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January 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Enough snow covers the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan to hear the occasional whine of snow machines blasting through town on a trail 100 yards from our house. We’ve had more thaw and freeze cycles than we’ve had snow. Last year by this time we had 215 inches. The normal snowpack is 184 inches. We have barely 50 inches of snow. Vessels continue to ply the shipping lanes that ice usually shuts down in Lake Superior. Lady Lake has no taste for winter following a year that has disrupted the world.

And I have a puppy.

This is no COVID puppy. She’s a mock-therapy dog, not the real deal as far as a certificate is concerned, but a calming presence for a veteran suffering neurological impairment. She’s also a healing balm for my heart. The downside — besides trips outside every two hours to potty train and the wincing pain of puppy teeth — is that when I rest with this warm, pulsating bundle of pure love and trust, I feel all the emotions I’ve set aside to plow ahead with my MFA.

No one escapes grief or death in this life. We don’t linger on this reality because each day is too precious to waste on worry. However, a snuggling puppy melts my defenses leaving me bare like ground accustomed to the protective blanket of snow. I don’t remember what used to be normal. Does it matter? And then the warmth spreads, the puppy breath hovers, and I witness the perfection of life measured in a moment.

When she wakes, my laughter rises. Her eyes are deep and mesmerizing. So much soul in one so tiny. So much spunk. He round rump and stubby legs romp the hardwood floors. Her ears perk into a determined flop when she pounces on a toy. At first it was only a leather squirrel and a brightly colored canvas duck. Today, Amazon delivered her puppy chew-toy kit, including an orange rope carrot with green threads for a top. It’s her favorite.

This was not my preferred time to get a puppy. But the Hub was missing dogs in his life and struggling to find purpose. The pup has restored confidence — dogs are familiar territory for him. She’s a German Short-haired Pointer (GSP) which is his favorite breed. While she has his full attention and love, she also challenges his focus. It knocks him out most days. That leaves me puppy-parenting when I know he needs to reset and recharge. I’m not complaining. She’s amazing grace with paws.

If you want a proper introduction to the puppy, be sure to read Kid and Pal’s exclusive over at D. Avery’s Saddle Up Saloon.

My looming thesis deadline, capstone projects, graduate certification for teaching creative writing, and application to graduate with an MFA in May have me spread thinner than that snow we don’t have right now. I need someone to cook, brew coffee, and puppy sit for me until February 7. Even if that happened, I have serious doubts about finishing my thesis. I know I will pull through and get it completed but my brain continues to feel like mush.

During these unsettled times I want to be here with you all, believing in better days, writing into the stories we want to tell, the wordcraft we want to master, and the connections we want to make. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned in my MFA program through different avenues. Let’s keep writing through it all. Be gentle and generous in these times. Everyone is struggling.

And let’s have some fun! Anne Goodwin asks readers in her recent newsletter if they enjoyed dressing up as children. It made me recall how much my own kids loved to play dress-up. We often looked for hats and high heels at garage sales to add to their costume box. In fact, my eldest has never fully grown out of dressing up because she gets to design and wear costumes for her dance troupe. I think a part of what my son and DIL enjoyed about their wedding was the chance to dress up, too.

Get out your costume box, put on your whimsy. We can rise above the doom and gloom and play like pampered puppies or imaginative children.

Thank you for your patience at the Ranch! It’s important we stay connected and keep writing each week.I may not be on target with my timing but I’m here with you!

January 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 19, 2020. 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.

High-Desert Princesses by Charli Mills

Maggie stood patiently for the braiding, imagining how she’d look with ribbons of pink and sea-foam green. Jayda wore the same braids and ribbons, which made Maggie snort to think they’d be matchy-matchy. She cherished the days they played dress-up together in the barn. They’d go outside and parade up and down the dirt lane, the ranch hands pausing their dusty work to cheer like the two of them really were high-desert princesses. The magnificent act of play lingered. Later, after Jayda removed the ribbons and satin, Maggie tried to tell the other horses about the magic of make-believe.

January 7 Flash Fiction Challenge

A week into the new year, and I’m ready to “do” again. For the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring what it means to be a human being. The reflection was inward, and the parameters were mine. I was “being” like no one was watching. You know, like the saying — “dance like no one is watching.” What fulfills each of us is a design as unique as our thumbprints. I spent time to be with my self-design.

What I did was deep vision work. I didn’t just bounce from cloud-dream to cloud-dream. I distilled those vapors and thought about what elements give me purpose.

Vision work never ends. When we talk about evolving as a person, we are acknowledging how our vision shapes our understanding of who we are in the world. The more insights we often gain, the greater change it brings. The more we understand our vision, the better we get at defining our purpose. Visions don’t change; we get better clarity.

Think of it like this. Your vision is the landscape of the dream that drives your life. We can feel it in our gut and heart. We can see it in our mind’s eye. At first, it looks fuzzy. We have to define outlines of wispy clouds and name what we feel. When we first start playing with our visions, we imagine what our life looks like in five, ten, twenty years if we grow into who we want to be and what we do.

Then, as we continue to accomplish vision work each year, we get better at definition. These are the insights that come to us. A picture emerges from the clouds of dreams. We begin to recognize vision feelings in our every day lives. So, we push into that clarity and begin to see our vision’s thumbprint.

For example, many writers have a clear vision of a moment that defines success — they can imagine what they wear and say and how they feel when they sit on Oprah’s couch to discuss their book. Some writers include that moment in their vision. And why not? Vision work dreams big. Martin Luther King had a vision that drove his purpose, which was so strong it continues to inspire others today.

When we reflect on our vision, we realize that Oprah and her couch are symbolic. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But a vision is about purpose, about who we are as human beings as much as it is about what we do or accomplish. Go back to Oprah’s couch. Why are you there? What are you discussing? How are others around you feeling? How do you feel?

This is deep vision work.

I’ve had a dream of winning an Oscar from the time I was nine years old. I really don’t know what spawned the dream other than two things happened that year, and maybe that was enough. First, I got to go to the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, Nevada, where I had my photo taken with a lion in a building that spared no detail on Hollywood glamor. Second, I had a bit role in the school play and discovered I love being a different person than the scared, awkward, and bullied kid I was.

That year, I watched the Oscars and noticed how the show looked like it was filmed at the MGM Grand Hotel, and the slick actors from films seemed as awkward in person as I felt despite their glamor.

I never told anyone about my fantasy or what I pretended any time I got to revisit the hotel in Reno and walk down the red-carpeted stairs. I discovered writing several years later and realized I could also become characters on the page. However, it popped up during vision work. And do you know what I did with that dream cloud? I blew it away because I thought it had nothing to do with my writing vision.

I was wrong.

Three years ago, I decided to not ignore the Oscar dream. I wrote it down in my ten-year vision. If I encouraged others to dream big, why not do it myself? Then I began to reflect on what it means to me. How it feels. How I feel in everyday life when I get that “Oscar” feeling. How winning an Oscar has anything to do with what I write.

A picture began to emerge. I live a rich inner life, and it is the source of my creativity. It’s not that I want to hide (on the stage or page); actually, I want to use bigger than life personas to express who I am on the inside. Surprisingly, my desire for Oscar recognition has to do with being seen for who I authentically am. It aligns with my top personal value of authenticity, which drives me to live the life I feel best expresses my purpose. That’s me, that’s my Oscar.

Also, I recognized a more practical application. My writing vision has to do with the kind of fiction I want to put out in the world — stories that express love in all its manifestations, characters who overcome adversity, books that uplift readers. I find myself looking for these stories in film to get quick fixes.

My writing Oscar is to write a story that would make a binge-worthy Netflix series.

Do I plan to set a goal to win an Oscar? No. That’s not the point. A vision might use accomplishments to express a person’s driving dreams, but a vision is all about living the fullest life available to you. Goals, the things we do, should take us to our vision. Every year, I will take this time to dive deeper into being. My vision balances who I am with what I do.

It’s not the arrival that satisfies me but the journey. I am a writer with an Oscar in her heart. I don’t need to get a statue; I need to express who I am on the page. Who is that? I’m still learning, but loving the transformative ride.

It’s good to be back to the Ranch and among writers. Look for Kid and Pal’s exclusive next Monday on the new baby critters headed tho the fictional ranch and the real ranch headquarters. Welcome to 2021!

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Periwinkles on the Pack River by Charli Mills

Stones pulsed with a periwinkle heartbeat. Danni walked along the Pack River where the snow melt had retreated to expose banks of smooth stones. Her steps disturbed clouds of tiny blue butterflies that flew ahead to land, folding up wings to expose the buff color of granite underneath. As quickly as they fluttered, they disappeared into the camouflage of their coloring. G-Dog and Detlor burst past her, running to the creek with happy, floppy freedom ears. Blue periwinkles and brown dogs. The day would be perfect if Ike were here. She tossed a stone in his favorite fishing hole.

🥕🥕🥕

December 17: Flash Fiction Challenge

As much as I love the landscape and people of the American West, I’m content with my decision to leave the cradle of my family for seven generations. They came from the Pyrenees, Azores, Brazil, Denmark, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Most came directly to California and the rest from North Carolina. A few yet reside in Colorado and eastern Washington. Still, California and Nevada hold my family’s experience of America.

And then I met a veteran from Nevada and lived in almost every western state, thereafter. Sometimes I think it’s odd that we ended up in the Upper Midwest, of all places. But after struggling with the economic hardships of the rural west, we educated up and headed out. My husband grew up milking jerseys, and I worked ranches and logging camps.

Our grown children hardly know the difference between a heifer and a gelding. None of them ride horses. Yet, they matured among diversity, spent teen years swing dancing, going out to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and prancing at the Gay 90s. Some of the stories, like a mishap with a bubble machine at a drag show, I’m only now learning. They’ve supported transgender friends through transformations, traveled to other countries where they had to learn the language and customs, and embrace a changing world with mindfulness.

I miss my kids. It’s a parent-thing. Maybe, it’s simply human nature to be nostalgic for what we create and give back to the world, not ours to keep. Every Message from Svalbard, phone call from Wisconsin, or text from nine miles up the Keweenaw, and I light up like Venus on a cloudless night. Every tear, worry, and pain, I feel. Any close relationship can relate. I’ve felt this close to a horse, and I know people who feel this close to their faith. We feel what we feel, and sometimes, deeply.

This time of year tends to expose tender nerves, whether emotions, unresolved situations, or memories. The veil between the past and present and future thins, and we expect to wake up like Scrooge to frosty ghosts and rattling chains. Sometimes we sit down at the kitchen table and wonder why we are here. We feel losses keenest when it seems like everyone else has what we do not. It’s an illusion, not true. We all suffer losses. Some deal with it differently.

No wonder bells, bows, gifts, and trees delight us. We want the lights, the sweets, the full celebration. Anything and everything to chase away the chill and dark thought. We make merry to make it through.

A good friend texted me tonight saying, “There’s so much pain at the hem of the world. So much.” She should know; she’s our region’s grief counselor who sits at that hem. She’s the person who witnesses the loss others feel despite her father having terminal cancer and her 22-year-old daughter recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive lymphoma. She left her daughter’s side to attend the grief group she leads.

I have another friend, who is my personal witness. She gets me even when I’m not sure I understand myself. She lets me be silly and serious in varying degrees. She sits at my six (military-speak for “got your back”). We should all be so blessed to have such friends and to be one in return. Sometimes, I think she sits at my six, so I can sit at my grieving friend’s six, so she can sit at her group’s hem so the world can watch out for one another.

But I also understand that some feel no one in the world is watching their back. Isolation is deadly. I mean the mental kind where we don’t feel connected. Drop extended COVID protocols, disagreements, and polarizing politics into the world, and physical isolation turns mental. Bitterness is the inability to remember love. Love begins within. Take care to guard your hearts.

Be merry. Be bright. Someone needs you. Maybe you need you. Maybe your neighbor needs a light in your window to connect. Maybe a friend needs a goofy text. Maybe you need to forgive someone — not for their sake, but for your peace.

Write. Seriously, write. Scream into the page. Wet the ink with tears. Write a love story, a horror story. Play with words and remember what it was like to play as a child. Let that child breathe. Write like grammarians aren’t watching. Write nonsense. Write a manifesto for your creativity. Write an artist’s statement. Write a poem that doesn’t rhyme. Write a syllabic dialog. Talk to yourself. Talk to someone you miss. Talk to God, the Goddess, the Divine. Write the unexpected. Write what is typical of you.

Your authentic voice is needed; wanted; deserves breath. Tell stories. Any story. Your story.

You all gather here, weekly, intermittently, bashfully, or boldly stating opinions. What a grand space you make this! What a community! I know we can’t all possibly agree and yet for nearly six years, we’ve focused on how creativity flourishes among differences. You’ve forgiven me for rants when my injustice quota fills up and pours out onto the post. You’ve looked the other way, or rolled your eyes, when someone else writes — literally — the opposite perspective from yours. I feel like this literary anthropologist every week, weaving stories that are not alike.

We are not alike. And yet we are all so very human. So up and down. So vulnerable. So resilient. Contradictions and contrast, trying to connect.

Regardless of where you are from or where you are at, I’m happy you are here.

My daughter assured me that this video will bring a smile to any Grinch. She is a dancer and her troupe is delighting in this Christmas number, texting each other 🔔🎀🎁🎄. They are choreographing their own version on Zoom. I admire that the dancers with Todrick pull it off in stilettos, thus the prompt this week. I hope “Bells, Bows, Gifts, and Trees” brightens your day!

December 17, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stilettos. Who will wear them and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 22, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Gender Glitter by Charli Mills

Jace carefully dressed to costume up with the other college drag queens. He, she…no, he…set out on cross-country skis to the campus theater, stilettos tied with cord and slung across her back. His back. No one paid much attention to the petite contender for Frostiest Northern Queen until none could deny her presence (at last!). In a silver beehive wig to match nine-inch glittering stilettos, she won crowd and crown. Jace had to keep the victory secret. She (born that way) headed for the girl’s dorm no longer getting to express the person of a man becoming a woman.

🥕🥕🥕

December 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Somewhere in Nevada between an active gold mine and a desert reservoir the size of a pond where wild horses drink sits a dilapidated ranch house. The summer sun mummifies the boards and magpies nest in the rafters. From a distance, the brown boards blend into the tawny landscape like camouflage. In 2010, my dad drove me in his old Willy’s Jeep to this site. He stopped and said, “This was someone’s dream.”

It wasn’t the first time I heard him utter that phrase. He logged in in the back-country where prospectors and pioneers searched for promises of a better life. They all carried apple seed. At the Nevada ranch house, the husks of mountain cabins, and countless remnants of cellars apple trees grow wild. The ones who planted have disappeared, leaving spring blossoms and fall fruit to bear witness.

I’ve always been curious about these dreamers. I think about my dad’s regard for their lost dreams, or the stories I heard as a child from the old-timers. I think about the evidence of people who lived and dream long before the homesteaders came.

Yet, history doesn’t record the trickery that led people west to attempt to make a dream work. It benefited the government and then the railroads and then the company mines to lure people west to settle or work. Ads circulated in city and rural papers back east and overseas, attracting immigrants with promises of land and livelihood. Railroad companies often provided land, jobs, and one-way tickets.

My favorite buckaroo sings the story in the first-person point of view account that blows a hard wind into the listener’s soul. I shiver when I hear the refrain, “I never knew, I never dreamed.” Dave Stamey sings Montana Homestead 1915.

Ten years earlier, the railroad brought Italians to Elmira Idaho where I lived for four years next to the schoolhouse built in 1910. It was the dream of those immigrants to educate their children. It is the setting of my novel in progress. Whatever the Italians dreamed, they abandoned in Elmira and moved on after the railroad ended their work. My character Ramona Gordon is the descendant of one of these immigrant families.

The house my dad showed me in Nevada is one I gave to Danni as a ranch where her father worked. I picture Danni riding out along the small creek lined with cottonwoods, of her dad showing her the Paiute sheep camp that had existed for centuries before the Bureau of Land Management moved them out in the 1950s. Danni’s dad and my dad witnessed the loss of such dreams as boys who grew up in the hard migrant work-life of buckaroo ranches.

Despite this melancholy, I still believe in dreams. I know that my own have fed rivers of hope and resiliency. If you know me, you are not going to be surprised that I get excited this time of year to renew my dreams in a visioning activity. Not to be confused with resolutions, vision planting guides those apple seeds to fruition. It take dreams and puts them into action.

One of my dreams has been to teach creative writing. While working on my MFA, I’ve simultaneously worked on earning a master’s level certification to teach creative writing online. And thanks to COVID-19 and my online courses, I’ve learned new tools and techniques to bring in-person workshops to the virtual world. I have a break between Christmas and New Year, thus I decided to bring one of my favorite courses online — Writers Vision Planting. It’s one of the four parts of To Cultivate a Book series that has been COVID-disrupted.

If you have a dream, consider signing up either live or for the digital download. It will be a fun and creative way to plan your 2021 year as a writer.

But for our prompt, we are going to go back to what it’s like to experience something we didn’t dream. I never dreamed that a year after my last GSP died, I’d be chasing a puppy. I never dreamed that a pandemic would keep my daughter in the arctic so long. I never dreamed I’d own such a beautiful old home with a hand-carved staircase. I never dreamed that I’d get to live on a peninsula in Lake Superior. I never dreamed the northern lights would be so breathtaking (and evidently fertile, so be careful). I never dreamed I’d be 54 and expecting…a puppy, people, a puppy!

December 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 15, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Hot Pepper Takes a Chance by Charli Mills

Carlotta rode a mustang named Hot Pepper. Her gelding was a small but snorty horse belonging to the Two Bar Ranch. She taught school at the one-room cabin on a desolate hill of sagebrush central to the ranches in the valley. Hot Pepper trotted the full three miles to school and back where Carlotta passed a ranch house half-built. She often wondered why the rancher never finished what looked like a beautiful design with promise. She never dreamed the horse would throw her in front of the house, meeting the young widower who never dreamed he’d find love again.

🥕🥕🥕

Family Traditions

December brings various holidays and family traditions. If ever there was a year to yearn for nostalgia or break away, 2020 would be it.

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

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

From Biriyani to Paella by Saifun Hassam

Twins Nadia and Nilufar were toddlers when their parents emigrated in the 1980s from Kenya to the US, first to Pennsylvania and eventually to California. They were Muslims, their ethnic background Indian, with family roots in India.

Family tradition called for the sumptuous rice dish of biriyani and samosa pastries to celebrate everything from birthdays to Eid. As teenagers, Nadia and Nilufar included hamburgers, tacos, and ice cream sundaes.

Now they had families of their own. Nadia’s husband Juan introduced them to delectable seafood paella. Family members came from Canada to celebrate: Nadia and Nilufar’s restaurant: “Adventures in Food.”

🥕🥕🥕

Family Tradition by Kerry E.B. Black

Bob reached deep through the prickly branches to hang the shaped green glass ornament near the fragrant trunk of the pine tree propped in his living room. “Gotta make ‘em look for it, y’know.”

Pam smiled, charmed by the hospitality her new beau and his family had extended. Holidays could be lonely for a recently divorced ex-pat. “So, whoever finds the pickle first on Christmas morning wins an extra present?”

“Yep.” Bob tilted his head to test the ornament’s placement. “Dylan usually gets it. Like she has an affinity.”

“Maybe it’s because her nickname’s ‘Dill Pickles.’”

He chuckled. “Maybe.”

🥕🥕🥕

Christmas Conga Line by Donna Matthews

T’was the night before Christmas when all through my house, the kids are scattered, quiet as a mouse. Into that room and the next, their faces glued to phone screens…even my spouse. Not one cared about St. Nick.

That is until the ancient record player comes alive and starts blaring, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and I begin to dance! Bouncing from one room to the next, grabbing hands and hips, forming a conga line throughout the house. As the song winds down, we sigh and laugh, and before they scatter again, I declare, “Now, a hot chocolate before bed!”

🥕🥕🥕

Family Traditions by Eliza Mimski

I come from a wacky family. Every Christmas the grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings are assigned a name to buy a silly present for. From near and far, we come together for a Christmas dinner of turkey and dressing, casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and apple pie. After dinner, the presents are heaped together near the Christmas tree. We search for our own and either keep it or exchange it with somebody else’s. There are pet rocks, wooden back scratchers with acrylic nails, a T-shirt that says I Strip for Chocolate Macaroons.

Best presents ever.

🥕🥕🥕

Virtual Turkey Trot by Ruchira Khanna

“Are you ready for tomorrow? What time should I wake you up?” inquired A.
“Do we have to?” asked P with a lone sigh.

“Of course! We ought to keep the tradition alive. So what if we can’t run the Turkey Trot with people. Let’s do it by ourselves.”

“And just like all the times, I’ll keep the pie, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, and lasagna ready.” I chipped in with a broad smile to encourage my son.

“Yum! So everything’s the same as old times.” He beamed with joy over it, “How does 7 am sound for our 10K?”

🥕🥕🥕

Out with the Old, In with the New by Norah Colvin

Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”

“No!”

“Try it. You’ll like it.”

“I won’t.”

“You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”

“Dessert first. Then veg.”

“We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”

“No! Dessert first!”

“If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”

“Will so.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.

Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.

🥕🥕🥕

Topsy’s Turvy Christmas Eve by Sascha Darlington

“Your family’s three families,” Mrs. Crawford always told Topsy.

Topsy didn’t understand. Not until she turned nine and her older brothers spent Christmas elsewhere did she comprehend.

Slightly.

“Why aren’t they here for carols?” Topsy asked.

Mother who bit her lip—or her tongue—constantly these days said, “They’re starting their own families and traditions.”

“But carols are sacred,” Topsy whispered.

And even Joseph, her big brother-protector, remained in his room, unwilling to sing carols, which left Topsy, Mom, Dad, and Sandy.

As they sang Silent Night, a tear slid down Topsy’s cheek. This night was far too silent.

🥕🥕🥕

The Christmas Visitor by Anne Goodwin

She hung her stocking for Santa above the fireplace. She helped Gran lay the Jesus figurine in the cardboard-box crib. She joined us singing “Good King Wenceslas” at the piano. She gobbled up Dad’s stewed sprouts. So why did she refuse to play Cluedo, preferring to sit with a book? She wasn’t averse to whodunnits. She’d plucked Evelyn Hardcastle from the guest-room shelf.

But she taught me the meaning of Christmas. Whether Christian or secular, it’s not about believing in myths. It’s a time to renounce our own ego. When we merge with the group, reunite with our tribe.

🥕🥕🥕

(47) Damned Family (Jesse No Solid Bases, Yet) by JulesPaige

traditions hold limited
value when lacking
emotional attachments

Jesse thought about some of her family traditions. Like the one she had totally blown off this year. The mini-family reunion down by the shore. Which this year was cut short by finding the dead body of a man who she thought was her ex-husband in her rental unit. Usually she wasn’t big on any holiday traditions. With her family, someone was always out of town or working. She had hoped to start something new with Norman, but the divorce had ended that. Would this year be any different for her?

🥕🥕🥕

Christmas Family Tradition by Doug Jacquier

Dad would start drinking with the invited neighbours from around 11 a.m. Around 1pm we’d do the presents. His would never be satisfactory and his petty envy of the presents of others would not be disguised. When time for lunch came, as a matter of what little pride he had left, he would ceremoniously carve the roast. My brother and I would write our bets on when the explosion would happen on slips of paper we passed to each surreptitiously. And every year, like clockwork, some imagined slight would set off a stream of invective that would kill Christmas.

🥕🥕🥕

Festive Traditions by Geoff Le Pard

‘What did you do for Christmas, Logan?’

‘?’

‘You must have some family traditions?’

‘What? Like waking up with Santa dribbling into the hall carpet because he fell asleep there when he came back from the pub, having to be quiet all morning, watching the Queen and wondering what she was talking about, waiting for my gran’s bowels to move so we could eat lunch at 4pm and then having to eat sprouts – Devil’s turds btw – and mum’s stuffing that I’m sure was shredded underlay… that sort of thing?’

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Hell, I loved it.’

‘Explains a lot…’

🥕🥕🥕

Childhood Christmas by Willow Willers

Nothing ever happened until Christmas Eve. Mum took us all shopping, on the bus. We’d buy all the food and tree, all six of us had a bag to carry. When we got home decorations were made and hung.

Then Mum started the baking and the boys would pinch it.

In the evening the Turkey and veg were prepared. At eleven pm they all went to Midnight Mass with Dad.
I was too young so mum and I stayed home and decorated the tree. I loved staying up late and when everyone got home the tree was magically ready.

🥕🥕🥕

A Tradition Begins – and Ends by Gordon Le Pard

The old singer watched as the happy crowd left the cathedral. The Bishop came over to him and shook his hand.

“I didn’t think it would be like this, it was just an old tradition.”

“Yes, but a wonderful one, you would go round the town singing carols and using them to tell the Christmas story. I just brought it inside.”

“But it was wonderful, will you do it next year?”

“And the next, and others will do it as well, soon there will be carol services everywhere. It was once your family tradition, now it will be everybody’s.”

🥕🥕🥕

Family Traditions by Colleen Chesebro

“Grandma, hurry up or we’ll miss the first song.” Kallie impatiently tugged at Grandma’s sleeve.

“I’m coming. Don’t rush me!” Grandma chided.

The church was packed. Typical for the Christmas Eve service.

“Kallie, I saved you seats,” whispered a voice. A few titters of laughter rumbled through the back row of pews.

“Thank you, James,” Grandma murmured as she heaved her body into the seat. Kallie blushed crimson.

James grinned. He only had eyes for Kallie. “Of course. Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without you both.”

The trio joined the congregation as they sang, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

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New Family Traditions by Sue Spitulnik

The Monday after Thanksgiving Michael and Tessa received a beautiful Christmas arrangement from Tessa’s mother. They each raised their eyebrows, skeptical of Jenny’s intentions.
Inside the thank you card she had written, “I had no idea cooking for two days for other people could be gratifying. I hated eating leftovers on Thanksgiving, but gathering our family together with Michael’s on Saturday was the best celebration of thanks I have ever attended. Let this be our new tradition. Love, Mom.”
A tear ran down Tessa’s cheek. “She’s coming around isn’t she?”
Michael’s eyes watered. “Wait till I show my parents.”

Note: “cooking for two days for other people” refers to last week’s flash that mentioned the band members families preparing the dinner served at the No Thanks.

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Our Ramadan by Douryeh (Hajar)

It may be four thirty and we all rise

I had made soup yesterday and warm it slowly

Husband and then children, get food on the table

Fruit, bread, yoghurt are usually part of our breakfast

Always someone cracks a joke or has yesterday’s story

Breakfast must end punctually, even when there’s no adhan

Prayers, sleep a while, then daily routine is done

The season decides at what time we’ll have dinner

Whatever is served, there’s always some milk and dates

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Henry’s Traditional Christmas by Anne Goodwin

Some years he’d treat Christmas as an ordinary day, turn off the television and eat beans on toast for lunch. Some years he’d put up a tree, wrap presents and roast a chicken, set an extra place at the table for Tilly, and another for his dad. Yet however he began the day, tradition claimed the final hour: leaving him seated by the fire, with enough whisky to engender a headache but not enough to assuage his grief. Or his shame in spending the day in frenzied anticipation of the greatest gift imaginable: his sister’s knock upon the door.

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Apple Strudel by Frank Hubeny

I gave my brother peeled apple slices. He placed them one-by-one on the strudel dough that we older ones helped stretch across a cloth on our dinner table. He put some in his mouth. Then came the raisins to scatter on the dough. When it was finished I held him so he could watch our mother lift the cloth underneath the strudel, roll it into a long, thick pastry that fit on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

We made many strudels for Christmas and everyone helped.

I’ve never had a dessert that tasted so good.

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Hunting Spot by D. Avery

Nothing, not women, jobs, not even a move, had ever interfered with their tradition. No matter what, he and his brother took the first week of deer season and spent it at camp, just the two of them. He was determined to see the whole week through this year too.

Now he paused instinctively. The large buck he’d been tracking stepped into view. He raised his rifle, took aim. Then he lowered the rifle, leaned it against a tree.

“It wasn’t really about the hunting was it?” he said aloud. The buck bounded away. He scattered his brother’s ashes.

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Christmas Angel by Myrna Migala

The children were excited; tomorrow was Christmas!
The tradition, to catch their Christmas angel.

Imagine now the little ones jumping up and down, rolling all around, trying to catch their angel.
The tiniest of all jumped so high while clasping his hand and shouted, “I caught mine!”

Holding his hands together with a big smile, being careful not to let the angel escape.

Minutes passed by, and as he watched the other children leaping with joy, his big brown eyes widened; looking at his hand, still holding tight, he turned to his grandmother, “please, do you have a cage?”

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Raksha Bandhan by Ritu Bhathal

Nalini scowled at Rakesh.
Stupid baby.
Her nine-year-old heart hadn’t quite come to terms with this mewling infant thrust upon her, when her mother’s expanding belly suddenly deflated.
He was taking up everyone’s time and attention.
Usually, the whole family doted upon her, but recently, it was all “The baby this, the baby that.”
“Come on Nalini, time to tie a rakhi on Rakesh. Lucky girl. You finally have a brother to bless.”
Sacred thread tied, she went to turn away, when her mother called her back. “Don’t forget your gift.”
A gift? He wasn’t so bad, after all.

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Family Traditions by Anita Dawes

Each of us grows
Changing throughout the year
Come Christmas,
that would seem to be a lie
if my family don’t get Jaye’s mince pies.
When I say I am cancelling Christmas?
They turn into peasants and revolt
If you could see the looks, I get
Enough to kill the Bah Humbug in me
Can’t we just have Jaye’s mince pies?
No, I say. Cancelled means cancelled
I managed one year
Then a great granddaughter came along
Children to me mean Christmas
So here we go again, it’s game time
Charades, old tabletop games
Screams of you cheated, mum!

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Fertile Northern Lights by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The stewpot was emptied of root vegetables, venison gratefully given, and thick brown gravy sweetened with brunost. Crumbs of spilled flatbread caught the flicker of resting embers, and a half-dozen children snored under heavy woolen blankets. The littlest, wrapped in rabbit’s fur, lay in his mother’s arms.

“Leave him. He’ll sleep well enough under the Northern Lights.”

She nodded, tucking him next to the oldest girl, and said a prayer for the children departed.

“The Lights shimmer tonight; propitious for calling another soul to our family,” he hefted their sleeping fur.

She followed her husband into the snowy night.

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Family Tradition by Margaret G. Hanna

“A fence! Are you serious?”

“You mean, you don’t put a fence around your Christmas tree? Our tree isn’t complete until the fence goes up.”

“But a fence?”

“This isn’t any old fence, it has history!”

“Do tell.”

“My uncle made it when I was a toddler. I was told that I could not touch anything that was behind the fence.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Seventy years. The ‘posts’ are askew and the silver garland rope has seen better days, but it’s as essential as the angel on the tree top.”

“I suppose it has history, too.”

“Yep.”

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Christmasque Treevia by Bill Engleson

One year, it appeared.
An artificial tree.
I can visualize my parents buying it, thinking, hell, the kids are gone, we don’t want to be traipsing out into the tulies to chop down some innocent sapling.
Gone: one of our few traditions.
Over the next fifteen, twenty years, I made it home pretty much every second Christmas.
Sometimes every third.
That fake tree took such a beating. On each visit, it had fewer plastic needles.
Somehow, its escalating emaciation didn’t matter.
For me, it encapsulated a simple withering truth about my family and how time had forever changed us.

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Whose Traditions? by Reena Saxena

There is a distinct sense of unease around the oncoming festival. She knows that certain things can’t be done.

“But we aren’t having any visitors”, said her husband, \’just cook and eat and decorate the house as you like. Post some pictures with a wistful write-up on social media.”

“It’s all a joke for you”, she was cross.

“Do you remember how you defied my mother’s traditions?”

“These are mine, hence important.”

“So were hers..”

“Remember whom are you going to spend the rest of your life with.”

It was time for him to shut up and comply.

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New Traditions by Charli Mills

That night, the sheepherder made room for two wayward cowboys. The snowstorm blinded their passage back to the Two Bar Ranch and their horses found refuge in the small enclave of Basque who herded sheep in the Sierras every summer. All herds hunkered down in the valley to survive winter. Jess and Roy knew they’d miss beans and card games for Christmas, but the smell of mutton stew raised hopes not all was lost. After tasting saffron bread for the first time, and learning new carols to a tabor pipe, the cowboys adapted their cattle family traditions to sheepherders.

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This Christmas by Joanne Fisher

“So what did you do at Christmas?” Stacey asked.

“Mum would make us scrambled eggs with lots of butter and toasted homemade bread. Then we would open presents. One of us would hand them all out, and then we’d open them one at a time going round the room. In the evening we’d have dinner with the rest of the family, and of course, open more presents.” Hannah replied.

“Nice.”

“But I’m missing it this year since I’ve been kicked out for being lesbian.” Stacey hugged Hannah.

“We’ll just have to start our own traditions then.” Stacey told her.

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Roots Crop (Part I) by D. Avery

“Purty sure we’re gonna have a Yule log this year.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? Thet ain’t our terdition.”

“Gonna be a holiday season like no other Pal.”

“Why’s thet, Kid?”

“Gonna be masked up.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? We’re fictional; exempt from all thet.”

“An’ we gotta snuff yer candles Pal.”

“Why’s thet, Kid? That’s my fav’rite terdition fer this time a year.”

“Thought ‘stead a roast beast we’d have baked beans.”

“Baked beans??? LeGume!”

“Yep, Pepe’s gonna join us.”

“Thet Pepe LeGume’s a rootin’ tootin’ ranch hand.”

“Yep. So we wear masks. No open flames.”

“Hmmf.”

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Roots Crop (Part II) by D. Avery

“LeGume hangin’ out with us stinks, Kid. I ain’t likin’ it.”

“Pepe needs a place ta go.”

“Thet was last week’s prompt. Ain’t LeGume got his own folks?”

“Pepe is estranged from his wife.”

“He’s a-strange alright. Answer’s ‘No’.”

“Hate ta burst yer bubble, Pal. I already invited him.”

“An’ I said oui, merci. Pal, Keed, I weel keep my deestance.”

“Mmm… Thet date nut bread yer bakin’?”

“Dere was not so much available, so I am improvising.”

“Never thought I’d say this to ya, but thet smells good.”

“Eet’s all good, Pal. Ees sweet bread from raw carrots.”

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December 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Beans may not be a part of everyone’s family tradition, but they were in mine. We greeted company with a pot of beans, a pan of enchiladas, and a bowl of green salad. At various times, my kids have requested the recipe for their own households. As far back as I know, our pinto bean recipes went back to the vaquero ranch cooks in my family at least five generations. Today, the memory lingers while the tradition has changed.

The Hub can’t eat beans well. His family has an old-time recipe for baked beans at Christmas. I never mastered baking beans, and he was okay with that. We tried to replicate the taffy pulls he and his cousins did as kids, but I never mastered that either. Eventually, we created our own family traditions around food and activities.

Between now and the New Year, we will watch A Christmas Story. Writers might relate to this scene from the movie when Ralph daydreams about the accolades he anticipates receiving for a paper he wrote:

On or after Christmas Day, we will play The Lord of the Rings board game and have a marathon going with all three movies in the trilogy. We even load up Christmas stocking with favorite snacks (like smoked oysters and summer sausage with sweet hot mustard) in anticipation of a day filled with playing games and Tolkein battles replacing Christmas music.

Ah. Christmas music. Trans Siberian Orchestra is a family favorite.

Imagine the intensity with which the Mills family decked their halls to TSO. I have every album they’ve made and one year, the Hub and I went to one of their electrified concerts in St. Paul. Another tradition from when the kids were still kids and all under one roof, we would eat Christmas Eve dinner by candle light and the lights of the tree. We’d clean up, put on our pajamas, fill baggies with homemade fudge and cookies, and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights. It was fun to be in our PJs. We would sing carols and listen to our favorite comedian, Bill Engvall.

Those were the days that make me smile. I’d like to sat family traditions remain static, but they change as we do. This year, I think a lot of families are facing the realities of COVID-19 interfering with the holidays.

But it’s not all that bad. It’s a chance to refresh, to try something new, to set aside the beans. I’ve downloaded some new music.

I’ve talked to extended family about playing Bingo on Zoom Christmas week. I have friends who are hosting dance parties and cacao ceremonies. Zoom, Facetime, and Skype are digital ways to extend the fun of playing games. YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix let you set up watch parties for holiday movies or even The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Think of the disruption to family traditions as a chance to make new ones. Some people might be grateful to shake lose of the old ways and reconnect differently, with more thought and meaning. Learn about the traditions of your friends and neighbors. Deepen your own faith. Take time for solitude and quiet if that is what you need.

We are going to kick off December with a nod to family traditions. Feel free to share or break them.

December 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes family traditions. It can be related to any holiday or situation. How does the tradition impact the story or change the character? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 8, 2020. 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.

New Traditions by Charli Mills

That night, the sheepherder made room for two wayward cowboys. The snowstorm blinded their passage back to the Two Bar Ranch and their horses found refuge in the small enclave of Basque who herded sheep in the Sierras every summer. All herds hunkered down in the valley to survive winter. Jess and Roy knew they’d miss beans and card games for Christmas, but the smell of mutton stew raised hopes not all was lost. After tasting saffron bread for the first time, and learning new carols to a tabor pipe, the cowboys adapted their cattle family traditions to sheepherders.

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November 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

Wolferick III has claimed a crack between the wall and wooden frame that encloses a porcelain Yooper Pooper in the basement. Yes, I have a random toilet downstairs and a wolf spider on guard duty about five squares of toilet paper away from the seat.

It’s hard to know where to go next with this story. Do I tell you about the spider or the toilet? Today is World Toilet Day so porcelain wins top billing in this tale. At one time, my toilet stood alone in the open expanse of space where homeowners stored their coal for winter heat. A large antique sink, something I’d call a laundry tray, is mounted next to the toilet.

In 1859, the Quincy Mining Company founded the city of Hancock whose modern population is 4,549 people, give or take several hundred Finlandia College students. Quincy Mine with its massive hoist house sits on the hill above my house on Roberts Street. This was a working-class neighborhood where miners worked the shaft called Old Reliable for 83 years.

In the blip of existence, 83 years is a grandma still driving on her own. But in US mining time, 83 years was stability for two or three generations before it joined the boom and bust cycles prevalent out west where I grew up. Someone constructed my home when work felt stable enough to commit rock foundations and pipes to a family dwelling, around 1905.

My neighbor has a ghost of a toilet past in her basement. She reminded me that in addition to toilet and sink, builders included a drain. It’s handy because I can hose the toilet the way I used to clean bathrooms as a teen when I worked for a state park campground with six public restrooms.

While it makes sense that the lone basement toilet provided a place for a dirty miner to clean up before entering the upstairs living areas, the drain feature hints at another use. My friend and historian, Robin Hammer Mueller, shared an article with me that explains old-time plumbing. The toilet downstairs acted as an overflow in case of a backup.

Or, as other friend said, it was Grandpa’s toilet, Dad’s toilet, something to claim with pride in the dark recesses of the house.

If you read Robin’s shared article, let me explain the difference between a Pittsburg potty and a Yooper pooper — location. Da Yooper is someone from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and you can glean many insights from these authentic locals, including a brief look at an outdoor toilet also known as a Yooper pooper:

My local friends have also informed me that a baby from the UP is also a Yooper pooper, so it’s an informative phrase.

As for the lone toilet, Minnesota has dem too, ya, sure, you betcha (I still remember how to speak Minnesotan).

Maybe we laugh because poop is an uncomfortable topic despite the fact that everyone does it. Listen to Morgan Friedman. He reads Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi (I once heard an Elvis impersonator read this book at a Montana vaudeville show and it is burned into my brain as hilarious). Morgan is more dignified.

But for many, toileting is no laughing matter. Another friend informed me that over 850k people a year die because of a lack of proper toilets. In previous years of following World Toilet Day, I found out that girls and women are susceptible to rape when trying to find a place to go. Imagine the stress and worry.

When I didn’t have a toilet to call my own, I developed a hyper-vigilant bladder and once faced a charging moose to get to a vault toilet because I had to poop. Yet, I also wonder, how did everyone poop thousands of years ago? I’d love to know how Indigenous ancestors lived as one with the land, not contaminating their environment.

Would humanity solve toileting issues if we mentioned it more in literature? How often does a novelist mention toilets in a book? Do you? Well, now is your chance to practice writing about toilets. We will get back to Wolferick III another time.

TWO WEEK DEADLINE: due to the holiday in the US, Carrot Ranch is taking an extended week break. Stories are due December 1.

November 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 1, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

The Prized Possession by Charli

Opal prized something more than her grandmother’s Corning teapot. Leonard had hollowed a dead tree in spring after thaw. He and three pals from the mine heaved their backs and pickaxes to carve a year-round drainage system for their new home below Quincy Mine. It made the attic space above her uncle’s bar more tolerable to know she’d soon have a home for her children. The hardwood floors and oak staircase were fine craftsmanship, but the porcelain seat downstairs captivated Opal’s awe. Who’d have thought such privacy existed? For the love of God, she’d have her own inside toilet.

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Avocado Toast

From farm staple to foodie extravagance, avocado toast is both simple and gourmet.

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Avocado, The Conundrum by Geoff Le Pard

‘What is that?’
‘Breakfast.’
‘You’re going to eat it?’
‘It’s a superfood.’
‘Is that like saying something is super good when normal people say very…?’
‘And when you say ‘normal’ people you mean people like you?’
‘Your point?’
‘You hate change.’
‘I do not. I use hand cream. I’ve even trimmed my ear hairs. My old dad would never have done either.’
‘He like avocado.’
‘No he didn’t. Is that what that is?’
‘On organic sourdough toast with tahini shrooms and…’
‘My dad never ate avocado.’
‘Yes he did. With his fish supper…’
‘Morgan, they were mushy peas…’
‘Ah!’

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Avocado on Toast by Anita Dawes

Who decided we could eat such a thing?
I cannot think of anything worse to put in my mouth
Now that is a lie. I could probably write a long list
Of things that should never go near anyone’s mouth
Avocado, in my mind, must have been planted by aliens
As some kind of April Fool’s joke
Like lambs to the slaughter, humans went for it
Chefs charge a fortune, look at me I have five stars
This is what you get, soap on toast
A nightmare on a rope
My tip, don’t eat the stuff…

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The Grinch by Ruchira Khanna

“What is that green thingie on my toast?” I inquired with flared nostrils.

“Oh! Sweetie, that’s avocado. It’s supposed to be very healthy for you.” Mom said in a gentle voice as she got busy with the cleanup.

“I just want my PB&J sandwich.” I moaned.

“Besides, I will end up becoming a grinch if I eat these toasts.”

“Who said?” Mom inquired with hands on her hips and a crossed brow.

“Marsha said her brother has turned green ever since he ate avocados.”

Then with a brief pause, “I don’t want to hate Christmas by becoming a grinch.”

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Lystra Rejects Breakfast by Jeff Gard

“Mom, it tastes funny.” Lystra’s face collapses around her puckered nose.

I take a bite of her avocado toast. The bread crunches correctly, but the spread tastes metallic like fruit from a can.

“It’s fine,” I lie.

The tip of her tongue touches the green paste. She immediately licks her sleeve and frowns.

“I want to go home.”

Out the window, Earth shrinks to a green and blue marble, glowing in an oil spill sky. I invite Lystra into my lap and stroke her hair. She melts into my chest like a warm handprint on frosted glass.

“Me, too.”

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Second Breakfast by Chel Owens

Janie did not like green food. When her mother placed Janie’s toast in front of her, then, she stared at the green slices in consternation.

“What’s this?”

“Breakfast, Honey.” Mother smiled and ate a bite of her own.

“It’s green.”

“Mmm. Yes.”

“It’s green mush.”

“Mmm. Yes.”

Mom wasn’t going to helpful. Janie pushed her fork against the offensive topping. It smooshed and slimed against the tines, leaving green behind it on the bread. “Ew!” she cried. “I’m having normal toast!”

“Suit yourself,” Mom said. While Janie was at the toaster, Mom reached across and ate her daughter’s serving.

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Yes, He’ll Do…by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They lay before him, twin treats on crunchy multigrain. Both promised exotic pleasure, both things he’d never imagined trying on his own. She’d wanted to woo him with her cooking skills. Otherwise intelligent, funny as hell, and gorgeous in nothing but his dress shirt, she was worth the risk.

“This one is avocado toast, with homemade pineapple salsa, a dash of cayenne, and a splash of lime for brightness?”

She nodded.

“And that brown one is gjetost, with a swipe of unsalted butter?”

He tried one, then the other, and was pleasantly surprised.

Wow.

He must really love her.

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Breakfasting Alone by Sue Spitulnik

As soon as Michael told Tessa he had to go to Walter Reed she made a grocery list. There were some things he refused to eat so she had them as guilty pleasures when he was away. She had never mastered picking the perfect purplish-green orbs, so would buy three. They were a pain to peel without getting the slimy meat on her hands, and the pit often flew across the room when she removed it, but the avocado mashed on a hot buttery piece of toast was worth the trouble. How soon did he say he was leaving?

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Avocado Lover by Jessica E. Larsen

“Who wants avocado?” I asked one day.

My husband smiled. I already expected it when he joked, “Ah that tasteless fruit?”

I used to have friendly banter with him about it. Avocado is one of my favorite fruits. I won’t let anyone make fun of it. However, today I only made a face. I spread the beautiful green fruit on top of a toasted bread and serve it with sun-dried tomatoes. “One avocado toast.” His smile widens as he whispered to me, “You’re the best.”

My four-year-old peered at me. “Where’s mine?”

We exchanged smiles. Yep. Another avocado lover.

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One Writer’s Journeys by Saifun Hassam

Madeleine stopped for brunch at a road-side cafe, “The Scrambled Spread.” Her eyes lit up when she saw avocado toast on the menu.

She remembered her early days as a writer, enjoying Sunday brunch at a neighborhood cafe. “Sunny Side Cafe.” Scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, avocado toast, dark roast coffee. Scribbling thoughts into a notepad.

She savored her chicken-avocado sandwich, with avocado toast to go.

The scenic coastal highway curved northwards. She was on her way to Fort Ross, researching California’s 19th-century Russian settlements. She was writing historical fiction of the Spanish, Mexican and Russian history along the Pacific.

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No Guac!? Donna Matthews

Tina and Barbara stood in the burrito line, looking over the menu, when Tina sighed.

“What??” asked Barbara.

“I can’t wait until I can order guac, and when they say ‘That’ll be extra.’ I won’t care.”

“Why do you care now?” countered Barbara.

Tina stammered…”Well, it’s extra, and I can’t really afford extra things right now.”

“How do you not afford guac? Avocado is a staple! Avocado toast, guacamole, avocado BLTs!”

“It’s all about priorities,” continued Barbara. “You’ve gotta pick and chose what’s important, necessary, AND delicious!”

Tina brightened and faced the burrito server, “I’ll take guac on that!”

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Dress It Up by Ann Edall-Robson

A loud snort was heard as the last of the cowboys came into the kitchen. Plates of food sat untouched on the table, ranch hands staring at their breakfast. Rummaging around in the cook’s fridge was forbidden but he’d take one for the team if he had to.

“Got any onions, garlic, hot sauce?”

“Stay out of my fridge!”

“No offence, ma’am, but if you expect us to eat this sh..stuff, maybe dress it up. How ‘bout with tortilla, beans, bacon, and eggs. Never heard of just avocado on toast.”

Sobs choked her words.

“That’s all there is.”

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Nando and the Avocado by R. V. Mitchell

Ferdinando was put simply a party animal. He was renowned for his decadence. For Nando late nights followed by champagne breakfasts, and sirloin lunches were the norm. But when his lifestyle started to catch up with him in his late forties, he decided to bite the bullet and see the doctor.

The medical advice was clear, he would have to get more sleep and eat a more nutritious and balanced diet.

Well after consulting his dietary plan he decided that “avocado toast” sounded a good breakfast option. How bad could a slice of avocado be in a martini anyway?

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Smashed Avocados by Doug Jacquier

Why are you still renting, son?’
‘Because I can’t save enough to buy.’
‘But you’ve just been overseas.’
‘It’s called a rite of passage, Dad.’
‘Is that a new phone you’ve got?’
‘Yes. This one’s 5G and has an amazing camera.’
‘How’s the car running?’
‘Don’t start that again. All cars will be electric soon.’
‘So do you ever plan to buy a house?’
‘Of course … well, maybe …maybe never. Depends on whether Zoe and I get serious.’
‘Holidays, latest phone, latest car, different girl every month and every morning for breakfast, smashed avocado. That plan is toast.’

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Avocado Toast by FloridaBorne

“What is that?” Mother asked.

“Avocado toast.”

“It looks like guacamole on overcooked bread,” Mother said.

“You’re free to find something else in my fridge to eat,” I replied.

“Where’s the mayo…and meat?” she asked, searching through my fridge.
“I’m vegan.”

She took her flip phone out of her purse, found a well-used phone number and asked, “Eddie’s Pizza? Yeah. I’d like to order the Medium all meat pizza with extra cheese.”

Twenty minutes later, she flipped open the box and asked, “Wanna slice?”

I couldn’t help myself. I swear my fingers and mouth have minds of their own!

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Avocado Toast by Bill Engleson

I don’t mean to boast,
Don’t mean to crow,
But I love my toast
Smothered wide and deep
with avocado.

Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
Breakfast love or my evening sup,
A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
A slice of toasted bread
smeared with avocado.

I‘m a pretty good host
Like to put on a show,
Cook up a veggie roast
And a very slow baked
sweet potato.

Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
Breakfast love or my evening sup,
A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
A slice of toasted bread
smeared with avocado.

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Avocado Toast by Frank Hubeny

For years Bill enjoyed beer, pizza and ice-cream. When diagnosed with an autoimmune disease he changed his diet.

Someone told him to stop drinking beer. He stopped. Someone suggested avocado toast. What’s that? He was told it’s obvious what that is. So he tried it. Someone said to stop eating pizza. Is that because of the wheat? Yes. There goes the toast.

Bill’s weight sank to normal and he felt better. He noticed he was spending less on food than before. Thankfully no one told him to stop eating avocados, but then he no longer asked them for advice.

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Tea and Sympathy by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What’s the plan for today?” he asked.

Georgia watched out the window as squirrels chased each other through new-fallen snow, then up and around the trunk of the red oak they’d planted at Jessi’s birth. Snow chunks dropped like overcooked spuds.

“Temps must be rising. Might be good for a hike later.”

She pulled on her coffee, felt the burn, the reactive tears. Good.

He pushed the untouched plate of avocado toast her way. “It’s not your fault. We’ll video chat with Jessi later.”

“I was asymptomatic and didn’t wear a mask. And now our daughter’s in the hospital.”

🥕🥕🥕

Absolutely Nothing by Jeff Gard

Avocados dangle like testicles from a tree in our backyard. Some fruit has fallen where squirrels and rodents can tear into its black, warty flesh.

“Are you sure?” I ask.

Doris scrapes burnt toast over the sink. Charcoal dust coats the stainless steel.

“All the tests say the same thing.”

“There’s nothing we can do?”

Doris starts spreading thick green paste onto the toast, then stops. She slumps into a chair at the table opposite me, leaving our breakfast just out of reach. She stares at the swollen trees while gutted avocado shells rot on our counter.

“Absolutely nothing.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sophie Can Dream by Eliza Mimski

The avocado is the vagina of foods. A slick-rich treat of green heaven. A green world waiting for the tongue. It also waits for the toast.

The toast. That square gluten bed of arousal. Day mattress where the knife spreads the green.

Sophie had been single for so long that yes, she now ascribed sexual meaning to her food. Her olive salad as a bed of eyes waiting for her to undress. Her carrots were tall orange strangers that made her faint.

Tonight, yes tonight, she would have rib-eye steak. Near the bone, the fat sopped up the juices.

🥕🥕🥕

Haunted by Her Carbon Footprint by Anne Goodwin

Selena thought they resembled hand grenades, but beneath the toady carapace the flesh was melt-in-the-mouth divine. Yes, the price had doubled recently, but avocado on toast would set her up for a successful day.

Three packets in her trolley, she moved on to the bakery counter. Turning her head, a trail of sooty footprints marked her path from the greengrocery section. Yet the soles of her shoes were pristine.

With a sigh, she retraced her steps. She knew the drill. She could scrub the floor she’d sullied. Or return the airfreighted produce that depleted the rainforests to the shelf.

🥕🥕🥕

A Separation Tale by Charli Mills

Maria padded across the road to gather dropped avocados where the foreman lived in a huge ivory house. It didn’t smell of beans and tortillas like her tiny home. It felt cold; its size scared her. When vehicles slid to a stop in front of the bunks, Maria hid behind a hedge of pink roses. Her throat pinched shut at the sight of her Abuela in silver bracelets that imprisoned her hands. The men in black uniforms loaded all the neighbors in two vans and left. When her Papa did not return at noon, she ate avocado toast alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Avocado Toast by Joanne Fisher

“Hey honey, have you seen the avocados I bought?” I asked Jen who was looking at her phone.

“Sorry I had avocado toast for lunch.”

“But I was planning to make a guacamole dip for tonight.” I told her. She just shrugged her shoulders and resumed scrolling through her phone. I stared at her evilly.

Later the guests arrived and marveled at all the food I prepared.

“Oh wow you made some salsa!” One guest said. “It tastes a bit weird though.”

“Yeah sorry about that, it was made with whatever I found in the kitchen at the time.”

🥕🥕🥕

(24) Damned Family (Jesse Begins Seriously Reading Norman’s Journal) by JulesPaige

Jesse believed she now had the job of finding out more about Norman and this mysterious journal that he kept. She believed she saw his dead body in her hotel room when she had gone to her family reunion. Her own job was flexible, working for herself, which she did even though her own family inheritance had left her more than comfortable. But she had never really had a handle on what Norman did. Something for the government.

Jesse sat down and flipped the journal pages. She discovered Norman wrote poetry. An outlet for both his frustrations and creativity.

🥕🥕🥕

(25) Damned Family by JulesPaige

To be heard
How absurd
Spreading avocado on toast
Just to boast
That I exist
I know you’ve woke –
I don’t have to poke
you awake
I’ll stake
My reputation
If I ever had one
Just to have some fun
To breathe, to live
To love, to give
Let you gift me a new toaster
When the this one I’ve used
Possibly abused
Happens to break down
So please don’t frown
In the morning’s light

It had been Norman’s job in his brief marriage to make breakfast. He had to keep up appearances of having a normal job.

🥕🥕🥕

Toast by D. Avery

In the beginning we both adored avocado toast for breakfast. Together we peeled and pitted. We ate avocado toast out of each other’s hands.
In the end of the beginning I suggested other breakfast foods, reminisced about eggs. Oatmeal even, with raisins. Surely an avocado aficionado would also appreciate raisins and oats. But you insisted on only, always, avocado on toast.
In the beginning of the end I slumped at the counter slurping oatmeal while you crunched overdone toast smeared with over-ripe avocado.
In the end I let you rush to that meeting with avocado stuck in your mustache.

🥕🥕🥕

Avocado on Toast by Hugh W. Roberts

What signal will you give when you’re ready to go?

I always met Carl at this restaurant. But this foggy Thursday evening was much different.

The waiter looked at me peculiarly when I ordered two portions of avocado on toast.

A sudden burst of cold air crossed the table as he placed two plates of green coloured toast in front of me.

I couldn’t thank him. I couldn’t move, yet my ears picked up the sound of Carl’s voice cutting through the foggy night.

“Good. You’re ready. I’ve been waiting for your signal. I told you I’d come to get you when you ordered avocado on toast for us.

🥕🥕🥕

George is My Friend by Gloria McBreen

I often passed him by; the man sitting at the lake in a black shabby coat, and tattered old cap. Today I stopped.

‘I’m George. I’m 79 today,’ he smiled. He told me about himself. He offered to share his special birthday picnic with me. I declined, as I watched his dirty hands lifting the lid of his lunchbox.

‘Actually…yes please,’ I blurted.

He cut his avocado in half. He handed me my share, and a tiny wooden spoon.

‘A birthday toast to you George.’

When we bumped our avocado halves together, I knew I’d made a new friend.

🥕🥕🥕

Lydia Avocado Parker by Simon

I met her several times in that restaurant, I was never brave to talk with her.

One day she served me. I had ordered Asian pear crostini. But she gave me Avocado toast on my plate.

I hated that food, I asked her to replace, her face was nervous she looked at her manager, I lied her, pretended I liked it and tasted a delicious food in my life.

I proposed to her, as a sign of acceptance she gave two Avocado toast, and that’s how it all began with “Lydia Avocado” she giggled and said it’s Lydia Parker.

🥕🥕🥕

Avocado Toast by kathy70

My year started out very different for me, I became a “professional” house sitter in a very urban setting and completely embracing city life.  Changes in my attitude and outlook impacted everything. Yes, I grew up in the city at a very different time.  Now, this was a choice.

Breakfast would be a walk to the coffee house for some avocado toast and coffee. Afternoons spent in a small museum or specialty shop, a true feeling of discovering myself and making conscious choices. Always thought retirement would mean a slow down not a speed up. Guess I was wrong.

🥕🥕🥕

Avocado on Rye by Kerry E.B. Black

Georganne drummed her fingernails, lips stretched thin. She swallowed back her temper and whispered, “You idiot.”

Tony ruffled a hand through neglected locks and smiled. “Come on, G. It’ll be great.”

She shook her head. “It takes hours to cook a Thanksgiving feast, and I work until 3.”

“Can’t you take off?” He dodged the death daggers her expression launched. “With quarantine, they have nowhere to go.” When her expression didn’t soften, he worried his lower lip. “Wait! I’ll cook.”

She snorted. “You can’t even make toast without burning it!”

He nodded. “Yeah, but I cut a mean avocado.”

🥕🥕🥕

Ahead a Ther Time by D. Avery

“Figgered ya’d be whinin’ ‘bout this prompt, Kid.”
“Ha! We’re all set. Avocado toast’s been on the Saddle Up Saloon menu since the get go.”
“It has?”
“Jeez, Pal. Pay attenchen. Thinkin’ we’ll add pasties to the menu too.”
“Oh, now thet’s a good idea. Kin we do thet afore November 16 when T. Marie Bertineau takes the stage?”
“Sure kin, Pal. An’ folks kin be thinkin’ now on recipes an’ reminisces fer November 23’s Recipe Rustlin’ at the Saloon. Heck, contact us at shiftnshake@dslayton.com , mebbe ya kin take the stage, tellin’ ‘bout favorite fam’ly an’ their foods.”

🥕🥕🥕

November 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

I once interviewed an 89-year-old woman who had skin that glowed translucently. Her vibrancy of body and mind rested in her easy smile and witty responses to my questions. When I was writing foodie articles, I asked her, as I asked everyone I interviewed, to share a personal health food tip. You might be surprised to learn that I never got the same answer twice. Or, maybe, you read the weekly 99-word collections and have come to realize that perspectives are unique to each person and their life experiences.

Her answer? Avocado toast.

The interview didn’t end because I wanted the story of why. What she told me was a life-long grapple with pain and joy. Born in 1916, she grew up in southern California, where her family had avocado trees in their yard. To her, it was magical food, and every morning for breakfast, her mother smeared avocado on toasted homemade bread. When she was six, they moved back to the midwest to be near family, leaving behind avocados.

They left California with its breakfast trees after she accidentally dropped an oil lantern on the stairs. Terrified, her mother grabbed her, both suffering burns. She showed me the scars on her hands. They escaped, but the fire took their home and her younger sister. At 89, the grief still showed on her face when she said, “It was my doing.”

She didn’t blame herself, nor did her family. It was an accident. But she took accountability in an interesting way. She lived every day as though it could be her last. And once an adult who could afford to buy avocados, she bought them weekly and ate avocado toast every morning to remind her of the good life she had as a child before the fire.

Stories are powerful, and we carry many with us. Some we discard. Others we re-frame. A few we hold onto as precious and necessary.

As writers, we recognize stories all around us. It was hearing stories like this woman’s that compelled me to want to write fiction, not to make up things but to express the truths I found in stories I caught. Health might stem from a diet of good fats like avocados, but owning our stories makes us whole even when some stories broke us. We juggle to write and revise those stories until the truth gleams like gems within the lines.

It’s not about getting the best words; it’s about getting the story right.

If you want to know yourself as an artist, keep updating your bio. That’s your story as a writer. If you plan to write outside a locked diary, then likely others will read your work. People will be naturally curious about who you are, and we should continue to have that same curiosity for ourselves and others. We are not static. Even our past stories evolve with our understanding of them.

Do you have a set of author bios? Yes, I said a “set.” You need a brief bio for your byline; a short bio for anthologies or social media; a longer bio for speaking engagements or public readings. Seems how this is Carrot Ranch, I’d say 9-59-99 words. However, my MFA program recommends that writers have three 20-50-100 word bios. Here are mine:

100-word Bio

Charli Mills comes from a vaquero culture, winning rodeo trophies before first-grade. She now wrangles words from Michigan’s U.P., where she lives with her husband, a former Army Ranger, and fellow westerner. Charli reclaims forgotten voices, writing about veteran spouses and historical frontier women. In 2014, she founded Carrot Ranch, an online community for international literary artists. As lead buckaroo, she hosts a weekly 99-word challenge and publishes stories from around the world. She’s developing an education program to teach creative writing with her MFA. Charli’s mission is to make literary art accessible among women, veterans, and underserved groups.

50-word Bio

Charli Mills grew up out west, where she once won a rodeo trophy for goat-tying. Now she wrangles words, writing about veteran spouses and the frontier women forgotten to history. She makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She’s finishing her MFA thesis novel in 2021, planning to teach creative writing.

20-word Bio

Charli Mills, lead buckaroo at carrotranch.com, wrangles words, reclaiming forgotten voices from the fringes and frontiers. She’s an MFA student.

Plan to update your bios annually, and every time you are asked to submit a bio. Annually because you grow as a writer and your focus can shift. I love what Anne Goodwin maintains in her bio that “she writes fiction for the freedom to contradict herself.” I recommend her article about brands and bios for ideas on the subject. As you write, who you are will change — you will discover more and release outmoded views. It’s the nature of writing.

When you are asked to submit a bio, stick to the requested word count (it will likely be one of the three formats). Also, consider your audience. If I submit a bio to a school publication, I emphasize my MFA student status. If I submit one to a regional publication, I tweak it to show I’m a local author. If the writing attracts a specific audience, I use my bio to compel them to read. Your bios are part of your author toolkit.

You will also want to write a story that answers the question, why do you write? It can be an avocado toast moment. What are your joys and sorrows tied to a writing life? Who influenced you? Do you have an origin story or cultural influences connected to who you are today as a writer? You might actually write ten different stories! Pare it down to one, blending details or going with the strongest account. Share only the details you are willing to publicize. This is the story of you, and you are evolving.

For my final (this is finals week; only two more terms left after this one!) I developed an author platform. I focus on my community platform here and treat my author brand more like an archive and work for hire that I no longer do. Talk about evolution. I will be cleaning up Carrot Ranch to emphasize community outreach and use Cahrali-Mills.com for my author platform. I’ll be making changes as my May graduation date approaches, and I start teaching. Compare how my story differs (it has definitely evolved) here and at the site under construction.

You can have both your bio and your story on your website if you have one. Include the basics — who you are, what you write, why you blog, and how you connect with readers and the writing community. Your platform is to demonstrate your brand, credibility, community, and engagement of your target audience. I have been to too many blog sites where the About Me remains a mystery. If you write under a pen name, say so and clearly state the pen name. It’s your right to be private, but you do have to present an identity of some kind. I can’t call everyone, “Hey, you!” If you dream of being a published author (or if you are a published author), you impair your reach by not having basics such as bios.

So, added homework this week — update or write your set of bios and your story about why you write. Feel free to link in the comments, too. Ask for feedback if you want it, otherwise, I will celebrate your feat.

And to all who signed up to serve in any and all branches of the military (anywhere at any time), I want to recognize your willingness to die for others. My husband volunteered three times. That is more than enough to tell you, “Welcome home, and thank you for doing something I did not.” May all you sheepdogs feel welcomed among the sheep you protect, and may all of us spouses who share your burdens be seen. I see you and honor your service, too. (Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.)

November 12 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story includes avocado toast. How can this be a story or a prop to a story? Use your senses and imagination. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 17, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

A Separation Tale by Charli Mills

Maria padded across the road to gather dropped avocados where the foreman lived in a huge ivory house. It didn’t smell of beans and tortillas like her tiny home. It felt cold; its size scared her. When vehicles slid to a stop in front of the bunks, Maria hid behind a hedge of pink roses. Her throat pinched shut at the sight of her Abuela in silver bracelets that imprisoned her hands. The men in black uniforms loaded all the neighbors in two vans and left. When her Papa did not return at noon, she ate avocado toast alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Time

It’s easy to lose time when we walk away from our screens or misplace a watch. Other forces might be at work, too.

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

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

A Brown Rubber Watch by Ruchira Khanna

My owner was one careless soul. One day she came to Lake Superior for a picnic. She was careful to remove me before a dip but forgot to pick me up after that.

Time ticked away, and I saw many sunrises and sunsets.

One evening, I felt a wet grip and realized a canine had fancied my ticking sound. He dropped me in the water when he went to fetch the ball. The waves welcomed me. I found a new home until they swept me over.

“Hello beautiful lady, what year is it? How much time did I lose?”

🥕🥕🥕

Time Lost by D. Avery

Give my watch back to me
Lost since ‘83
Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,
Never thought I would see
its face again; Sea

scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined
not so unlike mine
Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me
Covering sands march blind
measuring marked time

Not for the watch these tears
Thirty-seven years!
It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want
In a flash, disappeared!
Suddenly I’m Here.

Another flash, lost time
No reason, some rhyme
Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen
Worn trails, tracked storied lines
—99!

🥕🥕🥕

When Did You Last Have It? by Anne Goodwin

It was there when I sat at my desk to write this story. It was gone before I typed THE END. Would I find it buried in my Twitter feed? In the dregs of my coffee? Behind the TV?

It was there when I rose from bed this morning. Gone when I crawled back tonight. Did I lose it in an endless to-do list? Distracted by the chatter in my head?

It was there in abundance in my twenties. Each decade chipped more away. Did I waste it mourning what was missing? Or was it never mine to use?

🥕🥕🥕

Out of Time by Norah Colvin

“Time’s up!”

“Not yet! I’m not finished.”

Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.

“Please, just a little more time?”

“You’ve already had more than most.”

“I can do it. Promise.”

The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”

Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”

The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”

🥕🥕🥕

Finding Mr Bunny by Joanne Fisher

Their rabbit had escaped to Faerie, and Cindy followed him. When she finally managed to grab him and take him back to the farm, Cindy found the sky was darkening though it had only been an hour. She put Mr Bunny back in his hutch and went home. Jess was waiting for her.

“Where have you been?” Jess asked. “I couldn’t find you!”

“Mr Bunny escaped and I was looking for him.” Cindy replied.

“The whole day?”

The trouble with Faerie was that going there meant you always lost time in this world, but Cindy didn’t tell her that.

🥕🥕🥕

Chronos-4000 by Saiffun Hassam

Spacecraft Hermes-25 zipped through wormholes in the Andromeda galaxy. The spacecraft’s superintelligent AI Pegasus-5 swore when unexpectedly Wormhole-EXP12, the newfangled gates, were NOT functioning! He lost light years of time.

Wormhole-EXP9 was too far back. He sped forward to Star Gate-Hydra, an obsolete gateway, but functional. Pegasus had an important birthday gift to deliver.

It was the 4000th birthday of Old Yusef on Planet Yggdrasil. His ancestors were Terran and once owned a watch manufacturing company. A time capsule containing a 1982 brown rubber watch, Chronos-4000, dropped down on the planet. Just 5000 parsecs late. Better late than never.

🥕🥕🥕

Stanton Near Forsyth Street by Donna Matthews

“Hey, your school called, and classes are canceled.”

Charlie, staring out the window, asks, “Why?”

“Dunno, but I thought we’d hit up the modern art museum.”

“Yeah, okay, I guess.”

Walking through the heavy front doors, a hush falls over their footsteps. They wander the halls until they find an empty gallery and sit in front of the Stanton near Forsyth Street.

Long minutes pass.

She chances a sideway glance and sees a single tear fall.

“What do you see?” she whispers.

“Huh?” His eyes coming back into focus, he whispers back, “Remembering dad, last time we saw him.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Time by FloridaBorne

My right arm feels like it’s moving, my hand is in front of my face, but I blink at the white ceiling.

A nurse in white, a doctor in white… their words echo with an unbearable reverberation. The room becomes black.

Awake again, I move my head. The dark room has turned white walls into grey. People rush inside, lights blink on a monitor. When the doctor speaks, his words no longer sound hollow.

“You’ve been in a coma for 10 years…”

My family dead, my arms and legs amputated from the accident, my eyes close one final time.

🥕🥕🥕

Time Lost, and Found by Chel Owens

His gnarled, brusque, tannin hands caressed the watch band. He’d found it and its watch face along Lake Superior; brushed it from forgotten memories and dormant agate stones. Now, warmed in his fingers, the band changed. He saw it new, cut, fresh, oiled; attached to his grandfather’s timepiece for his son’s eighth birthday.

A long time later for one as rough as he, the old leatherworker released a breath. Rising, he set the wind-worn watch on his curio shelf near a faded photograph and a curling crayon picture. Tears in eyes, he shuffled out to put the kettle on.

🥕🥕🥕

Overcoming Obstacles by Sue Spitulnik

Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said,

“How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”

“You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit showed me the trick.”

“How long in hospital?”

“Six months.”

“That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”

“Nobody told me that.”

“I just did.”

“Show me how. Please.”

🥕🥕🥕

Friendship of Time by Ann Edall-Robson

Whirr, bong, bong, bong. The old clock echoed through the dark house. He counted hollow sounds off in his mind. His trusted friend spoke to him hourly. And so his days and nights went. The mantle clock kept him in sync with the goings-on in the house. When the neighbour would drop by for his lessons in braille and sign language. When his family would come home from their day to lavish him with news and gossip of the world outside his personal cave. The accident had cost him, but he had not lost the friendship of time.

🥕🥕🥕

Too Tak by Anita Dawes

Humans would call me a bad fairy
They don’t know much about my world
I am known as a Too Tak
I need to steal time
In order to feed the hunger inside
Without this, my kind don’t live long
Let’s face it, humans get plenty of time
To lose a little won’t hurt
Half an hour here and hour there
What harm can it do?
They think the clocks are wrong
Running slow or fast
They blame the time loss on bad memory
When my time is done
They get the borrowed time back
As a lost memory…

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Time by Frank Hubeny

Thinking back Bill wished he did things differently years ago. Not that he would have had any basis to change given what he knew then, but he wished he knew then what he knew now.

His son Clifford was screaming obscenities at him. He saw himself through his father’s eyes and cringed. He realized he deserved the scorn, but for reasons Clifford wouldn’t acknowledge.

Bill regretted all this lost time. How could he make things right now? He considered praying and cringed again. Was it a miracle, he wondered, when embarrassed he bent his knees, cringed and finally understood?

🥕🥕🥕

Regret by Gloria McBreen

Rose opened the shabby old shoebox.

‘All my favourite things,’ she said softly with her hand on her heart. ‘You kept them.’

She rummaged through the box and lifted out a brown rubber watch.

Laughing she said, ‘Matt gave me this when we were eight.’

Nancy dabbed her eyes with her hanky. ‘I’m so sorry Rose…and ashamed. I’ve missed so much.’

‘We all have Mam. I’m sorry too, for staying away.’

The doorbell rang. ‘Are you ready?’ Rose asked.

Nancy nodded. Yes, she was at last ready to welcome her son-in-law Matt, and to finally meet her twenty-eight-year-old grandson.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Time by kathy70

In this lost year, we’ve missed parades, holidays,  graduations, travel, hugs and so much more. We also have learned how to see family on our phones and have work meetings without leaving home.

We learned to ration TP and hand sanitizer as well as wearing masks. I guess it’s silly to talk about things, it’s the lives lost that is devastating. We have lost the time that would have been spent with all our friends/family.

It may be easier to count our learned stuff and not the lost. Still miss hugs the most. Where do we go from here.

🥕🥕🥕

Time Lost by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Elbows on bent knees,
Hands dangle between, wings on a gentle-breezed bird.
Butt planted, chilly on Autumnal Earth.
Grass spent, golden and crackling
Under a sky sharp as blue porcelain.
Leaves flicker down from balding trees,
The memories still, cut deep.

Nothing reaches me here on this hilltop.
High above the world, separate, waiting.
Stop time in order to save time.

So much lost, so much to be repaired
Pray what’s gone before yields wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle, knowing it won’t roll out on its own
I rise and stumble, back into the wicked world I helped create.

🥕🥕🥕

The Brown Rubber Watch by Doug Jacquier

The Great Crisis of the History of the Universe included the collapse of the Daylight Savings Bank. Claims were made (but never verified), that people were seen leaping from the clock face of Big Ben, in despair at the plummeting value of their Time shares. The only asset holding its value was the Futures market, dominated by Brown Brothers, which had a history of bouncing back like a rubber ball, no matter the catastrophe. Elections and the virus disappeared from screens as the world settled into nervously searching for signs of recovery, later known as the Brown Rubber Watch.

🥕🥕🥕

Time Bandits by Geoff Le Pard

‘Here we are.’
‘Are you sure this is a new motel. It feels the same.’
‘There’s no ashtray.’
‘Small mercies. I’m losing track of time.’
‘You’ve never cared about time.’
‘Very Einstein, Morgan. What’s that even mean?’
‘You’re never on time.’
‘I’ve never missed a plane.’
‘What about that old brown watch? It was always fast.’
‘It meant I knew I had more time than I thought I did. What about you? Your watch never even went.’
‘At least it was right twice a day.’
‘Which is more than could be said for its owner.’
‘It was dad’s.’
‘Ah…’

🥕🥕🥕

Not Her World by Charli Mills

Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.

🥕🥕🥕

The Present by D. Avery

“Welcome to the What-You Seek Boutique.”

She said she was just browsing, not really seeking anything.

“No?” The shopkeeper proffered a brown rubber banded watch.

“I had a watch like that once, but haven’t missed it. I don’t need it.”

“It’s still ticking. Look.”

She looked. The path around the watch face showed all she’d ever done, places she had been. The watch’s one hand pointed to Home, not a written word but a feeling of what Home meant to her and her alone.

“Home… but— what next?”

The shopkeeper smiled. “There’s time. Take it. A present for you.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Time and Lust by Kerry E.B. Black

The Doctor hunched over Gretchen’s cauldron and sniffed.

“So.” He jumped at her voice. “You’d like potion, would you?”

He straightened, imperious, and nodded. “If it works.”

A half-smile stole across her face. “Just like my Granny’s. We’ve bottled lost time.”

“How many years will this give me?” The sack he tossed clanked with wealth.

She ran her fingertips over the coins. “This’ll give you thirty years.” She ladled brew into a cup.

He licked papery lips with enthusiasm, nostrils flaring. “No tricks, witch.”

She handed him the cup. “Of course not, Faustus.”

He swallowed without noticing the undertaste.

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Lost Time, Never Found by Simon

He stared at his mom’s 1982 Brown rubber watch. It triggered his memories.

His phone rang, She usually calls him at that time. But he was busy that day and ignored it. But she continuously ringed him, his skin felt a sudden goose bumps. He quickly stopped his work and called back, no one answered. He reached his home to find his mom on floor unconcious. He broke in tears, he immediately called up medic team, in moments they came and declared she’s dead, he regretted the moment he couldn’t answer her phone, but, lost time never found again.

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Lost Time by M J Mallon

Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.

June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.

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Time Bus by Bill Engleson

“Been waiting long?”

“I don’t know. Hour, maybe? Two months?”

“What’s time’s it supposed to be here?”

“Schedule’s on that pole. Didn’t look.”

“How come? Not curious?”

“Just didn’t, that’s all. Look, don’t look, it’ll come when it does.”

“Makes sense. Think I’ll take a boo.”

“Be my guest.”

“Hmm!”

“Hmm what?”

“That’s odd.”

“What?”

“Took a look…”

“At the schedule?”

“Precisely.”

“So?”

“Well, it’s kinda confusing.”

“It’s a schedule. They’re all confusing. That’s why I don’t bother.”

“Not that kind of confusing.”

“What kind, then?”

“It says…Time Bus Leaving When It’s Your Time.”

“Crazy!”

“What time you got?”

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(17) Damned Family (Lost Time) by JulesPaige

Jesse paced the Presidential Suite, an escape gifted by Uncle Stan. The dishes in the kitchen sink was proof that she had made something to eat. But what it was she couldn’t recall. Or how long ago she had actually eaten – she didn’t remember.

The curtains were closed, only minimal light illuminated the path that Jesse had created from the Master suite, around the dining table and the sitting area. She unplugged all the clocks, and landline phones. As well as turning off her flip phone. Sleep meant she might dream. Jesse wanted to lose time and some memories.

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My Own Re (Treat) by Michelle Vongkaysone

I retreat into myself on occasion.
Sometimes these treks last for ages.
I know better uses for my time exist.

However, I can’t deny my urges.
My journeys give me perspective.
During them, I am completely alone.

There are no demands to obey.
My time is something to devour.
I can spend it just how I want to.

What matters is my pleasure.
I want to binge on time itself.
I wile away my days in silence.

I lose myself as time passes by.
I retreat into myself for that bliss.
It’s the best treat I can give myself.

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Time of Hands by D. Avery

“Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad vacation’s done. It’s easier knowin’ how ta spend time when ya ain’t got so much free time.”

“Thet’s true Kid. I thought it’d be a good time visitin’ my cuzzins, but ended up more like doin’ hard time.”

“Ya spend any time at the Rodeo?”

“Was gonna but time flew. You?”

“Dang goats took too much a my time. I was ferever roundin’ ‘em up.”

“Once upon a time thet’s how Shorty got started rodeoin’— ropin’ goats.”

“She’s put her time in, fer sure.”

“Yep. Her time’s comin’. Now move, Kid. Time ta work.”

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