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Watchers

Watchers at Carrot Ranch by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsEver had that feeling of being watched? The hair on your neck prickles, you turn around, or maybe you flee. Who, or what is watching?

This week, writers pushed into the territory of watchers, exploring who and possible motives.

The following is based on the February 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a watcher.

***

The Watcher (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Torry aims her phone at rubbish in her newly-acquired back yard and clicks a picture. Turn slightly, aim anew, click. Turn, aim, click. These should let Juan-Jose-Jorge-whatever-his-name-is know what to haul off.

Her back to the empty house, she can feel it, a physical force between her shoulder blades.

Watched.

She whirls toward the house. Upstairs, undraped windows stare like blind eyes. Lower, behind winter-bare rhododendrons tangled with weeds and trash, sun manages to glint off a dirty basement window.

Nobody.

When she’s done, safe in her car, her skin is still crawling. And she’s supposed to live here?

###

Haunted? by Jules Paige

When a person dies before their time…or at least the time is too
early, like a parent before a child reaches the age of recognition
and memory; often the child is told that their parent is angelically
watching over them.

I saw the staged play ‘Our Town’ – where the dead are boldly
told to let go of earth and what they can no longer have. Does it
help to imagine the photographic eyes of our loved ones watch
our decision making?

Perhaps I believe that only genetics are the true watchful eyes of
where I might go next…

###

The Watching Spirits by Ann Edall-Robson

Tall. Silent. Formidable. Welcoming only those true of heart. In search of guidance, not all who make the journey pass the test. Their search not always clear. Their direction muddied.

Yet, they come knowing they are watched over. They’re not alone. They will be given the chance, only once, to reach the desired result of the challenge. They must be focused. Ready for the trial. Ready for the blistering, mind altering vision.

It is here the young men came. Following the path to the towering rocks. To the place of the watching spirits. And so began their vision quest.

###

Falling Shadows (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

The Beehive was where granite met duff and towering larch. Hikers said they saw a dog like Bubbie run up the trail. She swore she saw dog-prints by the spring. Nothing. No Bubbie. Just a warm breeze through the pines.

She felt…watched.

Looking up, high on the granite mound considered sacred to the Salish, and called the Beehive for its shape, Danni could see the shadow of a dog. How did Bubbie get up there? She’d need a rope to ascend.

Her breath left her as the shadow fell. Before impact, it spread wings and an eagle flew away.

###

Watched by FloridaBorne

“Dingo,” his master called out, opening the gate to her country home. “Let’s walk.”

A head peeked through the dog door. “YiP-yIp-YIP!” he announced his joy.

Ears up, eyes alert, each bush an adventure, he ran toward an all-you-can-sniff world of possibilities.

Feet fluttered over a carpet of pine needles. Tail up, head outstretched, he sprang forward.

Zagging around a flora of obstacles, he jumped at the squirrel scurrying up an oak tree, missing the back legs by an inch!

“Dingo!” A scolding voice yelled. “I’m watching you!”

Tail tucked between his legs, head down, he lumbered toward home.

###

The Watcher by Irene Waters

He lay watching, hidden by the elderberry. Its clusters of purple fruit succulent like the woman he watched. Visualising his capture his pupils narrowed as he imagined her softness. She would not be able to escape. She would succumb to his attentions. He’d cut her if she didn’t and she’d know that he would. He’d captured her in the garden on another occasion. She didn’t sit on the love seat often, usually protecting herself with the tools she toiled and turned the earth with. But he watched. Today he’d have success. She sat. He pounced.

“Oh! Killmouski good pussy.”

###

The Porcelain Cat by Allison Maruska

Skylar sees it as soon as she wakes—the small figurine on her desk. She picks it up, turns it, strokes its glass ears. I wish she could see how happy her discovery makes me.

I couldn’t give it to my granddaughter before I passed, as my grandmother had done for me. The porcelain cat is old, precious. It deserves to be in kind hands.

So, I broke a silly old rule and moved it. I was careful. No one saw it floating.

And watching her now, I know I’ve done the right thing. They will protect each other.

###

The White Porch by Sarah Brentyn

She was about five when she stopped crying. But she still crawled into bed with me. Me. The broken one, the brave one, the older one.

My identity was older sister.

I’d been alive three years longer than she. That’s all I had to offer.

She snuggled with me, her raggedy stuffed rabbit tucked tightly to her chest.

Sometimes, on summer nights, we’d tiptoe to the porch. I’d point to the trees and tell her they were our watchers. They would protect us.

I remember those evenings the most. When the skies were beautiful watercolor paintings of our bruises.

###

Friends by Norah Colvin

He stood at the periphery, silently observing, calculating their disposition, weighing his chances. Were they friend or foe? Appearances could be deceiving, as could his gut reaction.

They seemed harmless enough; but his sweaty palms, throbbing temples, and churning belly turned his legs to jelly. Even breathing was a struggle.

He became aware of someone tugging his shirt. Though unsure if she was talking or mouthing, he understood, “Would you like to play?”

His head would neither nod nor shake, but she led him by the hand anyway.

“Hey, everyone! This is Amir,” she announced.

“Hi Amir!” they chorused.

###

Mamma’s Here, Leroy by Anne Goodwin

His mother watches. First the cap. Then the wrist and ankle straps.

He always welcomed me and my “box of tricks”. Vocabulary, comprehension, digit symbol. If there were points for effort, he’d have been off the scale.

Mamma’s here, Leroy. She knows her words can’t penetrate the glass. She’s here because she birthed him, the cord around his neck. I’m here because I couldn’t trade his failures for the court’s compassion. He’s there because he’s poor, uneducated and black.

She watches the electricity convulse her baby’s body until it breaks him. I watch his mother witness this country’s shame.

###

Watching the Hanging by Luccia Gray

‘We’re going to Horsemonger Lane, Boys,’ said Fagin.

Dodger pulled away. ‘Ain’t nothing there except Southwark prison.’

‘A public hanging!’ said Fagin.

When they arrived, the street was teaming with watchers, howling, screeching and yelling like animals.

Oliver gasped. The place was crawling with thieves and prostitutes fighting and shouting obscenities.

‘Might as well get some work done. Look, there’s a fancy looking toff over there,’ said Fagin, pointing to Charles Dickens.

‘Bet I can half inch his bread and honey,’ bragged Dodger.

‘Watch the hanging carefully, boys,’ warned Fagin. ‘Remember, if you get caught you’ll be brown bread.’

###

Watchword by Bill Engleson

I can’t take my eyes off me. When I was younger, that observation might have embarrassed me. But there is nothing to be ashamed about.

We, each of us, are unique. We live our lives creatively, every step, every thought, every breath.

I look outward, sometimes to the sea, sometimes to the sky, less than I should to her.

I always see me.

Good citizenship requires us all to have a strong and honest eye looking inward.

This is how we serve our great country.

We know when we deviate.

It is our duty to report every single deviation.

###

Being Watched by Pensitivity

It was a big world out there, one where they did not belong and would never begin to understand.

It was unsafe and unpredictable, a place where no-one could be trusted.

You couldn’t tell a friend from an enemy, and who would know the truth from a lie?

Here inside, no-one could harm them, they could live forever in a safe haven, everything always familiar and unchanged.

Some saw it as boring and dull. They wanted adventure, to explore the unknown.

They were tired of predictable and fed up with being watched.
Tentatively they stepped out of the television.

###

The Watcher by Victoria Bruce

I watch. I wait. I report. I never intervene.

Day or night, I watch.

I watched her laugh with the barisita as she picked up her coffee. I watched her walk down the sidewalk, her bright pink coat a splash of colour in the early morning grey.

I’d watched her all of her life – in silence.

I watched as the black van turned the corner. I watched as it sped up.

I said nothing. I made no sound of warning.

I watched as they collided and as her blood turned the white snow crimson.

And I wept in silence.

###

Being Watched by Michael

When I look down my hallway I catch a glimpse of someone standing there. It happens often enough for me to think it’s real. I am being watched, not like a guardian angel but more like by someone curious about who I am and what I’m doing.

They vanish when I glance up at them, blending into the background, the dark curtains in the back room an ideal hiding spot for them.

I wonder what they make of me, sitting here tapping away. The past trying the fathom the future?

One day they might have the courage to ask.

###

The Watcher by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Joseph leaned against the hardware store’s outside wall, impatiently tapping his fingers. Its surface was cool in the shade of what promised to be another scorcher. He drew on his cigarette, then used the same hand to slide his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose. His fingers trembled and the ash dropped to the dirty sidewalk.

He’d waited here every morning for the past week, sure that she would walk down this neighborhood street again. She’d shown up every couple of months, in her bright yellow dress, ever since they’d split.

He had some words for her. Finally.

###

Flash Fiction by Paul Chiswick

April stares at me, invitingly. What a woman: glowing olive skin, hair the colour of espresso, deep brown eyes, glossy red lips.

Oh, man.

My eager fingers trace the pencil-thin seams from the heels of her impossibly high red stilettos, up along her shapely calves, past the contours of her perfect thighs. Her eyes never leave mine, never blink.

Oh, man, oh, man.

‘Lights out!’ The screw’s barked command echoes on the cell’s bare walls.

I kiss the tip of my finger and place it on the calendar girl’s bare rump.

‘Till tomorrow, babe.’

I smile. Close my eyes.

###

Who is watching who? by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mum please.’

‘It’s just a painting. It can’t watch you.’ Mary smiled at her daughter’s scowl.

Penny turned away. ‘It just does, like it’s possessed or something.’

‘You watch too much TV. Well the wrong sort.’ She followed her daughter into the kitchen. Penny had picked up her father’s laptop bag. ‘What are you doing?’

Penny said nothing until the computer was on the table. ‘There’

‘What’s that?’ Mary studied the piece of tape on the edge.

‘Dad says it’s to stop anyone watching him through the internet.’

Mary picked it off. ‘You’re both as bad as each other.’

###

The Watcher by Kecia Sparlin

Mall shoes still did a fairly brisk business. Browsing the internet wasn’t the same, not for them, not for him. At lunch time, Marty often sat alone on a bench facing into the store.

Her skirt was slit, ankles slim, her shoes…worn and scuffed. He winced. Then she took them off. Marty clenched a fist and gnawed his knuckle. When she wiggled her toes, he swallowed his gasp.

The salesman brought a box and slipped her tired foot in a new, patent leather shoe. Candy apple red. Marty swiped sweat from above his lip. His eyes watered with love.

###

Third Time Lucky by Sherri Matthews

Three times around the park, that’s what she always did. He’d watched her so long that he almost regretted it was coming to an end.

Almost.

He crouched down low behind the hedge, his heart racing at the thought of having her all to himself at last.

She walked by, once, twice and almost upon him, third time a charm.

And she kept walking, oblivious to the danger lurking just a heartbeat away.

‘Business owner found dead of heart attack in park’, the local news reported days later.

The body was found by a woman who walked there regularly.

###

The Murky Side of the Rainbow

The Murky Side of Rainbows by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsMud is murky. It’s certainly dirty. Yet sometimes it can hold surprising reflections. A mud puddle is an unlikely place for a rainbow, but it was the place to look.

This week, writers went where rainbows in puddles led them. The murky side of the rainbows holds some surprises.

The following stories are based on the February 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rainbow in a puddle.

***

Good Riddance by Diana Nagai

Kelly descended the front steps, leaving her first love in the doorway. Sliding behind the wheel, she ran her hand over the many tears in the leather seat and tugged firmly on the belt. She cranked her window down, using a pair of pliers gifted to her by her father when she left home; a man who truly adored her. Crisp air flowed over her, creating a lightness that gave her the moxie to reach out and wave goodbye.

With mirrors in place and a blinking oil light, she vanished with a smile, leaving rainbow puddles in her wake.

###

Jaguar Baby by Kerry E.B. Black

A dreaded rainbow glistened on the garage floor, the tell-tale oil which portends the death of a beloved machine. Chris kicked a pile of tires heaped in the corner. “Darn it. She never listens.”

Fumes from Aunt Connie’s 1968 E-type Jaguar still lingered after her hasty departure. She’d waved, ignoring Chris. “Thanks for fixing my baby!”

Water eddied through the oil slick. She judged from the size of the slick the car would make it to Aunt Connie’s destination, but coming back would not be happening. She packed oil and mounted her Vespa, rushing to rescue her impatient aunt.

###

Faith (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“A rainbow in a puddle. We’ll have good luck in our search today,” Michael said.

All Danni could see was a biohazard in mud. She climbed into Michael’s truck and they left to follow leads on Bubbie, missing along the Pack River for a week.

“Did you see it?”

Michael was as bad as Ike, Danni thought. Signs, wonders, miracles. “Yes I saw the oil slick.”

“Ever the scientist. Today, have faith.”

Their first encounter with campers reminded Danni why she had none. The rednecks with AR-15s claimed they peppered a dog fitting Bubbie’s description. For fun, they said.

###

Fight Own Battle by Lady Lee Manila

rainbow in a puddle

we’re tiny dots of whole

everything takes its toll

testing if we’re able

gives us hope to scramble

feel of trust in our soul

 

silver lining or not?

up to us to decide

perhaps good if we tried

for us ourselves bethought

and let’s not be distraught

if we make it, it’s pride

 

we trek some dirty mud

not always smooth, the road

got to pay what we owed

if there’s luck, we’re blessed

depends if we acted

carry on as we flowed

 

rainbow in a puddle

tells us that we’re able

fight own battle

###

Rainbow in the Puddle by Reena Saxena

I loved RainBow till I studied Physics. The charm of the rainbow gradually disappeared. The arc transformed into a circle of knowledge, and lost the open element of awe. I was picking up wet laundry from the clothesline, after a shower, rather than look for the rainbow.

I am sure, RainBow was mighty disappointed, and missed my childhood. It was pretty lonely, amidst dense, gray clouds on the gray sky. There it came … down to earth with a thud, in a puddle of water. And the Sun helped the world in noticing its existence. Damn the physics lessons…

###

Coulored Lights by Jane Dougherty

The puddle in the path reflected like a mirror the tracery of the trees and the sky beyond. I stood on the edge captivated by the still beauty. The sun came from behind a cloud and struck the water, covering the surface with rainbow lights. Diesel, a film of leaked fuel turned the timeless pastoral scene into a surreal nightmare. I raised my head, looked beyond the clouds to the scritch-scratched vapour trails across the blue, smelled the traffic on the road ahead and felt the tree roots curling and straining to find the lifeblood of the dying earth.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

The two giants walked side by side, cursing Man’s folly and the weather.
‘This thunderstorm was due today.’
‘Indeed it was and the rain is badly needed.’
‘Water was their most precious resource but they believed the taps would never run dry.
Overpopulation led to reclaiming wetlands for property development.’
‘Man was stupid, filling in lakes, building on floodplains and not dredging the rivers properly’.
‘So here we are, starting again by making puddles with every step.’
‘They’ll know we’ve been here.’
‘Because we’ve left our footprints?’
‘No. Because you dropped your bow in the rain and it’s arched.’

###

Making a Rainbow by Luccia Gray

‘Look a puddle!’ James rushed to the playground.

‘What’s a puddle?’ asked Timmy.

‘Some water on the floor,’ replied Susan.

‘But we mustn’t spill any water,’ said Timmy. ‘Who did it?’

‘The clouds spilled the water,’ said Miss Rushbrooke.

‘Does that mean the drought’s over?’ Asked Jenny.

The teacher sighed watching the toddlers dip their fingers. They hadn’t seen rainfall in their short lives. ‘Look for a rainbow. That’ll bring us good luck.’

They shook their heads; the sky was clear blue again.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Miss Rushbrooke. ‘Bring the watercolours. We can make a rainbow in the puddle.’

###

The Magic Rainbow by Ann Edall-Robson

The mystical, magical colours dance through the willows and along the creek. Shades of a second rainbow reflects in the puddles. Transparent in the sun showers happening in the valley.

Race to the end of the rainbow. To the pot of gold protected by the little people. Closer and closer. Beneath the small, yellow booted feet, the puddles on the trail scatter in a spray of water and mud. Droplets of rain on rosy, apple cheeks turn to into rivulets. The hunt for the elusive rainbow and the leprechauns that play under its arch gone now for another day.

###

Of Puddles and Rainbows by Norah Colvin

For children of the drought who had never seen rain, the gush when the pipe from the bore burst a seam was a rare opportunity for water play and unexpected learning. While Dad and his Station Hand worked to repair the hole, the children danced in puddles under the cooling spray.

“Look at the colours,” a child exclaimed, trying to capture each one. The men paused to smile at the children’s delight, remembering their own childhood glee. Mum watched from the verandah – without their precious resource, there’d be no washing off mud or cooking the dinner that night.

###

Puddles by Sarah Brentyn

Tina’s legs, splattered with droplets of mud, stuck out from under her dress. A white, frilly thing her aunt insisted she wear today.

“What are you doing? Get off the ground!” Her aunt put her lips close to the girl’s ear, “People are staring!” She hissed.

“White is for weddings,” Tina traced patterns in the brown puddle by her hip. She swirled her finger in circles then squinted. “White is for clouds,” she pointed at the puddle. “Look. They bring rainbows to the mucky mud.”

“Get. Up.”

Tina wiped mud on her dress. “White is not for funerals, Auntie.”

###

The Rainbow by Michael

Through the window I could see him standing by the puddle. He would stoop down and scoop his hand in the water, stand up and look to see if something was there.

I went out to investigate and found him still mesmerised by the puddle. He pointed and I saw in the puddle a rainbow’s reflection.

Together we stared at it. Then he bobbed down and scooped another handful.

I said, “Look at that, you’ve got it.”

He grinned at me proud of his catch.

Not wanting to drop it we stepped towards home. His mum loved his imagination.

###

Rainbows and Valentines by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Nora sat on a low rock, head tipped to one side. The meadow’s shallow pond flashed morning’s sun and last night’s shadows. Peter watched the breeze flip her fine blonde hair, seeming to whisper to her. He left the path to the meadow, and dropped down beside her, “Nora, what do you see?”

Since the accident, she’d become more quiet, and a little strange. His catapult had launched the rock and knocked her to the ground.

His responsibility.

She plunged her hand in the rainbow waters and erased the vision of their future together, and smiling, met his gaze.

###

She Gave Me a Rainbow by Drew Sheldon

I always hated the time after a rainstorm. I was just trying to dry off in peace while the schoolkids would run around the park I called home. They’d splash in the puddles and make all the noise they couldn’t make while cooped up inside. One time a little girl couldn’t catch her friends’ attention so she turned to me. “Look!” she yelled at me, pointing at a puddle. Something in the water was making rainbow colors, something she apparently had never seen before. I couldn’t help but smile and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had.

###

I Cannot Kill a Rainbow by Anne Goodwin

Even our uniforms are mud coloured, the better to blend with the terrain. Where once was meadow, now is quagmire; our every step hefts a sticky stinking shadow, as if our boots have built a platform sole. No grass, no flowers, no sun to lift the spirits; the only bright spot on the battlefield is blood. Mud paints our hearts with fear and hatred. Where massacre is our mission, colour is a crime. Thus I meet my enemy across a muddy puddle, until I recognise the badge on his lapel. I cannot kill a rainbow. I cannot murder love.

###

Mud Slide by Geoff Le Pard

The urge to call them back was almost overwhelming. Mary rocked Charlotte and focused on Penny, following Paul across the cliffside. He was confident, Penny less so, but determined nonetheless.

Mary shut her eyes, travelling back decades: another cliff, another daughter following her father. This daughter, her, slipping on the wet mud, falling, landing hard aware of the likely pain of the impact (there wasn’t) and her own mother’s screams. Her father, all worried face saying ‘not to fuss so.’

‘Mum, look!’ Penny and Paul stood on the top waving.

Did you ever really let go of your children?

###

What Comes First: The Cloud or the Silver Lining? by Geoff Le Pard

Mary focused on changing the baby while Paul pulled out the picnic. ‘You didn’t need to climb up there.’ She couldn’t look at him.

‘It was safe enough.’

‘Is ‘safe enough’ your standard? I had kittens.’

He put his arm round her waist. ‘She was terrified at the start and buzzing at the end. You know, she saw this rainbow, reflected in a puddle, when we finished. It was her pot of gold, challenging herself like that.’

Mary sighed. Was she the only one to worry the next cloud might be the one not to have a silver lining?

###

Seeing the Wood for the Trees by Ellen Best

Sandy, her boots splashed, hat pulled low, frowning with lips pursed, determinedly marched on. “Keep walking the same path Sand; (she heard in her head) you’ll fall down the same hole”. “Okay dad enough!” She roared wiping her face “Avoid the wood; you’ll miss the trees”. ” just leap shall”? She cried. Jumping she landed smack in the puddle, hiccoughed as tears cleaned mud from her cheeks.

Robert on seeing her, threw a leg over the stile and ran. “Don’t tell me … there was a rainbow at the bottom.” He smiled, his strong arms gathered her and Sandy saw the rainbow.

###

Here’s to Mud in Your Eye! by Jules Paige

Why is it that the groomsmen had (or have) such bawdy
traditions? At the bachelor party the groom had wished
he’d had mud splattered in his eyes. He’d have rather
enjoyed the toasts to his upcoming nuptials more. He
wasn’t really a drinker. And when his best friend took
him home. The bride to be, saw her intended’s green face.
She warned; Take him straight to the bathroom. But neither
man listened.

Instead of a simple mess, the resulting chaos resulted in
more slung mud than necessary. Clothes and bed sheets
had to be changed… and the floor mopped.

###

Why Some Poets Are Falsely Viewed as Irritating Husbands on Occasion by Bill Engleson

“Before the melt, the snow pile was higher than my bearded chin.”

Shelley looks at my hyperbole and shakes her head.

“But,” I clarify, “that’s all behind us. Slush now rules the world, mudpuddles are in bloom and the sun is casting a kaleidoscopic arc of multi-colored joy into the mush of mud and snow.”

“All I said, Sweetie,” Shelley continues to show teeth-grinding patience with me, “Is that we should go for a walk. Put on our booties, go for a simple walk. A quiet walk.”

Alas, she sometimes exhibits limited tolerance for my compulsion to wax poetic.

###

The Murkiness of Emotion by Jeanine Lebsack

There are mud puddles all around as I step gingerly around them not wanting to get my new Ugg boots wet. The sheep lining encompasses my feet making me feel such coziness.

As I tip toe across the plethora of puddles I glance at my reflection. I look so sad as the tears start to glisten in my eyes. I think of my sweet Mama and her saying “this too shall pass remember there’s always pain, but the sun shines after the rain.” I smile as I wade through the murkiness of my emotions and see the rainbows reflection.

###

Celebrating Love by C. Jai Ferry

Rainbeau glanced at the chalkboard: hamburger, cheeseburger, and beer. Fish on Fridays, but today was Tuesday. Puddles was a lonely mom-and-pop bar—perfect for her first Valentine’s Day alone.

“A burger, I guess.” She smiled at the blue-coiffed septuagenarian not-so-patiently waiting for her order.

“That it?” The disgust was thick in the woman’s voice.

“And a coke?” Rainbeau added as an olive branch.

The woman shuffled away.

Rainbeau refused to let the woman’s cantankerous attitude steal her smile. She counted out the money for dinner. Tonight was the first of many celebrations. The divorce was final; she was free.

###

Delusional by FloridaBorne

“Rainbows!” I scoffed. “A delusion of colors.”

My son, far too smart for a 5 year old, asked, “Why?”

“My father told me there was a pot of gold at the end of one, and liked to chase them. We found a beauty at the edge of a muddy field. I jumped into a puddle up to my hips trying to find gold.”

“What did you find?”

“Bacteria,” I frowned. “ I was sick for days. It’s called dysentery.”

“Mom tells me to remember the love,” my son smiled sweetly.

“She should’ve thought of that before she divorced me.”

###

Rock in the Road

rockThe rock is unexpected. But there it is, where it shouldn’t be. It’s in the way.

This week, writers considered the various ways a rock in the road could tell a story. Sometimes it was the story, and other times it was a prop to carry the story. These writers wrote right around that rock in the road.

The following are based on the February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road.

***

The Rocky Road by C Jai Ferry

Stella stood several feet from the courtroom entrance. You can do this. She fumbled for the small bluish-gray rock in her pocket, one side rubbed smooth by her anxiety-prone thumb. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Her thumb moved more furiously.

“You ready?” her lawyer asked, guiding her through the double-wide doors.

Stella nodded.

“What’s with the rock? Lucky charm?”

“S-sorta,” Stella said. Dammit, focus! You can do this. “I fell on it. My first visible scar.” She pointed to her hairline.

“Doesn’t sound very lucky.”

Stella exhaled slowly. “It was the day before I filed for divorce.”

###

Steve Goes Underneath by Anne Goodwin

Childhood taught me home was an illusion but, twenty years on, I was living the dream. A regular job, my own house and a fabulous woman to share it with, I could’ve cruised like that for evermore. Until Liesel changes her mind about children, decides she wants a family with or without me. I can’t be a father, but I can’t let her go.

What do you do when a rock blocks the road ahead? Blast it with dynamite, scramble over it or tunnel underneath? Luckily my house has a cellar … with three strong bolts across the door.

###

The Rock by Michael

I couldn’t believe it but the rock suddenly sprouted rocky arms, then legs as it stood towering above us. In its hand was a giant hammer which it swung above its head. Mum was screaming, dad was screaming it was pure chaos. Then I sat up, mum was wanting to know what was wrong. A bad dream I said, sweat pouring off me. Out of the car window I saw dad negotiating his way round the fallen rock. As we passed to one side I noticed a long crack and a hand appeared. That’s when I totally freaked out.

###

Sticks and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Two boys huddled on the battlement wall, wind-blown and on fire with An Idea.

pony-2Between them the small catapult waited, fragrant with fresh-tanned leather straps. A pile of stones glittered, rubbed free of ocean, with chapped hands and tunics needing a wash.

No girls around to interrupt their weapons test. Ponies wandered the path to the sun-bright meadow.

Thor loaded the bucket, and with a nod, Peter released the catapult’s arm. The small stone flew and smacked a pony’s flank. It whinnied and shied.

“This time? Bigger rock!”

They didn’t notice the girls step out on the path below.

###

Blocked Way by Kerry E.B. Black

Insurmountable as a mountain, a boulder blocked the trail. Cindy’s mount snorted a cloud of displeasure into the winter air as Cindy considered other paths. Ice made the left impassable, and thick, snow-covered branches provided an impenetrable barrier into the woods.

She sighed into her mount’s neck. “My life.” An overbearing ex, condescending family, and unpleasable boss filled her existence with self-doubt. Only riding healed her.

She dismounted and pushed, but the stone remained. She rounded it and began breaking branches. Blood trickled from scrapes from the effort, but she forced a path, determined not to be stymied again.

###

Rock Diplomacy by Joe Owens

“I’m not moving it,” the Virginia highway worker said.

“Nor am I,” his Tennessee counterpart insisted.

The trouble was the large boulder had come to rest on the state line and neither man saw a majority of the rock in their jurisdiction. Had there been a noticeable portion in either the decision would be simple.

“We can split it in two, then take care of our half,” Virginia said.

“Not with my tools,” Tennessee nodded negatively.

“You’re not suggesting I use mine?”

“Well someone must,” Tennessee stated.

“Let’s call the feds. We can claim interstate commerce or something.”

“Alright!”

###

Rock’s in the Road by Nona Morris

“Rock’s in the road.”

“Already?”

“Getting faster.”

“Guess it is.”

It was hot out, the sun high. Moving the rock was hard work.

“You gotta stop this, Darlin.” he drawled at the stone. Laying his hand on it, he felt the vibration, like it was purring without sound.

He wondered if they ought to call somebody. Rocks shouldn’t purr, even silently. Rocks shouldn’t move on their own, no matter how slow.

“Alright then,” he said, putting his tired shoulder against the vibrating mass and shoving. He wished, not for the first time, it had never fallen from the sky.

###

First Day on the Job by Gwen Couture

The call came early in the morning. Stuart, the sheriff of highway patrol, had his feet up on his desk. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone after letting it ring 5 or 6 times.

“Sheriff, you better come down here.”

Stuart arrived to raw chaos. The 1996 Chevy Malibu was crushed beyond anything he could imagine. The Malibu must have been heading down the steep mountain road going at least 80kph. They simply couldn’t see the massive fallen boulder in time. He knew there could be no survivors.

“Well?” Stuart probed, knowing the answer.

The rookie shook his head and cried silently.

###

Rocks in Her Head by Norah Colvin

The newcomer was intrigued. Every morning she’d be there, filling a battered barrow with rocks from the road. You’d think that, after a day or two, she’d have removed them all. But, every morning, even earlier, a quarry truck would rumble by, spilling more.

Longer-term residents shrugged indifferently, “She’s got rocks in her head.”

When he asked her one day, she replied, “Come and see.”

He followed into her back garden, and watched. She stood at the edge of a pit and threw in the rocks. After each she listened, hopeful of a sound, of one day filling it.

###

That Rock That Talked by Lady Lee Manila

I had a dream, a lucid dream
Lying on a beach and I saw a big rock
A pervious rock and somehow gleamed
All of a sudden, facing me, it talked

That rock that talked, it warned me to be wary
Wary of things that might hinder my growth
That it’s not smooth sailing and could be blistery
Things might not come my way, perhaps I might loath

Lying below a cellular blanket
Never felt so cosy by the brooklet
I can tell you everything coherent
In the ancient world, life could be brilliant
Come what may, I’m ready

###

Rock! Checkmate! by Bill Engleson

He could feel it.

It seemed to be shuffling around in his belly, in the pit of his gut, a dark shaft of coiled intestine, wrapping around his innards like a viper, slippery-skulking, hardwired for perseverance, soft, mushy fat tissue, oozing up against it, seeking to dissolve its granite impact.

He could feel it.

He shifted his butt, seeking something approximating comfort. It wasn’t going to happen. His body had failed him, corrupted his future, made a lie of his dreams.

He could feel it.

He would forever be less than he might have been, or would ever be.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

He was late.
They had told him where to meet them so that they could arrive together at the surprise birthday party.
They had picked this spot with care knowing he couldn’t miss it.
If he’d arrived first, he could park up and wait for them. How difficult could it be?
They went inside for coffee.

“Look for the rock in the road,” they said.
There was nothing here dammit, except a rock in the road!
He got out and pulled out his cell.
‘Where the hell are you? he shouted.
‘In the Rocky Road cafe waiting for you!’

###

Timed by Reena Saxena

I have always loved your way of doing things, Tim the Timid! You placed a boulder on my path, but left ample space for me, to bypass it, and drive ahead. And I don’t hold it against you, either! Your wife does not like me, and somebody has paid you to do this.

I have become so adept at ducking bullets and manholes. Life has never been easy. Good things happened, but always at the wrong time. Just like my ill-fated rendezvous with you! You will regret this soon, Tim, the Wrongly Timed! I do not forget or forgive.

###

When Mae and Her Dogs Met Jasper by Jules Paige

Until she uploaded her day’s photos onto the computer,
she never noticed the shadow in each of them.

…From the dawn without telling anybody, she made green
pinecones stop heart disease ~ would grimace, moan, and
pray for homeless ex-wife’s, hawk, grizzly bears, John, Steph,
and Dakota, in the back of the truck…

Jasper had come between a rock and a very hard place –
knew Mae was special right off, the way she treated her
dogs. At dusk was she was thankful when the kind man
offered to change a flat on her truck…and the dogs even
liked him.

###

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Sherri Matthews

Tears streamed down Carrie’s face as she read out loud, her hands shaking:

“While we sympathize, we are unable to comment on civil matters, and therefore, we have no choice but to enforce our thirty day eviction notice and foreclosure.”

“Bastards!” yelled Tom as Carrie threw down the letter and ran to their baby, who screamed for them both from his crib.

Two months later, eating dinner at a homeless shelter, Tom took a call about some possible part-time work. He hoped the fact that his mother was Mexican born and bred wouldn’t be another rock in the road.

###

Cracking Rocks and Other Chores by Luccia Gray

‘You’ll get up at 5, carry hot water and light the hearths in all the bedrooms.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘After breakfast, you’ll empty the latrines and make the beds.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Then you’ll prepare lunch and do the laundry.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Such a pretty girl, but so frail.’ He smiled maliciously. ‘The master may use you for other chores.’

Let him try, I thought.

He wasn’t to know I had worked cracking rocks with a heavy hammer all day, until I splintered the forman’s skull when he put his hand down my breeches and discovered I wasn’t frail at all.

###

A Rock in the Road (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane trudges wearily, wondering what on earth made her think a walk was a good idea. It’s cold but she’s hot.Troubles has clearly never been leash-trained; she’s not sure who’s walking who. It’s a pretty day, but it would be just as beautiful from the backyard.

She realizes what the problem REALLY is as she comes abreast of a boulder jutting dangerously into the travel lane. She perches on it and breathes a sigh as she works her shoe off and shakes out a surprisingly tiny pebble.

“Much better,“she says.Troubles whuffs happily and pulls her onward.

###

Flash Flood by Ann Edall-Robson

Water gushed through the trees and across the rutted trail, to blend into the prairie grass on the other side. It wasn’t the torrent it had been in the previous days, but still it flowed with force. Stone boats, pulled by teams of horses had been moving rocks from the flooded road since before daybreak. Each time it rained, they had the same problem. Flash floods carrying rock and debris down the mountain to rest on the open space of wagon road and meadow. It was time to find a different route to move the freight from the railhead.

###

Rocky Road by Florida Borne

In 1989, my third Geology field trip in 3 years, our instructor took the back roads into Nevada and Utah. Instead of a rental van, we were part of an Isuzu Trooper convoy.

Dust flew from his back wheels, impeding the vision of those behind him. Stinging sand became vultures nesting in our hair. With days between shower facilities, I was happy that I’d chosen a cap and NOIR dark glasses for the trip.

On a rare paved road, hillside striations intrigued the newbie. “What kind of rock is this?”

“I don’t do 60 MPH geology,” the instructor replied.

###

The Rock that Changed My World

“I knew it was cheesy. But there was no other way.”

“Throwing my twelve-string in the Chevy, I was there in under ten.”

“But Daddy, it takes almost twenty minutes to get to Grandma’s.”

“Light traffic, sweetie.”

“Mommy’s window was open and the curtains were flapping out the window.”

“Jumping out of the car, I grabbed ole Betsy and I was under the window before I could change my mind.”

“But had to know she was there.”

“Daddy, what did you do?” Vanessa loved this part.

“This, sweetie.” he said, holding a small rock. “This rock changed my world.”

###

‘These Rocks Don’t Lose Their Shape..’ by Geoff Le Pard

‘Why are boys so stupid?’

Mary studied her daughter. ‘Stupid?’

‘Jack. I thought he was different. But all he’s interested in is Pokémon cards.’

‘Does that make him stupid?’

Penny frowned. ‘No, but… all boys do is collect stuff. They’re not interested in people.’

‘Maybe that’s generalising…’

‘But they do!’

‘So do I. Tea pots.’

‘They pretty. And useful.’

‘True. At least cards are easy to store. Not like when I first knew your dad. He collected rocks.’

‘Rocks? What for?’

‘Their colour, their rarity…’

‘Like diamonds?’

‘Hardly.’

‘Exactly. They’re never useful.’

‘Rocks or boys?’

Penny laughed. ‘Both!’

###

Midnight Rock (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Michael knelt at the bumper, shining his flashlight. “Hell of rock you hit, Danni.”

“It was an easy target, squatting there in the middle of the road like a legless grizzly.”

Michael shined the powerful light up the canyon wall. “Can’t see anything else unstable.”

“A rock just for me.” She slumped her head on the hood. “Ike loved this truck.”

“He still does.”

“Yeah, Ike’s in some hell-hole, pining for his truck!”

“He’s enduring because of what he has back home, Danni. You, the truck, the dogs.”

“Too bad he won’t have a home to come home to.”

###

A Rock in the Road by Drew Sheldon

During a stop one day, a kid asked me for my pen. It was nice, and I didn’t want to give it up. So I asked him what he had for me, knowing he’d have nothing. He ran around the corner and came back with a rock that he obviously just picked up from the road. “Magic,” he said. “Bring you luck.” You could tell that pen was like gold to him. Giving it to him brought me a rare smile during that hellish year. I lost a few bucks, but I got the better end of the deal.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

I found him leaning against the rock, peaked and scared.

“You okay, Papa?”

He slapped the rock. A car-sized boulder unearthed from blasting, when they put in the new sewer line along the edge of the creek. The blasting went on for months, cracking the walls and stirring up old memories in Papa’s head.

“Papa.”

He slouched down low, his back against the only place he could trust. I could see the house, but Papa was floating the Mekong Delta, lost but looking for the ambush. With a sigh, I crouched with Papa, hoping he’d find a way out.

###

Snow Day by Kate Spencer

“Some boys were out tobogganing at McDonald’s hill today,” said Jim, his mouth full of Glady’s lasagna.

“Really,” said Gladys, reaching for the garlic bread.

“Yup. It looked like Tommy dared the others into it.”

“He would. He takes after his dad. Dave was always getting into scrapes as a lad.”

“One of them broke his sled; ran it into a rock.”

“He okay?

“Just a bruised ego,” said Jim and wiped his mouth. “I heard we’re in for another blizzard tonight.”

“Well it may as well be snowing rocks. We ain’t goin’ anywhere.”

“No, but the boys will.”

###

Dancing on Rocks by Allison Maruska

“There.” I tighten the band securing my daughter’s hair. “You excited for your first day?”

“Yeah!” She hops down from the stool. “Mrs. B. said a new school means new friends.”

“Well,” I kiss her nose, “I’m happy you’re happy. Now hurry, or you’ll miss the bus.”

Smiling, she hoists on her backpack and skips out the door.

I watch her head to the corner. She’s twirling.

I laugh. I’d worried how she’d adjust to a new school after hers closed.

I’d worried needlessly. Some people let rocks in the road stop them.

My baby girl dances on hers.

###

Women Create

Women Create by the Rough Writers & Friends at Carrot Ranch @Charli_MIllsWhat is the mystique of a woman if not her ability to create? A home. A family. Give her an apple, she’ll make you a pie; yarn and she’ll knit you a hat. Give her a Sharpie and she’ll make signs and march on Washington, DC to express her heart, mind and voice.

A women’s role is whatever she creates it to be. Yet she’s often faced with standards or expectations she didn’t create. Some women crave the safety of traditional roles, and others won’t stop creating new ways until the glass ceiling rains shards. Writers this week explored this vast territory of women and what, how or why they create.

The following is based on the January 26, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme, “women create.”

***

Stirring False Creation (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Joseph mumbled, “Sorry, Nancy Jane. I wanted to borrow a suit from Irish Hughes.”

“He borrowed my whiskey, too.” Hughes shot Joseph a dark scowl. Cobb unbundled a fiddle, leveling the bow at Hughes. “He’ll return it.”

“Put that away. This is a burial, if you men please,” she said.

“I’ll play for your child. I’m no preacher, no devil either.” A soft, mournful strain rose from the strings.

Nancy Jane had never heard the like in her life. It stirred creation in her womb, as if the notes could resurrect her son. But men have no such power.

###

Creation Comedy, Starring Trump, Bill Gates and Freud by Anne Goodwin

In the beginning, says God, was the Word …
In the beginning, says Bill, was Microsoft.
Ahem, Wordperfect was created long before your Word.
In the beginning, says Donald, is and was the phallus, source of power and pride. And who needs words when 140 characters can express the deepest truths.
Or lies, says Meryl (the overrated actress), and the women in their pussy-hats raise a defiant cheer. Besides, the Creator must be female; it’s She who bears the child.
As a penis substitute, says Sigmund. Born of envy.
Yours or ours? says Anna, as she confiscates his pipe.

###

Women Create by Melissa G.

Change is a constant. The action of change is something that’s always enabled personal growth and eventual peace. One mom’s journey shows how two babies inspired fierce feminism.

She read the test, it was indeed positive. She was pregnant. She was both shocked and amazed. We create babies.

Baby number one was here for six months. Baby number two would arrive in another nine months. We create unplanned babies.

Baby one and baby two are amazing. Mom is inspired to truly make this world a place where girls can do anything their little heart’s desire. We create strong children.

###

Prize Pies by Norah Colvin

“Life’s not on a plate. It’s what you create.”

Two little girls in their Sunday best

Snuck outside when they should have been at rest;

Splashed in the puddles, laughed in the rain,

Shared mud pies and murky champagne.

Two young girls with flour in their hair

Climbed on the bench from the back of a chair;

Opened up the cupboards, emptied out the shelves,

Less in the bowl and more on themselves.

Two young women watching TV

Decide master chefs are what they will be;

Enter the contest, invent new pies,

Wow the judges and win the prize.

###

Monday by C. Jai Ferry

I tried to create a feel-good dinner
but burned the onions and rice
(the carrots were still edible).
I tried to create harmony
but people-pleasing? Not my forte.
I gave up pretty quickly.
I tried to create smiles
By telling stories about my muddy dog
who has more Facebook friends than I.
I tried to create awareness
but my friends asked why my wall is so depressing.
It’s not me, I said; it’s the world.
I tried to create hope
but was trolled on Twitter.
Hope’s so trite these days.
I tried and tried.
I will create again.
Tomorrow.

###

And On The Seventh Day…by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mum, are you a feminist?’

Mary titled her head. ‘Sure. Not the burning bra sort.’

Penny pulled a face. ‘Eww. You didn’t?’

‘No but your grandma might have.’ Mary shook her head. ‘We made posters once, and hats. Your grandma loved making things.’

‘What was the protest?’

‘Nuclear weapons. Seems a long time ago. I was ten. Grandpa stopped me going but grandma went. She cooked for the campers. At her happiest doing that. Creating.’

Paul looked up. ‘She was pretty good at creating a fuss too. A pacifist but never passive.’

‘Can I get a pussy hat, then?’

###

What Women Create by Florida Borne

Proudly I raised my flag, “Feminists unite.”

A matronly woman smiled, walking over to greet me. “What did the women of Egypt in the 1950’s, Iran in the 1970’s and the USA in the 1940’s have in common?”

“They wanted equal rights?”

“They had more rights than at any other moment in their history. Those rights were taken away overnight,” she said. “Remember Mileva Marić?”

“Who?”

“Einstein’s first wife, a physicist. She deserved equal credit for his work. What women create, men will take. Until all men recognize that women are equally as important, we will never have equality.”

###

The Other Woman by Jules Paige

Butterflies? She thought of pupa, remembering pinned winged
insects at the museum. She could not create an image with a
nice nose – while waiting in the ward bed. She thought first of
mice, then of rats – She wanted to collectively sear mankind.
Grab a triptych of insufferable egotistical men and ramble
pleonasmic about their faults.

The pregnancy had been difficult. The stillbirth…cruel. Once
a mistress always a mistress? Yet…this other man, he said he
loved her with undying passion. His children became hers…
She created a new life filled with honorable love. And just a
few secrets.

###

Flash Fiction by Michael

She’s a small woman, not the type you would say stands out in a crowd but within her is a feisty energy.

I was first attracted to her passion and compassion, the way she reached out and touched the lives of so many. I don’t know how we connected as we come from opposite ends of the social and cultural spectrum but we have. She has created network of support, of encouragement and of love.

For me she showed me it is never too late to love again. I’m eternally grateful, this tiny sassy woman, created desire within me.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

She’d ruined dinner again.
No going to the takeaway this time to cover her inadequacy,
he was due home in fifteen minutes.

The scene was set for romance, candles burning seductively.
A kiss on the cheek, and a cold beer in his hand, he sat.
Wearing nothing but a smile and an apron, she lay the plate before him.
In the flickering light it looked intriguing.
He took a bite. Grimaced. Spat it out.
She bolted like a scared rabbit.
‘I’m sorry,’ she blurted. ‘I can’t cook!’
‘I know’ he said, ‘but you sure are creative in disguising it!’

###

Dana’s Song by Kerry E.B. Black

The Apocalypse destroyed Dana’s beauty as it ravaged the world, and Henry dreaded looking at her. No more diamonds danced in her eyes. Manicures gave way to peeled, raw hands, and bony-bare and charcoal-grey described her once lush, nubile figure.
She prepared the protein they pretended was beef and set it sizzling over the fire. She swiped a wisp of mousey colored, anemic hair from her wrinkled brow as she turned the meat, sprinkling it with chopped greens scavenged nearby. A sweet sound eclipsed his stomach’s growl. Her song of better days somehow brought beauty to their hideous state.

###

What Darkness Inspires by Liz Husebye Hartmann

There was little light in the cellar, but it was nothing to the darkness of the army of boot heels sinking into the bloody ground overhead.

Their families had been murdered in the homes they’d built with their bare hands, burned in fields they’d tilled with the muscle in their backs, and watered with the sweat and tears of desperate hope and determination.

They’d been purged.

They were the lucky ones, hidden underground. And because they were the lucky ones, they would squeeze out their remaining life force to start again.

Clasping one another’s hands, they bowed their heads.

###

A Bookish Woman by Bill Engleson

There is something in the way she holds the book, a ratty old 1951 Penguin edition, dust-covered, that draws me in.

“I see the way it is now,” she smiles. Her smile is etched with a twist.

“And…?” for she is deeper in thought than me.

“When Orwell says, ‘Perhaps a lunatic is simply a minority of one,’ “Well, we know who that is, don’t we?”

“We do,” I confess. “So…?”

“We build a resistance. We have no choice, love.”

My heart sinks. I am a peaceful creature. But she, she is not.

I will follow. She will lead.

###

The Rebel by Allison Maruska

I squeeze my hankie as I approach the massive cathedral. The veins in my old hands stand out, and my husband’s words echo in my mind: You’re one of the only ones left. Who else will attend the service?

I ignored him. The woman created an escape from the ghetto. Because she rebelled, I lived.

Even if I’m alone, I have to attend.

A young man opens the door for me, and I freeze at the threshold.

The foyer is packed wall-to-wall with people, families of those she saved. Smiles and tears coexist.

Because she rebelled, we all live.

###

The Idea is Everything by Sacha Black

Two things were wrong. First, the morgue was warm. Morgues aren’t meant to be warm. The second, her skin despite the heat, was cold and skin shouldn’t be cold.

I took a deep, lasting breath and bit back the tears. “You started a rebellion,” I say, brushing my fingertips over her icy hand, “and now I’ll turn it into a revolution.”

She did so much more than just organise a group of heretics. It was the idea she created that was the power behind us. The hope of freedom.

“Goodbye, Liza. I loved you in ways you never knew.”

###

Freedom by Sherri Matthews

Another. Fresh. Start. That’s what she told herself as she stared at the ceiling. More like another sleepless night she thought as she slid out of bed.

She hadn’t wanted to move again, but this was her escape, shabby, cold bedsit or not.

“Damn him and damn his lies” she said to the peeling papered walls. “He can keep the house and I’ll keep my sanity.”

She shivered and grabbed her knitting bag. At last, she could do what she wanted without him. A warm scarf first, she thought and for the first time in too long, she smiled.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Julia held court, serving Bud, Jack, and Jim to Bud, Jack, and Jim. She’d heard it all, which wasn’t much. But the rules were clear: One word of politics equaled a searing blast of Fiona Apple.

She found Hank, roughly her father’s age, eyeing her rear. “I’ve got a new drink just for you.”

“Hell no. Your last creation had me pissing stones.”

“I don’t think it was the drink, Hank.”

The bar erupted. Julia spun off, wielding objectification like a super power. She let them look. And she left each night with $300 and a girl named Guy.

###

Last Stitch by Ann Edall-Robson

Her vision was not what it used to be. Too many hours doing close work without good lighting. Back in the day, there were chores that needed her attention. At day’s end, when the house was quiet, her hands created beautiful pieces she stored in the cedar chest in the closet. Intricate, hand stitched quilts and doilies for new brides and new borns.

The elderly widow tucked the needle into the cloth. Sewing the ends in would be for tomorrow. She turned off the lamp, sitting for a moment. Her eyes closed. The hoop slipped from her frail hands.

###

The Diary by Gordon Le Pard

“Nothing, I have been wandering all day and nothing.”
She looked up from her writing, her brother was always irritated when he couldn’t get an idea for a poem.
“I am supposed to be the writer, yet you are writing. What is it?”
“Just my journal, I am writing about the trip we took across the lake, do you want to see?”
He looked, read for a moment then his eyes glazed over.
“flock, no host” he muttered.
Dorothy smiled and left to make tea. Later she returned to see him writing furiously. Looking over his shoulder she read;

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud …….”

Many scholars believe that William Wordsworth’s great poem was inspired, at least in part, by an entry in his sister Dorothy’s journal.

###

Creating Jane Eyre by Luccia Gray

“Who’s the author of this abhorrent attempt at a novel?” asked Lady Eastlake.

“Currer Bell,” replied Mrs. Mozley.

“Who on earth is he?” asked Mrs. Rigby.

“Some say he’s a woman,” said Mrs. Mozley

“Women don’t describe such coarse and shameful relationships between men and women,” snapped Lady Eastlake.

“Unless it is such a woman who has long forfeited the society of her own sex,” said Mrs. Rigby.

“It’s unchristian. We should make sure it’s banned,” suggested Mrs. Mozley. “Just in case it’s a woman’s creation. Imagine how degrading it would be for the rest of us.”

They nodded.

###

Woman Writes by Elliott Lyngreen

Yes. the same for generations. like women preparing newborn nieces.

That escalates quickly. She snaps upon getting dressed. Over shoulders. Like Waiters.

Shredded flag. Stripes separate wind. Lets remember to provide pull strings for future cabling. In the conduits.

Chimes. Winds.

She twists off the holder. grabs a shovel. Spring enters, a tidal wave of white-dark.

11 puppies Zen. 3 did not survive.

She thinks as i am the poor, tired, weak insides.

And i will never my love tell your name. Or the song she begins. Yes, them women can write. Even best, are where stories been heard.

###

Women Create (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane shifts the notebook balanced on her backpack balanced on her lap, twisting her wrist so pen meets paper.

How long since words flowed like this, since a concept glowed so brilliantly inside that she has no choice but to give it voice? She scribbles, oblivious to the lurches of the bus, other passengers brushing by, gabbing into phones, herding children.

Words flow, like the river behind a broken dam.

She pauses and looks out at the bus stop shelter just in time to see the sign, “poetryonbuses.org,” and almost laughs aloud. She feels free, and not alone.

###

From the Quarry

quarryCracking away at hard-rock or sifting layers of metamorphosed sandstone, these are tasks of a quarry. Slab by slab, useful material emerges from a hillside or plateaus. Such is the efforts of writing.

Writers quarried for stories this week. What would be found in the quarry or the process? Read to find out.

The following stories are based on the January 19, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a about a quarry.

***

Love Carved in Stone by Kerry E.B. Black

Heinrich chose marble with an artistic eye. He shook the quarryman’s hand as he paid.

“Be needin’ more next week, I reckon.”

The quarryman avoided eye contact. “I’ll set ‘em aside for you.”

He chiseled the message with a practiced hand. A daisy drooped atop, sprinkling petals below the words, ‘Helen. Beloved wife.’

Helen’s husband wiped tears as he approved the final piece. “You do fine work, Heinrich. The daisy’s a nice touch. She’da liked that.”

As Helen’s widower walked to his car, Heinrich devised another tombstone. Next week, he guessed, and the old man’s would reside beside hers.

###

Devil’s Work by Sherri Matthews

“This is it, ‘The Devil’s Punchbowl’,” panted Scott as he bent forward to catch his breath.

Donna swiped at her hair as the wind flicked it back into her eyes. “It’s deep, you’re right, it does look like a massive punchbowl.”

“Yeah…erosion caused by water running beneath the sandstone caused the earth to sink, so it said up there on the information board…but I always thought it was an old man made quarry.”

“Or maybe the Devil really did make it, like the legend says,” Donna laughed as she lunged forward.

Devil or not, Scott never saw it coming.

###

Mining Disaster by Lady Lee Manilla

People in this remote island were naive. They thought that foreign companies which invested to mine for copper would give prosperity to the island. But disaster happened and leaked a lot of chemicals into the river, the foreign investors left the island fended for themselves without any support. It was the locals who suffered, serious health and environmental problems had placed the community at risk. Mining in the area polluted waterways, killed fish, and flooded agricultural fields. People were being poisoned indirectly through the fish and water, but also, workers were dying from direct contact with the mining operations.

###

Abandoned by Neel Anil Panicker

Long after the last of the trucks laden with earth’s richly loot had left, their monstrous wheels kicking up toxic spirals of dust and smoke, its fumes angrily billowing into an ever blackening atmosphere, Robert stood, his legs as if transfixed to the brackish grounds that hollowed out in front of him.

It was time for the chief works supervisor of Trump Constructions Inc. to move on__to another site, another site, another excavation, another emptying out of the earth’s bowels.

His reward: a further scraping out of his soul.

One day, he resolved, he would fill the void.

###

More Curbless Ruins by Elliott Lyngreen

At a designed opening; yet splitting land’s running road; spans long salient gazes under the girders that support the tube crossing, imagining we could be pneumatic; snuck in the dip of the long hill, in a dead silent pocket of the other side. .

Rock-plate, jagged Limestone, the sorrow finally interrupted by thoughts sped in that intimidating right there, “everything makes sense here,” and fear vanished and we began burning for the impossible.

Red setting never quite went, or traveled as deep into all the shaping of the formation and color ever-bending the quarry as when Heather said that.

###

Endless by Jane Dougherty

“It has no bottom, you know.”

“Don’t be daft. It’s an in-filled quarry not something out of a fairy tale.”

He shrugged. “Whatever. I’m not going in anyway.”

It was her turn to shrug. She peeled off tee shirt and shorts, ran to the edge. Her hair glinted gold until a cloud passed before the sun. He frowned.

“Don’t. I mean it.”

She waved and dived, her red swimming costume flashed, bronze limbs sliced. The water closed over her heels without a ripple.

In the dark, the thing the quarry had disturbed heard and rose to meet the intruder.

###

Quarry Quandary by Kate Spencer

“Mom, you’ll never guess what happened!” Emma ran into the kitchen, the back door banging shut behind her.

“There were cop cars at the quarry today. Simply everywhere! I know you told me I shouldn’t ever go there, but I just KNEW I had to have a look. I’ve been LONGING to do this ever since Joey told me there were ghosts there. It was SO exciting Mom. I even helped the police,” she said holding up a bundle of fur.

“See, I rescued the dead man’s puppy. The officer said I could keep him. I can, can’t I?”

###

The Quarry by Pensitivity

We used to take the dogs to the local quarry every day.
They loved it, could run for miles in perfect safety, the most threatening thing likely to be a scared rabbit.
That was 20 years ago.
Some wiseass got the idea he could make a fortune by developing the land into a theme park and holiday resort.
Work started within six months of sale.
And stopped before the end of the seventh.
Now it lays a shambles of overgrown brambles and pot holes, dangerous, even in daylight.
No wildlife at all, not even crows in the granite rock face.

###

Perception Changes by Florida Borne

My 2nd husband’s mother’s cousin was one of two family members who survived the holocaust. The other, my MIL, moved to America with her brother (circa 1930) so he’d have someone to keep house for him.

She’d purchased a place on the outskirts of Chicago for people over 65. At the parking lot’s edge, a fence divided her corner condo from a sheer drop that looked to be at least 1000 feet down, too deep to hear the trucks below carrying stone out of the quarry.

I think it’s safe to say that experience changes your perception of danger.

###

Strike at the Quarry by Luccia Gray

‘Look at him, the great Sisyphus. Ever wondered where his rocks come from?’

‘Rocks? There’s only one.’

‘One, for all eternity? They get worn down in no time, and he’s got an army to roll ‘em up for him.’

‘Really?’

‘Do you know who does all the work?’ He asked pointing a finger at the pickets.

‘We dug those rocks out of the quarry, carried them for bloody miles, and pushed them up, but he gets all the praise.’

‘What a nerve!’

‘We’re going on strike. No more exploitation of the working classes. Get your own rocks, Sisyphus!’

###

The Quarry by Norah Colvin

Old and disused, the bare earth was dry with no hint of topsoil or sign of life. Rock fragments, remnants of its past, littered the surface still pockmarked by tyre tracks. One wall, etched by diggers’ teeth, stood silently telling its story. Circles of ash littered with shards of glass and cigarette butts told another. But tonight it was to tell a story as old as time. Where once huge trucks had carted away boulders carved from its interior, now rough timber platforms stood. As darkness fell, flaming torches cast an eerie light as storytellers wove their epic tale.

###

Samuel Beckles in His Quarry by Gordon Le Pard

The professor looked into the quarry and gasped, he was impressed, and it took a lot to impress the man who had given the world dinosaurs.

When he had seen the tiny fossil, and told his friend he needed more specimens, now buried under thousands of tons of rock, he had never expected this. He climbed down.

“We have them.” Were his friend’s first words. He held out a rock, full of tiny black bones .

“It’s true – mammals did live with the dinosaurs.” The professor gave one of his rare smiles.

“Time to rewrite the text books again.”

###

To Swim in the Quarry by Anne Goodwin

Father Gregory at the wheel, Father Benedict beside him. Three boys and their towels in the back. No room for me. “Get your dad to take you.” Yeah, right, if we had a car.

Kicking a ball across melting tarmac, my envy burned. Why did those scruffs get to swim in the quarry? Snotty nosed kids from broken homes, not even the manners to look grateful.

Years later, I hiked past the quarry, the pool filled in with rubble since the scandal broke. Understood how I’d been the lucky one. Wondered if the boys’ memories were buried so deep.

###

An Ounce of Prevention, or Who’s Chasing Whom? by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Betsy jogged through the underbrush, pounding her Calphalon saucepan with a designer stainless slotted spoon. The rhythm was irregular, to keep the grizzly ahead in a state of terrified confusion.

“Where is that granite quarry?” She should have reached it by now, according to that burly park ranger. Betsy shuddered as she recalled his cloying, musky scent, full beard, and hat pulled low over twinkling brown eyes. She’d hurried away.

Suddenly, she saw the bear rise up on its hind legs, look back, and disappear over the hill. She sprinted, confident, tripped, and plunged screaming over the cliff’s edge.

###

Fitting Pieces…by Jules Paige

Fitting pieces: In observing nature there is a raw beauty of watching
living things survive. The haiku was written based on watching the a
pair of hawks destroy a squirrels nest that was high in an old willow
tree:

Seedy? (haiku)

hawks wanting to plant;
raid the squirrels high nest for
more than just acorns

Red Tails; Non-fiction (and free verse)

Pair of hungry Red-Tail hawks
Carefully shred
A squirrel’s nest
One succeeds only to drop his prey
Who runs into the bushes ~

One hawk flies away while
The other takes up a high post
Like a sentinel
Waiting for sounds of movement
To appease his appetite

###

Rocks for the Fish by Joe Owens

“Frank, I need more of the six inch slabs!” Jerry told his foreman. “They are for a big job at the Mills’ place.”

“Does she realize the weight?” Jerry asked.

“Don’t matter, she pays cash, the quarry runs on cash, she’ll figure it out.”

Frank nodded as he climbed aboard his dozer to fetch the load. Two hours later the flat bed trailer sagged under the weight.

“What’s she makin’?” Frank asked.

“A fish pond,” Jerry said.

“Must be a big one!”

“It is for the Marlin her husband caught in Malibu. Poor fella can’t let the fish go!”

###

Last One There . . .by Ann Edall-Robson

The sounds of children laughing and yelling, “Last one there is the rotten egg.” It was alway a race to see who would be the first to jump off the rocks and into the water. Looking out from the jump-in rock brought the memories flooding back.

Someone suggested a park along the edge of the quarry would be a nice touch. HA! The park brought rules. All too soon, the race to the rock to jump into the water was vetoed. No more swimming under a full moon.

At least they’d left the water. But for how long?

###

The Quarry by Michael

The abandoned quarry was once the source of clay for the brick works. Today it’s a swimming hole but fraught with danger. Lots of stuff has been thrown into the quarry over the years. Now filled with water it conceals a multitude of dangers.

Every now and then a kid disappears. Sucked into the middle of the quarry never to be seen again. My mate Brian went that way. We were playing on his dad’s old inner tubes when he splashed once and down he went.

We searched for weeks but found nothing. None of us swam there again.

###

Rationing Information: the Teenage Years by Geoff Le Pard

‘We’re going to a quarry. For geography. You need to sign a form.’

‘What are you going to see?’

‘The quarry. God.’ Penny’s look spoke volumes.

‘I know. But there must…’

Penny shrugged, and turned back to her phone.

Mary signed.

The next day, Mary heard Penny talking to Nadia. ‘It was cool. All these strata, going back millions of years. They found a dinosaur there, like whole.’

At dinner Mary asked, ‘So, how was the quarry?’

‘Like a big hole. What’s for tea?’

Mary smiled; one day they’d share things again, once they’d both grown up a bit.

###

At First Sight (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Mary swayed like corn in a cradle, the wagon rocking, creaking. Her back ached and hands cramped as she drove the team. Ahead Leroy sagged with fatigue in the saddle.  A full moon guided their final push to Rock Creek. To keep alert, Mary forced the first memory when she became interested in Cobb.

The mountain girls gathered at the creek, wading and gossiping. Sarah Shull hung back. Her cornflower blue eyes watched the trail from the granite quarry. He rode shirtless and reckless. Mary smirked. She recognized the twit’s crush. That’s when she decided to woo Colbert McCanles.

###

The End Of Her Miscarriage by Diana Ngai

Saying that she was in a lot of discomfort was putting it mildly. Contractions racked her body as a piece of failed pregnancy moved slowly through her cervix. The doctor tweezed tissue out through the spectrum and Carrie was immediately comforted. The relief from pain was so great, Carrie thought the doctor was a miracle worker. Only days later would she think otherwise. If he were a miracle worker, he would have been able to save her baby. But there was no baby. Her womb was an abandoned quarry excavated of treasure. In that moment, her dreams were demolished.

###

My Quarry by Bill Engelson

“Breathless.”

“Are you?”

“Yes.”

“It is quite a site.”

“Breathtaking.”

“Do you need to draw in air, or something.”

“I’m a little winded. I never thought I would see this beautiful quarry again.”

“Hmm. When were you last in Carrara?”

“In ’68. At the creation of the International of Anarchist Federations.”

“A long time ago.”

“Yes. Time has not worn me well. Nor the quality of the marble.”

“We work with what we have. And today I have to think of the George Washington Statue by Greenough.”

“America. Yes, I think of her too. Lesser men. Lesser marble.”

###

To Give a Crap

To Give a Crap by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MIllsThe box of toilet paper issues a challenge of its own: Who Gives a Crap? It’s a clever brand to get consumers to care about the environmental impact of our purchases. Choose wisely, it conveys. So we extend the who to what — what is worth giving a crap about?

To care is an emotion that can create tremendous tension. One’s cares may seem as ridiculous; another a matter of survival. Care can be at odds. In the imaginations and experiences of writers, stories emerge from the idea of what it is to give a crap.

The following are based on the January 12, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that expresses a strong concern, something to give a crap about.

***

A Day At The Office by Pete Fanning

I crush the stress ball, feeling subhuman, asking this poor guy for proof that his wife’s death was natural. “Mr. Flint. We haven’t received the death certificate.”

“I don’t give a crap. What have I been paying you for?”

No idea. Across the cubes, Frida exits the Madison room with a Kleenex and a folder. Twenty-two years, neatly severanced. Mr. Flint starts to sob. “If this claim, if you crooks don’t pay up…I’ll kill myself.”

Frida packs up, sniffling. “Mr. Flint. If I can just put you on hold.”

“Bastards.”

I stand. Frida’s packing up, shaking her head. “Bastards.”

###

Give a Crap (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“Thank God they’re axing that Obamacare. Goddamn libtards.”

Jane stuffs her biology notes in her bag.

“Why does it bother you that people have health care? In the richest country on earth?”

“I don’t want my taxes paying for their bullshit. This is America.”

Jane smiles. “Huh. I don’t mind my taxes paying for your health care.”

The man scowls and turns to the window. The woman beside him nods knowingly.

The bus lurches and stops. Jane gets up with a parting shot: “Not sure how you can give a crap about America without giving a crap about Americans.”

###

Saving Grace by Jules Paige
(pi ku, tau ku, haiku, tau ku, pi ku & prose)

spring-like warmth
bade
her out, then in

lady-bug, a beetle
flutters
round the lamp light seeking the sun

gently brushed into
a cup; returned to nature ~
she see the full moon?

after some more rain drops
the clouds
parted for the Wolf Moon and stars

stretching there,
long
bare branched shadows

*
Some say humans are aggravating the normal
evolution of climate change. In part that may be
true. But there were thousands of years that the
climate changed and there were no humans.

Or enough human ingenuity to do anything more
than survive. Now human intelligence must work
overtime.

###

He Snookered Himself by Joe Owens

“Now that’s what I am talking about!” Kirby declared pounding his fist on the desk. “Let little Miss Bleeding Heart get a load of that!”

He slid the dolly underneath and wheeled the two boxes around so they fully blocked Lizzie Hardy’s office door. She would struggle all day to navigate the impediment.

The next day all the office staff gathered at the request of their young boss.

“I’m not sure if you know this but I wholly support the environmentally-friendly recycled toilet paper industry and thank you so much for the gift left outside my office door yesterday!”

###

Default Setting by Anne Goodwin

Dragging her group’s attention away from the sunbathers, Grace launched into her spiel.

“Can you speak up a bit?” an elderly man grumbled.

“Did you mean 1907?” another asked.

“Sorry!” Grace forced a smile. “The monument was erected in 1709.”

Her audience glowered at a mother star-fished on the grass, as her baby wailed in its pram. At the back, a woman laughed. “What a racket! Put it in its room and close the door on it.”

Grace stumbled on, her expertise fading as her mind reverted to its original settings. Helpless as a bleating baby, abandoned, scared, alone.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

He had defiance written all over his face.

‘He’s got a really serious attitude problem.’

‘What exactly has he done?’

‘Theft! He stole Simon’s lunch out of his locker and sold it!’

‘THAT’S A LIE!’ Jake shouted, jumping up.

‘You admitted you took the food, so don’t make matters worse, young man!’

‘Yes, I took the food BACK. I caught Simon beating up this first year kid in the lavvies and he stole his lunchbox and tuck money. I was returning it because your staff here don’t give a crap about us. Someone has to protect the little ones!’

###

The Mourner by Luccia Gray

The undertaker pointed to the sullen lad. “He looks like a good candidate, Mr. Bumble.”

“Any job requiring silence will suit this hard-working boy, Mr. Sowerberry.”

“No speaking required,” he said, then turned to the pauper. “Just crying, preferably bawling his eyes out.”

“Indeed?”

“He’ll be working as a mourner at children’s funerals.”

“Excellent. We’ll be sorry to see him go, but it’s our duty to help destitute orphans.”

Good riddance, he thought. Nobody gives a crap about any of the blighters.

He’d paid a fiver to get rid of Oliver Twist.

Troublemaker.

How dare he ask for more!

###

Judgement Day by Geoff Le Pard

‘What are you doing, Penny?’ Miss Castle stood in the door, looking shocked.

Penny stood by the whiteboard, a felt tip in her hand. On the board the words ‘Bitch’ stood out. ‘I…’

‘Wipe it off and go to Mrs Hind’s office.’

*

‘How could you, Penny?’ Mary looked furious.

‘I was protecting Nadia. The others made her write it.’

‘Others?’ But Mary knew who Penny meant. She hugged her daughter. ‘Nadia’s new, isn’t she? What did Mrs Hind do?’

‘Detention. It’s worth it.’

‘Well done. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. Shall we ask Nadia round?’

###

Part of the Problem by Sherri Matthews

She knew the minute she walked into the room with her daughter, the therapist didn’t want her there.

It was the always the same: the unspoken insinuation that she, the mother, was part of the problem, in the way, hindering progress.

I’m here to help, she wanted to yell. I’m here because my daughter wants me here and because I give a crap! I’m here because she has Asperger’s and when you stare at her and tell her to ‘step outside her comfort zone’ and make friends, she wants to scream, ‘But I don’t have a comfort zone, anywhere.’

###

Pulling Together by Norah Colvin

“It’s mine!” they spat at each other. With faces red and contorted, they pulled in opposite directions.

The object finally stretched to its limit and ripped apart, catapulting the opponents backwards to land on their derrieres.

“Now look what you’ve done!” they accused each other, and scrambled to retrieve what was salvageable.

They contemplated the useless fragments. There were no winners, only losers. Their eyes, previously filled with hate, now brimmed with sorrow.

“What have we done?”

Moving together, each comforted the other, feeling as much for the other’s loss as for their own.

“Let’s start anew,” they said.

###

Damn Duck! by Bill Engleson

There it is again, that damn Muscovy duck, running wild on the rarely busy streets of our island.

“Pull over and fetch it. Some goobah’s gonna cream it.” Shelley says this knowing my duck phobia. One trip to a farm when I was seven and I had to run into the most vicious fowl ever. I could still feel it’s bill scrunching my pudgy little palm.

“Someone else will stop and save Donald,” I say as we speed by.

My peripheral sees her head shaking.

“Are you the man I married?” she fires away.

I slam on the brakes.

###

The Old Lady by Allison Maruska

On my way to her spot, I skip over the biggest sidewalk cracks, gripping my prize. Colton says stepping on a crack will break Mama’s back. I sometimes hit one but she’s okay.

The old lady is outside 7-11. She smiles big. “Child! What you got?”

I hold the paper bag out. “I did it! Learned all my sight words!”

“Oh, baby girl.” She sniffs the buttery smell. “Keep this. You don’t get treats often.”

“It’s yours. I don’t wanna hear no more about it.”

Smiling, she pops a piece of popcorn into her mouth, then one into mine.

###

I Wish a Better Life for You by Roger Shipp

I despised school.

Memorize…Regurgitate… Repeat.

Hated my classes.

What you wore… Who you dated… God forbid if you were different.

I loathed my teachers. Be’in’s as I was from the wrong side of the tracks. Who’d I think I was applying for advanced placement enrollment?

I wanted out. I wanted something different.

Turning out the light quickly, I slide The Iliad back under the covers.

Past midnight… Dad’s home.

Tuesday… All three jobs today.

He worked hard. Wanted a different life for me. Not what he had.

The door cracked… “Go’night, sweetheart. See’ya in the morning,” he always whispers.

###

Worth Preserving by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Enough of that,” he snapped off the television and stepped onto the back porch. Easing into a wooden rocking chair, he cupped his hands around his coffee, and gazed down dewy lawn and dark granite, sloping to the mist-shrouded lake.

“How was hunting?” he raised an eyebrow at the tortoiseshell at porch’s edge, opened lap space to share warmth.

She purred and kneaded his thigh, her claws catching in the thick corduroy. He chuckled as she arched and settled under his knotted fingers.

The chair creaked. The sun spilled over the hills of the mainland. Another quiet day unspooled.

###

Hidden by C Jai Ferry

The officer pressed her thumb against the cardstock. “Fourteen and a prostitute.” He shook his head and inked her other fingers.

She gave him a practiced bored look.

“My little girl dreams of having babies with Prince Charming in a pink castle.” He flicked a sidelong glance at her. “Who wants damaged goods?”

“A whole lotta men wanted me last week.” She snatched his only offering, a moistened towelette. The black ink smeared, creating shadows on her fingertips.

“Bet your parents are proud.”

She snorted. She’d endured so much worse than shame. “They’re pissed they didn’t sell me sooner.”

###

Who Gives a Crap by Michael

My editor as far as I was concerned had one bad habit. She always wanted more from me. “Give a crap!” she’d say as we discussed my latest effort. A fantasy in involving a witch living in a suburban street who was capable of no end of good and evil all wrapped up together.
“Who will read this?” she’d ask. “Its quaint and trite and as a character she isn’t believable.”

So I’d walk away feeling why should give a crap about what she thought, after all my writing made me feel good. Wasn’t that the most important factor?

###

The Artist by Pete Fanning

At midnight, the band finished its set and a spokesperson announced that it was time.

Champagne flutes clinked. Techie elites and business moguls lurched forward.

“Fuse considers this to be his life’s work, titled, Giving A Crap.”

Fuse didn’t speak. His disdain for vocal communication was well documented. Quietly electrified, the crowd waited. After some grunting, the curtain dropped to reveal Fuse, hunched atop a commode.

Polite applause. Fuse stood triumphantly, naked. He turned, amidst the delighted murmurs, and picked out his feces, barehanded, and smeared them across the canvas.

“We will start bidding at one million US dollars.”

###

‘America’ Deserves an Idiot (not Americans) by Elliott Lyngreen

After the same commercial (you know the one where the kid is eating that three foot tape of candy, and eating the other end of it is an alien looking creature dressed like his grandmother???) for the umpteenth break in the latest televised celebration, Cletus disgust, “Morons..”

Billy Bob victoriously grinds his knife across a tri-stone, “Ha! Hear them blowing dog whistles cuz?. They all goin to hell
…. People earning livings off tragedies? the advertising…? . This fake ‘America’ aint it .. well, Seems we chose the right Idiot for ’em.”-“Amen.”

###

Political C#@p by Florida Borne

A man with midnight skin stood next to a coconut palm, amused when a slender woman with a cane hobbled past.

“Kill all cracker babies,” he yelled.

Barely 5 feet tall, light beige, and grey-haired, the woman with sharp blue eyes asked, “Were you born in Florida?”

“Yes.”

“You ignorant SOB,” she said. “Anyone born in Florida is a Florida cracker!”

“Racist!” he blurted.

“So…you want to play political poker? I’ll raise the stakes! My grandmother was a Seminole, I’m old and disabled. That beats your ‘racist’ any day.”

She mumbled as she walked away, “I hate political c#@p.”

###

Boring Conversation by Diana Ngai

Damn it, I thought, as he sat down. I closed my eyes, preparing for dull torture. My sister’s boyfriend could ramble on long beyond any inner dialogue I focused on while appearing interested. Either he cannot read social cues, or I am that good of an actor.

I reminded myself that I love my sister and must be friendly. But hearing about his day is as riveting as counting to infinity. No point. No end.

I dug my fingernails into my palms; the pain keeping me alert. Focusing my eyes on his, I concentrated on giving a crap.

###

Old Lady by Jane Dougherty

Every day it’s the same route to the same shop to buy the same things that won’t empty her purse completely. Until the day I find her wandering, her bag empty and her eyes full of hurt.

“Been burgled,” she said, her blue eyes wide and watery. “Two kids, pushed past when I opened the door. Went straight to the drawer with the money in it.”

All I can do is give her my arm, guide her distracted steps home. I can’t give what I would—more time, strength, and a safer world to live her last years in.

###

Serving All (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Officer Roubineaux, explain why you were in Naples that day,” said the judge.

“Yes. I made a promise to a friend who is serving in Iraq to look out for his wife.”

“Which branch of service,” the judge asked.

“He’s a contractor for private security,” answered Michael.

“That’s not service. That’s a cover for meaningless acts of mercenary.” The judge made the comment as casually as if stating a fish has scales.

Danni resisted the urge to throw her shoe at the judge. He had no idea how much Ike gave a crap about serving his country, even jerks.

###

Destruction by Sarah Brentyn

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” She slammed the door in his face, turned to me, and smiled.

“Rhett Butler, Mum? Seriously?”

“Your grandma loved that movie. We watched it every Christmas. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to say that.”

“Well,” I picked some fuzz from my socks, “you got your chance. It was about time, too.”

She trailed her fingers along the windowsill. “I know. I’m sorry. He won’t be back here anymore.”

“I hope not.”

“I made sure of it.”

“Good. I love this old house. And it’s not like this town needs another fast food joint.”

###

I Give a Crap! by Ann Edall-Robson

Snake fences, two pronged barbed wire, old machinery, wagons and buildings. All are very quickly being torn from our history without a care.

Well, I care. These pieces of our history are needed to tell future generations of the hardships and laughter our forefathers lived to give us the gift we now live.

Writing is one way to embrace and record history, but I am at home behind a camera lens capturing the mementos, potential stories. Sharing the rusted icons and pastures riddled with old fences.

I am passionate about their story. Matter of fact, I give a crap!

###

Rattling Words

rattling-wordsRattling swords, rattling bones, rattling words. The rattle is a strident sound, one that grabs attention. The wind can rattle through dry weeds, or it can rattle your nerves.

Writers didn’t stay rattled, and used sound and tension to create a wide swath of stories. Like a musical instrument, each stroke of the rattle ads something new to the music on the page.

The following is based on the January 5, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound.

***

The Rattle by Michael

I awoke, disorientated. It was black as pitch. Around me there was silence, except for the rattle. Menacing me when I moved and I feared it.

Shifting to my right the rattle increased in volume. I felt it might rush in upon me. I sat still, the rattle decreased. It never grew silent but rattled softly reminding me of its presence. I’d run, but I couldn’t see. I called for help. Only the rattle responded. The sweat on my brow dripped into my eye as the rattle drew closer. I pushed back, it pushed forward. I closed my eyes.

###

Winds of Change by C. Jai Ferry

Thick snowflakes blanketed the cornstalk remnants, cows, and cedars with a suffocating softness. God, she hated night-time snowstorms. They gave her nightmares about nuclear winters. Soon she was staring at a featureless panorama that looked more like the surface of the moon than the winter fields of the Great Plains. Tomorrow’s roads would be perilous as the soft fluff created unyielding drifts anxious to crumple the front end of the hardiest Ford. As if on cue, the cracked window in her office rattled against its pane. She braced herself against the shudder traveling her spine. The winds had arrived.

###

It Could Be Bones Rattling by Bill Engleson

“Sounds ominous.” I say this lightly. I always say it lightly. Many of my words are light-weight. People know when they are speaking gibberish. I certainly do.

Shelley gives me that look. I get it a lot. We’re on the porch. We’ve been up all night. Talking. I hate talking. I’m always one step behind and an hour late when I talk about my feelings.

“Look.” She points to the sidewalk. The sun is just inches away from rising. The pimply kid who delivers the Morning Bugle is dragging a stick along the picket fence.

I hate that kid.

###

Make Your Mama Happy by Roger Shipp

“Mama, Mama!” Eight-year-old Herbie was racing from the front window to the kitchen door. “It’s Uncle RoRo. In a U-Haul.”

Sylvia went to greet her youngest brother.

Roro (a bit of a ne’er-do-well, but the favorite uncle of Herbie) was balancing three boxes in his arms and side-stepping the feet his anxious nephew.

“What on earth have you brought, Roro?”

“Memories,…Memories.” He smiled as he was opening box after box. “I remember you saying as you left for college how much you missed my garage band.”

Roro was still smiling… “Herbie, here’re my old sticks. Make your mama happy.”

###

Rattle That Lock by Lady Lee Manila

Don’t let them take over the reins
Get out of that dark forest
Don’t want it to be the bleakest
Force your way into the light
Don’t give up easily the fight
Beneath the waterfalls such force
And within us we’ve got resource
Marvellous sound the falling water
We won’t know until we’ve entered
Rattling but so soothing
All the positive force it brings
Think a little and send us the rain
We’ve got the power to reign
Rattle that lock and lose those chains
Don’t let them take over the reins

###

The Good Nephew by Luccia Gray

‘Go away,’ he shouted, covering his head with the woollen blanket, but the rattling grew louder.

‘Leave me alone!’ He was trembling.

More rattling.

‘I don’t want to go there again!’

‘I warned you last Christmas,’ came the ghostly echo with more thunderous rattling.

Minutes later, the ghost discarded the heavy chains and stood by the skeletal corpse in the icy bedroom.

‘I was only reminding you to keep your promises,’ he said closing Ebenezer’s blank eyes.

Then he opened the safe where the miser kept the gold coins and dropped them into his purse.

‘Rest in peace, uncle.’

###

Unexpected Help (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Coins in a coffee can rattled as the boy ran across the parking lot. “Dr. Danni Gordon!” He yelled.

Danni and Michael turned. She recognized the boy from the class she had toured with Bubbie.

“For you. To find Bubbie.” He thrust the makeshift rattle at her. She peeled back the lid to see dollars among coins.

“To find Bubbie?”

“I heard Bubbie the Archaeology dog was AWOL. I took up a collection for a reward.”

Despite her panic, she forced a smile. Michael joined her and asked, “AWOL?”

“My Dad’s gone to Iraq. He’s a soldier, not AWOL.”

###

Can I Keep the Change? by Norah Colvin

With the string bag slung over his shoulder and the purse clutched tight, he was on his first big boy errand. And, he could keep the change. He rattled the purse. What possibilities awaited. Should he hurry to get the money, or dawdle and contemplate? Regardless, he got there soon enough.

He handed the purse to Mrs Kramer, who extracted the list and gathered the items. As she counted the coins into the till, he announced, “I can keep the change.” She peered over her glasses, then held out one large brown coin. He trembled: what could he choose?

###

Rattling Change by Drew Sheldon

It seemed like he never stopped rattling the change in his pocket. From time to time someone would get annoyed and ask him to stop.

“Sure thing,” he’d say. “I’ll stop just as soon as I’m dead.”

Years later at his funeral, I couldn’t help but rattle the change in my pocket. As people turned to look at me, I pointed to his casket and said, “It wasn’t me. He lied.”

He would’ve liked that joke.

###

Who’s Afraid of Rattlesnake Eggs? by Joe Owens

Randall twisted the button with the rubber band threaded through as he held the paper clip frame tight. He could hardly contain his glee of pulling his most ingenious prank ever on his old buddy Don. Don was terrified of snakes. This would send him screaming.

“Hey man, what’s happening?” Don said when he arrived.

“Oh nothing I am just getting ready to check out this thing Harmon sent”

“What is it?” Don asked. He took the envelope and began to open it.

“Rattlesnake eggs!” Randall guffawed.

With the pressure released the button rattled loudly against the envelope.

“Gaaahhhhhh!”

###

Shake, Rattle and Roll by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s this, Dad?’

Paul looked up from the box he was sorting. ‘Goodness, it’s your grandpa’s football rattle.’

‘What’s that?’ Penny eyed the contraption suspiciously.

Paul smiled, taking it. ‘Eagalllesss!!’ He bellowed and spun the rattle. Penny covered her ears. Paul laughed. ‘Football grounds were full of that noise in the 60s and 70s.’

Penny pulled a face. ‘I prefer those trumpet things you hate.’

‘Vuvuzelas? They’re awful.’

‘You’re just old-fashioned.’

Paul nodded. ‘Like REM and Beyonce are different I suppose. One’s tuneful and the other mush.’

Penny went back to her box. ‘We can agree on that then.’

###

The Greater Good by Pete Fanning

A war raged on Steeple Street. Girls versus boys, a two day battering of snowballs the neighbors hadn’t seen since the nor’easter of 1996. Nerf air darts littered the yards, abandoned sleds and lone gloves dotted the trampled battlefield.

The rattle of chains. A gruesome, hair-raising scrape. A scrape that pushed showers and bedtimes.

“Plow!”

A plow, on a Sunday night. About as welcome as a granny smith on Halloween. A quick cease-fire. Factions merged. A human chain formed as the plow approached behind a swirl of snow.

Boots dug in, snow-caked mittens held strong.

Homework was at stake.

###

Scavenger by Anne Goodwin

“You a simpleton?” the overlooker roared above the rattling machines. I shook my head. But the job wasn’t so scary when Ma explained it.
Dodging his stick, I squeezed into the narrow passageway beneath the loom. Thunder in my ears, nostrils clogged with dust, I gathered the stray strands of cotton from the floor. Slid out again and onto the next.
It was dark when Ma brought me, dark when I limped home. A cough rattling my chest, fear rattling my mind. Aching back, arms, legs; buzzing ears. Rich kids went to school at six, I went to work.

###

For the Public Good by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Her 1997 Honda rocked and groaned through the narrow city streets.

She knew the moment her car crossed from affluent to impoverished neighborhood. City snowplows hadn’t served this area after the last spring blizzard, hoping a quick melt would ease the budget. Instead, a subsequent freeze had turned the roadway into a bobsled run. The same reasoning prioritized pothole repair.

She was an underpaid public health nurse, serving at-risk new mothers. The science behind the Home-Visiting program: solid. The actual barriers: downplayed.

She wanted to believe anyway.

The car bounced, scraped, and stalled.

Her hopes died with a rattle.

###

Followed by Jane Dougherty

It was bitterly cold, and the heater in the old van was barely keeping her feet unfrozen. The narrow country lane that wound in a picturesque way in daylight was simply dangerous at night, and trees leaned overhead blocking out even the feeble light of the stars. Two pinpoints of light glittered in the darkness—the headlights of the car she was convinced had been tailing her since she left the main road. She was still miles from anywhere when the sound she dreaded broke through the rattling of the chassis—the knock knock knock of a dying engine.

###

Bones by Sarah Brentyn

She woke to a noise. Her brain couldn’t register it. Clinking. No, more of a clattering. That was wasn’t right, either. Rattling. That’s what it was.

“John!” She reached over—his side of the bed was empty.

Slipping out from the covers, she walked to the kitchen. Dark.

“John?” She moved toward the dining room and the rattling grew louder. She heard it clearly as she passed the basement.

Opening the door, she gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth, “John!”

He looked up, eyes wide behind his mask.

The players dropped their dice. The D&D game was over.

###

Deafening Silence (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Becca heels her shoes off. Dirt especially shows on bare carpet. Two months Richard’s been gone, and the endless expanse remains broken only by two power cords and their lamps.

But she’s home, safe after another day at Bile & Heartburn — er, Pyle & Hepburn. Away from Carolyn, who inspects every draft with narrowed eyes and pressed lips. Away from the yappy dog next cubicle over. Especially away from Jane, who apparently thinks they are best friends just because they share work space.

Becca hits Pandora, cranks the volume. Anything to cover the noise of her rattling around here by herself.

###

Making New Connections by Diana Ngai

Smoothing her hair, Faith strode up the front walk. As a recent transplant she felt lucky to have found a group of women who made her laugh and invited her out. Tonight was “Girls Night In” and she felt giddy.

An unknown face opened the door; Faith was instantly rattled. Peering beyond, she saw only strangers inside and her stomach clenched. Confidence shattered, her neck tightened and she wondered if she had the wrong address. Introverted instincts told her to hightail it home, but she had already been seen. Faith fought the impulse and, with faked determination, stepped inside.

###

The Gettin’ Place by Jeanne Lombardo

He took a drag and rattled the ice in his cup.

“That Coke’s no good for you,” I said.

“One poison at a time, Mom.”

Our usual exchange.

“Feeling ready?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“We’ll get the apartment packed up. Figure out the rest after rehab.”

He nodded, his beauty piercing and hopeful in the dawn light.

“Those blankets, though, I’m tossing them.”

“OK.”

We’d argued about the overstuffed garbage bag the girlfriend had left behind.

“Where’d she get them anyway?

He smiled, knowingly, sheepishly.

“The gettin’ place,” he said.

He’d come far, but the street was still in him.

###

Rattling On and On by Florida Borne

He spoke 12 languages and read texts in 4 so old that no one knew how the words were spoken. His face scowled like a bureaucrat obsessed by one misspelled word in a 100 page document.

To everyone else in the class, he rattled on and on.

“More advancements are made in a benevolent dictatorship, however the next dictator might be a tyrant. The basic problem is people. Someone somewhere wants someone else’s something.”

The class rattled with laughter.

“Once, universities admitted only those individuals willing and able to learn,” he said.

I smiled, an older student nodding agreement.

###

The Novel Project by Elliott Lyngreen

In collaboration between each partition, raw literature inventing a novel, are roaring clickings or clackings, but typing so swift it sounds as a fierce rattling; overloading keys fast enough to brand a new novel.

The boss rolls into his reverie. He minimizes parturitions of story, removes the soundtrack. Clear muffles mumble, “Woah… might see smoke linger out this cubicle… Just wanted to inform, We appreciate dedication. And intend to give you a raise.”

But he awakes at his glares; at the astonishing data entry, then back into him -waking from dream and quickly removing headphones, entagling their streams.

###

Rattle by Pensitivity

It was annoying and kept her awake at night.
Nothing was loose, but there was a constant rattling outside.
The boat was secure, ropes tight as the wind blew them against the jetty.
By torchlight, nothing could be seen and as if a phantom, the noise stopped as soon as her head appeared in the hatchway.
On closure, it started again.
She groaned.
Next day, all was revealed.
The wind had been rattling zip tongues against the hull.
With crochet hook and wool, she produced six-inch anti-tapping devices, neat little squares to place between zip and metal.
Perfect.

###

Every Breath by Ruchira Khanna

Jack signed some papers, and waited patiently in a corner whilst expelling air with sound; that would make eyes turn in his direction.

Sighing with relief when the nurse called out his name; he was aware of the awful rattling noise along with each breath.

The machine was set, and he was asked to hold still as the MRI was taken.

A loud groan from the technician made him alert.

He inquired in a petrified tone, and was shocked to hear the diagnosis, “You have two marbles in the upper front of the body that clash upon each breath.”

###

The Yellow Rattler by Ann Edall-Robson

The breeze sifted through the grass and hidden treasures below. Standing perfectly still, the rattling sound could be heard, mixed with the buzzing of bees and musical lyrics from the tree leaves overhead.

It had taken hours to hike to the meadow. A place of life recognized by only those who care to know.

Tiny wild violets peeking up at the sun. Old Man’s Whiskers, pink and nodding. Vibrant, red Indian Paint Brush stands in the greenery.

The sound comes once again with the wind. The seeds rattling in the capsule and papery calyx of the dying Yellow Rattle.

###

The Soft Rattle of a Sweeping Brush by Jules Paige
(prose and pi ku)

Who would use a ‘thoughtfilled’ crumb catcher? Nay, not
the one for use at fancy restaurants or royal dinner parties.
But more a one for everyday persons that might be used
to clean up misused words, foul words used incorrectly –
Especially spoken out of turn and without thinking. Catch
that little bit of an idealistic inkling? Could we be like a
horse’s groom and use two brushes at once? Catching
thoughts that floated past inner eyes, that were not seen
and landed in another’s ear, was heard and then taken
to the bank?

brushing light:
there,
the idea kisses

###