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Lies Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Lies by Michael Fishman

Jerry’s mind was everywhere but where it was supposed to be. His quick eyes darted away from the person in front of him to look out at the crowd.

He spied an attractive brunette and wondered what she looked like from the back. Then what she’d look like lying down. He looked forward to answering those questions later.

Then he saw Robin and smiled at the warm memory.

Jerry turned his attention back to the man to his right and tried his best to focus.

“…and do you, Jerry, take Elizabeth to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.”

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Living a Lie Via Zoom by Gary A. Wilson

Bryce watched his screen as peers discussed an expense management slide.

Progress is so tedious, he thought.

Suddenly his kids ran into the room screaming joyfully with his wife scrambling to silence them. He quickly muted the microphone and roared.

Furious, he was on his feet cursing and threatening his family when his phone rang – it was his boss.

“Hello Marcel.”

“Bryce, you’re in my office in an hour. We thought we knew you but, your outburst; unacceptable and completely out of character.”

He’d turned the sound down, not his mic off.

“Your options are intervention or termination.”

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Lies Can Be Expensive by Frank James

“Have you been drinking?” The Trooper asked Molly. She shook her head: no.

“License and registration, he replied. Her hands trembled, offering them.

“Are you sure?” He repeated.

“I never drink and drive, and it would be stupid to lie to a Trooper,” she snorted.

He smiled, “Uh huh, you don’t want to lose your truck.”

He asked for a simple test. Feeling spry, her eyes followed his pen. They wobbled a bit.

“Okay,” he reluctantly said writing a warning ticket.

She grinned, pulling away. She didn’t see a beer can tumbling from the bed. He radioed a wrecker.

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Incompletely Lost or Completely at a Loss? by JulesPaige

Blanks in the data bank memories of mother…
Disillusioned tweenager, angst filled teenager
Angry adult (at established rules and thieves)

There will always be holes, those holes filled with lies
Like ‘The check is in the mail,’ or where to place blame
With either ‘Ida Know’ or ‘Not Me’

Lies completely fabricated, Lies completely created for comfort
Lies by omission -The little white lies we pretend are OK
As to not upset the person who couldn’t cope with truth

That magician’s gun that was supposed
To have blanks but the murderer switched bullets…
And now there’s a big blank.

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Tell The Truth by Sweeter Than Nothing

Deb had never been one for the truth, ever since she was little. Who wants horrible, pointy realty when a nice soft blanket of lies can cushion and comfort you?

She used that motto for good and bad.

For example;

“Of course you don’t look fat in that dress”

And

“No, I would never cheat on you, I love you.”

Debbie hid behind her lies right up to the very last moment of her life.

“Who knew she was sick? She always said she was fine.” Said all, shocked.

Now here lies Deb, finally, telling the truth at last.

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De-merger by Reena Saxena

It’s an interesting family tree.

Each carries a different name by choice, with scant regard for belonging or social identification.

Anna tells me it was reinvented after her grandfather left the field open for choice of names.

“I’m sure there’s a lot behind that story. I’ve heard about his multiple marriages and large number of foster children”. I can’t resist digging graves for a good story.

“It’s actually much more than that. Multiple marriages meant multiple failed relationships, and this was the lesson he gave us.

The greatest lie ever spoken in love is about the merging of identities.”

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Galactic Encyclopedia Entry by Duane L Herrmann

Nouvelle France had developed its trading empire deep into the interior of Amérique du Nord, reaching into the heart of the Grandes Montagnes which formed the massive spine of the continent. The initial small trading posts where the Natives and French had met to trade furs had become towns and cities in their own right. Many, many of the French traders had taken Native wives and now fifth and sixth generations of descendants were the major population. Wars among the natives had ceased long, long ago: it was bad for business. Brits had been expelled long ago for rebellion.

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The Letter by Margaret G. Hanna

“Dear Father,”
The start of the lie. Part of the conspiracy. Would he fall for it?

“Emigrating to Canada was a grievous error.”
It was not. Another part of the lie.

“I want to return home, to England.”
No! Her sister Bessie wants to come to Canada.

“Alas, I can not afford the fare.”
Father could. He had promised to send it. If he did, she’d send it back to Bessie.

“Please send the money. I will be forever in your debt. Your loving daughter, Mary.”
He bought the lie. He sent the money.

Bessie arrived four months later.

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Black Poppies by Anne Goodwin

Their mother would miss them, but the Motherland called. They stowed away on a ship taking rum and molasses to Liverpool and docked the day the country declared war. Eustace lied about his age to join up with his brother. When hostilities ended, he buried his brother in France.

He grieved, but was proud to have served the Empire. Until he learnt the flag that united the colonies was a colossal lie. When riots raged in Liverpool’s docklands, he feared for his life. He learnt that Black men could die for Britain, but they couldn’t live there in peace.

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An Economics Lesson at the Food Bank by Anne Goodwin

“I don’t get it,” says the volunteer, as she distributes bashed soup tins between supermarket plastic bags. “Run it past me again.”

The politician sighs, but her colleague interrupts him. “Remember Robin Hood?”

“Steals from the rich to give to the poor? Of course.”

“Well, this is Robin in reverse.”

The woman sets aside a tube of charcoal toothpaste. The politician flashes a smile. “We scrap the wealth tax. People spend more. The benefits trickle down.”

The woman surveys the empty shelves. “Can’t see that working.”

“Be patient,” says the politician. “We’ve only tried this method for ninety years.”

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Am I Fine? by Ruchira Khanna

“Can you please get my meds from the counter?” requested Pam as she settled with her cup of tea.

“When you have no physical aches, why are you still consuming these pills?” asked a concerned Dave.

“It’s the mental ache, and these pills keep me high,” she said with a forced smile.

Dave frowned and was about to give his opinion.

Just then, the phone rang.

“Hi, Lisa!” said Pam while keeping eye contact with her beau.

“Life is super! I’m rocking it, my friend,” said Pam with shrugged shoulders and a downward glance while fidgeting with the blanket.

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The Big Lie! by Tessa Dean

Lawrence hung down at the bar with a bunch of young men about his age. He claimed he was 21 and old enough to drink. They played darts and flirted with the women. Lawrence wore loose clothes that just hung on him. The other guys were dressed similarly.

One night, while Lawrence was drinking, Anson mentioned that he looked like he was gaining weight. Lawrence just shrugged it off. Suddenly he let out a scream and grabbed his belly. Rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that he was a she and that she was pregnant and in labor.

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A Little White Lie by Sadje

“What does it matters, it’s just a little white lie”

“That’s how it starts my dear and then one becomes two and two becomes too many. Lying becomes a habit that is hard to get rid of”

“But nan, I meant no harm. I just didn’t want to hurt Mel’s feelings by telling her I won’t come to her party, I’d already promised Cindy that I’ll hang out with her”

Then my sweet, you should tell her the truth, gently. If we start to hide behind lies, we will lose our true selves!”

“Okay nan. I promise, never again!”

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A Catastrophe by Nancy Brady

It started innocently enough. My younger sister and I were playing Monopoly. Because I was sniffing a pine-scented cat sachet at the same time, out of the blue, I said the most outrageous thing, “I bit our cat’s ear,” never expecting her to believe me.

“You didn’t, did you?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, filling in details that made the lie real.

My sister was gullible; she believed me. What prompted this preposterous fabrication, I still don’t know, but finally I told her the truth. That I had never done anything like that to our cat, nor would I.

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Lies Are Allowed for Surprises by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa called her mother and invited her parents to dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant in the next town.

“Tessa, can’t you change the meal time to 7:00 PM, you know your father doesn’t like to eat early with the blue hair crowd.”

“Mom, the restaurant was already booked for prime time hours when I called, it’s the college’s Homecoming Weekend. You can eat a big late breakfast and an early dinner.”

“I suppose.”

***

Tessa called her sister,” I lied to Mom to get her to agree to the time. I’m sure she isn’t suspecting an anniversary party.”

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They Lied by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

As a child, I began to write. I constantly had pencil and paper, diaries and journals, just like Ernest Hemingway. I learned early on, to stop showing my father my poetry and prose. He told lies. His remarks snuffed out my confidence. 



“You’ll never be a writer. Not possible!” He’d say, tossing my papers up in the air.

I’m now sixty-four years old and guess what? I’m not a Mark Twain or a Hemingway but I am, an author and a poet. Be careful telling someone what they can not be!

🥕🥕🥕

Poison by Simon

He always said
when I lied
He knew, he said.
This time, I said
He never knew When I lied
When I constantly lied
Because the doctor said
He cannot be cured

I lied to his face
Hiding the truth behind
I lied to his face
Smiling with tears behind
I lied to his face
When I killed me
I lied to his face
When I killed him

It was the kindest poison
I made with love and passion
A lie, I named it as a Lie
Kills slowly but definitely we die

Before he died
I died happily

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Laying Down About Lying About the Lie of the Land by Doug Jacquier

His drive had landed in the rough and he groaned when he saw the thicket of trees between him and the green of the par four 17th. Quickly scanning for witnesses, he picked up the ball and dribbled it out of his trouser leg on to the edge of the fairway. His second shot landed just short of the green, making for an easy chip and putt. When his partner asked for his score, he said ‘Four’ and strode to the next tee. His partner grunted and wrote ‘4’ in the box, sighing to himself ‘Whatever you say, Donald.’

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The Big Announcement by Miss Judy

The night had arrived. The audience was gathered. Time for the big reveal. Everyone knew what was coming. Tonight it would be official.

People expected fanfare, fist pumps, and high energy from the wannabe king. It was his castle; he was coming back.

He rambles in – more a wounded goose than a strutting swan. His head hangs, no fist pumps, no energy. He’s alone; he speaks.

The same tired montage of lies, unfounded theories, derogatory remarks of his enemies.  Finally, he proclaims MAGAGA*. A tired crowd cheers and walks away, mostly glad that it’s over. Time to move on.

*Make America Great and Glorious Again

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Talents by Devine Success

“Hello.”

“Good morning sir.”

“Is Muna there?”

Anita’s eyes popped. Why couldn’t Muna take permission before going to her cousin’s wedding? Now what should she say?

“Sir… she’s not feeling well, she went to get drugs from the pharmacy.”

“Oh… it’s alright.”

Barely 5 minutes after the call their boss arrived. Anita’s heart thumped. “Muna isn’t back from the pharmacist yet?”

“No sir she didn’t come at all, she went to her cousin’s wedding,” answered innocent loquacious Priscilla, another colleague, before Anita could reply.

“Really? Anita?”

Another lie brewed instantly. ”Sir she changed her mind, she’s not feeling well.”

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Lies, Damned Lies and Surprises by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Reptilarium (owner: Jack Natter, something of a toad) comprising: Lounge, a swarthy narcoleptic lizard; Sid, a hissing salamander; and Griselda, a Peruvian gecko with attachment issues was struggling. Sid’s susurrating serenades slumped and when the preternaturally adhesive Griselda stuck herself to some passing Jedi missionaries, things looked bleak. Trying to prove Lounge was a natural levitator by feeding him an exclusive diet of mosquitos was a desperate bid to stave off bankruptcy. His film of Lounge, describing a high-pitched, helium-induced parabola fooled no-one and his humiliation complete when the paper ran with: Fake Newts Shame Little Tittweaking.

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The Betrayal by Joanne Fisher

The Grond had invaded to subjugate our lands and people. We knew we couldn’t defeat them alone, but if we allied with the Olomik people, then together we would be strong enough to send the Grond back across the wide sea.

I traveled through the narrow ravine to meet the Olomik leader. We toasted our alliance with fermented yaks milk and agreed to meet on the field of battle. But when that day came, we faced the Grond alone. Though we Talchek would be defeated this day, we would carry the Olomik and their lie in our hearts forever.

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Family Tree-Sons by Bill Engleson

“Tis so true.”
“T’aint.”
“Tis.”
“No, tain’t”
“We’re goin’ ‘round in circles.”
“If we are, you’re the dizzy one.”
“All I said…”
“I know what you said…”
“All I said was I look like Ma. You, mebbe not so much…”
“She ain’t here to ask, is she? And mebbe I don’t care ‘cause I take after Pa.”
“That’s a crock. Neither of us takes after Pa. I mean, he was gone before I even popped.”
“True enough. And I was in diapers. Got that one picture though.”
“There’s that. Pa sure looked like that actor fella, Gary Cooper.”
“Yup.”

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White Lies (Chapter 1) by Ann Edall-Robson

“I can’t live with these lies anymore.”

The words made him look up from the book he was reading. His heart lurched seeing the anguish on her face, tears pooling in her eyes. Did he dare ask, or let her say her piece and see where the conversation went? He thought better of reaching out for her when she walked past to sit in her favourite chair. Legs curled underneath her, shoulders shaking with sobs.

“Should we talk about this?” He ventured, not knowing what else to say.

She nodded. “There has to be a way to resolve this.”

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White Lies (Chapter 2) by Ann Edall-Robson

Sniffing, she searched for the hankie she always kept in her pocket. Looking at him, she started to laugh.

“You think this is about us?”

“I’m not sure. I didn’t think we had any lies between us.”

“We don’t!” She hiccuped.

Relief settled across his face and he reached across the end table to take her hand in his. She clung to his fingers, letting the words fly out of her mouth unchecked. They sounded silly when she spoke then.

“Every product in our laundry room is a lie! I am so tired of white lies. No pun intended.”

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White Lies (Chapter 3) by Ann Edall-Robson

They were both laughing. “Nothing’s white. Everything’s dingy. I want our linen and clothes to look and smell like my Gran’s used to.”

He stood, pulling her up into his arms.

“I think we can do that,” he said quietly.

“How? I’ve tried all of the products.”

Remembering the stories his own Gran and Mother swore were true, a plan started to formulate in his mind. It would take some doing, but where there is a will, there is a way. He couldn’t wait to get started on the upscale, outdoor laundry space showcasing none other than a clothesline.

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Younger Cousin by D. Avery

The first lie was mine. ‘It’ll be fun.’

We lied about her age to get in. The crowd swallowed us up and we were separated. I was worried sick about her and when I finally found her, I was sick. She said she was okay, said she’d be alright.

She started living life as if it didn’t matter. Said she was in control. Said I could mind my own business, she was a good mom. When she started using, she said she could handle it.

‘Stop,’ I begged her.

“Why?’

‘Because I love you.’

‘You’re a liar,’ she said.

🥕🥕🥕

Geneva Steele by Chel Owens

Geneva Steele was often asked about her name. After all, she shared it with the local mill (closed). The mill gained its moniker from the nearby resort (gone), which its founder named after his daughter (dead).

But Geneva couldn’t answer with any of that.

“I’m Swiss,” she said.

Or, “I’m from New York.”

Locations and events became more elaborate, until Geneva’s great-granddaughter dragged Geneva to school for show-and-tell. Looking at all those faces, the truth exploded:

“I was conceived at the steel mill, out near the railroad tracks.”

Truth might be satisfied, but Geneva isn’t allowed at school again.

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Jobs by Hugh W. Roberts

“How was work today?” asked my wife.

“Good,” I replied as I stuffed notes into a pair of old boxer pants at the bottom of my sock drawer. She’ll never look there.

“Are the people nice?”

“Yes.”

“Will I meet them someday? Perhaps we’ll bump into them when out?”

“Maybe.”

But they’ll never know who she is. And she can never know who they are.

I told her my new job paid well and would take me worldwide. It does both.

I may have lied about what I do, but becoming a male escort is my best job ever.

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A Skeleton in the Cupboard by Norah Colvin

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.
“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.
“Mum lied,” said Lucy.
“About what?”
“The skeleton.”
“What skeleton?”
“The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”
“You won’t find it.”
“Why not?”
“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”
“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”
“Not those sorts of skeletons.”
“Then what?”
“Secrets.”
“Secrets?”
“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”
“So, Mum did lie.”
Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

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Deep in The Wood by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Natalie was born in Enoch Bunch’s trailer bed, a-way pas’ midnight, under a rare third moon in chill October. Or maybe she was left there.

He was early-widowed, growing older, she a promise finally kept. No sign of a mother, so he raised her hisself, taught her all he knew of the woods and river. The rest she figgered out for herself.

Under Natalie’s wisewoman care, he lived longer’n anyone woulda guessed. She buried him next to his wife, then took the truck, built a home deep, and deeper in the woods.

Some swear that house sprouted chicken legs.

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Chickens or Eggs by Miss Judy

My parents are fairly intelligent people. They grew up on farms. Raised cows, pigs, chickens. They would solve a dilemma plaguing my young mind.

I asked Mom, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Well son, of course it was the chicken. Without the chicken there would be no egg.”

This makes sense, but I must ask Dad. “Dad, which came first the chicken or the egg?”

“Son, it was the egg. Without the egg there would be no chicken.

”DRAT! Why are they messing with my mind? One of them must be fibbing. I am so confused.

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Lyin Like a Rug by D. Avery

“Kid! Git up outta thet bunk. Ya ain’t made a move on the latest challenge.”

“Au contraire, Pal. This is ma move. I’m havin a lie in.”

“Ain’t thet kinda lyin. Shorty’s talkin bout fibs.”

“Cain’t tell a lie. Won’t. Carrot Ranch ain’t the place fer it.”

“How kin a virtual gatherin place fer fiction not be a place fer tales bout a lie?”

“This is a place where fiction tells truths. Where fictional characters are as real as kin be imagined. Truth be told Pal, gonna set this one out by lyin here.”

“Wolf! Curly’s gittin drug off!”

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Tip Top Truths by D. Avery

“Tip. Hey.”

“Yer lookin glum, Kid. Pal weren’t jist cryin wolf bout Curly?”  

“Huh? Oh, Curly’s fine. Thing is I’m worried bout her anyways. Feel like Curly’s a pathological liar. First that confusion whether she were a dog or a hog. Then she had that time amongst the beavers. An now this. See, she was the wolf.”

“A pig in wolf’s clothing?”

“Yep.”

“Kid, we Lemmon brothers sometimes are in drag.”

“So?”

“So that ain’t lyin bout ourselves or to ourselves.”

“Reckon.”

“Curly’s true ta herself.”

“S’pose.”

“Kid? Kinda lied ta ya bout one thing.”

“Yeah Tip?”

“I’m Top.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Squeaky Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Squeaky Wheels by Sadje

The squeaky wheel alerted the neighborhood that Frank was there with his wares.

He would load anything he thought he could sell on his pull-cart and do a round of the area twice a day. He had rescued stuff from the dumpsters, things that were found discarded along the road, old toys, and sometimes a chair too.

He would just stand on the walkway, hoping to sell some things, and make enough money to buy food for himself. I’d usually go outside to check his wares.

Today, I found a stuffed Teddy and he got money for his dinner.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Squeals of Joy for Falling Stars and Fairies by JulesPaige

Her head came up to their hips
They were leaving somewhere – it was evening
The adults babbled, words were way above her head

They missed the comet
But she remembered that falling stars
Needed wishes to keep them alive

OK maybe that was clapping for Tinker Bell
During that stage play with Mary Martin…
As Peter Pan…

There is a very dark, perhaps ancient side
To the boy who left the nursery
And headed into the garden…

But she didn’t know that until much later
And now she doesn’t remember the ‘wish’
But she remembers the squeakless comet…

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Something Lost by Joanne Fisher

Amy was quickly sorting through a box of papers when she thought she heard something squeak. She pressed down, and sure enough, there was definitely something squeaky in there. She dug through the layers and pulled out the hand puppet that belonged to her daughter Stacey.

Stacey went everywhere with the hand puppet seemingly attached to her hand, squeaking all the time. Amy took it to her daughter’s room. At the doorway, she breathed deeply before opening the door. Her daughter’s room was pristine, with everything neatly arranged on shelves and surfaces. Amy hadn’t been in here since the funeral.

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Long Silences by D. Avery

The red convertible sat quiet in the driveway, the top still up.

On the return trip home, he’d told stories from their shared past; sometimes ones she’d forgotten, some appended with an insight she hadn’t considered before. Talking wore him out so his narratives would be followed by long silences, though silence had its own percussions; his raspy inhalations punctuated by the squeaky pulse of the portable oxygen tank.

She hadn’t told any stories, didn’t talk over his whistling breathing, even though the sound grated on her.

Now she was surprised at how haunted she felt by its absence.

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The Rule of New Food by Gary A. Wilson

“Eww – mom, what is -?”

“Austin; you’re nine now. Remember the rule about meals while visiting Aunt Clara?”

Sigh – “No complaints before an honest taste.”

“It’s all familiar stuff served differently. What do you see?”

“Um, mash potatoes, egg, onions, something leafy. “

“That’s cabbage.”

“I see carrot chunks and um, bacon pieces, some kind of oil.”

“Butter; it was fried in butter. Does any of that sound bad?”

“Do I like cabbage?”

“Since you were five, yes.”

“Aunt Clara, what’s it called?”

“Bubble and Squeak dear boy.”

“Eww. Food shouldn’t squeak.”

“Just taste it will you please.”

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The Squeaky Husband by Hugh W. Roberts

“Can you hear that squeaking sound?” Gemma asked her husband.

Peeking over his newspaper at his wife, Malcolm shook his head.

“You must be able to hear it! It’s coming from your direction.”

“I don’t hear anything, darling,” came the reply.

It wasn’t until Malcolm’s death that the squeaking stopped. But as his body began its journey into the ground, Gemma was convinced the squeaking was back.

“Where’s that squeaking noise coming from?” she asked the other mourners.

But nobody could help Gemma because only she could hear the squeaking because only Gemma knew where she was burying Malcolm.

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Alarm System by Ann Edall-Robson

Leaving the barn, she stopped in its shadow, listening to the sounds of the coming night, but tonight there was more. Moving toward the house, her steps muffled by the grass beside the gravel path, she hoped the loudness of her beating heart wouldn’t give her away. Across the yard, the gate she always kept closed at the front of the house, was hanging open. She had meant to oil the hinges until she realized the squeaking noise they made had become her alarm system. The moving silhouette rounding the corner of the house confirmed she was not alone.

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Busted by Greg Glazebrook

Doris lay in the dark. Something had jolted her from slumber. Its source, elusive in that waking haze. The pungent smell of booze was strong enough to induce drunkenness. There again, the squeaky hinge she’d asked Artie to oil.

A bolt of electricity radiated outwards to the tip of each tiny hair standing on end. Carter was asleep down there! She prodded Artie but the oaf might as well be dead. She bounded downstairs grabbing the kitchen broom en route.

Pushing through the door she was greeted by Carter half outside, her ass up, legs dangling from the ceiling-level window.

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The Windmill (haibun) by Colleen M. Chesebro

as autumn flows into winter,
the squeak of the old metal windmill
vibrates in the wind—

The fierce winds howl across the Montana prairie. The brown grasses undulate like waves on a tumultuous sea. There’s a bite in the air. I shiver.

Today, I’m captivated by the wide expanse of winter-blue sky. Clouds hem the gathering storm to the north, a sure sign of the snow to come.

The wailing squeak of the old metal windmill reminds me of the wailing of the banshee back home in Ireland. I swallow my homesickness and make my way to the mines.

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The Master’s Voice by Anne Goodwin

Although I had all his novels as audiobooks, I preferred to feel his words on the page. Literally, as my fingertips danced across the dots. So when he came to talk at the library, Rover and I went along.

From my front-row seat, I heard the clink of his water glass. Heard him inhale, ready to read. But the squeaky voice so startled me, Rover growled. Flustered, I asked the person next to me if this was really Hilary Mantel. I hadn’t realised my favourite author was a woman. I assumed only a man could produce such powerful prose.

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Squeaky Little Alien Tale by Simon

Abandoned Squeaky Alien toy found by a Hippie, he closes his eyes and it communicated to him.

Lonely nights at dark

Dogs bite me and bark

Fell in basket for a smile

Lost in 2 days for a while

I tried, but lost, no tears to cry

just feelings inside a toy

Thought Larry is my bestie

Last seen Larry on west Field

Before he lost control

and hit the bank of petrol

You should take me before I tell you what he did to lose the control.

Ahhh!!! I see, You has tales to say. I got company….

🥕🥕🥕

Voting Intentions by Geoff Le Pard

This year Little Tittweaking’s election to the Parish Council was mired in scandal. Local bylaws required the decision to be through the ancient ritual of pork barrel politicking, which involved the returning officer standing on an ale cask and calling ‘Pigs For’ or ‘Porks Against’. Supporters and detractors made appropriate porcine sounds, the volumes were measured and the winner anointed with the first pint. Harmony ended when Italian fashionista, Cosmo Politan brought his pigs to add decibels to his candidature. Protestors demanded the returning officer hold a re-squeak, a campaign dubbed in the local press as ‘Stop the Squeal’.

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Housesitting by Kerry E.B. Black

Nothing terrifies like an unexpected sound on a creepy night. Alone on a couch, housesitting one autumn evening, a bowl of buttered popcorn resting upon a lap wrapped in a sherpa-soft blanket, a classic horror film flickering on a television so ancient it requires an antenna.

Ears prick. A squeak of an overhead floorboard in an otherwise abandoned house. A groan emitted by the long-disused hinge of a door leading to a decaying basement Poe would admire. The sigh of the wind sneaking into a home believed secure, one betraying its sole inhabitant by seemingly allowing admittance to specters.

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Squeak! by Nancy Brady

With temperatures getting colder, creatures of all sorts look for a warm place to live during the winter, and that includes field mice. Last winter, one appeared in our home. It must have entered the cellar through the fieldstone foundation of our old house.

One evening I heard our cat Regulus racing around the kitchen, his claws scrabbling on the kitchen floor. Wondering what he was up to, I checked on him; I heard some small squeaks, but I couldn’t figure out the cause until Regulus turned towards me. Hanging out of his mouth was the mouse’s wiggling tail.

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Emma’s Got the Beat by Sue Spitlnik

After the Veterans’ Day luncheon at the No Thanks, the Band of Brothers found their favorite places, behind their instruments. They played different genres of patriotic songs while the crowd sang along. Little Emma was dancing by herself until she noticed a register near the end of the bar. She soon figured out she could make it squeak by stepping on a specific corner. Just about the time Lexi was going to make her stop Michael grinned and pointed to the toddler then changed the words in the song. “Listen, my granddaughter is squeaking in time to the music.”

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In Remembrance by Margaret G. Hanna

The bedsprings squeaked as John tossed and turned. Tomorrow he was flying his first sortie. Tomorrow he was flying into danger.

He had always wanted to fly, that was why he had chosen the Air Force rather than the Army like his brother. He had trained for this day, and now it was here. Was he ready for the responsibility? Of bringing his Wellington back? Of bringing his crew back? Of the carnage he would leave behind?

Other bedsprings squeaked. John wasn’t the only one fretting about tomorrow. But tonight . . .

He closed his eyes and dreamt of prairie skies.

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Squeaky Squawk Talk by Bill Engleson

“Caught ya!” and she flips the switch as I pull back my cookie-grabbing mitt.

“You’re pathetic,” she adds. “You know that door squeaks, which,” she pauses, then hammers home, “you should try and fix sometime before the end of the world.”

I want to say, “curses, foiled again”, but it would go over her head.

She never was into cartoons.

So I plant a diversionary seed. “It was watching that Manson movie. I got to wondering what crazy Squeaky Fromme was up to these days. Couldn’t sleep. Got the munchies.”

She shakes her head.

She’s not gonna bite.

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Hollowness Personified by Reena Saxena

Hollowness became tangible in her person.

She sought entry into every household she was acquainted with at some level, and emerged excited, squeaking secrets to every person she met on the street. She felt gratified by inclusion, and boasted about it as ‘closeness’.

She was greeted by a wry smile or snarling glance, when she mouthed so-called ‘nuggets of wisdom’ on topics she knew nothing about.

I imagine her dissolving into nothingness, in solitary confinement. She will not find fuel for sustenance, without borrowing or stealing from others’ lives.

Her existence is a miracle, her physical form an illusion.

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Squeaky Pip by Duane L Herrmann

“I squeak, you squeak, we all squeak for Pip Squeak!” Sajili sang and danced around the room.

“I’m not squeaking!” Objected Pip in her high, shrill voice.

“Oh, but you are,” assured her father gravely. “We always know when you’re happy.”

“Your voice gets higher and higher,” her mother calmly added.

“Oh.” Pip said as her voice dropt.

“Come here,” her father reached out his big hairy arms to hug her.

Pip gratefully lunged into his welcome embrace, sniffling.

“It’s alright,” his deep voice rumbled around her.

Daddy’s arms felt SO good.

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Bedtime Antics by Kayla Morrill

“Have you ever realized how annoying a squeaky door can be?”

“Well yeah, hasn’t everyone come to that conclusion?”

“What about a squeaky chair?”

“Yes, even more annoying.”

“What about a squeaky floorboard when trying to walk along the floor at night?”

“The worst.”

“Worse than a squeaky person?”

“People don’t squeak.”

“Eee ooh eee ooh eee ooh eee….”

“Alright stop,” I interjected, “I suppose the worst thing is your squeaky questions.”

“Questions are squeaky?”

I rolled my eyes, realizing she wasn’t going to stop. Little sisters never do.

“Goodnight, squeak tight,” I replied.

She giggled, eyes closing.

Success.

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Squeaking Hello! by Tessa Dean

Rex, the hamster, ran on the wheel in his cage, happily squeaking away to whoever would listen to him. He was not the only thing squeaking as I needed to find some oil to try and oil the hamster wheel before it drove the whole family and me crazy.

After finding the oil, I gave Rex some treats so he would get off his exercise wheel, then I oiled it well, so it no longer squeaked. Rex finished his treats and then jumped back on the exercise wheel and began happily running and squeaking to anyone willing to listen.

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Last Word (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, did ya hear that?”

“Hear whut?”

“A creakin soun.”

“A creak or a screech?”

“More of a cheep.”

“But not a squeal?”

“No, like I said it was more of a cheep.”

“Oh, or maybe a peep.”

“So ya heard it?”

“No, Kid, I didn’t hear nuthin.”

“Thought I did. A cheep, or mebbe a peep.”

“Probly jist where them branches rub on the Poet Tree.”

“Look, Pal, now there’s a glowin light out there.”

“Now yer squealin, Kid. But yep, I see it. Hear whut souns like chatterin squirrels too. Why, it’s—”

“Helga an Hess!”

“Huh.”

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Last Word (Part II) by D. Avery

“Helga. Hess. Hullo. Welcome back ta Carrot Ranch.”

“Heehee. Thanks Pal. Hey, Kid.”

“What brings ya back this way?”

“Heehee. We’re here ta tend ta high-pitched whines.”

“Ya mean Kid?”

“Heehee. No, not Kid. We’re tinkers, here ta grease any wheels or movin metal bits that screech, scrape or squeal.”

“Heehee. We’ll put the spin back in yer spurs.”

“The gates will swing great. Heehee.”

“Heehee. No twinges in the hinges.”

“We’ll even put a shine on yer shovel, Kid.”

“Shift, thanks, Helga. Hess. Would ya ruther stay in the bunkhouse?”

“No thanks. We’re squeaking in anuther camping adventure.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Wheels Keep on Turning Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Coal Miner’s Son by Frank James

“Keep the wheels turning, boys. We have a deadline to make,” Reb, foreman yelled at coal miners pushing squeaky metal carts to collection. Wyatt, eighteen, struggled with the largest one.

Reb throttled his eyes at him, “Your job relies on speed.” Wyatt stumbled.

“I took a chance on you, so man-up,” Reb growled. Wyatt stood, grunting to collection.

Elliot his father stopped Wyatt, “Family depends on you.” A cart broke free barreling toward Reb, and Wyatt rammed his cart in its path. Coal dumped everywhere, and Reb smirked. “I guess you can handle the job. Clean up the mess.”

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Up the Mississippi by Tessa Dean

Rodney anxiously waited his turn to go and see the paddleboat exhibit that was being shown at the river near him. At one point, those boats floated up the Mississippi and other places, and the paddles kept the wheels turning to propel the boats up or down the river.

Rodney struck up a conversation with one of the people around him, and he found out that there were still authentic paddleboats that you could actually ride on up and down the Mississippi River. The old boats carried people and animals up and down the Mississippi River over the years.

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The Wheels Keep Turning by Colleen M. Chesebro

The wheels of America’s evolution keep turning
everybody’s talking, but no one’s listening
all they want is to win the argument

Opinions over facts—lies deny truths
social media—the louder we talk
no one hears what the other says

Political and financial earthquakes
shake our democratic foundation
to the breaking point…

We’re headed for a breakdown
the wheel of time spins us into the darkness
unstable powers abound, time slows,
distorted reality, our new actuality

Will we find our collective turning point?
What if the desired results aren’t met?
From within the darkness…
can we find the light?

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Wheels of Time by Duane L Herrmann

There are anniversaries that mark centuries. Awareness of these, one gains understanding of one’s place is history. Members of the Bahá’í Faith recently marked two such anniversaries: the births of the Herald and Prophet-Founder of their faith. Though only two centuries ago (every religion has to begin some time), the changes in that time have been massive: steam power, flight through the air and space, the contracting of the globe to a single neighborhood, and today, with zoom, anyone is just a computer screen away. Two hundred years ago our everyday life would have been a fairy tale miracle.

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A World in Motions by Geoff Le Pard

Lazarus Pomegranate, High Factotum of Little Tittweaking’s science faculty launched his novelty invention prize to much fanfare. There were many entries seeking to meet the one requirement: to create a perpetual motion machine. Some went old school with spinning wheels and clicking clogs, some were more hi-tech, amalgamating the latest developments in antigravity Pilates and bifurcating voting patterns. The winner, which the judges considered best embodied Little Tittweaking’s motto – Life is like a sewer: what comes out depends on what goes in – continued to produce an endless stream of little turds despite everyone’s best efforts to turn it off.

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Halloween City Planner by Gary A. Wilson

So, my options range from fully-cancel to doing nothing. Both are too extreme, a straight jacket of safety or the risks of chaos running free.

We know that tales of razor blades and needles in candy were mostly urban myths, but are the current reports of fentanyl disguised as candy true or just more politically motivated media-hype?

Halloween is supposed to be playfully scary, not a modern Russian-roulette with candy.

A city-sanitized celebration would surely fail, but what if parents or schools hosted the parties with known safe-sourcing? Would and should other parents trust them?

Best call our attorney.

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Hallowe’en Wheelies by Bill Engleson

Gaylord Hawksbury struggled out of his grave on Monday night. It was the first Hallowe’en after his expiration. He preferred expiration to death. Death always seemed so final. Expiration was like a carton of milk…the date of expiration was flexible.

Gaylord appreciated flexibility.

In the graveyard, Lucas Wallenby, a smartass thirteen-year-old was grave-hopping.

Gaylord hovered above his tombstone and watched Lucas, a local skateboarder, wheel through the cemetery, clipping stones, flying high, fast and loose.

“Damn kids, these days,” he bellowed, shocking Lucas in the middle of a backside heelflip, causing Lucas to crash onto Governor Edgar Baxter’s headstone.

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The Wheel Keeps Turning by Sweeter Than Nothing

A life is taken, a life is given and so the cycle continues. 

Not many people would admit to liking being Death, but I do. I am not a gruesome monster here to feast on your flesh. I am here to help and guide confused and lost souls into a world far greater than this. 

The bad side of my job is gathering souls for recycling from the ether and bringing them to life. Sure the humans are ecstatic with their newborn but I know the suffering they will endure in life until I can guide them home again.

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Wheel Keeps Going by ladyleemanila

Fiery and fascinating is what I’m hoping
Claiming a masterpiece I could sing for hours
As I create something, interpretation is open
With stretched imagination, scene is flowing
Seek and I shall find rainbow powers
As the wheel keeps going, my pride’s glowing
Make or break, ours, yours or theirs
My closet is full of creation at the moment
Waiting for critique from my peers
Staying at home this is one way of coping
Creating something or doing some repairs
With clay in my hands and frog’s croaking
And in the afternoon, enjoy the rain showers
Fiery and fascinating

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Spinning Our Wheels by Nancy Brady

The prompt is given; the wheels start spinning around in my brain. Ruminating for a day or two, I consider ideas. I discard one idea in favor of another. Finally, I begin to write, fleshing out the details, and then editing.

Meanwhile, in our cellar, Rob plays with his British locomotives, their wheels running around and around the English countryside. Starting at the station, the engine and its cars filled with coal pass the forest filled with deer, the lake, frothy with waves, and the stone circle. The locomotive continues on returning to the station once again to refuel.

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The Wheels of the Limo by Norah Colvin

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”
“Why’d ya stop?”
“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”
“But the wheels are turning.”
“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”
Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.
“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.
“All aboard!” she called.
The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

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Rollin Fer Norah Colvin by A. Kid

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Ain’t no fear a-showin
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get that pen a-flowin
Raw lit!

Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Get them ideas growin
Let them stories keep unfoldin
Raw lit!

Through work and play and life-stuff
keep on writin, hang tough
Buildin a story bit by bit.
then comes more revision
choosin words fer their precision
Cuz only 99 words will fit.

Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Cross ’em out, write ’em down
Write ‘em down, cross ’em out
Raw lit

Keep writin’, writin’, writin’
Though yer muse is fightin
No need ta be frightened
Raw lit!

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Spin-A-Thon by Reena Saxena

steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
race against fears, step up acceleration
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning

race against fears, step up acceleration
conquer the world as you know it
Challenge destiny, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running

conquer the world as you know it
steel your resolve, the wheel keeps spinning
you know not where it leads, but keep running
swear love forever, or revenge in indignation

I call it Time, you may choose another name
It’s the universe, everything is spinning

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Non-stop Thinking by Sadje

The wheels turn in my mind as it thinks unceasingly. Take a pause or a break, I advise it sagaciously but often to no avail.
Only when I am deeply engrossed in another activity that my brain stops this incessant cycle of thinking. Sometimes I tire of this and try to divert it to more relaxing activities, but it likes to spin like rat on a treadmill all the time.
What’s wrong with thinking, you question!
Nothing at all, if it doesn’t go around in circles and keeps on creating questions and answers to problems that don’t yet exist!

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Our Minds in Constant Motion by JulesPaige

Similar to cogs, the brain’s synapses are like wheels that have perpetual motion. Even in sleep there are visions recounted or bringing forth clues to resolve issues.

That ‘darned’ testing company was quick to process the test, quick to send the results to health care providers and quick to send an unjust bill. But not so quick to send results to the person who would have liked to know the outcome sooner than later. The CEO’s going to have their engine running after receiving the letter the customer churned out because of all the wheels not lining up right.

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Stuck in the Revolving Door by Anne Goodwin

When the vestibule is clear of people, Matty enters the space and nudges the metal bar. The compartment advances, and she with it, the brush-rimmed verticals making a satisfying shush. When open-air supplants curved walls, she stops and stands before the outside world. Five steps would take her to the rose bed but, although her nose would welcome a sniff of perfume, her feet refuse to leave the building unaccompanied. Another day, perhaps. Back through the revolving doors to the foyer. Back to the ward. Back to the empty life of the long-stay patient. Back to what she knows.

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Wheel of Freedom by Simon

The wheel keeps turning.

Yep, can see that, I wonder why?

Because that beggar turns on that wheel.

I see. How many wheels have you been turning on lately?

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Is that a question?

No.

I see.

I see a beggar turning a wheel.

Shut up! And get back to your Job every one!

The Jailer yelled at prisoners staring at the beggar somewhere far from the prison.

What’s happening? The jailer continues staring.

The beggar puts a fire on the wheel and the wheel came towards the Jail faster.

A big blast, and all the prisoners walked away free!

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Onset of Night by Chel Owens

The sky wasn’t as bright this evening.
She puttered around, feigning finding things she had forgotten she was looking for.
Ah well; it would all come to rights or she’d do without.

The stars seemed dimmer tonight.
She settled in the rocking chair, having given up on pretense. Only the cat saw, anyway.
No matter; likely, she’d get to it or it would get to her.

The sky outside looked darker.
She turned her head, and rocked to the rhythm of purring.
She’d see; the sun would come out tomorrow.

Night fell on incomplete dreams.
Worlds shifted. She slept.

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Pursuing the Dream by Margaret G. Hanna

I could read his mind.
Every afternoon he brought home the paper. Every evening, he read it. Always the same section – “Farms for Sale.”
He was looking for a farm. His farm. The farm he’d always dreamed of owning. The farm he’d left England to find. The farm he was saving every hard-earned penny for.
I could almost see the wheels spinning as he read. This one’s too expensive. This one’s too far away. This one’s got poor land.
He never stopped searching.
He found it, eventually. We moved there, raised our family there, lived out our lives there.

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The Harvest by Joanne Fisher

“The wheels keep turning, the seasons keep circling” Cindy said to herself. Another year had passed and again she watched the combine harvester move through the south field harvesting their corn. It had been a bumper crop this year, something she felt grateful for. The income from the harvest is what kept them going for the rest of the year, despite Jess’s many side projects…

“We should think about buying a new tractor.” Jess suggested.

“What? You mean you’re finally sick of trying to fix our broken one?” Cindy asked.

“A girl has to admit defeat, eventually.” Jess replied.

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And The Wheels Keep Turning by Miss Judy

Frank and Anne, best friends since grade school, graduated and got married, the wheels of life turning.
They were ecstatic when Anne gave birth to a baby girl. Then the baby died, the wheels of life turning.
Devastated and angry, they fought, Frank drank. Transcending into an abyss, a nervous breakdown sent Anne to “The Home,” Frank drank, the wheels of life turning.

Two years since Frank crawled back from the abyss, alcohol free. Anne, still at “The Home,” is a recluse, the wheels of life turning.

For better or worse, wherever our lives transcend, the wheels keep turning.

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Steady on the Wheel by Kerry E.B. Black

The weather cools, we celebrate another successful harvest, and we experience the seasonal wheel turn. Some call this a metaphor, but we dwellers of Vex Hollow know. As the earth wheels through the cosmos, and we with it, hapless holders-on at the mercy of the whims of nature, we recognize our tentative and fleeting existence.

Call us superstitious, but we acknowledge old ways. There’s a spirit within each simple seed. We give thanks for the gifts, because we’re beholden to fickle fate and are but one poor harvest from starvation.

So give thanks for staying steady on the wheel.

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Not All Wheels Turn Easily by Charli Mills

Once upon a time, I had to turn the flywheel on your truck, the old Red Rooster. A tooth was missing, and the flywheel wouldn’t turn the engine. I’d have to face blizzards, smack the hood hard to release the catch, brush the snow from the bumper, perch over the engine with a socket-wrench and manually turn the flywheel. I’d think, one day, life won’t be so damned hard. Twenty-five years later and you have a tooth missing in your brain wheel. Life’s never gonna be easy, I realize. Why didn’t I take time to enjoy the falling snow?

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Resolution Revolution (Part I) by D. Avery

Some a ya might know from Kid’s comments back at the challenge thet Kid got all cranky bout storyin an decided ta take a break at Ernie’s. Thing is, sometimes a story jist hits ya, outta nowhere.
See, Ernie was up the hill workin on a sustainable energy machine made from empty casks from his previous ennerprises. Was Curly, Kid’s pet hoglet, thet kep it turnin. All it took was a carrot on a stick an gears an axels an sech. When Curly heard Kid down below, she rocked that cask off the rails and rolled write over Kid.

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Resolution Revolution (Part II) by D. Avery

Kid was splayed out, arms an legs like spokes. Curly was squealin, Ernie was stutterin an sputterin, wonderin an prayin Kid would be all right. Kid was dead quiet didn’t utter a word fer the longest time.
Later Kid would recall it felt like spinnin, spiralin down inta a dark cave, would recall havin an epiphany a sorts. Yep, folks, the story thet hit Kid was the rebirth type. Kid got up newly resolved ta takin the wheel when it come ta story prompts, ta takin charge an steerin the storyin afore gittin flattened by a unplanned plotless tale.

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Bones Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

The Bone Collector by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Bog. Ravens swoop between the red dogwood branches braced in her matted hair. No one knows its original color. Bog’s hair could be stony white, the color of chalk but oils and eons of grit hide any transformation. Dry oak leaves crown her head, tattered robes flutter about her stout body. “She eats the dead,” they whisper. Bog remembers the old songs. She rattles, drums, and chants.  Like a mother lifting a babe, she collects the bones the ravens clean. She feeds on root fungus and pounded granite, waiting for a blessing.  

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Throw the Bones by Colleen M. Chesebro

The druid priest swirled and dipped in his spiritual dance to the sun’s return. His long white robes glistened in the moonlight, wraith-like.

Within the branches of the oak tree, another priest gathered the All-Heal (mistletoe). One swift slice with the golden sickle and the mistletoe fell into the shroud.

A vast pile of wood forged from the forest stood at the ready. It was time to light the fire to pay homage to the sun god.

“Throw the bones,” chanted the priest. The bones sizzled in the fire.

The next year, “throw the bones” was shortened to “bon-fire.”

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The Bones Know by Margaret G. Hanna

She could feel it in her bones. Something was wrong. She chose to ignore it, avoidance was more palatable than acknowledging.

“Always trust the bones,” Grandma Ferris used to say, but then she believed in fairies and the power of the rowan tree. Old wives tales from the old days.

She pushed the niggling fear to the back of her mind and got on with life.

“What’s that?” her husband said one night; they were in bed.

“Nothing,” she replied. But she knew it wasn’t “nothing.” It was something.

She knew it was cancer before the doctor told her.

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Bone Shakers by Jenny Logan

Bone Shakers were sweets sold in the UK during the mid-80s. They consisted of a coloured, plastic coffin containing tooth-breaking hard candy shaped like bones. The candy pieces could be fitted together to make an entire skeleton. I never managed this because several sets were required for completion and I always ate mine lickety-split.

My best friend, Melanie, and I were obsessed with them. We lived in a remote village in the Cotswolds and they were a rarity for us, nay a delicacy.

I wish they were still available and I wish I knew how to find Melanie again.

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Good Bones, Ghosts and Black Cats by Miss Judy

Alice had always admired the old Victorian with its wraparound porch, pitched roof, and turrets. Vacant since the Frank’s moved away, people said it was haunted. Alice saw potential, a happy home for her and Tommy.

Home Inspector Willis reported, “It needs lots of work but has good bones.”

Offer accepted. Deal done.
Just days before Halloween, Alice opened the door to their new home, a cold wind permeated their skin.

“Wow, Mom, that was weird.”

To not worry Tommy, “No worries, son, probably a broken window.”
Then Alice spotted it, the black cat sat grinning on the stairs.

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A Grave Concern by Eliza Seymour

Claire was in a cemetery, which was odd; she had no idea how she’d got there. The moon was hidden by clouds, but she could just make out the name on the closest headstone. It was her name. It was her date of birth. What was going on?

Two figures stood beside a nearby tree. The translucent man nudged the grey-faced woman wearing a bustle.

‘What’s wrong with her?’ the recently-deceased man asked.

‘Don’t mind her,’ the older ghost said. ‘Been here for weeks. Hit her head just before she passed. Short term memory loss – keeps forgetting she’s dead.’

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No Bones About It by Bill Engleson

Gilbert woke up one morning and vowed to always tell the truth. He felt compelled to tell Lucille who replied, ”Seriously, Gilbert, no one wants to hear the truth. Truth is like teeth decay. It hurts. What planet do you live on?”

Suddenly Gilbert was concerned that he may not be living on the right planet. This was a new worry.

Gilbert, of course, had many things to worry about and the addition of one extra worry was concerning.

“The truth is, my darling, when I lie, my bones rattle.”

With that lie, his skeleton shook violently into dust.

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Michael Plays the Age Card by Sue Spitulnik

Wearing Army t-shirt and shorts, Michael sat in a wheelchair on stage, his leg stumps showing so all entering the Walter Reed activity room could see. He spoke. “We soldiers share the experience of missing skin and bones. At twice your age I lived the hopelessness and depression you may be feeling.” He turned sideways in the chair, swung himself to the floor, and put on the prosthetic legs lying there. Then using the chair for support, he stood up and walked around. “I’m proof you can heal and become friends with whatever prosthetic you need. You’ve got this.”

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Final Resting Place by Anne Goodwin

Fortified by Sarah Nelson’s famous gingerbread, we continued our pilgrimage to William’s grave. A balustrade of rainbow waterproofs blocked our view initially; we waited patiently for our turn. In the thirty years since we last visited the shrine, the Lake District and poetry had become much more diverse.

Shuffling forward, however, we saw it wasn’t Wordsworth who had pulled the crowd. We asked a woman taking selfies, “What did he write, this John Kent?” She seemed to think it a joke. Meanwhile, one of the kids had googled him: Britain’s Black policeman died here in this county in 1886.

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Bones by Ann Edall-Robson

Fallen leaves danced in the breeze, tranquil thoughts of how their business dream came to life here. The crunching sound of dried leaves and grass filtered upwards as the couple strolled towards their new property. Inquiries in the nearby town came away with a mixture of what had happened to the man who lived on this land. They were not deterred. Stepping off the path to pick a dried seed pod, a snapping sound made her look down. Neither expected to see anything but a broken branch, and most certainly not bones blending in with the fall ground colours.

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Bodies by Joanne Fisher

“So what can you tell me?” The Chief Inspector asked.

“It’s a burial ground for a large number of bodies. The oldest date back twenty years, some are recent. This city has had a serial killer for the last two decades we knew nothing about.”

“I guess it’ll be a while before any of them are identified.”

“We’re still digging up more bones. We have no idea how many people are buried there.”

“Okay good work. Carry on.”

“Yes Sir.”

The Chief Inspector walked to his car. He would have to find somewhere else to bury the bodies now.

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The Ghost Bones by Hugh W. Roberts

When I returned, she wasn’t there; only her bones remained.

The floorboards still creaked, and Mrs Sinclair was still next door.

“When is your Aunt Marjorie due back?” she’d asked.

Shrugging my shoulders, I wish Mrs Sinclair had minded her own business, but I had invited her in.

The whiteness of the human bones wasn’t as bright as the white light that appeared when Aunt Marjorie killed me in her apartment or when I killed Mrs Sinclair for murdering my aunt.

Now we roam the earth as murderous ghosts. Yes, ghosts are murderers.

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Something More by D. Avery

At the helm of Skipper’s boat, it’s more than chill headwinds bringing tears to my eyes. A corncob pipe rolls on the dash as the boat plunges and heaves, plunges and heaves through the chop.

A solid sure boat. Skipper built it himself.

“Boats— just skin and bones. And something more,” Skipper would say, twinkling.

Skipper’s light has gone out.

I idle the engine.

“Ashes to ashes.”

I dump his remains into the waves. Then his corncob pipe. I watch pipe and ash and bone bob and sink before steering towards shore with a following sea.

“Fair winds, Skipper.”

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Fish Bone by Tessa Dean

As a very young child, I was eating what was supposed to be boneless fish. Whoever did the filleting missed a large piece of bone unbeknownst to my mom. She cooked the fish and served it up. I began eating quickly and suddenly felt something hard stick in my esophagus. I couldn’t swallow it down, and it wasn’t coming back up. I was in a full panic, as were my parents. I can’t at this time remember how they finally got that piece of fish bone out of my throat, but they did, or I wouldn’t be here today.

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Wishes by Nancy Brady

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…” which comes from a nursery rhyme is something Mom would often say when one of my sisters or I would express an outlandish desire or wish. Outrageous wishes often go unfulfilled, but that doesn’t stop us from wishing, and that never stopped my sisters and me from begging for the turkey’s wishbone every year at Thanksgiving. We’d make a wish, break it in two, with the winner ending up with the larger half. Now I save them for grandchildren; I currently have several wishbones. My wish is to see the grandkids soon.

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Literalism Unbound by Geoff Le Pard

Norman-Alphonse Fornorfolk, Little Tittweaking’s resident literalist helped residents with all their metaphorical problems. When Ben Zardrine arrived, seeking the quietude, free bus pass and access to a badly maintained cemetery for which Little Tittweaking was famed he never thought he would need Norm-Al’s services. But the bones he harvested for his work as an ossification sculptor proved stubbornly resistant to his blandishments. He turned to Norm-Al Fornorfolk.

‘Why won’t they hold their shape?’

‘They’re bone idle, Ben.’

‘Why is that?’

‘No idea. But fear not,’ Norm-Al wasn’t easily defeated, ‘I’ll bone up on the reasons.’

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Bones by ladyleemanila

In the spirit of the past
Pray that it was not so glum
Birds flew and events had passed
Some tune I couldn’t even hum
No need to run after me
Lost to the world but can’t be free
Willowy tree outside my door
Myths of failure that I could score
Growling dog calling for his bones
Water tricking down those stones
One two three and I’m off
Growling dog calling for his bones
Yet I am not ready to scoff
In the spirit of the past
One two three and I’m off
Birds flew and events had passed

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The Bone Blesser by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Hoade, the girl who stole an orox calf. No one in the longhouse heard her enter. She was a flame-haired orphan the Bone Collector salvaged after a raid. Hoade bathed in sacred springs, her head adorned with daisy chains. The calf nibbled at the daisies and grew. Across the middle plains, across the ocean, across the new lands, the eternal child and her ancient calf followed her people. Bog remained old-world-bound, fading into legend and bone dust carried by carrion. Hoade trailed the settlers, blessing the bones until they killed her orox.

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Bone Surprise by Duane L Herrmann

Hidden in the grass, fully articulated, curled as if asleep, lie the bones of a fawn. It was not killed by a predator, in which case the bones would have been scattered, but, died sleeping. The deer here have a disease, now, which is always fatal. Will they all die off? No one knows. Sport hunters will be sad, as well as those who only watch for entertainment, but those who have crops, or flowers, will not miss them. And, there will be less wrecks, and human death, from deer collisions. How will this impact other spieces? Who knows?

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Our Bones by Sadje

Most humans have 206 bones, the largest in our thigh to the smallest in our ears.

The importance of healthy bones becomes apparent as we grow older. Broken bones, deformities, and arthritic bones/ joints are what make us realize that we are aging.

Three fractures in my left foot, 3 years ago were a warning to me. Luckily it healed well In the stipulated timeline. But now I’m very careful and I have vitamin D, and calcium supplements to prevent further damage to my bones.

I would advise you all to look after your bone- health to live healthy lives.

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“I think we are in rats’ alley, Where the dead men lost their bones” (TS Eliot The Wasteland) or Ode to Music Critics by Doug Jacquier

The Barbary apes of music seek to speak with the tongues of angels but they have not love, and are a mere sounding brass, a clanging cymbal of these times, mocking the heroes on whose shoulders they stand and instead playing jacks with their remains but The Day Of The Dead is coming to them and no-one will come to unwrap their paper-thin skeletons of ignorance and ponder the net worth of the chemical elements in their fatuous diatribes against the weight of things eternal because their words will be lost in the ashes of their unremembered empty souls.

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Gus by Nancy Brady

When the builders dug the foundation of the new house on Sunset, the backhoe uncovered human bones. No challenge was made, and construction went forward.

The house belonged to Annie’s parents, who loved their new home.

One night, Annie went down to the basement instead of being in bed. There, she met a young man named Gus. He knew more about the toys down there than she did. He showed her a train, which was stored in a box.

Gus wasn’t scary; he was Annie’s friend. Nightly, she returned to the basement to play until one day she didn’t.

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Make No Bones About It by Norah Colvin

“Go and get changed.”

“But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.
The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.

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Calamity Cules! by JulesPaige

The rat ate the poisoned cheese. And being the prankster that I am, I let the body decay and hid the bones in a velvet sack in the storage area under the stairs of the abandoned home on the hill.

Everyone had hoped to find some hidden treasure. I found some old writing paper, and with India ink wrote out clues to the velvet bag. Then I, being up to no good, passed out the clues on All Hallows Eve. Let’s search on Halloween night instead of collecting candy! Only I knew the treasure was the rat’s bones! Bwahahaha!

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Seeing the Invisible (a True Tale) by The Curious Archaeologist

He thought it would work, he knew the strange, invisible, light, affected a photographic plate, and if it did work, the implications were incredible.

He couldn’t do it himself, he had to operate the generator, so he went to the laboratory door and called for his wife.

“Could you put your hand there, my dear?” he asked.

She held her hand still as the machine buzzed.

An hour later he showed her the picture, Frau Röntgen almost fainted.

“I have seen my death!” she gasped, as she saw the bones of her own hand in the first X-ray photograph.

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When Bone Goes Bad by Gary A. Wilson

“Nurse Elsa! It’s a nice day, let’s enjoy the porch.”

“It’s good to see you, Fredrick. Healthy still?”

“Yes, my surgery was a huge success. How are you? Your cane suggests…”

“I have the same condition.”

“Bone spurs in your L4 and L5? I’m so sorry to hear this.”

“The pain is crippling, but the surgery….”

“Ah, it scares you. It was your encouragement that got me through it.”

“So you said. My Henry passed, eight months ago, leaving me – alone. I thought of you.”

“Take my hand Elsa. It would be my honor to get you through this.”

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Bones by SweeterThanNothing

“These old bones ain’t meant for working no more” the old woman’s hands were knurled, bent and broken by work and time. Yet still she soldiered on, creating the most beautiful dream catchers I had ever seen.

I wasn’t going to stop today, I don’t have the time or the money but something called to me.

The sight of that dream catcher in the window, golden beads reflecting the sunlight, bleached wishbone dangling beneath, swaying in the gentle breeze. It took my breath away. It’s exactly what I need to keep the nightmares away.

Tonight, I will finally sleep.

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The Bone Transcriber by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Nat. She’s schizophrenic, a modern woman haunted by stories inscribed in bones. Forgotten traumas. Periodically, they lock her up, but she returns to the streets. For a Starbuck’s macchiato, she’ll read your bones, heal the wounds of your ancestors. “Yester-years I collected the bones to clean them of suffering,” she explains to bystanders, police, and psychiatrists who carry the dirtiest of all bones. “I sent Hoade to bless the bones, but they killed her companion, creating profane monsters instead.” They wash the homeless woman’s dirty hair. Sometimes it’s white. Sometimes it’s red.

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Here Lies; Lies Here by D. Avery

Kid set out ta corral a story fer the collection. Might a been a might skeered.

“Ah’m chilled ta the bone.”

But jist usin the word don’t make a story. So Kid pressed on, rode inta the gatherin gloamin.

“Gloamin? More like gloomy. Yikes!”

Kid found a graveyard!

“I found a boneyard!”

Kid had come upon the remnants a stories whut got started but not finished, parts a stories thet didn’t survive revisions.

“Whut’s this stone say? ‘Here lies the little darlins’.”

But Kid warn’t skeered. Figgered it were all a natcheral part a givin life ta a story.

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Bone Pickin by D. Avery

“Pal, does that up there count as a story? Nuthin much happened. Was jist you narratin an me exclaimin.”

“Well, ya set out an ya come back. Even got over bein skeered. In 99 words.”

“That’s purty bare-boned, alright. Was purty tense fer a bit too. Still, now I’m tense bout the structure a that so-called story.”

“Git past tense. Relax, stories take all kindsa forms. Kin even be all dialogue. Ya wanna try basic story anatomy? Try the story spine challenge at the Cowsino. Kin go over 99 too.”

“Put some meat on the bones?”

“So ta speak.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

I See the Light in You Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Henry Could See the Light by Colleen M. Chesebro

Henry the cat, lived at the nursing home for over two years. He was a typical tabby cat, adored by the patients.

The first thing I noticed about him was his connection to those who would soon pass. The cat had the uncanny ability to see the light in people. Somehow, he noticed the shadows of death gathering, as if their life-light dimmed in intensity.

The next thing I noticed was that Henry stayed with his patient, offering comfort with a cuddle and a purr, keeping vigil at their bedside.

Today, Henry curled up beside me. I felt peace.

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Gran’s Inside Light by Norah Colvin

Jamie squeezed his hands and clenched his knees, as if that might still his churning belly and stop his heavy heart from falling. Like recycled paper, his thoughts were all mushed up. They said Gran was sick. She mightn’t get better. What did that even mean? Gloom dragged his face into a frown.

“You can see her now,” said Mum. Jamie looked up, questioning. Mum simply nodded. Jamie tentative step-by-stepped, hopeful, fearful, step-by-step.

“Gran?” he whispered. Dull eyes flickered. This isn’t Gran. Gran’s eyes sparkled.

Jamie trembled. “Where’s Gran’s inside light?” Mum hugged him. “In you and everywhere now.”

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A Shining Light by Sadje

It’s easy to see the light in an innocent heart of a child. They are pure, uncorrupted by worldly desires and ambitions. I am always attracted by their sweet smiles, their naughty and mischievous looks, and their total faith in those who they trust and love unconditionally.

My oldest grandson is almost 13 now. He should be more worldly-wise now, but he has this naivety that’s so endearing. He trusts everyone, often to be hurt when they betray him. He is everyone’s well-wisher and sometimes is snubbed because of his well-meaning advice. But his light keeps on shining bright.

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Bringing Light and Joy by Nancy Brady

My first child, a son, was perfect, making me a mom. The best advice I got was from my obstetrician. When asked, he said, “You feed him, you change him, you hold him, and you love him.”

In those first few weeks, when unsure, that’s what I did; it worked. My child became the light of my life. He brought joy and laughter, and my nickname for him said it best.

He and his wife recently had their first child, a son. Does he have the same insecurities as I?

off-key lullabies
will my son call his son
sunshine

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Someone Sees Your Light by Gary A. Wilson

“Oscar? You’re upset. What’s wrong son?”

“The boys at school again. They said that I’m DS-broken. I don’t feel broken, but I want to be normal.”

“I’m sorry. Do these boys trash-talk others?”

“Yes, they do it to Shelly who’s black and Curtis because of his wheelchair, but neither of them need special help with fractions. Maybe I am broken.”

“Nah – they’re just jerks. They mock for fun and ignore the loving and hard-working side of someone, which reminds me, Mazie’s mom called to thank you for helping her with multiplication tables. Sounds like proof that you’re not broken.”

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I See the Light in You by Christine Bialczak

Billy walked sullenly, head hung low. 

He hadn’t meant to look so stupid in front of his friends.

How could a book report turn into a horror show within minutes?

Dennis was how!

Billy didn’t know they were reading the same book and he certainly didn’t know that his abridged version was not only the easier version but it kept some of the best details out! Sharon ran up to Billy as he walked along.

“I thought your report was better! You enjoyed reading and it showed! I see the light in you when you talk, more than Dennis!”

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An Encounter by D. Avery

She searched her reflection in the bathroom mirror, looked deep into her own eyes. She didn’t like what she saw. Still…

‘Aanii,’ the old woman had said. ‘I see the light in you.’ What a strange way to greet someone, someone you don’t even know.

“I don’t see it,” she said to her reflection, her sad dark eyes staring back at her. But she couldn’t forget the twinkle in the old woman’s soft gaze.

She had seen a light in her.

That was something.

She put the pills back in the vial, put the vial back in the cabinet.

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You Glowed by Duane L Herrmann

I was sitting in a room with chairs in a circle, only about half of them filled. A person came in who none of us had seen before. He looked around, then sat down beside me. We became friends. Later, I asked him, why did he choose to sit beside me.

“Because you glowed.”

Me? I’m not a light bulb. I wasn’t even having a good day. Two publishers had canceled three book contracts, an editor sent a scathing response to a manuscript, and my private retreat space had been visually invaded. I was miserable. Yet, I glowed???

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The Light Long Lost Down Time’s Tunnel by Bill Engleson

I so wanted it to be that way, to see the light shining in you. How beautiful that would be. There would only be the glow of the other, not the inferno of mistrust, of envy, but, rather, a human brilliance.

I did want that.

We sat at your table once, devoured your offerings, and radiated communal friendship, me, with her, you with her.

There was a bond.

A link between.

That evening often reappears.

In memory.

Memories crossroads.

I cannot speak for you.

Our tongues do not intersect these days.

For me, however, I will feast on that.

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Him Indoors by ladyleemanila

by the light of the moon
you and me in trance
in your arms I swoon
after all the dance

you and me in trance
as we rock with the boat
after all the dance
together we’re afloat

as we rock with the boat
ring in hand you kneeled
together we’re afloat
tears in eyes I yield

ring in hand you kneeled
the moon as our witness
tears in eyes I yield
grateful for life’s sweetness

fly me to the moon
harvest moon like a dream
together we dance
feeling the chills in our bones
gorgeous night with you

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The Hunger Game by Hugh W. Roberts

It was the light in her eyes that lit up my life.

As she gently dragged her long fingernail over my adam’s apple to the hair on my chest, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’d undone the buttons for temptation, and it worked.

I wasn’t shocked when she hissed, as the light in her fed our desires. I gasped when she revealed two fanged teeth behind the bright red lips of her closed mouth, even though I knew what to expect.

She never saw the wooden stake I was holding.

Now I could feast.

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Killers are People Too by Anne Goodwin

Matilda’s mother would have been shocked to learn she was sharing a room with a murderess. But Matilda’s mother never had the chance to discover that killers are people too. Although Doris seemed surly on the surface, Matilda sensed the loving spark within. When they’d shared their stories, they’d bring light to their dismal cell. They needn’t rush: they’d have months, years, to compare motives, weapons, plans. Once Matilda had taught Doris her letters, even her mother would struggle to tell them apart. They’d both broken the fifth commandment. Despite their incarceration, they’d both found freedom in their crime.

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The Night Visitor by Joanne Fisher

I woke up in the middle of the night with my neck sore on my right side. Opening my eyes, I saw there was a dark figure standing over me.

“You again? Why are you always feeding on me?” I asked.

“Because I can see the light in you.” The vampire whispered in answer, which was an unexpected response.

“I thought you vampires were creatures of darkness.” I stated.

“Yes we are, but we are still always craving for the light.” The vampire explained leaning over again. I felt her cold breath on my neck as I drifted off.

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Unreachable by Charli Mills

Unwilling to medicate, you say profit-seeking pharmaceutical bullshit billionaires invented diabetes. I have no healthcare schedule to follow. There’s nothing you will consider. The optometrist leans in, showing scans of your damaged eyes. “Sight goes quickly. What about your shooting matches?” He knows you are unwilling to accept a disease you don’t believe is real. You listen. My hope surges until you say your blood sugars only appear high because they changed the test again. TBIs alter cognition, mood, and, apparently, the endocrine system. No matter how much your brain changes, I can still see the light in you.

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I See the Light in You by Jenny Logan

In my experience, focusing on people’s better sides can go one of two ways. It can lead to them living out the version of themselves one chooses to see and speak over their lives, or it can result in one being exploited.

Talking to a friend recently, we both concluded we prefer to avoid becoming cynical and we will keep trusting our acquaintances, hoping for the best and accepting any negative consequences as “things we cannot control”.

Maybe the light in others—even at their worst—is to serve as a test of our commitment to press on regardless.

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Aanii by MarlaPaige

You speak of your video games and how you want to share that with me, even though you know I have never enjoyed the activity. I watch as you morph from the stoic adult that I know into an excited child; words cascading from your mouth, tumbling over each other in the space between us, vying to be the first to reach my ears. The smile snaking across your face is huge and sprawling, your eyes shining with the light of pure joy; silently watching, I see the real you. I smile and nod – for you, I will try.

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A Love Story by Margaret G. Hanna

It was love at first sight.

She was standing in the middle of the flower patch, hair in disarray, dirt on her nose, waving a pair of nasty shears and scolding me for cussing out the horse. I saw a fire in her eyes — determination, stubbornness — and I knew immediately she was the one. We married three months later. She stood by side through thick and thin, through good times and bad.

Forty years later, I sit here, you lying in the hospital bed, I holding your hand, watching that light fade from your eyes. My heart breaks.

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Gerties’ Gifted Power (Spot On? With Shadorma) by JulesPaige

Stupendous
The islands’ gardens
Full of life
Full of light
I seek the shore where the clouds
Ooze smiles like toothpaste

Each garden, some protected by trees, others with ponds that allow you to walk to the middle or those near the sea waving pampas grasses. I enjoy company and other times I wish to be alone – arms in a sun salutation. I believe each of my husbands shines a different spectrum of healing light my way. Giving me strength to pursue my dreams of teaching all my girls, that the love light shining within can brighten anyone’s day.

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Constant Light Within by Ann Edall-Robson

The trail leads to a barely visible path of light-heartedness. The morning’s glow shimmers across the frosted grass. Not one step is the same no matter how many times a footprint is left. Silently the surroundings speak loud to those who listen, observing the cherished stroll to gather one’s thoughts, harbouring them within the soul. Nature’s signs are all around, while the land seeps into the heart, its aroma lingers, and the grounding is victorious beyond normal thoughts. Those who get it, get it, the connection is their constant light for all to see where ever they travel.

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Divine Design by Greg Glazebrook

I’d arranged some free time to take a quiet hike along the Grand River. It was a beautiful day, overcast but bursting with shades of fall in the crisp afternoon air. I stepped from the trail to examine a fallen tree, gnarled and weathered shades of sun-bleached gray concealing a punch of colour nestled within. Red, orange and yellow waves of an inner light radiating outwards across a monochromatic backdrop. I ponder the moments when each broke free from captivity, falling on the autumn wind before congregating in this nook. A series of seemingly random acts so divinely orchestrated.

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It’s All Part of the Spectrum by Geoff Le Pard

Trudy, Maddy and Deepti, the three Grace sisters are the much loved owners of Little Tittweaking’s Rainbow Emporium where, for a small fortune anyone can acquire a weather event of their choice. Since the pandemic, however, the dearth of silver linings has seen business drop because it’s said the bespoke clouds no longer glow with the necessary internal hope. The use of flaming sambucas stopped after the sambucas complained and currently hopes rest on utilising the inexhaustible supplies of hot air that emanate from the local MP’s surgery, if a way can be found to filter out the hypocrisy.

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Final Moments by Reena Saxena

It’s almost dawn, and embers in the fireplace glow in the dark. Spent fuel lends its last bits of energy to the world.

I guess you know that the doctors have given up. Else, what could make you tell me all those stories, as if you are rewriting the truth? Tell me … when we’ve always been on opposite sides of the fence?

No, in this case it is erasing falsehood to reveal the truth. It sounds like a dying confession, but actually speaks of bygone eras with tainted history.

I see the light in you replacing darkness within.

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A Light Shines Behind Sad Eyes by Miss Judy

She appears a mere child, sitting on the sidewalk, a mass of matted hair hanging over sad tired eyes. A sign sits propped in her lap. I drop coins in her cup. Meekly she says, “thank you.”

I ask, “Can I buy you breakfast?”

Skeptical but hungry, “Yes, please.”

Over breakfast she tells me her story. It is sad but typical. A broken home, alcoholic mother, abusive father, she was abandoned.

I tell her about myself. We are kindred spirits. We are comfortable together. I tell her, “I see a light in you. Let me help.” Her eyes sparkle.

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Food Fer Thought by D. Avery

“Kid, has yer flashlight problem worked itsef out yet?”

“Nope.”

“Told Shorty bout it?”

“Nope.”

“Well, I did.”

“Dang ya Pal!”

“Shouldn’t keep Shorty in the dark. Anyways, she’s thinkin mebbe she kin hep lighten yer load. So ta speak.”

“Whut kin Shorty do?”

“She’s cookin up some a her famous buckaroo chili, thet’s whut. An she’s got Pepe’s makin some beans.”

“How’s that gonna hep?”

“Might pervide the motivation ta do whut’s gotta git done, if ya know what I mean. Put a little fire inside, mebbe there’ll be light at the end a the tunnel.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

For the Water Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Weather Report, Water Blessings by JulesPaige

Today it is raining, a gentle water falling from the sky.
Not an angry torrent or brute strength bent on destruction.
For a good part of this day life falls from above,
The clouds have let their bottom silver linings drop open.

Rich treasure, liquid drops fall feeding the land, making
Competing concentric circles in any water they land in.
The earth drinks slowly and deeply.
For this water we are extremely grateful.

The coffee that has been brewed with water is done.
The beans, their plants were grown with water.

Autumn rain is blessing the farmers’ fall harvests.

🥕🥕🥕

For Want of Water by Margaret G. Hanna

We watched the slough dry up. We watched the soil blow away. We watched clouds roll in with empty promises of rain. We watched our crops struggle, shrivel and die.
We watched families move away. We watched businesses close. We watched villages disappear.
We feared the well would go dry. We feared rain would never come again.
This prairie that once held promises of bumper crops and full granaries was now only a distant memory, if it had ever existed.
And all for lack of rain. For lack of water. For lack of caring how we treated the land.

🥕🥕🥕

Aquarius by Kerry E.B. Black

Born into a winter when the three rivers froze solid, the pretty little Aquarius charmed all who dove into her ice storm eyes. As she grew, so did her charms, from honey-wheat hair and reedy figure to tinkling voice and buoyant cheer. To have her as part of any team meant success. From trouble shooting to efficient enacting of a plan, she waded through issues to bail out even the worst situation.

Lovely Aquarius, with water lilies and marigolds threaded through her beachy waves, donned a new mantle, ‘clean water’ her battle cry. Her leadership swelled awareness and resources.

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For the Water by Sadje

People can sell their souls for a glass of fresh water

They’d murder to quench their raging thirst with water

What flows unchecked through our open taps

Can fill a pail for someone who needs clean water

We use water to wash our cars and driveways when

Some people have no drinking water for miles around them

Can you comprehend this dichotomy between people

Those from rich countries and those belonging to poor countries

Where children cry and can only be given a few drops of water

And some water their lawns with sprinklers on 24/7

Can you imagine?

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Water, Water, Everywhere by ladyleemanila

Water, water, I love water everywhere
Seas, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, pools
We’ll enjoy splashing around, fair and square
Playing in the rain, relaxing in whirlpools
We drink water, so refreshing
Our body needs water, also when we exercise
Good for our spirit, stops us from ageing
Nice to go sailing, make sure we don’t capsize
Swimming in the sea, that’s my favourite
Watching the sun as it rises and sets
Having a picnic or an elaborate banquet
Did I tell you about memorable sunsets?
Aquatic life is quite entertaining and fun
Like what we feel when the lottery’s won

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Let’s Go Kayaking by Sue Spitulnik

The promise of colorful leaves decorating the hillsides, soaring eagles, no waves from loud boats, and few other humans had the veteran friends loading kayaks, paddles, and life-preserver belts into pick-ups. They were looking forward to a relaxing day of natural beauty on Hemlock Lake in western New York State. The lake shores were undeveloped except for a small park at the north end with a gravel boat launch and another launch at the south end. The lack of dwellings was for the good of the water, as it was a protected reservoir for the residents of nearby Rochester.
Author’s Note: Hemlock Lake is a real lake.

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Working Together by Ann Edall-Robson

Spitting out a mouth full of lake water, they watched the water run free through the hose into the now gravity-fed water trough. The last two years had been spent planning and trying different techniques so they could utilize this section of pasture for the cattle without damage to the lakeshore. It all came together with the help of their contacts within the local watershed group. The ranch now had water for the cattle and the group was spending their time doing riparian work along the shore. They’d worked together, creating a plan for the good of all.

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For the Water by Tessa Dean

We were told to think about saving the world’s commodities. I started to think about what I could do to save some of the world’s commodities. This is something I never did worry about. I always believed we would have whatever we needed.

I live in an area battered by drought. I have a garden but getting enough rainwater to sustain it was hard. I started to think about all the water we poured down the drain for baths, etc. We could collect it in tubs and jugs after a bath and use it to water the plants daily.

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Weight of Water (BOTS) by Kerry E.B. Black

She walked over a mile each way to collect water, the liquid of life. Two handmade buckets slung from a yoke weighed on her neck and shoulders, but she bore the burden proudly. She knew the value of her cargo. With drought a looming adversary for all of Africa, she felt herself lucky.

The source of the water shortage mattered less than the fact of it. Who cared about government mismanagement, climate change, little money for infrastructure and support, or corruption when dying of thirst?

Worse, she heard by 2050, more than 5 billion people may face water scarcity.

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But Not a Drop to Drink by Anne Goodwin

My youngest shits brown liquid into the – what can I call it? – lake, ocean, once-was fertile fields. Back in the village, he ran on chubby legs. Now, flopped in my arms, he whimpers, speaks only with his eyes. “You prayed for rain, Mama. Did you pray too hard?”

Forgetting her thirst, my youngest seeks happy endings in the clouds. Yesterday, she conjured a helicopter but where, amid the mass of makeshift shelters, could it land? Today she wants a bucket. Or a pan. “Allah is merciful,” she says. She proffers the cooking pot for the water He’ll surely send.

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Water Issue by Duane L Herrmann

“What’s the matter?”

“Because I recognize the precious value of water, I never think ‘it’s only water.’ When I take water, from whatever source, I use all that I take and take only what I use. Water is precious. Water is life. Not all people have access to clean water. I deplore that, so I use only what I need. I grew up with limited water, so this is natural for me. I am bewildered and angered by any waste of water.”

“You can’t control other people.”

“But, I can be an example.”

“True.”

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Hacking Plastic by Frank James

School started and so did science fair. The teacher, Agnus Bauer assigned dates sending pupils off to positively impact the environment. Chloe thought, recalling Mr. Milton’s back porch.

The fair arrived, and She held up a water bottle filled with sand and pebbles. A clamp sprouted from the plastic carcass. “I did it for the water,” Chloe exclaimed to her teacher.

“But, we have treated water,” the teacher said. Chloe illustrated how Mr. Milton poured paint and oil in his yard. Teacher asked if she made it for him.

Chloe grinned and replied, “I’m attaching it to my faucet.”

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For the Water by Charli Mills

Each woman thrust a fistful of tobacco medicine to the dimming sky. Gichigame, the biggest of the “greats,” glistened below. They followed the road. The setting sum smeared colors like jam across the horizon as the small band of woman marched in skirts and boots. Apricot, raspberry, blueberry. All the colors of forests and lakes and sweet summer fruits swished in their skirts. Above the crunching beneath soles, a song lifted. Nee-ee-bay… Gee-za-gay-ee-goo. A lilting lullaby to Nibi, the water. The women sang, holding high their prayers.

For mama’s health. Please don’t let Dad die, yet. For the water.

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News by Simon

There will be a time when human is going to adapt to live without water. Or more likely with less water.

The toxic waste, irresponsible water usage will soon have the effect and plastic impact, the whole water system is under attack, constantly by humans, let’s see what they can do on mission “For the water.”

This is a threat only to the human species. In this machine era, we should worry more about long lasting battery, isn’t it? Now who checked the latest offer of Mamazon?

More comes after a short break, this is M0101 your machine friend.

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Water Bearer by Jenny Logan

I was born in February on the Island of Cyprus amid familial and political controversy. My brother felt unheard—he voted against another baby. It was two apiece.

Aphrodite walked out of the Mediterranean Sea there amongst dolphins. I imagined myself to be her and my identity was linked to her story. Cyprus always felt home.

Before getting married, I visited with my parents. My fiancé wanted us to consider any doubts we might be having; gallant, but not required. I walked right out of the sea again and into his arms—the goddess of love—never to return.

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AquaSynthetic: Repopulating the Ecosystem One Robot at a Time by Eliza

Moraya had been sitting on the riverbank since the city smog had mingled with the early morning mists. The sun had since passed overhead. Now it glowed behind murky clouds on the western horizon.

Moraya cast the line again and waited. Her eyes were heavy with sleep when she felt a tug, reeled it in, sighed. Another artificial fish. She tossed it back into the filth and looked at her empty bucket. The river used to be teeming with life. All she needed was one catch – one real fish. It looked like it would be another day without food.

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Small Changes by Nancy Brady

For the water, I volunteer at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve.
For the water, I skip the straw to avoid adding plastic straws to oceans.
For the water, I no longer use shower gels formulated with micro-plastic beads.
For the water, I pick up trash on walks around the city to keep it out of the lake.
For the water, I avoid using one-time use plastic bottles that can’t be recycled.
For the water, for our children and grandchildren, I act to leave them an earth that is livable beyond my lifetime, protecting our most important resource.

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Rituals of Tea Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Afternoon Tea With Doris by Hugh W. Roberts

Every Sunday afternoon, I attended the ritual afternoon tea with Doris.

I never got a word in edgeways. Doris talked through cups of tea, plates of cucumber sandwiches and dainty pastries.

Natter, natter, natter. She never shut up.

But today was different. Everything seemed the same as I took my place at Doris’s table. She remained silent until her mobile phone rang.

Natter, natter, natter. Christ, does she never stop talking?

“Yes, I do miss Hugh. Sunday afternoon tea will never be the same again without him,” chirped Doris. ‘Why don’t you join me, the person reading this story.”

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Chai Time by Ritu Bhathal

Water simmers as I add tea leaves.
I peruse my spice cupboard, wondering which to add, today.
Fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, some cinnamon, too.
Each releases its unique scent into the air as it is added to the deep brown liquid.
Milk added, the boiling halts as the liquid begins its simmering journey again.
A careful eye is needed as the bubbles increase and the froth begins to rise.
Gas down, froth down.
Gas up, froth up.
Three times, then off.
Strain it. Pour it into a cup.
Perfect masala tea to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.

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Eyes Dotted – Teas Crossed With… by Bill Engleson

Don’t be a teas.
Spell that.
T E A S.
Like, peppermint.
Nah, like a josher. A tease.
You mean?
A leg-puller.
How’s it spelled?
TEASE.
That’s steep.
Like tea? Steeped?
Yeah. Soaked.
Soaked in tradition?
No. Steeped in tradition.
Like the history of tea?
Could be. Could also be infused.
That confuses me.
Sorry. It’s the same thing
Steeped! Infused! Brewed!
Brood? Like lots of children?
Absolutely not. The world has too many kids. Brood, like in worrying.
That’s deep. If I had a brood of kids, I’d sure be worrying.
I’m thirsty.
I’ll put on some tea.

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The Language of Tea by Anne Goodwin

I try to be patient: the woman beyond the curtain is clearly unwell. But what about me? I’ll never recover if I don’t get my sleep.

I’m just nodding off when the alarm blares again. Heart pounding, I grab my pillow and wander the corridor, searching for peace. “The noise is finished,” the nurse reassures me.

“Shall I bring you a nice cup of tea?”

I nod, although I won’t drink it. Why squander a fifth of my fluid allowance on thick builder’s brew? I’m accepting the ritual, the symbol of caring: right now, that’s all she can give.

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Saturday Tea by Kayla Morrill

Tea is something I don’t indulge in anymore.

Ten years ago, my wife and I used to warm a caramel wafer over our teacup back when we were just neighbors and friends. She and I loved tea so much that we had a private tea party every Saturday when we were little. That tradition continued after marriage.

Drinking tea without her seems criminal, as if taking one sip would hit her with another car containing a drunk driver.

But I now realize she is drinking tea up there too, every Saturday, with her killer, with me, and our baby.

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Dry by Eliza Seymour

Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. It’s a rhythm Tadala falls into; the rhythm of centuries of tired hands toiling under the blistering sun. But the rhythm has been broken by the unbroken heat.

The next tea leaf Tadala picks is scorched and brown. Her stomach clenches knowing this won’t pay for the flour she needs this week.

She shuffles on, kicking up dust from the cracked soil beneath her feet. She starts work on a new row. The basket is far from full. The leaves are dying, and the rain won’t come.

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Tea for the Monarch by Margaret G. Hanna

Mary stood before the glass-fronted cabinet. “I see you have Mother’s silver tea pot.”

“With the dent turned to the back,” Dorothy replied.

Mary chuckled. “Good thing she missed Father when she hurled it, she might have dented his head as well.”

“Remember how she toasted every monarch’s death and coronation with that tea pot?”

“Nothing but Twinings English Breakfast, if I remember rightly.”

Dorothy took the tea pot out of the cabinet. “I think we should revive Mother’s tradition, now that we have a new queen.”

“I hear she prefers Earl Grey tea.”

“With a dash of milk.”

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The Perfect Cup of Tea by Nancy Brady

When I was a child, every adult drank coffee except for my grandparents, who drank tea.

As an adult, I neither drank coffee nor tea until recently. A friend once brought me tea laced with Indian spices for my laryngitis, staying to ensure I drank it, though unwillingly, but her tea worked.

In the past twenty-five years I began drinking hot tea. At first, I added several teaspoonsful sugar along with milk, making white tea.

Making tea correctly requires boiling water, scalding the pot, adding tea, and letting it steep for five minutes. Add sugar and milk to taste.

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The Tea Party by Norah Colvin

Ollie said the table looked divine. Teddy agreed, adding the fairy cakes were the prettiest and sweetest he’d ever tasted, and the tea was the perfect temperature. Amy and Lucy beamed. The tea party to welcome the happy couple home from their honeymoon was a success. Everyone was there. It was all going swimmingly, until a balloon popped. Ellie started, upsetting the teapot with her flailing trunk and whipping the cakes from their stand. Monkey screeched. Bunny watched tea puddle under the table.

“I’ve ruined the party,” wailed Ellie.

“It’s okay, Ellie,” said Lucy. “No one’s hurt. Nothing’s broken.”

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It’s in the Tea Leaves by Colleen M. Chesebro

Miss Pearl, the tea-reader seer scooped a teaspoon of loose tea into the cup and added hot water.

“Now, we let the tea steep,” she said. “Stir the leaves and drink your tea.”

I stirred the tea. When it was cool, I finished the cup.

“Now, use your left hand and pick up the cup. Silently ask your question. Then, turn it upside down on the saucer.

I complied. “What do you see, Miss Pearl,” I asked?

She examined the contents of the cup. “He loves you!”

“How do you know?”

“There’s a tea leaf heart in your cup.”

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Tessa Remembers by Sue Spitulnik

The day Queen Elizabeth II died, Tessa got out her treasured English teapot and the cozy a close friend had given her. She boiled water, took the last of her PG Tips tea bags from their air-tight container, and set the bags to steeping. She fondled her exquisite china cup, milked it, and added one level teaspoon of sugar. When the timer dinged, she filled her cup with the steaming liquid. While watching the TV coverage, she imagined she had crust-removed cucumber sandwiches and hot buttered currant-filled scones to accompany the elixir she had enjoyed while living in England.

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Two Teas for One by Kate

Alice ushered Shelley into her kitchen.

“If you want to make some tea while you’re visiting, the tea leaves are here,” she said, opening a cupboard door.

“Tea leaves?” Shelley quipped.

“In the canisters. The teapot and kettle are over there.” Alice pointed to them and continued, “You know, one scoop per cup and one for the pot. Oh! here, use this silver tea strainer.”

“You do all this for just one cup?”

“Of course. Why, how do you make yours?”

“I throw a tea bag in a mug, add water and microwave until it’s hot.”

Alice was speechless.

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Rituals of Tea by Sumiko Courtney

Ten years ago:
“Would you like a warm drink?”, Mom offered.
“Warm drink? Like tea?”, I questioned. Mom drank tea, 5 cups daily, minimum.
“No, not tea. Milk, honey, spices. An experiment.”
“I have decaf or herbal tea in the cupboard-”
“I don’t drink tea anymore.”

Today:
Mom still doesn’t drink tea, or concoct warm drinks. She drinks Soda, the evil we could only get at other people’s houses as kids. She prefers milkshakes. Unless assisted, she feeds herself spoonfuls of leftovers straight from the refrigerator, unheated because she can’t figure out the microwave.
Was shunning tea the beginning?

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Grandma’s Teapot by Tessa Dean

Breaking glass followed by gasps of pure horror pierced Annie’s ears. She stared at the floor and the shards of china from her grandmother’s tea set that was decades older than Grandmother even.

Everyone began talking at once, while grandmother just sat there, and a silent tear ran down her cheek. Annie began apologizing, “Oh, Grandma, I am sorry. It just slipped out of my hand.” She began crying too.

“How many times have you been told not to touch Grandma’s teapot, Annie?” her mother said.

“I said I was sorry!” She deliberately knocked off several teacups as well.

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Finally, Perfect Tea by Duane L Herrmann

As with everything in her life, my mother was very specific about one aspect of the tea she made and drank. One day, as an adult in my fifties, having invited her over for a meal, I think it was her birthday, I finally made her tea to her satisfaction, despite trying all my life from a small boy when I was charged with preparing meals and other work around the house. The preparation was not a problem, she was satisfied with instant.

“This is perfect,” she beamed. “Just the way I like it: the color of pee.”

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Butterfly Pee by Charli Mills

“First it’s purple. Like the prettiest purple ever,” said Mace.

“Pretty as forget-me-knots? Periwinkles?” Freya continued to mulch plants with her bare fingers. Her flowers and medicines glowed with vitality.

 “Mom, not everything is flowers.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then, you add lemon. It turns pink!”

“Uh-huh.”

“Please, Mom, please. Can you buy me Butterfly Pee? All the girls are drinking it.”

The next day Freya drove to town with a delivery of bouquets and herbals for the co-op. She asked the grocery-manager, “Ever hear of Butterfly Pee?” To Freya’s delight, she discovered a new tea made from butterfly peas – a flower.

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Would You Drink Yak Butter Tea for Me? by Anne Goodwin

In Kathmandu we learnt the Nepalese for black tea without sugar, but it didn’t work in the Himalayas. Eventually we relished sweet spiced chai at the rest stops as much as we relished shrugging off our heavy packs. The farther we trekked, the thinner the air, the friendlier the people. We grinned when Tibetan monks invited us for tea.
Yak butter tea, smelling of goat and rancid cheese, black with grease floating on top. I couldn’t drink it. I couldn’t refuse their hospitality. I couldn’t throw it away. My companion saw me gagging, swallowed his and swigged mine too.

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Tea Party by Ann Edall-Robson

Plates the size of a little person’s hand rest beside china cups and saucers from another generation. Delicate napkins made from lacy material, found in the sewing room, lay across the guest’s laps. Mr. Bear presides over the gathering from the head of the table, and curly haired dolls wearing their finest dresses and hats sit quietly on cushioned chairs. The young miss joins her friends at the table when the lady of the house emerges from the kitchen carrying tea and baked goods on a linen covered tray. Announcing it’s time for the monthly tea party to commence.

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Love For Ethiopia by Frank James

Malik landed in Ethiopia for business. He knew tea would cheer him up. He entered a café getting more than he bargained for.

“May I have a kettle?” He asked. A tall woman pouted, “You look sad.”

“I’m home-sick,” he replied.

“The perfect thing,” a slender one popped in with cookies. He grinned. The original woman changed into traditional garb. She hummed, “Kinat, or rise up.” The slender woman wafted incense around Malik. The first crescendoed, “Your future is bright,” as the other poured tea.

Malik clapped, “I love Ethiopia.”

The tall woman smiled, “A tea ritual always helps.”

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Disappeared 58 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Eloise peeled out onto the river road, heading for home. Andrew sat silent beside her, his eyes turned to the haunted mansion. It had begun to rattle like a teacup and saucer, in the age-spotted hands of someone who’d just received very bad news indeed.

“99 flagons of beer on the wall, 99 flagons of beer…” the Twins sang lustily.

“Who taught you that?” asked Bethany.

“Shadowman!”

“At least they’re learning their numbers.” Joseph tipped his head.

“We have more to talk about, it seems.” Bethany sighed, raising her eyebrows.

Behind them, the mansion groaned and dropped a meter.

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Ex Wife by Simon

Every morning, beside the curtain, steam of her hot tea, prints the little heart I drew on her window. She removes the sleep crust, wipes her fingers on her pyjama, stares at my window for a second, a little smile at the corner of her lips.

Sips the tea and read a novel for 10 mins straight and walks away, swaying her wide hips. After an hour of boxing, she closes the curtain and disappear.

Nothing changed with my Ex Wife.

She said she left me for two reasons, I never listen to her and something else she said.

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Tasseography? by JulesPaige

reigning days
senior discounts; an
age-’vantage’

Putting ducks in a row. Silver Sneakers, new health insurance for ‘covered’ prescriptions, and taking advantage of ‘elder’ discounts. Ten percent may not be much, but every little bit helps when mostly everything. Brew your tea, tackle your tasseomancy with fancy or plain jane leaves. Personally I keep my moments as my present. When has knowing the future been a true benefit.

I’ll take my tea with some honey. Maybe a squirt of lemon? But I think I’ll bank on keeping myself as healthy as I can so I can enjoy my life.

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Two By Two by Jenny Logan

Friday nights out for a tenner invariably ended the same way. We got surprisingly drunk for so modest an amount—several double vodkas and two halves on the walk home.

I tried to go to bed sober for golf on Saturday morning. There was a formula for this: two slices of toast, two mugs of tea and two paracetamol. Repeat upon rising.

My game was never better than after the night I danced until dawn—no inhibitions. I never did get to go for rooftop cocktails with the Pro, though.
Now I can’t tolerate alcohol, caffeine, dancing or golf.

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A Ritual for Thought by Gary A. Wilson

Like a preemptive therapy, a peaceful ritual precedes my joining the workday storm.

Two hours of pre-dawn darkness, one small light, my chair, blanket, bible, a second scholarly book and big mug of freshly brewed loose-leaf tea; these are the tools of transitioning from sleep to thoughts and conversation of who and what I am before God, thoughts of our world, finally time left for thoughts worth writing before tackling the problems I’m paid to solve.

Thoughts arranged – my day begins.

Like a cold engine, tea and ritual have warmed and lubricated my mind for the day’s challenges.

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Containers by Reena Saxena

Flowers neatly arranged in a teapot placed on the coffee table always fascinate her.

Secrets tumble out during leisurely conversations around the table. Anne’s father worked for the railways, and always traveled in a salon attached to the train. She loved journeys bordering on luxury, and once flicked a teapot as a memoir.

“You know what … I never have tea on trains …. lest my hands turn kleptomaniac….” Anne flashes a naughty smile.

Did she hear the wilting flowers sigh in relief? Containers occupy more mind space than contents. Stories we tell ourselves matter more than originating thoughts.

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Before the Devil Invented Teabags by Doug Jacquier

Mum used fresh water and brought the pot to the kettle. She would warm the pot before adding loose tea and boiling water. A stainless steel teapot was used day-to-day and covered with a woollen tea cosy to keep the tea hot. For guests, the pot was china, with a delicate artwork glaze. Tea was always served unstrained in a china cup, with a saucer. Milk and sugar were added after the pour and dunkable biscuits arranged on an ornate china plate. And when she didn’t offer to brew a fresh pot, guests knew it was time to go.

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The Gospel According to the Housewife of 1950’s Australia by Doug Jacquier

No elixir known to the human race has more curative powers than the humble cuppa. It’s ability to restore hydration leaves plain water, soft drinks and beer floundering in its wake. No level of exhaustion cannot be immediately dissipated by the ingestion of this wondrous nostrum. Yea, though the mercury be bursting from the top of the thermometer, nothing will provide quicker cooling relief than a hot cup of tea. And when domestic labors, fractious children and spendthrift husbands threaten a woman’s equilibrium, peace will be restored by a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down.
*Cuppa – Cup of tea
**Bex – This was a product heavily advertised as a pick-me-up. Some housewives took as many as three doses a day of the powder that could be dissolved in water or a cup of tea to help them get through the day. Tragically, they contained the addictive pain killer phenacetin and caused massive kidney damage before they were banned.)

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Outback Swingers by Doug Jacquier

Tea drinking away from civilisation requires some swinging. The essential requirement is a once-stainless-steel but now black billy(can), complete with lid and handle. Make your fire, boil your billy, use a stick through the handle to remove it from the fire and to remove the lid. Throw in a measured handful of tea leaves and replace the lid. To make sure the leaves settle to the bottom, stand away from others, grab the handle and swing the billy vertically like a windmill at least three times. Pour resultant tar-like tea into enamel mugs and add four sugars. Bloody bewdiful!

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How to Make a Cup of Tea by Joanne Fisher

When people would visit, Steff would bring out her teapot, warm it, then add a teaspoon of tea leaves for each person and one for the pot. Once the kettle boiled, she would add the water and let it steep for a few minutes. Once she deemed it ready, she would pour the hot dark brown liquid into each cup, adding milk and sugar if desired. She made a good cup of tea.

These days she was alone, so now she just brewed a tea bag in a cup. She really did miss those strong cups of tea though.

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Taking Your Tea Like A Man by Geoff Le Pard

Ani Gav, owner of Little Tittweaking’s cafe rents a room to a variety of societies. This isn’t without controversy as, every Wednesday the over 60s BDSM society hosts their tea, scone and scolding afternoon, followed by the Reverend Stickler’s bible interpretation class. After one unfortunate overlap, when the Reverend arrived to find the members paddling each other as part of a fourply foreplay interactive, it was assumed there would be complaints. The Reverend, ever practical had other ideas and, by common consent sitting through his subsequent sermon was held to be a far greater punishment than any bruised buttocks.

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Comin Aroun by D. Avery

“Whoa! Kid, what’s with that mug?”
“Ain’t a mug, Shorty, it’s a dang cup. An saucer.”
“I meant your face, why’re ya scowlin so?”
“Cause it’s a dang cup. An saucer. Why d’ya gotta be servin tea?”
“Don’t you like trying new things Kid?”
“Really, Shorty? I. Don’t. Like. Change.”
“Tea is a very old drink, steeped in history. Ha! Steeped.”
“Jeez. I’ll try the dang tea. Mmm…”
“Um, Kid, yer s’posed to drink from the cup not the saucer.”
“This’s how old timers in New England drank tea. Reckon ever’one’s got their own tea stories an traditions.”
“Zactly!”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Broken Arm Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

The Poet Wayne Kerr Laments by Scott Bailey

My pain was intense when you left me,
a shot to the gut from your left knee,
thought we had something,
but turned into nothing,
your anger is all that my eyes see.

You ripped out my feelings like fish guts,
treated them like old cigarette butts,
and when you were done,
with your sick hearted fun,
you laughed as you slammed the door shut.

I’d chew off my leg so you could see,
I’d sacrifice all just for your glee,
all that I would do,
the least you could do,
is to fake a broken arm for me.

🥕🥕🥕

The Eye of the Storm by Reena Saxena

“What’s happening out here? All the employees with broken arms in a cast? Accidents cannot cause similar injuries.”

“I’m instituting an inquiry”, the Human Resources Head’s voice quivers as the CEO’s roar echoes across corridors.

The smiles on faces with injured limbs belie a different truth. Journalists gather outside the office to cover the event.

“Amco’s employees stage a novel form of protest against arm-twisting by bosses….”

News channels have enough content for a week.

“Firing employees En-masse is not advisable, Sir. We are in the eye of the storm.”

The HR Head stands fired for letting this precipitate.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Arm by Pete Fanning

My broken arm will heal, eventually. It’s set in a cast, in a sling, with pins and screws to keep it in place. The doctor says time is the best medicine.

I’m told I’m lucky. I could’ve hit my head, broken my hip. I will be able to go home soon.

Home. Where the long bouts of sleep and the groggy gray in-between meld night and day. Time has no meaning as my brain works against me. My arm will heal but my soul is fractured. There’s no cast, no sling, no crutch to set it back in place.

🥕🥕🥕

Hero Work by Kerry E.B. Black

She didn’t think. When her daughter stumbled into danger, she acted.

Cocooned in a maternal embrace, the girl escaped injury. Firefighters and ambulance drivers commented with incredulity.

The church ladies proclaimed, “It’s a miracle!”

The mother handed her daughter into their care. She paled, forced a smile that wavered into a wince. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Flashing lights and an urgent siren rushed her to the hospital. Xrays revealed the extent of the damage. Repositioned, crushed bone. Doctors inserted metal, casted. OT’s designed rehabiliitating exercises.

The mother considered the injuries and pain worth her daughter’s precious life.

🥕🥕🥕

“Hunting” Trip by Sue Spitulnik

Kurt sat in his deer-hunting tree stand armed with his new I-phone. He couldn’t shoulder a gun because of his broken arm, but he could use his fingers, so he decided to “shoot” with the much-hyped camera. Climbing the ladder to the stand had been a chore, but he loved the woods when the air was brisk and the colorful leaves floated in silence. Noting each sound, he focused on it and snapped photos of chipmunks, birds, squirrels, and two deer that walked by. He learned “hunting” with a camera was peaceful and reverent, unlike being an Army sniper.

Author’s Note: Kurt is “the quiet one” in the Band of Brothers and plays guitar and steel.

🥕🥕🥕

Shop Therapy (Part I) by D. Avery

“It’s shop therapy day,” my sister said, “We’re going to the thrift store.”

Maybe because it was chilly and gray out, my sister gravitated towards a colorful cloak. But another woman, eyeing the racks like a cat, tail twitching, snatched it up first. “Early bird gets the worm,’ she said.

After a quick detour through bedding, I appeared with my arm wrapped and hanging in a sling. “She wants the cloak for me. Because of my broken arm.”

The appeal did not work. “Eh. She looks like a lone gunman in that cloak,” I said. “Let’s look at earrings.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shop Therapy (Part II) by D. Avery

“I’m relieved you paid for it, but I’d rather you’d left it.” Over the steaming mug of tea my sister’s eyes said she thought I was crazy for still wearing my improvised sling.

“Why? You make things up.” I squeezed another honey packet into my tea. “Maybe when you’re a famous author we can shop somewhere besides the thrift store. Go to a real tea shop and not this diner.”

“Never! That stuff has stories! And diners… OMG, maybe she is a lone gunman. It’s the cloak clutcher and she definitely has something underneath it. Shit, here she comes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shop Therapy (Part III) by D. Avery

“Your arm’s really broken? Here, take the cloak. I’m finished with it anyway.”

The woman removed the cloak, handing it to me. She deftly tucked an elegant China teapot onto the seat next to my sister then sat down, shielding it from view. She sat across from me, her cat eyes flashing a challenge.

“Wrap your teapot in this.” I undid my sling and passed it to her. “But the cloak is for my sister. I’d do anything for her. Except steal.”

“I bet you would too steal if you had to.”

My sister sat up, sniffing a story.

🥕🥕🥕

Getting the Word Out by Anne Goodwin

The letter written, all she needed now a pillar box, but there wasn’t one within the asylum walls. “They’ll never let us out to post a letter,” said Matilda. “And everything else they think we need is here.”

“If I could leave the ward,” said Doris, “I could climb over the gate.”

“You’d break your neck. An arm, at least.”

“Smart thinking, posh girl.” Doris fingered an enamel badge commemorating the Red Cross. “I’ll have an accident in the laundry. Fake a broken arm.”

“The nurses would know you were bluffing.”

“Then I’d have to break it for real.”

🥕🥕🥕

First Aid Love by Kayla Morrill

I enter the room hoping I look casual. I take the closest seat, settle my nerves, and look for David, the First Aid teacher for tonight’s class. He handsomely walks in at 7 and gets right to teaching.

I act interested until finally his eyes meet mine. I raise my hand.

“Yes, Katie?”

“I was wondering what you would do for a broken arm? I think mine is broke.” I say school girl-ishly.

Everyone laughs and David shushes them.

“I would be happy to look at it after class,” he says slyly and adds a wink.

I smile back.

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The Dare by Margaret G. Hanna

“Chicken!”

“Am not!” John stamped his foot

“Are too!” Bob poked him on the shoulder.

John looked up at the granary roof that towered over his six-year-old head. All he had to do was jump. Bob and his friends had. He didn’t want to jump but neither did he want to be called “chicken.”

Pride won out.

He stood on the granary roof and looked down at the ground. “Jump!” they cried. John closed his eyes and leapt into the void.

“My arm!” he screamed.

Bob’s face turned white. “Dad’ll kill me!” The boys scattered like chaff before the wind.

🥕🥕🥕

Would You Break an Arm for Me by Jay at HerNightlyMuses

Doggo barks and triggers other
Dogs all barking, call like flame
Travels the streets
Summons a howling
I drift off
Dream their conversation
Do they share grievance or discovery
Jealous of shared camaraderie
Of dogs
Dreams morph and conjure people
A possible tale of friends
Gone on a date, double
Tend each other
And one was matched with a man most vile
Every attempt to parry was thwart
The better matched dear pretended to fall
Broken her arm
Screaming it hurts
Opening a way
They left post-haste
The camaraderie of friends
And giggling in place
Of synchronised howls

🥕🥕🥕

Suddenly, I’m Not Half the Man I Used To Be (Yesterday – The Beatles) by Doug Jacquier

The soundtrack to our teenage love was her album played on my turntable. The stereo’s needle injected bliss into our vinyl veins and it was a hit that never failed to transport us to a world that we owned exclusively, a world of endless revolution and hope for the future. Until the day we argued for the last time and she tore the record of our love from its spindle and, in her haste, she broke my arm and my heart with one fell swoop. All I had left was an empty sleeve and the tracks of my tears.

🥕🥕🥕

So You’ve Broken Your Arm by Joanne Fisher

“You’ve broken your arm?”

“Good observation there, my arm being in a cast and all…”

“Does it still hurt?”

“What do you think?”

“I really don’t know. To be honest I’ve never actually broken a bone before, so I have no idea, no clue whatsoever.”

“How nice for you.”

“I’ve always thought so.”

“You can always Google it. Type in something like: does a broken arm still hurt after being put in a cast?”

“What a great idea. Hang on, I’ll be back in a jiffy…”

“So what did Google say?”

“Apparently so.”

“So yes, it does still hurt.”

🥕🥕🥕

Just Ask Alexa by Miss Judy

Fall approaches, Mr. Beer Connoisseur abandons the fruity, light beers of summer and embarks on a quest to find The Great Octoberfest Beer. Marzen is his beer of choice, a medium to full bodied brew with colors from pale to dark brown, he prefers the darker full bodied brews.

Searches of market shelves, craft breweries, bars and pubs, nothing satisfies his discerning palate. Too light, having no body, and a lingering after taste, he resorts to a local favorite.

A new brewery catches his eye, “Alexa, where is Broken Arm Brewery?”

“Broken Arm Brewery is in America,” Alexa answers.

🥕🥕🥕

The Die is Cast by Nancy Brady

People often post all their bumps and bruises on Facebook, but I kept the embarrassment of my broken arm a secret. What sixty-five-year old falls off a bicycle, breaking a wrist?

I chose a slimming black cast, avoiding photographs.

My class reunion was that year, and I went. My classmates teased me about it; in the class photo, I was busted—there it was.

Finally, one friend asked how I had broken it. When I told the truth, he didn’t believe me so I changed my story to falling off the trapeze bar at the circus. That, he believed!

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(Spot On?) What Sophie Told Jane by JulesPaige

No ones’ lyin’
Bones heal easier
Than sad hearts
Kin separated
For years on end without clues
Be brave and search on

Jane was getting on well with Sophie – they had only known each other briefly as Nannies. Shopie had broken her arm at the zoo. The girl had fallen hard onto the concrete barrier of the lion enclosure while saving one of her reckless charges. Her ‘Family’ disclaimed her as damaged goods. Then after having the cook make an inadequate cast because they wouldn’t take her to the hospital, the family dismissed her, showing her the back door.

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Drugged by Simon

A body with broken arm. It was Arjeet.

Sherloq made a deal to trick Arjeet, his Ego was not convinced about billion dollar deal, he tried to kill Sherloq.

Sherloq left with no choice but to kill him.

He knew he invited more trouble on his way, but he left with no choice and killed him.

Dalia, carefully shadowed Sherloq. She wanted to kill him on her own hands, she drugged Arjeet. She regretted it when she realised Arjeet was too powerful, eventually he died.

She waited for the right moment. This time she partnered with someone more dangerous.

🥕🥕🥕

Would You? by Jenny Logan

“Will you do it? Take the points and say it was you driving?”

“Lend me money again?”

“Buy me a car?”

“Pay for my new teeth?”

“Rent an apartment so I can escape the staff house?”

Sarah’s concluded women will exchange anything for a hint of love. Money, certainly, but often their happiness and integrity. She’d thought she was impervious, but not anymore. She stopped judging a long time ago.

She sips chamomile tea, nurses her broken arm and wonders if she’ll exchange her safety for a chance he might mean it this time and not do it again.

🥕🥕🥕

Close Call by Charli Mills

Howling like a banshee caught in barbed wire, Eliza cradled her arm. Dust rose from where she’d tumbled off her horse during the ambush. Ignoring the gunman, several men–rifles pulled from saddle scabbards—dismounted to assist her. Eliza writhed, but her green eyes never left the would-be robber’s golden ones. She’d have recognized her younger sister anywhere even outside a far-flung Nevada mining camp. Even in a mask, wearing boy’s clothing. One man remained mounted, regarding them both. Eliza’s skin prickled. He wasn’t one to part with company funds. Wailing again, the men fussed, and her sister fled.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappeared 56 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The sign over the door read “Deliveries Only.” The Mage lifted his fist to pound, then cursed in pain; his arm refused to obey. Somehow, it’d broken, likely during that final, explosive spell he’d cast.

He swore again, realizing it was, indeed, his final magic, an exchange for reentering from spirit to mortal existence.

The door opened, and a man with a spatula looked out. “Hey fella, what’s going on?”

“I’m a bit lost, at present,” the mage looked up, tears in his eyes. He’d not shed tears since long before he’d left Scotland, for family in North Carolina.

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise Broken Arm by Tessa Dean

Sally balanced on the 4×4 length of wood as if it were a tightrope. She didn’t want to take a turn, but they would all laugh at her if she didn’t and it wasn’t a real tightrope as it was lying flat on the ground. What could possibly happen?

She was balancing carefully on the board and in her anxiety tripped and fell off. Imagine her horror when she broke her arm and started to sob in front of all of her friends who were all watching her and didn’t notice she was actually hurt. Or care one bit!

🥕🥕🥕

Cast in a Different Light by Nancy Brady

Before the accident, airline tickets were purchased for a trip to visit my son. I wasn’t canceling the trip just because of a broken arm. Despite the difficulty using my non-dominant hand, I packed, carrying only a backpack.

On the way out, I was assigned a seat with the emergency exit so I had to move.

The time spent with my son and fiancé was great
.
The same thing happened on the return trip, but having been overheard earlier saying, “Normal people are always seated last,” I turned down a chance to fly first class, choosing another economy seat.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Broken by Ann Edall-Robson

“Tell him it’s broken. Then you won’t have to write the test.”

“They don’t know if it’s broken, yet.”

“He won’t know and you’re wearing a sling. Man, that mare can buck.”

They walked towards the classroom discussing the weekend’s event. A horse race challenge that ended elbow first on the dirt road, and a trip to the emergency.

In the classroom, they tried to explain why she couldn’t write the exam. The one she hadn’t studied for.

“This isn’t typing class and you don’t write with the hand sticking out of that sling. Exam starts in five minutes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Little Kid by Bill Engleson

My lungs are burstin’.
Damn horses. Damn me. Shouldn’t have trusted them. He’s not strong like he should be.
Light as a sheaf of wheat though. Light as rain.
Lungs!
Suck in some air.
Hang on little kid. We’re almost there. Over that rise.
Over that rise.
Over that rise.
Too steep.
Gotta set you down, brother.
Just for a second.
Catch my breath.
Watch the arm.
You landed hard when those dumb horses bolted.
Hard on that boulder.
Shouldn’t have been there.
Cleared that field.
Sure I did.
Okay.
Ready to go.
Home’s just over that little rise.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Arm by Sadje

My 3.5 year old granddaughter has just started play school a month ago. Last week they played “doctors” in their class. Mending broken arms and legs of dolls provided by their teacher. The small kids were excited, wearing plastic stethoscopes, putting bandages on the “injured” dolls, and testing their reflexes with plastic hammers.

At home, she demanded a set of doctor’s instruments from us. Her mom got her a toy set and she is running around with a stethoscope and injection. Treating us all and making us “better”.

I wonder if she’ll retain this desire when she grows up?

🥕🥕🥕

Teddy’s Broken Arm by Norah Colvin

The waiting room was crowded. As usual, Doctor Amy was running late.

Nurse Lucy looked at the list. “Teddy!” she called.

Teddy was hugging his arm, trying to stifle tears.

“What appears to be the problem?” asked Doctor Amy, looking over her glasses.

“I think my arm’s broken.”

“Nurse Lucy, we need an x-ray,” said Doctor Amy.

The x-ray agreed with Teddy. Doctor and nurse plastered his arm with plasticene and tied it in a handkerchief sling.

“Lunch time,” said Mum. “Oh, what’s wrong with Teddy?”

“He’s got a broken arm,” said Amy.

“Just a fake one,” said Lucy.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Arm by Joanne Fisher

Alcandra had climbed a tree for a better view, but had lost her footing. She landed badly on her left arm and now she could barely move it. The extreme pain suggested that her arm was probably broken. It was not something she could fix herself out here in the wilderness, so she knew she would have to sneak into a nearby town and discreetly find a healer. She gathered her belongings and weapons and looked for a path that led to one of the settlements. Everything was always so much more difficult when you were on the run…

🥕🥕🥕

Casting Distinctions by Gary A. Wilson

“Ah, Richard. You’re home. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Because I was trying to sneak in.”

“Really? Why would that be? Let me guess. Your mom was right?”

“Okay, yes you were. What do you want me to say?”

“Tell me about your poor broken arm and tiny little cast.”

“Fine. I have nothing to complain about compared to cousin Holly. I hadn’t heard about her car accident or being stuck in a full body cast for a thousand weeks. How does she even go to the bathroom in that thing?”

“Trust me – you don’t want to know.”

🥕🥕🥕

‘Armless…by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s first laureate, appointed to celebrate 1000 years since Daisy Doesit stopped on a conical hill, announced, ‘Yon Tit’s weaking’ (weaking – dialect: dripping, or spouting) and took a drink, before locals chased her away is Stan Tzar, a Stalin-inspired purge-poet. Stan’s speciality is the four line shitter, the first three lines of which fail to prepare the listener for the spite of the fourth. His first iconoclastic peroration included this paean to Daisy and her pursuers:
Who would hurt our Daisy
Or do our Daisy harm
Tread upon her dainty hands
Or break her bleedin’ arm…?

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Arm by ladyleemanila

Nemia, the “mani-pedi” lady arrived and my Mom went to her room to get her favourite nail polish. It was on top of her dresser and she stood on top of a chair to reach it. Unfortunately, she fell down. There was a loud bang and we found her on the floor. She said she was fine and we put a bandage around her arm. Towards the evening, she was still in pain. We decided to take her to the hospital and a doctor looked at her. Her arm was broken and had to have a surgery. Poor her.

🥕🥕🥕

The Excuse by KL Caley

“Would you fake a broken arm for me?”

“Why?” She asked.

“Well, I had that work thing last week, and you said you didn’t want me to go. So I told them you broke your arm, and I had to look after you.”

“What? You said you didn’t want to go anyway.”

“Yea, I didn’t really, but I couldn’t tell them that, could I?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Michael.”

“So?”

“So, what?”

“The arm?”

“Michael, I am not going to your work with my arm in a fake sling.”

“Okay, well will you stay at home then?”

“Michael!!!!”

🥕🥕🥕

How Do They Do It? Becoming Right-handed by Nancy Brady

My husband and I went for a bicycle ride, heading to a park with trails, but we never made it.

Along the way, I became unbalanced, over-corrected, putting my hand out to break my fall. My left arm took the brunt of that fall.

Immediately, it swelled. Rob and I started for home. Adrenalin kept me riding briefly, but eventually Rob continued on, retrieving the car, returning to pick up the bicycle and me. We went to urgent care, where the physician determined it was broken.

The following day, a cast was applied; thus beginning six weeks of right-handedness.

🥕🥕🥕

A Break In Reality (Part I) by D. Avery

Mebbe Pal’s lookin fer me
I’m a-settin high up in the Poet Tree
Safe on the Ranch, won’t come ta no harm
Jist pond’rin Shorty’s question ‘bout a broke arm

Ma answer is yep, my question is why?
What would cause me ta break ma arm or ta lie?
I’d do it fer ya’ll, but a story I cain’t see
even from up here in the canopy.

Broken limbs here at the Ranch?
I’ll keep pond’rin here on this thin Poet Tree branch.
Aaaaahhhh! Hey Pal. Looks like I’m foun.
Done broke a limb an fell ta the groun.

🥕🥕🥕

A Break In Reality (Part II) by D. Avery

Hey Kid, looks like ya fell from a great height
but yer a fictional character, so yer alright
good thing yer fiction, ain’t really real
‘magine the pain ya’d otherwise feel

Gotta tell ya Pal, that ain’t quite true
arm hurts like hell, but for Shorty an you
I did it. Yeah I do what it takes
for the prompt, them’s jist the breaks.

Whut, Kid, it’s broke, ya ain’t jist fakin?
Aw shit Kid, it hurts like hell? It’s really achin?
We’ll fix ya up, do all yer chores
Jist let me know if ya need anythin more.

🥕🥕🥕

A Break In Reality (Part III) by D. Avery

Yep, Pal an Shorty they felt really bad
best vacation I ever had
they waited on me hand an foot
chores an cleanin an a course Shorty cooked

Things were goin swimminly, ta coin a phrase
this went on fer a few days
I even told Shorty mebbe she needs
to be more mindful a where prompts might lead

All kinds a characters an Ranchers’ll end up in casts
(unless they’re fakin, fer as long as that lasts)
which fer me was when Pal caught me playin fetch with ma pig
Yep, I was fakin, a pretty good gig.

🥕🥕🥕

Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Mud on the Tires Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

An Annoying Speck by Hugh W. Roberts

It was the tiniest speck of mud on the type, but it annoyed him. He couldn’t leave it there on such a special occasion.

“MARSHALL! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” bellowed a voice.

“But sir, there’s–“

“I DON’T CARE. BACK TO YOUR POSITION, NOW!”

“YES, SIR!”

A few seconds before setting off, Marshall retook his chance and removed the mud while his leader turned his back.

Then, on the sound of his boss’s bellowing voice giving orders, Midshipman Marshall joined the other 97 royal navy soldiers in towing the carriage containing the Queen’s coffin as the sound of bagpipes played.

🥕🥕🥕

Stories Retold by Reena Saxena

He is ready to glide into the future. Inherited wings feel light on shoulders, as wheels whir before leaving the ground.

A force stands ready to support, send or receive anything as per instructions. Vehicles are cleaned and polished to carry stories into the future.

Somehow, the mud on tires refuses to go. It is mixed with blood and gore and talks about wheels skidding to death and a car forced to speed away from life.

A son wipes his tears away, as the prince gets ready for the throne.

Memories are subjective. Stories change form on being retold.

🥕🥕🥕

Mud on the Tires of Life by Miss Judy

Growing up rural in 1950’s was hard. Small rural schools taught reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, home economics for the girls, shop for the boys. Teachers were strict, parents stricter. Girls would be wives and mothers; boys would be husbands with jobs. Futures were cast.

The school of hard knocks taught how to survive, things not learned in textbooks, experiences gained navigating young lives. Some prospered, became successful and happy; others survived.

The experiences gained, lessons learned, successes and failures, whether thick or thin, it’s all just mud on one’s tires of life. Only one knows how thick the mud.

🥕🥕🥕

Driving Lesson by Kerry E.B. Black

Mia chewed her lip, shoulders tight enough to snug her ears. Heart pounding, gaze darting everywhere. Good speed. Not too close to the white. Not too near the double yellow with its onrushing traffic.

“You’ve got this.” Her mother depressed an imaginary brake on the passenger’s side. Her white knuckles belied a different story than her calm voice. “Stay in your lane.” Tone shift. “Back on the road!”

“You’re making me nervous!”

The car veered further.

“Pull over.”

While her mother checked for damage, Mia fought tears.

Her mother pulled Mia into a hug. “Just muddy tires. Try again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Driving Lesson by Duane L Herrmann

I let my youngest daughter drive on empty country roads. We turned a sharp corner and she abruptly stopt.

“I can’t dad.”

“Go slow, it’ll be all right.”

“No. You drive,” she insisted.

I did not argue, so we traded places. It was easy – for me, I’d driven on a low-water bridge before. The road went sharply down the bank to the nearly dry creek bed, then sharply up again. The “bridge” was just one lane wide, and narrow at that. She didn’t want to drive any more that day.

No mud on those tires.

🥕🥕🥕

The Ranch Christmas Party (Part I) by Colleen M. Chesebro

Montana winters are brutal, but this one started out like a lamb—until today. The road to Dearborn Ranch swerved sharply to the right. I hugged the curve. The mud on the tires of my red Chevy Sprint spattered the windows. The swarm of snowflakes caught in the glare of the headlights blinded me. Winter had finally arrived.

The ranch Christmas party featured Angus flat iron steaks, baked potatoes, and freshly baked bread and desserts from the Hutterite colony down the road. Drinks were on the house. This was when the city girl got to mingle with real cowboys!

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The Ranch Christmas Party (Part II) by Colleen M. Chesebro

My thoughts were on the party, and not the road. Now, the snow blew sideways against the car. It was then, the biggest deer I’d ever seen in my life walked across the road! I slowed to a stop. The animal was huge. The bottom of his belly almost touched the hood of my car. Then he was gone.

I arrived without a scratch. The first thing I did was retell my adventure on the road. The cowboys hooted with laughter.

“Colleen, that wasn’t a deer. With that size, it had to be an elk,” the ranch boss said.

🥕🥕🥕

Mud Covered by Ann Edall-Robson

The rain from the past few weeks added to the level of the creek and she missed the crossing by five feet. Trying to correct her error, one front wheel sunk into the bank. Now she played the game…reverse, first gear, reverse…rock, spin…repeat. No use arguing with a tire covered in mud. Sloshing up the creek bank on her way to get help, she was glad it was mud and water and not ice and snow. It would undoubtedly be added to the dinner table banter, and living this one down wasn’t going to happen soon.

🥕🥕🥕

Stuck in the Mud by Joanne Fisher

Jess got out of the tractor. Due to an excessive amount of rain the south field had turned into a swamp. Her tractor was mired, the tires caked with mud. She sighed. Already she had tried for several hours to get the tractor moving again, but to no avail. Cindy had gone to Faerie to meet the Elven Queen. She had been gone a couple of days now. Jess hated it when Cindy wasn’t here. The farm never felt right without her. Jess decided to walk back to the homestead and figure out what to do over some coffee.

🥕🥕🥕

Last Ride by Charli Mills

Mud on the tires slid the truck toward the unpaved road’s edge. The sandstone plateau loomed above the serpentine track. Jan aimed the hood left, then right, spinning the steering wheel to counter each skid. She refused to let off the gas despite every thought screaming to brake. She ignored her fear, pressing onward, upward. Windshield wipers swiped rain and smeared red mud. When clay gave way to exposed sandstone her truck glided sideways. No traction. No response between steering and tires. Like rain over the rim, Jan’s truck poured off the road. Dropping, she lit a final cigarette.

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A Muddy Disappearance (Part 1) by Kayla Morrill

I open the door and foggy cold air creeps past my ankles uninvited into my house.

“Good morning Miss Charlotte Begolonni? Have you seen Sarah Lancaster recently?” Detective Morgan asks.

“I was with her last night until about…11 o’clock and…”

“A-a-a-n-n-d-d?” the detective asks.

“I-I don’t remember,” I honestly say.

“Can we look around?”

I nod.

“Sir, there is mud on her tires.”

“Can you explain where the mud came from?”

“No I-I can’t,” I reply confused.

“We are going to have to take you down to the station to ask you more questions and impound your car.”

“O-okay”.

🥕🥕🥕

A Muddy Blur (Part 2) by Kayla Morrill

I sit on my bunk reading the paper headlined “Sarah Lancaster Still Missing 10 Years Later”.

I turn my eyes towards the picture of my mug shot. My red hair parted like a wet mop and my bloodshot eyes searching for answers in a faraway land. Next to my photo was Sarah’s, as if the journalists wanted to make it obvious who the bad one was.

I tried to remember that night many times but can’t.

What was worse, muddied brain or muddied tires?

According to the court, muddy tires were good enough to put me on Death Row.

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Back Tracking by D. Avery

“Relax, it’s not a spider.”

Her husband’s voice startled her more than the string that brushed her face. She switched on the light, illuminating the motel cabin, a stringed balloon at the ceiling, her husband sitting up in the armchair, the portable oxygen tank in his lap.

“I put the top up on the convertible.”

“And stole a balloon.”

“Just before this downpour.”

He was wheezing and didn’t argue when she gave him morphine drops.

“It came on fast.”

“It’s just rain,” she said. “What’s a little mud on our tires?”

He smiled wanly. “We should head home tomorrow.”

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Nature Cure? by Anne Goodwin

She cursed when she saw the sign for the diversion, barely a mile from the edge of the moors. She took a chance and drove around it; the road crumbled beneath her wheels. She abandoned the car and stomped through the heather, the wind whistling around her ears.

She hadn’t come for answers. She hadn’t come to forget. But here in the moody landscape she could let her emotions roam free.

She returned to the parking place as darkness gathered. Footsore, hungry, tired. Mud on her boots, mud on her tyres, the ghost of a smile on her face.

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Rut-riding by Nancy Brady

Annie learned to ride a bicycle long after her younger sister did. Soon, she could keep up with more experienced riders. Often, Annie raced her sister home and won when she rode her older sister’s bike. The bike didn’t look racy at all with its balloon tires, but it was deceptively fast. It was fun to ride, too.

Annie discovered that if she rode on the berm, she could ride in the ruts. She named this activity rut-riding and enjoyed the bumpy ride especially when it was wet. Splashing through puddles with mud in her tires made her smile.

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Mud on Tyres by ladyleemanila

When Mark and Pat renovated their home, they discovered an old bicycle. It was Mark’s old bike when he was a boy. He remembered all the adventures he had with that bike. All the scratches, bruises, mud cakes formed and mischiefs.

He checked it out, it still works. He has to pump air in the tyres, check the brakes, scrub and paint the rusted parts. Voila! A new bike for their son, Peter. He’s looking forward to teaching Peter how to ride a bike. He might even buy a second hand bike for himself. That was a good find.

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Muddy Tires by Sadje

The layer of caked mud on the tires was thick and the wheels were stuck hard. Jessie pulled hard without success.

She then had a bright idea, she brought the water hose, turned the water on the bike to make it easy to extract. Now the mud was acting like bubblegum and the bike was stuck fast. When Jessie pushed harder, she slipped in the mud and the bike fell on top of her.

The bike was free at last, all they both needed was a hosing down, hopefully before her brother found out that she’d taken his bike.

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Complex Chocolate? by JulesPaige

When you can’t drive you can’t get mud on your tires, but adults can. They got mud on their tires when we went to visit relatives in the country. I didn’t know the eldest son of my grandfather from his first wife. The Grands lived with Randy and Kate who I don’t think were happy to see us. But Grampa was Dad’s father in law. Gran, Mom’s mother.

My sibling and I were told to go out and play while the adults talked. Together we found a water hose and dirt and had fun making stacks of mud pies.

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Mud on the Tyres by Norah Colvin

After the wedding, Teddy and Ollie scrunched into the back of the little red convertible.

As Amy and Lucy drove them away from the faraway forest, the guests cheered and threw confetti. The empty cans, now replacing balloons on the bumper, clattered across the wooden bridge and scattered gravel along the mountain trail.

At the honeymoon resort, Teddy and Ollie splashed in the pool first, but they were overexcited, and the grounds were soon a mucky muddy mess.

When Mother called, ‘Dinnertime!’, the girls were mud-spattered, from the hair on their heads to their convertible’s tyres.

‘Coming!’ they replied.

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Mud by Sylvia Cognac

My older sister called to warn me that a monsoon was coming.

“The more time we spend on the phone, the later I’ll get home,” I said.

A moment after hanging up, I was soaking wet, and my legs, feet, shoes, and tires were all soaked in mud.

My muddy shoelace caught in my pedal, nearly ejecting me off of my bicycle into the monsoon.

Stopping in the storm, I tied a stronger knot.

“I cannot believe you took a bike ride during a monsoon,” scolded my sister when I arrived home an hour later, drenched to the bone.

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Mud Flats by Bill Engleson

She’s a little putout. “You can’t bring them in here. This is a house. Not a mud hut.”

“Ma,” I scream, “The river’s rising. All of my tools and my bikes will get washed away.”

“I don’t care if the heavens are weeping buckets till forever, I will not have all that gas-guzzling machinery in this house. Put it all back in the garage like it always is.”

“Ma,” I point out with clarity and passion, “The bloody garage is already a foot under…”

“Then, Sonny boy, that was the way that he intended it to be. Now scoot.”

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A Sweet Tragedy by Frank James

Convict Carl Brown trained a blind veteran’s dog, Maverick. Every day, he pushed a cart down a clay path and mud caked his tires and boots. He slogged to the kennel giving him meaning. Training ticked years away. Without noticing, Maverick became his visceral life.

Feeding Maverick flashed thoughts of him eating at five-star restaurants. Other times, Carl imagined him trotting from a boat or plane onto an exotic island.
Six-years later, Carl cleaned the mud because Maverick’s veteran arrived. Carl kneeled with Maverick, “I’ll miss you. Go experience the life I’ll never have.”

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The Drive that Changed Everything – A True Story by The Curious Archaeologist

He had kept raising difficulties. From doubts about the engine to mud on the tyres.

She was more confident, her money had helped built it, she had helped design it, she knew it would work.

She planned it carefully, told her husband she was going to her mother’s home more than a hundred miles away, he expected her to take the train, she waited until he had left the house.

Then her sons rolled the ungainly machine out of the stable, pushed it until it started, and Bertha Benz took the world’s first motor car and drove into history.

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As Clear as Mud by Doug Jacquier

The ashen-faced homicide detective said ‘We know it was you from the mud on your tyres matching the crime scene. So confess.’

I said ‘It’s a supermarket car park.’

The detective groaned ‘OK, but we’ve got your prints on the murder weapon.’

I said ‘Which was?’

The detective grunted ‘OK, so we haven’t found the murder weapon but you’ve been positively identified as being in the vicinity shortly after the crime.’

I said ‘Boss, I’m your Sergeant. I came with you.’

The detective yawned ‘I really need to get some sleep. Just don’t leave town without letting me know.’

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A Brand New Chevrolet by Nicole Horlings

When Brad’s sedan broke down, he thought about what car he wanted to buy next. He had recently gotten into crafting coffee tables for a hobby, and having a vehicle with a big open trunk would be perfect if he began taking commissions.

After he drove home his new Chevy pickup, his uncle happened to stop by to drop off something, and seeing the truck, laughed and asked, “So Brad, when are you going to get some mud on the tires?”

Brad looked confused, so his uncle played a specific country song for him. Brad listened then laughed too.

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Gender Reveal by Sue Spitulnik

Lexi and Adam’s families were excited the day of the gender reveal party but the fact there were no decorations caused a lot of hushed comments. Everyone had eaten and some were ready to leave. A cousin was snooping in the house for color clues. Then a cheer started from near the garage when Emma came out pulling her wagon that had blue balloons fastened to it and was hauling a cake with blue frosting. After the group settled down, it was disclosed that mud had to be cleaned off the wagon wheels before Emma could pull it easily.

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A Stain Transformed by Gary A. Wilson

“Yo babe! What’s this? It was in your old dresser”

“Oh that. It’s from the night some jerk drove through an oily, muddy puddle and sprayed me outside my prom.”

“You – may have mentioned this.”

“I had mud and road grit in my hair, down my cleavage. The dress was ruined. I saved it to recall my hatred and anger.

“But – years passed: college, first jobs, a war, an unplanned child and a marriage – all happened. That dress transformed from an icon of hatred into one of blessing when you, that same jerk, transformed into my husband.”

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The Phynx’s Riddle by Christy Gard

When I woke that morning, the reak of new rubber wafted off the tires. I imagined buffing that black every hour until it shined. I’d keep my tires pristine until dusk.

He arrived that afternoon, insisting on taking my vehicle for a spin. I begged him not to blemish my beauty. He promised he’d be careful. I argued that just driving down the street would cover the tires in dust.

That evening I scrubbed and scrubbed at the muddy stains left behind on my ruined tires. His recklessness had tainted my entire view of the day.

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Internally Combustive by Geoff Le Pard

From three, Sandy Mudd wanted to be a car mechanic. He re-sparked plugs and dipped sticks until everyone said he’d surely be the youngest ever winner of the Total Spanner award. His ambition to join Little Tittweaking’s star team at The Greased Monkey, was set back when he displayed his supersized big end during a speed-dating event at the Compost and Rot for which he was temporarily banned. Sadly, his exceptional dexterity when nipple greasing Penny Forthem’s open top failed to help and anyone asking as to his whereabouts was always answered with ‘Mudd’s on the tyres.’

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Homicide by Simon

Andrew never thought the mud on his tires could serve him jail sentence.

A rainy night, cold climate, while she hung up on her Secret friend, Andrew hung up his knife on her neck. Dragging her body he disappeared in woods, resumed back to his routine life like nothing happened.

It was a month now, he made everyone believe she ran away.

Andrew was confident that nobody could find any dead body, he was wrong.

Police were clueless except the tire mark and muds that matched Andrews car for all 8 murders .

Andrew regretted, for not changing his tires.

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A Red Faced Wang by Scott Bailey

In police headquarters garage, the Captain showed two detectives the stolen Jeep and said, “Detective Cagney, Detective Lacey this is Forensic Specialist Dr. Wang HangLow”.

Dr. HangLow showed them the white chips he dug out of a mud packed tire. “Definitely bone fragments from your missing man,” he said confidently and beaming with pride.

“What about that big piece sticking out on top?” Cagney pointed.

With tweezers, Lacey picked it out of the mud, looked closely, turned it over and remarked, “It says made in China”.

“Great work, Dr. HangLow, you found an old coffee cup”. Cagney said.

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Plenny a Problems With the Prompt (Part I) by D. Avery

*Some ya might recall thet ma last words last week was, “What could go wrong?” Kin tell ya: plenny.

First off, beavers is good at a lot, but not knot tyin, though them knots held fer a bit, longer on the rear a the truck.

Seconly, a hot air balloon ’parently ain’t powerful ‘nough ta lift a ranch truck outta a creek, though it looked promisin fer a bit.

Thirdly, worse’n thet truck ta begin with is thet truck flippin in the air an landin belly up in the creek. Dang tires ain’t got no mud on ‘em!*

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Plenny a Problems With the Prompt (Part II) by D. Avery

“That didn’t go swimminly, Pal.”

“No shift, Kid!”

“Uh-oh, here comes Shorty.”

“Hey Kid. Seen the Ford?”

“Ford’s in the stream.”

“I don’t want to ford the stream. I want the Ford truck.”

“Oh shucks. Um, I’m havin it cleaned?”

“That’s thoughtful, Kid, but unnecessary. I want to go back-roadin, get some mud on the tires.”

“Thought ya was inta kayakin? Mebbe ya wanna go boatin ‘stead a takin the truck.”

“Stop spinning your wheels Kid. Where’s the truck?”

“Long story, Shorty.”

“Think thet story’ll hold water?”

“Shush, Pal.”

“Tell an abridged version.”

“A bridge! Yer truck’s become infras-truck-cher.”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Balloons on a Bumper Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

No Ordinary Delivery by Anne Goodwin

The run-up to publication was always hectic, whether or not she had a publisher to hold her hand. With so many plates spinning, it felt as if she’d be crossing the finishing line in her pyjamas.

She breathed more freely once her box of books arrived. They made it real. Yet the driver plonked them on the doorstep like an ordinary delivery: the week’s groceries not the sentences she’d sweated over for years. But someone must’ve dropped a hint that this latest book was special. The bumper of the truck that stopped outside her window was festooned with balloons.

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A Homecoming Parade by Nancy Brady

The homecoming parade was scheduled for Saturday before the big game with a cross-county rival.

First, however, the parade floats were built; the marching band practiced their music, and the homecoming court was selected. All was readied for the parade.

Leading off the parade were the local police and fire department vehicles, followed by the cheerleaders, the homecoming court on a float, the local high school band, the football team’s float, and candidates riding in classic convertibles. Last, but not least, was the vintage fire engine. The bumpers and sides were covered in ninety-nine balloons (no more, no less).

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Balloons on the Bumper by Norah Colvin

“Where to today?” asked Amy.
“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.
“Whose party?”
“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”
“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”
“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”
“Right. Which way?”
“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”
“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.
“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

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Three, Two, One: Bumper Balloons by Chel Owens

Flip – flap – flutter
went the bits of man-made rubber
as he took away the rudder
and he waved goodbye to mother.

‘I’m an engine of the sky,’
sang he, loud, while he sped by,
while his mama dabbed her eye,
while his wobbly wings a-try

To lift, or maybe thrust,
by ignoring drag, or just

By the will of boyish hope,
as his canter speeds to lope;

And seven small balloons
circle ’round, like rainbow moons;
dip and swirl ‘gainst the noon;
flutter, drag to boyish tune

Of hasty dreams, of racing knees
Of birthday dreams on summer breeze.

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Katie Puts Her Foot Down by Sue Spitulnik

The Irish Dance Troupe sponsored by the No Thanks was always featured in the Fireman’s Carnival parade, some dancing and some riding in convertibles. This year the oldest group felt they had earned the right to ride, but were arguing over which car they wanted to carry them. Katie listened long enough, then went to make a private phone call.

Later, when it was time to leave, Katie had each dancer pick a crayon out of a bag. She said, “The convertibles have balloons tied to their bumpers. You’ll ride in the car whose balloon matches your crayon color.”

Author’s Note: Katie is Mac’s adult granddaughter and teaches the Irish Sword Dance.

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Balloons and Binder Twine by Ann Edall-Robson

Watching from the kitchen window, she wondered what her girls were imagining today. They wrapped binder twine around stones, making odd-shaped balls. Then they disappeared into the trees near the pasture, returning with sticks, attaching twine to each piece of wood. The balls and sticks were tied to their bike fenders. Curiosity got the better of her, sliding the window open in time to hear them laughing as they put crowns of wild flowers on their heads before peddling down the road yelling, “Just Married”. Sticks bounced behind and the twine covered rocks became balloons tied to fenders.

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Down the Road by D. Avery

“Should we warn them?”

The giggling newlyweds disappeared into a motel cabin.

“They wouldn’t believe us.” Wheeling his oxygen tank, she followed him into their own cabin before unloading the remaining luggage and supplies from the convertible.

Preparing dinner in the small kitchenette while he dozed, she wondered at all that smiling bride hadn’t been told.

That night she dreamed she was popping the balloons that were tied to the honeymooners’ bumper, one by one. She awoke to rain drops bursting on the cabin’s tin roof. She sighed, remembered she hadn’t put the top up on the red convertible.

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Future Things by Hugh W. Roberts

“Why pink balloons?”

“I feel that in 50 or so years, pink will be the colour for people like us,” replied Giles.

“I hope they don’t damage the bumper of my new Ford Model C Ten,” responded Roger.

“Damaging the bumper of your new car is the least of our worries. What happens when we get there matters more.”

“Yes, you’re quite right. We may not be married in law, but the reaction of our parents when we tell them we married each other is something I dread. I wonder if same-sex marriage is a thing of the future?”

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Balloons on a Bumper by Shari Marshall

I have to stop their fatal mistake. “Check your colours,” I yell as I run, waving my arms frantically. They’re trying to use only cloud white balloons. “STOP.” I holler. “You need more colours.”

I blow out the breath I was holding and turn toward the balloon stand, grabbing two blue and two yellow to help with weightlessness, heat, and part of the rainbow. We need grey for storms and one red, orange, green, indigo, and violet. I hurry to the car and pass the balloons to Sam. “Tie these balloons to the bumper and let’s fly.”

They stop.

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Balloons on a Bumper by Jenny Logan

My brother and his wife’s friends were ‘extra’. They tied so much stuff on the wedding car it hit a tourist. My Dad, a bit merry and oblivious, told the gentleman it was customary to pin money onto the dresses of bridesmaids. The man was not amused and said, “Is it also customary to knock over tourists with a trash can?”

None of us had seen the incident, so it’s possible he was exaggerating. My Dad suggested he sue the Oxford University College in question as they “have plenty of money”. I expect the visitor was even less amused.

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Balloon by Scott Bailey

Mistake number one: following that hot air balloon.
Mistake number two: racing across the open fields to be there when it lands.
Mistake number three: letting Phynias T. Schmebbs tie off his ballon to the back bumper of my pick up.
Mistake number four: helping him untie all the ballast sand bags.
Mistake number five: watching the balloon ascend, lifting the rear of my truck.
Mistake number six: believing him when he said all I had to do was get in and drive and the balloon would settle down.
At least the view is nice from way up here.

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The Buffoon in the Balloon by Doug Jacquier

Rufus Dufus had decided that Branson had the wrong idea going ballooning in a basket. He figured the only vehicle worth taking to the skies in was his red convertible and he’d provide live commentary. Despite having the lung capacity of a politician, he realised his own hot air wasn’t going to do the trick and helium balloons attached to his bumpers was the way to go. That way, when he wanted to land he’d just slowly let out the helium through each balloon’s narrow neck. Bystanders swore that just before he crashed, Rufus was doing Donald Duck impersonations.

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A Good Death by Geoff Le Pard

Harold Cottonbud, Little Tittweaking’ infamous aviator, always wanted to fly. As a small child he made wings from two wire coathangers and Sibelius, the pet chicken’s feathers. Sibelius’ complaints on being defeathered, if not melodious were certainly symphonic. As for flying, Harold’s ensuing faceplant offered the denuded bird the chance of some avian schadenfreude. Finally, Harold devised a foolproof plan, attaching helium balloons to his toy car’s bumpers. As Harold disappeared skywards, Sibelius’ clucks became chuckles, while locals used ‘what goes up, stays up’ to connote stupidity. In time Harold became renowned in Little Tittweaking as a ‘stupid plucker’.

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Guards on Duty by Nicole Horlings

The balloons swayed from the bumper, seemingly cheerful, to the muffled loud music. However, their eyes were slightly narrowed, scanning the parking lot for danger.

“Attention, squad,” the commander said, his face grim, “We have a drunkard stumbling out of the east entrance.” The fellow zigzagged across the parking lot, seemingly towards the Honda Civic, until he veered off towards the taxi whose driver called out to him, and the balloons all let out a sigh of relief.

Some of the younger balloons relaxed and started bouncing. “Stay alert!” their commander reprimanded them, “until the bride and groom arrive.”

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Set Free by Reena Saxena

Volatility makes one feel insecure. Flying with no strings attached is a nightmare.

My daughter wants to go abroad for a doctorate, and I’ve spent three sleepless nights in a row. Umbilical cords remain. Relationships become tumultuous if one side holds tighter.

Quivering balloons on the bumper of the car driving ahead tell me she needs a vehicle of her own – to drive to her destination. I can’t continue giving her rides.

At the next red light, I get down and cut the balloon strings. I’ll compensate the owners for their loss. But someone needs to be set free…

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A Bumper Crop by Bill Engleson

Never thought they’d do it.
I was twenty-one.
Sucked the heart out of me.
We were an INTENTIONAL FAMILY.
Our own communal construct.
It was the swinging sixties.
Marriage was so bourgeois.
Pointless!
A free-love ball and chain.
Maybe we actually weren’t all that advanced, all that liberated from predictable orthodoxy.
Those two literally gushed announcing their connubial treachery.
“It isn’t me,” Arbutus whispered. “Underneath, Hyacinthe’s a conventional girl. Needs a bloody ring.”
They rented a limo.
An actual limousine
Tied a rainbow festoon of balloons to its brash bumper.
Like it was still the fifties.
Maybe it was.

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Missing Jed by Charli Mills

At breakfast, Joan flipped flapjacks with such vigor each resembled a squashed bug. No one complained. Ross left for town in a wake of dust. Joan yelled, “Good riddance!”

The crew lowered their brims and she stomped into the cookshack to scrub every inch. When Ross returned, the crew gathered outside. Their laughter fortified Joan’s misery. Jed would’ve been 62.

She decided to tear into the crew but stopped in the doorway. Colorful balloons floated above the bumper of the ranch truck, and candles flamed on a store-bought cake. They left a big piece and balloons at Jed’s grave.

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Celebrating Life by Sadje

Mourning the death of a loved one is natural, but most people who have lived a full life prefer that their life be celebrated rather than mourned.

When I die, I’d like there to be balloons tied to the hearse, people singing and dancing and telling each other of happy occasions they spent with me. I’d love to leave behind a happy legacy in the hearts of people. I do hope that they would recall only the good things that I did or said and not the petty stuff that we all are guilty of from time to time.

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Balloon and Beer for Bumper by Gary A. Wilson

Kirby looked at his peer frat members and lifted the mic. Most were drunk already.

“Alright, it’s countdown time. Please welcome – the Bumper 8 V2 rocket – the first launched at Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950.”

The crowd cheered, glasses clinked, and beer spilled as a three-dimensional, opaque video appeared before them.

A projected countdown expired, and the simulation played to rowdy cheers.

“Next; commemorating Bumper’s 100th anniversary, the folks at Huntsville’s Rocket Republic Brewing have a six-pack for whoever can pin a balloon on Bumper’s photo within the circle representing the null-gravity field of our 2050 quantum engine.”

Author’s Note: See link for history references and photo.

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Inflated Ego? By JulesPaige

As a young woman enjoying the freedoms of the 1960’s, she was bedazzled by riding a motorcycle driven by a handsome man who doted on her and respected her independence and strength. A huge red balloon was tied to the rim of the back seat when he picked her up for their date.

Out of the back of her helmet her long silky black hair flowed as they maneuvered the community streets of Greenwich village. They rode south around Washington Square Park to Chinatown. Back then Hong Fats on Mott’s Street was the place to go and be seen.

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Tailgating by Kerry E.B. Black

Tailgating grew in popularity as the Steelers won football games. Stout-hearted fans arrived hours prior to kickoff with increasingly elaborate spreads served from the back of their vehicles. With parking at a premium, finding tailgate parties proved difficult at times. To become easier for invited guests to find, the Toggart family hung black and gold helium balloons from their bumper. However, many fellow tailgaters noticed the increased visibility the balloons provided, and they began employing the same technique. Soon, all of the bumpers outside of Three Rivers Stadium boasted sparking, helium-filled mylar balloons, a sea of black and gold.

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Safety Net by Ruchira Khanna

“Hi, Girls!” said Amy with a wide grin and gleaming eyes as if twilight, “I drove to school today,” she said while bouncing from foot to foot.

“Huh! But, the last time you drove, you crashed the bumper of your dad’s Ford Escort into the wall. How did your dad allow it?” asked Gloria with a gulp and curious eyes.

“Balloons! are my safety net.”

Seeing the puzzled look in their eyes, Amy walked them to her car, which had balloons on the front and back of her bumper.

“They’ll pop, and I’ll know when to screech the brakes.”

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Pickup Lines (PART I) by D. Avery

“Pal! Throw me a line!”

“Um, okay… Say, what’s a nice Kid like you doin a-settin in a creek like this?”

“Toss a rope Pal! I’m a-settin on the roof of the ranch pickup.”

“I’ll fetch ya ta shore so’s ya kin ‘splain how ya put the truck in the creek.

“Well?”

“Was tryin out a idea is all. Usually we jist ford the creek, but sometimes, like now, it’s too deep. Tied a bunch a balloons ta the bumpers, tried floatin it across. Mebbe I shoulda used more balloons.”

“Shoulda tried this last week, Kid. Woulda gone swimminly.”

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Pickup Lines (PART II) by D. Avery

“Ya cain’t leave thet truck in the creek, Kid. Thet’s litterin in a big way.”

“This’s a big time litter-ary community.”

“Speakin a littered air, here’s LeGume.”

“Ello Keed. Pal. I sense trouble, no? ‘ave no fear, Pepe ees here.”

“Reckon ya might hep. Still got thet hot air balloon?”

“Oui, Pal.”

“Plenny a gas? ‘Nough ta pick up thet pickup?”

“Mais bien sûr.”

“Git yer rig ready, LeGume. Kid, call Curly an her beaver friens. They kin dive unner an tie ropes from the hot air balloon ta the bumpers. Then up an away. What could go wrong?”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!