Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Collections

Category Archives: Flash Fiction Collections

A Time to Perform

A Time to Perform by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsStep on up to the stage, you won’t believe the show we have gathered for you this week! Performances from all quarters to shock and delight your senses!

Writers took their performances to the page to give imaginative response to the different kinds of spectacles and every day acts that can drive a story.

The following are based on the December 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.

***

Change the World by Reena Saxena

“Change the world”, she said.

He did not have the heart to confess that he was an ordinary mortal. He conjured pink smoke and gave her a different lens to see the world. She believed every vision that he generated for her.

There had been many who were teaching her to survive – the killer disease and life thereafter. She had eagerly awaited the arrival of a healer and transformation agent, till he arrived.

It was the performance of a lifetime for the young medical intern appointed in the cancer ward of the hospital. He had seen her medical reports.

###

Holiday Storytelling by Frank Hubeny

Each year Peter told the grandkids how he killed the monster. They believed him, but children grow up.

Sylvie was nearly grown-up. She quietly went to Grandma Alice to get the truth, “Did Grandpa really kill a monster?”

Alice told her, “Your Grandpa’s getting old. He wants you to be happy and so he tells stories. He’s feeling better now but he has protected me from his nightmares for many years. I only know this. What he fought was not exactly what I would call a ‘monster’.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“It was the meanest dragon that ever lived.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Everyone had had so much fun, and it was nice for the family to be together.

After her guests had left, she put the borrowed tea things to one side, they would be collected later.

The leftovers could be put in the fridge, even though she’d turn it off along with everything else. They’d see her over a few days as would the edible family contributions to the table.

Her bedroom would stay warm the longest. It was where she spent most of her time anyway huddled in a blanket. Damn government cutbacks.

She hoped her performance was convincing.

###

Command Performance (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane wipes her palms down her jeans, picks up the blue marker. Since when do grownups have to do class exercises on the board? The professor smiles encouragingly but she can feel all the eyes boring into her back, her sentences wandering uphill and downhill while every nuance of Spanish sentence structure goes out of her head. What is the word for “T-shirt?” She settles for “blouse.”

Back in her seat, her hands are still shaking as the man next to her…Rico?…leans in. “Grand performance. I’ve been noticing you. May I buy you a coffee after class?”

###

Take Five by Pete Fanning

Jan set the cake on the table. She lit candles, grabbed her phone, and pressed record.

“Happy Birthday, to Logan…Happy birthday, to Lo—”

Jan popped up. “Tyler, why aren’t you singing?”

Tyler rolled his eyes. Logan leaned forward, ready for cake, but Jan held out a hand. “No sweetie, not yet. Hang on. Tyler, sing. Avery, smile. Okay, ready? Smile!”

She pressed record. “Happy Birthday, to you…Happy—”

Jan cocked her head. “Tyler, try to look happy, so I can post this.”

“Mom.”

“Shh. Okay, let’s try again. Smile. Baby, not yet. Okay, ready?” She pressed record.

“Haaappy….”

###

Performance by FloridaBorne

“Mom,” Noelle said, her voice lilting. “He looks just like Joel!”

Ralphina scampered over to her 13 year old twins.

Try not to scream … breathe, she repeated inside a mind that wanted to run from the handsome face staring back at her with Joel’s green eyes, remembering snippets: Backstage. Drugged. Hand over her mouth. Searing pain. So much blood. LifeFlight.

“He served 13 years for raping a minor,” Ralphina said. “She almost died from it!”

“He’s a big Rock Star!” Joel said. “Is that our father?”

“No,” Ralphina replied, relieved she’d not listed the bastard on their birth certificates.

###

Escape Artist by Chris Mills

My husband insists on a dress rehearsal of his escape routine. He was a failure as an illusionist, so he’ll try Houdini’s gig.

I snap the padlocks. Believe me, it’s an honor. He sinks onto his back in the coffin. As his assistant, I kneel and kiss him, passing a key into his mouth from mine. I lower the lid.

From the coat closet, I retrieve a suitcase and pause at the front door. The real key lies on the locked lid. I hate to miss the performance, but it will be a long scene before the curtain drops.

###

Drama Performance by Michael

My senior drama students faced a final performance exam presided over by visiting examiners.

Scott and I rehearsed for months, refining his character and his performance. He worried over every detail, and there was nothing we hadn’t rehearsed.

Exam day arrived, and the performances were under the control of the examiners, I could only sit and watch.

A nervous Scott went into his performance. Half way through he forgot his lines. The look on his face was devastating. He looked at me, but I was powerless to help him. He stumbled defeated to the end and left in tears.

###

A Five Star Performance by Joe Owens

When you are so well known you cannot go anywhere without turning heads it can sometimes be a drag. So Erwin chose to sneak into the Belikin Community Theater in disguise so he could be in the Christmas play he loved as a youth. Only his dear childhood friend Elyse, the director had any idea a Hollywood star graced the stage.

“Well?” she asked after the play was finished.

“I miss this,” Erwin said.

“We could make it a regular thing. I am happy to have you.”

“If my agent finds out she will go berserk!”

“So, don’t tell.”

###

First Performance by Bill Engleson

“NO! I WON’T! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”

I still see him, still hear his awful silence. Eyes darting. Like the condemned. Tears desert-dry. The pain is too much for waterworks.

Nine he was that Christmas. He shot up by thirteen but that year when he was nine, he was a waterless shoot.

Arrested.

Pale, as if exposure to the sun would shrivel him.

He had two lines. “He is a beautiful baby.” And “The donkey is sad.”

The moment overcame him. He scampered off the stage into his mother’s arms.

The play, as plays do, went on without him.

###

Nativity by Ritu Bhathal

“Come on children, nice and loud now! Please no shouting – it’s singing we want to hear.”

Mrs Keeble started the intro on the school piano, and nodded to the class in front of her.

As usual, there were the performers: the children who thought they were born for the stage. There were the skulkers: the ones who stood at the back, heads down, hoping no one would notice them. And then there were the stunned: the ones who stood there, gawping, no sound leaving their mouths, eyes scanning the audience for family.

Wonderful!

Welcome to another infant Christmas performance!

###

Nativity Play by Kerry E.B. Black

In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.

The boys fidgeted.

Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.

Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.

Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”

They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”

###

The Stage by Allison Maruska

I take my seat in the front row. As Corina’s biggest fan, I wouldn’t miss this concert for anything.

Bouncing my leg, I wait for her to appear. She’s late. Is something wrong? There – she’s just offstage. Her deep breath lifts the long beads she wears.

Finally, she takes the stage, and I cheer as she poses. The music starts, and Corina performs a song I’ve heard a thousand times. When it ends, I offer a well-deserved standing ovation.

Corina smiles and twists, biting her nail. Then, still in her place on our coffee-table stage, my little girl bows.

###

Ol’ Red Eyes by Juliet Nubel

‘Your daughter danced beautifully.’ The other mum stared at my red-rimmed eyes but didn’t mention them.

‘Yours too’, I lied.

I hadn’t noticed her daughter or any of the other girls. I never do. They are all just a blur of pale legs and lacquered hair, moving around the edges of my own beautiful child.

The tears spring forth whenever she flies onstage. I smile from the heart, but my eyes weep freely from a well, deep within my soul.

Where that well originates will be a lifelong mystery. Her beauty, her grace?

Or just pure, undiluted, crystal-clear pride?

###

The After Party by Geoff Le Pard

As the lights went up, Mary gathered her things. A woman she didn’t know stopped by her seat.

‘Are you Penny’s Mum? She was excellent.’

‘Thanks. Sorry, have…?’

‘Millie’s Mum. Amelia. We lose identity with kids don’t we?’

Mary smiled at this nervy woman. ‘Mary. Penny mentioned a sleepover?’

‘Oh she did? Thank heavens. I wondered. You have an airbed?’

‘Of course. How many…?’

‘Thirteen. Gray thinks me mad.’

Me too, thought Mary.

‘It’s our first since we moved here. I want it to go well.’

‘Being a parent is just another performance, isn’t it? Only without a script.’

###

Performance by Rugby843

“Which one should I wear”, holding the multicolored bow tie in one hand and the shimmering blue in the other. Joe was getting dressed for the Christmas concert and wearing the proper tuxedo coat and pants, but couldn’t make up his mind about the tie.

Usually not nervous about the orchestra’s performance–he always practiced well; tonight was a bit different. His new girlfriend would be in the front row observing him.

Joe fumbled with the bow tie and glanced in the mirror, luckily no zits this night. Rushing out, he forgot to change from his sneakers to dress shoes.

###

Christmas Lights by Norah Colvin

A two-day city visit is never enough, but they were determined – trekking the city, visiting in-store Santas, viewing Christmas-dressed windows, watching street performers, even attending a pantomime, with just a brief playground stop for lunch. The light show was the day’s finale. The tired parents and niggly children collapsed onto the lawn in anticipation. Suddenly the littlest began to perform – crying, screaming, stamping, flailing. Nothing would soothe. The eldest observed, zombie-like. Soon the light-show distracted, occasionally interrupting the performance. Only when the fireworks began, drowning out his cries, did he give in to sleep, sprawled indecorously on the grass.

###

Performance Anxiety (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Standing in the darkened wings, Danni stretched her hips. She arched her back, clasping her hands overhead. On the stage, Evelyn prepped the audience.

This was her moment. She couldn’t see faces, just the heavy beam of overhead stage lights. Her professor taught her tricks to overcome performance anxiety when she realized that as an archeologist she’d occasionally have to give public presentations.

The Sandpoint Theater was packed, and Evelyn was already giving introductions. “Without further ado, Dr. Danni Gordon…”

Walking out into the lights, Danni conjured the friendliest face, as if she were performing just for him – Ike.

###

The Red Devil by Robbie Cheadle

The red devil danced with abandon, and the little girl watched, her attention riveted on the stage. The dancer wore red tights and a red leotard. She had a pointed tail and horns on her head. She even had red ballet shoes. The little girl stood there in her own costume; she was dressed up as a ladybird; and dreamed of being a red devil. She dreamed of dancing like that, all alone on the stage, a wild and uninhibited dance. This memory remained with her as she traveled her chosen path. She never got her own devil outfit.

###

The Audition by Anurag Bakhshi

Helen went on to the stage, bowed towards the judges, and started dancing.

She danced as if no one was watching.

She danced as if her feet were on fire.

She danced as she’d never danced before.

She danced as if she would never dance again.

She kept dancing till her feet bled, and she collapsed on the stage.

Getting up, she bowed towards the judges again, and said, “I wish you’d agreed to give me a chance.”

And then, with a withering look at the corpses of the judges on their seats, Helen left.

Her performance was over.

###

Curtain Call by Lisa Listwa

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Visualize. See yourself in front of the room, comfortable, confident, smiling as you go through the motions…

“Rubbish,” she muttered.

It never works. You can’t deliver a convincing portrayal when your heart isn’t in it. Not really. The words you say are just a script to fool the world into thinking that you actually want to be here.

It’s time for a curtain call and an exit, stage left. But first…one last show.

The first period bell rang and the hallway filled with students heading to classrooms.

This would be the performance of a lifetime.

###

Oh What a Night When She Performed by Lady Lee Manilla

Oh what a night when she performed
Standing room only
From a place that’s always so warm
Crossing the seven seas
Proud of herself, she cried in joy
From the Philippines she’s the envoy
Proud of herself
Proud of herself
As “Miss Saigon” we all enjoyed
Oh what a night when she performed
She was only sixteen
Theatre was full and people swarmed
Marvellous in her scene
Through her journey we felt her pain
Celebrated with her with champagne
Through her journey
And through her journey
We don’t mind watching her again
Oh what a night when she performed

###

The Gales of November (a haibun) by Colleen Chesebro

I watched from my perch upon the beach as the November gales arrived early this year. North winds filled with an anxious rage howled across Lake Superior. Frothy white-capped waves erupted in a crescendo of deafening sounds, pounding for attention against the agate strewn sands. The spray splashed against my face like tears falling in a sorrowful refrain. Amidst the roiling of the storm, a quiet and gentle acceptance surfaced within me. I acknowledged my loneliness knowing that this too shall change. The show must go on.

Primeval gems–
Storm born, birthed on barren shores,
Remind me of home.

###

LIGHT; messaging (reverse haibun + two words) by JulesPaige

the cursor blinking
waits to advance – the curse,
blessing; advances –

As the cusser and controller of the keys, the writer walks
that odd line through. I stand watching the squirrels out the
window like acrobats unafraid of tree limb heights. Spying
on the line up of birds taking turns at the feeder. Woodpeckers,
Junko, Mourning dove, mockingbird… pecker, junk, mourning,
mocking… is there a secret message from nature? That present
darkness, swooning like a lost love. As dawn breaks and the
sky turns a faint blue, who else is looking for the light of the
bright sun to shine?

###

The Show Goes On by D. Avery

A long running show, somewhat predictable, though performed live; it could go off script, could still surprise the players as well as the audience, something she used to enjoy.

She was well respected for her roles, yet, despite her experience, her pre-show jitters were getting worse instead of better. Onstage, if the tempo slowed at all, she was aware of a persistent anxiety, always ready to prompt her from behind the curtain, whispering to her of her inadequacies.

“Good morning, how are you?”

She smiled. “Fine.”

8:01 A.M.

She had gotten through her first act, had given a convincing performance.

###

The Performance by Irene Waters

Fatigued, Jessica lent on the counter yet still she smiled as though they were the centre of her world. She had the same conversations with different people all day, every day; their families, their hopes and dreams, the weather. The weather loomed large but it was so boring. Everything was boring. They didn’t suspect. They talked at her, thinking she cared. Her genuine, eye crinkling smiles made them think they’d made her day.

She’d had an authentic smile this morning when she overheard, “When we drop into the shop it brightens Jessica up.” Yes her performance was very good.

###

Training, It’s Draining by Neel Anil Panicker

Two days, seven hours, thirty-one minutes and still counting. There’s no signs of the torture ever coming to an end. From his secluded perch in the far right hand corner, I watch with eyes as dead as of a dodo’s at the ‘actors’ and their ‘performances’.

The powers that be had even thought out a name for this form of extreme sadism, grandly christening it as ‘ANNUAL SKILL UPLIFTMENT SESSION’.

My foot! The only skill upliftment was that the hapless trainees had by now learnt how to fall into deep slumber with their eyes split wide open.

###

Sideshow by TellingStoriesTogether

“Observe,” said the showman, pointing with his cane. “This bizarre creature is so fragile, even the slightest variance of temperature causes it distress.”

He turned the valve with one of his myriad tentacles, and the glass tank lit up red. The creature within balled up its pathetic appendages and howled in anguish.

“Hear how it passes air over flaps of flesh within its throat to make sound?” said the showman. “A primitive, but effective form of communication.”

He bowed and doffed the top hat from atop one of his several eye stalks. “Ladies, gentlemen, larvae… I give you, man!”

###

Yoko’s Performance Deconstructs the Male Gaze by Anne Goodwin

Come, you know you want to! Haven’t you done this a thousand times in your mind? Forget it’s me up here, under the lights, with the power of my reputation. My name. Imagine a moonless night, a drunken stagger in a too-short skirt; she can’t remember where she left her friends, her bank card, her phone. She’s asking for it, can’t you see? As I am, now. Look how easy I’ve made it for you with the scissors. No need for savage clawing with your hands. I won’t struggle. I won’t protest. Won’t speak. Come, cut away my clothes!

###

My Mouth-Watering Performance by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“All I remember,” I pause, heaving a shuddering sigh, “Was walking into the downstairs parlor. It was dark, but I smelled swampland. I stepped in a patch of something wet and my feet flew out from under me.

“And then I came to and saw your dear face hovering above me,” I grasp his brawny bicep, offering up a shaky smile. “But your fiancée, Melanie, has been…eviscerated.”

“Murdered by the Swamp Thing!” Lawrence clenches his fists. “I swear I won’t rest until it’s destroyed!”

“Of course, Dear,” I murmur, picking a strand of swamp grass from my teeth.

###

Performance by Lisa Rey

Shane was at the murder scene. A young man lay there dead. Twenty at most. He surveyed the scene with emotionless eyes and gathered the details from witnesses, fellow officers and the forensic team. He was known in this macho world as a guy who got the job done. No sentimentality.

But when he got home, he wheeled himself into his flat. He sat down with his husband Alan and admitted he was rattled by today’s events. He secretly couldn’t get used to the destruction people caused. But acting unsentimental was the way he felt got results. And justice.

###

Viva la Diva by D. Avery

“Told ya Pal.”

“Told me what?”

“All the world’s a stage.”

“Yep, s’pose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”

“Jist the can’t-can’t. Why? Hope Shorty’s ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”

“Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”

“Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”

“Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”

“Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”

“Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”

“Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”

###

 

 

Practicing Self-Care

Practicing self-care by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsEleanor Roosevelt may have said, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” but when taking courage you also need to take care. Not of others. Of your self. It’s a bit like the oxygen mask on a flight — if you can’t breathe how can you help others?

This week writers explored what self-care looks like. With varying perspectives, this collection offers a mélange of ideas. Read and take care!

The following are based on the November 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes self-care.

***

Blue Moon by Juliet Nubel

She never knew which one to choose. She owned dozens, all lined up in neat, colourful rows inside a shiny, purple box.

Their names were so extravagant – Mayfair Lane, Undercover Show, Pussycat was Here.

She settled for Misty Jade, a colour from the depths of the Caribbean sea.

Slowly stroking the brush onto her short, brittle nails, she dreamt of an island, with warmer climes, where she wouldn’t have to work so hard.

A place where she could paint her nails, lie back and idly watch them dry, every single day. Not just once in a pale blue moon.

###

Caring for Himself by Michael

The last time I picked my older brother up out of the gutter he was in the worst condition I’d seen him in. Drunk, unable to stand and as incoherent as always. I bundled him into the car and took him home. The next morning, I told him it was now time for him to start caring for himself.

I wasn’t going to pick him up anymore as my family needed me too.

I dropped him off and watched him reluctantly enter the facility. With fingers crossed I lived in hope. He lasted a week. The rest is history.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

We all cope to the best of our ability, but just one little thing can throw us over the edge into the abyss of depression.

Enter ME TIME, a must for everyone at some time or another, the secret is to recognise When before things spin out of control.
Some write, some walk, some cook, some eat.

Music is my safety valve, and my Dad always knew when something was on my mind.

Each piece I play has a significance, but Dad would listen as it wasn’t what I played, but the way I played it that spoke volumes.

***

Free by FloridaBorne

June stood at the kitchen door, eyeing the knife next to her mother’s cutting board.

“I talked to my social worker. I’m moving out.”

“I’m your legal guardian,” her mother frowned. “I told her, ’absolutely NOT.’”

“I can take care of myself!” June insisted.

“You’re retarded!”

“That’s not a nice word, Leslie.”

“Why can’t you call me mom?”

“You act like a prison guard!”

Mom scoffed, opening the fridge, her ample body covering the door. June grabbed the knife, plunging it into Leslie’s rib cage.

She stared into her mother’s startled eyes and whispered, “Now I can be free.”

###

Guidance by Jordan Corley

“Brogan, what are you doing here? Have you been admitted again? The other nurses told me you were doing well.”

“No, no, it’s nothing like that. I just-”

Suddenly Sarah’s door flung open and she came wobbling out, carefully pulling her IV pole behind her.

“Hi Brogan!,” Sarah squeaked, “I can’t believe it’s been a week already! It feels like you were just here.”

“Well I wrote a new song I’ve just been dying to sing with someone. And look, I brought Elf and popcorn! I thought we could have a movie night this time.”

###

Meditation/Medication (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“I wish you’d seen the doctor, gotten some Valium or something.”

Torrey edges up the security line, pulling her wheelie, Lesley moving beside her on the other side of the rubber stanchion. “Don’t worry about it, Lesley. I’ll be fine once I get up to the concourse. It’s like a great big mall up there.”

“Oh! That reminds me! I heard there’s a new place you can get a pre-flight massage, aromatherapy…self-care, soothing. Meditate your anxiety away.”

Torrey barks a shaky laugh. “Or there’s booze, because flying sucks. The world’s most sincere drinking is done in airport bars.”

###

Party of One by Chelsea Owens

Don’t be afraid of you. Others want to know you. She glanced up; scanned the oblivious guests.

“Excuse me,” a sexy voice said. She turned, her finger marking the text. “I need to get to the bathroom,” he nodded, beyond her.

“Oh,” she said, embarrassed. She moved. He went past.

She opened to another, dog-eared entry. The surest way to make friends is to listen. She moved near a chattering group.

“Excuse me?!” A woman asked angrily. “This is a private conversation!”

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

This was hopeless. Before exiting, she carefully tucked Surefire Social Success! into the garbage.

###

The Joy of Giving by Parinitha

I am a 75-year-old beggar who lives by the banks of the Ganges. On days I am too ill to beg alms, my wife and I sleep hungry. I try to make my absence inconspicuous, but one day, she tracks me down. “This is ridiculous”, she yells. Every day, I share my food with a homeless crippled man from across the street. The joy of being on the other side of the plate is priceless. It makes me forget my misery momentarily. Isn’t the ability to Give a luxury? Is my therapy of self-care is so bad after all?

###

Socks for Self-Care (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Dr. Danni Gordon! Good to see you!”

Danni unloaded her ruck sack and hugged Carly. “Thank you for making homeless vets your beneficiary this year.”

“Anything to help our military.”

Danni had sent Carly a list to broadcast: socks, toothbrushes, blankets. Spread out on a long table, women organized the items before packing into backpacks for the homeless in Spokane. Danni added Army surplus socks to the pile.

“What an ugly green,” said one woman.

Danni explained. “It’s a familiar color and texture to these men. Sometimes familiarity is the path to self-care for those who’ve lost their way.”

###

Rest. In. Peace. by Norah Colvin

“You really should take a break,” they suggested.

“I can’t. Too much to do.”

“You need time off,” they said.

“I know. Soon.”

Eventually, “I’m taking a break,” she said.

The afternoon sun warmed as the sand caressed her aching body. Her eyes closed. Only an occasional seagull’s squawk interrupted the repetitive swoo-oosh of the waves that jumbled with the office cacophony looping incessantly.

“What? What happened?” they asked.

He scrolled quickly, searching for details.

“Sleeping. On beach. Seagull – ha!– dropped a baby turtle – landed on her head – died instantly.”

“And we thought work would kill her!”

###

The Accident by Kate Spencer

“So tell me what happened,” asked Granny knitting by the roaring fireplace.

“It was surreal,” whispered Carrie, lying stretched out on the chesterfield with a heating pad around her neck. “One minute I was making a left-hand turn out of the parking lot and the next minute I felt as if I was sitting there watching the accident unfold in a slow-motion movie.”

“Sweetie, you had what is known as a shock induced out-of-body experience. I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of protecting us.”

“Cool. ‘Know what Granny?”

“What?”

“You’re exactly what I need tonight.”

###

Another Lesson in Self-Care by Sarrah J Woods

It’s Sunday morning and I’m overwhelmed. The bright sun outside only aggravates me more; I long to be lounging in it. But I’ve got dishes, laundry, and more to do, and not much longer before the babies wake up.

My husband, tired as I am, sits unbudging in front of the TV while I clean—and grumble—around him.

Finally, exasperated, I stalk outside. The air is warm and quiet.

Then I realize: he’s expecting me to do what I need.

And how can he help if I don’t leave room?

I lie down in the grass and breathe.

###

The Choice by Colleen Chesebro

Painful sobs wracked her body while anguished cries escaped from her throat with an unrecognized resonance. She finally understood that death in its malevolence took what it desired leaving an emptiness in its wake. She knew she needed to survive by moving forward or she’d perish.

Nearby, the crystals beckoned to her emitting an ethereal glow. Meditate, they whispered. Align your chakras and feel your healing life force restored. She sat, quieting her breath, slipping into a meditative state. Her breath inhaled the restorative energy while exhaling the grief and loss.

Revitalized by love, she accepted a new path.

###

Changing Colors by Reena Saxena

I picked up a cheap perfume from the counter, and was floating on a cloud after using it. My conservative husband found it too strong for his staid sensibilities.

“Why do you need to use this? You own better stuff.”

“Sure. But this makes me feel young again. I could afford only this brand at eighteen, with my meagre pocket money, but managed to attract attention,” I grinned.

“Aaahh! What are the other brands which you used then? It makes me see you in a new light.”

Our world was changing from a formal gray to an exuberant yellow.

###

Back Up by Sherri Matthews

The receptionist was as chirpy as Mandy remembered her.

‘I would like to make an appointment for a check-up please…’ Mandy heard the waver in her own voice.

The pain from the last visit had long gone, but the fear-filled memory of it lingered for years. She had stopped going altogether after that, and then everything fell away.

Years later, Mandy began her slow, uphill climb with a visit to the hairdresser. An office party she dreaded but could no longer avoid. It had meant a new outfit too.

Then Mandy called the dentist for a long-overdue check up.

###

Control What You Can by Susan Sleggs

“In the past three weeks, we had to move into our new house before the painters and rug layers were done, there were two deaths in my wife’s family and our daughter was in a car wreck and can’t go back to work.”

“How are you coping with such trials?”

“I’m a patient man, but I want answers. I’m praying a lot.”

“How about your wife?”

“I helped her unpack the quilting room and I cut fabric for her to sew, then sent her to lunch with her friends. She felt better after accomplishing something and receiving healing hugs.”

###

Flash Fiction by Heather Gonzalez

Joe was known for a special brand of self-care which always ended at the bottom of his favorite bottle of whiskey. After the war was over, many soldiers went on to lead healthy productive lives, but Joe was not one of them.

The war had consumed his personality and left him a hollow shell. As much as he wanted to be almost normal, he knew that he was forever changed by what he saw. The small innocent face that appeared in the window as he burned down the village always brings him back to the bottom of the bottle.

###

Self-Care by Sarah Brentyn

She looked in the mirror at the woman she swore she would never become.

A soft, almost-youthful face with fine lines.

A handful of grey hairs hiding beneath dark blonde strands.

A pudgy middle pushing the waistband of her favorite pair of jeans.

The image irritated her. Angered her.

How had she become this…thing? This wife of a man who created her with perfectly weaved words of manipulation and cruelty then cheated on her for becoming his creation.

Time for some self-care.

She grabbed the prescription bottle, smiling for the first time in months, and dumped her husband’s heart medication.

###

The Alien Planet by Anuragbakhshi

My spaceship crashed, and as I struggled to somehow extricate myself from the debris, I thought about the importance of my mission- It was not every day that a new inhabited planet was discovered, and a senior diplomat like me sent there to make contact with the aliens.

The twisted metal and broken wires were impeding any movement, and I had nothing but my own strength and ingenuity to depend upon. Remembering my objective, I used all my resourcefulness and finally managed to free myself. I could now proceed on my mission to conquer this backward planet called Earth.

###

Booth by TellingStoriesTogether
Toshi sat down in the foam chair inside the Med-Fix booth. He’d tried, once, to sleep in a booth, only to have it blare increasingly abrasive warnings. But this time he had a thousand yen in his coat pocket, enough for five minutes of legally disclaimed medical and psychiatric care.
Toshi fed the money in, and the screen before him glowed blue. He explained everything from the nagging chest cold he’d had for two weeks now, to losing his job and living in an internet cafe.
The screen showed his results: “Recommended treatment: euthanasia. Please press ‘Yes’ to proceed.”
###

Inkless Blots by Jules Paige

“Life” used to be captured with a pen in a notebook. The
daily writing routine morphed; using a keyboard, unlocking
keys of alphabet letters and sentencing them to sensible
words scripting daily insights into blog; feeding an electronic
community where static electricity was controlled, by the
bribery of imagination and miscellaneous musings.

Cheaper than paying a therapist or a life coach – getting
encouraged by other writers who walked the same crooked
path. June marched, occasionally dancing when someone
liked or showed the slightest interest in her inkless blots.
Slowly gaining confidence that she actually could call herself…
a writer.

###

There’s No Writer Wrong by Bill Engleson

“He’s been at it for days. I’m getting quite worried.”

“He’s an adult Joanie. It’s his decision.”

“But…he’s a writer, for heaven sakes. He doesn’t live in the real world. He spends most of his time in a messy little nook in his head. He’s always going off on a tangent.”

“And now he’s trying to take care of himself. Look at him. He’s become a scrunched-up pretzel of a man, hunched over in a writing frenzy.”

“That’s what I mean. I don’t think solo Kama Sutra Yoga and a forty-ounce jug of red wine ought to be mixed.”

###

I Made a Mountain by Anne Goodwin

I made a mountain. They could not knock it down. But they did not join me on the zigzag path through meadow, woods and moorland to the craggy top. Instead, they dragged me to molehill, had me admire its contours, the texture of its soil. They bathed it in sunshine, cloaked my hill in mist. The only mountains they’d acknowledge were the Everests that pierced the cloud.

I fought through fog to find my mountain, and walked alone along its trails. Birds sang, flowers bloomed, rock glistened in the damp air. I made a mountain. I made it mine.

###

Self-Care Through Word Salad by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Impression management. Measured words. Think before you write. Intentionality, thought-FULL-ness is all. Be politically correct, especially if that’s not your usual inclination. Diagram your structure, have your measurable outcome in sight.

This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no foolin’ around!

Stop making sense. Put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Slop a little coffee over that mess, but avoid the hard drive.

Don’t stop. Believin’. Let out all those feelings.

Your job right now is to get your foot off the muse’s tail and let it gallop around the room.

I love a morning write.

###

New Mum SOS by Ritu Bhathal

The crying was relentless, but who else was going to do anything?

He was at work all day, he needed his sleep.

She was exhausted.

“It’s okay,” they all said, “just sleep when the baby does. You’ll be fine!”

What world did they live in? Self-care with a newborn…? Impossible.

When was she meant to do the housework, the laundry, the cooking, if not when the little mite was taking his precious naps?
But after thirteen weeks of sleepless nights and little support from anyone, she was ready to muffle the cries with the pillow currently covering her head…

###

Ladies First by Chesea Owens

“I’ve got to shop for pants today,”
She told the stingy traffic lights.
She told the grocer and the pump;
And then, the quickly-coming night.

“I’d love to try this recipe,”
She said, as they drew near to home;
With only time for Mac ‘N Cheese,
‘Midst whining, falsely-crying tones.

“A bath would be a lovely break
Whilst reading Lover’s Passioned Call.”
Alas, the heated water drained,
Whilst splashing children took it all.

The lights were off; he found her there,
Her loving, all-day-working man.
“I thought you wanted time alone.”
She sniffed; she said, “And, here I am.”

###

Mom’s Me Time by Kerry E. B. Black

Moms don’t usually get “me time,” so when the opportunity presented itself, Kaylee almost did not recognize it. Her husband and her in-laws took the kids to a matinee. Kaylee stripped the beds and threw in a load of laundry before it dawned on her. She had the house to herself. She could operate the television remote control without hearing groans. A bubble bath surrounded by scented candles could be hers. When she set the kettle on, she ignored the dishes in the sink and steeped a cup of tea and enjoyed an uninterrupted date with a long-neglected book

###

Santa Self-Care by Frank Hubeny

Mark loudly rang his own doorbell. “Thank you, Santa!” He heard Julie’s feet pitter-patter as she rushed to the door. “Have a nice day, Santa, in your snowy fairy glen at the North Pole.”

Julie looked outside. “Where’s Santa?”

“Sorry, Julie. Santa’s gone. He left gifts for you.”

Eventually someone would have to tell his daughter about Santa, but Mark couldn’t do it. She’ll have to cure herself even if she breaks her own heart.

Later that day Julie answered the door. “Santa! Back so soon?”

“Who was that?”

“Sorry, Dad. Santa’s gone, but he left you this present.”

###

The Care Bearing Of The Spotlessly Declined by Geoff Le Pard

‘Why so glum?’

‘Mrs Twistelton says I don’t care enough to be in the orchestra.’

Mary stopped writing. ‘Do you?’

‘Muuum!’

‘You hardly practice.’

‘Everyone is in the Orchestra.’

‘Everyone?’

‘Maisie, and the girls.’

‘Ah! Maisie. I hear her name a lot.’

‘She’s cool.’

‘Once I wanted to be a cleaner – I know, me – because Daisy Fullerton had a cleaning job that paid for her cool clothes. Hated it. I learnt.’

‘What?’

‘I needed to care about myself and what I really wanted.’

‘It’s different now.’ Penny wandered off.

‘Really?’ Mary said to the space vacated by her daughter.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

At home, Mom’s been busy. Swabs of cotton on the floor, the kind from a pill bottle. It looks like she shook her purse out all over the kitchen. A pungent smell leads me to a box of hair dye by the sink…scissors…chunks of hair…

I hit the steps with stuttered breaths, my throat closing. What I’d give for just one boring, uneventful day. To come home without holding my breath. Lately I’ve been thinking about taking off, just being done with it all.
But I can’t leave.

Because what if she fell?

Or worse, what if she jumped?

###

Self-Care by Irene Waters

Prue’s mother was proving difficult. “Mum, self-care is the most appropriate place for you.”

“I’ll stay here if I have to self-care. I want help.”

“But Mum in self-care you get help. Meals are provided, cleaning done, bed linen changed and washed plus you can opt for more services.”

“Then why call it self-care. More like aided living.”

“Self -care is because you remain independent. You don’t need nursing. Aided living is a nursing home.”

“Send me to a nursing home. I’ve had looking after myself.”

“I know Mum. How about going to ‘Care… for the Self?”

“Sounds good.”

###

Ranch Yarn by D. Avery

“Hey Pal, you oughtta join my self-heppin’-advocatin’-together group- S.H.A.T.”

“Ain’t bein’ no part a yer SHAT group. What the shat you on about anyway?”

“What Shorty said. Self-hep.”

“Shorty said self-care, so I reckon it’s S.C.A.T., an’ I’m hopin’ ya do.”

“Testy… You need a stage coach.”

“Stagecoach?!”

“Yeah, stage coach. Ta hep ya git through all yer rough stages in life. Talk ya through the prickly patches.”

“I swear, Kid, sometimes I’d like ta put you on a stage, send ya back where ever ya come from.”

“All the world’s a stage, Pal, ya oughtta try’n play nice.”

###

Five A Day

Five a Day by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsEat your veggies, eat your fruit. “Five a day,” they tell us. That’s more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away! What else warrants five a day?

That’s what writers had to ponder. And as you expect, the flash fiction collected varies widely and creatively. Settle in and read at least five flash fiction stories a day to keep your mind sharp and open.

The following are based on the November 23, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day.

***

Five a Day (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane exits the stall, already anticipating another cup of coffee. This one weekday, she’s got almost unlimited fluid intake.

Part of her vagrant reality is having no decent, or even very private, bathroom. In the morning she heads immediately to the gym, before she’s even had tea. The homeless newspaper office, but often with a long line. McDonald’s requires a receipt within the last 30 minutes. The college. The public library on her way back to Tent City. Five stops a day. She’s learned to coordinate her hydration accordingly.

Who could imagine a college ladies’ room as a luxury?

###

Glory Be by D. Avery

Three is a mystical number, and seven, for sure, but five, the mean of the two, five can be trouble. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.

Those five fingers, are they clenched into one fist? If so, trouble; something might be struck, nothing can be held. Be mindful of what those five fingers grasp, more mindful of what they let go of. Stretch those five fingers skyward, press against the other hand, doubled power, decadal symmetry, two hands pressed in prayer.

Count on one hand the blessings you have reaped. Use both hands to sow more.

###

S.L.E.E.P. by Juliet Nubel

Heather pulled the pink woollen hat over Emily’s curls.

“What do you need to do at school today?”

“Sleep!”

Emily knew their routine by heart. “Smile. Laugh. Enjoy… I can never say the fourth one.”

“Empathise.”

“Yeah, that. And play.”

“Right.”

Heather prayed hard that her daughter would taste these five ingredients every day of her life, both now and later.

The yellow bus arrived and Emily skipped aboard, grinning at the driver. She turned to wave.

“Sleep well, my petal-face.”

“You too, Mummy. You must try hard too.”

Heather smiled. It was a start. A very good start.

###

A Better Five a Day by Charli Mills

Five a day, Mama says. Doesn’t she know how awful they taste? Crunchy raw spindles and squishy flavorless lumps. Good for you, Dad crows. Honestly, I prefer the mash the neighboring farmer drops by our house. Mama says it’s not organic.

My skinny legs chase after tastier treats. Beyond the place where parents coop my culinary dreams I have a secret spot to dream. Beyond our scratch existence meanders a brook with a magical bush. That’s where I found the round globes sweeter than any clover.

Blueberries! I’m in chicken heaven! Better than five insects or worms any day.

###

Mr Potato Head by Norah Colvin

Jamie’s head shook, and his bottom lip protruded as tears pooled.

Mum sighed.

“But you love Mr Potato Head,” coaxed Dad.

Jamie lowered his eyes and pushed the plate away. This was not Mr Potato – just a stupid face made from yukky stuff.

Dad moved it back. “Just a little try,” he urged. Mum watched.

Jamie refused.

Jamie visited at meal time. Mum was in tears. “He won’t eat anything.”

Jamie considered the unappetising mush. “Who would?” he thought, as he replaced the cover and opened dessert.

“May as well enjoy what you can,” he said. Dad smiled.

###

Five a Day by Ritu Bhathal

“Five?”

“Yes sir, five.”

“So, Doctor, I have to take five of these little beauties a day?”

“That’s right. Five of these golden capsules every day.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier for me to just move to a country full of sunshine?”

“If only it was that easy, Mr. James.”

“Wow! Shake me and I’ll rattle!”

Jack laughed to himself as he left the surgery with his prescription.

Another addition to his daily cocktail of pills. Vitamin D3.
Sat behind a desk all day, earning good money but not seeing daylight, meant losing his health instead…

The price we pay…

###

The Dreadful Five a Day by Parinitha

The wedding invitations on my desk reminded me of my impending situation. With a month to my wedding, the unavailability of ready-made gowns of my size was frightening. November being peak wedding season, placing an order for a gown was ruled out. Tossing the chocolate muffins into the bin, I phoned my therapist, after two months of No Show. “Five a day is the only way!”, she harped. Once again, I began the five-miles-a-day run. As I grumpily ran the fifth day, I chanced upon Gowns for All, a new Plus-Size Wedding Store. This discovery called for a dessert!

###

Who’s Counting? by JulesPaige

Trying to get five fruits and veg in a day, Claire added to her
salad. Dates, avocado, dried apricots, to the already blended
greens of spinach and young spring greens mix. Cucumber,
tomato, onion, celery and colorful peppers got chopped up
too. Add some tuna and peanuts and you got a whole meal.

Or did one portion of that mix equal just one serving? There
had to be a way to lose the extra five pounds from Thanks-
giving. Half of a large grapefruit was waiting to be a mid-day
snack – as well as those cute little peelable oranges.

###

A Writers Creed by Bill Engleson

“You’ve got a stick up your butt about this, right?”

“I don’t know how you do it.”

“It’s quite easy once you get the hang of it.”

“I’m sure it’s easy. But I’m more interested in why you bother?”

“Wilde once said, ‘Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art.’ So, I lie at least five times a day.”

“For art?”

“For my art, yes. Fiction’s about assembling a selection of lies. Most writing has elements of falsehood.”

“I’ll never be able to trust a word you say.”

“Then my work here is done.”

###

Five a Day by Graeme Sandford

Listen

Think

Write

Add picture

Edit

Post

Relax.

Look around

Consider

Think

Write

Consider

Put to one side for later.

Relax.

Listen

Think

Write

Edit

Add funny picture

Resize picture

Post

Rela-

Resize picture from first post

Relax.

Copy link to YouTube video

Paste

Post

Relax.

Read

Reblog quirky post

Relax.

Just one more…

Five should be about write

Or right

It’s a rite of passage

Or alleyway

Which is just me being silly

Anyway, I should stop at five

I should

But, will I?

Then I can go and wash up the breakfast things…

…and go to bed.

###

Five a Day by Robbie Cheadle

I need to read something interesting at least five times a day.

When I was a girl, my Mom used to invite our friends to our house for the afternoon. On these days, I used to disappear into my bedroom at intervals throughout the afternoon to read a page of my book. It wasn’t that I didn’t like spending time with friends, it was merely that I needed a distraction from the conversation

As a grown up, I haven’t changed. I need to read a blog post or two during the day. It helps relax my body and mind.

###

Morning Blessings by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Wake up. Open your eyes. Or not.

Stretch from the tip of your chilly nose, through the arms and shoulders, down your back, deep into the gluteus max, into the length of your calves and out through the end of each toe.

Snuggle deeper under the covers and melt into the mattress. Breathe. Through your nose.

Deeply inhale morning blessings, those present just before the day’s demands flood in, the ones just an eyeblink away, if only we remember. Exhale all bad dreams, all anxieties.

Repeat this breath four times more. Rise, and refresh as needed throughout the day.

###

Five a Day by Irene Waters

Essie stared at the doctor telling her what to eat. “No I won’t eat from the five food groups. I know my body. Dairy gives me phlegm, fruit – gout, carbohydrates bloat me. I’ll eat protein, fat and veggies. I’ve five things I do insist having each day to keep me healthy.”

The doctor now stared at Essie. “Mmm?”

“Yes. A cuddle in the morning before I get out of bed is a must, and my hand held when we walk, a kiss goodbye, a kiss hello and a cuddle before sleep – these five keep my heart and mind healthy.”

###

Hugs by Kerry E.B. Black

The compassion of enfolding another within loving arm can heal wounds unseen. Thus our days begin with a hug, and God willing they end the same way. After a hard day at school, I greet my children with a cup of warmed cider and open arms. As they traverse the pitfalls of homework, I use cuddles as encouragement. After dinner, when they clean their plates and complete their chores, I give them a big embrace of gratitude. Soon they’ll be too grown to understand their value, so while I have them within arm’s reaching, I’ll share with them hugs.

###

Five a Day by Michael

The old sage looked up at me: “Five a day?” he asked as if the thought had never occurred to him before.

“Well let’s start with life. See what’s around you, then live a life, don’t take anything for granted.

Love the people around you, you can never do enough of that.

Be creative, people won’t think you boring.

And lastly, reflect on all you have done. Reflect so that the next time you can improve on your five a day.”

He looked away signalling our time was over. I left invigorated. Stepping outside, I took in the view.

###

5 a Day by FloridaBorne

Sherry looked around the musty home. Beige curtains. Grey carpet. Cheap 1980’s couch. Her fiancé didn’t mind his mother’s boring décor. Sherry, as an interior decorator, believed calling this place dreadful was kind.

“Are you going on a diet?” her future MIL asked.

“I have an average build,” Sherry replied. “You’re skinny”

“Nonsense,” his mother said dismissively. “Try eating 5 small meals a day.”

Sherry chuckled. “I know how to cook 5 meals.”

“Can you give me the recipes?”

“I’ll have to look on the box,” Sherry said. “Jack does the cooking.”

“Don’t say it, mom,” her fiancé frowned.

###

Five a Day by Pensitivity

Love is the Diet of my life.
Without it, I would be empty and hunger would be paramount.
My first portion of every day is a kiss when I awake.
The second part is a hug for no reason.
Sometime during the day my third is a passing touch.
The fourth is a helping hand to steady me, and the fifth knowing he’s there.
They can come in any order of course, but Number One will always be number one.
Kisses are abundant all day, but as the experts say, it has to be five different portions a day.

###

Flash Fiction by Rugby843

Five times a day, yep, no matter if there are tornado winds, an earthquake or flood, she gets a call from me. Five times a day, every day, all year, for the past five years.

Everyone loves their momma, right? But when daddy died, she turned into the neediest person you could imagine. If the world dissolved around us both, she would still expect me to call her at least five times a day. I think my daddy was a patient man.

It just occurred to me, he was a traveling sales man…

No wonder daddy lost his job!

###

Keep Counting by Reena Saxena

“Have ten?”

“Yeah, maybe … kind of twenty. Depends on how you count.”

“I don’t need to count. I need only five.”

“I might need ten plus two. And yours are not needed.”

“Why two more?”

“Larger and stronger ones, for support.”

“And what will you achieve with those?”

“A dead body.” Karen’s voice was stern, and the expression menacing.

“Whaaatt?”

“Yes. Your dead body, after I asphyxiate you.”

Mom turned around with a jerk.

“What are you two talking about?”

“Fingers and toes and two strong wrists. Allen is my twin brother, but he irritates me no end.”

###

Five a Day by Pete Fanning

It was a manic compulsion that drove Barry Bingham to lick the five fingers of his right hand every morning. The urge struck first at dawn, when he gripped the worn door handle at the gas station where he got his morning coffee. Turning the sports page in the breakroom, Barry’s fingers were just begging for a dip. And again at lunch, when Barry finished off the cheese puffs and eyed his furry fingers. By afternoon Barry was slurping away again, flushing the toilet, checking his hair, and hustling back to work.

Barry took a lot of sick days.

###

Five a Day by Judy Martin

“Eat your vegetables you two. Connie, you’ve hardly touched those sprouts.”

“But Mum, you know I hate them, anyway, they make you blow off!”

To reiterate her point, Mark her brother let out a loud PARP, and both children giggled.

“MARK!” That is enough of that, leave the table at once!”

“Pooh, that stinks, Mum I can’t eat any more now, Mark has put me off.”

Jenny sighed, the pungent aroma wafted over her; some Christmas dinner this was turning out to be.

Pouring herself a fifth glass of wine, she braced herself for the rest of the day.

###

Food Inflation: When Five is the New Two by Geoff Le Pard

Penny eyed the menu with a frown. ‘Can’t I have some peas?’
Mary leant across. ‘Come on love. There are some lovely sides.’
Paul laughed. ‘When I was Penny’s age I’d have been the same. Spinach with cream and nutmeg. Stuffed savoy leaves with ricotta and walnuts. Grated sprouts with bacon. Puréed parsnips Madras. Braised celery in a pistachio jus. That’s just tarted up rubbish veg, masquerading as five a day.’

Mary nodded. ‘Just meat and two veg, eh.’

Penny looked from one parent to the other, bemused. ‘I’ll have the fish and chips.’

###

Five Chores a Day by Susan Sleggs

“Mom, I found these in the picture drawer. What are they?”

A tear formed when I saw some of my mother’s hand written lists. “Grandma didn’t feel like she accomplished anything unless she could cross five chores a day off a list.”

“But this just says; wash dishes, do laundry, clean cat box, write notes, get hair cut. Aren’t those normal things?”

“That’s when she got older. Read another one.”

“Finish quilt, write blog, edit flash fiction, write some poetry, get necessary fabric.”

“Was she always so busy?”

“That’s not busy, those were the hobbies she did every day.”

###

Smiling App by Frank Hubeny

Bernard set an alarm on his phone to ring five times a day with the message “Smile”. This annoyed some around him which helped him smile.

When Bernard’s lips froze into a crescent moon pointing up that was when he annoyed the maximum number of people and puzzled the rest.

Eventually his brain got the memo. His heart relaxed. Even people he annoyed stopped being annoyed. Bernard’s pleasure in annoying them waned like that moon on his mouth since what’s the point? When they heard the beep, they’d smile and say, “Smile, Bernard, you idiot!” He no longer minded.

###

Five a Day by D. Avery

“Why ya grimacin’ Kid?”

“I’m smilin’. They say smilin’ can change yer mindset. But I tell ya, Pal, I’m strugglin’ with Shorty’s 5 a day prompt.”

“So keep smilin’. Five times a day.”

“Hmm. Five laughs a day would be good an’ good for ya.”

“Seriously! Contagious giggles, love those, almost as much as a real good belly laugh.”

“Gotta be in the right company fer those. How ‘bout laughin’ aloud at yerself fer doin’ somethin’ stupid, or even fer doin’ somethin’ right?”

“Yeah. I also like the ‘Ha!’ of revelation and recognition.”

“Five laughs a day then. Ha!”

###

The Boxer by Jack Schuyler

“Five a day, that’s how I keep these.” The boxer flexed his bulging forearms and then resumed twisting his mustache.

“Five steaks a day, am I hearing you right?” I furiously scribbled the information on my notepad. Back at the Times, the boss told me to get more on Little Toni’s sudden success. This article could be my breakout piece, but who would believe Toni could eat five steaks a day?

“First I punch em’ (makes em’ tender), then I grill em,’ then I eat em.’”

Oh well, it’s just news. Put it on paper and they’ll believe anything.

###

Five a Day by Kate Spencer

Marcy took a deep breath. She was about to launch her presentation to the Scrooge of all clients at the ad agency.

“Mr. Wroth, Christmas is about rekindling hope and joy—”

“Nonsense. It’s just a day in the calendar. I’m tired of campaigns where our cookies light up children’s faces with Christmas voodoo. Got something else?”

“I do.”

“Humph. Go on then.”

“I’m suggesting people buy your amazing cookies and when they share five of them a day with others it will take their blues away.”

“Christmas Prozac. I like it!”

Marcy couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

###

Five a Day, No More No Less by Anne Goodwin

Gabe was heading home when he saw the loot. His duty was clear, but he’d already met his quota and he didn’t fancy the extra paperwork. Luckily, Mike happened along.

“That yours?”

“What mine?”

“That heap of glorious booty. Wanna split it?”

Hell’s teeth! Take half to the poor? Leave it all for Mike to distribute? Either way, it would be his sixth good deed. Unless.

Gabe spread his wings, spun around, knocked out Mike with the force. Stepped over his body, confident that, when he came round, Mike would find the treasure and forget he’d ever been there.

###

Five a Day by anuragbakhshi

“These are only four, I can’t give you any money today. You know you’re supposed to deliver five a day, or return empty-handed,” said the officer rudely while checking the sack I had handed over to him. “My kids will go hungry today, please have mercy, ” I begged, but he just wouldn’t relent.

Seeing no other way, I took out my sword… and swung hard. And as the officer’s head rolled to a stop near my feet, I picked it up and told his assistant, “That completes five rat’s heads for today. Can I have the bounty now please?”

###

Five a Day by Hugh Roberts

It was getting harder and harder to get my five a day.

Why had I even come here? It was the worst place I’d ever visited, yet they kept me here because I couldn’t find them anywhere else.

However, time was now running out and I’d soon have to find another place for my fix.

Maybe I should leave now? Yes, that was probably a good idea.

Then, just as I was about to leave and head for the stars, I heard the cry of the human baby. One last meal, and then I’d leave this almost inhospitable planet.

###

Through the Mesh

The mesh forms a barrier, although not completely. Screens block some particles, but not those small enough to get through. Looking through the mesh of a window, the screen remains unseen unless it becomes the focus.

Writers explored this permeable obstruction. The word itself holds different meanings. All was open to interpretation.

The following stories are based on the November 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use the word mesh in a story.

***

Awaited by Allison Maruska

Today has been long awaited.

I move slowly down the long hall towards my destiny, the place where my past and present mesh into a single moment. I swallow, as if that will quell my nerves.

Spectators are waiting. For some, today is a long promise finally fulfilled. It’s strange to think that, as the reason they’re here has nothing to do with them. The real reason isn’t among these faces. She’s vibrant in my mind’s eye, though. She’s eternally beautiful there.

A moment before my time, the official’s voice breaks through.

“May God have mercy on your soul.”

###

No Deterrent by Kim Blades

It was a ten foot high, heavily barbed, wire mesh fence. Supposedly a barrier to disincline would be intruders.

It worked for a while. Forty four nights in total.

Forty five nights after the formidable fence was constructed, a couple of local thieves with wire cutters worked for twenty minutes to cut out a doorway in the barbed mesh.

They laid the mesh ‘door’ on the grass and proceeded to enter the property that backed onto the river.

They stole a lawnmower and the light fittings on the back verandah.

The thieves didn’t bother to replace the mesh door.

###

Blaggards and Traitors by Jack Schuyler

Big Richie blew a stream of smoke across the desk and Carlson coughed through his gag.

“My network’s a fabric, Carlson, a mesh of thieves and blaggards.”

Carlson’s eyes watered and a tear dripped from his ruddy cheek.

“But for traitors, I’ve no tolerance. What use does a snag have but to unravel the whole garment?” Richie slammed a handgun on the desktop.

Carlson struggled desperately against his constraints.

“I’ve no choice Carlson, a snag’s got to be cut from the mesh.”

He raised his gun and Carlson let out a final whimper before being severed from the mesh.

###

Why Flies Hate Blair Toilets by Anne Goodwin

Why do you hate us, humans? Because we visit your kitchens with dung on our feet? That’s our culture, dammit. We mean no harm.

We were as excited as you were: brand new latrines! No more long commutes from heap to heap under the scorching sun. We followed the smell around the corner, dipped down the pit for a feast. Stated, we soared towards the light. Bam! Blocked by wire mesh.

We cannot retrace our flight path to the entrance. Evolution taught us to trust in light. Why do you hate us, humans? Why shorten our already short lives?

###

Mesh Fly Screen by Michael

When we first went to visit the town, we were to spend the next eight years in the hotel we stayed in during the height of the summer had no mesh fly screens. The Manager showed us to our room and then proceeded to catch the flies finding our open door too good to resist.

With her fingers, she hunted them down, squeezed them and threw them out the door as more happily invaded us.

It was one of the few down sides to living in the country, mesh screens were a rare sight, but myriads of flies were common.

###

Mish-Mesh

“Don’t we form an extraordinary mish-mesh?” Her fingers twisted into the smooth dark curls at the back of his neck.

“Don’t you mean mish–mash, my love?”

“No, we don’t mash. That’s what steel forks do to potoatoes, violently pummelling them into submission. That’s not us at all. We mesh.”

To prove her point she threw her free arm over his chest and wrapped her leg around his bare calf.

“Our mish-mesh will keep everything bad out.”

“And everything good in” he added, slipping his hand into hers.

They clutched at this dream as they clung to each other.

###

Mesh by FloridaBorne

“She don’t mesh with nobody!” Audra’s father complained. “Must be yer side o’ the family.”

“Horace, you moron! She’s just like yer Aunt Clara with gettin’ scholarships!”

“She ain’t int’rested in boys!”

“My sister was pregnant at 14,” Audra said. “I’m going to college!”

“Yer 16. Yer ma birthed you at 13, her ma birthed at 14. What’s wrong with you, girl?”

“Wrong is having 4 daughters with 2 children each, and living off welfare,” Audra said. “Try forcing me to be with a man and I’ll call child abuse!”

“Best ta let the renegades go,” her mother sighed.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

The kid hoisted the bag of slop in the dumpster. It hit with a splat and he toweled his hands with his apron.

“Hey Mesh.”

Mesh popped up. “Oh. Hey Brooke, I didn’t see, um, you okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just…” She blew a cloud of smoke to the sky, wiped her face into the shining smile that raked in the tips. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

“I swear to god if Paul touches my ass again…”

“You should say something. He owns the restaurant, he doesn’t own you.”

“Is that like some Hindu Indian wisdom?”

“No, it’s common sense.”

###

The Call to Adventure by Colleen Cheseboro

Abby sat up in bed. There it was again. A strange buzzing sound echoed through the room. The ability to understand the languages of all creatures had also given her excellent hearing. She could hear a pin drop a mile away. Today, this sound shouted for her attention.

Abby shivered. The sound continued. Curious, she crept toward the window. Drawing the blinds, she gasped in surprise. It was a bee, crawling on the mesh screen stuck between the glass window.

“Save us,” it hummed.

That would prove to be a tall order for a girl with a bee allergy.

###

Solit’s Web by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d climbed down the drainage tunnel, crawling due east, then straight down. That ladder better not end before the tunnel did. Beau had promised, and he was getting 60% of the take for having the only map to Solit. She had the muscle and the stealth, so it fell to her to do the actual theft.

She snapped on her headlamp. The steel mesh of the spider’s web gleamed below her, easy enough to drop down to, but how was she going to get back up?

Oh well. She’d figure that out, once she’d snatched the queen’s ruby eggs.

###

Seeing the Elephant by D. Avery

Robert was practically running now.

He would have missed sugar season, but his father would appreciate his help with spring planting. His father wouldn’t ask him, as the man on the train had, about the Battle of the Wilderness.

Soon he’d be eating Ma’s cooking, would tousle the hair of his baby brother, six now, teach him everything there was to know, would have him driving the team, set him up with his own team of oxen. Robert ached to again work the farm, to mesh with the seasons.

Almost home; soon he would set this damn musket down.

###

Flash Fiction by Irene Waters

The kick in the stomach woke her. “Stop spinning you bastard,” her husband yelled as his arms flailed and his leg moved into position for another punch to the gut. Cassandra moved quickly, shaking him from sleep. Travis awoke with a start; pale, sweating and obviously frightened. “Cassie, thank god you were there.” His eyes were wide with fear as though he could still see the demon of his dream. “The web the spider wove is supposed to catch dreams and filter out the bad ones but she was enmeshing me, making me part of the world wide web.

###

The Spoiler by Rosemary Carlson

”Why do some people have to spoil everything?” I wondered out loud, as I stared through the mesh of the screen door into the jungle of the yard. I was thinking of the old man at the pier. I had thought, last year when visiting here, that he was my friend. This year, it was clear he wasn’t.

I loved to go to the pier at sunset. The Gulf was so peaceful. The sunset so beautiful. A man was there who I used to enjoy talking to. No more. Now he only wanted to argue. I didn’t know why.

###

Like a Friendly Spider by Kerry E.B. Black

When as a child I didn’t get along with someone, my mom would say we didn’t “mesh.” An optimistic humanist, I had a hard time accepting this. I’d re-work my approach toward friendship, hoping to integrate into their lives. I’d learn a sport, watch popular films, read trending books. Still, the “mesh” eluded me.

As I grew, classmates changed to fit into intricate webs of friendship.

So I weaved a new fabric, one accepting others’ diverse contributions. Not everyone would want to be a part of my web, and that was okay. I could mesh with those who did.

###

Pair Unbonding by Frank Hubeney

The puzzle pieces didn’t mesh together. Robert thought something was missing.

One: Robert’s girlfriend, Sylvia, spent the weekend with Paul.

Two: Sylvia discovered Paul already had a girlfriend.

Three: Sylvia’s girlfriends advised her to go back to Robert. “He’ll get over it.” He’s better than nothing.

Robert heard of autistic people who could see the hidden patterns of puzzle pieces. They could fix intractable problems, but Janice wasn’t autistic nor was she motivated to solve such puzzles. Her approach was simpler. She become the missing piece and made a blanket from the others to keep her and Robert warm.

###

Mesh by Judy E Martin

The metallic clanking appeared to be coming from the kitchen. “PETE, what are you doing?”

Silence, then more clanking with additional thudding. Irritated, Sarah got out of bed, went to the bathroom then headed downstairs for some water to moisten her dry mouth.

“I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOOOOOOO.” Dear God, not the singing! Opening the kitchen door Sarah’s stomach growled at the aroma of frying bacon, her eyes then drawn to the discarded egg shells, and crumbs from a semi hacked loaf.

“Fanshy a shnack?” Sensing disapproval Pete apologised. “Shorry, I sheem to have made a bit of a mesh!”

###

Mesh Unit by Bill Engleson

“Mesh me?”

“Not much. Oh, did I mishear you?”

“No, I misspoke.”

“Ah.”

I am silent.

I want to remember.

Montreal.

“She’ll put you up,” Terri had said.

“She’s only met me once.”

“Don’t worry. I noticed the spark. You’ll be like lox and cream cheese.”

It was a bitter winter. The Greyhound was having heating issues.

Her dark hair, unfathomably red lips, welcoming arms, met me at the terminal.

“It’s small,” she said. “We’ll have to share…everything.”

“I have little,” I said, “So that should be easy.”

One winter.

Now, a fuzzy memory.

It’s amazing how moments fly.

###

Mesh in Shadorma by Lady Lee Manila

common mesh
their memories mesh
history
together
caught in a mesh of crosses
and double crosses

like a shoal
herrings trashed in net
play on fears
of unknown
reality of nature
form intricate mesh

interesting
family structure
complex mesh
hierarchy
mesh of power equations
conflicts between them

he and she
her frame mesh with his
flawlessly
fingers mesh
his heart beats with hers, in time
like no tomorrow

harmony
almost feel her warmth
in concord
in rhythm
between them there’s just one soul
synchronize breathing

together
be in harmony
ebony
and ivory
together make sweet music
and forever more

###

Flash Fiction by Susan Sleggs

“Melding two people in marriage is like weaving your personalities into a strong mesh. Today I know your special mesh is as fine as Lilly’s wedding veil. It is my duty to warn you, life will present trials that will stretch the spaces and even create holes. Disputes can be about anything from how to raise your children, to spend money, or deal with your in-laws. I challenge you to never let your mesh get a hole in it. Do you accept my challenge?”

The reverend eyed the bride’s family as the naive couple answered in unison, “We do.”

###

Meshed by Ritu Bhathal

Sitting together in the backseat, our fingers met and slowly entwined. Our eyes met and a smile spread across our faces.

It had been a big day today. Emotional, but worth every tear I had shed.

After vows had been taken, congratulations had been exchanged, music and merriment, feasting and festivities had finished, the final goodbyes had started.

Looking back, I saw my family waving. Looking forward, his family held their arms open, welcoming me.

It was then I realised that there was no them and us, but two families, forever meshed together because of our love and union.

###

Bridging the Gap by Reena Saxena

“I can take you to the doctor, if needed.”

This was his first sentence spoken to her after three months. The marriage was shaky. But, Tisha was not willing to give up so easily. It was an ego battle, more than anything else. She was secretly happy that he had been watching her growing unease with the old spinal problem.

“I don’t think it is that bad. A good back rub might ease the tense nerves.”

“I’ll fix an appointment for you with the physiotherapist.”

Shucks! She had managed to break the glass, but the mesh was still there.

###

Not Today by Sherri Matthews

I knocked once: waited; then again. No sound. I checked my phone. Nothing. I drew a deep breath and knocked again; at last I saw his outline through the mottled glass pane. He hadn’t opened the door yet, but I knew it would be a bad day. Rain fell, steady and cold. He must have heard it, yet he took an age to find his key while I got soaked. I watched him shuffle, shoulders slumped, to the door and I wondered when I would see him sharp and clear again, no longer through shadowed mesh. But not today.

###

Fleecing Lint by JulesPaige

As a teenager, Holly got local job. Certainly not something
that was going to be a career – working at the corner dry-
cleaners and laundromat. The chemical smell was horrid.
And people literally dropped off their dirty laundry by the
pound. Pockets had to be checked, and stains had to be
noted in case they couldn’t be removed.

A ‘perk’ was cleaning the dryers mesh lint traps. Sometimes
loose change could be found. Holly did not feel obliged to
report these treasures to the owners. She felt she deserved
that can of pop or candy bar gotten from chump change.

###

The Mesh by Cheryl Oreglia

I admit these baby blues screen me from the more painful realities of life. They are the mesh I stand behind, like bars of a prison, some days I’m looking in, and others I’m looking out. A sacred veil of sorts, or stained glass window that matches the sky, this is the sanctuary from which I view the world. Unlike contacts, I can’t remove them, especially when they fail to serve me, grooming my ignorance, and blurring my wisdom. My mesh is invisible to me, but not to the outside world, an ideological screen interwoven with human fallibility.

###

Strong Foundations by Nora Colvin

Jamie heard the vehicles; the doors slam; then men’s voices. He looked to his mum. She smiled and nodded. Dad was already there, giving instructions.

“Watch, but don’t get in the way,” he’d said.

Clara arrived, breathless. “What’s happenin’?”

“Carport. Pourin’ the slab,” he answered. “That’s the frame. Keeps it in shape.”

Beep. Beep. Beep. The concrete truck backed into position.

The men quickly spread the mix, then lifted the mesh into place.

“Makes it strong,” said Jamie.

Another load of mix was spread.

“All done,” said Jamie.

Later, in the sandpit, the children experimented with strengthening their structures.

###

The Volcano by Robbie Cheadle

Craig wanted a volcano island play set. Mom said she would show him how to make one. She bought a wooden board and the makings for paper mache. First, Mom made the basic shape of the volcano out of some wire mesh which she bent into a hump-like shape. Then, they made the paper mache out of water, wood glue and newspaper, torn into strips. Mom showed Craig how to pack the soggy, gluey newspaper over the mesh hump and shape it into a volcano. It took a week to dry and then they painted it. It was impressive.

###

Between Here and There (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni trailed a finger across the mesh. The screened box rested empty, all the dry artifacts now collected. Her vision blurred. The mesh veils the place between here and there. The thought startled Danni. No, the mesh is a tool. She shook off her stupor and focused on the Styrofoam trays that contained shards of crockery, broken glass and rusty square nails. After transporting sixty-seven trays to the lab, she flicked off the lights. In the dark, she thought again about space and time. If material items and bones remain, where does the energy of the spirit depart to?

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Dad was the mesh that held us together.

Now he’s gone and the hole he left has grown wider, more ragged, more irregular.

Try as I might to fix it, mend it or patch it, short of replacing the entire thing I was on a hiding to nothing.

But nothing could ever replace Dad.

The fresh and new didn’t fit, so wrapped and warped in their own lives they didn’t know the man who was my father, my rock. Stories had no meaning, no memories.

Now not even the framework remains. It lies broken and discarded, forgotten and empty.

###

The Porch Between by D. Avery

“Kid, why you got them tools and that mesh screenin’?”

“Feelin’ like doin’ somethin’ nice for Shorty, gonna screen in the front porch where ever’one sets ‘n tell stories.”

“Why?”

“Ta keep mosquitos ‘n such from botherin’ us.

“Ya could, an’ this bein’ fiction an’ all you might even do a real fine job.”

“Yep.”

“But Kid, this bein’ fiction an’ all, we can jes’ say we ain’t got skeeters.”

“That a fact?”

“Yep. ‘Cause this’s fiction.”

“Like alternate facts?”

“Yep.”

“So no skeeters.”

“And an unimpeded view from Shorty’s porch.”

“Things look good from here.”

“That’s a fact.”

###

Thanksgiving by D. Avery

“Whatcha got there, Kid?”

“Vittles.”

“Lemme guess. Got yerself a mess a bacon.”

“Nope, I got carrots.”

“An’ yer gonna roast ‘em, wrapped in bacon.”

“Nope. Jes’ carrots.”

“Oh, boy, here we go. Let’s hear it then.”

“What?”

“The whinin’ an’ lamentin’ about the dearth of bacon here at the ranch.”

“Dearth?”

“Dearth, Kid, lack, scarcity.”

“Well, Pal, there is no scarcity. D’ Earth provides. Look at these beautiful carrots I pulled from d’ earth. Here, I’m giving you some.”

“Uh, thanks.”

“Yep, I’m givin’ thanks. I’m thankful fer ever’one at the ranch, an’ fer Shorty’s raw carrots.”

###

The Real Nanjo Castille

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…You killed my father, Nanjo Castille…Prepare to die!”

When writer Liz Husebye Hartmann left that opening line in her comments to the November 9 writing prompt, it promised more creative fun to follow from the Rough Writers & Friends at Carrot Ranch.

During the Flash Fiction Rodeo #2 : Little & Laugh, we discovered a literary side to one of the spammers at Carrot Ranch (the often strange keyword bait calls that end up in our Askimet or other spam folders). It gave us a chuckle, which was the point of the contest. However, Mr. Castille blew the word count.

Not to mention he doesn’t pass the spam test (read more at the SPAM PSA post). Yet you won’t want to miss these robust responses from clever, witty, thoughtful and brilliant writers searching for Nanjo’s identity in the literary world.

The following stories are based on the November 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille.

***

Aegean Dream by Sherri Matthews

Sunset diamonds scattered bright the Aegean Sea.

Summer warmed my bare shoulders there, high above the glassy plain beneath the ancient Pepper Tree.

Sea Nymph’s breeze whispered tales of gods and glory and the Minotaur while I clutched his words to my chest: scrawled on yellowed paper he declared his ageless love while I dreamt.

I listened for his voice through the rustle of the small, crisp leaves; for the step to his music as I followed my pan piper.

‘I am Nanjo Castille’, he breathed into my hair.

I reached to touch him.

But he was never there.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Thanks for coming in, Mr. Castille. Have a seat.

Thank you.

What are you doing?

I’m taking the chair.

No, I meant to sit in.

What is good for Gestapo is good for gander, right?

I don’t think that’s it.

Nice for you having me at your bored meeting. Very FAQ. Very yawn introducing.

Right. About the bags.

The bags, yes. $10 apiece.

Are they knock-offs?

Fine, I can do $20. Would you like the Ralphie Doppelganger or Tommy Realfinger? Also have her fumes.

Perfumes?

Top merch. At my house. Very aware. Aware house indeed.

I’ll be in touch.

###

The Anagrammer by Juliet Nubel

She looked at her screen and let out a huge, belly-filled hoot.

She had done it. Fooled them all. She laughed harder as she pictured them imagining her as Nanjo Castille. Could they see a wide sombrero hat and thick stripy poncho?

Where was mousey Ms Stelliac now? Never one to joke around at school she was making up for it now. On their blogs and in these contests. She was the Queen of Pranks.

They had even missed the last clue in the text – a second anagram, Najno.

Joann grinned from ear to ear. Spamming was such fun!

###

A Day in the Life of Nanjo Castille by Irene Waters

Nanjo stretches in the one room he shares with his mother and ten siblings. Rarely does he get to lie in past 5am.

“Nanjo. You get your good for nuttin’ butt in here NOW.” His mother’s voice is angry but weak from hunger. “We gotta clear out Choco Caramel, Coochi, Ralphiger and Verskatche today. You get your arse on the street and start sellin’.’”

“Ma I think Duparts will come through today.”

“Out!”

Nanjo stepped outside with his goods. He hated begging on the street corners. Preferred the internet.” Cameras whirred. Questions buzzed. Fame from form. “You give’em me bitchcoin.”

###

A Job for Nanjo? by Nora Colvin

The parents waited.

Start positive, she reminded herself.

“Nanjo has a wonderful imagination.”

They smiled.

“Very creative too, especially with spelling and punctuation.”

They exhaled.

“Has trouble understanding money though, and his knowledge of number facts is non-existent – “ she hesitated, then continued quietly. “I can’t think of any employer who’d have him.”

“Pardon?”

“I mean, employment, suited to his – ah – special skills.”

She cracked.

“I’m sorry. Your son is unemployable. His spelling and grammar is atrocious. He can’t even spell his own name, for god’s sake! I don’t think he could even get a job as a spammer!”

###

Can dei;ver by D. Avery

The ‘student of concern’ meeting was heated.

“Well”, said the ELA teacher, “His spelling and grammar are low even for a second language student. He doesn’t even try.”

“Sure he does. He tries to jerk your chain. This kid is smarter than you think. Just looking for attention.”

“Yes, I agree. The kid does ok in math. Great flexible thinking and problem solving.”

“That may be, but this kid’s behavior alarms me. He has no empathy and no boundaries. I worry he’s going to grow up to be a sociopath.”

“Right. And Nanjo Castille could become president.”

###

Nanjo’s New Pitch by Michael

In a small darkened room in the basement of his parent’s home Nanjo sits at his computer wishing more than anything to be a writer. He has learning issues, he knows that, but with the aid of his spell checker, he is making every post a winner. He was told, the purpose of a good writer is to make your reader believe you are who you say you are.

Today he has an idea: “Its Chewsday, I wan tell yous all about a grate deel, sex for the price of one.” Nanjo sits back pleased with his opening statement.

###

Nanjo Castille by Telling Stories Together

“Several consumer surveys have shown,” said Nanjo Castille, “that having a human name helps customers identify with our brand.”

“Okay,” said Detective Merrick, “but I’m gonna call you by your model number, NAN-50.”

“As you wish, officer,” said Nanjo, “perhaps a handbag for the missus?”

Merrick produced a hologram photo from his trench coat. “Have you seen this girl? Name’s Cheryl Wei.”

“No,” said Nanjo, and held up one of the handbags, “but this is a very popular purchase among our sixteen to twenty-one demographic.

Merrick inspected the tag, and in that instant drew his sidearm. It read “Cheryl”.

###

The Real Nanjo Castille by Rita Bhathal

Her dad had always been terrible at writing.

Downfall of being a doctor.

When he went to register her birth, instead of stating Margot, he handed them a scrap of paper to read, seeing as he’d wet the baby’s head a little too much the night before.

And so, Nanjo Castille came into existence.

It was obviously an omen.

She was diagnosed with dyslexia as a secondary school student, but help came too late. Reading and writing were never her strong point.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining…

She’s now the most popular human spam bot in existence!

###

The Clone by Robbie Cheadle

It had sounded like such a good idea when her friend’s husband, an expert on human genetics, had suggested that she clone herself. A clone would be useful and could do all the social media and other marketing paraphernalia that was expected of her, as a writer, and which she currently didn’t have time for.

Little did she know that Nanjo Castille would soon become unsatisfied with playing a supporting role in her life. The clone’s ambitions soon became apparent when she entered her own short story into a flash fiction competition and was identified as a potential spammer.

###

Mysterious by Reena Saxena

The Real Nanjo Castille had enticed kids for more than a decade. It was the mystery surrounding his existence that built up his charm. He would appear as a gymnast in the circus, a clown or be seen entertaining kids in local schools and events.

Walt Disney wanted to buy the rights, seeing the popularity of the character.The meeting did not happen. Folklore goes that it was not one person, but several appearing with identical masks and outfits. The creator of the myth chose to remain in anonymity.

What could be the reason for turning down a profitable deal?

###

Fatal Error by Ann Edall-Robson

“What have you done?”

“I’ve been watching you. It didn’t look hard. I created a name and took a run at it. ”

“But why, when I promised I’d help you set everything up to sell your bags?”

“I’m old, impatient, and I don’t see what the big deal is. It still turns on and off.”

“It’s not a light switch, it’s my computer. The one I’m writing my next book on.”

“If you were going to show me how to use it, you should be able to fix it!”

“Oooohhhh, Nana Jo Castle, if only it were that easy.”

###

The Story of Nanjo by Joe Owens

Nanjo drummed his fingers on the desk as his to slow laptop churned away at the internet address. He knew the latest rodeo deadline quickly approached and he wanted in.

“Five minutes!” he exclaimed when his screen finally held the needed information.

Nanjo typed so fast, too fast, relying on his newly installed bargain auto-correct to save him. In the bottom right corner his screen continue to tick away the time, adding to his panic. He checked the word count, but there was no room to explain his situation. His entry would look like this.

“Oh well!”

###

The Different Sides of Me by Susan Sleggs

I Nanjo Castille sit in my office staring at funeral home handouts. When with the public, I am calm, reassuring, kind and almost stoic. The mourning around me is not my own. When time permits, I write nonsensical flash fiction that looks like spam and submit it to Carrot Ranch. It eases the pain I see on a daily basis. I absolutely hate good-byes, those of others or my own. At day’s end, I loose my tied back hair, hang the suit up, and ride the long way home on my Harley enjoying the smells and sights of life.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Nanjo Castille was a member of a street band.

He wasn’t very good, but what he lacked in talent he more than made up for in personality and enthusiasm.

Nanjo had got his name due to a typing error on a Music Hall billboard which his mother had thought ‘cute’. It didn’t help that his father was the banjo player originally given top billing and had legged it as soon as it was discovered Nanjo was on the way.

His Mom had died three years ago and his busking friends had offered him a home.

He played the tambourine.

###

The Real Nanjo Castille by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Blat of mule’s bray, and Nanjo rattled into the village square. People grumbled, crowding the buckboard wagon. They’d been waiting since dawn. The stench of unwashed clothes hung heavy in the morning heat.

“Sorry, sorry!” Nanjo called. “My last stop had dire need of my services, but I’ve saved my best for you!”

He reached behind him and flipped a tarp back. The crowd gasped at the rows of golden bars gleaming in the sun.

“Accept no substitutes! The Real Nanjo Castille soap, a heavenly marriage of Greek olive oil and Viking lye, will cure all your laundry ills!”

###

The Funeral by Frank Hubney

Senor Nanjo Castille sat alone in the church except for his bodyguards. No one else dared attend. They crossed the line this time.

As the Mass for the Dead progressed his business adversary’s money laundering restaurant was destroyed. Twelve dead. The warehouse was next. Fourteen dead. Then the offices. One hundred dead.

In his adversary’s desperation the expected fight around the church began. It lasted ten minutes.

When the service ended Senor Castille walked behind the caskets outside the church and viewed the mess in the street. Then he went to the cemetery to bury his wife and daughter.

###

What’s a Body to Do? by Bill Engleson

Hank looked down at the latest donation.

“Bit grizzled, Phil. None of his organs will be top quality…”

“Check his pockets. See if he’s go a name.”

“Huh, waddayaknow? A bloody diary. Here’s the name. Nanjo Castille!”

“Not from around here, I guess.”

“Small mercies. What’s it say?”

“Okay… ‘My name is Nanjo Tyrone Castille. At the orphanage, they said I’d been left outside the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena on December 25, 1947. The Captain from Castile was playing. Two nuns, Sisters Nancy and Josephine found me…’

“That’s it?”

“The rest is blank?”

“Yup!”

“Odd.”

“Great movie, though.”

“Agreed.”

###

“To Tell The Truth” by JulesPaige

There they were, three people on the panel. All claimed to be Nanjo Castille. Each of the four Judges got to ask questions. Charli, Geoff, Sherri and Norah.

Norah started with; “Where did you go to school? Your Grammar and spelling are atrocious.

“Hard Knocks,” said One.

Geoff quipped through tears of laughter; “Where’d you come up with ‘Bitchcoin’?

“My dog had puppies,” said Two.

Sherri wondered out loud; “What bridge do you troll under?”

“Took over from the Billies…” said Three

Charli queried; “Did you know you remind me of Lake Michigan?”

“We know!” The ‘Three’ said in Unison.

###

Musing on a Spammer by FloridaBorne

Not everyone has his dream fulfilled, but for one man this represented the culmination of a life well-lived.

The panelists on “To Tell The Truth,” singers and a politician, were easily fooled. An impeccable liar, he was delighted they’d chosen another.

“Will The Real Nanjo Castille please stand up.”

The man at the other end knew a lot about spamming, that was certain, but he wasn’t a billionaire who had built an empire.

Nanjo stood, so proud and confident, until the man at the end laughed and whispered, “I’m a hacker. You’ve just donated your entire fortune to charity.”

###

Nanjo Castille: All the Places by Anne Goodwin

You didn’t see me, as you set off for the fells from your tents and your smart hotels. You didn’t see me, from your government palaces, as you closed the steelworks and pits. You didn’t hear me when you moved the call centres to India where graduates paid a pittance had better English accents than mine. You didn’t smell, from your barn conversions by the lakeside, the stench of slime and shit and sorrow.

See me now, friends, brothers, strangers! See the blood, the bone, the bullet holes. Hear the sirens. Smell the fear. Remember my name: Nanjo Castille.

###

Unknown Soldier by Geoff Le Pard

Mary shivered, regretting her choice of coat. Remembrance Day parades brought back memories of the cold like no other.

As the last note of The Last Post drifted away, Mary read the names on the War Memorial. She’d never studied them before. Two Thompsons, three Greys and Nanjo Castille. Now that was an odd name for a Surrey village in 1918.

Who was he? Spanish immigrant? South American dissident? Did anyone else see his name and wonder? Maybe a writer would take it to embed it in a story, giving him a life beyond his current chiselled anonymity.

###

Historical Fiction View 1 by Gordon Le Pard

The French General read the letter and smiled, the English were on the run.

“This Nanjo Castille is certainly our best agent, he seems to know exactly what they are doing. We march at dawn.”

“But the reinforcements and supplies haven’t arrived.”

“Read the message, they are demoralised, they have lost supplies, it will be the victory we need if we can catch them soon.”

Two weeks later, as he looked across the ruins of the army at the impregnable defences, the Lines of Torres Vedras, he cursed Nanjo Castille.

“Find him, kill him, he has cost us Spain.”

###

Historical Fiction View 2 by Gordon Le Pard

Wellington looked across the battlefield at the retreating French, they had fallen into his trap and been decisively defeated.

“I never thought they would believe it.”

“Ever since we broke their codes we have been able to deceive them. But I must admit that the success of Nanjo Castille was unexpected.”

“Who is Nanjo Castille?” Wellington asked.

The spymaster pointed to two clerks.

“NAthaNiel Chalk and JOhn Castle. They made that name up out of their own names, and the French swallowed everything.”

He laughed, “We march at dawn, if all goes well, Nanjo Castille will have freed Spain.”

###

Interviewing the Real Nanjo Castille by Charli Mills

Danni pressed record, fluffing the sound muffler Ike called “The Muppet.” Today, she had access to living history. An elderly man called “The Real Nanjo Castille.”

Wrinkled and shrunken, he hunched beneath a blanket in a wheelchair. “I was born the year they assassinated my father, Pancho Castille.”

“1923. What were you told about your father?”

“He was a great revolutionary. He captured Buffalo Soldiers after Americans attacked our border towns.”

“Wasn’t it the other way around? Castille’s forces attacked US towns, stealing gold coins and burning a purse factory.”

“Why interview me if you already know the story?”

###

Freedom by Colleen Chesebro

The sun slipped behind the mesa. Nanjo Castille dropped to the ground, thankful for the shade. His travels from Mexico to Arizona had kept him on the run from U.S. Border Agents and the Federales. Yet, real freedom was worth the risks. Selling knock-off designer purses on the streets of Tijuana had been his downfall. If he could make it to California, he was home free.

In the coolness, Nanjo slept; never hearing the agent creep up on him. When he awoke, he was handcuffed. From the window of the truck, he watched his chance at freedom evaporate.

###

An Order for Nanjo Castille by Judy E Martin

Dear Mr Castle, or can I call you Nando?

I heard you have some classy bags and perfumes for sale for a tenner. I am after a Christmas prezzie for my mum and she can’t stand that Coco Caramel, but is rather partial to Optimum. I think John Paul Goatier’s perfume in that bottle-shaped like a girdle would suit her better. Oh, and I need a handbag for my sisters. Have you got any of them Blueberry or Herman’s ones in stock? I’m prepared to pay you twenty quid for the lot! Let me know, please.

Jef Leppard

###

And…from…The Real Nanjo Castille…

The Sales Pitch (spam edited to 99 words) by The Real Nanjo Castille

Dear Mr Chalres and Mrs Gerar Depardue, hi Nanjo.
Iget new email as lAst email say bammed as span.
I nanjo. Not Spanbomb. Spanbomb say “Hello. Is there anything you need any editional assistants wtih?” ectrestera. >>>>no wrories forgive I forgie.
>>>>but perfemes/ is nwo at premeim. for you.nO?
You dont >>>>>>>>>>want Perseus?and Bags? sUperier than orgininal? Not that ether.
Wait.
I no wat you want, you 2 wthi dongle tehchnoelgoy:
Hi-edn forch lift truc; parts?. Letme say how thirs owrks for toughguy lyk u,Mr Xharles Mils:

Run now before boss sees me sales pitch.
By bni. Najnno/Project Shipping

Editor’s Note: Nanjo struggled with the 99-word constraint, which continues to be his Achilles Heel. This had to be cut down from 206 words. And yes, he really did respond! If Nanjo wants a second career as a humorist, he needs to get a legitimate email, website and a more transparent purpose.

Of Porches & Chairs

Like another dimension, the porch invites us across the threshold. We can obverse the world from here. Or be observed. Every porch needs a chair to complete this transportation from the world.

Writers explored the world of a porch with a chair this week. As you might suspect, the responding stories include many different porches. Cross over and read awhile.

The following stories are based on the November 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story a chair on a porch.

***

The Red Chair by Lisa Listwa

Rob’s heart beat faster as he parked his pickup and climbed the steps to the porch. The little red chair sitting in the corner couldn’t be the same one he lost years ago, but he had to ask.

It had been his dad’s chair first, then his. Rob couldn’t remember if it was lost by accident or thrown away on purpose, but he wished he still had it. The same could be said of his dad, if truth be told.

He knocked.

“Ma’am?” he said to the woman behind the screen door, “I was wondering about the red chair…”

###

Just Her Size by Kerry E.B. Black

The sight nearly made Kai cry. A child-sized wooden rocking chair for which she’d searched.

“Just what the doctor ordered.”

Literally.

Kai didn’t haggle, simply handed over the asked for amount and hugged the chair with possessive eagerness. It fit between the pediatric wheelchair and the unused walker in her van’s trunk.

She set it beside their fireplace, certain the view included access to the television and allowed for easy conversation. When her daughter arrived home from school, Kai ushered her inside.

The child squealed with delight. A chair just her size which could help improve her muscle control.

###

Chair on the Porch by Deborah Lee

Lora steps out of the SUV and inhales deeply, the scent of dead leaves and humus and apples, oddly enough. She doesn’t remember apple trees around here.

She picks through brambles to the overgrown cabin. How many years since anyone has been here, this jewel in the woods, where they used to hide from civilization?

She eases into the cobwebbed chair on the tiny porch. She has just settled her gaze on the autumn-brilliant tree line when a splintering crash lands her on the plank boards.

Maybe you can go home again, but you have to fix it first.

###

A Chair on the Porch by Ruchira Khanna

“Maggi!”

No response.

“Can’t find the girl anywhere in the house. Aha! Must be on the porch on her old ragged chair.” Mom muttered as she stepped towards the patio.

“Cathedra, Alison did not invite me to her b’day party and instead poked fun at my dress.”

Maggi whimpered as she caressed the arm of the chair.

“She is not my friend anymore!”

Wiping her tears, “But you will always be my pal since you are here to listen to my pain and joys.”

Mom overheard and changed her opinion. She was now in awe of the chair!

###

Rock On by Sherri Matthews

Rain pelted the window like small stones.

“Will Jax find his way home in this?” Andy ran his face across his sleeve in a failed attempt to stem his tears.

“Oh Honey, he’s a cat, no amount of rain will keep him away.”

“But mama…” Andy wailed.

A tap came at the door. Then another; and again. Rhythmic. It took a few more before mother realised it was the tap of the rocking chair on the porch.
She edged open the door and found a soggy ball of Jax fur curled up on the rocker like he’d never left.

###

Empty Rocker by Diana Ngai

John sank into the porch rocker, pulling a blanket over his lap; the cat looked to John expectantly. “I miss her, too,” he whispered as he reached to scratch its furry chin. John closed his eyes and recalled they way she snuggled in his lap as they read stories and rocked together. Later, at ten-years-old, she had sat and read on her own.

The rocker had been empty for almost a year now; no one had dared to disturb the dust. But, today’s news reported another bullet, another daughter taken. John came back to the chair and wept.

###

Flash Fiction by Ritu Bhathal

Nanna would always be sat there in her chair on the porch.

I would spend hours with her, sat at her feet as a child, playing with my dolls, or reading a book. Sometimes she’d read me a story.

As I got older, she was still there, my sounding board, always giving me sage, simple advice for any problems I was facing.

Today I really need her. It’s a big step I’m about to take. I only wish she was still here…

Looking over, the empty rocking chair slowly creaks, as if encouraging me.

See, she is still here.

###

Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

Growing up in the south, porches extended around the house and windows were so large that breezes flew freely through each room. Shotgun doors meant you could run from the front yard to the back in a straight line and race through trees surrounding the house with shade.

Grandma sat in her rocker watching a golden sun pour across the earth from the front door. We awoke to her rocker creaking near our back porch window.
Nowadays, people cut all the trees down, have a few small windows, use air-conditioning, and complain about the heat. I miss common sense.

###

Porch by Judy E. Martin

Amelia sank into the overstuffed chair which enveloped her body with warmth.

“The, ahem, Doctor will be with you shortly, Miss.”

Nervously, twisting her rings, Amelia’s stomach lurched contemplating what she was about to do.

Distracting herself from the pounding in her head, she glanced around the porch. Comfortable and homely, like any other house in a pleasant neighbourhood. Only it wasn’t. The odorous smell of bleach pervaded the room; Amelia shuddered.

“How many desperate women had sat on this chair awaiting their fate?”

“Good morning Ms Johnson.”

“It’s Sergeant actually. I am arresting you on suspicion of murder…”

###

Where Stories Begin by Charli Mills

Between Danni and the front door sagged a small front porch. Inside the cabin lived a former log-skidder. Rumor had it Old Man Moe was blind, but his stories of the Great Fires of 1910 remained vivid.

“Take a chair,” spoke a voice behind her.

Danni startled, not hearing the man with foggy eyes ride up on a mule. “Moe, I’m the Forest Service archeologist.”

Moe slid from the saddle as if sighted, and walked confidently up the decrepit stairs to one of two rickety wooden chairs. He patted the one next to him. “Stories begin here Doc Gordon.”

###

The Chair on the Porch by Crystal Cook

When the autumn winds blew, the old rocking chair came to life and creaked a ghostly sound, familiar and comforting.

Through the window she watched the weathered wooden armrest gently come into view and disappear again, like the ebb and flow of her memories.

When she closed her eyes, she’d imagine him sitting there with the Sunday paper on his lap, rocking to the rhythm of her beating heart.

She tolerated the still, summer days knowing the season would soon enough change and the winds would come, bringing with them, her fading memory of him.

###

The Notice by Colleen Chesebro

Zane leaned back in his chair. He popped a handful of sunflower seeds into one side of his mouth while spitting out the shells with the other. Zane had much to mull over, and the porch offered no judgments.

The government warning said using Neonicotinoids in the seed treatments for the wheat crop was the reason the bees were dying. It was nonsense, and it rankled against his understanding of how insecticides worked.

He was a farmer, and the Feds didn’t know how to grow wheat. He ripped up the notice and let the scraps blow in the wind.

###

Porch Settin by Elliott Lyngreen

The porch swing was made of logs. There, Elsie passed fyre to the aromatic Heather Glastonbury like a powerful message.

Patrick Hamilton and Bowen traded cards for beer sips on a capstone.

Garrison Grantley discussed various lyrics stemmed from radio speakers perfectly screened through, surrounding Chuck Koehler’s deep reflections.

“Wanna hit, Lynk?” Laurian softened me as the flame recourse around the ledges and wide opening at the stairs from one to the next within arms reaches.

The metronome swinging, sneaked the crumbling indifference exchanging Elsie’s dreams for Heather’s observation of the traffic and streetlights forming a smiley face.

###

The Chair by Hugh Roberts

As the sun set, Agatha Brunell sat in her favourite chair knowing that her life was about to end.

Her sixty-nine years of life had been amazing. She’d never allowed anyone to get the better of her. Now, however, she knew it was time to leave her favourite lumpy chair for the very last time.

“Goodbye, chair,” she said, as she placed the gun to her head. “You were my saviour and the perfect place to hide the hair of my victims.”

As the police closed in, the sound of the gun told them they were too late.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Emotional blackmail, cheating spouses, bootleg liquor, illicit meetings, pregnant minors whisked away in the middle of the night, moonlight flits to avoid debt collectors, whispered secrets, drunken brawls, child and animal abuse. The list was endless.

There was only one witness.

The creaking rocking chair gave him away and he was found murdered in it on his porch, his throat slit from ear to ear.

The owner of number 12 thought he’d got away with it as there was no evidence.

As he beat his wife for burning his supper, the chair on the porch creaked and started to rock.

###

The Porch by Annette Rochelle Aben

Don walked his faithful companion of 18 years across the street. He and Duke were just going to sit on the white, wicker rocker until Nancy got home from work.

Making himself comfortable, Don looked back at the unfamiliar house he had just come out of and wondered who lived there. The warm, late summer sun was going behind Nancy’s house and it was chilly. He knew she’d be home soon.

Lori turned onto her street and noticed Don and Duke on her porch. They appeared to be napping, just like they did most days since her mom’s funeral.

###

Montressor House by Stephanie Ascough

Penelope found the chair on the old house’s back porch. Strange, for an armchair to sit outside a historical museum. She looked over her shoulder. The tour guide’s muffled voice faded behind the porch door.

“I feel like Goldilocks,” Penelope said. The armchair enveloped her in the deep, cushioned seat. Over the railing, sunlight sparkled on the lake and the skyscrapers of downtown. A splash caught her attention. Was it the famed lake monster of Montressor House? Penelope squinted, scanning the water eagerly when the voice spoke. Downtown disappeared in sudden mist.

“Well, you know what happened to Goldilocks.”

###

Serenity Steeple Chase by Ruth Cox

In the dark of night while sitting alone on the front porch in an old rocking lawn chair I find I feel serenity. I need only look to the sky; chase the steeple with mine eyes.

Mesmerized by the sight of the light, I am mindful of the moment.

At the steeple of peace I stare as I rock to and fro in my chair. Back and forth, and once again.

I pause, listen to the nothingness in the still of the night.

Silence steals my serenity.

Come Sunday morning this girl’s going to church!

###

The Old Chair by Michael

When his dad died, and he inherited the house, there were so many reminders of his dad. The one that impacted on him the most was the old wicker chair on the front porch. It was here that his dad sat most afternoons watching the neighbourhood go by. The two of them had sat there in his dad’s declining years talking over world issues and reminiscing about the good old days of his childhood. The old chair was plenty worn, but he left it there. He found he needed it there, if made him feel close to his dad.

###

Just in Time by Jack Schuyler

I was told I could find you here, that you never left this shack. And I drove for hours across this God-forsaken plain, to find you sitting there in that chair on the porch. Because you never do leave this shack, and now you never will. The chair is slumped, and your body sprawls uncomfortably limp over its broken frame. Fresh blood seeps from those fatal wounds, fresh bullet holes decorate the wall, and a fresh trail of dust points opposite the way I came.

I came just in time.

Just in time to miss you and your killer.

###

Reclining Line by Line by JulesPaige

On the train heading south, at least when there’s daylight,
one can see a variety of porches. Front and back. As we
rock to the rhythm of the rails we wonder about how they
manage with hearing all the lonesome whistles and rickety
rack noise – however briefly passing at seventy or close to
eighty miles an hour.

How about that old Victorian. White with green trim? Who
sits back and stargazes, or sips their morning brew
wrapped in dew’s shawl?

Part of traveling by train is imagining whose setting a spell,
where. And what they’re thinking as we pass…

###

Three Clinics by Bill Engleson

The first clinic didn’t have a porch. Nestled in the woods, you stepped right in from the trail to a parlour with a small electric heater.

It was very inviting.

The second clinic had a fine porch with three cushioned chairs and looked southwest over the highway. The porch was draped with sweet grapes in the summer and by the sagging limbs of a giant monkey tree year-round.

The third clinic was the second clinic, moved years later to a permanent acre of land a kilometre away. The front porch became the rear porch and sat in permanent shade.

###

Jaded Shade by JulesPaige

This was suppose to be the summer that the porch got
cleaned out. Two or was it three years now that the
space had become a storage unit for her things. Stuff
that had to be removed from her studio apartment. Add
that to leftover toys from children and even boxes from
when the living room was repainted.

In the porch still; birdseed, tools, bikes, and wood stacked
for fireplace use. Along with her chair, now only holding her
memories. Embroidered threads fading, scarred from use,
not worth reupholstering. Was it going to be a winter home
for mice?

###

The Untold by D. Avery

The open porch was curtained by the rain that sheeted off the roof, drilling a trough underneath the eaves. Behind this curtain Hope rocked slightly, pushing against the floorboards with her toes, her father beside her in his chair. A third cane rocker sat empty.

“It’s a good porch”, he said, “Best part of this two-story house.”

“Yup”, agreed Hope. Recognizing the prelude, she looked forward to hearing his stories. Rain drummed the porch roof overhead.

A sudden gust of wind rent the curtain, whipped them with cold rain, rocked the empty chair.

“Daddy, tell a story about Mommy.”

###

Second Story by D. Avery

“I don’t really know that story Hope. That’s for her to tell. When she comes back.”

“She doesn’t tell stories like you do. She’s quiet.”

“Yup.”

“How’d you meet her, Daddy?”

“You know that story Hope. Comin’ back from my fishing trip up in Quebec I picked up a hitchhiker. At the border she had me pretend we were together so she wouldn’t get questioned too much.”

“And after, she said she wanted to keep pretending.”

“Yup.”

“And she came back with you to the farm and you thought she was never gonna leave.”

“Yup. That’s what I thought.”

###

Life Changes by Ann Edall-Robson

You came to me for quiet moments to write your thoughts. We had interludes in our time together when you introduced me to your family as it grew. Boisterous and fun-loving, they clambered over my seat and jumped from my back. Even as the seasons changed, you made time for me. Dusting the leaves away in the fall and clearing the snow in winter. Life changes for all of us. I see you watching me from within your confines, no longer able to make your way down the path to be with me. I miss our time together.

###

Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

She sat in her large wicker chair on the porch. The chair was so large it seemed to envelop her small frame. Her fragile look and small stature belied her strength of spirit. She was the matriarch. The woman who held the threads of the entire family firmly in her delicate hands. It was from her that her girls had learned to cook, sew and clean. It was also from her that they had each developed a love of books and reading and had gained the ambition to become educated. She sat quietly, basking in their admiration and love.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Amy’s friends laughed when she bought the splintered wicker chair at a yard sale. Hideous, they said, much too bulky for her tiny outdoor space. They reminded her how she couldn’t sit still.

But Amy bought the chair, and a flowery cushion to go with it.

And sitting still? Sure, her foot bounced along whenever she read a thriller in the chair. She squirmed and shimmied when a decent song hit Pandora. But her heart did most of the heavy lifting, in that chair, as Amy thought back to those many lazy afternoons on the porch with her grandfather.

###

Supernatural Hair by Anne Goodwin

The chair creaks like old knees, as it rock-a-bye-babys me back and forth, the gentle rhythm drowning my so-much-to-do. Pushed back and farther back, beyond the patio, the rose garden, the vegetable plot. Responsibility retreats beyond the fence, the neighbours’ house, the town. Over fields onto moors and farther, to where the land meets the sea. I could sit and rock and watch the spinach grow.

A clock chimes the work hour. Reluctantly, I rise. And stall. My head jerked back, chairbound by ropes of tangled hair. My supernatural hair knows my needs better than my brain.

###

Porch Lore by Geoff Le Pard

‘Where were you just now?’

‘Hmm?’

‘You were miles away.’

‘I feel I’ve been gone ages.’

‘You had that thousand-mile stare.’

‘Dad was like that. He’d sit on his rocker and disappear somewhere. I used to think how important it must be.’

‘Life, the Universe…’

Mary laughed. ‘And everything. Something like that. I thought if he was that far away it had to be really big.’

‘And you? What were your big thoughts?’

‘Me? I wasn’t thinking about anything, not really. Just an empty head.’

‘I guess sometimes they’re the most profound moments.’

‘I miss him, Paul.’

‘I know.’

###

Chatting on the Porch by Irene Waters

Mormor sat on the porch. The seat Morfar had occupied was vacant. Lillian didn’t remember her grandfather but in her imagination Mormor’s hands intertwined with his, her eyes fluttering and hearts racing. As time past, their hands still held, the glances were loving and hearts beat in happy unison. “Can I join you Mormor?” Her grandmother patted the seat and Lilian sat. She told her about her day at school and the stick insect she’d found on the way home.

“Who you talking to Lilian?” Her mother broke the easy rapport.

“Mormor.”

“Lillian love, she died twelve years ago.”

###

Porch Sittin’ by Norah Colvin

“There you are. What’re you doing out here?”

“Just sitting. Enjoying’ the cool.”

“Everyone’s been looking for you. Will you be coming back inside?”

“Soon.”

“Mind if I sit too?”

“Sure.”

“You thinking about Jim?”

“Mmm.”

“He was a good man.”

“Mmm.”

“It’s near three years now.”

“Today’s his birthday. Would’ve been thirty-six.”

“I know.”

“I still don’t understand –”

“There’s no reason. Wrong place at the wrong time is all.”

“But it’s not fair.”

“Life’s never fair. Will you ever love me like you loved Jim?”

“Oh honey, I do. It’s just hard on his birthday.”

“I know.”

###

A Porch, A Chair, A Dog by Joe Owens

Clara stood in the kitchen sipping her coffee as she studied her husband’s favorite rocker. It remained in its normal place on the porch with his old dog Scout also in his regular place.

Clara could sense Casey, her adult daughter approach on her right. Casey was in to visit, worried about her widowed mother and how she was adjusting.

“He believes Henry will return at any time,” Clara said.

“Poor Scout, he has no idea what ha happened to his master.”

“Nope.”

“How long do you think he’ll wait?”

“Until he is out of days too!”

###

No Goodbye by Juliet Nubel

It was the most beautiful armchair in the whole house. Carefully crafted from a thick coppery leather, it had softened and smoothed since it had left the shop all those years ago. A faded, red, feather-filled cushion sat far back into its spine, rubbed shiny where her back had pressed hard against it every day, for as long as they could all remember.
They would have loved to drop wearily into its comforting warmth, but it had sat empty for months, ever since she had slipped slowly from its embrace onto the cool porch floor, without even saying goodbye.

###

Get It Write by D. Avery

“Kid, what are you doin’?”

“Settin’ up croquet wickets.”

“Croquet? Why?”

“Well, we got lots a folks comin’ by the ranch these days, an I reckon they’ll be lookin’ fer somethin’ ta do, what with the rodeo packin’ up.”

“Croquet?”

“Yeah, croquet. A good, relaxin’ activity. Fer the folks comin’ by the ranch.

“Did ya git bucked, Kid, bump yer head?

“Shorty mentioned somethin’ ‘bout croquet on the ranch.”

“She mentioned crochet, but-”

“Oh yeah, yer right Pal. Crochet and crafting. Well, that’s fine. We can all set on the porch and stitch.”

“Think you dropped a stitch, Kid.”

###

Not Now, I’m Busy

How can a storyteller get by in a busy, busy world? Busyness can distract us from sunsets and tales exchanged over pints or tea. Some feel compelled to find worth in activity, and some stay active as a distraction. The storytellers want you to slow down a minute. Listen. Read.

Writers tackled busyness on the page, taking  time out from busy schedules to craft responses.

The following stories are based on the September 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a busy character.

###

Getting Busy on My First Date by Sarah Brentyn

His tie was blue. A nice enough color. The geometric design wasn’t all that unpleasant. A bit modern for my taste, but not obnoxious.

I suppose it could have been his shirt, with its burgundy basketweave pattern. But, if I’m honest, the whole thing blew up because of his pink paisley jacket.

I couldn’t tell if he was nice enough for me to look past his fashion faux pas.

When my sister asked how the date with her co-worker went, I shrugged, “I have no idea. His clothes were so loud, I couldn’t hear a word he said.”

###

Sometimes I Feel Like I Am Going Crazy by Robbie Cheadle

In this modern world, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.

At work, deadlines, unexpected issues; needing time, needing urgent attention.

An endless cycle.

It sometimes seems relentless, a knot of anxiety in my stomach, as I work through the list of tasks, carefully and exactingly, there is no room for error.

In my dual purpose life, sometimes, I feel like I am going crazy.

At home, husband and children, all needing help, needing time, needing advice.

An endless cycle.

I feel like a monster, driving them on, helping them meet the demands of their high-speed, high-tech lives.

###

The Real Job by Allison Maruska

The fryer beeps its obnoxious repetition. No one addresses it.

“Keri! Get that!” Phil yells from the back.

“I’m busy,” I mutter while shoving burgers into the warming drawer. At the fryer, hot oil hops out with the cooked fries, hitting my arm. “Ow.” I wipe it on my shirt.

“See, honey? That’s why you have to study hard in school, so you can get a real job. One that won’t burn you.”

It’s a woman in line, talking to a child and pointing at me.

I turn away, hiding my eye roll. Yeah, this isn’t a real job.

###

Super Secretary by Anne Goodwin

“Mr Johnson called. Frantic he can’t make his appointment. He wondered if you’d see him at six.” Elaine wrinkled her nose. “I said you finished at five but he said you’d seen him after hours before.”

“Tell him okay.” The guy was too vulnerable to wait another week.

“And that rescheduled team meeting. I can’t find a slot that suits everyone until next month. Apart from Friday.”

Friday: her day off for writing. But writing wasn’t her real work. “We’ll do it Friday. If you can book a room.”

Elaine smiled. Perhaps the meeting rooms would be fully booked.

###

Busy by Robert Kirkendall

Silvio the waiter moved from table to table taking customer’s orders and answering their many questions about the menu. He then ran back to the kitchen, quickly arranged various plates of food onto a serving tray, and ran back out with the tray on his upturned palm. He adroitly sidestepped other servers and bussers on his way to table.

“Waiter!” an obnoxious customer screeched.

Silvio halted and looked down at the customer contemptuously.

“What’s this fly doing in my soup?” the customer demanded as he pointed down at his soup bowl.

Silvio glanced down at the bowl. “The backstroke!”

###

Never Too Busy for Fun by Norah Colvin

After days of endless rain, the chorus of birds and bees urged them outdoors. Mum bustled about the garden; thinning weeds, pinching off dead flowers, trimming ragged edges, tidying fallen leaves, enjoying the sunshine. Jamie, with toddler-sized wheelbarrow and infinite determination, filled the barrow, again and again, adding to the growing piles of detritus. Back and forth, back and forth, he went. Until … leaves crackling underfoot and crunching under wheels, called him to play. Jamie giggled as armfuls scooped up swooshed into the air and fluttered to earth. Mum, about to reprimand, hesitated, then joined in the fun.

###

Tommy’s Nap by Chris Mills

Mary tucked the blanket around six month old Tommy, and his sleepy eyes fluttered like butterfly wings. She needed several hours to catch up on chores.

Laundry was an avalanching mountain peak. Dust bunnies taunted from corners and fled. Dirty dishes called her name, as did toilets, tubs, floors and sills. She flipped mattresses, turned mattresses, chased dust bunnies from under mattresses. Spotted mirrors reflected her weary gaze.

Tommy slept. Mary swept. To-do lists became all-done lists, and the house was just the way she wanted it.

Tommy the teenager walked out of his room and asked about dinner.

###

Jumping Around by FloridaBorne

Plane Crash? I told my doctor not to get married on the 25th of this year, or take flight 25 to Hawaii.

When I’m around, people hurry up and die.

I lived 25 miles north of Barneveld, Wisconsin when a massive tornado jumped past my house and annihilated the center of their town.  I lived 25 miles away from San Francisco in the 1979 Earthquake.  Then, I was in Florida when Hurricane Irma took a giant leap to the left and we missed the hurricane force winds by 25 miles.

That’s it!  I’m done with psychiatrists. They never listen!

###

No Time to Stand and Stare? by Anne Goodwin

A shorter walk today, and no dawdling. Busy busy, lots to do back home.

The squiggle on the path broke her rhythm. Even here, in its natural habitat, an adder was a rare sight. She’d disturbed one once, only a mile away, but it slithered into the bracken before she could distinguish the diamonds on its back. This one seemed to be posing. How close could she get before it reared its head and spat?

A gift. A blessing. She’d stay as long as the snake did. A poor life, if she lacked the leisure to stand and stare.

###

Busy (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

The sun is warm on her face in the cooler air, light penetrating her closed eyelids, turning them incandescent orange. The smells of autumn: decaying leaves, rich earth. Her books make a surprisingly comfortable pillow, lying on the grass on the small quad. Bit of heaven.

A shadow falls across her. She cracks one eye open.

“Brittany,” she says flatly.

“Jane, that calculus is killing me. I need help.”

Jane closes her eye again and points behind her, somewhere. “Math lab’s that way.”

“You’re not doing anything.”

The eye again, a bullet. “Looks may deceive. I am very busy.”

###

Busy by Irene Waters

Dahlia and Rhonda sipped their coffee as they chatted not glancing in Bee’s direction. Yawning, Dahlia swung her legs onto the table. “I’m tired.”

“Why? What have you been doing?”

“Nothing. You almost finished Bee?”

“No. I’ve got tables to set, flowers to arrange and the speaker wants the projector stuff. I’ll have to organise that. Would you set the tables for me? The sooner I get home the better. I’ve got the dogs to walk, dinner to make, the kids to pick up before I come back .”

“Sorry Bee. Too busy. Gotta go. See you tonight. Coming Rhonda?”

###

Houseproud by Pensitivity

The last of the shopping had been put away, and the house was as neat as a pin.

She’d done all the washing and ironing, and prepared dinner in the kitchen.

No time to relax though, just a shower and then off to visit.

She got to the hospital and her mother’s bed was enclosed in a curtain.

The family emerged from behind it.

They looked tired.

‘Where were you? She was asking for you.’

‘I was busy. How is she?’

‘It doesn’t matter now. She died half an hour ago.’

Being houseproud is a heavy burden to bear.

###

Busy-Bee by Kalpana Solsi

Aunt Charlotte being a very fastidious person, I am on tenterhooks about a slip.

The brownies and cookies are baked to perfection. Darjeeling tea is ready to be brewed. The expensive crockery is laid on the table. The curtains match with sofa upholstery.

How did I miss this? I station the wooden-stool and hitch my dress high to climb despite feeling giddy. I am busy cleaning the ceiling-fan. The landline-phone springs to life.

I lower myself huffing, losing my balance to fall on the phone. I just pick the receiver.

“Okay Aunt”, I mumble.

She has cancelled her visit.

###

Busy With a Purpose by Reena Saxena

I returned home one evening to find newspapers torn into neat little vertical strips, and piled into a heap. Somebody had perfected the technique to get pieces of a similar shape and size, and taught others how to do it. The effort was laudable, as there was no lofty purpose behind doing it. The doers were just learning.

They were three cute kittens, whose mother had chosen us to look after them. They did not own any tools, other than their teeth and nails. I saw them expand the efforts to other needed skills.

Hats off to the spirit!

###

Flash Fiction by Kerry E. B. Black

“What’re you talking about?” The woman’s cheeks darkened and her voice raised. “The white buffalo. What have you done with her?”

Maurya wiped the spray from her cheek and ignored the taunts from the towns folk. She walked into the mushroom cave. A circle of fungi had formed, but hoof prints smashed the closest mushrooms into the compost. Maurya moved her hands in a warding symbol.

“I think I know where she’s gone.”

The town elder tottered to loom over Maurya. “Since it’s your place that lost her and your mind that knows where she’d be, you’d better find her.”

###

Busy Bee by Etol Bagam

Thursday morning. Wake up.

Migraine.

Get up. Wake up the kids. Have breakfast. Get kids ready to school. Walk them to school.

Work from home. Automation won’t work, do it manually.

Stop to go to the doctor.

Come back to a meeting. Work non-stop until 3:25.

Bring suitcase down for hubby.

Pick up kids at 3:30.

Have lunch!

Drive kids to sports practice.

Stop at dry cleaner.

Back home, iron hubby’s shirts.

Shower.

Fix dinner. Do the dishes.

Help hubby pack for his trip.

Read a bit. Go to bed.

And that migraine is still there until end of day Friday….

###

On the Go by Michael

She was too busy for idle chit chat. It was go, go all day. Those around her found her exhausting as she never stopped, preferring to get the job done as she’d say to them.

Her head down bum up attitude gave no room for getting to know her. She nodded in acquaintance to her co-workers, she ate alone and never took her full dinnertime.

She found it hard at Christmas when they did stop to celebrate as she had no connections to anyone.

It came as no surprise to anyone that she had no one at home either.

###

The Energizer Corey by Joe Owens

Corey took a deep breath as he pushed out the last words for this seventy two minute stop. Now it was off to the Explorer’s Lounge for the Newlyweds Match game where couples would try to see how much they knew each other. He had hosted the Voice of the Ocean, a Sled Dog Puppies petting session and a bingo game, but his day was not nearly half over.

“How do you do it?” Junior Cruise Director Caitlin asked.

“Never stop. Get your plan in mind, pick the fastest route between and don’t stop when you’re tired!”

###

Busy as a Beaver by Susan Zutautas

Mr. Moose saw a busy beaver working on his den
He walked up to him and offered a hand to lend

They cut and moved logs and stopped for a break
Thank you Mr. Moose I wouldn’t have been able to get all these in the lake

Munching on some berries
Talking away was merry

Until Mr. Moose explained the fire on his land
And how everything was now just a pile of sand

This made Mr. Beaver shed a tear for him
And offered for Mr. Moose to move to his land

Thank you my new found friend

###

Buckeye Blane, Beaver Bureaucrat by Bill Engleson

“So, kid, open wide, flash me them orange sharpies.”

“Yahhhhhhhhh!”

“Kid, they’re beauties. Credit to beaverdom…”

“Yahhhhhhhhh!”

“Just about done. Hole punch bought the farm. Okay. Crunch! Great. Once more…We’re done. Take a break.”

“Yawoooooie.”

“Know the feeling. Know it well. Anyways. You got the job. Land Manager Apprentice.”

“Yawoooooie.”

“I can see you’re thrilled. Okay, your basic job will be to clear deadwood.”

“Oooooyawooo!”

“Specialized beaver work, kid. We leave the healthy trees…take out only the dry rot.”

“Ooooowooooyaaa!”

“Goes against beaver lore, I know. Compromise. Humans give a little: we give a little.”

“Yaaaawooowooooie!”

“That’s the spirit.”

###

A Team of Busy Bees by Liz Husebye Hartman

She bends over unkempt juniper shrubs and a beetle-laced Japanese plum, scissoring with vigor with long-bladed hand shears. Down the boulevard, a few trees show tawdry highlights of orange and gold.

“I’d best get busy,” she grumbles, “While the leaves are still up, and not all over my lawn.” She snips here, shapes a curve there, and gradually uncovers dahlias, planted in the gap between shrub and front stoop. They straighten and smile, proud of their cache of hidden pollen.

Later, she rests, sipping iced tea, as grateful bumblebees, buzz and fill their leg sacks with summer’s final bounty.

###

Monastic Preserves by idylloftheking

“You could say I’m a connoisseur. Have you ever tried Trappist beer?”

“No, sir. I don’t drink.”

“Of course, of course. Where do you get your berries?”

“That’s not something we like to share, sir.”

“Of course, of course. I suppose I can’t have just one more jar?”

“They won’t cooperate, sir.”

###

Monastery Jam by Charli Mills

Thimbleberries scattered across the floor. “Brother Mark! How careless..!”

Mark shuffled to fetch … a broom? Dust bin or bowl? A rag? He stood like the garden statue of St. Francis. His mind calculated each solution rapidly.

“…just standing there. Look at this mess. And leaves me to clean it. Never busy, that Brother Mark. Idle hands, you know…”

Mark blushed to hear the complaints. Father Jorge’s large brown hand rested on Mark’s shoulder. “Let’s walk the beach.”

Waves calmed Mark’s thinking. “I didn’t know if it was salvageable.”

“Brother Mark, your mind needn’t make jam of every situation.”

###

Cerebral Buzz  (Janice vs Richard 19) by JulesPaige

Richard looked as if he were sitting still. In truth, his mind
was busy calculating what to do next while his body recovered.
After visiting Janice’s home – and eating the berries from her
garden – He must have also ingested something else. While
he was blind consuming berries he must have not looked
carefully enough at the weeds that bore similar fruit that was
really just for the birds.

Richard doubted that Janice had planted those weeds just
to poison him. And he had gotten ill, leaving a mess in her
home – the home he had wanted to make his…

###

Busy by Rugby 843

When my kids were little they were well behaved. A visit to the doctor’s office wasn’t a problem. We usually brought something along to keep them busy–books, paper and pens, etc. Nowadays I see tables and chairs, video screens and coloring books to entertain children waiting for appointments.

At home we had a “busy box” toy that served us well, but I’ve seen much more elaborate styles such as the ones pictured above, at crowded offices. Some parents might think this is a prime place for germs, but washing their hands before and after use should solve that problem.

###

Parent/Teacher by Pete Fanning

Liam’s father sat hunched over the desk. “Why ain’t you giving out homework?”

“Well, eight hours is a long day for a seven-year-old. In fact, studies—”

“Studies. Here we go.” His arms flailed. He brimmed with aggression. Mrs. Tan pressed on, a little less sure now. No wonder Liam was lashing out.

“Well, concerning Liam’s classroom behavior.”

The chair squeaked. “What? I’ll set whup his ass if he’s acting up.”

Mrs. Tan managed to cover her gasp. She pulled close Liam’s folder, smoothing the edges of if only to keep her hands busy.

“No, he’s really working hard.”

###

Father by Jack Schuyler

I never thought of my Father as a busy man, or as absent in any way. Mother would praise him for giving us food, shelter, and luxury, but such adoration fell silent against stony determination. I remember every day straining to hear the opening and closing of our front door, anticipating his arrival because I loved him. But the sound rang mostly in departure, and love was only a word I pretended to know the meaning of. And when he died, it was not love that pulled at my heart, but an emptiness that had been there all along.

###

The Mom by Ruchira Khanna

“Sam hurry up! it’s time to leave for school.”

“Yeah” came a response amidst the wide yawn.

“Did you put your lunch box, water bottle in your bag?”

“Yeeees!” he muttered.

“Sam eat your breakfast! Why are you daydreaming? The school bus will be here any minute!” she stressed.

Sam rolled his eyes, and he could not contain himself, “MOM! Let it go!” he shrilled.

Mom paused.

Took a deep sigh as she placed her hands on her hips, she responded, “I am aware dear. But someone has to delegate it, and that ugly task falls upon me!”

###

The Unsung Juggler by Eugene Uttley

Well, here we are in the middle of it all, the whole symphony of sweeping, spinning spheres.
And we have no telescope powerful enough to see him down there at the bottom of it all.
What’s he doing down there? Why, he’s juggling of course – juggling all the planets and stars.
He’s not God – or a god – I rush to say, though you might think him so to see him doing what he does.
He’s just a guy, you know. A very, very, very busy guy.
He’s the unsung juggler at the bottom of the universe.

###

Dang Busy by D. Avery

“Shorty?”

“Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”

“That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”

“Yeah, right.”

“So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”

“Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”

“Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”

“Yep.”

“Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”

“Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”

“A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”

“Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”

“Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”

“Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”

“Well you sure dreamed it up.”

“Yep.”

###

Gone East by D. Avery

“Shorty, is it true?”

“Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”

“What? The Kid seemed happy here.”

“The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”

“Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”

“Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”

“Was it the food, Shorty?”

“Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”

“Oh. That takes time.”

“Yep.”

###

Save