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The Sugar Report

In WWI, letters from girlfriends and wives back home were called sugar reports. Messages might sustain soldiers on their quests, giving them something sweet to look forward to. It’s not certain if this phrase was used in other wars, but the idea is ageless.

Writers were asked to imagine (or reimagine) what could be contained in a sugar report. Letters and ideas expanded across the battlefield to include new uses for the word, or clever twists.

The following are based on the

PART I (10-minute read)

The Female Pilot by Joanne Fisher

Mary was at the controls of the B-29 bomber. She was helping ferry the new aircraft to a military base. Mary was part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, or WASP for short. That was all she could do for the war effort, since she wasn’t allowed to fly combat missions, that certainly wasn’t part of the program. Only in Russia could women be combat pilots…

In her jacket pocket was a letter from her “friend” Lucy. She would wait until she got to the base, and then she would find somewhere quiet to read her “sugar report”.

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Right Direction by Reena Saxena

It was a tough choice, but she had always done things differently.

Rosy decided to join the army after her husband Herbert became a martyr to the country’s cause. She was welcomed, and her decision glorified to start with. Gradually, the grim reality of the situation set in.

Tears rolled down her eyes as she opened her sugar report – mails from her two lovely children. Isn’t this what Herbert referred to her letters as – sugar report?

“Mom, we are proud of you. Don’t worry about us. We have joined the NCC- it is a stepping stone in the right direction.

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1917 Sugar Report by Jules Dixon

I inhale deep. She’s here. It’s one of the only times of quiet among the men. Names on white rectangles called out into the cold air. Words that keep us going when we don’t want to. Some of the guys call them sugar reports; sweet, concerned words melting chests and eyes. I save mine. I don’t let anyone see me reading what will show my weakness. It might be the last words I ever hear my sweet Madeline whisper and I always imagine she’s right there beside me. The letter smells like her. I inhale deep. She’s not here.

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Dear, Sweet Sugar Report by Chelsea Owens

“Looks like t’mail’s come,” Private O’Boyle said. He leaned over the M-2’s exposed, greasy innards and smiled at his friend.

Pfc. Flanagan grinned back. The two watched a soldier unloading a canvas bag.

“Betcha got one from Mary,” O’Boyle teased. He dodged Flanagan’s kick.

“Oh; aye? And what of *you*, Joseph O’Boyle?”

O’Boyle pretended sudden concentration in securing a bolt. A smudge of grease almost worked to hide his half-smile.

“Aha!” Flanagan said, “I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“You’re not foolin’ anyone! You’ve had more Sugar Reports from Miss Josephine Callahan that the rest of the unit put together!”

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Mail Drop by D. Avery

“She didn’t forget you this week, Dougie.”

The lieutenant handed out the mail, watched as the steamy jungle faded and the men disappeared into familiar kitchens, old neighborhoods, into embraces remembered or imagined.

Then his radio man was at his side. He didn’t need to tell his men; they were folding their letters, tucking them into their breast pockets, some kissing them before putting them in the band of their helmets. The jungle was back in full focus.

“Time to draw straws.”

“Don’t bother Lieu. I’ll go.” Dougie took point, his crumpled letter left behind in an MRE can.

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Sugar Sugar by Kerry E.B. Black

The wind hung heavy with dust and destruction, but his pocket shielded a secret. Encased in Army-issued green, a letter from home bore the sweetest message. His girl expected their baby’s arrival before spring bloomed. Although it was hard to imagine anything as delicate as a flower or a baby, such images sustained him through dark nights and hellish days. Shells broke bones. Under fire, skin shriveled. Yet his spirit clung to a need to meet and love his little family. He’d collect the honey of their innocence and craft from it a balm to heal his wounded soul.

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Mail for You by Padmini Krishnan

“Was this the mail you were reading?” the young lieutenant passed a letter to Henry.

“Thank you,” Henry took it and wondered if he was expected to salute the lieutenant

The lieutenant hesitated, “I found this under the wires. It probably fell from your pocket.” Henry looked at the bruises in the lieutenant’s hands where the barbed wires had cut him. He took the crumpled photo of his girlfriend. “Thank you,” he said, quietly.

The lieutenant saluted him and walked away. Henry stared at his back, then walked back to his tent to join the other prisoners of war.

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Sweet Words of Home by D. Avery

Since at least the second World War
And all wars after and all before
Now Iraq, or Afghanistan
It’s sweet words of home sustains a man

That you send comfort shows your strength
You’re the one deserves parades of thanks
You speak to me of a life at home
Thinking me the man you’ve known

And I know you say you love me still
But I began to die with my first kill
Your letters delivered to my hell
And I reply but cannot tell

I want to die, yet Death I refuse
Because of you, my Living muse

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Sugar Report by Jacquie Biggar

Unashamed tears roll down my face, words on scented paper imprinted on my mind.

Darling Ken,

I think about you every day, but never more than now.
He’s beautiful, my darling. A full head of hair, nut-brown like yours. Ten perfect fingers and toes, and a smile that fills my heart.

The nurse says gas, but we know better. He’s thinking of the day you’ll come home and take us into your loving arms.
I pray it’s soon.

Love you always and all ways,
Sara

Three long months ago, my baby wrote me a love letter- I’m a father.

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Found Letters by Susan Zutautas

Jenny was cleaning out her mom’s house after she’d died and came across a stack of letters tied together. She was curious to find out who they were from, so she settled into a big comfy chair and was shocked as soon as she started to read them. They were from a man in the army and from the written words she could tell that he was in love with her mother and planned to marry. After putting two and two together Jenny found out that this man was her father who never returned from the war. Tears flowed.

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1917 Sugar Report by Charli Mills

In 1916 it wasn’t clear if America would send troops overseas, but if they did, John Kellerman was enlisted and ready. His mother refused to say goodbye the day he left their Midwest farm. She was a widow against the war. His kid sister ran after his bus, waving proudly. She sent him letters scented with pink roses from her victory garden. Kellerman let his squad believe he had a sugar report from home, enjoying the minor deception. When he was killed on the frontline, they buried him and his sister’s letters beneath a white cross. Nothing sweet remained.

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Sweet Roses by Saifun Hassam

Sitting on the park bench, Ginny was lost in her memories of Grandpa. Among his personal photos and letters were Grandma’s sugar reports when Grandpa served in Vietnam.

Her reverie was suddenly interrupted by the young guy who had been walking impatiently up and down the path, a beautiful bouquet of roses in his hand. With a smile and a gallant bow, he offered her the roses. Before she could thank him, he strode off.

Ginny returned to the old First Avenue Cemetery. Lovingly she placed the roses near the potted peonies and daisies, for her Grandma and Grandpa.

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Future Days by Sascha Darlington

It was getting harder, preparing care packages, mementos, conjuring sweet sayings, keeping her hand steady to write. Sitting even became a struggle.

“Please, Casey, please write this one,” Bea implored.

“You must tell him.”

“We’ve been through this. I want him home safe.”

Casey penned Bea’s words, her own hand trembling.

“The blooming daffodils smell of spring, remind me of you,” Bea dictated.

Casey’s heart clenched. Bea hadn’t been outside in days.

“I imagine future days we’ll walk, hands clasped.”

Weeks later, Casey gazed across the meadow, where a trick of light revealed a couple, hand-in-hand, picking poppies.

Together.

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Send ‘Em a Letter by Susan Sleggs

At the Home-front Warriors meeting, Tessa’s father asked, “How do you communicate with your service member?” He was surprised all the answers involved electronics. “Doesn’t anyone write letters anymore? In my father’s era, they were called sugar reports. Do you realize if your loved one pulls out a phone in a war zone, the enemy can track the GPS coordinates.”

There were murmurs of surprise and dismay.

“I challenge you all to write a happy, newsy letter. One that can be carried in a pocket and reread in silence reminding them they have a reason to get back home.”

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PART II (10-minute read)

Sweet Lamb by Sherri Matthews

My dearest Harry,
How I miss you! It’s raining here, the puddles by the barn are knee-deep. Father’s out there now with Lucy, remember her, the old, fat sheep we didn’t think would lamb? Well, she did, a boy. Father let me name him Harry, after you, the most handsome lamb I’ve ever seen. If only you were here, we could sneak into the barn like we used to. Come home soon, my dearest love, so we can marry. I think we’ve got our own little Harry on the way and Father is getting suspicious. Your darling, Daisy.

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Alex’s Sugar Report by Lisa R. Howeler

“Warner. Mail.”

The sergeant tossed the letter at him on his way by. Alex snatched it from where it had fallen on his bunk. He smelled the perfume before he even saw the return address.

A smile tugged at his mouth. He closed his eyes, pictured her smile, her green eyes, remembered her lips warm and soft under his.

“What’s that, Alex? A sugar letter?”

Alex let out a long sigh. “Indeed.”

“What’s it say?”

Alex read the words. The smile faded.

“Bad news?” Matthew asked.

Alex laughed. “No. The best news ever. I’m going to be a dad.”

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Sugar Report by FloridaBorne

He remembered his high school sweetheart’s kiss the day Private Smith vowed to marry her once the war was over.

That day, he’d felt like a hero. After a year of fear, exhaustion, death… killing, he wasn’t the same man.

“Sugar report!” His sergeant chuckled, giving him two letters.

Same thing from his girlfriend: gossip.

He’d met a librarian in London, someone with a brain, marrying her on leave 3 months ago.

He tore open her letter. He was going to be a father?

He began a letter to his girlfriend, long overdue, “Dear Millie, I’m not returning home…”

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Sugar Report: Code Red by Lisa Listwa

Kiddo was unusually wound up when Mom picked her up at school.

“How was school today?”

“Great!” she said. Kiddo, backpack, lunchbox, and Valentine’s box all tumbled into the car. “The Valentine party was SOOOO much fun!”

“Hmm…” said Mom. “What did you eat today?”

“I only had my lunch that you packed. It was good.”

“Is that all?” Mom was skeptical. “Did they have treats at the party?”

“Oh yeah!” said the Kid. “I forgot!”

Please say water, apples, and air-popped popcorn…

“Red candy hearts, lollipops, cupcakes with pink and red sprinkles…”

Great, thought Mom. Code Red Dye.

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Valentine’s Day at School by tracey robinson

“So, how was school today?” I ask as my son bounces around in the back seat. “Good,” he says, which is his typical response.

“Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?” “Well, in advisory we got Hershey Kisses and in Latin Mr. C gave us donuts. Oh and Mrs. P handed out Smarties.” “Oh, really? “What about lunch, anything special?” “We got ice cream sandwiches, the Neapolitan kind.” “Great,” I replied with a sigh, regretting the chocolate cake I had baked for dessert.

“So what’s for snack?” my son asked, oblivious to the impact of his sugar report.

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My Sugar Report by Colleen M. Chesebro

It’s been a difficult month. I’ve fought temptation the best I could, to no avail. My sugar report for this month is a bust. I couldn’t fight the temptations. I gave in to my demons.

My weight loss journey has been fraught with many ups and downs. One day, I meet my goal without breaking a sweat. The next day after a three-mile ramble, I’m starving and willing to eat every carb in the house. And, I do.

Some battles just aren’t worth the fight. My mom said for special occasions, just go ahead and just eat the cake!

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Sugar Report by Anita Dawes

A letter I found inside a second hand book
From a nine-year-old called Charlotte
Addressed to Santa dated 1976
Dear Santa, I don’t need any toys
Or new clothes this year
I need help to make my daddy better
He’s been sick a long time
And mummy is very worried
Doctor said we have to wait
For daddy to get better
Mummy prays,
because she does not think he can.
She said I should pray
I try hard, please help, love Charlotte
With Santa’s magical delivery in one night
I hoped that Charlotte’s request for help
was answered somehow…

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Sugar Letter by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

The report was no sugar letter. Its message was clear; devoid of any chocolate coating. The shadowy shape on the sonar was a tumour. It was wrapped around the main artery in William’s stomach making effective surgical removal difficult.

“I’ll remove as much of it as possible,” Dr McDonald said, “the piece left behind should shrivel up and disappear.”

He looked at the parents sitting across from him, their faces white and troubled. “The piece I remove will be biopsied.”

“I’ll donate my blood if it’s ever needed. We are a match.” It was all he had to offer.

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Clewiston, 1973 by magpie477

Rosario, I miss you and the children so much. Our camp is crowded and filthy: nine other men in this shack, no toilet or running water. Every morning we are driven to the cane fields where we cut until our backs ache and the machete blisters our hands. For lunch, rice, sometimes a little pork. (Oh, for a cassava!) I can cut eight tons a day but am lucky to get two dollars. Boss treats us like pigs. If we complain, says, “Why don’t you go home?”

I wish I could. But there is no job for me there.

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Sugar Report by M J Mallon

I’m missing you so much; the days are endless without you. Yesterday, I placed some flowers on Richard’s grave. The cold and I stood shivering by his gravestone. No one was around so I confessed everything. By the time I’d finished, it was getting dark and the tombstones were getting darker.

I feel so guilty with you in prison. Passion drove us to his mess. I wish I’d stuck with Richard’s humdrum, instead of going for your sugar kisses. But, I’d murder again for one sweet kiss.

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Back Before Email and Text by Anne Goodwin

She basked in the cultural difference. She dodged the landmines of Give-me-pen and What-is-your-name? She swapped travellers’ tales over masala dosa. She pulled the dupata over her head and slinked away. She wandered blissfully through cities where no-one knew her. She felt so lonely she cried.

She re-read the letters on blue onion-skin airmail paper. The sugar reports from home. Relived the joy of leaving the Poste Restante with a stack of reminders she was more than Anonymous Westerner. Some days she’d queue at the office knowing there’d be nothing for her. In towns she’d never planned to be.

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Letter of Intent by JulesPaige

from what I could tell
Valentine was up all night
go on grab hold – love

such a brief message, he sent;
healed, my faith – sentenced to death

who could judge my heart
such a sugar report those
lines restoring faith

While reading about Valentine, Lee imagined the blind girls’ thoughts. Did Ife, her guardian spirit whose name meant woman of love; was Ife also helping to restore the faith of those who had lost so much? The Judge who sentenced Valentine to death, could he have imagined his role in the modern holiday.

Ife’s rose scent wafted gently through…

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Torn by Hugh Roberts

The first words that entered Mike’s head when looking at the picture were ‘I love you.’ He wished he’d kept the sugar letter he’d received while on duty in Iraq.

***

Torn by love and lust, Sophie suddenly remembered the reply she’d got from a sugar letter she’d sent. Had he meant what he had said? Was now the right time to find out?

***

Two floors above, Doug dreamt about a tall stranger dressed in military uniform stood in a field of daisies, and who held an unopened letter towards him. ‘Not everything is as it seems,’ whispered the stranger.

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Dispatch From my Third Floor Cubicle by Bill Engleson

Darling, what a lovely surprize. I’d expected nothing more this Valentines Day than my usual excruciating hour commute, often as not sitting next to that irritating millennial, Dulcie Ditherspoon, the new HR manager from the fifth floor, who just happens to board at the next station to ours and never fails to find a seat inches from me.

Today, she was clutching a dozen roses and a box of chocolate, and saying, “My sweet Riley, he’s so woke. I’m so quiche. He’s so goat.”

I almost tossed my cookies.

Your valentine-shaped peanut butter cookies.

Work is such dense warfare.

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The Sweet Price of Freedom by Curious Archaeologist

“Those damn women.” He slapped the paper down.

His colleague looked up, surprised.

“This report, sales of West India sugar have slumped. This campaign not to use our sugar, just because of slavery – ‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ indeed.”

“What can we do? We’ve tried everything, it’s not working.”

She sipped her tea, the sugar bowl labelled ‘Not made by slaves’. The report was wonderful news, the campaign was working.
In the newly reformed parliament, the MP’s had been told how to vote, across the tea tables of Britain the battle for freedom was fought – and won.

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Frankie Rides. Again by D. Avery

“Thanks agin fer the sugar cubes Kid. It’s got Burt eatin’ right outta my hand.”

“Reckon it’s another busy week fer you an’ Burt, ‘ey Frankie?”

“What d’ya mean, Kid?”

“Deliverin’ mail. Last week all them condolence cards, this week Valentines an’ love letters— sugar reports as she says.”

“Kid, I reckon those condolence cards and notes was letters a love too. Funny thing about mail. It’s all jest somethin’ in a envelope, ya jest don’t know; could be sugar, could be salt, looks the same. An’ some a this week’s sugar reports are sure ta be bittersweet.”

“Yep.”

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Dog in the Daisies

When we lose a pet, their brief lifespan frames a period within our own. Bobo was born to us from our family dog, all five of us present. We were able to witness her last exhale, surrounding her with love for the good dog she was. The dogs of my children’s childhood are gone. The dogs that followed me to Idaho and Mars have gone on to other places. The dog that witnessed the renewal of home has left us alone in it.

We work through the emotions and capture the memories in stories. Writers were invited to play in honor of Bodetta Bosephine — Bobo. The dog in the daisies, a favorite snapshot from her lifetime with us.

The following are based on the February 6, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to the theme “a dog in the daisies.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Ode to Bobo by Susan Zutautas

Last night I dreamt about you. You were running through a field of daisies. Your favorite place. You looked like you were young, happy, with not a care in the world, and pain-free. You’ll never know how much this delighted me.

From the day you came into our lives, till the day you left us, and beyond our hearts have been full of love.

Oh, sweet pup of mine

I take this as a sign

That you’ve been thinking of me

Letting me know you’re running free

We will meet again one day

We will run, we will play

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Life’s Cycle by Jacquie Biggar

Bodetta Bosephine, Bobo to her friends, paused for a moment. The sun warmed her back and the meadow’s grass tickled her feet, but that’s not the reason she stopped. A faint call, one she thought she’d never hear again, made her delicate ears quiver.

“It’s time,” her brother’s voice whispered on the dew-laden breeze. “I’ve missed you, sister.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “Grenny, is that you?”

“Come,” he said. “We must go.”

Bobo glanced back to where she knew her humans waited. Could she? They loved her so, and she them. But Grenny was right- it was time.

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Dog in the Daisies by Charli Mills

I yearn to see you twitch your nose one more time to sniff the wind. To hear you woof a greeting to me, making sure I trail your winding path. To see you poised, a dog in the daisies, ears perked. Happy. I am happy for you. I am content to have had you in my life. You look away from me, toward something I can’t yet see or trust is there. This I know — daisies die and life goes on. Nothing ever breaks down so completely as to disappear. Joy fizzes the smallest particles. So, I follow.

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To Everything by D. Avery

The first time was summer, she the calm nucleus of a full bloom meadow, unexpected but somehow perfect, that dog sitting so intent, so purposeful.

I traveled that way again one fall. The flowers had become angels, borne by the wind, the brown dog running and leaping amidst their winged seeds and spent petals, her pure joy singing through the grasses.

Should I have expected her in winter? There was just a cold sea of snow.

In the spring the meadow held only the memory of the dog. The daisies’ green leaves unfolded from the earth. Grasses reached skyward.

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Good Boy by Michael Guy Rua

My 6 year-old son yearned for a dog and to be Spiderman. He frolicked in those wilted daisies with his imaginary dog, pretending it was his sidekick. He even named the dog Marvel. His spirit flourished despite his withering world.

One day he came to me with a list of reasons to own a dog, with the promise that he would take care of it “all by himself.” The sincerity behind those words nourished my soul, rooting itself to my heart.

He died before his 7th birthday.

Soon after, a dog appeared amongst the blooming daisies.

What a marvel!

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This Puppy with a Cold Wet Nose by Donna Matthews

I’ve always had this practical streak. Emotions with their sharp edges disallowed. But watching you jump at the butterflies in this daisy patch threatens to loosen this carefully crafted facade. There was another puppy and another girl in another time — a girl with nothing else to do but play in a sun-filled meadow. But the sunshine dimmed behind dark clouds. Wind blew. And a cold rain fell, soaking her in despair. She nearly lost all her joy that day. That is, until this new puppy. This puppy with a cold wet nose and daisies caught in her fur.

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Doggie Grace by Bill Engleson

Dog’s in the tulies
Dogging my trail
Dog’s in the daisies
Chasing it’s tail.
Oh, my goodness
Look at that old mutt,
Chewing on a rug
Sniffing its own…rump.

Dog’s in the water
Soaked to the skin,
Looking like an otter
Flashing it’s puppy grin.
Oh, my goodness,
Look at rover’s smile,
Rushing to the pasture,
Goin’ a thousand miles…an hour

Livin’ deep in our heart
Sleeping on the couch,
Snuggling in our lap,
Like a Roo in a pouch.
Oh, my goodness
Its licking my face,
Eyes full of love,
full of doggie grace…
full of doggie grace.

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Loyalty by Padmini Krishnan

“Wait here. I will be back,” he told me as he walked inside the house, coughing. He stumbled and I heard a loud crash. I wanted to check on him, but he had asked me to wait. I heard a voice sobbing softly. People came and left, wooden-faced. That evening, I smelled lilies and heard the wail of terrifying silence. Everyone from his house came out, except him. I knew where he was kept. Should I follow him? But, he had said he would be back. I waited in the garden, amongst the daisies. He always kept his word.

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Daisy by FloridaBorne

When you live in the country, abandoned dogs and cats find you. Over the past 25 years, four footed companions have lived and passed on knowing they were loved. At present, we have six dogs and three cats.

But none were like Daisy.

If the dog world had an IQ test, the results might show a mutt with enough brain power to put one foot in front of the other.

What made Daisy outstanding in a field of other dogs?

The day she decided I was her human, she never left my side. She possessed a galaxy of love.

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Dog in the Daisies by M J Mallon

‘What’s the point of these daisies?’ Bandit asked.

‘I’ve no idea, you can’t eat them, their flowers smell’s rank, but our human pets like them,’ replied Duchess.

Bandit poked his nose towards human pet Annie, who was sitting on the grass making a daisy chain.

‘Stop nosing about Bandit! Hey, girl.’ Annie stroked Bandit’s imaginary friend’s coat and popped a daisy chain over her head.

Bandit barked.

‘Okay Bandit, I have one for you too. Look how it contrasts with your black coat, boy.’

‘Woof!’

The two Labradors ran away, one black, another camouflaged by the field of daisies.

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Goodbye by Ritu Bhathal

Buster bounded through the field, trampling daisies as he ran.

“Come on, boy. Let’s go.” Max called out to his canine pal. “I’ve got your favourite steak at home. Come on!”

Petra gently put a hand on Max’s shoulder. “Come on Maxy, we need to go.” She squeezed. Max turned, his eyes moist with unshed tears.

“He’s not coming back, is he?”

Petra swallowed a sob. She always knew this would be the hardest part, scattering the ashes of the family’s beloved pet dog in his favourite field.

Shaking her head, she took Max’s hand as her tears fell.

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Dog in the Daisies by Anita Dawes

I love daisies, they are a tiny slice of heavenly perfection
I don’t know why they remind me of young angels
My dog Poppy also likes to dash about
through a field full of them
Leaving them smiling, dancing in her wake
As if waving, clapping hands
Someone loves us, we’ve done a good job
I see a family wearing the daisy chains they made
As I pass, they offer one, which I take gladly
Placing it around Poppy’s neck
I walk on with a smile
Then lie awhile with sweet white daisies
Whispering sweet nothings in my ear…

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Good Dog! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Down they come, twirling, sun-sparkling, lilting in sudden gusts. Daisies dancing in summer–except it’s winter. The falling flowers are snowflakes.

Buster gallops and romps, red-gold coat growing white as he frolics in froth. He barks at the joke, kibble-sized flakes vanishing in the heat of his breathy attempts to capture them.

Nevermind! He plunges his muzzle in deep, rolling to catch what treasure of scent lies buried beneath. Finding his feet, he plops his butt down, and tips his head in invitation.

Dark for too long, I pull on boots and coat, slide on mittens, and step out.

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Out of the Fire by Lisa R. Howeler

Nothing felt the same since the fire. They’d lost everything. Barking in the distance caught his attention. He looked out across the field of daisies, searching. There. On the other side of the brook. Could it be him? Another bark and his speed picked up. It was him.

Patrick felt tears sting his eyes as he lowered himself to greet the black and white creature rushing toward him, tongue lolling to one side, tail wagging crazily.

“Rufus! You’re alive!”

The tongue was wet, warm, the paws placed solidly on Patrick’s chest. Patrick laughed. They hadn’t lost everything after all.

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A Dog’s Power by Susan Sleggs

Tessa suggested to Michael they get a puppy. He argued at first, not wanting people to think he needed a therapy dog but in the spring they got a floppy eared, goofy acting big mutt.

Weeks later Tessa, looking out an upstairs window, called her sister Alley. “You should see the two of them. Michael’s wearing his legs whenever he takes Jester out. Right now I’m watching them search for a ball in the field out back. The daisies are in bloom and it’s a marvelous sight. Michael’s even laughing more and that’s a bonus. Thanks for the idea.”

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George by Lisa A. Listwa

George was a very blue dog.

Being stuffed as he was, George didn’t spend much time romping among the daisies. He most often played indoors with his favorite sidekick, Kiki the green turtle. Being a turtle as she was, Kiki didn’t do much romping, well, anywhere.

George the blue dog loved Kiki and he loved his little girl person.

He and Kiki sat happily nearby while she played. When she danced in her navy blue and daisy-spotted pants outfit with the white fringe and green ribbons, she held them both tight and they all flew through the fields together.

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Visiting Mickey by Kerry E.B. Black

Minnie planted daisies on the grave, blooms beautiful in their simplicity. “Daisies mean innocence.” Tears blur the words on the stone. “In flower language. I bet you already know that, though. Knew.”

Past tense took getting used to.

She scattered sunflower seeds among their stems. “I figure you’d probably want some company, and I know you love birds.”

Atop the stone she placed a rose quartz. “No regular stone for you.” She sniffed and pulled the last object from her pocket. “You’re always in my thoughts.” She rested a play-worn rubber ball beneath the engraving – ‘Mickey, beloved family member.’

🥕🥕🥕

Here Boy by Annette Rochelle Aben

She’d been out wandering the better neighborhoods all day, hoping to find something special for her new home. One last house on the block, just one last shot before calling it a day. Then, Wanda couldn’t believe her luck. Right there, in the middle of all the bric-a-brac, was a cast-iron statue of an Irish Setter! Yes! Those garage sale finds were the best.
All the way home, she imagined pulling into her driveway each night and seeing this magnificent creature waiting for her, standing proud. What a wonderful way to be welcomed, by a dog in the daisies.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Dog in the Daisies by tedstrutz

“Hello, Ethel.”

“Cheryl, to what do I owe the honor?”

“Don’t be a smart ass, there’s a dog in my daisies, I’m not happy!”

“Sounds like it. What happened, why tell me?”

“It’s the dog you and Betty rescued from that shelter in Cicero. I still don’t know what the hell you two were doing in Cicero.”

“That was last summer. Betty heard there was a boxer, and we saw this little terrier that would be perfect to replace Marty’s Sweetie.”

“Well, I loved Sweetie, but this one’s in my garden and Marty’s not home. Get over here, Ethel!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Dog in the Daisies by Joanne Fisher

Cindy saw movement in her flower bed. Wondering what it was, she crept up to investigate. Among the daisies she found a dog lying there. It was a Labrador that looked emaciated and dehydrated.

“You poor thing!” Cindy said stroking it. She ran back to the farmhouse and brought back some food and water. The dog slowly lapped up the water, but it was a while before it touched the food. Jess came to see what Cindy was doing.

“We should keep them.” Cindy told her.

“So long they don’t belong to someone. Every good farm has a dog.”

🥕🥕🥕

Things We Do for Love by Jo Hawk

Abra was true to her name – mother of many. I had qualms about breeding her, but since she was the county’s best herder, every farmer wanted one of her pups.

She whelped ten, five males and five females. I named the girls after flowers and the boys after trees. Everyone asked about them. When would they be weaned? How much did I want for them?

I auctioned nine and they passed on the runt, Daisy. I gleefully keep her. Daisy resembled her mother, and she stole my heart. And like her mother, she became the county’s best herder.

🥕🥕🥕

JJ by Saifun Hassam

JJ jumped from the pickup truck the moment Tim parked it at the Horticultural Farms filed office. JJ ran down the familiar path into the meadow of coreopsis, sunflowers and daisies. He popped out from the tall fescue near the dense shrubs of oleander and honeysuckle. Running along the west fence, he seemed to want to follow an egret flying to the distant hills.

JJ was on home territory of vineyards and vast gardens. He and Tim were gone one year working at another vineyard. This meadow was where he was born and grew up. Glorious to be back!

🥕🥕🥕

Buck by Nancy Brady

Buck, a border collie, was always herding, keeping his charges in line. Whether it was cows, gulls, or people he loved, he was in the thick of things. Running ahead, racing back, or lying in wait in the daisies, the exuberance of Buck was palpable.

With head and tail high, he would grab his leash and walk himself, feeling in control. The neighbors laughed at his antics, shaking their heads at his sassy attitude. Buck chased gulls like he once chased cows in Montana until his body failed him.

Now, he lies beneath the daisies he once ran through.

🥕🥕🥕

A Memory Now Faded And Pastel… by JulesPaige

In the open field in mid day, there wasn’t a reason to yell
Nor to the spirit of the roaming dog to quell
While at each bush, pebble or leaf she did stop to smell
And read all the signs of who went before; to dwell
To linger and learn of what to share and tell
What secrets might be transferred from a flowers’ bell…
We would dance willy nilly and pell-mell
Unaware and unconcerned about what the future might foretell
We would walk and run until exhausted; we fell
Enjoying all the spatial freedom amid the farmers’ dell

🥕🥕🥕

Puppy Love by Vinci Lam

This is my favourite spot in the park. The grass field drapes over two slopes. My roommate and I like to jog here from home and relax by the water. Instead of sitting on the bench, we like to lay on the grass where all the daisies are.

Today, I see her. She is frolicking in the daisies like there isn’t a care in the world. Her blue eyes shining in the sun, piercing into my heart. Without holding back, I sprint towards her, almost tripping over my hind legs. My roommate is yelling “stop!”, but I don’t care.

🥕🥕🥕

Copperhead Capers by Kerry E.B. Black

Like puppies among posies
they frolicked,
Fillies in clover-cloaked fields,
Innocence personified,
Their halo-like hair
framed simple smiles
Untainted by artifice.

These joyful Jills jumped a log,
Youthful fun,
Jiggling gelatin giggles,
Unaware of danger
Crouched in cucumber coils
Beneath weathered decay
Upon the forest floor.

The silent strikes sent screams
Ripped and raw
From frantrantic friends far afield
Vehement venom invaded
Delicate tissues
Wrapped in fight or flight,
Paralyzed peril.

Their cries alerted others
rescued runs.
Helpers and hospitals,
Recovery, reflection.
They returned to their play
Warier and wiser
Wonderful girls.

🥕🥕🥕

Dog in the Daisies by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Estelle hears a dry rustling noise in the patch of tall grass and wild daisies near their camp. She looks in the direction of the noise and sees two green lights shining in the dark, near to the ground. Her blood turns to ice and her hair seems to physically stand on end.

“Look, Papa, look,” she screams.

Papa grabs his Mauser and aims it at the eyes, ready to fire. The eyes stop moving forward. They stay still in the dark, looking at them.

Is it a hyena?

Nothing moves in the vast stillness of the African night.

🥕🥕🥕

The Picture by Hugh Roberts

Sophie’s face wasn’t the last thing Doug saw as his eyes finally closed. Having fallen to the floor, it was the picture hanging on the wall, of a dog sitting in a daisy field, that was his final vision. It spoke to him.

***

Two floors below, after removing the revolver from his trouser pocket, Mike’s eyes became transfixed on the same picture of a dog sitting in a field of daisies. It spoke to him.

***

Outside Mike’s room, Sophie hesitated before knocking on the door. Was she doing the right thing? Shouldn’t she go back and check on Doug?

🥕🥕🥕

Star Gazing by D. Avery

Bringing the familiar picture, she climbed into her grandmother’s lap.

“You’re looking at that old picture again?”

“That’s your dog, Grammie.”

“Yes, that was my dog. What’s she looking at?”

“She sees a Bigfoot in the bushes.”

“That’s something your Auntie told you. What do you think?”

“I think she’s looking at you, Grammie.”

“But I took her picture. I was behind her.”

“No, you’re right here with me. She’s looking ahead and she sees you.”

“And what does she see me doing?”

“Silly. She sees you seeing me!”

“You wise child.”

“And Grammie? I see her. She’s running!”

🥕🥕🥕

My Kind of Dog by Anne Goodwin

“What you need is a dog. A big brown dog with floppy ears and waggy tail.”

He was right I needed something. But I hated dogs as much as I hated people telling me what to do.

Even so, I heeded his advice, a sour taste in my mouth as I scrolled through canines online. Without luck: I’d find the eyes I wanted paired with the wrong kind of nose.

“Is that one of those crossbreeds?” they asked at the exhibition. “A labradoodle or somesuch?” I smiled, didn’t admit my dog among the daisies drew breath solely on canvas.

🥕🥕🥕

Fred’s Best Friend by Chelsea Owens

“He’s in t’flowers again.”

“Mmm-hmmm.”

Mae put a hand on a hip and glowered at Fred. The look failed, on account of his facing open-hood engine and not openly-hostile wife.

“Fraey-ed!”

“Mm?”

Fred hunted around for some lost cap or perhaps a lost widget. His wife was a determined sort, bound to hold her position till he acknowledged her.

“Fred!”

He couldn’t keep up the pretend-hunt. “Yes’m?”

“I say-ed that yer old dog’s out in m’flowers agin!” She whined. “I jest planted them daisies!”

Fred found his wrench. “Ah, Mae. I say t’let the old dog have his day!”

🥕🥕🥕

Mail Call by D. Avery

“Thet Frankie agin? Frankie, poor ol’ Burt’s burdened with some bulging mailbags.”

“Pal. Kid. It ain’t Burt that’s burdened, it’s Shorty. This mail is all fer her. Condolences.”

“Well, here, Frankie, we’ll lighten Burt’s load an’ git these cards ta Shorty, try an’ lighten hers. Kid, lend a hand. Kid?”

“Think Kid just went up the Poet Tree, Pal. This does getcha, doesn’t it? I been thinkin’ on Shorty’s dog, thinkin’ ‘bout Burt— been dabbin’ at my eye all day.”

“Grievin’ are ya?””

“Tears a joy, Pal. I only got one eye, can’t do both; chose joy over grief.”

🥕🥕🥕

Pullin’ T’gether by D. Avery

“Frankie, I cain’t git Kid ta climb down outta thet tree.”

“I’ll try, Pal. Hey, Kid? I was over at the cookhouse. Would you like some bacon?”

“Would I?!”

“Wood eye? No it’s glass. Now come on down an’ git some breakfast then git ta chores. Shorty needs you.”

“Sorry, Frankie, it’s jest that I got ta thinkin’ on my good dog. May she rest.”

“Well then you know what a time Shorty’s havin’ right now. Pepe has gone back ta Head Quarters, but you an’ Pal gotta ride the range.”

“Keep an eye on things?”

“Very funny, Kid.

🥕🥕🥕

Bodetta Bosephine (Bobo) The Original Dog in the Daisies

2006-2020

Read the A Teacher’s Reflection by Jennie

Bobo the Storyteller’s Dog

Mail Carriers

In the Keweenaw, we experience deep snows, and occasionally get snow days that allow people to stay home from school or work. But not mail carriers. US Postal Service operates by the creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Writers were asked to imagine the kind of extreme conditions mail carriers could face. Some stories are based on real people, others fictionalized.

The following are based on the January 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a postal carrier in an extreme situation.

PART I (10-minute read)

Island Postal Service by Anne Goodwin

The islanders turned their backs initially; they’d never had a woman ferry across the mail. But braving squalls and breakers earned their trust, and gratitude. Eventually, they greeted me with smiles.

The day my boat capsized, they rowed out to help me right it. Swapped my uniform for blankets, warmed me by the fire. When I lamented letters lost, they stopped my mouth with whisky, coffee, cake.

They shared their family stories. I kept quiet about my wife. Our friendship wasn’t strong enough to divert their chapel’s warnings. I’d tossed the island’s equal marriage ballot papers to the waves.

🥕🥕🥕

Postman by Anita Dawes

I have the best postman
No matter the weather
Rain or snow
Pushing his post trolley
Getting more snow
Around the wheels
As he goes
He’s not so young these days
Five foot tall
I think he’s a super man
He has a shiny red nose
Like Rudolph
I decided to have a hot cup of tea
Waiting for him
Warm his back on my hall radiator
Thaw out for five minutes
We have a lot in common
Not least, my favourite place
Cornwall
It’s the one place he likes to take time off
No matter what the weather…

🥕🥕🥕

Broken Monotony by Allison Maruska

I sling the bag over my shoulder, adjusting the weight. With a sigh, I trudge to the first box. Open it, put in the mail, close it. Then to the next box, then the next. Open, fill, close, over and over down the street.

I thought delivering mail would be interesting. I’d meet people, pet dogs, enjoy the sunshine. But nothing ever happens.

Open, fill, close. Open, fill, close. Open–

“Shit!”

A squirrel leaps out and bounces off my chest.

Breathless, I watch my furry attacker dart across the road.

I hope there aren’t more surprises waiting for me.

🥕🥕🥕

The Attack on the Exeter Mail by Curious Archaeologist

Night had fallen as the mail coach pulled up in front of the Inn, the ostlers ran out to change the horses, postbags were exchanged, and mugs of ale were passed to the driver and guard.

Then

The lead horse screamed, in the gloom the driver saw that something had leapt onto the horses neck. He could see blood flowing, but what was it? The terrified ostler swung his lantern round, and they could see. Now it was for the men to scream, it was impossible!

In Wiltshire, in 1816, the Exeter Mail had been attacked by a Lion!

🥕🥕🥕

Postman Pat by Ritu Bhathal

Postman Pat steeled himself as he walked towards the door of The Bite, 13 Ruff Lane. If there was one thing he was good at, it was delivering post, and no one had ever created a situation that he couldn’t get through, to make sure his letters reached the correct hands.

Until today.

Since the new owners had moved it, ten different postal workers had been taken off this route, through stress.

A large, ferocious pet, apparently.

Phooey! No dog had ever hindered his job, no matter the size.

Then he heard the growl – Was that even a dog?

🥕🥕🥕

Confrontation by clfalcone *

New route plus fresh spring morning equaled walking.

Going old-school, he parked the jeep and hoofed between boxes at cottages, ranches, bungalows, whistling Bach.

The adobe hut was a hand-delivery though, so he slipped in, gate clicking behind him. Then he heard that low, mean growl.
Guarding the door was Satan. How he disliked chihuahuas.

More growls echoed as chihuahuas flooded around the corner, a mass of beady eyes, sharp teeth, pointy ears challenging him.

He flinched. They charged. He bolted out the gate, down the road, mail streaming from his bag, some fifty chihuahuas nipping at his heels.

🥕🥕🥕

Route 6 by Sascha Darlington

The blue car in the driveway’s different. Usually just Mrs. Drake’s old minivan leaking oil. Must be her husband’s. He’s got his finger in a lot of pies. None hers.

Never seen him in the six years I’ve carried this route. She’s nice, though. Warm smile, kind words. Cold water in summer. Hot coffee in winter.

Inside glass shatters. I imagine big hands around Mrs. Drake’s throat. The door handle gives under my hand. A blue-suited man stumbles out. Mrs. Drake threatens him with her Louisville slugger.

“Stinking cheater. It’s over. Don’t come back.”

And there’s always a surprise.

🥕🥕🥕

Inspiration from Dr. Suess’s Peter the Postman from Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! by Cara Stefano

Early morning; a faint blush shows on the horizon. Peter sits on the ice rimed bench beside the door, stamping his feet into heavy ski boots. Buckled up, Peter clicks into his skis; grips his poles. The villagers are counting on him for news from the outside world. Calming breaths, he thinks; don’t freeze, stay alert; gotta go! Peter begins a slow glide down the slope towards the village across the lake. A nod of his head, a wave as he passes the fishermen in their lonely shanties; Peter fervently hoped he would not encounter an angry seal again.

🥕🥕🥕

Special Delivery by JulesPaige

Stan was the rooster of his route. He even made friends with the nasty fowl goose that Mrs. Lucy Chang had as a pet. He worked in fair and foul weather. The hardest, most extreme day was when he had to tell his customers he was retiring. They had all become his second family. Being a mail carrier had brought him a comfortable life for him and his wife.

Stan’s coworkers had raised monies to pay the fare to see the Grand Canyon up close and personal. That’d put his daily strides to good use on the happy trails.

🥕🥕🥕

Restraint by T. Marie Bertineau

The Jeep listed to the right. So many packages. Too many. They overwhelmed the old jalopy. Overwhelmed him. He shook his head, pinched his lips. She had really done it this time, the hoarder on Pinkston.

Enough was enough.
He turned left at the corner, toward the thick, droopy elm, eased curbside at the peeling, yellow bungalow, the same way he’d done the past thirty years.

Today was the day—this had to stop.

Armed for bear, he grabbed his first load, headed to the door.

She waited there, tattered robe, kerchief. “How kind,” she said.

And he nodded.

🥕🥕🥕

Plans Change by Susan Zutautas

Excited for the night ahead, Joe had a romantic wedding anniversary dinner planned for the Mrs but first, he had to deliver his last piece of mail to Martha Perkins.

As Joe placed Martha’s mail in her mailbox, he noticed that the mail was starting to build up. This worried him and he rang the bell but there was no answer. Mabel, her neighbor saw Joe and came out to tell him that Martha was in the hospital.

Martha was 98 and had no family. Dinner would have to wait. Joe was going to visit Martha in the hospital.

🥕🥕🥕

Sometimes the Old Ways Are the Best by FloridaBorne

My father owned a moving company until he could no longer strap a piano on his back and walk up a flight of stairs.

He was hired to sort mail in 1964, when your 100% accuracy rate meant more than having only a 5th grade education.

Then, the unions took over and he had to pass a test to keep his job.

Test anxiety meant failure.

Demoted to janitorial! The people hired to fill his job laughed at him while his former boss said he was a better employee than all three combined.

Sometimes, the old ways are best.

🥕🥕🥕

Rita’s First Day by Joanne Fisher

It was Rita’s first day working for the Fairyland Postal Service. She flew off feeling incredibly excited with a full mail bag.

“Hello Mr Grysluk!” she beamed a smile at the gnome while handing him a letter.

“They’re now allowing pixies to deliver the mail? What are we coming to?” he rudely replied as he stomped back to his home.

Slightly crestfallen, Rita flew on only to encounter similar comments through the rest of her route. Nobody liked pixies.

Regardless of how she was treated, she resolved she would carry on with this job until they all accepted her.

🥕🥕🥕

Carrying Mail by D. Avery

When he first started, his route rolled through the seasons, each the same in turn. Christmas catalogues, seed catalogues and boxes of yellow chicks, postcards from traveling friends and relatives, fall catalogues; often letters, always bills. He knew his families by what he left at the end of their driveways.

Driving the same route, he now felt disconnected. He rarely saw a postcard anymore, seldom a letter, even had fewer bills to deliver.

Thank goodness for Helen. She and her son exchange letters every week. She says he’s doing well, was himself working in the mailroom at the penitentiary.

🥕🥕🥕

An Overworked Poem About the Post by Chelsea Owens

The post

Sky ghosts,

is never late.

‘gainst earthbound weight.

In backward cars

Self-lifted, ours

down country roads

with cloud-held loads

The smart-dressed man

The barefoot clan

(Or, smart wò-man)

(And –true– bare-hand)

Come round each day

Cavort and play

to drop a note

Whilst ‘letters’ float

turn down a flag

From heav’nly bags

for

For

Neither snow

When winds blow

nor rain

‘gainst wingèd pain

nor heat

Lofty feet

nor gloom of night

Always in flight

stays these couriers

Windflung ferriers

from the swift completion

Our mail tote: depletion

of their appointed rounds.

Soaring o’er the rabbl’ing ground.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Turning Point by Hugh W. Roberts

Putting his right hand into the trouser pocket of his postal carrier uniform, Mike felt the outline of the handle of the revolver. He knew his jealousy was forcing an extreme situation to develop.

***

Two floors above, Sophie wished she could wish herself back to the postal depot where she and Mike worked, so she could escape the extreme situation Doug was putting her in.

***

Just before deciding now was the right time to smother Sophie’s face with the pillow; he was holding, Doug’s vision became a little blurry. Why had Sophie put them both in this extreme situation?

🥕🥕🥕

Lucy’s Letter by Padmini Krishnan

Lucy woke up, optimistic, knowing that something was about to change. She ran down the street when she heard the postman’s bike a couple of streets away. A letter from her wayward son! The postman looked at the 90-year old Lucy jumping up and down and realized that his efforts had been worth it. He had braved the storm, the governmental warnings, and a pickpocket to reach his destination. He smiled at Lucy. At this, Lucy became self-conscious and looked angrily at the postman. The grinning dumbo! After all, how would this man know how important her letter was!

🥕🥕🥕

Dead-Letter Drop by Bill Engleson

He was a spy fan, old Clarence was. Mailman by day, James Bond in his head by night.

Life held few mysteries for Clarence. No adventures. Just methodically serving his regular route in our hamlet, getting to know the people, forming friendships, sharing part of their lives.

When a customer died, word would spread, correspondence would stop, time would move on.

For a few, the lonelier ones, the occasional letter still showed up.

Before he’d return to sender, he’d steam open the envelope, visit the grave, read the epistle in the sinking twilight, reseal, send it on its way.

🥕🥕🥕

That Knock by Geoff Le Pard

Jem hated his left foot. Clubbed, they called it. ‘It’s okay, son,’ they said. ‘You’re useful. Post has got to be delivered.’
He’d got at white feather, too, from the woman he’d given the telegram to. ‘We’re sorry to inform you…’

Couldn’t blame her being bitter. Might have been him if they’d let him go.

And now there were two telegrams for Mrs Cutts. The ‘sorry’ one and one saying Petey’d got the Military Medal. Petey Cutts used to tease him about his foot. She took both, hands shaking like she’d the palsy. Petey didn’t seem so cruel now.

🥕🥕🥕

Changing Vocations by Susan Sleggs

In the PTSD group, a young war vet hung his head. “I quit nursing school because I had a panic attack every time I got near patients.”

Michael nodded with understanding, “Nothing to be ashamed of. What drew you to nursing?”

“I wanted to feel useful and help other people plus I’m good with details.”

“Admiral strengths. Well suited to a mailman. Delivering in all sorts of weather would be like serving.”

Six months later. “I dig my mail route and I met a gal that asked where and when I served, not what I did in the Army.”

🥕🥕🥕

Turning Points by Saifun Hassam

After college, Arlene returned to Nolan City, to hiking the SeaSquall Mountains. Freelancing in computer graphics, she also worked as a postal worker. Her favorite mail deliveries were to the rural residents along the winding mountain roads.

Today, a frigid January day, her last stop was for Mr. Travis, a retired forest ranger. He was unconscious, sprawled on the deep snow in the backyard.

Her mountain experience kicked in. She called ER. She piled warm clothes on Travis. When the ER Team arrived, the battered barbecue grill was ablaze with firewood.

A grateful Travis recovered. Arlene became a paramedic.

🥕🥕🥕

Mail Carrier by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Mr. Prichard, are you home?”

Jeanine nudged the door further ajar. Why was Mr. Prichard’s door open, she wondered? Her instincts kicked in. The hairs on her arm stood on end.

Regulations required postal workers to be alert for older patrons. If they didn’t pick up their mail regularly, a call to the police was mandatory.

But Mr. Prichard was her friend, and she couldn’t leave without making sure he was safe. She stepped inside the kitchen. The old man lay on the floor in a pool of blood. Without thinking, she dialed her phone.

“911 what’s your emergency?”

🥕🥕🥕

Mail Theft by tracey

Rhonda stood in the windy monsoon rain and stared at the back of the mailbox in dismay. Twenty-three years on the job and she was still shocked every time she encountered mail theft. Her own sense of integrity was so innate that she could never quite believe people would steal mail.

She tried to remember what she had delivered the day before knowing the thief was most likely looking for drugs.
With a sigh she called her supervisor and then carefully stowed the current mail back in the truck before removing all the remaining mail from the damaged box.

🥕🥕🥕

On the Horns of a Dilemma by Margaret G. Hanna

“It’s easy. Everyone here does it.”

“It’s theft. And not everyone does it.” I glanced around. The mail room was bustling. Would anyone notice?.

Joe slit the parcel open. “Jackpot! A digital camera!” He took it out and retaped the box, then handed me the knife. “Your turn. Pick a parcel.”

I was new, bottom of the ladder. Would I be shunned, or worse, if I told the supervisor? Could I live with myself if I didn’t?

I pushed the knife away. “No thanks.” I wouldn’t steal but I wouldn’t blab. I needed the money for my wife’s medical expenses.

🥕🥕🥕

Working Conditions (BOTS) by Nancy Brady

Recently, a postman climbed out of his truck, grabbing a package to deliver. Although his vehicle was pulled to the side of the road, he was sideswiped by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. The driver didn’t stop; he hit the man and kept going.

Sustaining injuries that included two broken legs and a crushed pelvis, Carl was off work recovering for more than a year.

Now, all the post office trucks around here sport a red flag. The flag is a recent addition, but became necessary to protect the men and women who deliver the mail, particularly packages.

🥕🥕🥕

Vestiges of Forgotten Purpose by Jo Hawk The Writer

Tristao shifted the heavy pack, gnarled fingers burrowed under the frayed strap as he eased the pressure on his stooped shoulder.

Once, he bounded through town, nimbly negotiating steep steps, winding ascents, and narrow passageways like the goats that climbed the mountain protecting his birth city. The residents greeted him, eager for the letters he carried. He was their noble messenger, their link to far-flung family and friends. They shared the latest gossip and a welcome snack.

Now he met only faceless receptacles. He fed blank gaping mouths, with empty messages no one wanted. Tomorrow, Gaspar collected the garbage.

🥕🥕🥕

Dead Letters by Annette Rochelle Aben

Ted nonchalantly punched in the access code and waited patiently for the arm to rise. The maze of storage units could be confusing but not to Ted, as he had been coming here nearly once a day for several months.
Without a care in the world, he began tossing the white plastic bins in left and right. Laughing, Ted thought about how much he hated everything about being a postal worker. The weather, the barking dogs and he especially hated the mail! He hated it so much that he hadn’t delivered any in months, except to this storage unit.

🥕🥕🥕

The Tenacious Mailman by Ruchira Khanna

Jimmy squinted his eyes and took laborious steps towards the last drop out.

Sweat dripping from his grey sideburns and his tongue hanging due to thirst under his sun hat.

He dropped off the post in the mailbox of the mansion-like house and admired the manicured lawn while wiping sweat off his forehead.

Walked back to his postal van and sat gingerly on the seat. After gulping a copious amount of water, he let out a deep sigh with a smile as if he did a touchdown!

“Ten more days until I retire, and all this will be history.”

🥕🥕🥕

Express Mail by D. Avery

“Frankie! Dang! Cain’t believe ya ventured through this blizzard.”
“Had to. There’s letters for Carrot Ranch.”
“Can we git ya anythin’ Frankie?”
“Yes, Kid, get me a glass so I can keep an eye out. I’m eyein’ that glass a whiskey too, Pal. Ah, thanks. Now. How ‘bout you read them letters I delivered?”
“This un’s from thet reliable Ranch hand Susan Sleggs. It’s ta ever’one at the Ranch:

Dearest Ranch Hands,
I look forward to your stories. Lots of times you make me
laugh and there is always some excitement added, or
thought to ponder. You’ve also shown me how to
accomplish meeting the prompt’s expectations, especially
during the Rodeo. You’ve helped me improve as a fellow
“hand.”
Thanks for letting me ride with you.
Susan Sleggs

Thank you for showin’ others how Ranch writin’ works.

Whoa. That’s purty heartfelt. Kid, you read this ‘un. Looks ta be a poem by the Poet Lariat.”

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
Adore all the Hands at the Ranch
That one ‘hudret’ percent true
(Though mine own self I like alot –
Some days the prompts
Put me in a spot…)
We’re all seekin the right combination
To keep our friends attentions
Sharpen’ our pencils
Making sure our pens have ink
‘Specially when we choose
To challenge ourselves
Every week to the edge, the brink
Of what we think are limitations
Of our imaginations…
Keeping our learning sharp
Accepting all for their worth
Because characters matter
As we pursue and fine tune
The Literary Arts!”
-The Poet Lariat
(©JP/dh )

“Don’t thet jist sum it up?”
“Frankie ain’t the only one kin deliver.”

Life Stories of a Bench

In a single timeline, a clock ticks off the day in a life of a bench. It stands alone until people emerge and interact. The stories this bench could tell from dramas to tragedies to comedies to everyday people doing everyday things.

And that’s what writers got to do this week — capture those life stories of a bench. Who are the women in conversation? Why was the man left standing with roses? Some writers had fun with the word bench in its different variations. Gather around the bench for some tales!

The following is based on the January 23, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a park bench.

https://66.media.tumblr.com/5f96e62c4e0801ac15197bb4696d4afd/tumblr_pmwougFDsl1rcicodo1_540.gifv?fbclid=IwAR1b4djHeZpZ9cE4hASngWsF39GV_uymXOTi9LZaa7HanZOtRQe2YVQEVjY

PART I (10-minute read)

Secrets and Moments by DG Kaye

If I could tell you I would. It’s my job here to offer a place to rest your weary selves. All knowing, listening and watching as countless people land here to share a moment.

Broken hearts rested here in refuge with their grief, new beginnings created as some knelt on bended knee declaring their love and proposing to another who has rested upon me.

Shady characters too have used my inconspicuous location for an incognito drop-off. While others come just to relax and take in a beautiful day.

These secrets traded between visitors remain ingrained within my wooden confessional.

🥕🥕🥕

Stories to Tell by Anita Dawes

A simple wooden bench
Beneath welcome shade
May not seem exciting
The stories it could tell
Of lover’s first kiss
Under moonlight
It’s now they’re go-to place
After fifty years
Each kiss as good as the first
That’s what they would tell you
Margaret and Ethel
Meet there at lunch time
Discuss their aches and pains
Walk home feeling less lonely
Sixty-year-old Tom
Brings breadcrumbs
To feed the pigeons
Remembering times
His wife sat beside him
This simple wooden structure
Serves the community
I thank God it’s there
To sit, watch life go by
More stories yet to tell…

🥕🥕🥕

6am: The Empty Bench by Cara Stefano

Empty street
A desolate breeze
Waiting, Hoping
Here come the street sweepers and the trash trucks – roaring by without pause
The laughing children on their way to school – they stop; then saunter off in giggles
Harried mothers with their babes in tow, grateful to sit a moment before leaping up – they’re gone
Puffed up business men on quick lunch break
Families stop to picnic – sunset’s glow
Two nearly strangers meeting for their first date – how will it go?
Who knows what might happen in the dark?
The empty bench will wait.

🥕🥕🥕

06:00 Empty Park Bench by tracey

What a lovely morning! The sun feels good after that chilly night. I am enjoying this fragment of quiet tranquility, possibly the last one of the day. I am really glad no one threw up on me during the night. I wonder if anyone will need consoling today? Will I witness moments of great joy? I hope some kids come and play near me; I love the sound of their laughter. It would be nice if someone ate lunch here, the smell of chicken soup would be wonderful. I guess I’ll know soon enough what visitors today will bring.

🥕🥕🥕

6:00 by Caroline Scott

Well, it was early morning yet. No need to worry.

The old split wood knew he would come. He had always come. He had found that one area no one ever sits in at the park because it isn’t pretty, not really, and he had been so proud in himself, the silly little man.

In time he had brought friends. Later there was a woman who knew what it was as much as him. Then children.

Now the little man was old, but the bench sat very still for him, and when it heard his voice it was alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Observations from a Park Bench by Jo Hawk

The clock in Trellech announced his daily passage. At seven-thirty he traveled into town, his feet dragging him forward, his pack dwarfing his tiny frame. Every afternoon at precisely two-thirty, lighter steps whisked him home.

Time slipped into years. As he grew into his backpack, it was replaced by a one larger and heavier than the last. His shoulders bent beneath the staggering weight, but he endured his regimen and never faltered.

His stamina increased, his burden kept pace, and I marveled at his quiet suffering.

One fateful day he stopped, dropped his albatross, and dared to fly free.

🥕🥕🥕

Park It by Bill Engleson

“You’re benched, Potter.”

“Coach, that’s nuts. I’m playing darn well.”

“Not arguing with that. I agree, you’re channeling Gretsky.”

“Then why you benching me?”

“Stop hovering. Sit your arse down. I don’t appreciate a 6’9” fifteen-year-old sucking my air.”

“Sorry coach. So, what’s your tofu with me.”

“Potter, you know how much time you spend at the rink? Playing? Practicing?”

“As much as I can, Coach.”

“Every waking hour, boyo. You ever go outdoors? Walk in the park? Sit on your duff?”

“No time for that stuff. I’m going to the NHL.”

“But at what price, Potter. What price.”

🥕🥕🥕

Maternal Isolation (9.00 daren’t become 9.30) by Anne Goodwin

Someone’s nabbed the bench beside the sandpit, a proper mother with clean clothes and groomed hair. Erica could go and sit alongside her, there’s room for another set of carrot sticks, juice boxes, wet wipes and menagerie of plastic toys. But the proper mother might speak to her and Erica wouldn’t know if she was sniping at her choice of toddler snacks or inviting her for tea. Even if she trimmed her words so Erica could understand, she couldn’t answer. She needs quiet, a clear channel to her children’s cries. She’s already distracted by the voices in her head.

🥕🥕🥕

9:00 by Nancy Brady

The day was sunny and warm so Victoria decided to take her little boy to the park. Jamie held his mother’s hand as they crossed the street and walked to the playground.

Jamie loved the slides, and Torie loved the Little Free Library that was adjacent to the bench. There was always a good selection of books for both kids and adults.

As Jamie played nearby with his trucks, Torie chose a chick-lit novel from the library and began to read. She also chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar for Jamie’s naptime.

Tomorrow, she’d bring a couple books to share.

🥕🥕🥕

9:30 by Charli Mills

Gina sat and talked about auras. Maizie chalked vivid colors on the sidewalk, capturing the world’s energy field. She said my daughter was an inquisitive “indigo” and that I was a wise “violet.” I leaned back on the bench, hand in hair, wanting to believe my aura held meaningful hues like she said. But as we walked back to our apartment, all  I could think about were the lonely shadows waiting inside. I wonder what color his aura was when my husband died in a botched training? In return, Maizie and I received a flag – red, white, and blue.

🥕🥕🥕

9.30 by Joanne Fisher

“Is that your daughter?” the woman asked sitting beside Andrea.

“Yes, she’s obviously a budding artist.” Andrea replied, watching her draw on the footpath.

“My name is Penelope.” the woman said.

“Hi I’m Andrea.”

“I see you here every day. I thought I’d say hello.”

“My daughter loves the park.” Andrea told her. She doesn’t say she has only just moved here, and at least the park was free…

Penelope and her continued talking, until they both had to leave. As Andrea walked away with her daughter holding onto her, she wondered if she had just found a friend.

🥕🥕🥕

11:00 by D. Avery

He might be retired, but he keeps busy, keeps fit in mind and body. Every day a brisk walk through the park, then some time reading the daily news; he keeps up with current events like it is his sworn duty and obligation.
So he assumes a scowl when rain interferes with his ritual, forcing him to repurpose the paper as an umbrella as he retraces his route. He retreats, dampened, secretly grateful for the rain that disguises escaped tears; he fervently and futilely wishes the world’s woes could be as easily washed away as a child’s chalk drawings.

🥕🥕🥕

11:30 by M J Mallon

It’s raining again and I think of you. The park bench with your name rests, waiting for another raindrop to thirst quench my sorrow.

By 11.30am it’s raining hard. I capture a single drop of heaven’s rain on my tongue. I taste it. It’s lonely, like this new day without you.

You loved the rain;your days were full of joy. I have an umbrella in my bag but no need for it. And neither do you.

It’s tranquil today,

November Rain, June Sunshine,

Seasons talk of Love,

Strolling side by side – Mists, gusts,

Welly boots squelching the earth.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Floridaborne

Etched in a marble bench were the words, “Donated by Jacob Smith 1942 in memory of Pearl.”

Ruby had played in the park while her mother sat on this bench in 1950. Her husband proposed to her on this bench in 1965. Every one of her 4 children sat on this bench with her, or played on the new slides and swings. Now, she grieved for her husband of 55 years newly buried.

Two kids around 13 snickered. “Someone needs to remove that eyesore.”

“Which one, the bench or the old lady?”

Her older sister, Pearl, would’ve been appalled.

🥕🥕🥕

This Is a Problem Llama by Donna Matthews

Linda had met the cute new guy in the far north field yesterday. He had wandered in during the snowstorm, and seeing that he was new, she asked his name.

“Larry from the South, ” he replied.

After a few flirtatious moments, Larry asked Linda if he could see her again. Linda, thinking he was just the cutest thing ever, was quick to reply yes! They made a plan to meet at the park bench between the two fields at noon tomorrow.

But she was late. Larry was nowhere. Ugh. This is a problem, llama, she thought to herself.

🥕🥕🥕

An Acrostic of the Subjected Subject by JulesPaige

Placement, location; a free place to rest old bones
Atmosphere dependent upon the continuum of reality’s timeline
Rehearsals, rituals; just a place to pass en route; to and fro
Kinetic action witnessed of who does or does not make use thereof

Beacon of respite? Seat, table, bed. A voiceless witness of life’s vibrations.
Entrenched; bolted in pavement… if flight were even possible on four steel legs
Nicks and scratches heal without aid of medicinal plasters; just weathered air
Cobbled recollections; laughter, joy, sorrow, nightmares – litter of memories
Helpless to record what passes for this inanimate object… maybe not?

🥕🥕🥕

Reincarnated Love by Reena Saxena

I used to spend an hour on this park bench every evening – petting furry creatures, feeding them biscuits, watching their competitive pranks, smiling and laughing a lot.

I’m back there after a decade. The darlings do not come running to me. There are a few loitering around, who have to be woo-ed with biscuits.

Realisation dawns about the difference in life span and lifestyles. It is love that remains supreme, and will bind me again to the new spirits.

Deep inside somewhere, I wish there is some reincarnated love, and I do meet my old friends once again.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Ruchira Khanna

“I am tired.”

After giving a glance at her face that glistened with sweat courtesy the bright sun, he said, “Let’s take a five-minute break.”

Mrs. D was quick to plop on the bench that overlooked the green grass where children were playing ball.

As the north-west wind blew, she flared her nostrils to absorb the energy that’ll help her walk home.

While Mr. D gave out a deep sigh as memories flashed in front of him.

He placed his wrinkled hand over his wife and uttered, “Our life has transitioned, but this bench has been constant for us.”

🥕🥕🥕

Newton’s Gravity Story by Simon

As decided to travel back in time, I traveled back to 1647 to find out how Newton figured out law of gravity.

Newton was on the bench with his curly long hair and tried to remove the hair tangles with a pencil.

Then the pencil fell down to ground. He stared it for a while.

It didn’t fly. He wondered why it didn’t fly. Then he jumped from bench.

He took his little diary and started to write theory, then I saw myself sits next to him, asked to write his theory finding with an apple and he did.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

15:00 Hours by Lisa A. Listwa

Jean-Luc sat easily on the park bench, one arm draped over the back. He pulled a slow, hard drag from his cigarette, inhaling the afternoon heat.

“Your first time in Paris, monsieur?”

The man’s aroma suggested it had been some time since he bathed.

“I’ve been…away for many years.”

“I know places to see, monsieur. For a few francs?”

“Tell you what, brother,” said Jean-Luc. He stood, stuffed the cigarette between his lips, and unbuttoned his prison drab. “How about the shirt off my back instead?”

Handing the shirt to the stranger, Jean-Luc walked bare-chested out of the garden.

🥕🥕🥕

15:30 to Midnight by Hugh Roberts

Sophie wished that right now she still had the knife she had used to inscribe their names on the park bench where she and Doug had first met.

***

Doug’s mind wandered back to their first date. It was a bunch of flowers he had held in his hands at 15:30 that day. Now, here he was holding an oversized bed pillow in front of Sophie. He wondered if their names were still inscribed on the park bench.

***

Two floors below, Mike thought about the park bench where he and Sophie had first made love at the stroke of midnight.

🥕🥕🥕

16:00 by Ritu Bhathal

How much longer?
It’s been half an hour now.
I know she likes to keep me waiting, but this is taking the mick.
I hadn’t counted on the bench being wet either.
Who would have expected rain in June?
Actually, what am I thinking?
It’s England. Rain can happen at any time.
At least the flowers still look good.
They should, at that price.
Does this mean I’ve been stood up?
I wonder how many others have sat on this bench, waiting.
What’s that? Oh, a message.
Seriously?
She’s not coming.
Had a better offer.
Prosecco with the girls…

🥕🥕🥕

16:00 You’re Gone by Sascha Darlington

A thousand voices echo. Reprimands. Insecurity.

I’ve lost it all.

I got drunk, flirted, danced, hugged, and kissed a girl. Not you. When I kissed her, I made believe she was you.

The walls have eyes and voices that repeated events to you.

“It’s over,” you said.

“I’m sorry. What can I do?”

Those last four words I repeated over to you for days until finally, you acquiesced. “Meet me at our bench at 4.”

I brought your favorite pink roses. They smelled like heaven, like you.

After three hours, I tossed the roses into the bin.

Accepting truth.

🥕🥕🥕

16:30 by Saifun Hassam

Someone had tossed a bouquet of dark red roses into the trash bin. The park bench was deserted. The roses beckoned, fresh and fragrant on a cold wintry afternoon. Was it a proposal that turned into a lover’s quarrel? Who ditched the roses? Perhaps a date didn’t turn up.

Was there a greeting card tucked into the bouquet? Curiosity beckoned the storyteller. No love letter, no birthday wishes. The writer strolled on down the winding path to Frendale Cafe. Sometime later, walking back through the park again, curiosity led the writer to the bench. The lovely roses were gone.

🥕🥕🥕

16:48 by Pete Fanning

My mother took her life on a park bench. It made the evening news. They spoke of tragedy, witnesses, of what drove her to such desperation.

Sitting on the same bench, I wonder if the breeze gave her a chill or if the squawk of the geese reminded her of grandma’s pond. I hope her last thoughts were peaceful. It’s why I brought flowers to the place she died, not where she’s buried.

But it’s no good, standing, sitting, people telling me she’ll show up.
She won’t show up. And so I throw the flowers in the trash.

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by Elpy

Pidgey, Pinky, Plump, Pokey, plus many extras today, the gang was all there. Will she forget their names one day soon? Will she fade like the light and become one of the birds no one tries to remember?

Pokey, the old one wandered off like they do, drawing her attention to the bouquet in the trash bin at the end of the bench. Were they old news, pitched because they’d served their purpose?

No, it is an old woman especially who knows heartache. Her brain might be collapsing in on itself but she still knows well what life is.

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 (Regrets) by Margaret G. Hanna

Every afternoon, as I walked to work, I saw the old woman sitting on the park bench, feeding pigeons. Then, one day, she wasn’t. I stopped, stared. Questions: Where was she? Was she sick? Dead? Who was she? Perhaps a renowned scientist, a poet, a successful businesswoman. Was she a beloved grandmother? Mother? Sister?

The question that truly burned: Why could I notice her in her absence when I couldn’t take the time to notice her when present? Why didn’t I smile, say hello?

Regret filled me. I should have stopped. What memories did I miss by ignoring her?

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She supposed she should scatter birdseed, as her grandson often admonished her.

Her widow’s pension was meant for sustenance, not luxury, so she shared what she had. The birds didn’t object. They gathered at her feet at this park bench, every day at 5 pm.

She prayed on it, asking for a sign. A brush of wings, a whisper in her ear. “Look left, and many thanks, Svetlana.”
On the trash bin’s edge sat a half-dozen perfect red roses, reminiscent of the sweet nosegays gathered by her gallant Sergei.

What she wouldn’t give for one more walk with him.

🥕🥕🥕

5 o’clock by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

Molly sat down on the bench and breathed a sigh of relief. With age, even walking became challenging, especially after hip surgery. Before she could pull out a piece of bread, pigeons surrounded her feet. Molly smiled and greeted them each by name. To others, they were impossible to tell apart, but to her – a daily visitor, they were all so very different.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here the other day” – she said to the pigeons and the men she stood up and never got to meet 40 years ago.

Who knows how her life would have turned out…

🥕🥕🥕

17:00 by D. Avery

I see you not seeing me, see that my chuckling hastens you on.
I recently read about the ground being a mirror-line for an inversion of two realms, the living and the dead walking sole to sole. I chuckle to think there’s a frumpy old lady sitting on a park bench upside-down underneath me.
Yes, I read. And I think. My mind is sharp, though a little stroke’s made talking difficult. The pigeons don’t notice.
I know I could have another stroke but I wouldn’t go to a doctor even if I could.
I’m braver than I look too.

🥕🥕🥕

Babuska and Bengay by Kerry E.B. Black

17:00

It was 5:00 somewhere, the pigeons knew. There, in fact. They waddled and cooed as they congregated around their benefactress, she of the babuska and Bengay who brought sacks of seed for their always ravenous stomachs. She flouted the posted signs. “Don’t feed the wildlife.” To her, though, these were not “wildlife.” They were named friends. In their soft grey feathers sparkled the iridescence of acceptance. They enjoyed her company and never missed a meal. She counted on their companionship in her increasingly lonely twilight. She emptied the bag and waved. “See you tomorrow, darlings! Same time. Same place.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Hereafter, Aloft by Chelsea Owens

She came every day at 5:00; after making her way from the bus [D’you need a hand, Mrs. Parker?], down the sidewalk, to the bench.

She needed more and more assistance from those sweet young nurses [What if we skipped the park today, Mrs. Parker?] with each passing day.

The birds know her. Chirping – flitting – pecking. She laughs at their avian antics.

[Come with us.]

“What?” Emiline Parker glances around. A sparrow eyes her.

[Come fly.]

“…Why?”

[You’ve cared. It’s the least we could do.]

Considering, she nods. The birds alight; a new friend among them, an old life behind.

🥕🥕🥕

 22:00 by clfalcone *

What started as a discussion over vodka and football quickly became a brawl.

Sergei maintained Spartak had the better drinkers, Vassily countered that Dynmo were superior drunks.

Then shouting, pushing, spitting and suddenly Sergei punching Vassiliy’s lights out with a jaw shot. Dimka would have kicked both their asses, declaring Red Army as vodka champs, had he not passed out, falling off the bench.

Sergei glared down his opponent passed out and snoring, then saw the flashing lights.

The Militsia rolled up to inspect the commotion. Vassily helped Sergei up, they rousted Dimka, and three gopniki fled the park.

🥕🥕🥕

Midnight by Susan Sleggs

Kera straddled Brent on the park bench. “I love you and getting engaged has made me very happy, but doing this without protection is a bit scary.”

“We’ve been talking about kids and when I told Mom about the ring she said Michael was looking forward to her having grandchildren. They just might get one sooner than any of us thought.”

“My Mom would only be upset about not getting to plan the perfect wedding.”

“A perfect wedding would be our families and friends in this park.”

“I’d prefer a church but this would be fine, if we must.”

🥕🥕🥕

23:30 by Nancy Brady

Young and vibrant, the couple first met when he was a sailor on one of the Great Lakes ore boats. He was the ship’s cook, and she, a teacher.

Whenever he came into Huron, the pair met at the park overlooking Lake Erie. Over time, their love grew with kisses, cuddles, and poetry. Eventually, they married, settling here.

Sixty-four years later, they celebrate once again. She has dementia; he has Parkinson’s, but their love is still strong.

In the park where they once met is a bench with a dedication to them: “The sailor comes home from the sea.”

🥕🥕🥕

Four O’clock by  Michael Fishman

A morning walk. Four O’clock, before the realities of the day begin shining on the concrete of downtown.

The busses haven’t started running yet so the streets are quiet. Marquette Avenue is lined with bus shelters and it’s in the 6th street shelter that I see him every morning. You know what he looks like 4because you’ve seen him, or someone like him, before. They’re generally invisible, but when they’re asleep on a bus bench at four in the morning, they stand out.

I walk over, step into the shelter and leave a package of Hostess cupcakes for him.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bench by Ann Edall-Robson

Hanna walked toward the pasture’s evening light, veering off to where she had seen the trail. Pushing past the bushes, the pungent freshness of the rain that had fallen earlier in the day engulfed her. The overgrown track took her to the creek and a surprised. It had seen better days, but the weathered bench felt sound when she sat on it.

Closing her eyes to the setting sun, her mind danced with memories until the sound of a shutter clicking brought her back to reality.

Striding from the sanctuary, Hanna knew the days of being alone were gone.

🥕🥕🥕

Park Bench by Christine Bialczak

“Ouch! Come on, you again? Why do you keep coming to me to sit? I don’t know why you choose me when there are all those other benches sitting around. I thought I was full just a few minutes ago. What did you say? This bench was empty? Are you saying I am not worth more than a place to sit?”

Ten minutes later…

“Phew! Thank you for getting up! I can’t believe that I have to withstand all of the weight on my legs.
Didn’t you know that I have other people to support?”

Finally, alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Aspirations and Sympathy by Kerry E.B. Black

Benches mark places of ease, spots for reflection and rejuvenation. To provide a trysting spot or safe haven for leisure is the bench’s highest aspiration.

Not so for the broken wooden bench strangled in bindweed, abandoned to wither to metal framework and scattered tacks.

Its replacement, made of synthetic “wood-look,” cradles new parents bragging parental concerns and an old man who, despite repeated warnings from the ranger, feeds the squirrels.

All who seek its comfort, though, notice the new bench remains cool even during hot summers – So unlike the lost wooden bench that warmed to every drama and sympathized.

🥕🥕🥕

Benched by D. Avery

“Dang. This prompt looks ta be a workout, Pal. Not sure I kin bench press 99 words.”

“Here’s Kid with the weekly whine. Speakin’ a beer, did ya see thet Shorty’s still visionin’?”

“Yep, she’s real big on vision questin’ an’ goal settin’. Got a positive outlook fer the future.”

“No, I mean Visions. She’s got a window looks out inta the past.”

“Does the Ranch have a window like that?”

“Window’s wide open. Folks kin reflect an’ let their ‘maginations run free range here.”

“Should shut that window. Ya never know what kinda characters might come through.”

“Hmmff.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bench Pressing 99 Words by D. Avery

“Well, jeez, Pal. Last week it was hands in the air, standin’ up protestin’, now this week it’s ‘bout settin’ down on a bench. Ya ever even seen a bench aroun’ here? I’ll set alright. Gonna set this one out.”

“So where ya headed, Kid?”

“Might’s well set in the Poet Tree.”

“Yer navel’s hardly a window on the world, Kid, but sure, go up yer tree an’ contemplate.”

*history’s imprint
heavy stories come to light
bench pressing 99
lifting portal lids, mirrors
giving apparitions form*

“Ya didn’t really follow the prompt Kid.”

“I went where it led, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protests

A protest can be small as the silence of a single person or big as a clamoring crowd. Social injustice, human rights, better conditions for workers can add to suppressed voices. Yet, objections can come from even the protested.

Writers gave much thought to the prompt and explored who and why what was the object of protests.

The following is based on the January 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a protest story.

PART I (10-minute read)

Remember the Revolution by Doug Jacquier

Remember causes
and affectations of effect on war
in cities now gone five-star?

Remember social action
sitting in smoke-filled rooms with Nescafe activists
and battered women with no teeth and less hope?

Remember death
when it belonged to rock stars
and people your mother your mother knew?

Remember money
and how it wasn’t going to concern you
until you learnt the golden rule and its defensible limits?

And do you remember when the penny dropped
that the personal was the political
and you found out you had to change?

And you decided to forget the revolution?

🥕🥕🥕

Standing by D. Avery

“Staff members shouldn’t join student anti’s, Ms. Higginbottom.”

“Anti’s. My dad, a member of the NRA, called protesters that, Mr. Mathy.”

Mr. Massey the math teacher looked at Ilene, unsure of her lisp and her tone.

“But this is not my father’s NRA. Not by a long shot.”

“You give up one constitutional right, the rest are vulnerable.”

Incredulous, Ilene finally spoke. “Look at the reciprocals; not what they’re against but what they are for; that’s what pro-test means, testifying for a cause.”

“And what are these children standing for Ms. Higginbottom?”

“Life, Mr. Massey. They want to live.”

🥕🥕🥕

My Way or Protest by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

Riley stared at the plate in front of her in disbelief. It wasn’t what she ordered.

She watched the waitress slowly approach the table.

“I wanted mac ’n’ cheese” – Riley spat out.

“This IS mac ‘n’ cheese” – the waitress calmly replied.

Riley folded her arms, pouted, and frowned at the broccoli. She was not going to eat anything until she got exactly what she ordered. Or chocolate, which was the one thing that would always magically fixed things.

“You will eat whatever I give you, young lady” – Riley’s mother said, sitting down next to her at the kitchen table.

🥕🥕🥕

A Child’s Protest by Ritu Bhathal

“No more slop! No more slop!”

The sound of the butts of knives and forks being bashed against the tabletops echoed through the dining room.

“Children, please!” Mrs Garrett, flapped her arms up and down, trying to calm the situation, to no avail.

“We ain’t eating that rubbish anymore, Miss! It’s rank!” Tommy, the protest ringleader, piped up.

A chorus of voices echoed his sentiments.

Mrs Garrett looked at the greying mass of potato, with an unidentifiable beige stew, and cabbage that had long since lost any goodness, and sympathised.

I think it’s time to talk to the cooks…

🥕🥕🥕

Protested Internally, Murtle’s Story by Tammy L. Toj Gajewski

She pointed at her leg making a stabbing motion. I shook my head and said, “What?” even though she couldn’t hear. Murrow took my hand and made me touch her pudgy belly, then took my finger to stab her upper thigh repeatedly. Oh oh… I see . “You don’t like the insulin shots?” I sign into her palm. That was it she went crazy signing and jibbering so fast I couldn’t keep up so I just hugged her and said yes I know over and over. She raised her shoulders finally in triumph that I knew her pain and internal protest.

🥕🥕🥕

A Small Protest by Chelsea Owens

“Won’t!” The small face scrunches.

Father sighs. “I’d let you go like this, Arnie, but-”

“No no no!”

“Arrrnie,” Father begins, his tone less calm, “Daddy‘s wearing-”

“Daddy’s fart face!” A small tongue protrudes from the small mouth.

Father straightens. He takes a small arm in a big hand and marches small legs up big stairs. “That’s enough, young man! We do not stick our tongues out or call names.”

“Fart. face. Fart. face,” Arnie gasps at each stair.

“Now,” Father concludes, setting him at the top. “You’ll sit in Timeout, then you WILL put your pants on!”

🥕🥕🥕

A Little Classroom Protest by Ellen Best

“Quiet!” shouted Miss Brooks, “Okay Girls, hands up if you think you’re the weaker sex.” Shouts, and stomping shoes echo. Her voice raised, her palm hit the desk. A puddle formed in her eye, she grabbed her hands rubbing vigorously, as a drip plopped against her lip. Her tongue, snatched it away unseen, while she counted raised hands.

“Please miss,” eyes swivel, and I colour. “I think it depends if they smack the desk harder than you.” The noise level climbed. “It isn’t gender or braun that predicts strength, but Emotional intelligence Miss, females win that every time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protest Proposal by Caroline Scott

He was going to do it.

She could see it in his eyes. There was a strange, liquid gleam in them, and a kind of manic terror.

She should speak. She needed to stop this before he did something either of them regretted. A protest rose on her lips but he was already on his knees.

She’d never seen a man so afraid.

“Will you marry me?”

It was his question, but she said it. If the point was at all worth arguing, he didn’t say so. When her arms went around his neck, all he said was,

“Yes.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Parent’s Nightmare by Jacquie Biggar

“There’s no easy way to say this—” Matt met the growing horror in Mrs. Carter’s eyes, his heart hurting, “your daughter was murdered last night on the Galloping Goose Trail. We believe she was on her way home at the time.”

The poised woman who’d met them at the door disappeared in a swelling tide of despair. She vigorously shook her head. “No, you’ve made a mistake. Emily was home last night. I brought her home from school myself. It’s not possible.”

“How do you know it’s our child?” Carter asked, his voice gruff. “It could be anyone.”

🥕🥕🥕

Methinks We Doth Protest Too Much by Cara Stefano

I have often wondered what I should protest: world hunger, needless war, homeless children right here in my home town? There are so many reasons to be angry, to wish for a soap box to stand upon, exhorting the masses to action; there are so many reasons to “get all up in arms” about this or that pressing issue. We are so often preaching to the choir – our tiny group of friends and family, acquaintances whom we know agree. Perhaps I simply want to protest the very idea of protesting. Let’s all just try to get along, shall we?

🥕🥕🥕

The Gift of Music by Susan Sleggs

The wheelchair-bound veterans weren’t surprised when asked to join Gil Brandt near his bus. The musician learned names then turned to Michael, “I’ve heard of your talent and that you live near multiple VA medical centers so I’m giving you this to share.”

A vehicle whose sides were painted with music murals and the words “Veterans’ Music Van” pulled up. Doors were opened to reveal many instruments and other band equipment.

“I can’t accept such a gift,” Michael said.

“No protesting. I hope you’ll develop or add to a music program at each center because music has healing power.”

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Rebel Released by Ann Edall-Robson

“What’s going here?” Hanna pointed at the picture.

“The whisper went through the halls of the school.

‘We’re walking out as soon as first period starts after lunch.’

Rumours had been swirling for weeks. Finally, the day arrived to protest having to wear skirts and dresses at school, especially in -40F weather. All we wanted was to be able to wear slacks.

There I was, a junior, scared to death I’d be expelled, making my way down the halls, out onto the lawn with the others.”

Liz closed the Yearbook with a laugh.

“My inner rebel had been released.”

🥕🥕🥕

Student Protest by Nancy Brady

Julia wanted to be inducted into her school’s National Honor Society.

Each year she saw outstanding upperclassmen selected for the honor. As a junior, she watched her classmates and the seniors get chosen one by one.

The school administration and teachers were shocked when one senior refused in protest over a blatant prejudice against another student. Apparently, the seniors knew that the student was treated unfairly, making a pact to reject the honor; however, only Jerry had the strength of character to protest this injustice.

How they found out was never revealed, but it forever changed the school’s policy.

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Joanne Fisher

An angry crowd had gathered outside protesting the sweeping new laws passed by the Government.

“How can I create art if there’s no more human misery and suffering?” shouted the artist.

“Now I can afford to feed, clothe, and house all my kids without having to work three jobs. HOW DARE YOU!” screamed a woman.

“But I wanted all my money to be sucked up by the global billionaires!” another man complained.

“Now I can have decent healthcare. What made you think I wanted that?”

“The environment cleaned up? Who said we wanted a utopia?” a woman cried out.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Mad, but Angry by Anne Goodwin

Although medication dulls my senses, that headline hurts. An assault on language. An assault on me.

When I first acquired the label, I feared it would swallow me whole. Would I still be a person? Or turn into an axe-wielding lunatic overnight?

I upload a screenshot to Facebook. An emoticon scowl. SCHIZOPHRENIC ATTACKS DIABETIC would be more balanced. UNEMPLOYED ACCOUNTANT ATTACKS SHOP ASSISTANT more polite.

The LIKES accumulate. The expressions of rage. We’re more than our diagnoses. More often the target than the perpetrator of abuse.

While social media can be mentally toxic, it’s a place of protest too.

🥕🥕🥕

Silent Protest by Lisa Listwa

Harold felt someone touch him.

Or did he?

It was hard to tell from behind the curtain of darkness shrouding his eyes. Every inch of his leaden body resisted all appeals for movement. His mind was too clouded for inquiry.

He could probably rally himself, but the only thing he wanted was to let go, to sink deeper into the noiseless black pawing at his consciousness.

Something – or someone – moved nearby. Harold sensed a change in the area immediately surrounding him.

Falling.

No. He was rising.

“C’mon, cat,” said his human. “Time to get up. Get off the bed.”

🥕🥕🥕

#81 Discharge? by JulesPaige

my mind protests, sighs
you’re not what I expected;
mirrored reflection

Hoping that I’m not still blushing when Sam arrives; I am still in wonderment about how my body protests… But I smell Ife’s rose scent – I calm down. Just what can I tell him? That some myths are prophecy, like history is doomed to repeat itself if we don’t learn from it? Quite a bit of the Underground Railroad, just like the Pony Express has been amplified, romanticized. Yet there were kernels of truth.

Maybe I’ll open with; “Have you ever used a psychic to help solve cases?” …

🥕🥕🥕

I Must Protest by H.R.R. Gorman

The man in the top hat knocked the soapbox with his gold-tipped cane. “I must protest this… this sin! How dare you peddle this Godless brew?”

The squirmy man with thin mustache bent down from atop his box. “Godless brew? No, it’s a true cure for everything from apoplexy to zinc deficiency, from premature birth to heart failure! Care to take a sip and put some pep in your step?”

The man with the top hat smashed the bottles at the foot of the soap box. “Even worse! If you cure mother, how else will I get her money?”

🥕🥕🥕

Protest to God by Pedro Padilla

He felt broken. Heart striving. Body moving in nuanced physical patterns. Depending on what action the work requires. Sweat, clenched fists, spider like hand movements. All include use of the back.

Outside the mine his 4 children, motherless, wait. When he comes out to check on them he spies a snake near by. Family says that’s when he broke. Hair went white at 30. His protest to God. No man, or woman, as proxy. Straight to the source.

“We work. I work hard. She died. I’m broken. How? What to do? You are too hard. Too unfair. Please help us.”

🥕🥕🥕

Legacy Survived by Charli Mills

Three sisters opened a yarn shop in Houghton 19 miles from where their children died in a stairwell. They stood stiff as marble in the back corner, the waists of their dresses pinched as tight as the grief in their eyes. Round skeins of yarn soft as a baby’s head inspired sales to knitters whose wealth they had once protested. Next door, another displaced Italian family opened a confectionary with fireproof ceiling tiles. In business, they dispensed softness and sweets, set codes for stairs, and prospered. Their surviving children’s grandchildren expanded family enterprises long after the copper mines closed.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Be The Change by Nobbinmaug

“Here’s another depressing news story. We should do something.”

“Like what?”

“Protest.”

“Protest what?”

“I don’t know. Pollution. Corporate tax cuts. Guns. Puppy mills.”

“Car washes.”

“What? You’re mocking me.”

“I am. What about actors who play roles inconsistent with their ethnicity? Innocuous lyrics to Christmas songs from the ’40s?”

“I’m serious. We live in a world where a xenophobic, rapist, megalomaniac, demagogue was elected president over a qualified woman amid cries of ‘Lock her up’ because she sent emails from the wrong account.”

“That’s why I’m protesting elections. You’re not gonna change anything.”

“Maybe we should protest apathy.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Floridaborne

My name is Ambivalence. I know not of the ways those around me live. I am a ghost condemned to this globe called Earth, searching for my daughter, Kindness.

My world died in the fires of protest, a civilization created by Peace and Prosperity. My crime? I believed our golden era could never end and failed to see Greed stop at nothing to prevail. Greed created disease, and then Greed survived the death of our world, giving birth to Psychopath and Victim.

Five thousand years later, I watch the birth of twins; Obliteration and Apocalypse.

When can I rest?

🥕🥕🥕

Wait to Speak by Jules Dixon

A ghostly hand silenced my heart. Wait to speak it whispered, to hold my truth until I heard their decree of masked respect. But I wouldn’t be told when to scream from the mountains and when to cry from the valleys. My spirit straightened and I bellowed into the night that their ruse of order wasn’t going to work. My triumphant heart sang the words I’d longed to release. Their reaction an unwanted ghost to be banished forever. Now I stand on the podium, my voice strong, my heart wild, my emotion true. My time is now, and ever.

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A Pregnant Protest by Colleen M. Chesebro

Susan squeezed her husband’s hand, turning his knuckles white.

“I’ll never let you into my bed again,” she protested.

Tim nodded his head. “I’m so sorry love,” he whispered.

The contractions began again as Susan shrieked out a primal wail. She panted through the waves of torment.

“You’re almost there,” the doctor murmured, intent on his ministrations. “One more push, Susan, and that should do it.”

Susan closed her eyes in concentration. With one long scream she pushed out the reason for her pain.

The infant resembled his father. A long-tail protruded from the base of his spine.

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Simon

Fight between two monkeys inside a forest. Both were fighting rigorously and accidentally discovered a chest under the grass. Both monkeys stared at the chest in unison. One of them opened it. Two hands from inside holds both monkeys hand and they both scream and saw vision of a great hero past, died in a protest, fighting the secret enemies disguised as protestors cornered this Hero and pushed to death. But before he died, none of the enemies left protest alive. His rage was incredibly strong, even after he dies his soul now turned dark demon “Coming for you!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Protest by Teresa Grabs

Shouting roared outside as Davey and I huddled in the bathtub. Breaking glass sent shivers up my spine. My fingers ached from gripping the baseball bat as hard as I was, but I promised Mom I would keep him safe. I had to. Sure, he was my little brother and I loved him, but he was so much more than that.

Mom screamed and Dad started shouting vulgarities as a door somewhere in the house burst open. I don’t understand why the humans are protesting. Davey wouldn’t hurt anyone. He wouldn’t.

Unless I tell him to.

“Go ahead, Davey.”

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Confusion’s Blunt Knife by M J Mallon

‘I didn’t do it,’ he howled.

‘Stop your protesting, we saw you!’

‘It wasn’t me, it was them.’

‘Excuses, excuses. Them don’t do that, only this does.’

Confusion handed the boy the knife. It was blunt.

‘Why you always blunt?’ he asked.

‘To see if you will sharpen your mind, you idiot!’

The boy looked lost. He pulled his jacket tight around him searching for the right words.

‘My mind is tired, too wired to remember this: who, did what to whom.’

‘Who, or what are you, boy?’

‘I’m tight wound like this jacket.’

‘Strait, that’s what you are.’

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Dave Madden

Hundreds stood before the venue’s mouth, pumping signs in the air, screaming for an end to MMA—human cockfighting.

The manner in which these social justice warriors rallied online and postured at anyone trying to cross their fence of fiery flesh, it was unclear whether they were attempting to cancel California’s biggest MMA promotion or start up a new fight league of their own.

A long weekend defending territory, skipping meals in hopes of tipping the scales in their favor, and celebrating victory after effecting attendance.

Too bad the band of misguided protestors never noticed their similarities with MMA.

🥕🥕🥕

Attention/Protest by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Snowmageddon! Stay home if you don’t have to go out! Feels like double-digit negative temps! Treacherous conditions! Freezing drizzle! Mega-storm sweeping the continent, laying waste to everything in its path!

She switched off the t.v., powered down her computer, snapped off background radio reports. She believed the footage:crashes; spinouts; canceled flights; people braving the cold for ice hockey; solo skiing (her, today); folks bundled like pineapples, walking their dogs.

What about those living rough? Surely these people, and the relief efforts, are newsworthy? She grabbed her keys, groceries and blankets loaded into the SUV, and hit the streets.

🥕🥕🥕

The Gorge’s Protest by Nicole Osmond

The Gorge is breathtaking – a natural wonder carved in a mountain. A chiselled masterpiece a million years in the making.

When the rains come the Gorge shouts its fury in protest.

I am forced to look away.

Its rage terrifies me.

When the clouds are vacant and the sun does it wonderous job with full commitment, the Gorge speaks in whispers.

The rage now replaced with a soothing lullaby at times accompanied with a choir of mist that joins in harmony and sings its melody in vibrant colors.

Each soothing note of color stretching to arch its maker.

🥕🥕🥕

In Protest of the Planet by DGKaye

What remains of the trees, struggle to stand tall, casting thin shadows across the water with reflection in their retaliation. Birds make swift exit when the weather turns ominous. Where do humans flee when there’s no longer a safe place to exist?

What remains is nature’s leftovers from man’s thoughtless lashings. Angels band together, looking down from above in God’s sanctuary as God’s planet drowns and burns in salty tears. When will the natives wake? Action is needed now. Let us stand up in defense of the planet against the wrongs of man and start to repair with change.

🥕🥕🥕

At Home in the Land of the Privileged by Bill Engleson

We were stoned that night. I’ll admit that much. Me, anyways. Sitting behind them I was, slumped on our ratty old davenport.
Listening.

Gangster-like they were, huddled at the-steal-at-five-bucks, pink arborite table Rose scored at the Sally Ann. She was the key insurgent in our ménage à pick-a-number. She’d transferred up from Berkeley, following the crimson flame of revolution into Canada.

Tommy was a prairie kid, swooning over Rose, brain-fried by hormones.

Larson. He was something else again.

Angry as a twister.

Larson’s the one who proposed, “one well-placed bullet, comrades. If we’re serious, we need to draw blood.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Protest by Lisa R. Howeler

Fern watched her father gathering his winter clothes together.

“Dad, you’re not going to that protest are you?”

“It’s not a protest, it’s a rally,” he said with a sigh, pulling his woolen har down on his head over his ears.

“But it’s 21 degrees out and you’re — ”

“I know, I’m 76 but age shouldn’t stop me from standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”

Fern sighed, shaking her head. “Okay, Dad, but I better not get a call from the police that you and Nancy have chained yourselves to the courthouse steps again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Protest by Anita Dawes

Wave your hands in the air

Like you just don’t care!

They do care very much

About the conditions they work in

Too often the loos don’t flush

Water is turned off

Waiting repair

Which takes too long

Poor management in winter

Means working in the cold

This in turn, slows down production

Which means working late

No extra pay

Too many break times cancelled

People become sick

Our floor manager asked

For hot drinks to be made

Every four hours

This went down with management

like a lead balloon

it’s no wonder we’re shouting

and waving our arms…

🥕🥕🥕

World Peace and Beetles by Donna Matthews

My daughter is past curfew. I’m pacing the room, obsessively checking her location on my phone. This new boyfriend of hers is an earth science major. Loves to talk about the planet, climate change, and world peace. He reminds me a little of her father, but I’d never tell her that.

Finally, “I’m home!” she yells from the entryway. My mouth drops open. She’s in bell-bottoms and tie-dye. Her long hair straightened and reeking of patchouli.

“Where the hell have you been?”

“Mom! Stay trippy, little hippie!”

On her arm, a little beetle tattoo.

OMG, wrong kind of Beatles.

🥕🥕🥕

Stewardship by Saifun Hassam

Elena was an environmentalist. In her journal she wrote of her exploration of the Ancient Sea. She was fascinated by its history of thriving ports, an abundant sea, ice-capped mountains.

A time came, imperceptible but certain when sea life was less abundant. The ice caps melted. The immense glaciers along the farthest northern shores turned into giant icebergs.

Elena was killed in a protest of the drilling of the ancient seabed for minerals. Her journal was incomplete. Her granddaughter Jessamine found in it the seeds of her own journey as an environmentalist on a planet beyond the Solar System.

🥕🥕🥕

Prompted Protest by D. Avery

“Jeez, Pal. Tellin’ ya, Shorty’s all over the map with her prompts. Now a protest story? I cain’t write a protest story.”

“Thinkin’ ya protest too much, Kid. Ever dang week yer protestin’, or is thet jist whinin’? This here could be serious ya know. Stop yer whinin’ an’ complainin’ an consider the plight a them’s thet really git the short end a the rope.”

“Reckin I kin try, Pal, but I ain’t got Shorty’s machinations.”

“Do ya mean ‘magination? It’s a difference ‘tween seemin’ and schemin’.”

“Guess as long as she does the write thing it’s all good.”

🥕🥕🥕

Snowshoe Princess by D. Avery

*Once upon a time Princess Buckaroo lived on a enchanted snow-globe peninsula.*

“Writin’ after all Kid?”

“Yep.”

*One day all the Yooper Scoopers quit shov’lin an’ plowin’. They marched on snowshoes, holdin’ their their shovels up like signs, protestin’ ‘gainst low wages an’ high accumulations a snow.

Princess Buckaroo retreated ta another story.*

“Lit out fer another tale?”

“No, she went upstairs when the first story got snowed over.”

*Snow kep fallin’. The Buckaroo Princess got out on snowshoes as ever’thin’ got buried over.*

“What happened?!”

*The Buckaroo Princess was at new heights; snowshoed right ta her north star.*

🥕🥕🥕

 

Carried Wives

Over the threshold, a mud puddle, or in a wife-carrying race, it’s a wonder to consider that wives are carried. But on a deeper dive, consider that partners carry each other in other ways, too — emotionally, in times of troubling circumstances, or with playfulness. What will the writers make of such ideas?

This week, writers explored the various reasons and situations wives could be carried.

The following is based on the January 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife.

PART I (10-minute read)

A Dream Home by Sally Cronin

As a girl she didn’t dream of fairy tale weddings or fancy white dresses. She was an orphan, in and out of foster homes, and all she wanted was a house of her own. They met at the local community centre; a carpenter, his hands worn and callused. He asked her what her dream was and she shared her vision. He said nothing, just smiled and nodded. Today, in her simple blue dress, carrying a posy of wild flowers, he swept her into his arms and through the door of the home he had built to show his love.

🥕🥕🥕

True Love by Dave Madden

Emily smiled from ear to ear as Brady carried her across the threshold.

Brady’s conditioning was nearing its peak at the time of the wedding, so he could have cradled his beautiful, blushing bride all the way to Aspen, Colorado, the destination of their brief honeymoon.

Sacrifice was nothing new for the young couple to cope with—Emily bringing home the bacon, and Brady jumping into any cage he could find, fighting for peanuts.

Emily would continue carrying the financial burden of Brady’s dream chasing, for his upcoming bout and every round moving forward—true love could conquer all.

🥕🥕🥕

Carried Wife by Sascha Darlington

There was a fight.

Something stupid. Aren’t all newlywed fights stupid?

Sara tossed down the dishcloth and ran. Moments later the clouds unleashed a torrent of rain, enough to fill the empty gulches, which Sara wouldn’t know. City-born, Sara didn’t understand that the dry riverbeds could fill instantly and sweep everything away.

He could lose her in the breadth of a moment.

Heart clenching, he jostled into his Mac. Scout ran ahead, tracking, despite the rain.

They heard her before they saw her. Her anguished cry rising above the rushing water.

Gratefully, he cradled her before carrying her home.

🥕🥕🥕

Keeper of the Stories by Ann Edall-Robson

Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, he grinned thinking about all of the stories the old steps could tell.

Each time he passed the majestic staircase, he remembered the look of surprise etched on her face.

It had started with an innocent discussion about chores, and then it just happened. Gathering her into his arms he’d carried her upstairs. He knew right then and there, she was the one, and so did she.

That wouldn’t be the last time the love of his life would go up the stairs in his arms.

Whistling, he walked towards the kitchen.

🥕🥕🥕

Skiing Mishap by Jacquie Biggar

Jeff juggled to keep his balance on the ice without dropping his wife.

“I told you to stick to the bunny hill,” he chastised.

She giggled and held her arms out like a bird in flight. “But it was so much fun- until I fell.”

“Well, let’s see if you still think it’s fun when you’re wearing a cast for the next six weeks.”

“Aw, Jeff, don’t spoil my high. Did you see me? I hit those moguls like a pro.”

“Yes, honey you did,” he said, tenderness running strong in his veins for his brave, incredible, beautiful wife.

🥕🥕🥕

Carried by Lisa A. Listwa

She always felt like the one who needed to be carried. He was the calm to her bluster, the reason to her emotion. When she fretted and worried, he said, “just keep going” and “I believe.”

She found his lack of excitability infuriating.

Through all the changes, the struggles, the fears, he worked and simply kept on. He said he felt stronger with her by his side, better able to do it all because they did it together.

It was in one of those rare moments of expression she realized that in the everyday moments, she also carried him.

🥕🥕🥕

The Carried Wife–Working Hogs by Faith A. Colburn

Moving hogs across a small open space. She feinted right. I followed. She ran left around me. My husband, already distraught, started screaming at me. For once. I stood my ground, stared at him. He took the few steps that divided us, picked me up, and started carrying me somewhere. I had no idea what he intended. Startled and scared, I bit his ear. He put me down, as I’d hoped, took a couple of steps back, wound up, and punched me in the face, a glancing blow since I was turning away. We never worked hogs together again.

🥕🥕🥕

Carrying On by D. Avery

Those first springs the bony fish were welcome food and they ate them gratefully. At first they used them to feed the hills of corn as I showed them to do. They saw how it was, and early on these ones that came to Patuxet did not allow blocking the river as some English would do. Back then we all went to the river in the spring, carried full baskets of alewives to our families, our fields.

More ships came, with seeds and pigs and cattle. It did not take them long to forget how the alewives carried them.

🥕🥕🥕

The Carried Wife by Padre

The river wasn’t incredibly deep, but it was wide and the current brisk. Inga and Charles stood staring at the detritus which seemed to permeate the flow.

“Charles, we can’t wait here all day, the pageant is right after lunch, and the town is still over a mile away.”

Inga had spent most of the last week sorting the ribbons, and finishing the embroidery of her native dress. It was the one hundredth anniversary of their nation’s independence from the Empire, and Inga was supposed to lead the dance.

Without a word, Charles lifted her end entered the water.

🥕🥕🥕

Visions of the Past by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Charles? Where are you?”

“Right here, dear. I’m reminiscing over some of our past adventures.”

Helen chuckled. “We did have some great times. Do you remember our trip to Europe after graduation?”

Charles sighed. “I most certainly do. Do you remember that starry night in the field near the standing rocks?”

Helen blushed. “That was our first night together. How could I forget? We promised our love for all eternity.”

“Yes, that’s right. I picked you up and spun you around the field. I called you my carried wife.”

Helen’s electric wheelchair turned. “And, you’ve carried me ever since.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Wolf in My Body by Deborah A. Bowman

I struggle to rise today,
Each day a little more difficult.
Not long ago I skipped upon my way!
And yet, it’s no one’s fault.

The Wolf has invaded my soul,
His markings across my face.
Lupus, they call him; truth be told.
French word, but found every place.

It taints women, makes our hearts go faint.
But even though the widow can no longer be carried,
The loving husband gone, she feels blessed.
“Yes, last night I could rest!”

My crutches carry me away!
Help my Lupus sisters who die today.
No cure; please help them all… www.lupus.org

🥕🥕🥕

Venus Falls by Kerry E.B. Black

Her legs gave way, and she crumbled.

He scrambled to catch her before she landed. Mud hampered his progress, greedy for attention when all he desired – His love, his best friend, his wife – suspended in what seemed like a slow motion descent.

Mud squelched around her head, befouling her midnight curls. The rigid motion of her seizure etched canals around her, a filthy adulteration of snow angels. He scooped her up and pressed her to him. She convulsed.

One minute. Two. Time grew as greedy as the mud.

The seizure passed.

He waited for her to return to awareness.

🥕🥕🥕

Pushing by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Her challenges were not visible. She had no wheelchair, guide dog, prosthesis or hearing aid. It would have been easier if they were visible.

She carried herself with aplomb. Engaging well with her colleagues and clients. Sometimes she was aggressive, but it wasn’t noticeable to people who did not know her well.

It was inside her brilliant mind that the cracks lurked. Gaps in her mental processes that stopped some of the usual though connections from happening.

Her husband plastered over the cracks and built bridges to breech the gaps. He carried her; pushing her in a mental wheelchair.

🥕🥕🥕

Misconceptions of What Is a Good Wife by Ellen Best

We worked hard, determined I was, not to be ‘A Carried Wife.’ More worried about other’s perceptions, I got it wrong. Because he was a lawyer, earning big, didn’t mean people would expect me to slack. Engrossed in that thought, I took my eye off of the ‘us.’

Not seeing his palor, hearing that cough. I failed as his wife. Each night I fell into bed shattered, not fit for the part. Worked, unaware of his appointments. I didn’t hold his hand, wipe his head. Here I am now, clutching a cold yellowed hand, wishing … it wasn’t his deathbed.

🥕🥕🥕

That Morning by Michael Fishman

Roger watched Ellen, feeling the same love he’d felt for 53 years.

What did she ever see in me?

He never rushed these feelings and this morning was no different. He watched her feeling love.

Roger became Ellen’s caregiver when Alzheimer’s left her unable to care for herself. “Please promise me,” she begged shortly after the diagnosis. “No nursing homes.”

He promised.

Roger would forever question Ellen’s reason for being out of bed alone. He lifted his wife and carried her to the bed. Setting her lifeless body down he kissed her forehead and lay down next to her.

🥕🥕🥕

Homecoming by Dana Wand

Swept up, she wrapped her arms around his neck while he reached down clumsily to open the door. They entered as one.

“Our first home,” he proudly proclaimed.

The years of a loving life soared. Here he is, carrying her frail body from the bedroom to the couch, tenderly wrapped in the warm comforter, hoping today will bring good news from the docs.

“It’s been a long day, Sweetheart, but now we are home.” He gently kisses her photo as he carries the urn to the nightstand next to their antique bed of fifty-four years.

🥕🥕🥕

You Carried Me by H.R.R. Gorman

You carried me.
I didn’t ask,
But then again,
I couldn’t speak.

You settled me
On soft, silken,
Pinkest pillow,
Kissed me tender.

My eyes were shut,
But I still saw
You adored me.
I cherished you.

I wanted to
Clean the sad pile
Of tissues at
Your well shod feet.

Could my action
Disrespect your
Sadness and grief?
I allowed tears.

Upon your exit
Through sanctum’s door,
Someone shut my
Coffin’s wood lid.

When you returned,
You carried me
In my casket
To earthen home.

But my spirit
Carries you now
Until you come
To rest by me.

🥕🥕🥕

The Carried Wife by Deborah Lee

Becca reads the “Lifestyles” article about wife-carrying contests in Minnesota, then clicks out with a snort. That’s exactly the kind of thing Richard would have liked, manly and competitive and funny.

She’s walking past the plate glass window when the vastness outside it, the view itself, seems to knock her sideways. Not now, agoraphobia, she thinks, I have to go to work, but it’s too late. The room dips and spins and she drops to her knees.

The laughing wife in the article photo flashes. Yes, she could use a wife-carrier right about now. But Richard’s not coming back.

🥕🥕🥕

Carry Me by Debs

Karen’s bridesmaid, Louise conjured the perfect wedding game. Karen had to guess from five men, who her husband-to-be’s hand was, while blindfolded. Whoever she decided would have to carry her.

Five men stood, side to side. All held out their right hands. Karen, blindfolded, sidestepped in front of each, slowly, holding each hand briefly. She reached the fifth man. Paused. Louise and young lady guests stifled a giggle. He was Karen’s ex. The hall went quiet.

Karen’s hand quivered as she took his hand. He let go and motioned with his head to the fourth man, the groom. Applause!

🥕🥕🥕

A Carried Jezebel by M J Mallon

Annie glanced at her scrawny husband. A glance was all it took. He couldn’t lift her, no carried wife could she ever be. No threshold over which she could be taken. Adam was different. His different scared her. She couldn’t help but imagine Adam lifting her onto his shoulders and running to the ocean, his bare skin wet with the salty water, his hard, taut muscles flexing. What would happen thereafter? Would he leave her to the fishes, or scoop her up with dreamy kisses? She knew what she would become: a carried Jezebel; perhaps she’d like that more.

🥕🥕🥕

Why Tessa is Divorced by Susan Sleggs

Tessa loaded the last of her personal items into the car then went back inside the house they had shared at Ft. Riley, Kansas, for the last six years. She did a walk-through remembering the good times with her children and how lonely she had been with her husband gone so much. When she locked the front door for the last time she could hear his words, “I’m done carrying you.” She felt she had carried the family without his help and knew she couldn’t stay after finding out his last three deployments had been at his own request.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Big Boned by Anne Goodwin

Her mother called her big-boned. Her father called her fat. In fact, she was muscled, a world-champion weightlifter, or would be when certain legalities were fixed.

When the Religious Right were elected, she’d been too busy training to vote. Now she cursed the Compulsory Marriage Act: only a Mrs could represent Britain abroad.

A secretary arranged for the groom, along with cake, dress and flowers. An affable chap, if rather weedy, but no-one had read the small print. She had to be carried indoors for it to pass muster. They ordered an ambulance in case her new husband collapsed.

🥕🥕🥕

Chicken Fights by clfalcone *

Competition was brutal this year: badass wives piggybacking muscled hubbies, trying to knock opponents into the water. He trusted his wife…she was the baddest ass of all.

They had been coming to the Annual 12-Step retreat for four years, winning the Chicken Fights three times. Five years earlier he was holed up in a trap house, smoking meth, drinking whiskey, losing his wife, destroying his life.

Four years sober meant his brain, job, wife, life, all somewhat returned to order.

Then Melissa from the Rooms got his wife off-balance. They both tumbled into the pool, laughing, enjoying the loss.

🥕🥕🥕

Return to the Farm by Joanne Fisher

After their wedding, Jess and Cindy returned to the farm. They stood at the doorway.

“Since you’re my wife now, I guess I should carry you over the threshold.” Jess suggested. Cindy put her hands on her hips.

“Excuse me? You’re my wife too. Maybe I should be the one who carries you?” Cindy objected. Jess laughed.

“With those slender arms? You’d be lucky to pick me up.” Jess countered.

“We’ll see about that!” Cindy replied defiantly. To Jess’s surprise Cindy strongly picked her up and carried her over threshold.

“I love it when you act butch.” Jess laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Over The Threshold by Ritu Bhathal

Nina giggled as Rakesh swept her up into his arms.

“Come on, Wifey, let’s get you inside.”

“Stop it!” She jumped down as soon as they stepped over the threshold and turned towards him. “Why did you carry me over? We’re not English, you know!”

“Oh, I thought that’s what people do when they get married.”

“Have you never been to an Indian wedding before? Come on. I know you were born in the US, but surely you know some of the traditions,” she took his hand. “I know. If your parents were alive, it would have been different…”

🥕🥕🥕

Blizzard Warriors by Caroline Scott

It was a cold, hard wind blowing in from the north but Casey kept her horse steady. She could barely see, keeping her hat low over her forehead and her scarf over her mouth.

Four hours ago, Sam had gone out to bring in their cattle. He should have been back by now, but the corral was empty.

Clucking her tongue, Casey urged her horse forward. The chestnut was sure-footed, carrying her over the familiar ground easily even in the rough weather. The horse had an instinct and Casey was certain that together, they would bring her husband home.

🥕🥕🥕

Together by Donna Matthews

Linda looked up from her feet – she’d been struggling all morning, stumbling over sharp rocks and ruts in the path. Her eyes traveled from the base of the mountain to the top. The steep switchbacks took her breath away.

“There’s no way in hell I’ll get to the top,” she laments.

“Honey?” she yells to her husband up in front.

“What’s up, beautiful?”

“I need your help,” she whines, “I’ll never make it up there. My feet are tired, and my back hurts!!”

Winking, he grabs her up on his back, and up the mountain together they go.

🥕🥕🥕

The Time Lily Put Her Foot Down and Stated Clearly, “I Am Not A Sack of Spuds.” by Bill Engleson

He’d declared himself with passion. His passions were modest befitting our customs. “It is our way, Lily. From your father’s home to our new home. I will carry you the distance.”

I looked at my betrothed. Yes, he was a stocky, corn fed youth. Strong as a rock, as serious as the soil he tended. Still, our home would be six miles away. A healthy distance to walk even without a burden.”

“Why would you weary yourself out, Emil? Of what use will you be to me on our wedding night?”

The seed was planted.

My point was made.

🥕🥕🥕

The Devil’s Elbow by Doug Jacquier

Mick picked his way carefully along the narrow track. As he reached Devil’s Elbow Cave, he planned to lay his heavy load down and take a rest. But before he could do that a man and a woman emerged from the cave. The man said “We’ll just relieve you of that burden, Mick.” He heard the click of the switchblade and saw the knife in the woman’s hand.

Seemingly acquiescent, Mick rolled the pack off his back, tore the top flap open and out stepped a woman holding a shotgun.

“You call that a wife? This is a wife.”

🥕🥕🥕

All Are Welcome Here by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It’d never occurred to them that their participation might not be welcome. Celebrating the fortitude and stamina required to go the distance in marriage–what better way to do this than with a test of physical endurance?

There was some confusion at the starting line as to which was the wife, but the buffalo-plaid-flanneled officiant had held up his gun, told all couples to get ready, set…

Pat hopped on Toni’s back, and they giggled their way through the course’s hedges and water traps. Everyone applauded when they were awarded first prize. This was, after all, the 21st century!

🥕🥕🥕

Wife Carrying by Pete Fanning

Every spring my parents entered our town’s Wife Carrying event. They usually nabbed first or second place, even as Mom wasn’t crazy about it. But she was a good sport, especially when Dad showed up in a dress. And won.

Then he got sick. Real sick. He lost fifty pounds of muscle. Winter came and the doctors were talking months, not years.

One night I heard some banging downstairs. I found my mother struggling, my father folded over her shoulders.

“What…” A lump in my throat. “Are you doing?”

Mom turned so I could see my dad beaming. “Training.”

🥕🥕🥕

Collapse by Nobbinmaug

It hit in the wee hours while Ricardo and Selema were asleep. The rumble thrust them into consciousness. The ceiling sent Selema reeling into unconsciousness.

Living in the Bay Area, Ricardo knew the dangers of aftershocks. The fallen beam would lead to further collapse.

Ricardo cleared the debris off Selema. He hoisted her, thankful for her time at the gym, wishing he made time for the gym. He struggled with the locks as the first aftershock shook. He heard a crash in the bedroom. The earth steadied, and Ricardo opened the door.

From outside, the sagging roof was visible.

🥕🥕🥕

He Carries Me by Cara Stefano

No one tells you what “in sickness and in health” means at the wedding, do they? Dutifully we repeat it anyway. He carried me over the threshold after our wedding.

I never realized how much I wanted motherhood until I was told I couldn’t be one. He carried me by not telling me that that day was also one of the worst days of his life.

Going back into surgery after your miracle has finally arrived. Alone, holding our newborn in his arms, I don’t know who carried him that day.

He has always carried me.

🥕🥕🥕

Caretaker by Nancy Brady

The woman was elderly, but he took great care of her. He stayed by her side throughout the day, only to return the following day.

Between her dementia and the cancer that was eating at her body, she was wasting away. Her mind wandered, with thoughts of long ago, memories of her childhood and that of a young wife and mother of a boy. She was barely lucid especially when he gave her the morphine to ease her pain.

Once, she carried him in her body, but now he was the one who carried her through her last days.

🥕🥕🥕

Ile de Fuego by Saifun Hassam

Carlos was inconsolable. Francine’s sailboat was found near Ile de Fuego. Francine, his beloved wife, his partner in marine exploration in the Black Bart Archipelago.

Her body was tangled in seaweeds among the lava tidal pools. She had been killed. Fang marks on her arms and legs, like those on a fisherman killed last winter. Island lore spoke of shadowy creatures haunting the undersea volcanoes.

Carlos gently lifted Francine’s shrouded body from the casket. With a silent prayer, he bid her farewell. He would not leave the Archipelago. It was their home. He was determined to find her killer.

🥕🥕🥕

I Will Always Carry You by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

David stood in front of his closet, trying to figure out what to wear. He never thought this day would come. He put on black dress pants, a white shirt, and a black tie. An image of him carrying Sally over the threshold of a hotel room on their wedding day popped into his head, and a tear rolled down his cheek. Now, he was never going to be able to do it.

After the service, when it was time, he lifted the casket onto his shoulder and carried her to the cemetery where she was laid to rest.

🥕🥕🥕

Hold by JulesPaige

los pobrecitos
bottle of emotion then,
an awkward present

the man carried his sick wife;
children follow in darkness

safe haven; farmhouse
mixed languages; but all the
faces smiled kindly

Another scribe in a different hand from the hidden hutch records; “The tall thin man carried his wife with such tenderness. It was unfortunate that there was little we could do but make them as comfortable as we could. In the end she passed. And he reluctantly took his two children with him to the next stop.” Smelling her roses again… I thought ‘my’ gentle spirit Ife right away…

🥕🥕🥕

One of Many by Floridaborne

Bartholomew held a secret he’d kept for 40 years. On her deathbed, his mother swore she had served as a chamber maid to George II in Hanover until May 1714, succumbing to the king’s unwanted advances while changing linens in Caroline’s bedchamber.

A month later, she married the first man willing to carry her away from servitude. Born Christmas day, 1714, his three sisters were birthed a year apart before their father passed in 1717, and none looked like him.

People snickered when they remarked on his resemblance to the king, but it seemed he was one of many bastards.

🥕🥕🥕

Carrying His Wife Out by Lisa R. Howeler

They had to carry her out when they found him lying there on the floor by the hutch covered in blood.

How could he have done it? Why would he have done it? He had all a man could want, all she could give him. Hadn’t the money been enough all these years?

They called it a miracle that she’d walked in when she had; startling him and causing him to drop the gun and shoot himself in the foot instead of the head liked he had intended. She’d collapsed when the gun went off, falling against the hutch.

🥕🥕🥕

Unnamed by Reena Saxena

He turned back for the last time to look at the pretty, but forlorn face.

This is the girl he had gagged and carried inside the threshold of this dingy room. She stayed behind, because she identified with his cause. She looked after him, and protected him from the police as long as she could.

It is not the police who have come for him today, but remnants from his past – his wife and two lovely kids.

It is time to say good-bye, and it breaks his heart to think that he was the kidnapper, and she the kidnapped.

🥕🥕🥕

The Matter of Loggatha LeGume by D. Avery

“*My Beanie lies over the mountain, my Beanie lies over the plains…*”

“Pepe Legume. Why ya singin’ sech a sad song?”

“‘Ello Pal, ‘Ello Keed. I am apart from my wife.”

“You have a wife?”

“Oui. Mon cher, mon petite Beanie. But her given name is Loggatha.”

“Well, where is Loggatha, why ain’t ya tagether?”

“Dere ees many times, many places when she cannot go where I can. Often she ees detained. Sigh. She ees warm and soft, dat one, but a solid partner, my better half. She carries me! But you know, dere’s a leetle Loggatha in everyone.”

🥕🥕🥕

Seeing the Finish Line by D. Avery

“Kid, you bin kinda scarce.”

“What diff’rence it make Pal? Ain’t much we kin do with this prompt. We won’t be carryin’ on with this challenge.”

“Why not? I kin carry ya. Or you kin carry me. Jist so’s we git the job done.”

“This roundup is purty specific— wife carryin’. Ain’t neither one of us no kinda a spouse ta no one.”

“Kid, ain’tcha never heard a “work spouses”? Thet one person ya kin rely on an’ confide in at yer job?”

“The one who’s got yer back an’ you got theirs?”

“Yep.”

“We kin take turns Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Found in a Hutch

A hutch can be a simple outdoor container for chickens on a ranch, or a simple chest to store saddles. Hutches can also be crafted into fine furniture that holds a person’s treasured dishes. Like a wardrobe, a hutch has many possibilities in storytelling.

Writers were asked to look inside. As you would expect, a wide variety of items were found.

The following is based on the January 2, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something found in a hutch.

PART I (10-minute read)

Heirlooms by D. Avery

She used to keep the better china in it. Then pretty knickknacks and collectibles. Things she thought one of her children, or grandchildren, even great-grandchildren might want to have. One day.

Now framed photographs lined the shelves of the hutch, all in order— children, grandchildren, great grandchildren; first-born to last-born.

She sighed. There were more great-grandchildren than living grandchildren. These young children, some addicts at birth, now lived with their grandparents— her own aging children.
The hutch predated the Civil War. Would her family survive these present day battles? Who will keep the hutch? Who will curate its treasures?

🥕🥕🥕

Inside the Hutch: Mary Hansen Saga VI by Artie & Stu

Mary Hansen’s grandmother Margaret lived in the first settlers’ home on Lake Winataka. Her great-grandfather built it out of local oak. While it still stands and the old log houses are all rotting remains, he wouldn’t recognize much other than the kitchen hutch. Over the years, the home was remodeled and upgraded seemingly around that hutch. Mary spent many happy hours playing with the pots and pans stored below and then staring with curiosity at the mason jars and spices bottles inside the hutch. When her friends visited and asked what was in that cabinet, Mary always said, “love”.

🥕🥕🥕

Unpacking by Susan Sleggs

Michael took another oblong bundle of paper out of a box labeled Hutch and unrolled the mound until the prize inside laid in his hand. He held a wood box with a hinged lid that had been tied securely with string. He handed it to Tessa.
With a look of wonderment, she undid the string, opened it and lifted out an Altoid box labeled with her son’s name. She shook it to hear the familiar rattle before opening it to show Michael the contents. “Brent’s baby teeth.”

“Parents save those?”

“Of course. I’ll bet your Mom has yours.”

🥕🥕🥕

Memories Within the Old Hutch by Chelsea Owens

“What’s this, Grammy?” Pearla’s granddaughter, Ella, squatted on the old hutch, something wooden in her hand.

“Ah. That’s the lovespoon Grampy brought back from Wales.”

Ella retrieved another piece. “An’ this one?”

“A model plane your Daddy-”

“An’ this one?”

“Aunt Michelle’s locket from-”

“An’ this one?”

Pearla laughed and kissed the curly-haired forehead. “Slow down, Ella, dear.”

“Sorry, Grammy.” Ella pulled something from the shadows. “An’ this one?”

“That’s-” Pearla choked; whispered, “Those were your Aunt Ella’s.” Taking and returning the tiny baby shoes, Pearla took the living Ella’s hands, instead. “What do you think about making cookies?”

🥕🥕🥕

Great-grandma Carpenter’s Sherbet Dishes by Faith A. Colburn

Grandma Hazel and her younger sister, Edna, used to have knock-down drag-out fights. One night it centered on who would wash the dishes. After a bunch of yelling and snarling, it degenerated into hair pulling. To keep from falling, Grandma grabbed her mother’s hutch where Great-grandma Frank displayed her fancy sherbet dishes. The hutch went down, breaking all but two of the dishes.

“That’s the only time I ever saw my mother cry,” Hazel said.

Grandma Frank made the girls dig a hole in the back yard and bury the broken glassware.

Sis and I have the two survivors.

🥕🥕🥕

Maybe Next Year by Anne Goodwin

Every Christmas, he gifted her a pretty notebook and a pen fit for an arthritic hand. Every year, he took the grandkids to the pantomime, left her at the kitchen table, to fill the first page. Every autumn, he looked for it amongst the litter of the rabbit hutch, a crumpled sheet of unmet targets and dashed hopes.

He never mentioned it. Simply smoothed out the wrinkles and filed her disappointment among his gardening magazines. His resolution spanned a decade but he swore he’d get there. One day he’d bring them out and show her how far she’d come.

🥕🥕🥕

When the Wealth Didn’t Matter by Lisa R. Howeler

He kept the gun in the hutch behind the Tiffany Sybil Claret Wine glasses that had belonged to his grandmother.

There were 20 of those ridiculous glasses, worth $100 each. Wealth, wealth and more wealth.

It was all around him but none of it mattered.

His fingertips grazed the cool metal of the gun, a Remington RM380, traced the shape of it, and slipped down to the handle where his fingers firmly grasped it.

He tipped his head back and laughed loudly.

So rich yet so poor.

They had their money to keep them warm.

They wouldn’t miss him.

🥕🥕🥕

Lagomorphs by clfalcone *

“Why’d you quit the agency, Laurel?” His stern look matched his suit: rough, angry, out of place in this Alaskan wilderness.

Unblinking, she reached into the hutch, gently removing a rabbit.

“You know what this is?” Hugging the bunny.

He just stared, cold wind flapping his trenchcoat.

“This is a snowshoe hare …. lepus americanus…” She closed the hutch. “I like studying their migratory patterns, not those of Islamic military targets in Iran for Big Oil.”

“But there’s a war on…we need you, Laurel.” he huffed.

“Your war…. not mine.” She turned and walked away, waving. “Good day, Mr. Mills.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Year I Spent as a Bunny-Almost a Memory but a True Story. Well, One Part. I Just Don’t Know Which Part. by Bill Engleson

Mother: “He’s not a curious child.”

Father: “A little slow, maybe?”

Mother: “He needs schooling, Sterling.”

Father: “Needs a kick in the…”

Mother: “No he doesn’t. He needs a private school. He’d be five and in grade one.”

Father: “Pay for his learning?”

Mother: “For a year. It’d be hard, but we could do it.”

Father: “What’s this place called?”

Mother: “The Bunny Hutch.”

Father: “Seriously?”

Mother: “And you’d have to drive him.”

Father: “I work shifts at the mill.”

Mother: “We’d have to drive him.”

Father: “You don’t drive.”

Mother: “I’ll have to learn.”

Father: “Guess you will.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Culprit by Caroline Scott

“Pa, can I keep it? Please?”

Sam scratched his head at the furry culprit in his son’s arms. How that little brown pup had gotten into the rabbit hutch he had no idea, but he wasn’t happy about it, no sir, not at all.

“Those were good rabbits,” he said.

“But Pa! We’ll get more! This little feller’s a hunting dog, I can tell.”

The hope in his boy’s eyes was pleading. Sam’s eyes went to the little wriggling mongrel who caused so much trouble, and his gaze softened.

“Alright. But you’re cleaning up after him and that’s final.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Hutch by Ritu Bhathal

Milly peaked inside the room again, hoping the scene had changed since she checked a few minutes ago.

Nope. Nothing.

She sighed.

So, everyone really had forgotten.

She looked again a few moments later to find her family stood there.

“What’s happening?” Confused, Milly’s eyes darted from person to person.

“Get your coat, Midge,” her brother ruffled her hair and smiled, and beckoned her to follow them into the garden.

A hutch stood in the corner.

“Go on, Milly. Look inside!”

Her eyes lit up as she saw a tiny rabbit.

“Happy birthday, Milly. Did you think we forgot?”

🥕🥕🥕

Rabbit Hutch by Nobbinmaug

Jen’s dad made the rabbit hutch for her when she was 8. She cherished it. He wasn’t around much when she was a kid.

When she was 12, he left on a business trip and never came home. He left no word, and the police found no clues.

When she got her own house, she decided to set up the hutch in her yard. Maybe someday her kids would breed and show rabbits.

When she and her friends were disassembling the hutch, she found a secret compartment. She forced open the rusty hinges revealing a large bag of diamonds.

🥕🥕🥕

A Shared Project by Stevie Turner.

His son smiled at him as he bent over the little hutch and banged in the last nail. Now the boy was eight, he’d found working with the lad in their shared project rather more satisfying than hours spent frequenting the pub. Okay, a few of the screws had gone in somewhat crooked, but what the hell. He smiled in return. By making the shelter for Sheldon he had managed to please not only the tortoise, but just in time had also achieved the thing that had been so elusive to him in past years; that all-important father-son bond.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rabbit Hutch by Sally Cronin

Her kids wanted new things for their children and Milly decided to have a garage sale for toys she had hoarded. Neighbors came and went, but one little boy stood in front of the rabbit hutch all morning. She had put 20 dollars on the ticket as they were expensive to buy new. He clasped a dollar bill in his hand. “My dad says I can have a rabbit when I can buy the hutch”. A tear rolled down his cheek. He raced down the street waving the sold ticket in his hand and she smiled at his joy.

🥕🥕🥕

The Hutch by Margaret G. Hanna

The hutch stands in the far corner of the shed. The glass is broken out of the upper doors, allowing a sparrow to build a nest. The lower doors hang askew, revealing paint cans and oil filters. A crudely carved heart stands out amongst the gouges and scars on the counter. Within it, I read the initials: DL + BR.

Were they high school sweethearts who married? Or was it only a summer fling? I trace my finger around the heart, hoping to feel the passion that inspired them to leave an everlasting declaration of love on this old hutch.

🥕🥕🥕

Regal by DG Kaye

They stood tall and proud. None wished to be snatched away, or worse, – broken!

For decades these worthy icons remained admired and sought after, not only for beauty, but, their ever-increasing monetary value. The older, the more valuable. A grand mix of ethnic backgrounds co-existing in silence.

Such greats as: Lalique, Capodimonte, Royal Doulton, and Russian nesting eggs sat perched on a shelf protected behind the beautifully scallop-edged fine glass doors housing the regal cabinet where they all lived in harmony in all their diversity.

Time’s treasures of hidden wealth and ancient lore communing in one dining room hutch.

🥕🥕🥕

Those Eyes! by Ruchira Khanna

“Whatever happens, don’t open this?” Mom commanded as if the colonel of the army, and

marched out of the room.

I obeyed with a soft nod but confused eyes.

I stared at it and saw a pair of eyes on the brass knobs of the brown polished wood.

Peeked outside the room.

“Should I open it?” I grinned like a witch, “But maybe it had something forbidden for me, just

like Adam’s apple?” I contemplated.

Stared back at the hutch, but darn those eyes reflected at me!

Is it my consciousness or just the reflection of my own eyes?

🥕🥕🥕

Eye of Luxor by clfalcone *

“You said you’d give it back if I brought you the letter.” He handed her a tattered, soiled paper.

She looked it over with scrutiny, examining the writing, squinting. Finally, folding it, she placed it in a box on the hutch. She took the pendant hanging from the finial.

“The Eye of Luxor.” She winked. “There’s a lot of power in that jewel, you know. Be careful.”

“Much as you should be careful with scrolls of Moloch.” He said, snatching the gem with a return wink, walking to the door

“Give the prince my regards, sister.” And he left.

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PART II (10-minute read)

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The Hutch by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

When Mosiko arrives for work shortly, she will ask him to help her carry the cages from the barn, and assist her in setting them up, one at a time, in front of the chicken coop door. A bit of food sprinkled on the ground would be enough to attract the stupid birds out of their chicken coop and into the cage when she released them from captivity by opening the door. Once safely inside, Mosiko would then help her carry the occupied cages back to the barn, ready to be hung under the wagon before the family trekked.

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Memories of the Past by Colleen M. Chesebro

Julia packed the last of the doilies into the bottom drawer of the hutch. She lovingly stroked the top of the sturdy pine chest. This heirloom had been in her family for more generations than she could count. She hated saying goodbye.

She opened a cupboard door and touched great grandmother’s bone china wrapped in cloth for protection. A great feeling of sadness overwhelmed her, and she gulped back her tears.

With one last look at the remains of a life she had to leave behind, Julia stepped from the covered wagon into the heat of a prairie dawn.

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That One Day (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sun beat down on the oxidized hood of the Willies Jeep. It was Danni’s ninth birthday and her dad said they’d explore the old wagon road of the 40-Mile Desert. So far, all Danni had seen were oxen bones and rusty horseshoes. Her dad stopped to check out a dried-out pile of wood.

“An old hutch once,” he said.

Danni climbed out and saw a glint of something in what had been a cupboard door. A marble. Not just any marble but a large globe with an elephant inside. That was the day Danni decided to become an archeologist.

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Yield? by JulesPaige

secrets too long kept
India Ink script fading
on brittle parchment

I took one of Marisol’s boxes and placed it on the built in hutch. A bit too hard, trying to avoid Lucky weaving underfoot, “You kitty are early for lunch! You and Dawg are always on the run – why don’t you take a nap I like the way you sleep!”

A loose backboard popped open. There was a thick oil cloth bound by butcher’s twine. Marisol’s box got moved to the back burner.

I cut the twine and carefully unwrapped the cloth. The first page was dated 1835…

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Cheese Keeper by Ann Edall-Robson

It was a rare occasion when Hanna had time to look through the box her grandmother had left her. Today was her day off, yet she had offered to help Liz in the kitchen and had been shooed away. Now, with the pictures spread across her bed, she looked at each one. Reading the fading words on the back for the hundredth time. Her favourite was one of her grandmother at someone’s birthday. Surrounded by people Hanna was yet to identify. On the table was a cheese keeper.

“That looks like the one Liz has in her china hutch.”

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One Afternoon by Michael Fishman

She laid two bony hands on the table, leaned forward, and with a moan of effort, stood up. She grabbed her cane and shuffled away.

“Where you going, grandma?” I said, hoping I hid the hope in my voice.

She didn’t answer, but she didn’t have to because when I saw her walk to the hutch I knew exactly where she was going. Third drawer, left side. That’s where she kept them.

“It’s been a while, love, so today we’re going to play a game.”

Third drawer, left side, that’s where my grandmother kept her deck of magic cards.

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Blackie (BOTS) by Nancy Brady

My son found an abandoned Easter bunny near the woods behind our home. We found a cage to house the little rabbit. Because of our cats, though, a disaster could strike, and Blackie would be gone.

Frankly, my husband didn’t want it; he convinced an employee, who raised rabbits, to take the bunny. They even had a rabbit hutch in their backyard. Now, to convince my son as he was attached to Blackie, he promised, “We’ll visit him.” With that, the rabbit had a new home. Devastated, tears trickled down Michael’s cheeks, and he never saw the rabbit again.

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What’s Hidden in Your Hutch by Susan Sleggs

After exercising on stationary rings and showering, Michael sat staring at the hutch his sister had insisted he needed. The upper shelves displayed happy memories: pictures of him with Army buddies at reunions, his parents, and his sister’s family. The lower cupboards held a good stock of liquor. The center big drawer was like a safe deposit box, hiding tangible PTSD triggers: two purple hearts, medical records, dog tags, pictures of lost buddies and of himself with legs. He thought of baby teeth and hoped Tessa would have a grandchild to help him understand why such things were keepsakes.

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The Inhuman Hutch by tracey

The four foot square box made of metal had a thick wavy pane of glass on one side. The POWs called it the hutch. The Major broiled inside for twenty-seven days and shivered through twenty-seven nights.

The enemy was sure a man of his rank knew plenty about troop movements or upcoming military operations. But he didn’t know anything, though he often wished he did so he could misdirect the enemy.

He was just a payroll officer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. A mere mortal given the opportunity to demonstrate his inordinate strength of mind.

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The Silla by clfalcone *

She was at the rabbit cages when Nanuq came to the gate.

He cleared his throat. Chills crept her spine like the icy winds off Marmot Bay.

“Sis…they can’t find the boat…. the eight went down…I’m so sorry, Jissika.”

She had feared the worse when Maritime lost track of the Silla off Sitkinak Island nineteen hours ago.

Now it was so.

She let the bunny drop back into the hutch, rubbed her distended belly, welling up. The fishermen would have to wait for their boots and hats this season.

She had to raise the baby without her Ujar now.

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Freedom! by Joanne Fisher

I squeezed through the small gap in the wire, and then I was free. I had finally escaped my prison. I ran down the path towards the forest and freedom. After a short time I could hear the footsteps of my captors behind me. They knew I had escaped, and were giving chase. I vowed I would get away this time. It was to no avail however: a large hand suddenly scooped me up.

“Aw! The little fella tried to escape the hutch again. We’ll just have to make sure there are no more gaps in the wire netting.”

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Plans for Supper by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The four children huddled in the corner of the rabbit hutch. Cock-sure that the trolls would be sleeping off their hangover, they’d broken into the cellar for a bit of potato…maybe some ham! They’d not counted on LilleMjol catching them.

LilleMjol’d expected a reward of rabbit stew in brown gravy for dinner. What he’d gotten was a cuff on the ear.

“Stupid boy! These are humans, not rabbits. Our Peace Accord says we can’t eat them!” his mother glared down her long nose at him.

LilleMjol was furious, vowing to kill them anyway.

But the four had other plans.

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Hutch by Dave Madden

Ben and Diego entered Death Kiss MMA as soft high school seniors out of curiosity; two years later, each had hardened into highly touted amateur prospects within the local circuit.

The road along the way was paved with several hardships—losses, injuries, problems with coaches or other teammates, and personal issues outside of training—but they always had each other’s back, like MMA’s hard-hitting rendition of Starsky and Hutch.

Much like the two detectives would chase “their guy,” the two continued their journey into the professional ranks, pursuing glory in cages across every continent.

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For Luck by Anita Dawes

My mother’s welsh dresser needed filling
I remembered the six crates in the attic
Not sure about most of the china
So old fashioned
I managed to find a few bits
I was about to carry the pieces down bit by bit
When I noticed a small crate
Over by the window
Taking a quick look, I found
A blue and gold Aladdin’s lamp
It felt warm to the touch
Unlike the other pieces
I felt instantly fascinated with it
Carrying it down like a precious new-born
Placing it on the dresser
Most days, someone rubs it for luck…

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Hutch of Treasures by Kerry E.B. Black

Grandma asked my cousins and me, “What inside this hutch is my dearest possession?” She creaked as she settled into an armchair to watch our debate.

My eldest cousin took the lead. “The goblets. They’re gold, aren’t they?”

Grandma inclined her head. “Indeed, but they aren’t my treasure.”

Each chose something. Crystal, silver, china, linens. I noticed a stack of ribbon-bound letters in the top right drawer. When my turn came, I pointed to them. “Are these from Grandpa?”

“Yes, when he fought in the war.”

“Then these are your treasured possession.”

Tears dribbled from her white lashes. “Yes.”

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A Hutch by Floridaborne

What is a hutch?

A dust magnet.

Unless you hire a cleaning crew each week, it’s nothing but a time waster. I have better things to do than clean the knick knacks, shelves, and plates.

Binge-watching a series has more meaning. Cleaning is drudgery that never ends — a series does, and you were entertained along the way.

Yes, a hutch once owned me, a darkly wooded monstrosity with toe-catching legs that sent me to urgent care more than once.

Hutches, like mansions, are for the rich. I’ll take light wood cabinets and a wall full of counter space instead.

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The Traveler by Saifun Hassam

Grandma’s favorite room was her den. The center piece was a beautiful chestnut hutch she found in a yard sale.

She enjoyed her days gardening and reading. And ah yes, helping with the upkeep of the gnome and hobbit homes in her hometown of Charlevoix. A motley collection of miniature stone hobbits and gnomes had found its way onto the top shelf.

The hutch was home to novels like Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Kon Tiki, Don Quixote, Lord of the Rings, and Lord Jim. On the lowest shelf an exquisite carving of a sailing boat rode the high waves.

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TempOWary by D. Avery

“Pal, ya ever git skeered we could git replaced?”

“Us? Heck no, Kid, we’re iconic. Stock character Ranch hands, dang good at what we do.”

“Yeah, but, seems like there ain’t a position these days ain’t dispensible. I know Pepe’s worried ‘bout automation at Buckaroo Nation.”

“Whut?”

“You know he slips inta Headquarters now and agin. He found out Shorty’s frien’s got a fartin’ machine. Kin ya believe it?”

“Cain’t believe it could keep up with Pepe.”

“One time they was talkin’ spreadsheets, ‘member?”

“An’ you kept shovelin’ an’ spreadin’ an’ scatterin’ shift like farfennugens. Kid, jist hutch up.”

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By Design

Setting an intention is at the heart of welcoming in the New Year. By design, we set goals, plan and reach for our vision. This goes beyond resolutions and wishes. By design, we commit to doing the work of our dreams.

Writers, as always, followed where the prompt led. You’ll be surprised by the design flaws and successes contained here.

The following are based on the December 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the phrase by design.

By Design by Donna Matthews

“What are you doing?”

“Digging.”

“Why?”

“Under all these layers of granite, rock, and dirt, there’s an underground river I’m trying to reach.”

“But why? “

“This river is what connects all human beings together.”

“What in the world are you talking about? Doesn’t make a lick of sense!”

“I know. It’s super hard to explain, and most people aren’t ready to understand, but the human experience is connected by design. Most people remain content here on the surface level, but I hunger for more. I believe this river that connects us all is the answer.”

“You’re weird!”

“Maybe.”

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Designature Move by Bill Engleson

He’d wake up in the morning and not know where he was.

Nor care.

All that mattered was that he had coffee.

Sometimes he didn’t.

Fortunately for him, a cup of java was always just around the corner.

Which corner didn’t matter.

Any corner would do.

One Christmas Eve, he showed up at his sisters.

“Surprise, surprise,” he said, smiling as she opened her festively decorated door.

“Well, brother,” she exclaimed, “where’s the cat?”

“Got me, Sis. What cat?”

“The one that dragged you in.”

“Arrives tomorrow.”

“Then he’ll be welcome too, you sketchy transient.”

“Love you too, Sis.”

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Private Toast by Kerry E.B. Black

Karen decided New Year’s resolutions needn’t fail. 2020 could offer “vision,” and she’d craft herself into an ideal. As confetti drifted into her champagne and couples kissed through “Auld Lang Syne,” she visualized a successful self.

Next year, she’d work harder toward her goals. New job. New home. New pant size. New romance.

Before she tipped alcohol from her fluted glass as an anticipatory congratulation, she studied the pattern floating atop. Bits of colored tissue created images, and much like a tea leaf reader of old, she knew them by design.

With a smile, Karen swallowed her private toast.

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Lifting Off Part 1 by D. Avery

“Why do you still use those toilet-paper roll binoculars to watch Marlie?”

Liz continued to focus on Marlie playing in the tree fort. “They help me remain objective. Keep my distance.”

“And why do you need to do that?”

Now she let the paper binoculars hang by their yarn strap around her neck as she answered her husband. “Because that unplanned offspring of ours couldn’t be more perfect by design. I don’t ever want to get in her way.”

“She’s going places alright. Mars. She’s in her spaceship.”

Marlie beckoned them. “Come to the launch! It’s time for take-off!”

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Lifting Off Part 2 by D. Avery

“Space travel! That explains the snow suit and hockey helmet.”

The crowd quieted as the astronaut communicated with Mission Control. The countdown began. The tree fort shuddered and roared. At liftoff Liz looked for reassurance in her husband’s embrace. When she turned back to see the capsule hurtling beyond the atmosphere her binoculars were crushed. She shielded her eyes with her hand and watched her daughter soaring over them, searching new adventures in far-flung worlds of her own imagination.

“Don’t worry,” her husband said. “Lunch is waiting. She’ll come back to refuel. Come on, I’ll make you new binoculars.”

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By Design by Anita Dawes

At my age, I don’t think about changing my life
It’s more like how to hang on to what’s left of it
If I did give thought to it
I would like to choose my own parents
After thoroughly vetting them first
Their childhood, their parents
As they will become my grandparents
Very important
Do they love each other
As much as they show the world.
Not really knowing if this idea
Is better than pot luck
Two people getting together
Then Fate takes over
Thing is, it is not always kind
Mostly, I believe we cannot change anything…

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Time Saver by Joanne Fisher

By design the Ougalflougalerator was meant to make everyone’s life easier. It was a personal organiser, labour saving device, and most importantly, a time re-arranger, quite literally. When programmed correctly, periods of free time in your past and future could now be moved to when you really needed it in the present.

The Ougalflougalerator was designed by the mysterious Deep Thought corporation. An incredibly wealthy organisation that suddenly came into existence overnight, it seemed. Though the Ougalflougalerator was meant to make people’s lives easier, everyone who owned one found themselves more rushed and pressed for time than ever before.

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Five Pinnacles Canyons (from “Diamante Mountains”) by Saifun Hassam

Rocky canyons overlooked the valley floor. Animal treks meandered up into the alpine meadows. Pierre was on his first exploration trip of the Five Pinnacles Canyons, near the Diamante Mountains.

No one knew the origin of the name. More intriguing was an ancient stone wall. The passage of time had not erased its intrinsic patterns. By design it was an intricate lattice of uneven geometric shapes. With an unknown purpose and by design, stone steps also of distinctive geometry, ran alongside the stone wall. An older lattice of floral patterns was just discernible in the ruins of broken walls.

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By Design by Lisa R. Howeler

She thought it had all been an accident. He’d run into her on his way into of the supermarket while she was walking out.

“Oh, excuse me,” he’d said, bright blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight, dirty blond hair falling across his forehead and his hand warm against her arm as they collided. “I didn’t see you there.”

She’d dropped one of her bags and oranges were rolling across the parking lot.

Little did she know their encounter had been by design all along, and by his design, not by divine design. It wasn’t divine, was it? She wondered.

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By Design by Floridaborne

“No one has to know,” he whispered.

“No one but God,” I said.

“You’re one of… them?” He scoffed at me.

He looked so much like my favorite actor. Without the message from a classmate who watched me say yes to a date, I would’ve gladly melted into those well-toned arms.

“I am a woman and, by design, I have to be diligent. I don’t want to be the third high school student that has to go to night school because of you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Take me home,” I said, relieved I wasn’t going to become number four.

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The Team by Ann Edall-Robson

Tal watched Hanna finish harnessing the team. She was good at what she did, and she loved working with the horses. This year It was her job to get them ready for the upcoming parade in town.

“You’re doing a good job with them, Hanna. You’ve got the touch.”

“How long do you think they’ve been together?”

“The team?”

“No! Mac and Liz?”

Tal looked at Hanna with an odd expression.

“Why are you asking?”

“Curious.”

“None of our business.”

“You know, don’t you! Was it fate, or by design?

“Hanna, just drop it!” He said, turning to go.

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It’s By Design by Chelsea Owens

“But, men are better-suited to a job. Women are nurturers, better-suited to home life and childcare.”

She looked his way, watching her nonverbal incredulity fly over his head.

“You think work’s some sort of vacation, but it’s difficult. It’s boring, too.”

She could see the piles of laundry behind him, an out-of-focus background to his immaculately-suited person. Disorder framed order: a juxtaposition between her expected daily high point and his.

“It’s true. I read a study that women are happier at home.”

She sighed, wondering which pile hid happiness.

“Trust me.” He kissed her pale cheek. “It’s by design.”

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A Weekend To Remember… by JulesPaige

t’was not by design
that the hospice declared her
a Christmas angel

after some ninety plus years
Baruch the Jew passed that night

Was by design though, she did not flaunt her faith. Perhaps she thought ‘I don’t need an excuse to be different – being a minority can cut deeply. I have lived a long life full of humor and truth. My children have married good partners, that’s what matters.’

Organized religion has benefits, distractions and derailments. Yearly celebrations should be time rededicated to family. For acceptance of differences was a primary lesson she taught throughout her life.

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Roses Come With Vicious Thorns by Anne Goodwin

Yr was a place of peace and beauty, and Deborah was its queen. Its stone walls blocked all sound and sight of bullies; its blue skies neutralised all pain. Each time she left – to see her family, do her schoolwork – her heart clenched.

By design, Yr was a rose garden, but roses come with vicious thorns. They tore her skin and, when she struggled, they scourged her flesh to bone. Yr’s people cackled, they screamed and shouted, refused to let her go. When she wept, they laughed. Her retreat became a place of persecution; its queen became its slave.

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Essential Element by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“The best-laid plans.”

“The egg unhatched.”

“The circle, its ends unmet.”

“A triad missing its third…”

“Thus only a dyad.”

The nave is cold, cheerless,
No sun to set stained glass windows afire with stories.
The benches unyielding, polished planes thick with dust,
Sound swallowed and darkly vaulted above.
The altar, richly hung with heavy cloths, tarnished chalice its crown.
Cobwebs occlude, where once a holy remnant hung.
Architecture, impeccable by design, might inspire devotion.
But what’s a place of worship without prayers?

“This is the church.”

“This, the steeple.”

“Open the doors…”

“And go serve all the people.”

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By Design by Charli Mills

By design, my garden impressed. Every steppingstone measured, every bulb, seed, and root planted for maximum impact. In life, I did as I was expected. Good grades, college, spouse, suburban split-level, and two sons. On Sundays, I went to church.

Then my husband left me. My sons chose to live with him and his new wife, one without dirt under her nails. I moved into an apartment alone. Devastated. This wasn’t part of the plan. Where was God in this? Then I remembered the mustard seed. By design, I started over with a single planter and found my joy.

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Life by Design by Reena Saxena

She turned down invitations to kitty parties, and the ladies often quipped,

“What do you do all day?”

She had quit her job, but was always busy – writing, painting, building an enviable online profile. She volunteered, enrolled for many courses, and managed to complete ten of those.

They never understood what she did. Some of them labelled her a snob, but she was used to it. She was paying a social price for being different, being a lifelong learner.

She had charted out a whole new career path, when she launched a start-up. It was a life by design.

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By Design by Faith A. Colburn

I am isolated by design. I wanted to write my own stories. I’d been wanting to write them for years. So seven years ago, I earned my MA in creative writing and I published my first book—a family memoir I researched in collaboration with Grandma Hazel.

I closed myself in my house with a computer and printer. I wrote and revised, worked with beta readers, and edited. I marketed, too, until my grandson was born. I became his primary caregiver and an infant became nearly my only companion.

A few weeks ago, I realized I’d overdone the solitude.

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New Year Intentions by Colleen M. Chesebro

In preparation for the new year, I anointed the white candle with the ritual oil. By design, this spell would work to cleanse away the old energy from the past year. For this candle represented my intention—all the hopes, dreams, and successes I envisioned for myself in the new decade to come.

I closed my eyes and centered my thoughts. I pictured myself writing in sunlight and in darkness. I didn’t give up or walk away. I kept reading and writing. I continued to learn.

My goal loomed large. I lit the candle and let the energy flow.

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Painting a Picture by tracey robinson

The landscape was encased in ice, trees frozen in mid-motion. Snow gleamed pure white, too cold even for the stars to twinkle. The cold poked and prodded, looking for a way into the snug cottage. All was still.

Inside the fire crackled and popped from the newly added pine log before settling down to give a steady heat. The flames danced to a happy song only they could hear.

I breathed in slow and deep, holding for a beat at the top. By design peace flowed through me. By Mother Nature’s design sleep settled over the great wintry outdoors.

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Failure by Joanne Fisher

“Engage the thrusters.” I ordered.

“Yes Captain.” the pilot replied.

Our spaceship sprang into life. By design, the ship was meant to withstand high speeds, but this was the first time they were being properly tested.

As our speed increased, the entire spaceship began to shake rather violently. I looked out the window to see bits of the ship starting to fly off.

“Our ship is breaking apart. Kill the thrusters!” I ordered. The pilot flicked the switch, but nothing happened.

“It’s no use! The controls won’t respond!”

I sighed. We were going to pay dearly for this failure.

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Many Reasons by Susan Sleggs

At breakfast, Tessa said to Michael, “Last night’s Home-front Warriors discussion was about how few “lifers” return to their home towns. What brought you back?”

“That was by design. I knew my mother had chronicled my injuries and recuperation on Facebook so hometown friends wouldn’t need to ask me for the details. I wanted to feel useful and our church music program beckoned. Being involved with it helps keep the self-pity at bay.” He paused. “And if I were to get news about you, it would be here.”

Her eyes and smile proved his answer was a pleasant surprise.

Author’s Note: Definition – lifers – those who make a career of serving in the military, at least 20 years. It’s true they often don’t return home perhaps because their life experiences and viewpoints have changed them enough they don’t feel they fit in among old friends anymore.

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The Spiritual Mystic by Design by Brenda Marie Fluharty

The Spiritual Mystic website, by design, was intended to share Love and light with the word. To help others to become more self-aware. Through the knowledge and wisdom of Brenda Marie people learn to walk their own path and share the journeys with the world. She shares her stories of spiritual awakenings, past lives, dreams, and her new gained knowledge of all things Spiritual. In her way she helps make the world a better place by doing what she loves, raising the vibrations of the Earth through her lightwork with the help of the angels and God above.

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D’sign er Doors by D. Avery

“Kid, ya doin’ vision questin’ like Shorty talks about?”

“That’s a good questin’ Pal, but I ain’t never been much of a planner. Fer me ma visionin’ is ta look out fer jars.”

“Kid, this don’t seem the time or place fer ya ta be talkin’ ‘bout yer love a drink.”

“Not them jars. I’m talkin’ ‘bout keepin’ ma eyes peeled fer doors ‘cause they’re most often ajar, an opportunity fer me ta slip through onta the next thing.”

“Thet doesn’t seem ta be livin’ by design.”

“Sure it is. I’m open to de signs leadin’ ta them doors.”

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Open Mic Night

Don’t be bashful, step up to the mic. Yes, you, Writer, this is your invitation to read. The page is like a warm security blanket, but sometimes we shed that covering and take to the spotlight. Not for fame and fortune, but to connect. Person to person. Think of it as reading stories to your kids, or at school for a class. There’s a special connection writers can have with an audience. Add to the dimension of writing.

This week, whether writers seriously considered the mic for themselves, they took to the prompt and applied their thoughts to the open mic in 99-word stories.

The following are based on the December 19, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features an open mic night.

Open Mic Night by Charli Mills

Mark tripped, spilling loose-leaf pages from a tattered folder.

Bobby laid a hand on the thin man’s shoulder. “It’s okay, dude. First time here?”

“Yeah.” Mark clutched the folder to his chest.

“A poet, eh?” Bobby tapped the folder.

Mark nodded.

“Been a while since we had rhythmical composition.” Bobby called the gathering to order, issuing encouragement. Some had instruments made of discarded objects. Some had stories memorized in their heads. One man whistled. Only Mark had paper. A luxury at open mic night on the corner of 5th and Elm where the homeless gathered for culture and comradery.

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Getting Scammed by D. Avery

Second thoughts teetered on the verge of fear as the road wound along mountains, past ponds, and farther and farther through stonewall traced woods. How well did she really know the driver? Why had she agreed to go to such an improbable place? Finally lights from houses appeared, 19th century houses, but a peopled hamlet. Relieved, she followed into the old general store, which housed a small yet lively bar at the back. Her relief was short lived however, for now she must face and overcome a truly crippling fear. They’d come to read. It was Open Mic Night.

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Bold at the Whammy by C. Mills

The Whammy Bar sits at an unpaved crossroads. A local watering-hole for musicians. Some destined for Nashville.

Thursdays are open mic night.

Two flash fictionists drive out of the backwoods in a 4WD truck. They stuff contraband into backpacks, careful not to bend the merchandise. They’re packing a load of books.

Then…

Two writers walk into a bar (I’m not kidding you).

Locals have gathered with fiddles, guitars, ukuleles. They clear throats, waiting for their five minutes at the mic. The writers infiltrate, bum-rush the stage.

99-words shatter the air.

Then..

“Wanna buy a book,” they ask.

The nerve.

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Open Mic Winner by Kerry E.B. Black

Christmas Eve, we host the annual Open Mic Contest. Acclaimed poets drip seasonally-affected despair. Freshmen giggle and blush through limericks or roundelays. Some folks sing.

But then he hopped onto stage. He tilted his seasoned face to see me, standing no taller than my knee. I couldn’t adjust the mic low enough, so I brought up a chair. He leapt up with the grace of a falling feather. Jingly bells upon his costume tinkled like children’s laughter.

I don’t remember his whole recitation, only the end:

“Man in red, or green, white, or brown
Giving heart beating cheer
If only mankind listened.”

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Spotlight by Bill Engleson

It’s the Back Hall, eh.

That’s what it’s called.

That’s where it is.

Where it happens.

Our Open Stage.

Our Open Mic.

On a given night, the third Wednesday of the month to be precise, except when it isn’t, a dozen or more local artists, musicians for the most part, ply their inspired wares.

I’ve read the occasional poem.

Even sang a few times.

One night, I sang the theme from High Noon for I too was once forsaken by a darlin’.

There, on that little stage, you are as safe as you would be in your own bed.

🥕🥕🥕

Epiphany by clfalcone *

Why was he even at the Open Mic…. he really wasn’t that good. Friends, family, associates, strangers all disagreed, saying he should do this thing, own it.

He stumbled on-stage, papers falling, mike feedback, introduction warbled.

He knew he was going to fail.

The minimalist poetry yielded gasps, cricket silence, followed by applause, cheers, calls for more. The fiery prose got him more accolades. His closing sordid limericks produced laughter, howls, long applause, calls for drinks.

Off-stage, the manager approached him. “Champ… come back next week and I’ll give you twenty minutes.”

He smiled – he really was “that good.”

🥕🥕🥕

Backstage Lady by TN Kerr

The backstage lady said I’d go on right after Marvin Joplin. She told me to wait on the stairs, and when I heard them intro Marvin; be ready to go on.

When they announced him, I moved into the wings. He performed a Johnny Cash number I’d heard on the radio hundreds of times. I found the backstage lady and complained.

“You said we were to perform an original song.”

“That’s right.”

“I heard Johnny Cash play this song.”

“Yeah,” she smiled.

I asked her if I could go on later, not right now, not right after Marvin Joplin.

🥕🥕🥕

Open Mic by Floridaborne

“Christina, we’re going out for your birthday,” her mother said.

She sang to the tune of Silent Night, “Mama, no. I won’t go. Don’t like crowds, and you know it. Please don’t say it’s all right, I won’t do open mic.”

“Why do you stutter when you talk, but sing better than Barbara Streis…”

To the ABC song she sang, “Next month I’ll be twenty two. I won’t have to live with you.

“Not as long as I’m your guardian,” her mother said with a scowl.

She’d be in supported living next month. Custody of a minor wasn’t guardianship.

🥕🥕🥕

Stepping Up by D. Avery

There were the butterfly garden, sod house, annotated maps, essays, and mock journals. Marlie and Sofie decided to share their migration research with an audience. That’s when Marlie became a stage manager as well as a key performer, for many of the invited family friends wanted to share a song or poem inspired by the topic. That’s when Marlie wrapped her Destiny doll in tinfoil until just the spiky hair on the top of her shorn head showed.

“You can do it,” she encouraged the nervous adults who climbed up to the treefort stage. “Just speak into the microphone.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shopping on the Parallel Universe by Doug Jacquier

In the supermarket the other night, I grabbed the store open mic and announced:

“Attention all staff. Red team, please re-arrange the aisles at random to ensure customers have to search the entire supermarket to find what they want. Green team, yes, we know the chicken’s changing colour but mark it down and move it.

And check-out skeleton crew, when you robo-ask a customer what they have planned for today and the customer says “I’m going home to disembowel my dog and then barbecue him for dinner”, don’t forget to say “Oh, that’s nice, are the family coming around?”

🥕🥕🥕

Cowboy Poet by Ann Edall-Robson

Cowboy poetry reading at the benefit dance had been Hanna’s idea, but no one expected to see who walked onto the stage.

On the horizon some 800 yards out
An unusual sight needed some learnin’ about
Come close glasses makin’ the scan
Not one, but two shapes—sure wasn’t a man
Across the creek, up the hill at last
Had to be coyotes movin’ that fast
At the top of the ridge those vermin swung round
Laughter erupted at what had been found
Those coyotes leavin’ the waterin’ hole
Turned out to be bovines on top of that knoll

🥕🥕🥕

Gerry (from “Lynn Valley”) by Saifun Hassam

Saturday was open mic at Cindy’s Barn. The restaurant was humming with diners. Local musicians, poets, actors, loved the camaraderie of open mic nights.

A math instructor at Lynn Valley College, Gerry played the guitar for fun. He often joined his friends in jam sessions at Cindy’s Barn. Tonight, however he was playing solo. A first.

As he stepped up to the mic, the Farmers Four waved to him. His very first music mentors. Masters at country music, they also loved to improvise, drawing from jazz and classical music. He grinned and waved. He knew he’d do just fine.

🥕🥕🥕

Jake by Pete Fanning

I plunked along, off-key and frazzled, missing chords and verses because my hands shook from nerves and detox. My voice was hoarse, the song terrible. It was all Jake’s fault.

My best friend had willed me his guitar—with more than six finely tuned strings attached.

A clumsy finish to polite applause. Misty gratitude on an otherwise perfect spring day. I started for the casket but couldn’t. I stumbled out to my car where I broke down, one of two promises fulfilled. Then I turned the key and drove to Cedar Baptist Church.

I had a meeting to attend.

🥕🥕🥕

He’ll Sing Anytime by Susan Sleggs

Tessa’s father handed Michael a beer. “The Vets and family members December open mic is tomorrow night. How about joining us?”

“With a bunch of poets and storytellers. No thanks.”

“There’s no formal way to share. Tessa just talks. The younger women look up to her.”

“We don’t need to show off we’re together. People know.”

“Well then, would you please bring your guitar and lead some carols after the speakers finish?”

“That I’d be glad to do if there’s no discussion about me using my chair.”

“That’s your habit to change, but remember, some don’t have the option.”

🥕🥕🥕

Open Mic by Anita Dawes

I managed to get a job
At the last minute with the crew
a runner, fetch coffee at the snap of a finger
I hoped it would be worth it
Chinese whispers bounced around the walls for weeks
The most beautiful man in the world
Would appear for one night
My hero, my first love
Tall, black hair, blue eyes
One kiss from those lips would kill me
I dreamed of being this close to my idol for too long
As I worked, I prayed for the whispers to be true
Then I heard someone say, Elvis is in the building…

🥕🥕🥕

Leg Breaker by clfalcone *

He paced outside Mike’s Open Mic Night, afraid to bomb. Make it here and the Big Time awaits… otherwise, you suck!
Was the audience ready for his weirdly intellectual transgressive song and dance (picture Benny Hill, Bill Nye and Jason Voorhees buying some crack…)?

His routine was solid, but the delivery, wasn’t it over the top? Was he trying too hard at humor, only to flop like a salmon dying on deck?

Exit stage left: MC lighting a smoke, thumbing the door.

“You’re on in five minutes, chief….break a leg…!”

The comedian just chuckled, speeding off to awaiting fame.

🥕🥕🥕

Flu Wins by Pamela Raleigh

“I’m not sick,” Cara murmurs offstage, shrugging off the sudden heat that envelops her and the ensuing shivers.

It’s just a head cold.

An audition for a television reality show competition comes only once to Hooterville. Illness will not deter her from stardom.

“Number Forty!”

Cara summons her dreams and approaches the microphone, years of hard work her shadow.

Her award-winning voice squeaks. The pipes that carried her dreams through every barn chore wheeze.

She cannot resist the light-headedness or tunnel vision. Her body drops, and with it her hopes for escape, as she succumbs to the winter flu.

🥕🥕🥕

The Old Ones Are the Best by Roger Shipp

“Have you heard the one about…?”

“Sit down. You schlep.” It came from a monstrous brute seated at the bar.

“OK. How about … An oyster, and a lobster, and a goldfish go into a bar …”

The comedian quickly ducks as a napkin filled with goodness knows what approaches his face.

“Not that one either. I’m not from around these parts. The first time I was driving through …” This one was drowned by raucous boos and horrid hisses.

“No biographical jokes either.” The comedian boldly stepped closer to the microphone. “Knock, knock…”

The audience was instantly quiet.

🥕🥕🥕

Reading Aloud by Joanne Fisher

“I always enjoy hearing you read, it’s always something good.” She said. I thanked her, but if anything, it made me feel more nervous.

Though I have been reading my own work for a while, I still get really nervous as I wait, but I always need that adrenaline boost since it makes me read better, otherwise it would be quite flat.

It was open mic night, I listened to the other poets read. Some of it wasn’t that great, but there was always a gem to be found among the detritus, and that could make it all worthwhile.

🥕🥕🥕

The Authors of Anne’s Books of the Year Take the Stage by Anne Goodwin

Furrowed foreheads. Downturned mouths. And not a murmur from the audience as my chosen authors read.

Individually, they were magnificent. Why hadn’t I considered the cumulative effect? People came to enjoy themselves. They didn’t want politics, torture and weapons of mass destruction on a night out.

Hoping to numb the guilt and embarrassment, I sipped my beer. They’d never allow me and my friends onto the open mike stage again.

The final “Thank you!” and the gathering rose to its feet. Thundering applause. Calls for more.

The promoter came over, beaming. “Perfectly pitched! The Resistance movement starts right here!”

🥕🥕🥕

Turning Tables by Di @ pensitivity101

The mic beckoned.
Alone on stage, it stood in its stand, waiting for the nervous, afraid, timid, confident or gutsy individual to grab it by the throat and pull it from its anchorage.
From comedy to singing, poetry to story telling, everyone had a chance to stumble, fail or knock proverbial socks off with their performance.
The spotlight came on.
No-one was there. The room hushed.
A cough, whispers, then silence.
A crackle came over the speakers:
‘I am The Mic, and now it’s my turn to entertain you’.
In the wings, the contestant smiled. He had their attention.

🥕🥕🥕

Done With Drama? by JulesPaige

1.
drama unfolding
rearranging the line up
becoming upstaged

I tried an open mic night once… I had a dramatic piece and was told I’d go last. But the organizer upstaged me. She went last. I can tell you I disliked the waiting to read. And trying to interpret the other readers in the small setting where there wasn’t room for questions or discussion (at a time when smoking was permitted), left me with a sour taste for such a venue.

Small rooms can get crowded and loud. Two things I’m not a fan of. Self promotion is another one.

🥕🥕🥕

Done With Drama? by JulesPaige

2.
drama unfolding
spirit of transformation;
I’ll try most things once

Perhaps an open mic night would be different if I had known anyone else there. I hadn’t known a single soul. I was trying to spread my wings. Which are now spread as far as they are going to go. I’m not quite on the proverbial down slope sinking into the mire of my fears. But I know what I like and what I will tolerate and how I can avoid being uncomfortable.

I’ve starred on stage, I’ve appeared in the local paper (no photo) – that’s enough for now.

🥕🥕🥕

Done With Drama? by JulesPaige

3.
drama unfolding
new year soon to be tolling;
time begins again

Change is one of those things that is most constant. Something that we can’t predict. Can’t add to or totally erase. Every experience makes us grow, shrink, fidget or gain confidence. I can live with that.

I can take each day and watch it transform. I can pretend my written words might in the future be read at some kind of open mic setting. But maybe just not by me. And I’m OK with that. My life’s stage has enough spot lights without thinking about open mic stress.

🥕🥕🥕

On Bullhorns and Bull Shift by D. Avery

To grab the bull by the horns might be the best course of action if the bull is bearing down on you anyway. Microphones are one-horned beasts, uni-horns, and open mics, being open, would not seem to present the horns of a dilemma; the only consequence of not stepping up to speak are your words unspoken. While not as dangerous or as foolhardy as running with the bulls, public readings will most certainly get your heart rate up. And you will, in the jelly-kneed afterwards, have that silly grin sense of accomplishment.

See that uni-horn? Grab it. Give voice!

🥕🥕🥕

Playlist by clfalcone*

‘Jeez, Open Mic Night is like, the worst.thing.ever!’ Head shaking. ‘They aren’t even funny…. just rehashed laugh radio jokes.’
Open Jam Night was worse, though: sucky musicians vying for 15 minutes of non-fame. She was funnier fully drunk, stumbling, high on coke.

Now if she could only find some coke….

As a host comedienne, she was bored with babysitting wannabes on Wednesdays in exchange for quality time on Fridays.

Then the Caveman appeared, long shagy hair, club-carrying, hide-wearing, painting modern social issues with a demented neolithic brush.

Like Fred Flintstone on crack….

She checked the list, muttering, “Holy shit….competition!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Repairman by H. R. R. Gorman

The microphone still sat, open and in pieces, on my workbench. I dreaded having to stay awake all night to get this antique fixed, but the owner needed it repaired by tomorrow.

That was easier said than done. The diaphragm on the capacitor was shot, but I didn’t have a replacement part handy.

“Oh!” I mumbled. “What I wouldn’t give to have that part!”

A man in a pinstripe suit and thin mustache appeared at my side. He held a new diaphragm with his fingertips. “Your soul sound a fair price?” he asked.

“Sure.”

“Then let’s make a deal…”

🥕🥕🥕

D’ Spies by D. Avery

“What’s up Pal?”

“Plenty, Kid, an’ I don’t like it. Slim Chance is aroun’, wants ta talk ta Shorty ‘bout a merger, wants ta franchise the Ranch.”

“Ranch french fries? Mmmm.”

“No, Kid, fran-chise, and I’d bet that little French friend a yers has somethin’ ta do with this.”

“Pepe LeGume? Why d’ya think that?”

“’Cause somethin’ ‘bout this stinks.”

“Pepe an’ I’s way ahead a ya Pal. We’re suspicious a Slim Chance too, so Pepe’s with him, ‘cept Pepe’s bolo tie is really a mic.”

“Spies! But ok, let’s listen… what? Thet thunder?”

“Uh-oh. Think Pepe’s mic dropped.”

🥕🥕🥕

No Phony by D. Avery

“Kid, Pal. You wanna spill the beans as to what’s going on? Ain’t never seen you two wearing headphones afore.”

“Pepe’s wired, Shorty.”

“Yeah, he’s a hyper little fella alright.”

“No, he’s wearing a mic. We’re collecting intelligence.”

“Ha! Fat chance a that!”

“No, Slim Chance. We’re worried ‘bout his plans fer the Ranch.”

“Ah, you two, d‘ya really think I’m shortsighted? This’s my ranch. An’ while I’m happy to share with the ranch hands, I wouldn’t ever sell out. Got my own plans.”

“Shoulda realized thet. Sorry Shorty.”

“Yep, sorry Boss. Hey look’t the evenin’ sky. Emergin’ stars!”

🥕🥕🥕

If you’d like to get into the ranch mood this fine Christmas day, take a gander at this classic collection of Cowboy Poetry (and thanks, Ann Edall-Robson, for striking the mood). Merry Christmas to one and all!

 

Gnome Tales

Gardens, homes, and saunas need gnomes. In Finnish, they are joulutonttu — Christmas elves that bring happiness and protection to a home. Whether mischievous or diligent, they are kind creatures who bring out the playfulness in writers. Unlike unicorns that have a dark side, gnomes cause writers to get punny.

Never before has Carrot Ranch seen the likes of gnome sweet gnome with such widespread lightheartedness. Gnomes also brought out serious stories from a small character. This will indeed go down as a special collection in history.

The following fun is based on the December 12, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a gnome.

PART I (10-minute read)

Oh, There’s No Place Like … by Roger Shipp

“Oh, there’s no place like …” carolers were approaching my door.

I’d gotten a call from my elderly neighbor just seconds ago. “They’re all over.” She whispered. “All over the street.” She was frantic. Should she call 911… she thought she should… but she was sure the police wouldn’t believe her.

Before I could decide how I could be of assistance, there was a knocking on my door.

Parting the curtains, I peeped.

Gnomes… and gnomes… and gnomes. As far as the eye could see.

“… For the holidays you can’t beat gnome sweet gnome!”

And then they left.

🥕🥕🥕

Dear Santa by tracey

Dear Santa,
My name is Terrence and I am a gnome working as a guard in a diamond mine. While I know this work is important it is not my true passion. What I really love to do is make toys and ornaments. I love glitter!

I have heard there are gnomes who make sleigh bells and I would be happy to do that if there was an opening available.

I believe I can be an asset to your North Pole operation and will be ready for pickup on Christmas Eve if you will have me.

Sincerely,
Terrence Sparkle

🥕🥕🥕

The New Farm Hand by Joanne Fisher

Cindy went to the south field wanting to get the land ready for sowing crops. To her surprise, she found the land had been tilled. She looked for Jess and found her fixing the tractor.

“I thought you were going to leave the south field to me?” Cindy complained. Jess looked at her in surprise.

“What are you talking about? I haven’t been there.” Jess replied wiping the grease of her hands.

Cindy went back and looked around. She saw a gnome standing by the fence smoking his pipe.

“Thanks.” Cindy said to the gnome. He smiled at her.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fairy Garden by Nicole Horlings

Velvet GlimmerDust peeked out of the hole in the tree stump to make sure that the humans were not around. She wanted to go gather dandelion petals for her garden salad.

She tread lightly between the flowers, and noticed something new nestled between the petunias. It was a bench, and Midnight Riversplash was already snoozing on it. She shook her head at him, and waved to Ivy WillowBrook, who was knitting in the gazebo. Ooh, there was a new patio table set by the hydrangeas, perfect for a tea party.

She went out for something… Oh right, dandelion petals.

🥕🥕🥕

Gnomes, Inc. by clfalcone *

“At Gnomes, Incorporated, we’re serious about gnome-ness.”

The worker shuttered.

The director slammed photos on the desk, pointing at Leprechaun pissing a toppled gnome’s face.

“You got drunk, fell asleep, let Leprechaun steal your gold…he even pissed on you…!”

“Yes sir….”

“Disgraceful!” He stood up, pointing to the exit. “You’re fired… banished from Gnomes, Incorporated forever!”

“What’ll I do now?”

“Go downtown to unemployment… become a pole dancer…I don’t know… just leave!”

Off scurried the worker.

Weeks later, the director got a postcard of a pole dancing gnome, with the caption: ‘Fuck you….making more money here than at Gnomes!’

🥕🥕🥕

Gnome in a Bucket by Ann Edall-Robson

The old chicken coop had become the catch all for everything that ‘might be needed’. Why Mac had picked Hanna to clean it out was something the dust covered young woman didn’t understand.

His one request, “Keep an eye out for anything Liz can use for flowerpots.”

Setting aside some dented, handleless buckets, Hanna spotted a garden gnome in one of them. It wasn’t a normal garden store variety, this one had a look about it that was oddly familiar. She hadn’t seen the little statue before, or had she? Hanna shivered.

“Maybe Liz will know something about this.”

🥕🥕🥕

Guilty as Chewed by Di @pensitivity101

‘Who did it?’

The tail slunk between the back legs, the head hung low almost touching the floor.

The chewed plastic gnome glared down from the pelmet where it had been placed out of reach.

The original owner had come charging across the road to complain that our family pet had destroyed her favourite gnome, insisting on a replacement.

The swinging Big Ears now held court by the ornamental pond in her front garden but the dog knew that he was in the dog house if the gnome was drawn to his attention, and would retreat to his bed.

🥕🥕🥕

The Neighbor Boy Noticed by Susan Sleggs

Mrs. Borden looked at the clock. Nine-thirty. She used to get out to her garden at seven-thirty. She opened the back door and held the jam and knob to steady her way down the two steps then tottered to her small garden that she couldn’t convince herself to give up just yet. A very large ceramic gnome with a mischievous grin waited. The sign hanging around his neck said, “Weeding done.” Her mouth fell open and one tear slid down her cheek. Who would do such a thing?

The local scout troop made a game of not getting caught.

🥕🥕🥕

Polio and Politics by Faith A. Colburn

I had a friend—a gnome-like fellow who said he’d thought, when he was a child, that every six-year-old spent a year in an iron lung. He was a canny bulldog in local politics, supporting rights for people with disabilities. There’s the time he argued for wheelchair ramps at the courthouse.

“We’ll help them up the stairs,” said the councilmen.

“Look,” said Roger, “someday you may have an accident. Maybe you’ll need a wheelchair. Then, how would you like to sit at the bottom of those stairs out there waiting for someone to notice you?”

The courthouse has ramps.

🥕🥕🥕

Gone Fishin’ by Anne Goodwin

He was hard on the outside, hollow within. Lacquered against the elements, he squatted, with his fishing rod, beside the pond.

People threw in coins, made a wish: for a lottery win, a baby, a cruise. Fixed smile above his beard, his belted tunic, above his boots, he looked the part they needed him to play.

They’d got him wrong. He could’ve told them how to cure the climate crisis, to hold back the tides of fascism, to create a more equal world.

Their hearts were hard, their skulls were hollow. Why would they listen to a garden gnome?

🥕🥕🥕

House Protector by Charli Mills

The Russian soldier came on baking day. The Finnish women kept their kerchiefed heads bowed. He dismounted, kicked the oafish-looking gnome statue, and grabbed the youngest girl by the waist.

“You smell pretty today.” He smiled coldly.

Macy tried to withdraw and relaxed when she saw Joulutonttu upright himself. “It’s the bread,” she said, distracting him.

She led the soldier to the communal kitchen where the massive beehive hearth burned. She showed him loaves, opened the large oven door —

They later told their men that Joulutonttu protected them. But it was Macy who shoved the Russian in the oven.

🥕🥕🥕

Nonbinary Gnome by clfalcone *

He was next…he had to tell the group. His short legs couldn’t dangle so he wiggled his boots instead, removed his red conical hat, saying: “I’m Manus McGnomus and I’m not a gnome…. inside, I’m a fairy….flying on dragonfly wings, spreading fairy dust goidnees to all… not hoarding gold or guarding paths…I don’t even like gardens, and the only gold I like is fairy dust….” He fluttered on.

Utter silence, then uproarious laughter, taunts of, ‘Gnomes can’t fly!’

He clammed up, looked about, jumped off the seat, muttered: “…. can’t tell you jive turkeys shit!…”, pattering quickly down the hallway.

🥕🥕🥕

Gnome by Anita Dawes

My son brought home this grey gnome
Telling me he hoped it would bring me good luck
Of course, it never did
So he brought home a larger one
Maybe this on could do it
Again, nothing.
Got to give it to him, he tries!
So they ended up in the garden
Personally, I believe the gnomes
keep their magic for the Gods
as legend has it,
they forged golden rings for them
when they come together
any objective is achieved
would that I could get my hands on just one
that would be like sucking on Devils candy…

gNoMeZ by clfalcone *

The Pixies and Brownies cowered, the Fairies bolted, but the Sprytes lingered, watching. Conical shadows grew larger than life, collecting at the intersection: gNoMeZ were in da house…two feet tall, twenty gnomes wide.

Fifteen black bowlers converged at the opposite end, L3pr3ch4nZ leader squeaking, “Give us McSeamus, or else!”

“Or else what? Give us back the gold…. or not else!” Retorted the gNoMeZ. Hammers threatened sheleighlies, cudgels menaced axes.

Suddenly, a fairy-dusting gnome floated overhead, singing, “…who says gnomes can’t fly… this is what I think of your silly war…!” And he farted more dust on the dueling hoodlums.

🥕🥕🥕

Hero by Nancy Brady

Instead of a horse, the little bearded man named Harry rode a wildebeest he had recently purchased. He had been granted an audience with the ruling monarch, who raised a sword to each of his shoulders. It was unusual to have an American granted such an honor, but his bravery warranted it. He was armed with only a utensil that sliced through the toughest meat.

The newspaper article said it the best:

Harry, a hairy gnome from Nome riding his new gnu, kneeled, and then was knighted by the king. It was said his weapon was a steak knife.

🥕🥕🥕

Gnome Alone by Pete Fanning

I’d spent ten and a half years with my head in the mulch when Annie found me. Mrs. Dulvey had set me in her garden in the late seventies—right near the gardenia that somehow survived all those snows.

Over the years we were like soilmates. Mrs. Dulvey had a lot to say, not that her family cared to hear it. After she died, some neighborhood kids kicked my head clean off its spring. Years later Annie came along and gave me a new perspective on life.

Annie has much to say, not that her parents care to listen.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Go Big or Go Gnome by Donna Matthews

Mama Gnome is wiped out. It’s been a busy shopping for presents, decorating trees, and planning meals kind of day. And she’s had enough.

“Siri, call Sister Gnome.”

“Hey, Sister!”

“Hey, Yourself! What’s the word?”

“Make me laugh…whatcha got?”

“I’ll be gnome for the holidays!”

“Puns! Yes!”

“Country roads take me gnome…”

Both giggling. Mama Gnome catches her breath and says, “I love you, sister…gnome matter what!”

A final bout of laughter as they say their good-byes. Still chuckling, Mama Gnome pulls into her driveway, considering dinner, imagining a big ol’ pot of chili…go big or go gnome!

🥕🥕🥕

GnomeChat by clfalcone *

On the Gnome Dating Site…

Wyd?

You know….gnome things… hoarding gold….guarding precious stones… clearing garden pathways…

Listen: I’ll give you some extra-gnome loving if you help me out, lover…

Sure… what do you need?

Oh, just you wait, honey… it’ll be great! First, a valid credit card…

Sweetie, I’m a gnome …I hoard gold…. I don’t have a credit card….

Oh my…

Wait…. you’re not one of those Nigerian pixie scammers tryna get my gold, are you? Coz some Russian leprechauns already tried this …. I reported them….

Oh dear…

(… three weeks later, no response….)

[Damn! I Really liked her….]

🥕🥕🥕

Late Again by Nobbinmaug

Eldysa watched the clock as the seconds turned to minutes. The minutes stayed minutes, but there were a lot of them. Dinner was on the table cooling with each passing second.

The door slowly creaked open. Salrick entered, whistling.

“You’re late again. That’s three times this week.”

“I was talking with Sheila.”

“The human?”

“My boss, yes.”

“About what?”

“Work stuff.”

“You’re a lawn gnome. How much work talk could you have?”

“The weather for one. Rain’s coming.”

“Is something going on between you two?”

“Seriously? Human women are not attractive. They don’t even have beards.”

“They don’t? Yuck.”

🥕🥕🥕

Gnome More by Annette Rochelle Aben

The top shelf of the bookcase was where Claudius took his naps. Lorraine always left it clear, so he could stretch out whenever the mode struck.

This Christmas, however, was different. She was decorating the bookcase. Now, there was garland hanging everywhere and wee figurines scattered on the shelves.

With a swipe of a mighty clawed paw, the garland was merely tinsel. One by one, each of the wee figurines were sent crashing to the floor. Sorry, not sorry.

As Claudius looked down from his perch he thought, be it ever so humble, this is no place for gnomes!

🥕🥕🥕

Merton by Saifun Hassam

Merton’s stone cottage stood among lupines and delphiniums at the forest’s edge. He was a garden gnome, helping in the village gardens.

Children gathered around Merton near the lily pond entranced by stories of forest gnomes, and his journeys over hill and dale. In the evenings he sat on the low stone wall that ran along the forest’s edge. His lamp glowed brighter under the glittering evening stars.

It was dawn on a summer morning. A waning moon hung above the giant spruce and fir. Merton bid the children farewell. They were heartbroken. Merton was going home to Charlevoix.

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The Last Gnome – A True Tale by Gordon Le Pard

“I hate gnomes.”

She raised her gun, aimed at a small figure, and shot. The gnome fell back.

“I agree,” said her sister, dispatching two more in quick succession.

They walked round the mound that had been, in their words, ‘infested with the little beasts’.

“I think that’s all.”

“It is now, as a shot took off a hiding gnomes head.”

Cowering in the undergrowth Lampy tried not to show himself, the sisters walked off, happy at what they had achieved.

Years later, Lampy was finally rediscovered and celebrated, the last of his kind, the Oldest Gnome in England.

Author’s Note: Google ‘oldest gnome’ to learn the truth.

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Missing by Sally Cronin

Eunice loved her garden gnomes and each birthday her husband would buy her another for the collection. Then one July, her favourite, a right Jack the lad, with a red jacket and green trousers was stolen. She was heartbroken and even put up missing posters to no avail. Then the postcards started arriving from all over Europe. ‘Having great time, see you soon. Love Jack.’ Sure enough one morning in October, Eunice looked out the window to see him back in his usual place. Her husband smirked. ‘I see the students are back after their summer holidays my love!’

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The Domovoi by Colleen Chesebro

Danica felt the presence of the domovoi in the kitchen. Flour covered the floor and the table.

“Did you make this mess?”

“Da,” a small voice answered.

“Don’t you want to celebrate the winter solstice?

Dusa was her home’s guardian, and he often helped her with household chores.

“I was afraid you forgot me.”

“I never forget you. Come, have some honey cakes. That will sweeten your mood.”

Dusa gobbled up the treats. With a snap of his fingers, the mess disappeared.

Always remember to take care of your house fairy and not neglect them. Especially during the holidays.

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Take a Chance, Change Your Life by Liz Husebye Hartmann

We’d answered the ad thumb-tacked to the corkboard at the neighborhood bar.
“Caretakers wanted, unoccupied mansion, rent dirt-cheap, duties minimal. Help us keep the riff-raff out! RSVP P.O. 9999NO 55101”

We were desperate, floundering through graduate school, and flat broke.

“Heaven sent,” noted Evan, so we took a chance.

We weren’t the sole tenants. Enter Lillehans, Gerta, and Nikko, who safeguard the grounds for a bowl of piping-hot Rømmegrøt with cream, a spoonful of lingonberries, and the occasional craft beer. Nisse make good partners, as long as you keep your promises.

It was the best job we’ve ever had.

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A Gnome of My Own by Doug Jacquier

“Smithers, l’ve just had a call from the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, himself.”

“Cor blimey, sir.”

“He’s ordered 100,000 miniature gnomes, with Union Jack waistcoats, to be placed in the backpacks of every British soldier fighting in Europe. Imagine every Tommy going into battle with the quintessential symbol of everything that’s British nestled in his kit. God, King and garden at their backs, our brave fighting men will be invincible. They will stop at nothing to prevent the icon of this sceptered isle falling into enemy hands.”

“You can rely on me, sir, to keep the gnome fires burning!”

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Gnome by JulesPaige

uff dah or okay!
this was not a mistake; me
finding this treasure

A sunflower original watercolor painting by Marisol – I’d have to get that hanging on the wall soon. Luck it seems is all just a matter of which way the wind blows. I’d always believed that thirteen was a lucky number. Dawg had found me on such a Friday.

*Crash*

Byrd and Lucky looked at Dawg as if to say; “The dog did it” – The open box had been knocked over. Bubble wrap surrounded an odd shape. There was a fabric gnome holding a sunflower! Uff dah! …

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Hide and Seek by Kelley Farrell

“I thought you got rid of it.” Jana hissed into Kaylie’s ear.

“I did.”

“Obviously not. It’s right there.”

Kaylie peered through the cracked open closet door.

The little man in a scarlet tunic and green hood faced away from them. He paced a few steps then began to glow.

“Maybe it’s over.”

“Come out, come out …” His wispy voice shook the walls. Boxes rained from the shelves forcing the girls through the door in a pile of discarded things. “There you are.”

The little man with unblinking eyes stood over them.

“Ready or not, here I come.”

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No One Gnome by Bill Engleson

Tripped.

What a footfall flouncer, I am.

Mouth full of mud and December grass.

Splayed!

Besotted!

Is this my yard?

Or Walkers?

Whadda ya know!

Chumpski!

Keerist!

Damn Gnome.

Gawd, were we looped last Labor Day.

Walker hyperventilating.

“He knows.”

“Knows what?”

“What I’m thinking, man.”

“Who?” I asked.

“The Gnome,” he pointed. “Chumpski.”

“You’re nuts. He’s made of clay.”

“Clay! Crud! Whatever. He’s got my number.”

Crapola, eh. And now I’m belly flopped, gazing up into Chumpski’s terracotta eyes.

Something nasty is in the works.

“Bugger off, creep,” I yell.

Chumpski keeps staring away like a crazy anarchist.

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Just Right by Norah Colvin

Longing for height, Gnomie joined Santa’s queue in the mall. Unfortunately, the queue hardly moved, and people grumbled when the air became hot and still. Elves demanded everyone disperse. Gnomie didn’t want to disperse. He wanted to be tall. Elves spotted him approaching Santa. “Hey! You there!” He froze. Santa glared, then said, “He looks about right.” The elves quickly explained — in the heat, Santa’s ring had slipped off and into the air conditioner, jamming the controls. No one could reach it. “I can!” said Gnomie, and he did. Elves cheered; Santa smiled, and Gnomie contemplated a new request.

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Gnome Help by Joanne Fisher

I knew I wouldn’t be getting out of bed today since I still had a temperature. The gnome appeared holding onto a tray with a bowl of thick vegetable soup. I sat up.

“I brought you some soup, since you’ve eaten little today.” The gnome put the tray on my lap, and also placed a hot cup of tea by my bed.

“Thanks you’re a great help.” I replied.

“No problem. You need to rest and get that fever down!”

The gnome sat down beside me and began reading aloud. Life was so much better with my gnome helper.

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Gnome On the Range by D. Avery

“Gee, Pal, why’s Shorty havin’ folks write about biology, you know, genetics an’ such? Or is genes the genre this time aroun’?”

“What?! Kid, ya might wanna check yer own pool. What crazy notions ya on about now?”

“Genes Pal. Genetics? Shorty wants us ta write about genomes this week.”

“Kid, it’s gnomes. Those little folk that live underground and guard the Earth’s treasures.”

“Oh. Huh. Pal, is Shorty a gnome? ‘Cause carrots are underground treasures. An’ while World Headquarters ain’t unnerground, it’s gonna be unnerneath all thet snow.”

“Shorty ain’t a gnome.”

“Mebbe Shorty’s her gnom de plume.”

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