory of my dearest victims. They made me happy in their lifetime.

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Flash Fiction: Apology by the Dark Netizen

Cora slumped in the chair, her face buried in her palms.

John’s body lay at her feet, his lifeless eyes looking at her. A stream of tears began running down Cora’s face. John did not deserve to die as he did. He was a good man. No, he was the best man and an even better friend. She had taken advantage of him.

She should never have let her hunger get the better of her. If only she had controlled a bit more, John would still have had his soul inside him.

The tombstone would remain as her apology…

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Cora Beliefs by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal, what d’ya say?”

“‘Bout what, Kid? Cain’t waste words ‘roun here.”

“‘Bout Cora Kingston then. Know anything on that matter?”

“Yep.”

“Well?”

“They say she’s from up north, Eagle River way. Cat Harbor.”

“That I know.”

“Say she went west with a near John, but not her dear John.”

“‘S’what I heard.”

“Thing is, Cora weren’t her real name; it was assumed.”

“I never assumed that.”

“No, Kid, she assumed it.

“Who?”

“Hooe.”

“Who?! Hooe?”

“Yep. Fannie Hooe come back incognito, claimin’ ta be Cora Kingston.”

“In neat clogs? Oh. Keens?”

“True story, Kid. Plausibly.”

“Hoo-wee Pal.”

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Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury Winners

By D. Avery

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

That was my lead-in to the prompt for the final rodeo contest, the Sound and Fury. I wanted contestants to write about a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in.

I have learned so much here at the Ranch even since penning such tough talk over a month ago. The prompt was to write of danger and risk, but for many just sharing one’s writing is a risk, and to compete is an even greater risk. To be willing to face a fear, to do what is not easy to do, engenders learning and growth; it is an act of creative courage.

Creative courage is what Carrot Ranch is about. The rope here is a lifeline, a support, a way to find your way through a blizzard of self-doubt and fear. It is braided from caring, safety, and trust. I am grateful and in awe of all who participated in the rodeo events and applaud the contestants’ courage and willingness to take a risk.

I naively posited to my co-judges that this year’s contest would be easier to judge, as there were fewer entries. I also assumed (spell check) that as the writer in our group I had the advantage and insights necessary to our task. Then my co-judges, both voracious readers, schooled me in judging, exposing the flaws in my assumptions as they showed me how to read a 99-word story. Because there were fewer entries, 19 after two had to be dropped for consideration because of word count, we were able to read more closely and collaboratively, but that did not make the task easier. Around the table, it was felt that there was a lot of talent and many great ideas and takes on danger presented in response to the prompt. We found that the quality of all entries was very high and that the entries were closer in range. This forced us to focus on word choice, on beginnings and endings; while we felt a story did not have to be totally resolved, we agreed there should not be uncertainties that distract from the reading and that there should be a sense of completeness in a story. And then we re-read again. Our deliberations finally brought us agreement on our three winners.

Taking first place and $25 is Jules Paige’s Contested Contingent.

They are silent soldiers. A rare unified army. Commanded by a queen to seek the supplies to survive. Instinctual training leads them through dense foliage to the structures of giants. With all the unseasonable torrential rains their homes have become flooded. Yet they expect no outside relief. They are a self-sufficient bunch.

Mother has not seen the arrival of the invaders. In her nightgown, robe and slippers she ventures into the morning light of the kitchen and… draws a blood curdling scream. Father rushes to her aide. His bravery unsurpassed, he calms Mother and calls the local ant exterminator.

The Amazing Educator felt that this entry had “something extra” with the twist of ants being in danger, and the tongue in cheek humor regarding the brave father protecting the assaulted mother, and appreciated that it was well paced with strong vocabulary and sensory details. We all agreed that though the six-legged characters were unexpected, Jules provided a fun take and answered our criteria for showing the “dance between the danger and the endangered.” The motivations of the ants and the humans were clear, and the irony of the ants escaping one danger only to become endangered again because of the supposed danger they posed to the domicile of the giants was quite a dance indeed.

Anne Goodwin comes in second with To the Rescue. In addition to collecting another ranger badge, Anne wins a copy of D. Avery’s After Ever.

Cold cruel enough to cut the breath from me. Waves roar loud enough to drown out other sounds. It took a fool to dive in after her. It’ll take a hero to ferry her to shore.

Hair and beard turn to icicles. Arms to cartwheels, legs to flippers, brain to military command. Kick harder! Plough faster! Fight off lakebed vegetation, fear and fatigue!

I’ve almost reached her when a tether takes my ankle. I yank it back. It reins me in. I’m swallowing water when I grab her wrist. How will history judge me: a hero or a fool?  

The desperate dance in the water was very vivid and tense with Anne’s terse sentences and succinct descriptions. Though the ultimate outcome was unresolved, it was clear what the motivation was, and we felt this story was complete and only enhanced by the suspense of not knowing whether the foolish hero succeeds or even survives.

Third place and a copy of Chicken Shift go to Ritu Bhathal for Goodbye Fall.

Below me flowed water, fast and furious.

I tightened my grip on the pot.

“All ready?” The instructor checked my harnesses.

I gulped.

But I nodded. I needed to do this.

Launching myself, as instructed, I fell, headfirst, feeling the air zoom past me.

The elastic went taut and I bounced up and down several times.

My heart was in my mouth.

As I came to a stop, I looked at the pot, still in my hands.

Loosening its lid and allowing the contents to fall into the water, I whispered “Goodbye Jake,” before slowly being pulled back up.

What is apparent from the beginning is both the narrator’s fear and resolve to make this jump, though Ritu reveals this through discreet details, such as a tightened grip, a gulp, a silent nod. The motivation isn’t revealed until the end, with the detail of whispering and being pulled back up slowly adding to the poignancy.

For her Honorable Mention, Bonnie chose Chasing the Past, by Sascha Darlington.

Blake’s ultimatum: “Stop storm chasing or I’ll leave.”

The first fat drop of rain hits the windshield as I pull onto Rafferty Road. Forget Blake. Focus.

The hail throttles me awake. The tornado falls out of the sky, barrels toward me. Momentarily, I’m awed by the intensity, the blackness, the harsh windy sound of the twisting, family-killing creature.

“Stupid!” I jerk the Suburban’s wheel, bounce over the median, then turn right onto a dirt road. I’m nearly standing on the gas pedal. The rearview shows only blackness. Debris shatters the back window.

If I survive, I’ll never storm-chase again.

This was one we had all looked at more than once. There was compelling language and tension, though the final sentence felt flat.

For her Honorable Mention, the Amazing Educator chose Addressing the Animated Alarm, by Jules Paige.

They sit around quite a bit. But their hands aren’t idle. In their spare time they keep their credentials current and their equipment clean. Each man and woman forming a bond, a second family that they can depend on. Some are volunteers, others get compensation. Some paid members volunteer at other locations. Not a one would consider themselves a hero.

Whenever that klaxon rings, fear gets pushed aside. Danger gets treated with respect and all follow the leader who barks the orders of where the equipment and bodies need to be. There is no hesitation for the brave firefighters.

The Amazing Educator liked the language of this piece, the word choice and the rhythm of it. She only wishes that it could somehow be more inclusive regarding the EMTs and others who also put themselves into dangerous situations to serve and protect others.

My Honorable Mention choice is a story that made me feel like I was watching the kind of movie I don’t watch. It was scary, with the character in an ill-advised and dangerous situation. Oh yeah, that was the prompt.

Susan Sleggs’ He Had Kind Eyes was disturbing to me, and well written, and I appreciate that Susan ended it with unexpected chivalry. Susan accomplished a lot with her 99 words. 

The bartender told the tarted up woman, “There’s a rule; the boss gets first dibs on any strange and then they share?”

She stayed, sipping whiskey a little too fast. The Harleys roared in.

The group entered. The noise level tripled. They eyed her until she ordered another. A man smelling of leather, and aftershave paid; took proprietorship. Soon walked her out.

In the quiet night, he said, “Your perfume smells like fear. What do you want?”

Tears formed. “To prove I’m not a mouse.”

He kissed her like no other had. “Go home. You proved it to me.”

Phew! I’ll say it again; this was no easy task. We found merit with each and every one of the entries; each demanded careful consideration. I learned a lot about writing flash from each entry and from reading with my fellow judges. Thank you to my friends and fellow judges, the multi-talented Bonnie Sheila, and a really smart woman who truly is an Amazing Educator. Thank you Carrot Ranch Literary Community, the writers, leaders, and readers and other supporters, for riding along with the second Flash Fiction Rodeo. Congratulations to Charli on another successful Rodeo.

Congratulations to all who placed and all who played.

You can read the qualifying entries under the Rodeo tab at Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury.

December 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

Cora Kingston lived alone in Cat Harbor. When the storms turned violent in November, she’d add more wood to the parlor stove and bake a batch of corn muffins. That way she felt less lonely, listening to the wind moan through weathered chinks in her small frame house that her friend John built. Cora–

No, Cora Kingston never lived in Cat Harbor. But it sounds good and what sounds good to a writer with imagination becomes the plaster used when crafting a historical story. Names, dates, events, and places leave gaps. Historical fiction tries to fill them with believable details — colorful but plausible ones.

Cora and Cat Harbor are two mysteries that my mind often puzzle. The Keweenaw Peninsula dots the map with names left over from 150 years of copper mining. Yet Cat Harbor is an unusual name not linked to a mine or historic figure.

They say…

….when all the trees were logged the curve of land resembed the paw of a feline.
…long ago wildcats roamed this inlet.
…when the Ralph Budd wrecked on the rocks of this small harbor in 1929, cats from the boat swam to shore.
…when the Ralph Budd wrecked, carrying butter and cream, it attracted all the felines in the area for miles.

Whatever they say about the name of Cat Harbor, they say less about Cora Kingston. As a writer who researches the lost stories of women, I can tell you this is a common problem. Often the stories of women are not passed down, and names are easily lost through marriage.

Passing through Cat Harbor during a wild October storm with my friend and local maritime historian, Barb, we paused to watch the massive waves hit a reef of exposed basalt. The force of the water on rocks sent spray 40 feet into the air like geysers. The waves crashed to shore with such force, they sprayed across the road.

It’s easy to imagine the energy of such storms instilling awe in those who first settled this remote region along the shores of Lake Superior. We certainly felt it, standing there, shivering in the cold wind, mesmerized by the force. And that’s when I thought about Cora Kingston.

My friend is a cemetery lurker like me. Barb hunts down the final resting spots of former light-keepers and surfman — the men who rescued stranded and wrecked ships. She writes their biographies and gives presentations to honor their service. Maybe she could help me figure out who Cora Kingston was, I thought.

Several years ago, on my first visit to the Keweenaw, my daughter took me to the cemetery near Eagle River where white-washed stones stood among ephemeral flowers and chattering squirrels. It was at the beginning of my “wandering time,” and yet I was filled with the passion I have for cemetery stories and wrote about it in the May 18, 2016, prompt. Cora Kingston was the woman I mentioned who left a memorial for her dearest friend.

I thought the friend was John Vendow. Turns out I misread the marker (as have others who’ve recorded names from the cemetery). I showed the memorial grave to Barb. She recognized the surname Kingston as one of the “old families” of the area. She later corrected me on John’s name — it’s Yendow. Further research shows he was the son of a French-Canadian carpenter and the surname was originally Gendeau.

In 1870, 1880 and 1894 the Gendau/Yendow family lived in Keweenaw County, which is a broad area full of copper mines, harbors, and towns. The 1880 Federal Census revealed that at the age of 13 John Yendow found employment at a stamp mill. Likely that was the one in Gay. Remember the raven graffiti photo I used last week with the challenge? That’s from the remaining smokestack where John Yendow once labored as a teen in the 1880s.

He died in 1892 at the age of 25. According to a family member that Barb tracked down, John and two siblings succumbed in 1892 to typhoid. Their parents passed on in 1916 and 1918. All are said to be buried in the same cemetery near Eagle River and yet none have grave markers. The Kingstons are all buried in the cemetery near Eagle Harbor, about six miles away. Cora Kingston erected a marker the Yendow family could not afford, and it leaves her name etched in stone:

Erected
by
Cora Kingston
In
Loving remembrance
of
her dearest friend
John Yendow
Born May 31, 1867
Died October 5, 1892

The beautiful white marker joining her name with his stands among an ornate wrought-iron fence with an old tin pot that once held planted flowers. It begs so many questions, but the primary one is who was Cora Kingston?

The Yendow descendant says the family has no idea. He thinks they were to be married. Barb found records for three Cora Kingstons. The most likely Cora was born in 1871, four years John’s junior. Her parents were from England — Charley and Hanna Kingston, who came to the copper mining region. Here’s a small biography of Cora’s father:

“CHARLES KINGSTON, contractor of the Central Mine, has been connected with this company for more than twenty years. He was born in Hampshire, England, May 22, 1824; was brought up a farmer, and emigrated to America in 1851. He came direct to Lake Superior; landed at Eagle Harbor, and engaged in wood chopping. He was next a miner three years. About 1862, he located at the Central Mine, and engaged in contract work for this company, getting out wood and timber and doing their teaming. He also has had charge of the road work for the township of Sherman, as Road Commissioner, some seventeen years. In 1874, he made a visit to his native country, spending about four months abroad. Mr. Kingston is one of the old pioneers of this region, and is widely and favorably known.”

~Keweenaw County History, 1883

John Yendow’s mother, Elizabeth (Nankervis) Yendow was the daughter of a Cornish miner who worked the Cliff Mine. She married Fabien Yendow in October of 1860. John was one of 11 children. By the time the couple celebrated 50 years of marriage, they had six remaining daughters, all married. Thus no trace of the Yendow/Gendeau/Yeandeau name remains. The women slip into other families.

And Cora? It seems she married another John — John Blackwell Holman who was three years younger than her and another English immigrant son of a miner. They moved to Seattle, Washington where her second John worked as a mail carrier, and she took in lodgers.

The story fades. The questions linger.

Did Cora and John Yendow grow up together? Were they sweethearts? If they were going to marry, why weren’t they married by the time they were 25 and 21? How did Cora come up with the money for so elaborate of a gravestone for John? And why leave her name etched with his?

When the records can’t tell the story, that’s when we gather around the campfire and make them up.

December 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Cora Kingston. You can answer any of the questions history obscures or completely make up a Cora Kingston story. Go where the prompt (and the name) leads you.

Respond by December 18, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Cora’s Scrapbook (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni stood up, stretching stiff muscles after hours of sitting on the hardwood floor of Ramona’s bedroom. It was one thing to scour historical records for work, another to snoop through a box stashed under her husband’s grandmother’s bed. But Danni couldn’t pull herself away from the scrapbooks she found. One belonged to Ramona, another to Ramona’s mother, and a third to Cora Kinston Holman. Each documented events, recipes, photos and newspaper clippings. Was Cora Ramona’s maternal grandmother? The name was unfamiliar to Danni. Yet Cora’s scrapbook brimmed with poetry and sketches similar to Ramona’s stories and fairy drawings.

Graffiti

If art is about expression what does graffiti have to say? Sometimes it is territorial marking, gangs claiming streets. And sometimes the artists of a community take to the streets with paint on buildings to tell the stories of heritage. Graffiti can be an outcry, art at its most basic level, one person with something to say.

Writers took to the medium of graffiti in this week’s collection of stories.

The following are based on the December 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about graffiti.

PART I (10-minute read)

Paint by Numbers by Bill Engleson

“So, you start with a title?”

“Often do.”

“And this time the flash is about…graffiti?”

“Yup.”

“Know much about the subject?”

“Can’t say that I do?”

“So, what follows the title? I mean, how does your brain work?”

“Well, I’ve got an arty sounding title. It suggests…that paints involved.”

“Good. What comes next?”

“Fine-tuned google research. Learn the language. Like…tagger.”

“Tagger?”

“Artist. Then…a twist. Picture this, a tag team of jungle artists. A Tiger tagger and a Giraffe graffiti artist…a Girafffiti Tiger, so to speak. Political animals, eh! Exposing trophy hunters…”

“Sounds good. You better start writing.”

“Okey dokey.”

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Graffiti by Floridaborne

“So much graffiti!” My mother complained.

As we drove toward the thrift shop, our old car sputtered. She fought to guide it next to the curb.

I asked, incensed, “Why don’t you buy a new car?”

“For the same reason I go to thrift shops,” she grumbled. “Your dad said he fixed this thing!”

I opened the car door, wanting to get a closer look at a good portrait, but mom’s hand grabbed my arm. I pulled away, and said, “This car is graffiti! That’s art!”

“It’s vandalism!”

What would she think if she knew my graffiti was better?

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Pure Art by Ritu Bhathal

Stepping back, he looked up to admire his work.

He inhaled the spray paint, fresh on the wall.

A huge mural filled with colour.

It had taken him the best part of six hours, what with dodging
oncoming traffic.

His tag proudly displayed at the bottom.

Sure, the wall wasn’t his property, and there was a slight chance that
if he got caught, he’d end up at the police station again…

He pulled his hat down firmly and wrapped his scarf over his mouth,
rendering himself unrecognisable.

Some might call it graffiti, but to him, it was pure art.

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Exterior Decorator by Di @ pensitivity 101

It was an eyesore, and Harold didn’t know what he could do about it.

He was too old and unsteady on his legs to sort something out himself but his neighbour George came up with an idea and agreed to split the cost as it affected him too.

Jim and Chris were identical twins and had a gift with paint and colour. The two boys were happy to help, and at the end of the day, with £50 in their pocket, Harold had a piece of modern art at the bottom of his garden instead of a dirty concrete wall.

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Writing on the Wall by H.R.R. Gorman

I washed the filthy language from the overpass. I swear, the internet is ruining today’s youth and ruining hearts and minds.

A driver crossing the overpass rolled down his window. A man pointed at my pressure washer then asked, “Ain’t leaning over the side there dangerous?”

“State don’t like swastikas on the overpass. Obvious reasons.”

“Looks mighty dangerous to me. Wouldn’t want to fall, would you?”

I caught the threat in his voice, and turned down the pressure washer. As he drove off, I took down his tag number.

Adults these days … rotting the minds of the youth.

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The Masterpiece by Anurag Bakhshi

“Dave, stop painting graffiti on the hotel wall. Mom will be furious when she sees it,” Brad cautioned his brother.

“No, she won’t,” replied Dave insouciantly, as his paintbrush destroyed everything in its path.

Brad tried once again, “Mom hates it when you do such things.”

Dave confidently responded, “Not any more.”

Savouring Brad’s confusion, Dave continued, “Don’t you remember her expression when she saw that graffiti on that ceiling yesterday? In that church? Sister…No…. Sistine Chapel. If that Michael guy can paint on the walls of a church, I can certainly do it on these hotel walls!”

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Not in Tablets of Stone by Anne Goodwin

He had all the signs of seasonal affective disorder. “But I should be above all that.”

Gabriel was sympathetic. “God Almighty, no-one’s immune.”

“Avarice, gluttony, debauchery. That was never in my plan.”

“Then tell them!”

“How? No-one listens to me anymore.”

“You need to forge a stronger connection.”

“Christ, I can’t send my boy again. He still suffers flashbacks two millennia on.”

“Remember Moses, and the ten commandments?”

“Stone tablets? Everything’s electronic now.”

“Not entirely.” Gabriel handed Him a can of spray paint. “Jesus’ll love this.”

And so we awoke to graffiti on Christmas morning: NOT IN MY NAME!

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Looking For a Sign by Tracey Robinson

3:00 a.m. She knew she was done sleeping for the night. It was barely snowing; she decided to walk to the river. She thought about how she was so not having a wonderful life. She got to the bridge and whispered, “Where are you Clarence?” She looked at the frothing water below and then glanced at the bridge trusses. There was new graffiti and she walked closer to read it. In white and blue script were the words “ U R Not Alone”. Next to that in green was “Philippians 4:13”. And off to the left in red: “Clarence.”

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Clued by Reena Saxena

He looks at the graffiti on the ground carefully.

The nose and lips are slightly deformed with coins thrown on it. It is perhaps an appreciation of the art by pedestrians. He bends down to remove the outer layer of thick coloured chalk used to draw the picture.

His companion is amazed to see that a different picture emerges in white, and the face is familiar. They now know who is the culprit, and that he has gone this way.

Someone has been kind enough to leave this clue. He wonders what could be the motive of helping them.

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Engaging Students by kate @ aroused

Barney was really struggling at school, homework seldom done, wagging class, coming late, fighting in the playground. His teachers despaired of how to engage him.

When walking home one night Mr Burnett spied another kid spraying the walls. These graffiti artists were costing council a lot of money to blank out their undecipherable scrawls.

But as this one finished and turned to leave his face was surely Barney. Then Burnett saw the artwork that Barney had left … This was no scrawl this kid had talent!

Next day Burnett convinced the Head to supply Barney’s cans and work began.

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Graphic Artists by Nancy Brady

Angela was going to the museum to see the new collection of graphic artists. That is, until she got stopped by the train. It was a good thing she wasn’t in a hurry because the train was barely moving.

As Angela sat there, she noticed all of the graffiti-covered boxcars and car carriers. Someone certainly had talent with spray paint; how did anyone find the time to paint them, she wondered. Intricate and detailed designs graced the sides of nearly every car. Although they may have been gang symbols, Angela realized she was enjoying an art collection on wheels.

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The Petroglyphs at Three Rivers by TN Kerr

Istaqa was a sentry. The night threatened to be as cold as it would be long. He was not vigilant. He spent the night carving pictures of goats on the rocks surrounding his post. Come morning he would show the goats to Chosovi’s father. Chosovi would be his wife if Istaqa could present her father with sufficient goats, and a rifle.

The goats were a symbolic transference of wealth. The rifle was a true symbol of peace between their families. No warrior would arm his enemies.

Istaqa already had the rifle and by morning he would have enough goats.

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The Cultural World of a Forgotten People by Irene Waters

“Look Pops. Someone’s painted on the wall. Mum sure would be mad.”

“It’s graffiti Donald.”

“What’s that.”

“Writing or drawing on a wall. We all want to leave a mark. You know. The oldest graffiti, a hand, is in Indonesia. Thousands of years old.”

“Do’ya reckon this’ll be here in thousands of years.”

“Not a hope and if it was done by Banksey he’s probably organised for it to self-destruct. You know though Donald, stuff going back even a few years gives a snapshot of ordinary people’s lives and what they care about.”

“So Pops, graffiti is pop culture.”

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Body Graffiti by Susan Sleggs

The ballet dancer lay motionless on the stage allowing the music to draw me in. After a few bars he raised into a standing position with undulations I couldn’t imagine a body being able to accomplish. The music quickened and he leaped along with the beat then twisted and rolled across the stage as it slowed. His torso and legs were waxed bare, and his leggings matched the color of his skin. His perfected physique was a delight to view in so many different positions. Alas, he cheated himself because the dark blue body graffiti distracted my mind’s eye.

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Out with the Class by Papershots

“This is obviously not art.” “Because they changed Best of Luck with Best of F…?” “Please!” He was making another point. The giggles died down, outside the station, writings everywhere; they thought those fonts were not available in Microsoft Word. It was also the, well, artistic process: at night, on the sly, “how can they see the colors if it’s dark?”, “it’s not legal, you know.” Surely writing that This City is Anti-fascist & Always Will Be was a cliché, but the unassuming flower next to it, thin black stem, red petals starting to wither, welled up an inexplicable tear.

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Finding Liberty? by JulesPaige

Over water to the separated land, visitors came to see the expressed art in the form of graffiti, which stood for about twenty eight years. Only when the wall was finally taken down could families connect again to some normalcy.

Some artwork of the west side of the Berlin wall has been preserved. Most of it was by anonymous artists. If given the opportunity to express hope to a divided people what could be expressed. One piece of wall projected a series of an American viewpoint. Lady Liberty who once welcomed strangers seeking freedom. Many hope She still does.

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The Rat Ass Nutcracker by Sascha Darlington

Look at that graffiti, adding whimsy, art even, to this otherwise festering blight of a urine-soaked street dotted with discarded used syringes, shattered malt liquor bottles, and hamburger wrappers.

One of the sanitation workers shouted “rat-ass” upon viewing my latest creation, but it’s not like they’re going to remove it, or me—they’d have to catch me first and no one ever suspects a blonde teenaged girl in this area.

One remarked, “You be careful. Lousy neighborhood.”

I begin my next creation for Christmas, I decide; a rat pirouetting in a pink tutu to be named: The Rat-Ass Nutcracker.

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Scribbling About by Neel Anil Panicker

“Son, what’s it you want to become?”

‘A graffer’.

“A what, son? I mean I’ve heard of photographer, videographer, even choreographer. Pray, what’s a graffer?”

‘Relax, dad. He’s a graffiti artist__one who writes, scribbles, scratches, or sprays on a wall or other surface in a public place for a living.’

“What? Who in his right mind pays for such mindless vandalism? Plus, isn’t all this illegal?

“Dear Dad, world over everyone’s in a hurry. We graffer force them to stop, albeit temporarily, and drive home some homely truths. As for legality, when it comes to art, who requires permission.”

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Classic Graffiti by Ann Edall-Robson

“99 words,” she says. “Graffiti,” she says. My mind goes to rail cars painted with obscure words and hieroglyphics. Nothing surfaces to write about. But wait, there is graffiti with an old school twist! Sidetracked for a few hours, the memories prevailed throughout one of the best movies of all time. A classic to be watched over and over – American Graffiti. Drive-in theatres were still the rage. It’s where I saw it for the first time. A must-have addition to the VCR collection with Wolfman Jack spinning the vinyls for an amazing soundtrack. Now this is graffiti!

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PART II (10-minute read)

Starship Mira by Saifun Hassam

A fine red Martian dust drifted over the derelict Starship Mira. In the Martian sunlight, one wing was aglow with neon pink and green and blue graffiti, sketches of stargates, starships and constellations deep in space, and of the Solar System.

A fragment from the “journal”

“One line I write every day
on this starship
the last of the crew
how many days before I die
travelers deep into space
to countless Sols beyond our own
return to Sol
to mystery, a vast emptiness
no trace of the past
no voices from home

tired perhaps last day
artist mira”

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Noteworthy Collaboration by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Stepping back, Nora tipped her head, listening to the bright voices within the subterranean waterfall. They wove in and out, considering the words and images she’d already painted on the cave’s rock wall, and stopped on a questioning note, awaiting further input.

Corwin lowered his head and lightly brushed the bow across his fiddle, nodding as the voices rose again. Entranced, Nora smiled and lifted her brush and palette, painting what she heard in both fiddler and faerie notes.

Human effort had begun the healing after the brutal Republic Purge, but a thriving world required Nora’s magical collaborative vision.

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Flash Fiction: Discovery by The Dark Netizen

This is a discovery that could get us featured on big networks.

Are you recording this, Ryan? Okay good. So here we are, having completed our journey into the caves. We see some clear indications that human life once existed here. These paintings on the wall, seem to depict some kind of script. These are some well drawn lines and some good colour choice. I think we may have discovered a stone-age Picasso. Let’s back up a bit and illuminate the whole wall. There you see folks, a cave painting that seems to read P-S-Y-C-H-E!

Fuck!! Stop recording, Ryan!!!

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Graffiti by Joanne Fisher

“If you want to be included in things maybe you shouldn’t be so obviously lesbian!” taunted Bill.

Teri tried to pay him no attention as she spray painted the wall in front of her. She felt angry and hurt and disappointed. She was always left out of things. Maybe it was because she was gay, but she wasn’t going to change so she could fit in. If she had do face things alone then so be it. She would continue to be herself.

She surveyed her finished graffiti: a big red hand flipping off the rest of the world.

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Graffiti by Bladud Fleas

I remember one assembly, the headmaster kept us back for admonishment over the proliferation of graffiti. We knew why. It was ZP.

Around the school, singularly or amongst others, the initials “ZP” could be found. Originally, the perpetrator must have fashioned them with a blade into the soft brickwork. Latterly, he had employed more expedient methods.

Who was ZP? I spied a boy once in the act, but was it he? By then, years had passed. I heard the originator had gone to study archaeology. I hoped so: in time, he may be required to account for his folly.

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Livelihood by Chelsea Owens

No passersby knew why he sat, in the sun, staring at nothing. A few threw coins or insults. One threw lunch, which he ate, staring as he chewed.

Night fell to all but the wall before him; the whiteness of antique, virgin brick burned into his mind. He paused to start a silent soundtrack. Nodding along to *beat-beat-beat* he opened equally invisible paints.

Pain sprayed black in a wild arc, then red for beating love, then blue for days without the red; then green, grey, purple, orange –

Till, breathless, he stood staring at his soul upon the wall; satisfied.

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The Meliorist by Norah Colvin

He opened his bag and glanced about — nobody in sight. A faint glow emanated from single street light further down. A cat meowed somewhere close but the hum of traffic was too far away to deter. The can warmed in his hand as he shook it. He hesitated, then removed the cap. Pressing his lips together, he began spraying, high first, then low. Only when a car horn sounded did he pause. When his cans were spent, he melded into the night and slipped away. In daylight, commuters paused to admire his work and contemplate its message of peace.

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The Artist (Part I) by D. Avery

“Ms. Higginbottom, you do recall that I’m the principal?”

“Bob, I’m not calling.”

“Graffiti can’t be tolerated. And you know this boy has problems.”

“And suspension’s a solution, Bob?”

“What can be done, Ms. Higginbottom?”

“Pull him from Health and Geography. Put him in Art, Theatre Workshop.”

“Health and Geography are required courses!”

“I see more of him than those teachers do they send him to the office so often. He’s going to have to repeat them anyway, so let him learn to like school first. Channel his artistic ability.”

“You’ve already made the schedule changes, haven’t you?”

“Yes.”

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The Artist (Part II) by D. Avery

“Administrative Assistants should not be making these sorts of decisions. I’ll remind you again that you work for me.”

“When you hired me you said everyone here worked for the students. Everyone. I figured I’d assist you in assisting this kid to stay in school where he belongs.”

“Ms. Higginbottom… You are neither an educator nor a guidance counselor.”

“You said that everyone in your school is a teacher and a learner.”

“Yes, but…”

“We can put a brush in his hand and a canvas in front of him or send him away with his spray can.”

“Oy. Okay.”

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Voice of the Streets by Kay Kingsley

Under cover of darkness they run along rooftops, scaling walls and dangling from ropes to scrawl messages of political plight and advocate for change.

They are urban activists and urban artists and the city’s streets and walls are their canvases.

The size of the message doesn’t indicate importance, it’s all equal social commentary except perhaps the occasional professions of love which are grand on their own scale.

Graffiti has always been the voice of rebellion, forbidden by law yet still the artists and poets speak and if you listen well enough you can hear the voices of the streets.

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Gingerbread Art by Kate Spencer

“Ger, you’re the best artist I know,” said Janet dropping the gingerbread showcase pamphlet on the kitchen table. She picked up a photo of the graffiti-laden Kelburn Castle in Scotland and handed it to her brother. “You can do this.”

“Sis, I only paint with oils, not icing.”

“And I don’t see the difference; both are messy. Look, all you need to do is duplicate their Picasso-like mural onto my gingerbread.”

“Not interested,” he said opening the fridge door.

“I’m baking the castle and Julie’s helping create the garden paths, yurts and–”

“Julie?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Count me in.”

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Painted Faces by Jo Hawk The Writer

I work at night, heading home as office workers rise. Later it reverses. They sleep as I gather my tools and lock my door.

Deep into the night, I tread, cans clanking in my bag. The world is silence. A cat slinks through the alley and the wind whispers secrets.

Arriving at my chosen wall, I don my respirator and shake my aerosol can. The can’s clinking echoing the sound of the approaching freight train. Ever vigilant, I spray the wall according to plan.

The morning light reveals my newest creation, and they smile at yesterday’s plain brick wall.

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The Cultural World of Forgotten People by Irene Waters

“Look Pops. Someone’s painted on the wall. Mum sure would be mad.”

“It’s graffiti Donald.”

“What’s that.”

“Writing or drawing on a wall. We all want to leave a mark. You know. The oldest graffiti, a hand, is in Indonesia. Thousands of years old.”

“Do’ya reckon this’ll be here in thousands of years.”

“Not a hope and if it was done by Banksey he’s probably organised for it to self-destruct. You know though Donald, stuff going back even a few years gives a snapshot of ordinary people’s lives and what they care about.”

“So Pops, graffiti is pop culture.”

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The Graffiti Artists by Robie Cheadle

“Someone has covered the props for our Christmas play with chocolate graffiti,” Miss Christmas Cracker sobbed.

“What are we going to do?”

“The people of Chocolate Land will be so disappointed if there is no play,” said Mr Christmas Pudding.

“Calm down,” Said Sir Chocolate, “I am sure that if all the folk of the town work together we can clean this mess up quickly. The play must go on. It is a tradition.”

Mr Christmas Pudding smiled.

“You are right. I will give Constable Licorice a call and see if he can find any clues to our artists.”

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Unintended Art by Kerry E.B. Black

Paint splashed the walls, speckled the carpet, and dripped on the windows.

Shock froze Benjamin’s features.

He’d tripped over an errant toy Mom had repeatedly asked him to put away. He still grasped his plastic palette, but its contents splattered the room.

Panic rose as he toweled the mess. Instead of cleaning, the paint’s presence grew in smeared rainbows.

A strangled sound escaped Mom as she rushed toward the graffitti. She tripped over the toy. The tray of cookies she’d brought arced through the air and rained upon Benjamin and his unintended art.

It added texture to the design.

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A Sign (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni traced graffiti on the grain-car. What did it mean? A message? A name? Traffic stalled on both sides of the tracks where it crossed the highway. She didn’t want to think about Ike who had been ahead of them. Better to study the graffiti and let Ronnie find out what happened. She wasn’t in a hurry to know.

“Danni?”

She stiffened and asked, “Who got hit?”

“An elk.”

Danni blew out the air she’d been holding in. “Ah, damn elk.” Ike had made it across then. Maybe the graffiti was a symbol of gratitude to live another day.

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Scratches – One Man’s Art Is Another Man’s Crime by Geoff Le Pard

‘Bloody vandalism.’

‘It’s street art.’

‘Give me a break, Logan. These yobbos don’t care about art.’

‘Some of it’s really clever and they’re not breaking anything…’

‘So it’s ok to cover someone’s house in paint?’

‘Often the owner wants it…’

‘What if they don’t?’

‘Ok, that’s wrong. But if the building’s grotty and they bring a smile…’

‘Who gets to judge? What if they upset everyone else? They’re just thoughtless.’

‘So when you go out and get absolutely blotto and ruin everyone else’s night, that’s ok, is it?’

‘It’s different.’

‘Why? You always call it “painting the town red”…’

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Paint the Town Spaghetti Western by D. Avery

“Shorty’s repeatin’ herself.”

“What?”

“We was prompted with pasta a while back, found out they’s at least 39 dif’rent kinds.”

“What are ya talkin’ about, Kid?”

“Graffiti, ain’t that some kinda pasta?”

“Here’s a dictionary Kid. Read it.”

“Graffiti: ‘writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place’. Illicitly? Shorty wants folks ta write dirty?”

“Read some more Kid.”

“Illicit: ‘Forbidden by law, rules, or custom’. Oh. Shorty jist wants folks ta break the law.”

“Kid, Shorty jist wants folks ta write-wildly, freely, openly. “

“Put it out there?”

“Yep.”

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A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

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