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All About the Pie

Pie evokes folksy food, pasties for miners and a hot pie cooling in a windowsill. Most home-cook diners in the US serve American pie and even McDonald’s has it on the fast-food menu. Yet pie is more.

Possibilities include curious uses from pie-hole to pie-in-the-sky to pie-charts. And as you’d expect, a collection of stories on pie is as varied as the fillings between crusts.

The following are based on the July 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a pie.

***

A Piece of Pie by Norah Colvin

Kye met Jai at the mall.

Hi,” said Kye.

“Nice day,” replied Jai. “Look at that sky. Wish I could fly.”

“Time for a chai?”

Aye. And maybe a pie. I’ll buy.”

“What a great guy!”

“I try!”

“I’ll have toasted rye.”

They sat high by the window and played “I spy.”

“Oh my,” said Kye, rubbing his eye.

“What? Why?

Kye started to cry.

“Don’t mean to pry.” Sigh.

“It’s no lie. The end is nigh.”

“Will we all fry? Will everyone die?”

“No, just wish I had your piece of pie.”

Fie! Wish I had Thai!”

Bye.”

###

Below the Bridge by Bill Engleson

When the tide went out as far as it could, we’d scamper down the steep slope of the bridge.

There were always treasures to be found, rebar, erect in the salted-sludge, a fortune in bottles and cans tossed from the bridge into the sea.

Once, we found a baby carriage. There was even a blanket attached, pink, I think, twisted around one of the wheels.

Sometimes, we would race the incoming tide.

Life or death, we told ourselves.

You needed gumboots.

The swill and the slop would suck you down like you were drowning in a giant mud pie.

###

Herb’s Pie by Michael

It started every Friday morning at 6am sharp. A steady stream of shoppers knocking on the rear door of the bakery. They were after Herb’s Special Pie. Baked in the early hours, a mixture of meat and secret ingredients.

They were so sought after he couldn’t keep up with demand. Backdoor sales were all he could manage.

At home, you never put your pie in the fridge. You left it out until evening giving the secret ingredients more time to do their thing. Eating your pie gave you the expected tilt in your kilt and smile on your dial.

###

Flash Fiction by Irene Waters

“I’ve applied for a loan. I’m going to open a line standing business.” Blythe’s grin split her face in half.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’d need lots of employees for it to work and who would hire someone to stand in a line for them?” Beckett said, frowning.

“It would work. The average British adult spends 67 hours a year queuing. Think what you could do if you had even half that time back. Look I’ve done some pie charts.”

“Bly! Look up there. See the apple, rhubarb and I think that could be a meat one.”

“I love rhubarb pie.”

###

(Pie)ce of My Mind by Kalpana Solsi

She bought all the ingredients from HyperCity.

                                    There is no market for my emotions.

Sieving the flour, granulated-sugar, baking-powder.

Sifting my anger from my failures I should take stock of   

                                  my residual expectations.

Kneaded the dough firmly.

                                 I have to shape and mould my ambitions to rise in life.

She stuffed crushed dry-fruits into the pastry and covered it.

                               My confidence needs to be upholstered to boost my image.

The oven is heated up.

                             

                              The fire in me has to be re-kindled.

The pie is baked to be devoured by family.

                             I am going to be MasterChef on television.

###

The Invitation by Anne Goodwin

His social worker promised it would be better here and, when the invitation popped through the letterbox, Spike knew she was right. Okay, predictive text had added an extra ‘e’, but it was clear from the date – March 14th – what was meant.

From the first of the month he practised, till he had it to the five hundredth decimal point. But he needn’t have bothered. These neighbours were as bad as the last lot. He’d only got as far as 3.14159 when they turned away. Talking shortcrust, flaky and choux. Bonkers the lot of them. A pie party indeed!

###

A Mother’s Longing by KittyVerses

Settling abroad wasn’t much a craze then, her son had gone there to seek fortunes. Promising to take her along at the earliest, it took him five years to take her with him. It was there, she had the first taste of an apple pie.

Back in her country, she was all praise for that chewy, fruity delicacy.

Her country is economically much developed now,when she looks at the delicacy through the glass lined shops in the malls, she no longer craves it. All that she wants is to be close to her son. So near, yet so far.

###

Humble Pie by Kate Spencer

The front door bell chimed. Mrs. B. smiled as she recognized the young man entering her shop.

“Hi Jason, what brings you here today? I have freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Your favorite.”

“I know. I could smell them all the way down the street. But no, I need a pie today.”

“What kind of pie?

“A humble pie.”

“Oh-oh. What’ya do?” Mrs. B shook her head.

“I told Sally there was no way I’d ever forget our anniversary…”

“… and you did.”

“Yup.”

“It’s gonna take more than just a pie to fix this.”

“A large chocolate cake?”

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

He was in his eighties and a widower.

I’d made him a promise, one he thought I’d forget, but I’m not like that.

It cost me nothing, just my time. Besides, I enjoyed doing it.

I have no problem cooking whatever Hubby brings in for the table.

I only ask that I don’t see him despatch it, and that he does the skinning and gutting.

Onions, potatoes, swede, black pepper, a stock cube, and a lid of puff pastry.

I made the Old Boy a Rabbit Pie. He was so thrilled.

Well worth the effort to see his smile.

###

American Pie by Jeanne Lombardo

“Nothing more American than apple pie,” she said.

“Oh, I don’t know. There’s lots of things.”

“Okay, sure, there’s baseball and Mom, too.”

“That’s not what I was thinking about.”

“What then?”

“Oh, oppression of the poor, Wall Street fat cats, imperialism, misogyny, institutionalized sexism and racism, homelessness, addiction, environmental destruction…”

“God, you’re so negative.”

“No, just realistic.”

“I still think it’s a land of opportunity for all.”

“No, you think it’s a zero-sum game. Not enough pie for everyone; some must go without.”

“I never said that.”

“No? Then what’s with ‘the poor will always be with us’?”

###

Oma’s Wisdom by Kerry E.B. Black

Oma Rochinka relaxed into her rocker, her smile bleeding into the crepuscular rays of the setting sun.

Her granddaughter scowled. “Why’re you smiling? Daddy’s crashed. He coulda died.”

Oma touched a wizened finger to the child’s nose. “But he didn’t.”

“He’s hurt bad, though.”

Oma nodded, assuming an enigmatic expression. “He’ll have a tough patch alright.”

Her granddaughter thrust out her chin with indignation. “And he lost the whole harvest of apples.”

Oma nodded. “Can’t sell bruised fruit.” Cinnamon wafted from within and mingled with petrichor.

“Then why’re you smiling?”

“Cause he’s alive, and we have lots of pie.”

###

Uninitiated by D. Avery

Now the children and even grandchildren bring their own signature dishes to family gatherings, but her mother remains the pie maker, her piecrusts legendary, the recipe and technique an unwritten mystery. To learn it, she would have to apprentice under her mother, observe and practice. That takes time. She would become initiated later.

At the last gathering even the uninitiated recognized that the slits in the top crust, usually cut so artistically, had been forgotten, the pies uncharacteristically soggy.

At this gathering they mine their pie with worried forks, something less obvious forgotten.

She would never know the mystery.

###

That’s Amore by C. Jai Ferry

He squinted at the green digital numbers. 350? His stomach growled. He cranked the stove up to 500. His arthritis wasn’t bad today. He could probably work the extinguisher. Where was it? He shrugged.

Two cups flour, half cup water. Mix, mix, mix. What was he forgetting? Salt! A healthy tablespoon full. He spread the dough on the baking sheet.

No tomato sauce. Damn. Ketchup it is. Shame his stomach didn’t do dairy no more. What about vegetables? He found six-year-old parsley buried in the cupboard. That would do. Pizza pie á la Milton.

God he missed his wife.

###

When the Pie was Open? (Janice vs Richard #14) by Jules Paige

Janice knew Richard thought he was a king who would
never abdicate. What Richard didn’t know the case against
him was nascence. The police were able to find some of his
prints on the cassettes of barking dogs that Richard had
destroyed at Janice’s home. They had gotten a warrant to
search the dwelling the couple had shared. And even years
later were able to retrieve the man’s prints that were
everywhere.

The capture of such a disturbed man who now behaved
like a bohemian would be a hard. His almost illusory trail
would not be easy to topple.

###

More than one Beer at O’Malley’s (Janice vs Richard #15) by Jules Paige

Longhorn saw sadness in Janice’s eyes. As mother bird, she
often chided herself for Richard’s offhanded behavior. Blaming
herself for the man’s sallow appearance. Richard’s return in
her once insouciant life gave the detective heart pangs.

Offhand Longhorn wasn’t sure what to do next. He felt that
Janice wanted to climb the walls of the safe house after just
four days. His team had to work quicker than Neolithic Man
and clinch this case.

Carla Scott thought; Perish forbid we can’t find this creep.
We’ll never have pie with nepenthe, which we’ll need after
dealing the likes of Richard.

###

Dessert for One by Sarah Brentyn

“There’s nothing like an argument over dessert,” I flung a spoonful of whipped cream onto his cherry pie.

He stabbed a piece, shoved it in his mouth, and pointed the fork at me. “You started it.”

“Lovely. Now we’re twelve?”

He leaned back, arms crossed. “Go to hell.”

“Maybe,” I shrugged. “Maybe I’ll even see you there. But, for me, not today.”

“What’s that supposed to…” he grabbed his throat, glaring at me.

“Don’t worry, love,” I took a bite of my chocolate cake. “The choking won’t last long. Your heart will give out before it becomes too uncomfortable.”

###

A Ruined Pasty (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni settled into the sand of Sioux Beach, burying her heals in warmth. A crowd of locals splashed in the bay off to her left, leaving this bit of solitude near the sloshing waves. She unwrapped her Bayfield Pies pasty from thick paper. It warmed her fingertips, and her first bite of crust filled with thin slices of carrots, potatoes and beef made her toes wiggle.

“Mmm…” Danni’s eyes closed while she chewed.

A shadow crossed her face and Danni opened one eye. Michael Robineaux. Ike’s best friend. He hated her, and he made her pie taste like sand.

###

Revenge Pie by Susan Zutautas

Look Joe, I made you a pie.

Why would you do that?

I wanted you to know that I still want to be friends even though you made fun of me the other day.

Well it was pretty funny when everyone laughed.

Come on Joe just one little bite, it won’t kill you.

What kind of pie is this anyways, it looks kind of gray.

It’s just the color of the flour I used.

One bite was all it took. Joe spat it right out.

Sandy ran fast to get out of Joe’s reach.

Mud pie, my oh my.

###

American Pie by FloridaBorne

“Mom?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Can I learn your meat pie recipe?”

“You know how to make a pie.”

“Fruit pie has sugar from southern cane fields. This has potatoes and onions from our plantation.”

“You know the tradition. When you become a woman, I’ll pass along our secret family recipe.”

I stared out the window, admiring the fertile fields spanning an area once called southern Georgia. Not much left after the civil war but rusting cars and empty buildings. We were prepared when people fled south, and wasted no meat. The fortunate ones died quickly, becoming fertilizer in our fields.

###

Tia by Reena Saxena

Her childhood was spent, torn between loyalty to her Indian grandmother, and an Indo-American mother. Tia dug into both ‘samosa’, and apple pie, with equal love, and kept both the warring women happy. It had been a way of life with her. Her father disapproved of the diet, but remained silent, as he struggled to balance himself, between the women in his family.

Tia grew up to be a temperamental teenager, swinging between multiple relationships, not good for her.

Today, she decided to give up her chocolate addiction. She weighed close to two hundred pounds, and was single again.

###

Pies in the Sky by Anthony Amore

Rolling out the dough across the floured countertop becomes her silent lament. Time was the kitchen would filled with bustling bodies. Twice yearly they baked pies — fall apple; summer blueberry. Fruit would be harvested and sorted, washed and peeled, tiny hands sticky with everything.

Fewer local farms now, fruit comes in small plastic supermarket boxes. Sighing, she drops flattened pastry into a glass dish, pale sides overhanging. Her late husband would always reminisce upon pies of the past, still his “Blue Ribbons” went to each resting by the windowsill.

###

Carrot Pie by D. Avery

“Shorty in the cookhouse?”
“Nope, at her chuck wagon.”
“Oh-oh.”
“No, she ain’t goin’ anywhere, just cookin’ at the ol’ wagon. She does love the great outdoors.”
“Well I’ve got the flour she asked for. Second sack. What the heck she up to now?”
“Wants to make pies. Specifically, piecrust.”
“Oh-oh. That can be tricky.”
“Yep.”
“Why is she so het up on piecrust?”
“Well, we always wrangle words to fill Shorty’s safe, sturdy corral. This week she just wants us to bring some tasty pie filling to the chuck wagon.”
“Sounds homey. Raw filling ok?”
“Yep. Raw’s ok.”

###

Raw Literature: I Hate Writing

According to her Goodreads bio, Dorothy Parker was: …an American writer and poet best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles.” Among her better known quotes is one I often think about because it alludes to writers not really liking the act of writing. She caustically says of her own career, “I hate writing, I love having written.”

I do not hate writing.

You will not find me among the harvesters, breathing a sigh of relief that the work is done, the fields are empty and the yields are in. Dorothy likely said what she did as a jab because some authors like the ego-boost of a book without appreciation for the pen-work. And yet, I know how muddy writing can be.

You can be a writer and still hate elements of the job. For 11 years I had a job I loved more than any other, yet some days I loathed the stresses that came with it — competing deadlines, miscommunications, budget constraints, office politics. Do you ever feel stressed by writing?

At times I can go too deep; dive into a pool without a bottom or stay under longer than I have breath. Or I bring up scenes to the surface of the page certain they are brilliant agates only to realize as they dry they are ordinary stones in need of polish. Sometimes I write with cascading emotions in mind and it reads back flat. Mostly my writing stresses emerge with revision coupled with the fact that no matter how much book knowledge one might have about writing a novel, the experience of taking on a long-term project is all hands on keys.

I love writing. I write every day. I stare at raptors circling overhead, listen to waves crackle pebbles on shore or plunge my hands into warm dishwater and think of writing. I pre-write in my head the way a gambler might count cards. It’s ongoing, quick, automatic. Writing one WIP leads to breakthroughs on another. Forcing a 99-word paragraph to summarize an essay helps me break free of a plodding structure. I often wonder if friends cringe when I comment on Facebook because I want to write something meaningful. I’m terrible at small-talk, prefering to discuss deep perspective and share observations. I want to hear from your soul, not your shallow memes of the day.

Maybe my epitaph will read, “She has finally written.” Written is past tense, done, over. I am writing, and will do so until the day I have finally written my last breath.

The reason I’m pondering my writing is due to the introspective work of preparing literary reflections for a Michigan literary artist grant; a Zion National Park Artist in Residency; a new page at Carrot Ranch called, “Support Literary Arts;” and a near-completed Patreon. The latter I’ve been developing since February, and one of the Rough Writers has taken to nagging encouraging me to finish it. This is not easy work and could fall under the “I hate writing” category. But it’s not writing artist statements or impact essays that I don’t like; it’s my own battles with insecurity. Am I enough? No matter what the black dog might want to answer, I have to stand on affirmative ground — I am a writer. I am writing. I am enough.

Could my writing be better? You bet! We never stop improving craft. Don’t think for a moment there will come a day when rainbows fly out your fingertips and happy muses sing choruses with each page-flip of your book. Writing is grand, but writing is hard. I love to dive deep. I don’t want to have written, yet. I want to keep writing, and writing as many things as I have creative spark to craft. Completion of projects and strategy for sharing them is part of the process, but the writing, ah, the sweet writing will not stop.

A confession and a first look. Confession first — I write many projects at once and I believe it would drive other writers daffy to know my process. I began to feel self-conscious about my process, thinking maybe I was doing it “wrong.” Then I reflected on my work history and college experience. My processing pattern has been with me a long time and when I have time and space for it, I achieve spectacular results. After starting college at age 28 and taking “How to Succeed at Studies” and “Math for Dummies” classes, I graduate magna cum laude with a published honors thesis, two novels WIPS as independent studies and as co-editor of the college lit magazine. I don’t write this to boast, but to remind myself that at one point my process looked crazy because I had so many different plates spinning.

My greatest joy is that I’m writing on my own terms. If I were to focus or apply different terms, I might hate writing. And I don’t want to hate what I love.

Now for a first look at the essay that will be a part of the Support Literary Art page at Carrot Ranch. It serves a secondary purpose of providing easily grabbed content for opportunities like the Michigan grant. It’s followed by a flash fiction I wrote about the essay to show you how I often use flash in my every day writing process.

Write raw. Write on. Polish hard. Love what you do, and do what you love.

Value of Literary Art

Often we believe artistic expression flourishes in paint and piano keys. If we broaden the idea to include words as art we think of poetry.  If we consider literature, the greats come to mind: Chaucer, Hemmingway, Cather. And right now, you might be debating my opinion on “the greats.”

What is literature, and can we ever define who is in and who is out? Basically, literature is written works recognized as having important or permanent value. A writer who crafts with words and attempts repeatedly to achieve that designation of value is a literary artist. Therefore literary art is the pursuit of studying and writing literature. Raw literature results from the drafts and processes of this pursuit.

Art is subjective, and we diminish its awe with containment. We also contain artists who create to please. Why do we want to please? Most likely to be successful with our art and hopefully make a living or at least a satisfying hobby. Who wants to be the family member who “scribbles atrocious poetry” or the “weird neighbor who writes until 3 a.m.”? Therefore we contain our attempts and hide away until one magical day we think our skills finally equal our imaginations.

Artists, especially writers, can feel isolated and shut-down by containment. When we express, we feel liberated. We desire to connect to others through these literary expressions. So how do we pursue our work as literary artists and not feel contained in the process? How do we grow our rawest forms of literature, take time to develop what it is we’re creating and avoid critique too early? Literary artists need safe space to practice craft, read stories by peers and discuss progression beyond skill mastery and deconstructionism.

In the beginning, Carrot Ranch was one writer’s platform. Out of a need to connect with other literary artists, the site evolved into a dynamic literary community with participants engaging at will in weekly flash fiction challenges. Carrot Ranch is a giant virtual sandbox for writers of different genres, experiences, backgrounds, interests and countries of origin. Literary artists can jam like musicians do. It’s liberating, and the safe exploration leads to breakthroughs in personal projects, new ideas and improvement in craft technique. This is a shared literary platform.

Carrot Ranch is not an exclusive writers club, such as those focused on shared goals. Exclusivity perpetuates the isolation many literary artists experience. And large social media writers groups that include more writers to connect and share links are often too large for creatively play with words and craft. The community at Carrot Ranch serves this gap, and focuses on literary art as common ground between diverse artists.

Literary artists need safe space to play with words, craft story ideas, explore characters, describe settings, investigate research, and discover what the art has to reveal. Art only reveals itself in doing and interacting. With these raw literature attempts, 99-word nuggets of creative expression opens doors that remain closed to literary artists in isolation. It allows the literary-curious to dabble in the art for fun, or gives seasoned authors a break from intense long-term literary projects.

What does literary art look like at Carrot Ranch? It’s short-form micro-fiction, for certain. It’s playful, encouraging and provocative dialog about the art created or its process of creation. The literature at Carrot Ranch includes weekly collections of flash fiction thoughtfully arranged to express and explore a topic. It also includes the works of individuals: novels of multiple genres, short stories, essays, poetry, articles, book reviews, substantial blog posts, and creative works for educators.

The greatest value in literary art is that it opens minds to unfamiliar experiences. In a divisive world full of information, it’s the word-crafters who remind us of the humanity in it all. Literary artists inspire, agitate, reveal, imagine and reflect the good and bad within us. Literary artists give meaning to life. Consider the words John Lennon wrote:

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

You might say literary art is the pursuit of happiness.

 Literature at Carrot Ranch (99-word Version)

Words seep from behind paint and piano keys to declare art of their own. Hemmingway achieved mastery in six words. We take stabs at the canvas 99 bits at a time. We (literary artists in chorus) defeat isolation in a sandbox, jamming like John Lennon’s friends, pursuing happiness.

Carrot Ranch, a collaboration of word wrangling to craft, explore, reveal. Safe space to write without dinosaurs deconstructing early efforts or long-hidden chapters. A place where words wriggle free to crawl among brain folds, loosening shadows to dawn’s first light. Where teachers learn from 5-year olds what universal truth could be.

<< ♦ >>

Raw Literature is 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.

 

July 20: Flash Fiction Challenge

During my first attempt to make a pie crust, I slammed the ball of dough on the kitchen floor like a tennis player who lost the match. I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and somewhere along the lines she wrote I became convinced that a happy home had pie. If I couldn’t master the crust, would I ever find happiness?

Throughout the years others have tried to teach me how easy it is — add ice water only to the dough; vinegar is the secret ingredient to great flakes; beat an egg yolk into the water; don’t over-knead; don’t under-knead; use a wooden rolling pin; stick your tongue out just a little to the left and it will all be okay. I’ve savored the crust of others, but never accomplished the task.

My fillings are divine, and I have a talent for spicing anything. Even when I omit the sugar, something Laura once wrote about doing, my balance of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger hold up. But that blasted crust; I just can’t get it right. I began cheating, buying refrigerator crusts, but even those substitutes can fall apart.

Does a home truly need pie?

Odd thing is, I prefer cake, and I make a marvelous yellow cake with deep dark chocolate frosting. But there’s something about pies. America is baseball and apple pies; Norman Rockwell captured Americana by painting pies from the oven. And Laura, well my beloved heroine of the frontier pioneers, mentions pie in nearly every book she penned.

Every time we moved when our kids were little, the first thing I’d think is that the kitchen needs a pie. Think of the wafting aroma of baked apples and buttery crust. The heat it gives off as it cool on the windowsill. Home is where the pie is. But there is not going to be a new home. The Calumet house fell through the cracks of miscommunication. The chickens are safe from becoming my first Michigan pie.

It’s disappointing to report, especially after the shared excitement and celebration last week, but it was not to be. When we accepted the rental offer, I told the landlords we’d discuss the matter with our kids and give them a move-in date. I asked for the full cost and was quoted first month, last and a deposit.

It was going to be tight. In fact, I burst into tears at JC Penny after realizing I couldn’t even buy the bargains. I realized the rental would strap us in a way, I couldn’t see how we’d make it work. We could afford the place month to month; we couldn’t afford to get in and buy the things we needed — like a pie pan or pants.

All our stuff remains in Sandpoint in storage and we have no plan to retrieve it this far. We simply keep paying on the storage. Because I earn an income as a writer, we don’t qualify for homeless veteran programs. I mean seriously, who works while homeless? I’ll tell you it’s extraordinarily difficult even with a flexible job like writing. That was the whole point of stabilizing. So when the landlord expressed disappointment that we wouldn’t move in until August 1, and tried to pressure us into paying for July to keep the rental, we passed.

As much as I’m craving pie, I’m also relieved.

We don’t want to be a fixture in our daughter’s home, languishing in her space, but they have kindly offered us the time we need to find the right place, save up money and figure out how to retrieve our belongings. In saying no, I felt empowered. So did the Hub. We’ve had to make so many hasty decisions or be at the mercy of transmission shops and VA gatekeepers this past year, that it felt good to make a decision to not be pressured too soon.

Like a kitchen with pie, it feels right to take small steps to stabilize. Already, Todd has had multiple VA appointments and slowly that wheel is turning again. His CBT intake begins today, something we’ve pushed to do for years and finally are receiving. Lots of personal goals are back on the table after being shelved, and I might find office space locally. We are still establishing roots in this marvelous community.

I know it’s a good place because the cultural heritage here is a lunch pie in the hand — pasties. It’s a heated debate as to whether or not the meat pies are of Finnish or Cornish origin, but I know the best pies in town come from a Fin family. I can imagine how miner’s wives once swapped recipes in their kitchens long ago, passing down assimilated foods for their descendants. My latest obsession is to look forward to a pasty on the beach before combing for agates.

Laura Ingalls Wilder has something to say about pie that reminds me about how I feel when writers gather around the table here to partake in the weekly meal, share their talents and hopes, express their ideas and encourage each other in writing:

“Ma said nothing, but a little flush came up her cheeks and her eyes kept on smiling while they ate that delicious pie.”

My pie crusts in the kitchen aren’t much, but my challenges are like a crust by which to frame the filling you all bring. So on that note, let us dig into pies.

July 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a pie. You can make it any kind of pie, focus on filling or crust, or tell us about the pie-maker. How does pie set a tone in a story? Does it warm the hearth or bring disappointment?

Respond by July 25, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published July 26). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

A Ruined Pasty (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni settled into the sand of Sioux Beach, burying her heals in warmth. A crowd of locals splashed in the bay off to her left, leaving this bit of solitude near the sloshing waves. She unwrapped her Bayfield Pies pasty from thick paper. It warmed her fingertips, and her first bite of crust filled with thin slices of carrots, potatoes and beef made her toes wiggle.

“Mmm…” Danni’s eyes closed while she chewed.

A shadow crossed her face and Danni opened one eye. Michael Robineaux. Ike’s best friend. He hated her, and he made her pie taste like sand.

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Unexpected Landings

Unexpected Landings by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsYou can fall many ways, and how you land can make for interesting stories. Ever hold your breath as you watched a landing progress? Find your landing is misunderstood? See a cat fall without gravity?

Our writers have crafted the answers into stories of flash fiction. Some, you might say, are flash falls. Certainly what you read will surprise you. After all, flash fiction writers know how to spin a mid-air twist with a well-landed word or line.

The following are based on the July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing.

***

Mission Impossible? by Jules Paige

It was the cat. Becky knew something wasn’t Kosher. Blinking
was she conscious? The cat had not landed the way a cat
should, well at least most of the time. Cats usually land on all
four of their padded feet from generally any height. But there
wasn’t any real gravity here …was there? Just where was here?

The spaceship battle had taken a nasty turn. Some of the crew
had been beamed out. Along with some other life forms. The
large feline tabby had not landed feet first when transported.
Just what ship was Becky on? Friend or foe?

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

“Malik, what is this?”

“What do you mean? It’s fifty-eight white sheets. Rush order.”

“And the hoods?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

“Malik. These are costumes. For the men who’ve landed in town to protest the removal of the statue at the park.”

“Why have statue for loser? Only here.”

“Malik. This is serious. They don’t like us. They call us terrorists.”

“Terrorists Cleaners, now that is a good one, no?”

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

“News. I don’t have time for news. I’m always here, washing.”

“They march. They spread fear.”

“Then they are terrorists, no?”

###

Landing by FloridaBorne

He lifted a slender finger, pointing toward a log cabin at the edge of their landing site. What strange beige creatures and only half his height. The indigenous population scattered into the woods, their screams amusing.

“What is this place called again, love?”

“This continent calls it Earth,” she replied.

He furrowed a grey brow. “No understanding of the universal balance. Class zero planet. Recommend eradication and repopulation.”

“Negative,” she frowned. “The universal mind says this is designated as a prison planet for incorrigible souls.”

“What happened to Mars?”

“They destroyed that in a war.”

“Next stop?’ he sighed.

###

The Bag Lady by Rugby843

Gripping the seat in front of her, she thought she was going to be sick. How many people actually use those bags they put in the seat pocket? She shut her eyes tight, willing nausea to go away.

The stewardess announced, “keep your seat belts fastened, and your head down!”

It was just a short jump from LA to San Francisco, looking down at land the entire trip! How could this be happening?

Panicked, she felt a huge bump, then another. She kept her eyes closed, not daring to see what happened.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco”.

###

The Tree House by Susan Zutautas

Meg was determined to find out today what was in the treehouse. When she saw Johnny going up there she called to him. “Wait for me I’m coming up.”

“No, there’s not enough room, and it’s too high.”

We’ll see about that, Meg said to herself.

Once inside she thought, wow what a cool hideout, and took a seat on the floor towards the back.

“Meg you’re gonna have to leave, my friend’s coming up, and there’s not enough room.”

“I’ll just move back.” Pushing against a burlap curtain, out of the treehouse she fell, landing on the ground.

###

A Tune...by Ruchira Khanna

Jangle!

Thump!

Whack!

Victoria came running from her room towards the noise.

She was startled as she gave silent stares.

After a few gulps, she inquired, “Are you okay?” as she extended her hand towards the victim who was laying under a pile of musical instruments.

“Yes, I am.” Pete uttered as he grasped her hand to get out of the mess. Continued to justify, “I was trying to tune them for the big night when I lost control and had this unexpected landing.”

“That was a productive fall. You composed a tune there!” she tried to sound convincing.

###

Unexpected Relationship by Diana Nagai

Meghan adjusted her oversized sun hat as she descended into the Olympic stadium. She scanned the crowd for a familiar face as she recalled the previous year when she landed a client who irrevocably changed her. A man who stirred unexpected feelings within her, but also enriched her life beyond attorney-client privilege.

Hearing her name, Meghan located the source, an athlete bouncing from one foot to one carbon-spring foot and back. This veteran, who had brought the good (love when she wasn’t looking) and the bad (trauma from service), had overcome so much.

Meghan waved back, feeling hopeful.

###

Ready for Landing by Norah Colvin

“Are we there yet?”’

“Not yet, Honey. Look. This is us. This is where we’re going. Another couple of hours. Watch a movie. Then we’ll be almost there.”

Mum replaced her mask and earplugs. Soon there’d be others to entertain Flossie while she relaxed on the beach or caught up with old friends.

She hadn’t realised she’d drifted off until Flossie’s insistent, “How much longer?” awakened her.

“Must be soon,” she flicked on the flight tracker.

“Please fasten your seatbelts for landing.”

“Yep. Almost there.”

“DIVERTED” flashed on and off the screen.

“What! Where?” She squinted. “Home! Why?”

Fog!

###

First Steps in the Air: 1840 by Gordon Le Pard

The men looked at the strange contraption and smiled, they didn’t laugh as that would upset Sir George.
“Climb in there Thomas.” He said, pointing at the small boat with wheels. Thomas grinned at his companions as he sat down and held the tiller.
The men took the ropes and pulled, the machine trundled across the grass, getting faster and faster, then –
The men stopped, open mouthed, the machine was flying.
As the world’s first glider landed Thomas staggered out white faced, he wasn’t laughing now.
“Please sir, I want to give notice, I don’t want to fly again.”

###

First Steps in the Air: 1910 by Gordon Le Pard

“I saw light under the wheels, it left the ground.”
Geoffrey grinned, “Then let’s see if it will fly properly.”
He turned back to the aeroplane, a complicated construction of wood wire and fabric. Buttoning up his tweed jacket he climbed up and nodded at his assistant.
The propeller swung and the engine started. He opened the throttle and the aeroplane bounced across the field, suddenly the bouncing stopped, he looked down, he was flying.
He rose to about fifty feet, then turned slightly.
Suddenly he had a thought – I got up here, but how do I get down?

###

Ground Crisis by Kalpana Solsi

The geography of Leh had many an experienced pilots short of anxiety bouts. But for

Captain Sharma this was a cake-walk.

A co-pilot greeted him,”Juleh”.

Inhaling the fresh mountain air, he checked his messages.

He sat down with a thud.

The landing and maneuvering of the giant metallic bird in a tough terrain proved to be

easier than handling his domestic crisis. His larynx ran out of fuel. The air pressure in his

eardrums had dropped low. His better half was leaving him with a bitter taste. Alimony

compounded with fear stared bleakly at him. She had enough proofs.

###

Flying Lessons by Michael

Chook looked at his hopeful young. They were perched on the top rung of the old henhouse attending what Chook hoped was their first and last flying lesson. He clucked, standing tall, breast puffed out giving each of them the look of his superior experience.

Two clucks and each chicken, in turn, took flight. Gladys landed on her head, Mavis on her beak, Phyllis on her bottom. Chook looking dejected decided it was going to be a long day.

He paced about as they dusted themselves off.

Their clumsiness astounded him. He was glad he didn’t lay their eggs.

###

Nice to Meet You (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

The bus stops suddenly; Jane barely catches her book midair. She throws an annoyed glance the driver’s way as she rebraces her feet against the floor, gripping the strap harder.

The bus lurches again, sending her flying along with her book. Strong hands grab her, keep her from slamming headlong into the pole. Her head clears to the realization she is sitting in some man’s lap.

Her face burns. The man’s hand moves from her hip to the middle of her back, pats reassuringly. “No worries. This might be a sign I should buy you a cup of coffee.”

###

Torment by C. Jai Ferry

We were together six months, so tight from day one. I knew we’d be together forever.

Then a million knives struck my heart—both our hearts. We mourned our daughter.

When his fist landed in my chest, he was still hurting. I couldn’t breathe. He’d kill me, he said, then himself.

The cops asked how it started, what I did. I wanted to explain, make them understand. He was in pain. But they just wanted facts.

I needed him gone. But now his life’s ruined. What have I done?

I love him. I just wish I’d never met him.

###

The Coming Storm (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Wind gusted and cottonwoods along the creek groaned. A nightfall storm closed in. Sarah hadn’t meant to stay so late in the company of Nancy Jane, but venison stew and friendship offered made Sarah linger. How long since she’d had a friend?

A branch cracked and Sarah screamed, escaping the limb’s descent. A man hollered at her to get out of the trees. Topping the gully, Sarah recognized the young stock-tender who rarely spoke. Hickok led the way as trees began to snap.

Hickok’s dugout provided an unexpected landing from the raging storm. And an unanticipated reaction from Cobb.

###

Landing by D. Avery

He did not want to take the old man fishing. He had few enough days to relax, dreaded the criticisms that would roll around the boat like rattling cans.

In the cove they drift cast.

“How’s work?”

Here we go, he thought. “Fine.”

“You deserve a day off. You work hard.”

Then quiet except for one-word utterances, “Nibble.” “Hit.”

Nothing stayed on the line. The old man told about their first time fishing this cove. “We got ‘em that day.”

He had only been four, but he remembered.

Today no fish were landed. “Can I buy you dinner, Dad?”

###

Flash Flood Warning by Anthony Amore

A rising wall of black water hits hard, enveloping and sweeping fast away all the carried things they lugged from the parking area three quarters of a mile up canyon.

The roaring rush scoured laughter and relaxation with silenced desperation and raging fear.

A father holds fast to his baby and a bending tree.

A mother is found but not a teen boy who reached deep for his cousin and two others.

Nine lay dead.

The experienced steady themselves and prepare to accept the worst.

A rescue worker vomits seeing feet protrude from a deep bank of muddy debris.

###

Words on the Stairs by Geoff Le Pard

‘I don’t know, Paul. I really don’t.’

Penny listened to her parents from the shadows on the landing, her face pressed to the balustrade.

‘It can’t do any harm to ask him to find out if your niece is alive, can it? I mean if it’s another dead end, that’s it and if not…’

Penny noted her father’s tone; almost pleading. He wanted Mary mum to continue. Her mother’s voice, in contrast, sounded flat. Emotionless. Penny stood and walked downstairs. She held her baby sister in her arms. ‘We want to know mum. And you do too. Don’t you?’

###

The Diver by Bill Engleson

The high board is a steep climb. Always. But I can do it. I’ve done it a zillion time.

That first time was a killer. I was six. My mother, who wouldn’t even stand on a kitchen chair to brush the cobwebs and spiders off the dining room fan, was like a crazed cheerleader, yelling, climb! Climb! CLIMB!

So, I climbed.

I’d already mastered the low board.

Cannonballs. Loved cannonballs.

But not as much as diving.

The jump. The spring. The flight. The spin.

And then, the landing. A bullet… and, surprize, surprize, an Olympic rocket into the pool.

###

Down at the Beach by Pensitivity

I was terrified.

One minute she was sailing happily through the air over her private obstacle course, the next she’d somersaulted over the groyne and landed on her back.

I couldn’t get to her fast enough, visions of My Baby lying screaming in agony, totally paralyzed.

Heart beating painfully in my chest, I reached the barrier and could see the other side.

Maggie was happily swimming in a little corral none the worse for her adventure and double tuck diving technique.

Me? I was a nervous wreck needing oxygen.

Hubby was in hysterics, saying she did this every day!

###

Pay No Attention to the Woman in the Parachute by Joe Owens

Sally never expected to be here. She even took steps to correct her errant ways, joining a group formed to assist those with impulse problems.

Yet, here she was with her hands on the opening of a small aircraft tasked with delivering her to the ‘jump off’ point of her first skydiving attempt. While staring at the checkerboard of specks below she thought about the disapproving visage of Mr. Elliot, the group leader.

Her face screwed into a look of terror when she remembered the ‘drop in’ picnic for her group in the park below. There was no escape!

###

Soul-Bird by D. Avery

Raven, protector, prominent on the totem pole, reminds all to live correctly. Raven who found the first People in a clamshell. Raven who keeps the tide, who balances night and day.

Do not fear this soul-bird even when Raven comes for you unexpectedly. Yes, you will appear as dead to those who might see Raven bear you away; you might feel that you have drowned in the bottomless pools of Raven’s eyes, feel the winging ascent as soft whispers of spirits. Raven will land you on the moon, where you will be warmly received, where you will be rebirthed.

###

His Sister’s Keeper by Kerry E.B. Black

Mud squelched as Ward knelt beside his unconscious sister. “Please don’t be dead,” he repeated like a prayer. She’d tried to keep up with him, but his agility and speed had outstripped her crippled gait. He’d relished the freedom of flight, enjoyed the thrill of exerting muscles habitually held in check to match her pace, tired of being his sister’s keeper.
Her scream halted his progress and his heart. She’d slipped down the hill. He had rushed to gather her to his chest. Frail, thin, with tendons protruding oddly, Nina groaned. Ward wiped a tear of regret and relief.

###

Post-seizure by Anne Goodwin

Like stepping back from a pointillist painting: distance gives sensation shape. On a scale of one to ten not the worst I’ve suffered: I might have wet myself but I’m uninjured, and I’ve come round in my own bed. The room whirls, but only slightly, as I get to my feet.

On the landing, my vision blurs again, the carpet a kaleidoscope of colour. Brushing the wall for balance, I stagger towards the bathroom and a reviving shower. Ouch! My shoulder dislodges a framed photo. That’s not my family staring out of the picture. This isn’t my house.

###

Black Hole by Reena Saxena

Have I landed in Ayn Rand’s Atlantis, like Dagny Taggart? I did not aspire to meet the love of my life, not with my age and appearance.

The mirror in the hallway belied my assumptions. I looked young and ahem … pretty, just like that painting on the wall.

Whhaaaat? My picture in this place ………..?

Instinct drew me to a picture perfect bedroom with lace curtains, and I saw myself knitting. But I prefer reading anytime, anywhere.

Looks like I have landed into a past life, through a black hole. And my folks out there are placing ’Missing’ ads.

###

Almost Ready to Fly by Liz Husebye Hartmann

After a crackling-hard winter, she was relieved to drag the Adirondack chair out of the shed. Morning sun dappled through the leafy canopy overhead, warm enough to make morning coffee outdoors feasible, but not enough to waken mosquitoes.

This vision had carried her through those brutal months before retirement. Leaning back, she stretched her bare toes into the dewy grass and smiled. Too early for ticks, too!

“I left the nest! God-willing, may all my mornings be blessed like this.”

A nestling sparrow plummeted through the trees and onto her lap. He glared up at her through sparse fluff.

###

Roosting Time by D. Avery

“Aw, fricassee! I ain’t never seen chickens ‘round the ranch before. We gonna have to herd them too?”

“If Shorty says.”

“Chicken’d go nice with carrots.”

“I doubt the chickens end up in the pot. She already thinks they’s ladies in petticoats for gosh sakes.”

“Hmmph.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me none if Shorty got ‘em to scratch out 99 words in the dirt for her. They’d scratch out some egg-citing tales, alright.”

“Bah, what stories do chickens have?”

“Some speak of the coop, some the road.”

“Shorty says she’s done crisscrossin’ roads for awhile.”

“Yep. That chicken has landed.”

“Unexpectedly.”

###

Raw Literature: Variations Within Memoir

Essay by Irene Waters, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

<< ♦ >>

This writing is raw. Most of my writing that you may have seen to date is raw. By that I mean it is uncooked, the first draft without changes and alterations. The grammar may be imperfect, it may have spelling mistakes, it may be lacking in description and there may be the odd inconsistency. It is done quickly, allowing creativity to flow unimpeded. Blogging raw I find helpful in the creative process. I don’t spend a lot of time on the posts but it kickstarts the flow of ideas, allowing work that I plan on editing and re-editing – cooking  it and processing it – to be written to the page.

For a memoir writer there are a couple of other types of raw writing. The first is a type I rarely do and for some, including one of my thesis examiners, my writing is not raw enough. Some think that memoir should be an open cut, exposing bleeding wounds and laying open the scars for all to pick at. Certainly some types of memoir call for this. The misery memoir is a good example. A few memoirs in this group are Mary Karr’s and Frank McCourt’s three books. Although I am now tackling a memoir that will have this type of raw writing, my previous two memoirs have been written purely for the story where true life adventures are related.

In memoir there should also be a distinction between what is private and what is public knowledge. Whilst maintaining honesty the memoir writer should sift through the raw material and decide what belongs purely in a diary and what can be shared with the world. Elizabeth Gilbert said of her memoir Eat Pray Love that it was so finely tuned (no longer raw) that the reader doesn’t get a sense of her. She is unrecognisable. She said that if you wanted to know her, read her fiction work as there, believing that she was anonymous, she did not censor her writing and to her surprise found that more of her showed through in it than in her memoir.

Another type of raw that the memoir writer needs to be aware of and avoid is writing when the emotions are still raw. The passage of time is essential to enable the episode to be viewed dispassionately. The others in the memoir must be treated ethically – for when you write a memoir you also write someone else’s biography. If you write with raw emotion (useful as a therapeutic tool but not for publication) the purpose for writing is often slanted, and may be judgemental, a desire to hurt someone, to pay them back and this may not reflect well on the writer. Rather than sit in judgement, time allows the memoirist to write in a sensitive manner that will show the reader, through the actions of the characters, what manner of person they are.

For me, memoir is the making of identity. Without memoir, such as when a person is suffering from dementia, the person’s identity fades with the worsening of the condition and eventually is lost to them and kept alive only by others who can tell their stories. Depending on what you tell will depend on the identity you give yourself. But I digress from raw literature.

To conclude I will give an example of raw literature from the first draft of my manuscript Nightmare in Paradise.

My fear as to what I might find on arrival at the volcano overrode the abject terror I normally experienced every time I travelled the road over the mountain to the other side.  It is also the only time I had been over that stretch of road at speeds far exceeding that which would guarantee a safe arrival at the other end.  My head was spinning. Had I brought sufficient equipment with me to deal with anything I might find? What might I find? It just couldn’t be true.

After editing this passage is no longer raw although I feel as though it has more rawness. It gives, I hope, the reader an idea of what travelling to the volcano was like the night one of our tourists, along with a local guide, was killed by a lump of lava from the volcano.

The troop carrier sliced through the dark heat of the night as it sped, at speeds none would attempt in daylight, towards the volcano. I knew I was with other people but apart from Jim, the owner of Tanna Beach Resort I had no idea who was riding in the back with me. No-one spoke, everybody lost in their own thoughts. Mine were a nightmare. A nightmare that allowed the terror I normally felt when negotiating the sharp hairpin bends over the steep mountainside to remain hidden. The visions in my mind were vivid, in full red colour, whilst the reality of where I sat was grey, as though a mist had descended obscuring the others who sat with me.

***

Irene Waters blogs at Reflections and Nightmares where she focuses on photography and writing challenges. She has written a memoir Nightmare in Paradise which she hopes to publish in 2017. As a memoirist she found that there was little scholarly scrutiny on the sequel memoir. She carried out research on this subject gaining her Master of Arts in 2017. This also saw the completion of her second manuscript. She is now working on a novel way of writing raw memoir.

<< ♦ >>

Raw Literature is 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.

 

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July 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

Sails gain minimal height over rolling waves, riders like astronauts flip their bodies to the universe until gravity beats wind. They land, carving a crest of water. Not to be defeated, these wind-&-wave riders reach again and again for stars we can’t see in an overcast sky. Wake boards point to unseen constellations, but fall light years short of any terminus. Like writers, these Argonauts shoot for the moon. We never truly arrive, pointing our sails or words into the wind and leap perpetually.

We live for unexpected landings. Adventure or insights gained from a brutal crash, success and failure meld into multiple attempts that don’t end until we end the ride, pull the sails, clear the screen. Who wants to end when there’s so much wind yet to catch? So many words yet to write? The stars are near. The stories within reach. Type so fast your fingers lay a rooster-tail across the keyboard.

Blonde girls sell red strawberries along the foggy highway.

It’s a riddle to me. The wind-&-wave riders commune with my own seeking, but these girls make me question my location. My time. My space. Where am I? The fog tricks my senses, cloaking the season until my wandering mind marvels at strawberries in winter. No, it’s summer in the western hemisphere. Fog, berries and blondes. If I left Mars, I think I made an unexpected landing on Neptune.

In the southwest, where sand is its own artisan, attempting to blow its own glass with temperatures reaching furnace levels, red Mars is easy to see. Mesas and sandstone, heat and dry arroyos are the closest I’ve come to writing from another planet. Yet, now I find myself in this cool, watery and shrouded world. The blondes tell me its fine berry growing weather. And quarts of luscious sweet summer bites are only $4.95 while they last. Evidently Neptune must grow its own taste of summer because I see nothing else here that acknowledges the heat of Mars or the jungles of Kansas.

After a year and 27 days of wandering in search of home, I’ve found chickens. Look, chickens!

Like ladies in petticoats they run with wings as if to hike up their feathered skirts of buff, brown and red. The cock among them runs like a lady, too and they are charging me as if to respond to my distracted delight with a distraction of their own: Look, people! I cringe upon seeing the spurs, knowing the feel of such talons. I have little memory of the actual rooster attack except for falling to my young knees and covering my head with hands, screaming until my aunt beat the rooster to death with a broom. I don’t remember that it died, but feel bad, as if I caused his early entry to the stew pot, or so the ancient family story goes.

This fella is cheerful, the ladies excitable, and I throw back my head to laugh.

It’s foggy, but through the fine mist I can see twin spires of a Catholic Church bricked in Jacobsville Sandstone. I pause to wonder which group of miners dedicated this towering feature. All around me are chickens and miner’s houses in varying forms of decay. An Elvis poster hangs in a window across the street. Next door the house is neat as a pin, old, but standing tall. The next house is only a remnant of a cobbled rock foundation. Across from the rubble is a house about to go on sale at county auction. It will cost the buyer about $5,000, but no one gets to see inside until after the sale. It can be guts of joists and junk, or a gem in the rough. The house next to it has a malamute fixating on the chickens.

Here’s a look at the green and gray, the twin spires and the miner’s houses. Cue the choir:

The Hub and I fully intended to come to Michigan. It was the half-baked plan after reeling from the loss of home, of Elmira Pond and writing space. But the trailer we had leaked and didn’t pull well. The Hub went into a tactical response and we’ve been our own band of Argonauts ever since, picking cherries in Wallace, Idaho, discovering RV parks and migrant fruit-pickers in central Washington, landing on Mars for winter, taking detours through Pueblo nations, digging into the history of Kansas and Nebraska, passing the Midwest metropolises to arrive at one of the weirdest borders in America.

The Keweenaw was never for the feint of heart. Hard-rock miners from Cornwall and Slovenia, Sweden and Spain, Italy and Ireland, jack-hammered over 9,000 feet below after blue veins of copper for  an industrializing nation. The Quincy Mine had 92 levels of darkness, as if to prove Dante wrong. Cemeteries are full of tributes to miners who died in the mines. The land itself is a peninsula poking its finger into the belly of Lake Superior, a fresh water lake capable of snapping an ocean-going steel freighter in two. It’s not connected to the state of Michigan, but is considered its upper peninsula (the U.P., thus naming its residents “yoopers”).

Mostly the Finns remain. Sisu, and all. It’s a Finnish construct for grit. To live on the Keweenaw takes grit. The summers are cool and the winters accumulate over 300 inches of snowfall called Lake Effect. That explains the fog, too. Lake Superior creates its own climate. The locals will tell ya, hey, that it’s da freshest air in the world. If fresh means cool, I’d agree. It does feel fresh as spearmint gum in my mouth. I wonder what the chickens make of winter? The townsfolk of Calumet, the village housing said chickens, has no ordinances and welcomes eccentricities.

This video shows a sunnier side of the village and the coffee shop where you’ll find me writing on occasion:

The chickens and I have an announcement: we are going to be neighbors for a year. The Hub and I are renting a home after homeless wandering, to experience the Sisu it takes to live on the Keweenaw through winter, to meet up with the artist community, and to continue the fine services we’ve encountered in the U.P. for the Hub. Yes, we are going to be yoopers. We don’t know if we’ll stay longer, go back out west or venture to yet another planet. For now, we’re going to take this unexpected landing and yet, keep aiming for the stars like the wind-&-wave riders.

Tonight my future landlord welcomed me to the town that once boasted of 30,000 citizens.  I will join the 700 who remain. A new home, a new adventure, new stories to catch.

July 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing. It can be acrobatic, an unplanned move or created into a metaphor. Go where the prompt, or chickens, lead.

Respond by July 18, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published July 19). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

The Coming Storm (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Wind gusted and cottonwoods along the creek groaned. A nightfall storm closed in. Sarah hadn’t meant to stay so late in the company of Nancy Jane, but venison stew and friendship offered made Sarah linger. How long since she’d had a friend?

A branch cracked and Sarah screamed, escaping the limb’s descent. A man hollered at her to get out of the trees. Topping the gully, Sarah recognized the young stock-tender who rarely spoke. Hickok led the way as trees began to snap.

Hickok’s dugout provided an unexpected landing from the raging storm. And an unanticipated reaction from Cobb.

###

Beacons of Light

Beacons of Light by the Rough Writers & Friends@Charli_MillsWhen it’s dark, foggy or dangerous we look for beacons of light to guide our way. Beacons can be what we expect and fill us with relief or hope. Yet beacons can be unexpected, even deceptive.

Writers considered how to tell a story about beacons and shed light on shadowy places, feelings and situations.

The following stories are based on the July 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a beacon.

***

Beacon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane edges up the tiny spiral staircase, bending to look through the mullioned windows. Gulls wheel, screeching; the sea murmurs. The top level is nothing like she’d imagined a lighthouse would be: Hardwood floors, foghorn mechanism, and arc lamp all gleam in angled sunlight. On tiptoe, she can see the noses of seals playing below.

It’s not Paris; it’s not a beach weekend; it’s not even a bus ticket home to her mother’s kitchen. But escape was a beacon; the sandwich in her bag, her student bus pass, the Internet list of area lighthouses, all gave it to her.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Most have been lost from the roadside and replaced under the guise of progress.

The modern ones have little charm, despite being made from similar components.

The striped pole denoted a rigid sentinel either side of the childhood chasm, dignified in its support of an amber globe which flashed intermittently and continuously on the crossing, topped by its familiar dark cap.

What is this mediocre dotted halo over a dull orb that pathetically illuminates the way to safety?

The Red Man may warn before the Green Man takes over this vigil, but I will always remember the Belisha Beacon.

###

Woman Overboard by Joe Owens

Wayne gripped the rail of the light house beacon house as tightly as he had anything short of his beloved Claire. She knew this storm would be bad, but she was determined to make her run. Just one more job.

The water churned away while the wind roared. Wayne futilely wiped the rain from his face trying to catch a glimpse, any sign really, that she might be out there. But there was only more darkness, more despair to find.

“Why you stubborn woman, why?”

It took three days for her boat to be found. Her body never was.

###

Lighthouse by Robert Kirkendall

Wendy and Jack approached the old lighthouse with other tourists.

“I just love these old buildings!” Wendy gushed. “Don’t you, dear?”

“They’re okay, I guess,” Jack replied.

“But it’s so grand looking! They knew how to build things then.”

“It’s just an archaic brick building with no more use. Modern ships rely on more advanced technology.”

“But it’s historical!” Wendy reminded.

“It’s useless,” Jack insisted. “There is no more need for it.”

Just then the long, ugly sound of a ship crashing upon rocks and resulting screams filled the air.

“Okay,” Jack admitted, “maybe this lighthouse is still useful.”

###

In Extremis by Anne Goodwin

The white light drew me, summoned me, invited me, called me to dissolve where pain was unknown. The blue light flashed, on off, on off. Although much colder, it wanted me too. If my body could divide into a white side and a blue side, I could rest in peace. If I could float in the white till I was mended, I could give myself to the blue. But there was no going back from the white light. I had to decide.

Another light, sharp, beams into my eye. “Got a response here!” I’d been chosen for the blue.

###

The Arc of Descent by Elliott Lyngreen

Almost sideways
Against surface
set to angles

(There’s nothing to lean on)

hovering us above
then below the lake

crests

from an emerging ship,
groaning up-sideways-steep-

The world lost your stories
when you had your stroke

In the channel
At West Sister
You’re the ghost in the Lighthouse now
(grinning from ear to ear)
signaling beams
over distances I miss

Casts. The drifts.
trolling as we were
Thee Great Fishing King
and a chosen boy
lingering…

so to not have a moment
Like this.

Like, reeling in two-ton shitheads
how We slammed them against
Starboard side,
pure, disgusted, whips

###

A Sign by Ruchira Khanna

“Step outside, Thea.” asserted mom as she entwined her fingers.

The daughter was adamant, ” The world will judge me. I want to spend the remaining days of my life inside.”

She silently wiped her tears and stroked her daughter’s crown that was hairless and bisque in color. Her eyes that were lively and naughty were pale and dejected. She was pronouncing herself dead even before the last breath.

Just then there was a knock.

Thea’s friend entered with a warm smile.

The Mom envisioned it as a signal of hope and sunshine in her daughter’s life.

###

Self-Doubt by Reena Saxena

For how long has the lighthouse been there, in the middle of the sea?

The ships have moved, using information relayed by it, and escaped hazardous shoals and reefs. Have they, or have they not? Maybe, they own better technology – the electronic beacons and navigational systems.

I am forever on the move – mentally and emotionally, and sometimes physically – collecting, curating, processing and disseminating information, along with my interpretations of reality. I wonder if I have been useful to others, or only to myself, at a high cost of maintenance.

I think of the lighthouse again. Should it start moving?

###

The Storm by Susan Zutautas

Squinting, trying to see a few feet in front of the car was impossible. I only wish there was a car in front of me to follow.

OH NO ICE! Don’t panic, I said to myself, and for God’s sake don’t hit the brakes.

Slipping and sliding losing control of the car ….. SHIT, I was in a ditch! Oh great now what.

Unprepared for this dressed in heels and a short skirt, walking would be suicide in this snowstorm. Better stay put.

Freezing to the bone, hours later, I could see a most welcomed beacon of light. Safety.

###

Meeting Destiny by Kerry E.B. Black

Like overgrown fireflies, they bounce before me, silent beacons to the unknown. Be they corpse lights or Will-o-the-wisps, their pale glow fascinates me.

Grandmama whispers prayers when they appear. She says they’re the spirits of passed ancestors, but Aunt Emilia warns not to heed their invitation. “They work with monsters to lure the unwary to their doom.” However, my uncle scoffs. Swamp gas, says he, and nothing more.

Wordless invitations pull at my curiosity. I imagine they’re a gateway to mysteries, lighting a path to my destiny. I’m bold. I’ll face them, follow their lead, and discover for myself.

###

Night Search by Bill Engleson

It’s not that anyone thought that Mickey and Sal were bad parents. And if they did, most wouldn’t say anything. Why beat up on folks that were as full of sorrow as they were.

“We’ll keep looking beyond sunset,” Sam Travers, local fire chief and search party head honcho, told us. “Are you with me?”

One hundred heads nodded in the fading light.

“We’ve got a good supply of torches. Lucas is only three and there’s a storm due by morning.”

Lucas had gone missing the night before.

One hundred flashlights might be just enough to bring him home.

###

Let there be Light by Norah Colvin

Eyes squinted in the dim light under low ceilings. Immobilised by never-ending paperwork, the menials dared not look up. Flickering numbers on data scoreboards mesmerised supervisors. Inconsistencies meant remonstrations, even punishment, from above. Heads down, keep working, don’t ask questions. The system worked fine, until … Maxwell nodded off. His pencil fell, tapped first, then rolled away. Startled, Maxwell went after it. The room stilled. Sliding too fast, he slammed into the wall, activating a button that illuminated a set of stairs leading up. Everyone gasped. Maxwell hesitated, took one step, then another. Nothing happened. He continued. Everyone followed.

###

The Light by Allison Maruska

My brother sits next to the window, shaking. “I’m scared!”

I roll my eyes and join him. “It’s just the dark.”

“I don’t know the dark!”

“It’s never dark forever. Okay?”

“How do you know?”

“I’m older.”

“Barely.”

“Still counts.” I try to be patient. It wasn’t that long ago that I was stretching my wings and looking for a beacon of familiarity.

A light behind us comes on and he takes off.

“Wait!”

He smacks into the bulb and falls back.

The human bats at my brother. “Stupid moth.”

Sighing, I park on the ceiling. He’s still learning.

###

Beacon by Jeanne Lombardo

I search the night sky. As if the answer were there. As if science fiction were true and benevolent aliens could save us. Why bother? I see nothing. The stars are snuffed out.

Here below flames rip at cars and barricades and shop fronts—bonfires of fury and pain. The undercurrent of violence deafens me, pulls me down on streets wet from water cannons. My hands bleed from the bricks I have thrown.

You pull my arm. You scream. The maelstrom snatches your words and eats them.

But I follow at last—you—a brighter beacon than the flames.

###

Mother Hope by Kalpana Solsi

Flashing the red beacon light and a shrill siren announcing urgency, the white metal body moves.

A budding life, inhumanly left to wither is picked up with love. The ‘unwanted’ tag is abandoned and a new name and home is given.

The wrinkled destitute breathe their last with dignity.

Bodies afflicted with diseases get palliative care.

Women and children counselling programmes uplift the society.

Refugees, prostitutes, street-kids are accommodated.

The selfless Sisters at Missionaries of Charity in the City of Joy spread sunshine under the darkest conditions.

The Mother in white and blue sari is a beacon of hope.

###

Hope Is A Four Letter Word by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mrs. North? Greg O’Connell. I tracked down your sister to the Sisters of Mercy.’

Mary felt a familiar cloud cast a chill shadow. ‘I remember.’

‘They’ve found the records. At last, eh?’

Mary couldn’t speak.

‘Bit of light at… sorry, I’m rambling. A beacon of hope, maybe. Katherine Potts. Your sister, right?’

‘Yes.’

‘She had a daughter, who was adopted. The family was from Dublin. Mrs. North? You there.’

‘Is she… alive?’

‘That’s why I rang. Do you want me to keep looking?’

Mary shut her eyes. Could she stand more disappointment? Was this beacon really bringing good news?

###

First Cut Pt. 1 by D. Avery

“Did I hurt you when I left?”

They were sprawled on the grass in the pasture that overlooked the house, the barn that held the first cut of hay. She stroked the baby’s dark hair as she nursed.

“Yup. Hurt a lot.”

“I’ve always been a bolter. It’s like I can’t help it after a while.”

“Uh.” The baby sighed and fell asleep against her.

“I never was scared before though.”

“You were scared?”

“Afraid I’d gone too far. That I wouldn’t be able to come back. To you.”

His arm around her was strong, gentle. “I’m always here.”

###

First Cut Pt. 2 by D. Avery

He stood on the porch, watching the storm rolling over the mountain, trees bowing before it, excited leaves anxiously twisting and turning on their stems, murmuring at the rumbles of thunder. Soon it would rain.

The Highlands would be fine. The calves were healthy, feeding well, the new mothers patient and fiercely protective.

Quietly, he went back inside where she had fallen asleep on the couch. He sat before the sleeping baby in the bassinet, still awestruck. Would that feeling ever go away?

Would she ever leave again?

“Hey”, she whispered. “How’s Hope?”

“She’s a light in the storm.”

###

Beacon by Rachel A Hanson

“I know your name,”

She was standing at the kitchen sink, feeling low as she sipped her coffee. She looked up to see Moana.

As the tears flowed out she realized how invisible and alone she felt.

“What’s wrong, Mama?” Her little one ran over.

“I just love you so much,” she said.

Her little face lit up with a smile a mile wide that shone like a beacon, cutting through the darkness in her soul.

“I love you too, Mama.”

As they embraced the smile of the baby became another beacon of love that shone through the dark.

###

Beacon of Goodness by KittyVerses

As the day of my friend’s wedding grew near,excitement in all of us rose to the next level. Exuberant, like the rest of us about her attire and the celebrations that would follow, she was eagerly looking forward to her D-day.

A typical Indian arranged wedding, they hardly knew one another for six months. A new person , new family, new lifestyle, these thoughts kept haunting her. An element of fear lay hidden beneath her otherwise joyous face.

As we parted, I wished fervently, Let the beacon of goodness shine and may she be that beacon in this new journey.

###

Philandered Pharos (Janice vs Richard #13) by Jules Paige

Carla Scott wanted nothing more in life than to own a little
bookshop in the coastal town she’d grown up in. Instead
she’d become a policewoman. Helping people like Janice
from cabal men who held tightly onto the concept of
‘disregard’ of humanity in their absolute quest to make
women feel Fremdschämen. Men like Richard rarely
worked alone, belonging to some kind of opaque group,
whose asomatous leader didn’t leave paper trails.

What turn of events or item preceded a criminal’s mind to
hum above decent coherency? Blip off and then stand tall
withdrawing from the beacon of justice?

###

Beacon by Michael

He was a beacon of hope to so many. He spoke the language they craved to hear.

To others, he was a beacon of disaster. Everything he said was a lie a falsehood designed to deceive and confusion.

Where he promised prosperity for all to others, he spelt poverty a modern-day Judas selling out those whom he should have supported for the lure of the mighty dollar.

He used people for his own ends, he cared little for their well-being concentrating totally on what was best for him.

In the end, he was justifiably condemned to rot in hell.

###

A Beacon of Her Light by FloridaBorne

“Are you telling me you are what you write?” Lee asked.

“No.”

“You’ll never be a Hemingway,” he sneered.

“It’s the journey, not the destination that’s important.”

“I’ve heard the cliché,” he snickered.

“I hear the universal heart and my write-house shines out a beacon of her light.”

“That’s a stupid pun! If you’re the lighthouse, I’m the caretaker that straightens the beam.”

“No,” I chuckled. “You’re a ship’s captain refusing to allow a light to tell you there’s danger ahead.”

“What danger?”

“You’re about to crash on the rocks. My lawyers have pictures of you with your mistress.”

###

Night Riders (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

 “Nancy Jane, it’s dark. I can’t see!” Sarah reached for her friend.

“Beyond the ravine we’ll have light. Come on!”

When they emerged from the creek oaks and cottonwoods, the plains remained cloaked. Stars cast no light on this moonless night, but lone campfires topped the hills. Sarah asked, “Why are people in small camps? I thought they were afraid to sleep outside groups.”

“Nah, those are the fires warning where the ridges are.” Nancy Jane whistled and her horse nickered in return. “Ready, Sarah? Let’s ride the plains and let the Otoe night signals light our way.”

###

The Royal Navy by Gordon Le Pard

Here it is again, and a sequel

“They’re here!”
He looked out at the horizon and saw nothing, “Nonsense” he thought as he walked over to his excited colleague bending over the strange device, he looked through the little lens. There was a tiny ship – with the cross of Spain on its sails. Moving it he saw more, the Armada had arrived!
Moments later the beacon was lit, within hours the English fleet was at sea.
The Spanish thought they had the English trapped in Plymouth harbour – but at dawn the Royal Navy launched their first attack. The defeat of the Spanish Armada had begun.

The first telescope was probably invented in the 1570’s by Leonard and Thomas Digges, but kept secret because of its military importance. I have placed one in the hands of one of the men keeping watch for the invading Spaniards in 1588.

###

The Spanish Armada by Gordon Le Pard

Admiral Recalde was worried, the Royal Navy was supposed to be in Plymouth, and no knew they were coming. Last night they had glimpsed the coast and seen twinkling lights on the hill tops.
“Fires, to burn the heretics.” The priests had said encouragingly.
But he feared they were beacons.

As dawn broke he found he was right. The grey western horizon, which should have been empty, was full of ships, English ships, the fastest warships, the best guns and the finest seamen in the world.

He no longer thought of victory, instead he prayed that they would survive.

Admiral Recalde, one of the most experienced officers in the Spanish Armada, was always doubtful about its chances of success. He managed to bring several ships home after the disastrous defeat, but collapsed and died a few days after reaching Spain.

###

A Hero’s Welcome by Pete Fanning

The whistle hit as the train rounded the bend. At Jem’s, couples abandoned dancing and ran for the door. Drowsy children lifted warm cheeks from the padding of their mother’s arms. Old timers rocked forth to have a gander.

The boys wanted to shoot his Springfield. The girls wanted to hear all about Paris. Lawrence had seen the world. He’d taken on the Nazi’s and defended freedom.

Six hours late, a beacon shined on the withered streamers and curled signs of patriotism. They stood as brakes screaked, they watched patiently as the “White Only” cars passed.

Lawrence was home.

###

Between by Sarah Brentyn

He flies halfway between day and night.

His wings reach out, touch the rooftop of my home.

The silence outside me, the noise inside me…

I hear him.

Tomorrow, he tells me, will be softer. More forgiving. Wait.  

I believe him.

His message quiets my raging mind.

Delivered tenderly, I feel the force behind his words not to go gentle into this good night.

 

Feathered fingertips brush blue sky down into the pinks and purples of evening.

I will live to see him, this paintbrush of the Gods, bring the periwinkle light of sunrise up into sapphire skies.

###

Whatt the Blazes? by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty. That’s a fine fire you got there. Cookin’ somethin’ up? Bacon sure would be nice.”

“No, ain’t cookin’.”

“Oh. Cold?”

“No, I ain’t cold.”

“Oh. Scarin’ away coyotes?”

“No, ain’t seen any sign of coyotes.”

“Shorty, why’n heck you got this here fire blazin’ away if you ain’t cookin’, ain’t cold, and ain’t worried about coyotes?”

“Let’s just say this fire is for anyone who is hungry, or cold, or worried about coyotes. A welcome to set a spell. Share stories.”

“A beckoning beacon.”

“Exactly.”

“Still, some bacon would be nice.”

“Here, have a carrot.”

“It’s raw.”

###

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